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Antivaccine nonsense Medicine

Desiree Jennings “cured” of her “vaccine-induced dystonia”?

Remember how I promised that I’d do my next installment of my blogging Suzanne Somers’ pile of idiocy, namely her own book, before the end of the week?

Plans change, and neurons melt, which they did in response to reading the first several chapters of Suzanne Somers’ book.

Don’t worry, though. I’ll definitely try to get back on track with my–shall we say?–extended multipart review by Monday. Sometimes, though, when you’re blogging, news drives what you do, and news is driving my decision to forego the pleasure and pain of the next installment of my “fun with Suzanne Somers” series, at least for a couple of days. What, you may ask, was so important that I delayed this most important project, a project that strikes home more than most, given that I treat breast cancer for a living?

It’s the Desiree Jennings story again.

You remember Desiree Jennings? She’s the young woman who received a seasonal flu vaccine in August and later developed what is being represented as dystonia but is almost certainly not. The other day, her VAERS database report was found, which casts even more doubt on her story, given that the neurologist who examined her when she presented concluded that there was a strong psychogenic component to whatever it was that was wrong with her. What has been brought to my attention is that, after promoting Jennings as evidence that the flu vaccine is harmful, deleting its page asking for donations for her, and then deciding to support her again, it looks as though Generation Rescue is going full mental jacket in supporting her again. Indeed, it looks as though GR has hooked Jennings up with a character I’ve discussed numerous times on this blog. More on that later. In the meantime, check out her website, where she tells her story and touting her “cure“:

Had I known the full risks of my own flu shot back in August … had I been properly educated … I may have never suffered the painful consequences. Even more importantly, after I got injured, I felt I was written off by most of the medical community simply because they couldn’t figure out what was truly wrong.

Now, I want to make sure you get the education you need in the coming weeks and months. I will be speaking more candidly about my treatment with the help of my Doctor who is assisting in my recovery.

Uh-oh. Who is this doctor? Take a guess. No, it’s not a competent doctor. Indeed, it’s a doctor who has gotten in a lot of trouble with his medical board. He’s known for urine injection therapy, among other things, and has charged tens of thousands of dollars to apply his quackery to cancer patients. Do you know of whom I speak yet? Longtime readers, I bet, can guess.

Yes, I’m talking about “Dr.” Rashid Buttar, Woo-meister Supreme, who once referred to the North Carolina Medical Board as “rabid dogs” for daring to have the temerity to tell him that he should practice according to the standard of care. This is what Desiree has to say about her supposedly being on the road to recovery:

After having her life turned upside down by a routine influenza shot, and discharged by three major hospitals after four visits – despite worsening symptoms – Desiree Jennings is finally making great strides in her recovery. The vibrant, 25-year-old Washington Redskins Cheerleader Ambassador has a website to tell her story and keep well-wishers from around the world informed of her progress as well as to promote “true informed consent.”

Jennings was training for a half marathon in August 2009 when she received her seasonal flu shot, something she had done several years before. This time, however, her reaction was severe and debilitating. Over the course of several weeks she lost the ability to walk or talk normally, and began to suffer violent seizures and recurrent blackouts.

Jennings was misdiagnosed multiple times with a variety of diagnoses since receiving the influenza shot, which she thought would protect her from illness. She has since been diagnosed by her treating physician, Dr. Rashid A. Buttar, with a number of conditions including but not limited to Acute, Viral Post Immunization Encephalopathy and Mercury Toxicity with secondary respiratory and neurological deficits.

Of course he did. That’s what he diagnoses everyone with, pretty much, other than his cancer patients.

And, making the rounds on various quack discussion forums is this breathless e-mail:

I am sending this message out regarding breaking news regarding the Redskin Cheerleader Desiree Jennings. It has not aired yet, but much IS YET TO COME on CNN, Fox News, London Times, 20/20 and major press releases EVERYWHERE!

Desiree is the Redskin Cheerleader who 10 days after receiving the flu shot became neurologically impaired with a diagnosis of Dystonia. John Hopkins as well as another hospital had confirmed this was indeed induced by the flu vaccine she recently received. I have put some you tubes in chronological order of her events, so if you have been following her story, just skip the 1st two you tubes.

Desiree was spotted by Generation Rescue and led to Dr. Rashid Buttar for treatments. When Desiree arrived last Monday to Dr. Buttar™’s clinic, she was having seizures every 45-60 seconds, every 15-30 seconds her breathing stopped, and she had to be carried into the clinic due to rapid progression of her declining health. Desiree was unable to talk and her whole system was shutting down. 36 hours after removing the toxicity from her body, her symptoms are REVERSED!

This story is AMAZING and there is going to be major press release as camera crews where present documenting it all. Tears were shed amongst Desiree and her husband as she bounced back, and amongst the staff in the clinic as they witnessed her health returning back, from chelation. It was a glorious event witnessed by all!

Thanks to Generation Rescue for the rescue of the century and guiding Desiree to Dr. Buttar!

Detox. It had to be detox. Because, you know, the horrific “toxins” in the flu vaccine so damaged Jennings’ central nervous system that she exhibited a set of symptoms that don’t fit with any known disease or condition. Moreover, the story has morphed from Jennings merely being unable to speak and having all these jerky movements to having seizures every minute and having her breathing stop two or three times a minute. Enter Dr. “urine injections R US” Buttar with one of his–what else?–chelation and “detoxification” regimens, and suddenly she’s all well again! Or so says Dr. Rashid Buttar in an interview on a “health freedom” radio show by Robert Scott Bell. Or, at least, so says a happy Desiree Jennings:

The treatments with Dr. Buttar at the Center for Advanced Medicine and Clinical Research in Charlotte, NC are working, and the results are nothing short of amazing. Jennings can now walk and talk normally throughout the vast majority of the day and the seizures/convulsions have significantly decreased. Although her full recovery will take an undetermined amount of time, her family is now for the first time, convinced she will make a complete recovery. She is now more than ever, driven by a desire to educate others to be informed of the potential side effects caused by vaccines and prevent others from suffering a similar fate.

