Death by naturopathic curcumin (tumeric) injection confirmed

This story also implicates Bastyr University in Seattle. Follow the Forbes article as the source. Read the following link to get the full story. It is quite damning of the practice of injecting curcumin.

The San Diego Medical Examiner has confirmed that 30-year-old Jade Erick was killed by an intravenous turmeric solution administered by a California naturopath whom she had consulted for treatment of eczema. [Hermes BM. Confirmed: Licensed naturopathic doctor gave lethal ‘turmeric’ injection. Forbes, April 10, 2017] The naturopath, Kim Kelly, had advocated the use of intravenous curcumin for “any type of inflammatory condition, whether it be arthritis, autoimmune conditions, Alzheimer’s or dementia” and claimed that “promising effects have been observed in patients with various pro-inflammatory diseases.” Curcumin is a constituent of turmeric, which is useful as a spice but has not been proven safe and effective for the treatment of any health problem. [Nelson KM. The essential medicinal chemistry of curcumin. Journal of Medicinal Chemistry 60:1620-1637, 2017]

…But he must not be aware that curcumin and its metabolic byproducts are related to cardiotoxicity as they inhibit certain potassium channels in cardiac tissue, which can stop the heart

The Vitamin D Craze- Truth and Fiction

The New York Times has an excellent article outlining the current Vitamin D craze, it’s roots and it’s myths. I have discussed this with a medical professional, who mentions that for people with certain diseases, like osteoporosis or kidney disease, a real deficit in Vitamin D is possible. But for most people, it’s just not an issue. And because the craze has insurance companies declining to cover the testing in many cases, these patients with real need are getting their tests turned down by the companies. As the NY Times article points out, the wide scale studies are not backing up the medical professionals who set this whole fad in motion.


State passes law giving credence to reflexology and somatic education

The Washington State legislature has updated it’s RCW 18.108 to reflect state credence of the massage techniques of reflexology and somatic education. Both these methods have no basis in proven scientific methods of treatment, and are considered by some in the medical profession to be nothing more than fake medicine. It is disheartening to see the State legislature taking steps to legitimize these massage techniques that come with little or no proof of their ability to treat patients other than that the industry has come up with educational programs to train people in these techniques. While there seems to be nothing more than hearsay to validate their techniques, the legislature abrogates it’s duty to protect the public from non-scientifically valid procedures, and work towards giving these techniques and their practitioners a cloak of medical respectability.

According to information on, the leading source for tracking non-scientific health claims in the US:

Many proponents claim that foot reflexology can cleanse the body of toxins, increase circulation, assist in weight loss, and improve the health of organs throughout the body. Others have reported success in treating earaches, anemia, bedwetting, bronchitis, convulsions in an infant, hemorrhoids, hiccups, deafness, hair loss, emphysema, prostate trouble, heart disease, overactive thyroid gland, kidney stones, liver trouble, rectal prolapse, undescended testicles, intestinal paralysis, cataracts, and hydrocephalus (a condition in which an excess of fluid surrounding the brain can cause pressure that damages the brain). Some claim to “balance energy and enhance healing elsewhere in the body.” [2] One practitioner has even claimed to have lengthened a leg that was an inch shorter than the other. There is no scientific support for these assertions.

Reflexology was introduced into the United States in 1913 by William H. Fitzgerald, M.D. (1872-1942), an ear, nose, and throat specialist who called it “zone therapy.” Eunice D. Ingham (1899-1974) further developed reflexology in the 1930s and 1940s, concentrating on the feet [3] Mildred Carter, a former student of Ingham, subsequently promoted foot reflexology as a miraculous health method [4-6]. A 1993 mailing from her publisher stated:

Not only does new Body Reflexology let you cure the worst illnesses safely and permanently, it can even work to reverse the aging process, Carter says. Say goodbye to age lines, dry skin, brown spots, blemishes—with Body Reflexology you can actually give yourself an at-home facelift with no discomfort or disfiguring surgery [7].

You can read the whole overview by Dr. Barrett along with research studies that have been done that conclude that reflexology has no legitimate scientific standing.

