Cancer Complementary and alternative medicine Homeopathy Medicine Naturopathy Skepticism/critical thinking

A naturopath’s got to know his limitations, but naturopaths never do

It’s no secret that I’m not a big fan of naturopathy. It is, as my good bud Kimball Atwood has said, a prescientific system of medicine rooted in vitalism, the idea that there is a “life energy” and a “healing power of nature.” Naturopaths invoke very simplistic concepts to explain the cause of disease, such as “toxins,” widespread food allergies, gluten, imbalances in qi (the life force energy), and many other pseudoscientific principles. To give you an idea of the kind of pseudoscientific quackery naturopathy encompasses, consider this: You can’t have naturopathy without homeopathy, which is a major component of naturopathic training and the naturopathic licensing examination (NPLEX). Indeed, one of my biggest complaints—albeit by no means the only one—about so-called “integrative medicine” is that invariably it so easily “integrates” naturopathy along with science-based medicine.

In particular, I do not like the specialty of naturopathic oncology, as I have documented in many posts (such as this one). I’m also not fond of the emerging specialty of “integrative oncology,” which does nothing more than integrate pseudoscience like naturopathy with science-based oncology. I’ve likened it to kudzu insinuating quackademic medicine into oncology and even managed to publish a single-author paper in Nature Reviews Cancer taking a critical look at integrative oncology. None of this has stopped the Society for Integrative Oncology from happily producing guidelines for the supportive care of breast cancer patients with the help of an editor who is a naturopath. Nor has it stopped that very same naturopath from scoring large grants to study the use of naturopathy in various cancers.

One of the retorts that advocates of integrative oncology make when skeptics like myself criticize the use of naturopathy alongside real medicine is that the “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM) being used, including naturopathy, is not meant to be used instead of conventional medicine but rather to “complement” it. Naturopaths, we are assured, would never, ever overstep their bounds and try to treat cancer with their unproven remedies. Oh, no. Why on earth would you ever thing that?

One of my all time favorite movie quotes comes from the second Dirty Harry movie, Magnum Force, in which Dirty Harry says, “A man’s got to know his limitations.” Unfortunately, what makes naturopaths so dangerous to cancer patients is that they don’t know their limitations, their promises not to treat cancer patients alone notwithstanding.

This point was illustrated by a news report published last week in the National Post entitled Cancer patients are losing valuable time — and risking their lives — with alternative therapies, doctors say:

When a London, Ont., cancer patient was told she would need surgery to remove an oral cancer, then have a piece of leg or arm tissue grafted into her mouth, it seemed too much to bear.

So she turned to a natural-health practitioner, who for two years treated the malignancy with applications of rosehip oil.

By time the woman returned to hospital, “literally half her face had been eaten away by cancer,” says Dr. Leigh Sowerby, the ear nose and throat surgeon who was part of her treatment team.

“The family had been told by the alternative-health provider that it was a good sign, because it meant the treatment was drawing the cancer out of the body,” he recalls. “She ended up dying in hospital before we could do the surgery.”

OK, OK. This doesn’t say whether this particular “natural health practitioner” was a naturopath or not, although it’s a pretty good bet that it likely was. Not surprisingly, the article quotes a spokesman for the College of Naturopaths of Ontario (unfortunately, Ontario is right across the river from Detroit and a mere three miles or so from where I work) as saying that its members’ scope of practice does not include handling potentially treatable cancers on their own. Not surprisingly, though, because cancer is so common and because there is such a widespread myth that there exist “natural” treatments for cancer not involving surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation, it’s not surprising that there’s a lot of—shall we say?—looseness in how naturopaths interpret what that prohibition actually means in practice. Indeed, this article is basically a bit of an undercover sting operation in which naturopaths in Ontario were asked by a reporter posing as a cancer patient’s relative.

What do you think the National Post found? To be honest, it wasn’t as bad as I would have expected, but it was plenty bad nonetheless:

Posing as a patient’s relative, the National Post asked naturopaths in British Columbia, Ontario and Nova Scotia if they would treat someone newly diagnosed with B-cell lymphoma, with enlarged glands in the chest and groin, who refused to undergo chemotherapy. Thirteen of the 18 who responded said they would take on the patient solo — only one said no.

“This is exactly what I do,” said one Ontario-licensed practitioner.