Of course she is. She’s been converted. She now has a video in which she tells everyone how well she’s doing:

When I first wrote about this story, I made a prediction. Actually, I made an “either or” prediction. I predicted that either doctors or practitioners recommended by Generation Rescue would use their usual quackery (i.e., “biomedical therapy” for “vaccine injury”) to “treat” Ms. Jennings. There’s no doubt that that’s exactly what happened, and GR went for the big macher of “biomedical” woo-meisters, Dr. Rashid Buttar. It doesn’t get much bigger than that in the biomedical world. I further predicted that, if Jennings’ symptoms resolved spontaneously, which they appear to be doing, both she and GR would credit her fortune to whatever quackery she was being subjected to. My alternative prediction was that, given the increasing evidence coming out that Jennings’ condition was not true dystonia and had, at the very least, a strong psychogenic overlay, the anti-vaccine movement would let her story fade away. Indeed, that was what it appeared to be doing, given that the page on Generation Rescue’s website asking for donations for Jennings had disappeared without a trace (other than the Google cache, of course).

Apparently in response to all the criticism, someone at GR apparently decided that the best defense is a good offense. (And who’s more offensive than j.B. Handley?) That good offense is what we’re seeing now. Jennings’ website is slick and clearly professionally designed. It’s doubtful that she could afford to put together such a website, much less the well-produced video that is being shown. I also predicted that, if and when Jennings’ almost certainly psychogenic dystonia spontaneously resolves, the anti-vaccine movement will declare victory and use that resolution as “evidence” that her dystonia was due to “vaccine injury.” That is exactly what appears to be happening right now. It looks almost as dramatic as a faith healing. As I said before, I do not think that she is faking, and “psychogenic” doesn’t mean that she can control her symptoms. She is indeed suffering, I’m sure.

Unfortunately, suffering or not, psychogenic dystonia or true dystonia, this unfortunate young woman is being used by the anti-vaccine movement, and it sickens me.I hadn’t realized just how cynical the anti-vaccine movement would be. Even in my wildest imaginings, I wouldn’t have predicted that they’d have chosen Dr. Rashid Buttar as the woo-meister who would “cure” Jennings. After all, he’s the same guy who has promoted, among other quackery, urine injections. He’s the same guy who has charged cancer patients obscene amounts of money for his quackery and made unbelievable promises. Now that‘s chutzpah!

In retrospect, I now realize that I underestimated the sheer cynicism of Generation Rescue and J.B. Handley, the sheer will to exploit an unfortunate woman whose disorder, whatever it is (physiologic or psychogenic), almost certainly has nothing to do with the flu vaccine and, even if it did, would be such a rare reaction as not to be a signficant concern compared to the risk of not being vaccinated. They’re going to milk this for all it’s worth, complete with a “recovery story” testimonial that will appear superficially convincing. Indeed, Jennings’ website is already garnering sponsors like OxyHealth, which makes portable hyperbaric oxygen chambers, and RevitaPop, some sort of supplement in the form of a lollipop that apparently believers in woo feed their autistic kids. Unfortunately, a whois search failed to find who owns the domain name, but I’d bet money that Generation Rescue or someone from Generation Rescue bought the domain name and set up this website for her. It and the ever-despicable Rashid Buttar are exploiting this poor woman for their own ends. Probably, Jennings doesn’t know what she’s bought into, and I doubt she knows just how badly this could end.

You know, also in retrospect, I think that maybe I should have stuck with my original plan to deconstruct Suzanne Somers’ book some more. It would have irritated me less.

ADDENDUM: Steve Novella has also commented. As a neurologist, he made perhaps the most cogent observation about the whole Buttar affair:

But, unknowingly, Dr. Buttar was about to administer what can be considered a significant test of the hypothesis that Jennings’ symptoms are psychogenic. One test we can use to help confirm this diagnosis is to see if the patient’s symptoms can respond to psychological treatments or to medical treatments that should not otherwise be capable of reversing the symptoms. A response that is too quick to be plausible, for example, is one type of response that supports a psychogenic diagnosis. One dramatic example from my own experience was a patient with apparently psychogenic symptoms who believed that he needed a specific IV medication as a treatment. After extensive negative workup, we agreed to give him the treatment, and his symptoms completely resolved even before the medicine had a chance to work its way through the IV tubing and into his arm.

If Jennings really had dystonia or any biological brain injury from toxicity, removing the toxin might prevent further progression and allow the slow process of recovery to begin. But brain damage does not immediately reverse itself once the cause is removed. It is possible for dystonia to be a side effect of certain medications, and it can immediately resolve once that medication is stopped or reversed. But in that situation we are dealing with an effect of an active blood level of a pharmaceutical agent – something which is inherently reversible. We are not dealing with damage or injury.

[…]

However, now Jennings herself, and Dr. Buttar, report that Jennings began to improve while still sitting in the chair and receiving her chelation therapy, and within 36 hours her symptoms were completely gone. First, let me say that I am very happy Ms. Jennings’ symptoms have resolved. Hopefully now she can just go on with her life. But to me, this impossibly rapid recovery is a dramatic confirmation that her symptoms were psychogenic to begin with. It is simply implausible that brain injury from mercury toxicity could be reversed so quickly – especially when you consider that Dr. Buttar had Jennings at death’s door.

