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Michael Ellenburg is a quack!

Alaska is one of those states afflicted with licensed naturopaths, which basically means they’ve got a bunch of people with no qualifications and a skull full of stupid who get to call themselves doctors and make sick people worse. The premiere Alaskan quack is Michael Ellenburg, one of those guys who peddles everything from homeopathy to traditional Chinese medicine to ozone therapy to acupuncture — the usual cocktail of New Age sewage. Steeped as I currently am in cancer texts in preparation for the next term, I perked right up when I read about Bryomixol.

Bryomixol is an herbal therapy that targets the patient’s immune system function. In patients who have cancer they need to get their immune system to start working properly. Anyone who has cancer does not have a proper functioning immune system, otherwise they would not have cancer. Chemotherapy and Radiation are directed against the tumor(s), they do nothing to support the immune system. Bryomixol can be used in cancer to treat the patient’s immune system; it is not a targeted cancer treatment. Bryomixol specifically effects Natural Killer cell function. NK cells are involved in seeking out and destroying tumor cells, bacteria, and viruses.

Try listening to any of these quacks on the radio (sadly, turn to any of the more liberal networks in your area, and you’ll find them infested with magic medicine shows), and this is the refrain you hear most frequently: “enhance your immune system naturally”. I don’t even know what that means, and I’m a biologist…but it sounds good, doesn’t it?

Unfortunately for all those cancer patients who are going to hand over their money to Ellenburg, bryomixol is also homeopathic: it’s distilled water, nothing more. Ellenburg is a guy who skims profit off the pain and suffering of others, offering nothing in return but a glass of water.

Comments

  1. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    Bryomixol is an herbal therapy that targets the patient’s immune system function. In patients who have cancer they need to get their immune system to start working properly. Anyone who has cancer does not have a proper functioning immune system, otherwise they would not have cancer. Chemotherapy and Radiation are directed against the tumor(s), they do nothing to support the immune system. Bryomixol can be used in cancer to treat the patient’s immune system; it is not a targeted cancer treatment. Bryomixol specifically effects Natural Killer cell function. NK cells are involved in seeking out and destroying tumor cells, bacteria, and viruse

    Good grief. He writes worse than I do. That reads like a 7th grade term paper.

  2. petzl20 says

    The basis of homeopathy is, the more active ingredient you give, the less effective it is, and visa versa. How can a high school child, let alone a college graduate or someone who ostensibly went to med school, be fooled by this stuff? It’s an industry of idiot practitioners and idiot consumers.

    Also, they charge a lot for this stuff. But isn’t the homeopathic market inundated with “cheap knockoffs”? Anyone could “flood” the market with their own sugar pills, you’d think. Be interesting to see the economics of this syndicate. (I’m sure the doctors have their own favorite brand that they recommend over “generics.”)

    Just thinking about this whole concept makes the mind reel …

  3. Alex the Pretty Good says

    At least the old caricature of the ineffectual country doctor makes you take two aspirins with that glass of water.

    To quote the esteemed B. Bunny “Geez, what a maroon!”

  4. mijan says

    Okay, I tried to find any REAL information about this stuff and how they’re using and abusing patients with it, and… I can’t find ANYTHING.

    I’m finding the “natural,” “herbal,” and “homeopathic” terms being tossed around, but NO indication of the actual ingredients (or “ghost” ingredients). Even most homeopathic quack products have their “ingredients” listed, regardless of how diluted and non-existent the actual ingredients are. You can usually find a list somewhere. This product won’t even list their non-ingredients. Now THAT is pathetic.

    And… El Salvador?!? WHAT??? Good freakin’ grief.

    I had to love these parts from the website:
    “Immunomodulator, an Immunomodulator slows immune system attack by your own body.”
    “Immunostimulator, an Immunostimulator is anything that stimulates the immune system by inducing activation or increasing activity of any of its components to help fight disease.”

