As regular readers might have figured out, although the family situation has stabilized somewhat it has stabilized into a situation where I have less time for this blog than the beforetime. That is evident in the decreased posting frequency. That is why I like to grab a chance like this when it presents itself, namely an article in The New Republic by Matthew Hongoltz-Hetling, author of If It Sounds Like a Quack …: A Journey to the Fringes of American Medicine (forthcoming in April), entitled A Doctor’s War Against the Right-Wing Medical-Freedom Movement.
The New Republic article starts out with a blast from the past:
Hulda Clark was at the convention, of course. At 76, the dark-haired Canadian naturopath was still going strong, attending natural health expos like this one to publicize and sell her “Zapper,” a unit that looked and operated like a scaled-down version of a car battery with jumper cables and was supposed to cleanse the body of cancer-causing parasites. Charlotte Gerson was there, too, talking about “Gerson Therapy,” a diet-based cancer treatment that can cost more than $15,000. Then there was Kurt Donsbach, an unlicensed chiropractor whose legal troubles had pushed him to locate his alternative cancer hospital in Mexico.
Plenty of healers of lesser reputation were also in attendance, hawking vitamins, minerals, energy bars, and healing crystals. The event seemed like classic L.A.—a consumerist expression of the region’s dedication to holistic approaches to health, wellness, and spirituality. But this gathering, the brainchild of Indiana-based supplements manufacturer Wendell W. Whitman, was different. It was 2005, and the expo was—arguably—the moment when alternative healers began to find a potent political voice.
Hulda Clark and her zapper? Charlotte Gerson and her late husband Max Gerson’s cancer quackery? Talk about a true blast from the past!
The year 2005, of course, was when Orac was just getting rolling with this blog, and the names there also sound familiar. The story that Hongoltz-Hetling tells might sound a bit familiar as well, but it’s never been told this way before.