Indeed. The story being spread by Dr. Buttar about her dramatic improvement is excellent evidence that Desiree Jennings’ dystonia was almost certainly psychogenic all along. Her recovery was too miraculously fast to be plausible especially if she appeared as sick as is being reported, even if the snake oil Dr. Buttar administered had a real physiological effect on her nervous system.

Like Steve, I’m glad that Desiree Jennings is apparently recovering, whatever the reason. Hopefully she can get back to her normal life. But I roundly condemn Generation Rescue and Dr. Buttar for their cynical exploitation of this vulnerable young woman. Given J. B. Handley’s history, I have to wonder if they would have gone so far to promote this story if Ms. Jennings had been a 25-year-old average-looking man, rather than a beautiful 25-year-old woman who was also an NFL cheerleader.

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]

690 replies on “Desiree Jennings “cured” of her “vaccine-induced dystonia”?”

While I’m glad she’s feeling better, that feeling is tempered by the knowledge that the pro-disease people will lift her up as an example for years to come.

Wow – that didn’t take long. I thought that they would at least hang out until Thanksgiving was over and make this a Christmas miracle as well. Call me cynical, but I call Balloon Girl on this whole thing.

Yes, desiree is on the road to recovery..I know how this must upset you. Youd prefer she remained dystonic, or recovered ‘spontaneously’…Pity!

BUT at leasrt this story has shown the cupidity, stupidity and heartlessess of the medical profession, as well as bloggers like those on science(?)blogs.

The portions you quoted do sound superficially convincing. There is the emotional appeal; an argument from personal experience, so if anyone contradicts her, the GR folks can shout “you’re calling her a liar?!?!”; a doctor (and a brave maverick, at that) is involved. Gotta say, it is a well-produced PR piece.

‘Yes, I’m talking about Dr. Rashid Buttar, Woo-meister Supreme, who once referred to the North Carolina Medical Board as “rabid dogs” for daring to have the temerity to tell him that he should practice according to the standard of care’

The standard of medical care , Desiree knows all full well…it gave her DYSTONIA. Shes been cured by Dr Rashid. The rabid dogs however, could only wail and gnash their teeth at this cure. They should all be struck off the medical board they dominate.

Oh Brian, why do you waste your time in reading anything? Just post your comments, and save yourself the wasted time in reading stuff you neither understand nor care about.

BUT at leasrt this story has shown the cupidity, stupidity and heartlessess of the medical profession, as well as bloggers like those on science(?)blogs.

Yes, how shameful of us to speak out against lying and fraud.

Does this happen if you eat Tuna also? Doesn’t that have lots of mercury? I should stop eating the chicken of the sea… but it’s just so tasty.

‘While I’m glad she’s feeling better, that feeling is tempered by the knowledge that the pro-disease people will lift her up as an example for years to come.’

You must be conflicted, Hank. Your faith in doctors has run up against a wall of Desiree’s doctor induced illness…Pro-disease? You are pro-disease, Dr Buttar is pro-cure.

Please dont pretend you care for Desiree…You dont.

“The standard of medical care , Desiree knows all full well…it gave her DYSTONIA. Shes been cured by Dr Rashid. The rabid dogs however, could only wail and gnash their teeth at this cure. They should all be struck off the medical board they dominate.”

As they say on Wikipedia [[citation needed]]

Orac and others of the medical faithful need citations…Im happy Desiree is on the road to recovery..you are not…History Punk indeed!

Orac Said “I hadn’t realized just how cynical the anti-vaccine movement would be.”

This is the same reaction I had. I had been giving the AoA and GR a very very small measure of slack because at the end of the day their goal is to help kids. But the lengths they have gone to in this story to make sure that vaccines are vilified is just bizarre. The contortions of logic needed to somehow justify that this helps kids with autism is astounding.

pHred,

I was thinking the exact same thing. I do risk sounding insenstive, but I really want to call b.s. on all of this.

I must say, I’m impressed with the level of trolling on this thread. brian, while annoying, is, so far, much less crazy than some of the others we’ve seen recently.
I wonder-since brian showed up so quickly after Orac’s post, was he waiting for it? Could brian just be a paid shill from Generation Rescue? Or maybe Dr. Rashid?
I mean, now that they’ve engineered this whole “she’s sick, she’s cured, it’s all real medicine’s fault!” hoax, maybe sending out professional trolls is part of the whole thing.

Brian, let me introduce you to your logical fallacy:
Correlation = causation , meet Brian.
In other words, Brian, if you got a flu shot and then were run down by a truck and suffered a broken leg, you would then be here telling people that flu shots cause broken legs.

Rashid Buttar is a quack, pure and simple.
Come on now, injecting people with urine ?
Chelation for mercury poisoning, when there wouldn’t have been enough mercury in that shot to cause any symptoms ?

I guess I gotta stop sucking on those old-school thermometers too.

Apparently, the flu vaccine has 25,000x the amount of mercury of your tasty chicken o’ the sea:
http://thebirdflupandemic.com/archives/the-swine-flu-vaccine-contains-25000-times-the-amount-of-mercury-that-is-considered-safe

I especially like the part that charges you to “please take the time to hear what both sides are saying” because all I hear is “don’t listen to them, listen to me.”

Remember, LibraryGuy, that professional trolls are only paid for by the horribly evil Big Medicinetm lobby.

Is there any way to find out if she had one of the “non-mercury” influenza shots? That would make a laughing stock out of her new doctor’s diagnosis.

Brian, considering that her symptoms have magically morphed from difficulty walking to being close to death in a mere one press release, you may want to wonder who is lying and dishonest here.
It wouldn’t really be difficult for her new doctor to cure her of being close to death when she never actually was. Or is this your idea of a miracle perhaps?