    And best of all:

    1) Does Bryomixol contain medications (Drugs) or chemicals?
    A: Bryomixol does not contain any drug, medication, or chemical compound. Bryomixol is composed of 100% NATURAL products, which do not cause side effects or toxicity. Bryomixol does not have contraindications for patients. (See: Products)

    HAHAHAHA… well, it does contain at least one chemical. Water is a chemical. But they would have had to have taken basic chemistry classes to understand that.

  5. Rumtopf says

    I think most people duped into buying this crap don’t actually know about homeopaths claims about how homeopathy “works”(water memory less is more bullshit) in order to make that judgement. They most likely assume it’s like a herbal remedy, with actual amounts of active plant ingredients, instead of just water/sugar. Buzzwords like -natural- and -herbal- sell it no questions asked, but I bet a lot of them would regret the purchase if they actually knew what homeopaths claim.

    @mijan Seriously laughing hard at the “No chemicals” crap. It’s a big bottle of pure natural ~nothing~. Not even air!

  6. crayzz says

    Pardon my ignorance, if you please, but what the hell does the immune system have to do with cancer? Isn’t cancer essentially parasitic tumors caused by localised mutations? Obviously our bodies have some sort of response to this threat, but is it really the same response we have to colds, flues, and measles?

    Obviously someone sick with cancer would probably have a compromised immune system, but saying “Anyone who has cancer does not have a proper functioning immune system, otherwise they would not have cancer,” sounds like a mix up of correlation and causation to me.

  7. kemist says

    Anyone who has cancer does not have a proper functioning immune system, otherwise they would not have cancer.

    You can quite safely assume that anyone who writes such stupid things does not know anything at all about cancer or the immune system.

    All talks of enhancing the immune system make me cringe for some reason, as words like lupus, sclerodermia and rheumatic polyarthritis come to mind. And I keep seeing a slide I once saw at a cancer conference about how macrophages – part of our oh so fabulous immune system – helps breast cancer cells into blood circulation and thus metastasis.

    Good thing it doesn’t actually mean anything.

  8. says

    The immune system has a lot to do with cancer — it is very important in fighting off the disease. You get little precancerous cells all the time from mitotic errors, and your immune system kills them so quickly you don’t even know it.

    Having cancer doesn’t necessarily or directly compromise your immune system (except for those cancers that directly affect cells of the immune system). You do not get cancer because there is something wrong with your immune system.

  9. jolo5309 says

    “enhance your immune system naturally”

    Every one of my friends that takes Cold-FX makes that argument. When I ask what it means they never answer me.

  10. beezlebubby says

    I thought the natural way to boost one’s immune system was to not be so paranoid about germs as to not eat something dropped on the floor on occasion. I’ve always subscribed to the “spoonful of dirt a day” approach to health. Not literally, mind you, but not insanely paranoid, either.

  11. dianne says

    There is some limited evidence that people with cancer may have higher percentage of Treg cells compared with people without cancer. And occasionally a cancer will spontaneously regress, maybe because the immune system finally figured out that something was wrong and attacked it (or maybe something different altogether…) In any case, it’s not as simple as “enhancing” the immune system to make everything better.

  12. kemist says

    Pardon my ignorance, if you please, but what the hell does the immune system have to do with cancer?

    In most cases, nothing. If a tumor has grown to detectable size, it necessarily means it has evaded any immune response your body could throw at it. It doesn’t do that by supressing immune response – it can’t – but by changing its surface markers.

    It can even manipulate the bodie’s defence system to do its biding – breast tumors chemically call macrophages in to help cancer cells into blood circulation.

    Obviously our bodies have some sort of response to this threat, but is it really the same response we have to colds, flues, and measles?

    No it isn’t, because a tumor is normally identified as self – if you do have any immune response to it, it will automatically be autoimmune. Which sometimes happens – it’s called paraneoplasic syndrome, and its side effects are not less important than those of chemo. It may involve numerous blood clots, thrombosis and stroke.

