Medicine Quackery

I’m off to Chicago, where the woo doth flow

Surgeons, especially general surgeons, know that the middle of October is an important time of year. One thing that hospitals notice is that the surgery schedule in the O.R. often slows down considerably for several days. If you’re the junior surgeon or otherwise the low man on the totem pole, you suddenly find that it’s easy to get O.R. time, that you can book cases at times you normally couldn’t before, and that you might even get the better rooms. The reason? Simple. The middle of October is the time when the American College of Surgeons Clinical Congress takes place, and that’s where I’m going this afternoon.

What that means for the ol’ blog is that things will slow down. What will probably happen is that I’ll post the usual collection of “best of” posts (if there is a such thing for this blog). However, much of what I will repost will be more than three years old, which means it’ll new to you if you haven’t been following the wild and woolly world of the Insolence that is Orac for at least two or three years. Of course, as nearly always, there will be some new stuff interspersed with the old, frantically typed out between meetings or in the morning before I head off to McCormick Place to take in all that surgical science-y goodness. (It’s all part of my evil plan to keep readers from simply deciding not to check back her until the middle of next week.)

Maybe I’ll even manage to find some awesome EneMan tchotchkes. Part of the reason I haven’t done any EneMan posts for a while is because…well, Fleet never sent me a 2009 Calendar (despite my asking) and, more importantly, I simply haven’t had a lot of inspiration for something to do with our intrepid anti-woo blog mascot. That will have to change. Our old friend with the thing sticking out of his head about whose purpose you really don’t want to inquire in too much detail will put up with a lot, but a year out of the limelight? Even that may be too much. Maybe he’ll even be at the Fleet display in the Exhibit Hall, in which case I must get a picture of myself with our old friend.

In the meantime, maybe I’ll end up meeting up with some of my readers. The last time I suggested such a thing, it went over like the proverbial led balloon, but we’ll see this time. A reader facetiously (I think) suggested just the place:

Karyn’s Raw Cafe.

Yes, it’s a vegan restaurant. No, I’m not a vegan–I’m anything but. However, I’m not opposed to vegan food, just the woo that goes along with it. And, oh boy, does Karyn have a lot of woo! Take a look:

Colon Hydrotherapy
Diet, stress and toxins from our internal and external environments can quickly cause a build up of undigested matter in our large intestine/colon. Impacted fecal matter can be responsible for a myriad of ailments including indigestion, acne, body odor and poor nutrient absorption. Colon therapy is one of the most effective ways to quickly cleanse and heal the body by eliminating accumulated and impacted fecal matter. Relax one-on-one with a certified colon therapist using a state of the art apparatus that gently flows tepid water in and out of the body while strengthening the colon muscle tissues. To enhance your session we recommend using oxygen or adding an implant of wheatgrass, chlorophyll or rejuvelac to help pull out excess mucous and replenish good bacteria. Sessions last 45 minutes.

Cost: $85 per session; $320 for a package of 4, or $750 for a package of 10. Oxygen and implants are included in the price of colonics but implants must be purchased ahead of appointment and provided by client.

Woo-hoo! (Or, should I say just “Woo!”) Think of it! Colon cleanses! But not just any colon cleanse, a wheatgrass, chlorophyll, or rejuvelac colon cleanse. Of course, rejuvelac is a fermented liquid that supposedly improves the digestion of food. Why on earth would you want to insert an “implant” of this stuff in the colon? And don’t you just love the thought of tepid water flowing in and out of your colon? Yum! There’s nothing better, especially if you’re a woo who thinks that mere regularity is never enough. In any case, if there’s one job I don’t want, it’s that of colon hydrotherapist. On the other hand, at $85 a pop, maybe I could learn to deal with the plethora of consistencies of fecal matter.


But that’s not all. After a good colon cleanse, what do you need to suck out any “toxins” out somehow didn’t come out through your colon in the form of big brown? Easy, you need this:

Oxygen Bath
Sit comfortably in a sauna ‚ like pod that increases the available oxygen to the body over the level of daily function to the level needed to draw toxins from the body. A powerful detoxifier that will leave you invigorated and refreshed, while it regenerates on the cellular level. Sessions last 20-30 minutes.

Cost: $55 per bath. A series of 10 baths is $450.

What is it with people and “boosting” oxygen? The amount of oxygen dissolved in the blood is small relative to the amount bound to hemoglobin, and at the partial pressure of oxygen at sea level the hemoglobin in a normal person is pretty much saturated. Dissolving more oxygen in the blood doesn’t do anything, and cranking up the oxygen certainly doesn’t “draw toxins from the body” or “regenerate on the cellular level” (whatever that means). Come to think of it, “regenerate on the cellular level is one of those pointless alt-med phrases that sounds all science-y but has no real meaning in physiology. But, hey, if it costs $55 for 20-30 minutes, it must work, right?