“He has many specialized protocols that he has seen work well,” said an assistant to naturopath Neil McKinney of Victoria, “prolonging life, increasing quality of life, stabilizing tumours and the disease progression, and shrinking tumours.”

McKinney said in a followup interview he does advise patients to stick with conventional medicine if he thinks it would help them, and stresses to them there is little definitive science backing up what he does.

Anyone want to guess whether that assistant still works for McKinney? In any case, note how only one gave a definite “no” answer. I’m guessing the other four waffled, not wanting to commit until meeting the patient.

I took a look at McKinney’s website for his practice, Vital Victoria Naturopathic Clinic Ltd. Right off the bat, I noticed that the clinic offers reiki, which, as I have said so many times, is nothing more than faith healing that substitutes Eastern mysticism for Christian beliefs. He also offers what he describes as an “alternative to the standard flu shot,” consisting of “homeopathic injectable and oral remedies for influenza prevention called Engystol and Gripp Heel.” Heel itself is known for marketing some of the most ridiculous homeopathic remedies out there (and that’s saying a lot, given how ridiculous the concepts upon which homeopathy is based are).

I also call BS on McKinney’s later denial. For instance, on his testimonials page, there are testimonials like this:

I wanted to share with you a success story with a rare and difficult cancer which I credit to your book, Naturally There is Always Hope.

Patient is a 52 yr old female, she came after surgery for retroperitoneal leiomyosarcoma grade 3, 14 cm in dimension, diagnosed May 2009. Metastasized to the lungs. After surgery I put her on your supplements.

Since the surgery and the protocol has shown no interval change in size or growth. She will remain off of chemo as long as disease remains stable. She is otherwise healthy and leading a fulfilling life.

In other words, this naturopathic resident is using McKinney’s protocol to treat cancer without further conventional therapy and McKinney is using this testimonial on his website for advertising purposes. Then there’s this testimonial:

My daughter J, of Northern California dropped life to look after me. The cancer clinic of Victoria, BC gave me a long list of caveats about my taking their only panacea; chemotherapy. At best they gave me a 33% chance of living between 6 to 12 months if I were to take the therapy. The cancer clinic gave no nutritional advice. What to do? J did an enormous amount of research online and in books. Vitamin C intravenous treatment led her, indirectly, to Dr. McKinney, of Victoria. We agreed to try this holistic, natural approach to healing.

He was open on the choice to take or not to take chemotherapy. We declined. Dr. McKinney’s book “Naturally There is Always Hope” and Dr. McKinney himself gave me assurance and confidence that I could get healed.

I had the vitamin C therapy, twice a week for 6 weeks. It provided, along with a complete dietary revolution and adherence to the Glycemic index, the way to my recovery. I took nutritional advice and supplements from Dr. McKinney’s naturopathic clinic; I have my blood tested through the cancer clinic and am fortunate to lead a full and energetic life. In short, I owe my life to my daughter who supported me in my wish to take a natural rather than a drug approach, and to her for finding Dr. McKinney who started me on my healthy, confident way. I have also furthered my spiritual journey, which includes believing in miracles, or the impossible.

In other words, McKinney treated this woman with intravenous vitamin C and diet, without conventional therapy. There’s also a testimonial that isn’t exactly using naturopathy for cancer without conventional medicine but is equally reckless. In addition to reiki, during her radiation treatment for brain cancer this patient did this:

During my radiation treatment I made a decision not to use dexatron, a steroid to reduce brain swelling from the radiation. This decision was not made lightly but given the side effects of the steroids I spoke to Neil about alternatives and consistant with my integrated approach I took a naturopathic product that proved amazing. While taking this supplement I was able to go through my sessions of radiation without the headaches common with this treatment.

I am also taking other supplements as recommended by Neil and my tumour and cancer are currently in remission. I know your clinic has played a major role in this along with the traditional biomedicine of surgery, radiation and chemo.

This patient was lucky, as this was a decision that could easily have killed her. There’s a reason why oncologists administer steroids while doing radiation therapy for brain cancers. As tumor cells die in response to radiation, the tumor and nearby brain tissue can become inflamed and swell. Normally for most cancers this is not a major issue, but the brain is different. It is enclosed in a hard case of bone, the skull. If the brain and tumor become inflamed in response to radiation there is no room for the brain to swell in response to inflammation, which means inflammation can result in increased intracranial pressure. Given that the brain is sensitive to increased pressure, this can potentially be a very dangerous situation. Steroids, for all their adverse effects and undesirability in many situations, are unparalleled in stopping inflammation in its tracks. That’s why they’re given before radiation to the brain. By refusing steroids, this patient endangered her life, and McKinney was complicit in that.