Nope actually the blacking out has appeared in other news reports. So I stand corrected on that.

DLC #16:
Actually I have no problem believing that a flu shot, with all the hysteria these tools have produced over the last year, could in fact cause a psychogenic problem.

Richard Eis,
I didnt think that any of the flu shots were thimerisol free in america.

Trolls,

Why didnt this happen any other time she got a flu shot (her site claims previous flu shots)

Why doesnt a can of tuna cause this same problem?

Why do proven placebo treatments work so well on psychogenic disorders?

Given that every outlet of medicine (CDC, FDA, AMA, science bloggers) all accept and acknowledge that in extremely rare instances vaccines do cause severe reactions (even if this is not one of them), why do you think this story makes a lick of difference with regard to the efficacy and promotion of vaccines? Even if this story weren’t complete bunk, it still wouldn’t matter.

Go back and research what happened with the 1976 vaccines. a causation was actually found, BY THE MEDICAL ESTABLISHMENT, between flu vaccines and Guillain–Barré syndrome, a one in a million chance (now) and may have affected only 500 people (out of the millions of shots given and protecting millions of people). Keep in mind GBS shows up, vaccinated or not, in about 1 in 100K people. Its amazing they even detected that causation and you should be thanking them for actually studying these effects then, as they do now.

OK enough troll feeding.

“When I first wrote about this story, I made a prediction. Actually, I made an ‘either or’ prediction.”

Your prediction, while accurate as far as it went, was incomplete. You failed to take into account the miraculous healing power of a potential lawsuit and large cash settlement. This story is far from over.

@TechSkeptic

I didnt think that any of the flu shots were thimerisol free in america.

The only flu shots that have thimerosal are the multi-dose vials. The single-dose versions are thimerosal-free, as are the live-attenuated nasal spray vaccines. And none of the flu shots being given out in the U.S. have any adjuvants.

-Does the influenza vaccine contain thimerosal?

Yes, the majority of influenza vaccines distributed in the United States currently contain thimerosal as a preservative. However, some contain only trace amounts of thimerosal and are considered by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to be preservative-free. Manufacturers of preservative-free flu vaccine use thimerosal early in the manufacturing process. The thimerosal gets diluted as the vaccine goes through the steps in processing. By the end of the manufacturing process there is not enough thimerosal left in the vaccine to act as a preservative and the vaccine is labeled “preservative-free”-

Not that that would convince any antivaccine adherent the vaccine was “free” of thimerasol. Some of them are probably into homeopathy so technically this would appear to make it stronger.

@Richard Eis

Not that that would convince any antivaccine adherent the vaccine was “free” of thimerasol. Some of them are probably into homeopathy so technically this would appear to make it stronger.

But if they took a homeopathic approach while believing that mercury causes autism, then would this mean that the vaccine would prevent autism? After all, homeopathy supposedly works by taking a substance which causes the same or similar symptoms, dilluting and shaking it down, then administering the end result.

a true cynic would suggest you may have been correct on both predictions. Is it possible that Generation Rescue dumped Desiree Jennings, only to pick her up again when she started to show progress?

No less cynical than the speculations made by anti-vaccine groups all the time.

I am pro-vaccine. I understand that vaccines carry some risks, and I understand that the diseases they prevent carry far more risks. I have actually (despite my better judgement) listened to both sides of this issue. I would agree with most pro-vaccine opinions in that there should not even be a categorical issue here. The facts, as opposed to dogma, support the efficacy of vaccination and thus, naturally, the tenacity of anti-vaxxers. What I am about to say does NOT reflect the opinions of anyone I know in the medical or scientific field. Please understand that I alone am to blame for the following opinion:

Two things come to mind, one is an observation, the other a suggestion.

1) I agree with Orac that the anti-vaxxer movement is uncompromisingly cynical. I have observed, however, that their cynicism has started to rub off on the rest of us. This is a tacit admission. I do not agree with their movement, but from a purely philosophical point of view, how are our convictions now any less cynical? We are arguably “right”… we have real evidence on our side, and thus do not feel justified in mocking the truth to substantiate our position. Yet, because of this, we refuse to credit what we consider to be cataclysmic stupidity and ethical negligence. Obviously. I count this as cynicism, because I refuse to credit their opinions as anything other than quackery. Should some parody of truth reveal that they were right all along, and thus switch this conflict from parody to tragedy, my own cynicism would have proven to be in error. In this hypothetical situation, I would be guilty of murder. My desire NOT to be responsible for mass homicide is what drives my cynicism in the face of what I consider to be the utmost absurdity. In fact, I am now so cynical that I am moved to make the following suggestion:

2) I recommend that, in direct opposition to our conscience, we no longer try to fight them. I suggest that we concede, utterly. Allow me to explain. One cannot reason with Crazy. One can only set an example, provide evidence, suggest a course of action, and adhere to it themselves. I suggest we let the anti-vaxxers run amok, and give them the freedom to convince as many poor souls as possible that they should not vaccinate their children, or themselves. With time, population density, and their own conviction, they will likely die in a pandemic. While this is surely a horribly cynical and irresponsible suggestion, it would be their choice. They would retain their freedom to choose, and die off in the process. While they die, we can turn our attention to solving the real causes of autism, be it gene therapy, pathology, or other. Why waste our time trying to convince them that the world is round, when we can spend that time doing something more constructive? I am personally willing to take responsibility for this, because I believe that arguing with them not only robs us of time and desire, it may actually be making the problem worse. How many normal, otherwise sane people would be influenced into giving the anti-vaxxers credit, not by their flogging, but by ours? If I was ignorant, and saw two sides in open and violent opposition, I would suspect the issue to have validity, even where there is none. This seems to be their MO. Let them take responsibility for themselves, and pay the price for it. By providing the evidence, we’ve done all we can. To fight them is to credit them. I suggest we save lives by ignoring them, so that those who are free to decide do not feel compelled to give credence to a choice that could kill them and their children. There will always be Brian’s, and McCarthy’s, and Rashid Buttar’s. Yes, we would be condemning many to a pointless death. But if we work fast enough, and spend less time giving them ammo, we might not only avoid convincing people to give them credit, we might find a solution in time to save more people from the threat they use to justify their actions. The mantra for both sides is, “We are right, obviously”. And when confronted with near-religious conviction in the face of cold reality, attacking a deeply seated belief is not going to solve any problems. The worst that can happen is that they all die. The second is that they are right, and we have to live with being wrong. The best is that we are right, and we divert our expenditure of effort from cynicism to success. We cannot save anyone who does not wish to be saved through force. Neither can they. Let’s let them be. Blame me for these terrible words, as I am responsible for them.
-David Scheidler

Rebbecca 2, 1 doctor’s statement on a fox news show does not reality make. Look here http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=114299697 and here http://www.thecitizen.com/archive/main/archive-050302/pt-05_mercury.html The vaccine with the highest thimerosal content contains about as much mercury as a can of tuna, but keep in mind that that is ethyl mercury and not the more dangerous methyl mercury found in fish. Finally look here http://www.cdc.gov/Flu/about/qa/thimerosal.htm

*headslap* Of course.
but…
(continuing on this complete silliness and unreality)
I doubt their offical books have mercury as causing said symptoms (and you don’t argue with The Book’s authority).

It does however prevent ulcers apparently. And since she didn’t have ulcers it thus shows that it also works as a preventative

This reminds me of the “Under Our Skin” trailer–a lot of the people report being told it’s “all in their head.” I wonder if some of them had a psychogenic disorder. I have never brought myself to rent the movie, but when I saw the trailer I really, really wanted to know what all the people really had.

Is there any way to find out if she had one of the “non-mercury” influenza shots? That would make a laughing stock out of her new doctor’s diagnosis.

Assuming the vaers report is hers, she got fluzone, a vaccine with thimerosal.

This makes it impossible that she got the flu 10 days later from the shot. She probably did have the flu, just not from the vaccine.

The “we vs them” isn’t what it used to be. Several of the nurses at my facility don’t trust vaccines. Several MDs (Jay Gordon) don’t trust them either.

It’s hard to share a patient with an anti-vax colleague.

There is one problem with your solution ENT-TT.

Herd immunity.

It also doesn’t seemed to have dampened the creation scientists enthusiasm for prayer, nor left them extinct.

The only flu shots that have thimerosal are the multi-dose vials. The single-dose versions are thimerosal-free, as are the live-attenuated nasal spray vaccines. And none of the flu shots being given out in the U.S. have any adjuvants.

Thanks. In that case, I sure do like Richard Eis’ idea.

Here’s the difference between real doctors and quacks.

The real docs admit when they don’t know what it is and attach labels like psychogenic etc and are told well maybe it will just resolve itself. To the patient this comes across as heartless and callous because they don’t have the answer and thus they are “written off by the medical community”.

The quack says “just swipe your credit card here and we can start the treatment right away”. This is what the patient wants to hear, give me a pill doc to make the pain go away. It’s a sugar pill or lots of hand waving and unproven “therapies” but lo and behold the symptoms go away anyway if they are lucky.

One last point, “10 days after the shot” that’s almost immediately after she did 10 days of other things!!!!!

What a horrible, cynical, inaccurate, mean-spirited post

“Horrible” and “mean-spirited” are value judgements so I won’t ask you to back them objectively, but what part did you find inaccurate?

Dr. Gordon,

Are you suggesting, then, that Dr. Buttar is right, and his rather odd diagnoses are accurate?

And you believe a person was having seizures every minute and having trouble breathing, and two days later thanks to completely unproven treatments had her symptoms reversed?

(I wonder why a person who had such horrible symptoms wasn’t in a hospital, but I digress.)

In other words, Jay, you’re really buying all of this?

What a horrible, cynical, inaccurate, mean-spirited post, David.

Yes, why don’t you tell us what you believe is inaccurate about it?

Hate to say this, but this “treatment” might be the only way she was going to recover. Not because of the chelation and other woo, but because an authoritative figure whom she trusted said, “I will CURE you.” And then her psychosomatic illness disappeared, because she no longer believed she had it. It’d be nice if her placebo weren’t quite so dangerous and expensive, but at least she’s better.

Just casually playing around with numbers here, which may not reflect what happens from food source to body Hg levels, but is still fun to do.

At 25,000x the mercury that is considered safe if it were a food product, then in Canada, 0.5 ppm is the limit for mercury in tuna. Multiply that by 25,000 and you have 12,500 ppm. People with Minamata disease had levels of 705 ppm. If you eat food with 12,500 ppm of Hg I think you’d be in trouble even if only a small portion of it was absorbed into the body. And if vaccines actually injected that much I suspect we’d have bodies lying around injection sites world-wide, wouldn’t we?

That news clip doc says he’s seen 100x Hg serum levels. Around the Great Lakes blood serum levels in one study were about 3 micrograms/L. I imagine at 300 micrograms/L you’d be experiencing some pretty nasty consequences (400 micrograms/L is renal failure according to the one journal article I saw which was just looking at 1 patient).