    And it’s not at all certain our bodies even have a response to it. Most cancers strike quite late in life. There’s no special evolutionary pressure to develop bodies that are cancer-resistant.

    Obviously someone sick with cancer would probably have a compromised immune system

    Even that is patently false outside of radio- and chemotherapy side effects. Most cancers don’t compromise the immune system, and most cancers aren’t caused by compromised immune systems.

    Exceptions : leukemias will affect immune response because they’re cancer of immune cell origin.

    Some cancers are caused by virus, and may be more frequent in people who actually have compromised immune system. Kaposi’s skin tumor is one of them.

    Bottom line : cancer is not only one disease, but actually a group of diseases. Making blanket statements about their cause or possible treatments is the mark of someone who has no idea what he/she is talking about.

  13. Gregory says

    Obviously someone sick with cancer would probably have a compromised immune system.

    Every cell has a lot of “sticky outy bits” (as a friend of mine involved in HIV research calls them.) Think of a rooftop covered in antennas, chimneys and vents. Some of these bits serve as a unique password that helps the immune system to distinguish between “self” and “non-self.” There are other bits that serve as distress calls, which the cell will put out if it recognizes that it is under attack, has been compromised or otherwise is ready to die for the good of the whole but cannot for some reason commit cell suicide (called apoptosis.)

    One part of the immune system attacks anything and everything that does not have the right password: viruses, bacteria, parasites, fungi, transplanted organs, and so on. Auto-immune diseases, like rheumatoid arthritis, Type 1 diabetes and lupus, occur when certain cells do not display the right password, or when the immune system gets forgetful and thinks the password is something else. Another part of the immune system attacks anything with the suicide flag.

    The problem with cancer is that most tumor cells have the correct password, and they are not distressed by out of control growth. As far as the immune system is concerned, the tumor is normal, happy “self” so it gets ignored.

    It does happen that the mutation that causes the growth will also mess up the password. If it gets scrambled enough, the tumor will be decloaked as the enemy, and the immune system will respond; those tumors are killed off before they grow beyond a few cells. When you have enough of these, there can be a noticeable system immune reaction: some types of cancer are detected by an overactive immune system. The tumors that grow large enough to be a problem, though, are those that show the correct password, so “activating the immune system” will do absolutely no good.

  14. Gregory says

    @holytape #10 –

    So, how long will it be before the threats of lawsuits come in?

    If he’s careful enough not to come out and say outright that it is medicine, probably never. If his distilled water is sold as a “supplement” rather than as medicine, then almost certainly never: the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994, signed by President Clinton, gives effective legal immunity to any quack nostrum as long as it is sold as a “health supplement.”

  15. says

    This has been shared here before, but it’s sadly appropriate too often. Love their homeopathic ‘hippocritic’ oath at the end:

    “When someone comes in with a vague sense of unease or a touch of the nerves, even just more money than sense, you’ll be there for them, bottle of basically just water in one hand and a huge invoice in the other.”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HMGIbOGu8q0

    My personal tolerance level for this nonsense is at zero because it is seriously hurting those vulnerable people–including children who are at the mercy of their parent’s stupidity. There are people in the patient group I work with (disorder similar to cystic fibrosis) who think they can determine which antibiotic is best for treating their/their child’s lung infections by having the sick person hold the bottle the med came in and ‘muscle testing’ them for weakness in the arm muscles. When it is pointed out that the medicine is in a plastic bottle so, if it works at all, it is only ‘testing’ which plastic they are more sensitive to, they get very defensive.

    It’s enough to drive me straight to the pub for homeopathic lager.

  16. beaunidle says

    My best friend has breast cancer. She is falling for a lot of woo and has a sister who encourages it. The latest “cure” is almond seeds, which the pushers claim would wipe cancer off the map but big pharma is doing everything it can to keep people from finding out about it. Before she eats anything, she has to consult the internet to see how the food will affect her immune system. Trying to be supportive while combating the woo is getting to be nearly impossible. I have a feeling that her sister will find out about Bryomixol and more money will be wasted.