And this is a guy who has written several books on “naturopathic oncology.” His story of how he became a naturopath involves traveling to Tijuana to visit the Hoxsey Bio-Medical Clinic

To be honest, I was surprised that it was only 13 out of 18 naturopaths who were willing to treat a patient like the one described. That’s only 72%. I would have expected more like 90%. Of course, maybe it was, given that only one out of eighteen naturopath offices said no. Neither is a good number, as no naturopath has any business treating cancer patients primarily. Come to think of it, no naturopath has any business treating any patients primarily, given that McKinney is so deluded that he claims that:

“We (also) sometimes shrink the tumours enough that the surgeon can get them out,” he says, echoing his assistant. “I had a case like this recently — sarcoma that was considered incurable, reduced to a point where it was curable.”

So which is it, I wonder? McKinney claims he doesn’t treat patients with cancer and urges them to stick with conventional therapy, but then he says that he can shrink tumors to the point where inoperable tumors become operable. In essence, he is claiming he can use naturopathy as what we call “neoadjuvant therapy.” Neoadjuvant therapy (usually chemotherapy) is used to shrink tumors so that inoperable tumors become operable or to make organ-sparing surgery possible where it would not have been possible before. For instance, we frequently use neoadjuvant chemotherapy to make it possible to remove breast cancers that would have required mastectomy using lumpectomy or to remove rectal cancers that would have required the resection of the anal sphincter without having to sew their anuses closed. If naturopathy can accomplish the same thing nontoxically, McKinney really needs to publish his results pronto!

He won’t, though, because he can’t. Indeed, one thing that irritated me about this article is its reference to Sylvia Rickard, who had surgery for colon cancer and decided to reject postoperative adjuvant chemotherapy in favor of high dose vitamin C. It was irresponsible not to mention that it was the surgery that kept this woman alive, not the quackery of high dose vitamin C.

We also get to meet naturopath Dugald Seely at the Ottawa Integrative Cancer Centre. He’s the guy who’s gotten a total of nearly $7 million in the form of two grants from an anonymous source to study the use of naturopathic oncology in cancer patients. That’s why I had a hearty chuckle when Seeley is is quoted as saying that it’s difficult to “raise money for rigorous clinical trials of natural treatments that have little profit potential for investors.” Certainly, he’s done quite well; I don’t know too many conventional medical researchers who have a $7 million war chest in the form of grants to study their treatments.

I’ve long suspected that a major part of the reason that so many physicians team up with naturopaths to treat patients is because they really have no clue what naturopathy really is. They don’t realize that there is virtually no form of quackery that naturopathy doesn’t embrace and minimal concern over whether any of it actually works. To paraphrase Harriet Hall, what is good about naturopathy is not unique to it, such as an emphasis on diet and exercise. Unfortunately, what is unique to naturopathy is not good. Moreover, the only argument in favor of letting naturopaths treat cancer patients supportively that reassures science-based oncologists, namely that naturopaths would never overstep their bounds and try to treat cancer themselves, is clearly a lie, as this survey shows. Naturopaths, quite simply, do not know their limitations.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

54 replies on “A naturopath’s got to know his limitations, but naturopaths never do”

By time the woman returned to hospital, “literally half her face had been eaten away by cancer,” says Dr. Leigh Sowerby, the ear nose and throat surgeon who was part of her treatment team.

I’m just going to hope that SNOT-22 is a friendly jibe from the perceived world.

Snake oil salesmen. That’s what we’re dealing with.

I’m trying, without success, to imagine the logical thought process that led to trying to treat a cancer with rosehip oil. Vitamin C is slightly more understandable: Linus Pauling, when he went emeritus, was a big backer.

As for that survey, only one of the 18 respondents gave a flat out “no”. That implies that the other four said something along the lines of “it depends”, so they might refuse an advanced cancer patient but take an early stage patient. Or at least they didn’t want to admit that they would always take the patient.

Hopefully this isn’t a derailment, but : Might the survivors have any legal recourse? Do any lurking law-talkin-guys or gals know whether the quack Miranda warning has any force in these cases? That first one in particular is horrific and just screams “Lawsuit!”