Funny how foods like tuna are yanked off the shelves if they exceed the 0.5 ppm yet no agency is doing the same with vaccines that have 25,000x the recommended level of Hg. I guess the food industry just doesn’t have the clout of big bad pharma, and its employees are not trustworthy enough to keep the conspiracy to themselves. Too bad. Just think of all the Hg laden-tuna they could sell instead of having to throw away.

What a horrible, cynical, inaccurate, mean-spirited post, David.

Jay

From what I can see, this is a post condemning the exploitation of a young woman with a conversion reaction for the purpose of promoting falsehoods and quackery.

Please explain what is so horrible, cynical, inaccurate and mean-spirited, for the benefit of us Oracolytes.

At least not all medical personnel are as close minded as Orac. The story below is about an open minded doctor who is recommending an alternative medical treatment. An alternative meidical treatment that even Orac will have a hard time debunking.

It is especially intriguing that the treatment involves asthma given the past conversations in this blog about the true causes of asthma. I wonder if certain hard headed blog participants will rethink their attitudes on asthma in light of the information found in this story
—–

“I don’t often write about alternative remedies for serious medical conditions. Most have little more than anecdotal support, and few have been found effective in well-designed clinical trials. Such trials randomly assign patients to one of two or more treatments and, wherever possible, assess the results without telling either the patients or evaluators who received which treatment.

Now, however, in describing an alternative treatment for asthma that does not yet have top clinical ratings in this country (although it is taught in Russian medical schools and covered by insurance in Australia), I am going beyond my usually stringent research criteria for three reasons:

The treatment, a breathing technique discovered half a century ago, is harmless if practiced as directed with a well-trained therapist.

It has the potential to improve the health and quality of life of many people with asthma, while saving health care dollars.

I’ve seen it work miraculously well for a friend who had little choice but to stop using the steroid medications that were keeping him alive. ….

Then, last spring, someone told him about the Buteyko method, a shallow-breathing technique developed in 1952 by a Russian doctor, Konstantin Buteyko. Mr. Wiebe watched a video demonstration on YouTube and mimicked the instructions shown.

“I could actually feel my airways relax and open,” he recalled. “This was impressive.”

Please explain what is so horrible, cynical, inaccurate and mean-spirited, for the benefit of us Oracolytes.

Don’t worry: He won’t. He never does. It makes one wonder if he really is the expert he positions himself as.

I’ve decided to renounce science based medicine in favor of unattributed anecdote as fact methodology. Added bonus, as you note, that it will save money. Dear asthmatics, watch you tube. That will cure you.

All I care about is that Desiree is getting better. She was the textbook example of a person who got royally screwed. I’m glad that she might get her life back.

@Jay
“What a horrible,”
Yes.
“cynical,”
Yes.
“inaccurate,”
Yes. I am not a scientist. I think like one, but I have no plausible credibility. You are absolutely right, Jay… Carry on.
“mean-spirited post”
Yes. Thank you, Jay.
May you live in conviction, and rest in peace.

@Richard Eis
Herd immunity? All the better. I’d rather they not all die, frankly. My conscience would be less burdensome, then. Should herd immunity actually work on this time-scale, then fewer lives will be wasted. As to creationists, whatever. They do not trouble me. I am happy to let them pray in peace, if it means they have a sense of wonder and reverence for such a complicated universe. I may not agree with them, but that is our mutual right. They haven’t gone extinct because their are not inherently stupid. One person’s learned trait is another’s tool of selection. They, as we, are a fascinating animal. I am grateful that they exist. Viva la Differánce!

Thank you so much for this. I googled this case after reading an article on AOL.com about Ms. Jennings. I feel for her, but blaming the flu shot isn’t helping anyone. I hope she has a full recovery and that these types of stories don’t keep vulnerable populations from getting vaccinated.

BTW, there’s evidence that chelation is an excellent placebo for people who think they are mercury poisoned (kind of a no-brainer.) See Grandjeanet al. (1997): “Placebo Response in Environmental Disease: Chelation Therapy of Patients With Symptoms Attributed to Amalgam Fillings.” The study concludes:

These findings suggest that some patients with environmental illness may substantially benefit from placebo.

See also: Sandborgh et al. (1994).

Jay HaveItBothWays will never, of course, provide supporting, provable evidence for shit. Because that would be um…how real scientists and doctors do things. He’s too busy sitting in his pyramid chanting, and getting in touch with his feelings to do anything involving science.

So she got vaccinated — which I think most of the anti-vaccine crowd will agree has benefits in preventing illness and increasing immunity — and *if we actually take these people at their word* got a condition from it, and then upon some form of treatment was *perfectly fine* again.

I’m still going to keep getting my shots. 😛

This is OT, but I was wondering if Orac or commenters are familiar with Dr. Al Sears. I was forwarded one of his execrable adverts for some miracle Amazonian herb, Paullina cupana, that contains guaranine. He’s also touting some supplement for boosting one’s choline. I looked him up on Quackwatch and BadScience.net but came up empty handed. I pointed out the “quacky” characteristics of the ad, but if anyone can provide info on why these specific supplements are useless, I would be very appreciative.

~Re. Jay Gordon, Orac and the ENT-TT David —
Seems to me that there was some confusion. I dislike defending Jay Gordon for anything, but in this case I suspect he may have been condemning the David who was the David of the ENT-TT comment, saying “let the anti-vaxxers have their way and let them die”, rather than the Orac David.

Gordon can confirm that himself, if he has bothered to stick around.