    It makes me so angry and sad that people like Michael Ellenburg can prey on the sick.

  17. Zinc Avenger says

    …offering nothing in return but a glass of water.

    Scurrilous lies!

    It’s expensive water.

  18. Trebuchet says

    @#15: I believe #10 was referring to threats from the quack to sue PZ for libel, as in the recent Burzynski affair.

    Quacks like this (including most chiros) kill people by discouraging them from getting genuine medical treatment. They ought to be locked up. Instead, we have laws protecting them. Shameful.

  19. robb says

    that homeopathy stuff doesn’t work. unless it’s biomechanically quantum phased locked loop gravitational auralicious homeopathy. now *that* shit works. i read it on the internet.

  20. says

    Speaking of new age bullshit.

    To effect positive change in the energy field of the earth through conscious dedication of orgasmic energy to the vibration of Peace. Our minds and our biology influence Matter and Quantum Energy fields, so by concentrating our thoughts before, during, and after orgasm on peace and loving-kindness, the synergy of high orgasmic physical energy combined with the power of positive visualization could help reduce global levels of violence, hatred and fear. Orgasm is the largest possible instantaneous surge of human biological and spiritual energies. It is a biological gift! What better way to achieve your resolution for Peace?

    http://www.globalorgasm.org/

  21. says

    In patients who have cancer they need to get their immune system to start working properly. Anyone who has cancer does not have a proper functioning immune system, otherwise they would not have cancer.

    My understanding was that the cancer is you. It’s not some foreign alien organism, it’s part of your DNA/etc where the reproduction cycle has gone off the deep end. It’s a chunk of you growing out of control.

    That’s the problem, not that the immune system is malfunctioning, as much as that the cancer is camouflaged.

  22. interrobang says

    A lot of these quacks make a lot of their money because people are terrified of chemotherapy. My mother is currently going through chemotherapy, and so is a good friend of mine. (Fuck cancer!) I’ve seen that it really isn’t as bad as people think. Both of them have lost their hair, and my friend had muscle cramps, while my mother had a racing heart and suchlike (from low blood levels), but other than some fatigue, they’ve both been relatively well for the whole time.

    All I know is that it beats the alternative. Untreated (or woo-treated) cancer is ugly.

  23. Dhorvath, OM says

    Quack doesn’t seem strong enough. Michael Ellenburg is a con. Separating people from their money for something with no inherent value is reprehensible.

  24. says

    While left-leaning radio stations (the few that exist) may suffer from Huffington Post syndrome and give way too much credence to snake-oil salesmen, right-wing Christian radio is by no means immune. “Natural healing” is very popular and the most powerful Christian radio station in northern California carries a truly rancid program every afternoon featuring “Dr. Bob Marshall, Ph.D” and “Quantum Reflex Analysis.” Some of their modest claims, exceprted from a quack website:

    Despite being relatively unheard of, QRA, or Quantum Reflex Analysis, has been proven in clinical settings perhaps a million or more times.

    The more educated or analytical you tend to be, the more stunned you are most likely to be. QRA practitioners rarely need more than a minute or two to alter thousands of your thoughts when you experience your first QRA testing.

    No hocus pocus. In fact, QRA instantly proves to be more scientific than most everything that CAN ever come from the mouths of other types of practitioner. Instant evidence. How good can it get? Instant evidence, with QRA testing.

    Quantum Reflex Analysis proves to be the most comprehensive clinical tool encountered or developed thus far by the human race. A hundred other doctors with billions in equipment combined could not measure up to QRA testing (unless they, of course, have QRA training on how to do QRA testing), because quantum reflex analysis is non-invasive and instantaneous in its evidentiary support. Proof is instantly obtained, sustained.