I wonder if the idiot who didn’t take the dexamethasone during radiation bothered to tell her doctors that.

My guess is “no.”

It’s odd that the author, Tom Blackwell, of the NP article failed to point out the irony that naturopath Seely is sitting on a $7 million purse for his oncology “research,” as you mentioned in this post, while complaining about raising funds. That counts as bad journalism on Blackwell, and like you suggest, massive d-baggery for Seely.

@ Eric Lund:

Rose hips is/ are a source of vitamin C so….

Unfortunately I know *loads* about Pauling’s Folly.
A quick g–gle search ( on vitamin C/ cancer treatment) will reveal many establishments which will provide the faux treatment ( NDs and others).

A well-known woo-meister has advocated for this since the 1970s especially during the early days of the Aids crisis.
Currently, his accomplice, a nurse, hooks people up to treatment through her website, Metropolitan Health. Both are creating a spa/ resort/ retreat with offsite treatment options in Mineola Texas.
Enabling poor health care decisions is their business.

Wow, all of this is scary in one way or another (but honestly, not unexpected from naturo-quacks), but the thing that really gets me is the patient who refused steroids. That seems super dangerous, plus the whole idea of basically getting your brain squished undes its own pressure is just icky. Also, while they were lucky to not suffer any immediate adverse effects I kinda worry that a thing like this might cause brain damage that would only become apparent later. Is that possible? I hope not, for the patient’s sake.

palindrom@3: These folks are Canadians working in Canada, so US law does not apply. Perhaps some equivalent Canadian law is in force, but Canadians aren’t as lawsuit-happy as on this side of the border. And as much as I like the image of the Mounties going after these “doctors”, the RCMP probably doesn’t have jurisdiction.

Another thing about the steroid refuser: most of the really bad effects of steroids occur with prolonged use. Short-term use of corticosteroids, even in high doses, is relatively safe. A hell of a lot safer than intracranial swelling.

Since the Naturopathy Act was made law in Ontario in 2007, the REAL professional medical bodies of Ontario, the CPSO, RNAO and my own regulatory body, the CMLTO, have fought against incorporating it into our own Acts but it is damn well impossible to win unless naturopathy is wiped off the face of the Earth. On one hand, should our regulatory bodies accept them, it effectively legitimatizes their field while diminishing our own (I’ll be damned if I ever have to perform a lab test ordered by a naturopath! I’d love to sit down with one at a microscope and have them explain what they see in a Live Blood Analyses so I can laugh all the way to the grave.)

However, if we continue to fight their legitimacy, cases like these happen. I practise not too far away from London and this case highlights exactly what is wrong with the Naturopathy Act. The Act clearly outlines when the Naturopath must refer an individual to a real medical professional. The wording in every instance is “beyond the scope of the profession” (…. so… everything?) However, to the College of Naturopaths, they can essentially treat anything because, apart from being delusional, the “scope of practise” to a Naturopath is limitless (since it sets its own “scope of practise”) and more importantly, because they all state to be used with western medicine. It is their “Get out of Jail Free” card. Literally.

Specifically, in all serious conditions that require urgent medical treatment, naturopathic modalities all say to be used with western medicine, because “It’s Complementary! (When we want it to be)” and Orac is right in insinuating that there is “looseness” in how they can interpret the law. However, they have absolutely no RESPONSIBILITY to ensure that happens. As long as they follow THEIR guidelines, they have no obligation to ensure that the patient receives real medical care.

I’ve brought this up with the President of the CMLTO (who I luckily know on a first name basis and is as science-based as you can get. We’re both from Windsor. Must be where we get our water from.) and she assures me that so far, the other colleges will continue the fight to block any amendments into our legislation that incorporates Naturopaths, but I seriously wonder if that is the right path. It seems like a catch-22 for real medical professionals in Ontario and patients.

With high doses of vitamin C, at least Mc Kinnert’s patients wont get scurvy while they die from advanced stages of cancer. What a woo-meister. What is natural about naturopaths any how?

This N.D.’s embrace of Hoxsey therapy is not unknown in his profession. Here for example is another N.D. discussing how it was promoted to her “oncology” class at Bastyr University:

This Hoxsey promo favorably mentions the topical use of bloodroot, which as we’ve seen is capable of causing horrific tissue damage and scarring, while failing to eradicate microscopic cancer remnants which re-grow and metastasize.