Just like the ear coning, truly one of the stupidest “alternative medicine” types of “treatment” ever conceived. I wonder what whoever invented this particular form of woo was thinking when he or she thought of it. Hey, let’s stick a candle in a person’s ear and light it. It’ll draw out earwax and “toxins.” Yeah, that’s the ticket. If they’ll believe that, they’ll believe anything, and then I can sell them…

Aqua Chi!

That’s right, it’s a soothing footbath of woo, where the water changes color, drawing out your “toxins” through your feet. Too bad the water changes color whether there are feet in it or not. These “detox footbaths” are pure woo. They do serve one purpose, though. They show definitively that there is no concept too divorced from reality that it can’t be turned into the basis of some sort of “alternative” therapy.

The sad thing about this whole thing is that Karyn’s place is in one of my favorite neighborhoods in Chicago. In fact, back in the late 1990s, my wife and I lived only a half mile walk away from where Karyn’s Lincoln Park location is today. I’d look for almost any excuse to go back to that neighborhood for a visit. However, given the amount of pure nonsense being sold at Karyn’s, I’d be afraid that the clash of my “aura” with the woo aura emanating from Karyn’s place would split the fabric of the space time continuum.

I wouldn’t want that to happen in my favorite city. Newark or Camden, OK, but not Chicago.

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]

23 replies on “I’m off to Chicago, where the woo doth flow”

I hope you are referring to Newark and Camden in the USA. My sister lives in Newark, UK and I am en route to the London borough of Camden as I write this courtesy of Virgin Trains wi-fi service.

@ Mike Stanton: I think he means NJ,where he used to work. There are quite a few cities in the US named after those UK cities.

proverbial led balloon

What, you still use that saying even after seeing a lead balloon actually fly? (And if you didn’t see it, I’m quite surprised.)

I hope you are referring to Newark and Camden in the USA. My sister lives in Newark, UK and I am en route to the London borough of Camden as I write this courtesy of Virgin Trains wi-fi service.

Plenty of woo in the London Borough of Camden.

I have thought there was potential for financial success through the use of Spinach Therapy (TM).

Your stuffed into a small fiberglass pod, this allows more patients to be accommodated into a small storefront operation to keep costs down and profits high, with attractive and scantily clad local talent, gender determined by user, who spoon feeds you canned spinach while you watch Popeye cartoons. For an additional fee we will squirt a little extra oxygen, consistent with fire regulations, into the pod.

The health claims will be that spinach, laughter and deep breathing are all good for you. The message to be delivered through the usual glossy advertisements and testimonies. And any actual science, or speculation, that even indirectly supports the regimen.

Come to think of it, “regenerate on the cellular level is one of those pointless alt-med phrases that sounds all science-y but has no real meaning in physiology. But, hey, if it costs $55 for 20-30 minutes, it must work, right?

Of course — but if you want to regenerate on the quantum level, I’m afraid that will cost even more. It’s cutting-edge physics blended holistically with cutting-edge woo. Doesn’t take as long, and you get a pix of Deepak Chopra. No need for an enema afterwards. Really.

Well, I’m glad we never ate there.

I would suggest Molly’s Cupcakes at Clark & Deming instead. They have rock-em sock-em robots.

While in Chicago you should definitely look up Julie Deardorff (woo columnist extraordinaire) at the Tribune, maybe take her out for, um, lunch at Karyn’s.

C’mon Orac, you know you want to make a trip down to Karyn’s. Don’t you want to visit “A place to facilitate your individual path towards well-being”?

The food might even be pretty good. I know of a few vegetarian places that have excellent food. Then again, there’s something very wrong with paying $9 for a soy burger. At least the resulting flatulence is free.

Colon Hydrotherapy would be poo-woo then?

It’s doodoo voodoo.

It’s pap about crap.

It’s cacaphony.

A wheat-grass implant?

Actor/comedian Andy Richter took a camera crew to a woo convention several years ago. When he inquired why anyone would consume grass, he was told that “Our dogs are smarter than we are- they know to eat grass when they don’t feel well.” Without missing a beat, Richter replied “Yes, and they eat out of the cat-litter box, too.”

I just saw Richard Dawkins almost break into tears when Bill O’Reily raised his voice at him.

The whole thing is right here:

I didn’t see any tears, nor does Dawkins look like he’s on the verge of anything like that. He does come off as a lot more irritated than usual though. Who can blame him with the burning stupid that Bill is throwing his way?

Relax one-on-one with a certified colon therapist using a state of the art apparatus that gently flows tepid water in and out of the body while strengthening the colon muscle tissues.

…okay, just waiting for my anus to unclench, now.

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