    Of all the tools and resources shared within the Ways of Quantum Reflex , QRA is at the top of the list for correcting approximately all human disorders outside of death itself. Only three basics cause human health challenges: physical damage, chemical insult, both of which include foods and non-foods that are ingested, and electrical interference. When you injure the body in any way, the electrical field in that area is disturbed by congregating toxins. ALL healing, all scars, leave toxins behind. The only method shown and proven to remove these metabolites, or “leftovers” – let alone for thousands of years in a row – are mudpacks.

    It’s clear that anyone who goes to a QRA practitioner is likely to end up suffering from a buzzword overdose. In the meantime, I’m sure that QRA “researchers” are working hard to overcome its one current minor deficiency: an inability to deal with the human disorder known as “death”!

  25. ikesolem says

    Marketing drugs is always the same: take a little bit of science, play to people’s fears and hopes, and someone will buy it.

    Nevertheless, the immune system can play a big role in destroying malignant cells:

    “Natural killer (NK) cells are the front-line troops of the immune system that help to keep you alive while your body marshals a specific response to viruses or malignant cells. They constitute about 10% of circulating lymphocytes and are on patrol constantly, always on the look-out for virus-infected or tumor cells, and when detected, they lock onto their targets and destroy them by inducing apoptosis while signaling danger by releasing inflammatory cytokines. By using NK cells that do not need prior exposure to their target, the innate immune system buys time for the adaptive immune system (T cells and B cells) to build up a specific response to the virus or tumor. http://f1000.com/reports/m/3/9

    So, cancer therapies based on using the immune system (stem cells for NK production) are a real possibility, but this is experimental research, and would have to be highly tailored to each individual cancer patient. Some cancer cells could have defective apoptosis pathways, for example, and would be resistant to NK cells.

    A sleazy supplement manufacturer selling cancer treatments slaps a “immune system booster” label on a product because some vague level of public knowledge about that approach might increase sales. The supplement business is wide open to shady operators, being mostly unregulated (shark cartilage cancer pills being the worst example).

    However, don’t be too quick to knock all herbal pharmacology – willow bark tea, for example, was the source of salicylic acid, which when acetylated becomes aspirin. A more modern example is Astragalus membranaceus, whose biochemical constituents (polysaccharides and saponins) have well-studied immunoactive effects, and have been used to modulate chemotherapy treatments.

  26. justintapp says

    Wow, thanks for the positive response. I did not expect this kind of publicity, though I certainly don’t mind a wider audience learning that this guy’s a crock of shit. I am no scientist, merely a simple attorney with a low tolerance for con artists and bad science. Thanks for taking the time to help spread the word about this fraud!

    Justin T.

  27. screechymonkey says

    The fact that “boosts the immune system” doesn’t actually mean anything is intentional — it allows them to tell government agencies and courts that they’re not actually making any false claims, since they’re really not making any objectively measurable claims at all.

    Which is why Airborne, for example, does its best to imply that it prevents colds (a schoolteacher who was tired of getting colds invented it!), but only actually says that it boosts immunity.

  28. rowanvt says

    We had a client come in the other day to euthanize their old cancer riddled dog. When I asked why the dog was such a bright yellow color, they told me that they were dusting the dog with tumeric powder to relieve pain.

    Another epic battle of “can’t show the owner I think they’re crazy” won.

  29. Lycanthrope says

    Bryomixol specifically effects Natural Killer cell function. NK cells are involved in seeking out and destroying tumor cells, bacteria, and viruses.

    What if your NK cells ARE the cancerous ones? Yeah, that can happen.

    interrobang @24:

    It really depends on the type and stage of the cancer, which in turn determines what treatment is necessary. My own chemotherapy was similarly okay, but there are some patients whose treatment is way more unpleasant.

    OT, but there’s a way to do PZ’s Comic Sans block quote with an HTML tag, isn’t there? I thought I’d seen commenters do that before.