Denise [#7] Rose hips [most fruit for that matter] have vitamin C, but would ‘rose hip oil’ contain much or any? C is WATER-soluble, yes?

But I’m sure you’re right that the rationale is somehow LinusPauling-ish connection to C as panacea.


That paper was published in a SCIRP journal. That’s all you need to know.

Does anyone really need more than one panacea?
In that connection, let me introduce you to Lyra Nara and Pancea Medicine.
Lyra Nara is Liliana Christine Siepe, Canada-based, self-styled naturopathic doctor and holistic healer.* And if you don’t want Panacea Medicine, that’s OK; she offers many other ways of separating New Age airheads from their money, including Germanic New Medicine,** Water Enlivening nozzles, devices for Radionics and Quantum Resonance and Fractal Electroacupuncture, and her Holistic Online Diagnostic Service.

* Seipe’s actual training & qualification seem to be in chemical engineering.

** Breast cancer is psychosomatic; AND most cases are not cancerous at all, but clinicians knowingly misdiagnose
benign conditions to have the excuse to operate; AND breast cancer is curable using Seipe’s products. Her key advice to women worried about breast cancer is to stay away from oncologists.

That seems super dangerous, plus the whole idea of basically getting your brain squished undes its own pressure is just icky.

Brains seldom function so well after they have been extruded like toothpaste, brainstem first, through the foramen magnum.

In that connection, let me introduce you to Lyra Nara

As we use only homeopathic, herbal or naturopathic remedies, we do not expect you to feedback us any side effects, risks or any other embarrassing symptoms.”

@Narad: As we use only homeopathic, herbal or naturopathic remedies, we do not expect you to feedback us any side effects, risks or any other embarrassing symptoms.

I thought that was your addition until I saw it on their website! In other words, give us your money and go away. Love the Quack Miranda warning, too.

If you don’t get better, it’s ALL YOUR FAULT! Not ours for giving you quack remedies.


That paper was published in a SCIRP journal. That’s all you need to know.

Thank you. I was unaware of their (dis)reputation, though I suppose not being PubMed indexed should’ve been a major red flag.

herr doktor bimler@21

Brains seldom function so well after they have been extruded like toothpaste, brainstem first, through the foramen magnum.

Herniation actually means the treatment is working. That’s the body drawing the cancer out of the skull.

If the skull is sufficiently capacious, the risk of squashing would be reduced. This does not imply a large skull.

A while back I was looking for some product info for a company that manufactured some sort of legitimate heath care products. I discovered there is a Canadian branch, whose sole product seems to be intravenous vitamin C preparations.

Lyra Nara speaks of “optical waves emitted by the skin.” Move over LEDs, we have LEPs (or LEHs, but it doesn’t have quite the same ring to it as LEP). My eyes emit light – only problem is I’m the only one that can see it – and I’d rather not.

I thought that was your addition until I saw it on their website! In other words, give us your money and go away. Love the Quack Miranda warning, too.

I suspect that Siepe is taking the Nigerian E-mailer approach of making her grasping fraudulence so obvious that only truly needy customers will hang around and she won’t have to waste her precious time trying to convince skeptics.

Naturally she’s aboard the GcMAF scamwagon, which is how I came across her.

The Quack Miranda certainly rings hollow when you have a page for Cure-All Products that starts:

Support your body in preventing & fighting health conditions – drug-free and with NO negative side effects!

How on Earth does a Quack Miranda protect you when it is so blatantly false?

I am very tempted to write to Health Canada and ask them to review the quack’s website, specifically the devices she sells.

The Quack Miranda certainly rings hollow when you have a page for Cure-All Products that starts:

On her blog, Siepe is quite clear that you should stay away from medical doctors, they will give you cancer, they are all a Jewish conspiracy.

This does not entirely comport with the Terms of Use (if you can find them):

All supplements sold on this website are not recommended as a cure. Contact your physician for advice about supplements should you have a questions concerning them.

am very tempted to write to Health Canada and ask them to review the quack’s website, specifically the devices she sells.

You might enjoy her other companies, such as her Quantum-physics-string-theory Management Consultancy;

Another insight into why western medical doctors incorporate naturopathy into their practices: Ben Carson is a doctor.