Dr. Barrett’s conclusion: “Reflexology is based on an absurd theory and has not been demonstrated to influence the course of any illness. Done gently, reflexology is a form of foot massage that may help people relax temporarily. Whether that is worth $35 to $100 per session or is more effective than ordinary (noncommercial) foot massage is a matter of individual choice. Claims that reflexology is effective for diagnosing or treating disease should be ignored. Such claims could lead to delay of necessary medical care or to unnecessary medical testing of people who are worried about reflexology findings.”

Also from Dr. Barrett’s web site, the definition of “Somatic Therapy” that the state is tacitly supporting:

somatic therapy (somatic disciplines, somatic methods, somatics, somatic techniques, somatic therapies): Field that encompasses aikido, the Alexander Technique, applied kinesiology, Arica, Aston-Patterning, Awareness Through Movement, bioenergetics, Body-Mind Centering®, “Capoeria,” “Continuum,” CranioSacral Therapy, Eutony, Focusing, Functional Integration, Hakomi, Hellerwork, judo, karate, kundalini yoga, kung fu, “Lomi” (see “lomi-lomi” and “Lomi work”), “Oki yoga” (see “Oki-Do”), Process-Oriented Psychotherapy (process psychology), rebirthing, reflexology, Resonant Kinesiology, Rolfing, “Rosen work” (see “Rosen Method”), “sensory awareness,” SHEN, somasynthesis, tai chi, Touch for Health, Trager, “Trans Fiber,” yoga therapy, and Zero Balancing. “Subtle-energy elements” are a commonality of somatic therapies. Thomas Hanna, founder of the journal Somatics, coined the word “somatics.”

While I have no doubt that some of these techniques, such as Capoeria, Akidido, etc. are good exercise and lead to relaxation, by turning these into some kind of pseudo medical technique leads to people thinking it’s a treatment for a disease or condition that should be treated with proven medical techniques. It’s disappointing to see the Washington State Legislature give validity to these marketing tactics for these  techniques.

We can hope the Governor chooses to not sign this update to the RCW.

Dubious claims abound on Canadian naturopathy, homeopathy, acupuncture, and homeopathy clinic Web sites-Consumer Health Digest

The little regulated world of ‘natural healing’ runs the gamut from sincere and useful low tech solutions to health problems to a wide range of dubious if not downright fraudulent claims and practices. While the study was Canadian in scope, it can be assumed that these same findings would be replicated in the US. This wide ranging study of 10 major Canadian cities found the following.

A survey of 392 naturopathy, homeopathy, acupuncture, and homeopathy clinic Web sites has found that unsupportable claims for the management of asthma and allergy are widespread. [Murdoch B and others. Selling falsehoods? A cross-sectional study of Canadian naturopathy, homeopathy, chiropractic, and acupuncture clinic website claims relating to allergy and asthma] The investigators concluded: 

  • The majority of the clinics studied claim they can either diagnose or treat both allergy/sensitivity and asthma.
  • Naturopathic clinic websites have the highest rates of advertising at least one of diagnosis, treatment, or efficacy for allergy or sensitivity (85%) and asthma (64%), followed by acupuncturists (68% and 53%, respectively), homeopaths (60% and 54%) and chiropractors (33% and 38%).
  • The majority of the advertised interventions lack evidence of efficacy, and some are potentially harmful.
  • Food-specific IgG testing was commonly advertised, despite the fact that the Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology has recommended not to use this test due to the absence of a body of research supporting it.
  • Live blood analysisvega/electrodiagnostic testing, intravenous vitamin C, probiotics, homeopathic allergy remedies, and several other tests and treatments offered all lack substantial scientific evidence of efficacy.
  • Some of the proposed treatments—such as ionic foot bath detoxification—are so absurd that they lack even the most basic scientific plausibility.
  • A policy response may be warranted in order to safeguard the public interest.

Studies of this type are important because when legislators consider whether to license nonstandard practitioners, they seldom know what these practitioners claim to do.

Reported on Consumer Health Digest. Consumer Health Digest is a free weekly e-mail newsletter edited by Stephen Barrett, M.D., with help from William M. London, Ed.D., M.P.H. It summarizes scientific reports; legislative developments; enforcement actions; news reports; Web site evaluations; recommended and nonrecommended books; and other information relevant to consumer protection and consumer decision-making.