  30. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    However, don’t be too quick to knock all herbal pharmacology – willow bark tea, for example, was the source of salicylic acid, which when acetylated becomes aspirin. A more modern example is Astragalus membranaceus, whose biochemical constituents (polysaccharides and saponins) have well-studied immunoactive effects, and have been used to modulate chemotherapy treatments.

    No one is knocking herbal pharmacology… when it has been tested and works. What is being knocked is the seemingly uncontrollable urge of some people to accept any claim of efficacy of “natural” products at face value.

    The old saying is there is no such thing as alternative medicine. If it works it’s called medicine. If it doesn’t it’s not.

  31. DLC says

    Clearly the case of a man with a precancerous lesion — between his ears. Ellenburg needs to be shut down.

  32. radpumpkin says

    I’m pretty sure the stated “Ozone Therapy” is not related to water treatment. Do I even want to know what it is? I bet it smells good though…

  33. brewineer says

    That guy works in the same building as my dad!

    Maybe I should stop by his office and ask him to attempt to explain his treatments.

    By the way, don’t say this at a cocktail party:

    “Homeopathy is the sort of example one would make up to explain to a child why lying is wrong” (stolen from http://xkcd.com/971/)

    The result is no fun.

  34. kemist says

    My mother is currently going through chemotherapy, and so is a good friend of mine. (Fuck cancer!) I’ve seen that it really isn’t as bad as people think.

    Well, that depends on the meds. “Chemotherapy” is a term that designates several families of cancer medications with differing modes of administration.

    A taxol/carboplatin regimen once every 3 weeks (classical first line adjuvant therapy for solid tumors), say, doesn’t have the same side effects as a course of biweekly doxorubicin. Or induction chemo for lymphoma / leukemia.

    My best friend who has lost her battle to ovarian cancer this summer has tried several, and some were worse than others. One of the worse side-effect for her was the peripheral neuropathy (peripheral nerve destruction). That was painful / annoying and lasted for some time after she finished her first course of chemo. The nausea was quite well controlled with other meds – she even took a good amount of weight during that chemo.

    She was also very scared before her first chemo because she had seen her own mom die of cancer. After her first chemo, she said that it was much worse for her mom, 25-30 years ago. It has changed quite a bit since that time. One, there are more treatment options, second, most side-effects, such as nausea, constipation / diarrhea or pain, can be mitigated by other meds.

    All I know is that it beats the alternative. Untreated (or woo-treated) cancer is ugly.

    Indeed. The surgery and chemo gave her nearly 5 more years of life than she could expect without treatment, years that she used to finish her doctoral thesis in structural biology and begin a post doc in cancer research. And the occasional party with her good friends.

    It is the cancer that finally killed my friend by spreading through her digestive system, not the chemo. As her doctor explained to her at the end, at some point the tumor(s) gets so big they starts to produce toxic amounts of metabolites that have a devastating on all organs. That is much, much worse than chemo. To those who believe they’ll have “quality of life” by avoiding treatment : I’m sorry, no, it isn’t so.

    I heartily second your Fuck Cancer. All the best for your mom and your friend.

  35. kemist says

    I’m pretty sure the stated “Ozone Therapy” is not related to water treatment. Do I even want to know what it is? I bet it smells good though…

    Bet it smells like a beginner’s electronics class.

  36. kemist says

    However, don’t be too quick to knock all herbal pharmacology – willow bark tea, for example, was the source of salicylic acid, which when acetylated becomes aspirin.

    We medicinal chemists don’t call those “herbal”. Most existing non-biological drugs are derivatives from natural products. There exist banks of thousands of compounds, natural or synthetic, that can be massively tested for the condition you want to treat to find “hits”.

    We call such successful products a “lead” and we build on it (make some chemical modifications) to increase its activity and decrease its toxicity, sometimes by a factor of one million.

    Natural extracts / herbal medicine such as those sold by supplement pushers are almost never used as is, for several practical reasons :

    - Bad pharmacokinetic properties

    - Toxicity

    - Bad control of dosage (critical in the case of a cancer drug)

    - Sheer lack of ressource ex.: Taxol, a cancer drug, was originally extracted from the bark of the pacific yew. If all the taxol used now for cancer treatment was extracted in the same manner, there wouldn’t be any pacific yew left since a long time ago.