Note that Lyra Nara’s website refers to your “healthy journey”, a phrase encountered in come-ons from other alt healers.

Translation: climb aboard the woo train, it’s a long ride with lots of stops to buy different supplements and treatments that may not work because we’re all unique, but keep riding along until you run out of money or die (if you do, you did something wrong and it’s not our fault).

your “healthy journey”, a phrase encountered in come-ons from other alt healers.

It’s about the journey! Not the destination!

Living in CancerLand, on the other end of the spectrum (I’m a BC mets patient) I spend a good portion of my time trying to talk women out of following these woo-meisters. Just yesterday an aquaintence wailed that she didn’t think her doctor were doing enough, and did I know anything about ozone therapy or vitamin C? She thought she try something alternative. I hope I talked her off the ledge but these people play right into the fears most cancer patients have, and they give happy answers even when things are clearly going downhill (rose hip oil “drawing cancer out of face” sounds a lot better than your cancer is progressing, I suppose).

I share your frustration and point to your blog often.

I will announce publicly, that If one more person tells me to mix baking soda and molasses to cure my cancer, it may not be me who dies first.

You might enjoy her other companies, such as her Quantum-physics-string-theory Management Consultancy;

The bogus Goethe quote is the icing on the semiliterate cake.

I suppose if you’ve undergone trepanation, one need not be quite so concerned about brain swelling, since it’ll all just bulge up out of the hole in your head.

Of course, you need a hole in your head to get trepanned in the first place, so there is that. It does strike me as one of the craziest quackeries there is, and the competition is fierce.

This is hilarious beyond my wildest dreams of hilarity. It’s remote diagnostics for businesses:

To perform our estimations, we use “blueprints” of your business, which can be pictures of your facility, business cards, brochures, logos, signatures or handwritten texts. These are unique to your company or a person, and it works like a cell number that will always call you independently, wherever you are located; somebody dials the number, the ring in the form of electromagnetic waves propagates between you and the caller and you pick up the call.
These blueprints are then analysed with our quantum-response hardware and software, which offsets the collected information against that already in the software-recorded data. This information is displayed as a score (value from +10-0-10) versus a level number (1-12). The score is negative when there is a problem and positive when there is a positive feature; but a storehouse with +10 also means that it is overfilled, and this might be critical, because products were not sold on time and accumulated in the warehouse
The level numbers are related to the types of causes: a level of 1-3 means an organic, present, acute problem. Levels 4-6 are causal levels, which mean that they are not manifested yet, but the causes’ matrix or the scaffold already exists; soon, these problems will become a reality. Levels 7-9 are mostly people-psychology-related; the cumulated energetic and psychological level is on the brink of a problem for the company. Finally, levels 10-12 are structural, inherited problems, such as the business being a wrong choice, the ownership or management not acting in the best interests of the company, market is down, or location is not appropriate.

A look at Christine Liliana Ioana Siepe’s businesses in Canada, and her previous CEO experience in Germany, is also entertaining.

I’ve lost track of the number of times I attempted to explain to people of all backgrounds that effects seen from in vitro studies are no guarantee of a clinically beneficial effect. The analogy I like to use is that in vitro, dish soap completely kills the human immunodeficiency virus. The only problem is that it will kill the patient before it cures.

The targets of the rosehip study (AKT and MAPK) are valid and the subject of numerous studies on diverse chemicals, both natural and synthetic. Yet, instead of helping to dispel the popularized notion that the results of an in vitro study alone amount to evidence of clinical efficacy in the treatment of cancer, the abstract to the study demonstrates the ignorance of the authors and the practice of shameless promotion:

“More importantly, rosehip extracts may serve as an alternative or compliment to current chemotherapeutic regimens for glioblastomas.” What are they trying to do? Raise money for further research to characterize the active constituents in further in vitro studies, or promote rosehips for the treatment of glioblastiomas?

Without any evidence that extracts of rosehips taken orally or by injection will reach the tumors, even so much as prefacing their claim with “may” is, in my less than humble opinion, entirely unethical, especially when there are dozens of fully elucidated pure chemicals – some of which are currently in human clinical trials – with the same in vitro activities of selectively decreasing AKT and MAPK. The authors are chasing the same currently “hot” targets as many others before them in the field. For that, they can hardly be faulted. Yet, far from what they portend, the results are no big hairy deal.