The study itself can be found at: Murdoch B, Carr S, Caulfield T. Selling falsehoods? A crosssectional study of Canadian naturopathy, homeopathy, chiropractic and acupuncture clinic website claims relating to allergy and asthma. BMJ Open 2016;6:e014028. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2016- 014028

Discredited anti-vaccine advocate addresses chiropractic group -Forbes

Since we have a journal in Port Townsend that has supported the anti-vaccine movement, it’s worth touching on this interesting article. I cannot understand why chiropractors, who work hard to legitimize their practice, are supporting the leading advocate of anti-vaccinations. One of our key goals in Jefferson County according to the Public Health Department is to raise the levels of vaccinations, which have fallen precipitously over the last decade as people like Wakefield have put forward ideas that have been discredited by science.

Forbes has reported that Andrew Wakefield, who lost his medical license for unprofessional conduct related to vaccine research, was a keynote speaker at the International Chiropractors Association’s Annual Conference on Chiropractic and Pediatrics in Maui. [Lee BY. Are chiropractors backing the anti-vaccine movement? Forbes, Dec 10, 2016] Noting that Wakefield was unable to provide scientific evidence to support his anti-vaccination claims, the report’s author asks whether having him as a speaker is the best way for a professional association and a conference to gain scientific legitimacy. The article is also skeptical about chiropractors in general.

FDA backs off important lab regulation

So the Quacks are going to win one here. LDT’s are the refuge for pseudo-science.

The FDA has announced that is postponing possible plans to regulate laboratory-developed tests (LDTs) until it it determines what might be acceptable to the incoming administration and Congress. [Firth S. FDA delays guidance on lab-developed tests. MedPage Today, Nov 21, 2016] (LDTs are tests designed, manufactured, and performed by a single CLIA-certified lab.) Although the FDA has the authority to regulate them, it has provided very little oversight of such tests. At present, LDTs do not have to be proven clinically valid. Many are valuable and evidence-based, but, as noted by attorney Jann Bellamy:

LDTs have become the perfect vehicle for pseudoscientific practitioners, like naturopathic “doctors,” chiropractors, and “Lyme literate” and “integrative” physicians, who can test their patients for non-existent conditions and then proceed to “treat” them, sometimes with hundreds of dollars-worth of medically unnecessary dietary supplements. Where the practitioner lacks the legal authority to order lab tests (for example, in states where naturopaths are not licensed), he can simply tell the patient which direct-to-consumer test to order from a lab. Because bogus tests are not covered by insurance, the patient pays out of pocket, sometimes with a markup added by the practitioner. [Bellamy J.  Dubious lab tests get reprieve after FDA backs off regulatory plan. Society for Science-Based Medicine Blog, Nov 27, 2016]

Canadian court authorizes class-action suit against chiropractors

There are chiropractors here in Port Townsend and elsewhere on the Peninsula advertising spinal decompression. I have no idea if they are using the Axiom DRX 9000. It does not appear in a search of any of the Olympic Peninsula chiropractors.

The Quebec Superior Court has authorized a class-action suit to proceed against 13 chiropractors and their insurers. The plaintiffs were treated for back pain at Zero Gravity clinics with a spinal decompression machine called the Axiom DRX 9000. The company went bankrupt in 2013, but the suit is directed against the individual chiropractors: Yves Bélanger, Marc Bureau, Amelie Jean, Bertrand Canuel, Patrick Fortier, Mario Amyot, Yoland Guimond, Catherine Morin-Noiseux, Valérie Bouthillier, Giovanni Ippolito, Caroline Huot, Jean Theroux, and Marie-Noelle Side. All of the case documents are in French. The complaint (in French) and Google’s English translation of the judge’s ruling are available online. The complaint states:

  • In 2010, Health Canada banned sale of the device, saying that the manufacturer had failed to provide scientific evidence that the device is effective.
  • The College of Quebec advised chiropractors to stop advertising and using the device and subsequently disciplined 9 of the 13 chiropractors.

The law firm handling the case is Ménard, Martin of Montreal. Press reports indicate that 650 people have signed up, but up to 8,000 people might be eligible. [650 people get permission to sue chiropractors. CTV News Montreal, Nov 23, 2016]

Spinal decompression is an expensive high-tech form of mechanical traction that can relieve some cases of back pain but has been widely promoted with unsubstantiated claims that it can correct degenerated and herniated discs without surgery. [Barrett S. Be wary of spinal decompression therapy with VAX-D or similar devices. Chirobase, Nov 25, 2016]