    I wouldn’t call those heavily modified drugs which come from natural ressource prospection “herbal pharmacology”.

  37. Happiestsadist says

    Things that claim to boost your immune system just reminds me that I’m boosted enough with my crazy allergies and sensitivities. (Day four of being sick from the new carpet in the hall outside the apartment. Yeah, I feel so healthy.)

    Cancer liars enrage me to an extent that I can’t even think of something funny to say. I’m too busy waiting to hear back about what’s going on with Dad. And those mammogram results for me that I get tomorrow. (Happy birthday me.) Cancer quacks need to be thrown into a volcano.

  38. carolw says

    I heartily agree with all the “Fuck cancer”s.
    I think the way to shut down all these woo-peddlers is to educate all the people you can about what is not real medicine. My local grocery store has a disturbingly large homeopathic products section, so I printed up a bunch of “Warning – This Product is Not Medicine” labels and wrote “Google homeopathy + skeptic” on the back, and stuck them in the fronts of the displays. I’m sure some employee pulled them out, but maybe some customers saw them.
    Sure, most of the sugar pills were for colds and “mood,” so no big deal, but The Big C is serious.

  39. crissakentavr says

    We coulda grown more pacific yew. It’s a weed. If it had commercial value, it would be coddled, not treated like it’s noxious.

  40. bird.is.the.word says

    Pacific yew a weed? Maybe that is the way it was treated back in the heyday of logging before anyone knew about taxol. Compared to doug-fir it had little value for lumber markets. Which is one of the reasons why there are so few yew trees around these days. Monocultures of doug-fir as far as the eye can see. These day, yews are only commonly found in old-growth or mature doug-fir/hemlock forests. So yes if there was no synthetic way to manufacture taxol the yews would be gone or taxol would be embroiled in a political mess. Super slow-growing tree…not a weed.

  41. coffeehound says

    RBDC @ #33,

    No one is knocking herbal pharmacology… when it has been tested and works. What is being knocked is the seemingly uncontrollable urge of some people to accept any claim of efficacy of “natural” products at face value.

    This. or, “It can’t possibly have side effects,it’s all natural”.
    My offer to find some nightshade for the yokel who gives me this one hasn’t been taken yet.

  42. Vicki says

    Crissakentavr:

    I take it that in your world, the frankincense trees are in no danger whatsoever, because frankincense has clear commercial value? Unfortunately, in what looks like reality from here, it’s not that simple. Yes, frankincense has commercial value, but it’s not the only valuable thing that can be done with that land. Furthermore, the insects that are destroying some of the trees can’t be paid to go elsewhere, because they don’t understand money.

  43. 'Tis Himself, OM. says

    Whenever someone in the family has a cold, the wife pushes one product to “enhance the immune system.” Fortunately, I like chicken soup.

  44. says

    I hate that word, cancer. It gives the impression that there is one single disease with one defined causative mechanism, which is not the case. Yes, the immune system is important in fixing copying errors, but so are other mechanisms. The naked mole rat does not get cancer probably because of its fancy dna repair mechanisms, while HIV sufferes for example get secondary malignancies due to their failing immune response.
    So “enhancing the immune system” is in theory a good thing, but we are not very good at it yet, we’re much better in suppressing immune responses than in enhancing them.

  45. jonesey says

    This really pissed me off so I created a facebook page entitled “Byomixol is scamming cancer patients”, in hope that it might at least prevent one poor cancer patient from traveling to El Salvador to get water(homeopathic “medicine”) injected into their tumors. If you think this might help (and have a facebook account) please like and share it.

    http://www.facebook.com/pages/Byomixol-is-scamming-cancer-patients/194424330650902?sk=wall

    Thanks,

    jonesey