Off-topic, but I have my second bogus quote for the day. Readers of Retraction Watch might have noticed an item involving a first author whose lone affiliation includes this as part of the landing-page pitch.

I’m not sure how the actual source, Elbert Hubbard, would go for the invocation.

^ Well, maybe not that off-topic, given the “Begin your journey today!” bit at the top.

If naturopaths accepted their limitations, there wouldn’t *be* any naturopaths – at least not practicing ones, anyway.

Observation duly appropriated!

That’s the happiest thing I’ve had all day, thanks. But I’m now concerned that this is the only image I can find of the March 1947 cover of Radio News.

^ Oh, but there was a more relevant image that I had been thinking about earlier: Cellular automata? Hollow-state something or another? What’s the cartoon magnifying glass supposed to mean?

Cellular automata? Hollow-state something or another?

Image search sez “array Comparative genomic hybridization”, but you know that. FSM only knows what Siepe et al were thinking when they chose it to illustrate their magic.

A woman named John? (I didn’t actually realize that it was a stock photo. I’m hoping to make the experience of this third recent water outage less obnoxious by completing the prerequisites before sleeping through the rest. And “reenacting” the mid-early part of Alas, Babylon.)

I’ve lost track of the number of times I attempted to explain to people of all backgrounds that effects seen from in vitro studies are no guarantee of a clinically beneficial effect. The analogy I like to use is that in vitro, dish soap completely kills the human immunodeficiency virus.

As always, XKCD has a classic illustration of this point:

And “reenacting” the mid-early part of Alas, Babylon.)

Which part? Drinking the artesian water is the only thing I can think of that seems relevant to a water outage.

And “reenacting” the mid-early part of Alas, Babylon.)

Which part? Drinking the artesian water is the only thing I can think of that seems relevant to a water outage.

Filling all available containers with water. I don’t even know if this would work, as I have a tankless toilet.

”Peyton’s a fastidious little girl,’ Helen said.”

Filling all available containers with water. I don’t even know if this would work, as I have a tankless toilet.

My friend Miriam and I filled up the bathtub with water once during a horrendous storm which knocked out the electricity in all of Olympia for at least a week. (The “Hanukkah Storm,” it was called, appropriately.) She very luckily also had a woodstove and plenty of firewood, and we spent the outage cooking popcorn and potatoes on coals and drinking whiskey. Good times.

^ This was back when I was living on a sailboat, and I understandably got quite scared of the storm and ran over to her house. Very hospitable woman, and it helped that we were (are) very good friends.

What is wrong with some people? I don’t have a facebook account so I can’t comment on this

but a certain Christine Massey miscitied a study to mean to most conventional cancer medicine is useless. No you absolute… It is about the OVERUSE AND OVERTREATMENT in conventional medicine not evidence that it’s useless.

And then proceeded to um cite in virto and preliminary studies on the “magical cancer cure of Cannabis”. WHY? THIS? Oh, goodness no. Basic science FAIL. You don’t recommend treatments based on those types of studies- it’s too low grade.

Harry Callahan speaks to some naturopaths:

If you want to play the game, you’d better know the rules. If you want to play lumberjack, you’re gonna have to learn to handle your end of the log. I’m just trying to find out if anybody in this room knows what the hell laws of science are being broken. You guys don’t have enough experience. Why don’t you boys go suck some fish heads.

Thing is, we’re not Dirty Harry. The question remains, as ever, ‘what is to be done?’ We can’t pull out a 44 Magnum, point it the head of naturopathy, and find out if the punks feel lucky. Besides, Dirty Harry is a right-wing fantasy: evil can be stopped by the application of violence against individual pathological ‘perps’. The real world is much more complicated.

There are (and always have been) a plethora of health scams floating around. Why do some succeed in gaining legitimacy, survive and flourish over decades, while others disappear or stay in the margins? First, obviously, the more plausible the better, and naturopaths have a leg up on quacks who only dispense medical BS by giving a fair amount of sound advice on lifestyle stuff. But as the leaked exchanges from the natoropathy discussion board showed, there’s more than enough horrific misuse of the ‘natural cures’ concept to make the ‘profession’ extremely vulnerable. How are naturopaths able to shield themselves from attacks based on these very sketchy practices?

As I’m finishing this comment after reading Orac’s post from 11/17 on Burzynski, I’m thinking the answer has something to do with lawyers…

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