David-who-is-ENT-TT: No, no, there is another problem with “herd immunity”: the fact that some entirely sane people rely on it not to be exposed to things they can’t be protected against otherwise. Newborns, patients in chemotherapy, and other immune-compromised people who cannot safely be given certain vaccinations, as well as those who actually get vaccinations but do not develop an adequate immunity, are all put at risk when a disease becomes endemic. So essentially, not only are you condemning a lot of children to death because of their parents’ stupidity, you are condemning to death a large number of other people who have not done anything wrong at all along with them.

Cynical, horrible, wrong, misguided and disgusting.

And that is quite aside from the fact that it would change nothing; even back in the days when there was an extraordinary mortality from contagious diseases, there was a vocal antivaccination crowd.

So, no. And not just no, HELL no. To fight them is not to “credit” them any more than to let them run rampant through the media unopposed, and I to allow the body count that would result from NOT fighting them is absolutely unconscionable.

Adults may be responsible for their own stupidities and I’d be perfectly happy to let them face the consequences, but other innocent people, adults and children both, have an absolute right to be protected from stupidity that is not their own when it threatens their lives.

“Herd immunity? All the better. I’d rather they not all die, frankly.”

I think Richard’s point was that ignoring them and letting them “die off” has the consequence of lowering herd immunity and putting the REST of the population at risk, even if they’ve been vaccinated and especially if they were unable to be vaccinated. So lots of people who were trying to do the right thing by getting vaccinated would still get sick and possibly die by just letting the anti-vaxxers do their thing…

…..and apologies for some of the grammar in that last post of mine, towards the end. This place needs an edit function. :-/

All I care about is that Desiree is getting better.

I’m glad Ms Jennings is getting better. However, I don’t think that that is all that matters with respect to this case. Ms Jennings received a biologically useless and potentially dangerous “treatment” for her psychosomatic illness.

Her example may trigger similar psychosomatic reactions in other vulnerable patients and may encourage them to seek the same “treatment”. Eventually, one or more of them will be harmed or die of the uncontrolled chelation and whatever else the alties are pushing to “cure” the problem.

Additionally, her story may discourage others from getting flu shots, thus increasing the risk of an epidemic in the general population and specifically increasing the risk to people who can not receive the vaccine or in whom it is less effective (immunosuppressed, allergic to ingredient, etc.)

So while I have sympathy for Ms Jennings and I do NOT think she is making her symptoms up, I do not think her recovery is all that matters. The potential damage to others matters too.

Hah, most of the time I just read in here thinking how much better other people say things. 😀

Actually, I don’t think they’re cynical. I think they are True Believers (TM), and really, truly believe that Jennings was horribly injured and that this doc was the only way to save her. Also, they are truly happy that she is better.

(The doc himself might be cynical…but he also may be a True Believer (TM).)

It’s much harder to fight True Believers (TM). Because there is no rationality behind the belief in the connection…

Yes, Luna, my apologies. I do not think it right to allow innocents to die. To clarify, I was kidding about “herd immunity”. I understand it to be a psychological justification from a fear response (“Maybe if we ignore it and stick together, the problem will go away. Maybe if I don’t wash my hands, I’ll develop sufficient immunity”). Nor do I wish anyone to act against their conscience. Text is a difficult medium in which to express sarcasm. On the other hand, I do think that we should spend more time researching than proselytizing. That said, while we each feel that we must stand by the truth, there are multiple methods for doing so. One is to fight fire with fire, and trip the dogmatics into perjuring themselves. Unfortunately, that doesn’t usually work against ignorance – they’ll just blithely carry on. Another method is to make them face their shame, which only works if they’re open to the idea. I have no “solution”, and I do not condone mass murder through negligence. Innocents are meant to be protected, to the best of our ability. But is it just as bad to enforce mandatory inoculation, if the parents’ fear response is to do something even more negligent? _I_ don’t have the right to say, frankly, because _I_ cannot accurately predict the outcome. If someone has a plausible projection, by all means share it; it could help. All I can do is explain calmly why I trust the evidence over the BS. Attacking them outright doesn’t convince them to do the right thing. I have no solution to that particular problem.. do you? If so, what are the ramifications of your plan?
“Cynical, horrible, wrong, misguided and disgusting.”
Well, yes. Admittedly. Maybe voicing that will indicate what’s at stake, when all else fails to sway. My point wasn’t to let a huge portion of the population die (likely even the vaccinated), it was to suggest that our own cynicism might be getting in the way of a resolution (as the cynicism of anti-vaxxers has already clearly demonstrated). Again, I have no solutions, only thoughts. If you (and anyone reading this) can convince someone to vaccinate their children, rather than pushing them further into questioning our motives, DO IT. If you feel like your opinion is falling on deaf ears, and risking the lives of those same children, then simply consider whatever options are available to you. Every innocent that dies from this, one way or another, WILL be on our conscience, because we are cognizant of what is at stake, and with that knowledge comes the responsibility for it, even if we thought we could wash our hands of it. I’m not suggesting culpability, merely the conscious awareness of what may be lost.

You people scoff at the idea of vaccine-related damage, but here’s a tale that will impress even you hardened cynics.

Last night I chipped a tooth while eating peanuts. Not four weeks ago I had a seasonal flu shot. Coincidence? Well, consider this – a few years ago I chipped a tooth while chewing on a Lifesaver, and I’d had a seasonal flu shot only six months earlier. Once might be coincidence, but twice…well, you get my drift. It must be the thimerosal – or maybe the mercury in my fillings, I get confused.
I’m going to go see Dr. I-can’t-believe-it’s-Buttar and get my mercury poisoning post-vaccine syndrome diagnosis and we’ll file a VAERS report. Then Generation Rescue will finance my new website (good site design doesn’t come cheap, ya know) and I can start collecting ad money from toxin testing labs and supplement companies. Win-win! Or lose-win! Whatever.

