Dr Dave’s guide to (really) alternative remedies

Issue: BCMJ, vol. 51, No. 5, June 2009, Page 188 Editorials

"I’m going on a cleanse.”

“What for?”

“Duh, to get rid of the toxins.”

“What toxins?”

“Oh come on Doc, you know, the toxins; the ones in your colon.”

“That’s called poo and it comes out on its own.”

As physicians we are inundated with alternative remedies. My patients are always bringing in something new for my opinion. One of the most popular treatments is the cleanse. There are recipes and supplements to cleanse your bowel, liver, gallbladder, and more. One patient was ecstatic because she had taken this product with three phases—preparation, cleansing, and restoration. She was convinced it had worked because during the cleansing phase she felt awful and had horrible diarrhea. Sounded like norovirus to me.

One patient brought in an article that aspartame causes MS (even though this patient consumed aspartame and didn’t have MS). This confused me because the local hyperbaric oxygen people claim that after 40 or so treatments at $100 a pop they can cure MS along with cerebral palsy, stroke, postpolio syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s, and coma. My patient was quite concerned about her weight and consumed a lot of aspartame so I suggested she take her diet products in for hyperbaric oxygen treatments prior to consumption.

These products and treatments are full of pseudoscience backed by testimonies from numerous satisfied customers. I can’t help but list a few of my favorites. 

All disease is caused by intestinal flukes, for which the only cure is (expensive) anti-fluke pills.

Malalignment of C1
Disease is caused by malalignment of C1 or the “atlas.” Patients are warned that they will need a large number of adjustments and even if they feel better not to discontinue the program as they will relapse. Even after they are done it is imperative they come every 6 months because that pesky atlas has a way of wandering.

Purchase a water ionizer to produce a super supply of antioxidants in each glass. This ionized water hydrates you better, is a rich source of extra oxygen (maybe this is what Aquaman uses), and flushes acidic toxins. Let’s see, a fluid rich in ions, antioxidants, and oxygen—maybe vampires are on to something.

A pill for mood disorders that takes the lithium right in to the cells where it is needed the most, thereby not affecting blood lithium levels. It does this through its microvortex enteric coating. Now I don’t know about you but I don’t have any mini-tornadoes in my stomach.

Biostructural medicine
Medicine for joint, respiratory, bone, CVS, digestive, and skin conditions.

Bovine colostrum pills
Pills for MS, lupus, AIDS, rheumatoid arthritis, coronary artery disease, cancer, and diabetes. I wonder whose job it is to collect it.

Ancient herbal liver formula pills
For flushing the liver of bacteria, stones, and garbage. Seriously, the pamphlet says, garbage. Now, if landfills are full of diapers then apparently we have livers packed with Huggies.

Cetyl myristoleate pills
These cure rheumatoid arthritis. One bottle of 100 capsules is $250, but that is all you need and you’re cured for life. Most of these supplements have money-back guarantees, but you order them through a 1800 number or a PO box.

Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation
This is my overall favorite. It treats Parkinson disease, mood disorders, schizophrenia, and eating disorders. This is a machine with a handheld probe that the technician waves around your head. I believe the technician makes a buzzing noise during the treatments.

Before I get too cocky I am re­minded of my wacko patient who claimed before the days of H. pylori that every time he took antibiotics his ulcer symptoms improved. All of the above serve to remind us of our job as advocates for our patients. It is a thankless job because often if we voice a dissenting opinion we are labeled as trying to protect our turf. Regardless, it is our duty to protect our patients from unnecessary, costly, and at times potentially dangerous treatments. Now if you will excuse me I am going to relax with a good book while I sip some Manchur­ian Mushroom Elixir of Life.


David R. Richardson, MD. Dr Dave’s guide to (really) alternative remedies. BCMJ, Vol. 51, No. 5, June, 2009, Page(s) 188 - Editorials.

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