Sorry TechSkeptic, but drive-by trolling is pretty much all Dr. Jay Gordon does these days. If he hung around for actual discussion, he’d face more questions about his alternate and changing criteria for which patients and parents deserve H1N1 flu vaccine protection, and how it is that he anticipates giving the vaccine to no one this year. Yoo-hoo Dr. Jay! How about some answers? Your ducking and running is getting embarassing.

Omega – while there is some truth to what you say, I think it is a bit of a false dichotomy.

In situations like this I think the concept of bullshit (http://www.theness.com/neurologicablog/?p=286) applies. In other words – the anti-vaxers are not necessarily deliberately lying, and may in fact be true-believers, but they also do not care about scientific truth. Therefore their claims are not necessarily lies – just bullshit. They make stuff up, assume whatever is necessary, do not make an honest attempt to figure out what is really going on, dismiss contrary evidence and opinion, and they cut intellectual corners – all because they think they already “know” the truth.

What a horrible, cynical, inaccurate, mean-spirited post, David

We can argue whether it is “horrible,” “cynical,” or “mean-spirited” or not and never get anywhere because those are, as has been pointed out, value judgments. So let’s stick to the facts. Please tell me specifically what is “inaccurate” about what I wrote. While you’re at it, you might also want to read what Steve Novella wrote about this case:

http://www.theness.com/neurologicablog/?p=1195

Please, Dr. Jay. Tell us what I wrote that was “inaccurate.” If you can convince me with evidence that it was inaccurate, I would, of course, retract whatever error I may have made. While you’re at it, you could tell us if anything Steve wrote is similarly “inaccurate.” We’re both very interested in accuracy, regardless of whether you think we’re cynical, callous, or whatever.

As for the cynicism charge, let me just point out that whatever cynicism is in the post I wrote above (virtually none) is dwarfed by the monumental cynicism of Generation Rescue and Rashid Buttar exploiting this young woman.

Jay,
If you meant comment 34 as a response to ENT-TT, I apologize for the error. However, you did leave things open to confusion.
If you meant it as a response to the original post, then please disregard the above and consider my question.
Thanks.

Sorry Orac, I thought he was labeling me.. didn’t know you were a David too. Either way, fie on that. And in all fairness, yes, their cynicism is of an entirely different nature and caliber than ours; I meant no disrespect. It just feels like we’re preaching to the choir (if you’ll pardon the euphemism), and that the evidence isn’t getting through to the people who need to know, because they refuse to credit it. They’d rather feel good about their optimism than shoulder the frustrations of reality. Patting myself on the back doesn’t make me feel any better about this. I’d rather they pop a clue.

I think Bill’s probably right. David #27 even says he is being cynical, so it would not be a stretch for Dr. Jay to describe him that way. On the flip side, even with all the crazy things Dr. Jay has said in the comments of this blog, I can’t see him reacting that way to this post. I think Orac has gone out of his way to avoid being “mean-spirited” in regards to the Jennings incident, and has shown a lot of compassion for this poor woman.

And I have to say, even though it appears Jennings is about to become the next poster boy (girl?) for the anti-vax movement, I don’t feel the same sense of outrage towards her. Because her illness is so mysterious, we can’t point to any particular data saying vaccines don’t cause it. (In fact, in a weird way, since her illness is psychogenic, it’s conceivable that the vaccination was related, just not in a physiological way) And having such a mysterious and debilitating condition, it’s easier to see how someone could desperately grasp at straws. I just feel sorry for her… she’s being exploited and manipulated. Very sad.

I publicly challenge Mr. Buttar (like they call “Mr.” Offit) to walk on water. He will then have performed two miracles, one more verifiable than the other… The walking on water, I mean.

Some questions for AltMedWorks…

I’ve seen it work miraculously well for a friend who had little choice but to stop using the steroid medications that were keeping him alive…

Why did he have to stop using something that was working? Had he tried any other medications? I know someone who started using recently-developed athsma meds (Accolate, Singulair) and managed to become a LOT less dependent on steroid inhalers.

Then, last spring, someone told him about the Buteyko method, a shallow-breathing technique developed in 1952 by a Russian doctor, Konstantin Buteyko. Mr. Wiebe watched a video demonstration on YouTube and mimicked the instructions shown… “I could actually feel my airways relax and open,” he recalled. “This was impressive.”

This is really nothing new: learning to relax, reduce oxygen consumption, and breathe more smoothly can reduce the danger of airways constricting, especially when such reactions are brought on or exacerbated by stress in the first place. (Also, athsmatics are in the most danger when they first start having trouble, simply because they don’t know why they suddenly can’t breathe as easily, which causes them to panic, which means they run out of oxygen faster. Once they get a diagnosis and know what to expect, subsequent attacks aren’t quite as bad…but they’re still dangerous.)

In short, I strongly doubt you’re telling us the whole story of how this ONE count him ONE patient managed to kinda-sorta beat athsma.

If Jay was referring the the ENT’s comment, then I too join the band of folks who owe him a mean culpa, because I frankly agree that the comment was mean-spirited and cynical and not entirely accurate.

If he was referring to the actual blog post, then my comment above stands.

I publicly challenge Mr. Buttar (like they call “Mr.” Offit) to walk on water.

You might want to set your parameters. Challenge him to walk on water with no greater than 1% impurities and at a temperature of 20 degrees C or greater. Otherwise, he’ll have multiple ways to meet your challenge without fulfilling its spirit.

i read that chicken-of-the-sea doesn’t contain actual chickens!

it contains mercury contaminated FISH!

where is truth in advertising????? i am never eating chicken-of-the-sea again!!!

i am also going to stop ordering girl scout cookies.

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