Categories
Antivaccine nonsense Autism Complementary and alternative medicine Medicine Quackery

GAPS in a doctor’s reasoning about vaccines and autism

As hard as it is to believe, I’ve been blogging about anti-vaccine nonsense and autism quackery since early 2005. Before that, I had been a regular on the misc.health.alternative newsgroup, where I had also encountered anti-vaccine pseudoscience, but the topic had not been a top priority for me. In fact, when I started this blog back in late 2004, I did not imagine at that time that I would somehow end up becoming one of the “go-to” bloggers for taking on anti-vaccine nonsense. Yet somehow I did, and dealing with the misinformation, lies, and pseudoscience of the anti-vaccine movement has remained a major topic of not only this blog, but the other not-so-super-secret blog of my alter ego, and I’ve even found myself giving talks on it. As a side effect, because one of the most pervasive anti-vaccine myths is that vaccines somehow cause autism, I’ve learned a lot about autism, autistic children, and the difficulties parents with autistic children have. Unfortunately, I’ve also learned of a whole lot of quackery to which parents subject autistic children to try to “recover” them from “vaccine injury” or “toxic injury.”

All of which is yet another example of my longwinded way of introducing a topic. In this case, my long background of having been blogging about vaccine issues and autism quackery serves as the backdrop for my surprise at recently having encountered an autism quack (in my opinion) of whom I had never heard before. I first encountered this practitioner at–surprise! surprise!–at a website that is one of the foremost sources of alternative medicine pseudoscience and quackery on the Internet, a hive of scum and quackery even more wretched than The Huffington Post and only rivaled by NaturalNews.com and Whale.to. I’m referring, of course, to Mercola.com, where Joe Mercola himself posted a video entitled How a physician cured her son’s autism, in which he interviewed a physician named Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, who claims, well, that she cured her son of autism:

The red flags are there from the very beginning when Campbell-McBride states quite confidently:

My first born son was diagnosed autistic at the age of three which threw me into a huge learning curve because I had to find a solution to his problem because my own profession had nothing to offer which was a bit of a shock for me.

Having found all those solutions, I went back to the university. I completed a second postgraduate degree in human nutrition and learned many more other things. As a result, my son fully recovered. He is not autistic anymore. He is living a normal life.

Whenever I hear stories like this, I always refer back to Prometheus’ excellent post entitled Testimonials: Listening to people’s stories. This post is, in part, about how it is not nearly as uncommon as parents think for children with a diagnosis of autism to improve spontaneously. Indeed, most parents think this never happens spontaneously, and that’s one (among many) reasons why they assume that whatever quackery they treat their child with must be the cause of their child’s improvement. Yet, autism is a disorder of developmental delay, not developmental stasis; autistic children can and do develop. In fact, a significant minority can even lose the diagnosis of autism or AST by age seven as they develop. As Prometheus points out, promoters of the vaccine-autism myth don’t like to hear that, mainly because it casts doubt upon whether the quackery they choose to treat their children actually does anything. After all, if autism were truly a condition of developmental stasis, then you almost wouldn’t need a control group. If an autistic child improved on a treatment, it would not be unreasonable to conclude that the treatment was beneficial. However, autism is extremely variable. Autistic children can develop, often in spurts punctuated by longer periods of apparent developmental stasis. If one of those spurts happens to occur after a new round of quackery, it’s very easy to conclude that the quackery was responsible.

Dr. Campbell-McBride also falls for the myth of the “autism epidemic.” It always disappoints me to see a physician fall for this myth so hard, much as it disappoints me whenever our favorite anti-vaccine-sympathetic pediatrician to the stars, Dr. Jay Gordon, shows up to promote this myth, but fall for it Campbell-McBride does:

DM: So about the same time I did. Do you recall the incidence of autism around then? Was it about 1 in 100,000 or so? What is your current estimate as to the incidence today in the UK?

DC: It was 1 in 10,000 when I graduated. It was a very rare disorder. Even I as a medical graduate have never seen an autistic patient. By the time I graduated from my medical school I have never an autistic individual. I have seen other psychiatric conditions through my course in psychiatry but have never seen an autistic child. To be honest, the first autistic child that I have encountered was my own.

As I said, 20 years ago in the Western world and certainly in the English-speaking world, we were diagnosing one child in 10,000. Fifteen years ago, we were diagnosing and five years ago we were diagnosing one child in 150 which is almost a 40-fold increase in incidence. Now in Britain and some countries, we are diagnosing one child in 66.

Apparently, the concept of diagnostic substitution is alien to Dr. Campbell-McBride. It turns out that most research supports the concept that broadening of the diagnostic criteria for autism in the 1990s led to a shift in diagnoses towards autism and ASDs and that the actual prevalence of the condition has remained relatively stable over the last few decades. True, the studies aren’t so bulletproof that they don’t completely rule out a small real increase in autism/ASD prevalence, but they do pretty authoritatively close the door on their being an autism “epidemic.”

In the next part of the interview, Dr. Campbell-McBride gets to the heart of her “treatment” for autism by describing what she thinks is the cause of autism. Basically, she does not believe there is a genetic component to autism, at least not in the way that real scientists do. Instead, she expresses an absolute certainty that autistic children are born with “perfectly normal brain and perfectly normal sensory organs and they are supposed to function normally.” So what disrupts this normal functioning?

This, apparently:

What happens in these children, they do not develop normal gut flora from birth, from the beginning of their life. Gut flora is a hugely important part of our human physiology. Recently research in Scandinavia has demonstrated that 90% of all cells and all genetic material in a human body is our own gut flora. We are just a shell. We are only 10%. We are a habitat for this mass of microbes inside us. We ignore them at our peril.

What happens in these children they develop very abnormal gut flora from the beginning of their lives. So as a result their digestive system instead of being a source of nourishment for these children becomes a major source of toxicity. These pathogenic microbes inside their digestive tract damage the integrity of the gut wall.

So all sort of toxins and microbes flood into the bloodstream of the child and get into the brain of the child. That usually happens in the second year of life in children who were breast fed because breastfeeding provides a protection against this abnormal gut flora.

Recognize this? It wasn’t so long ago that I wrote about detoxification quackery. What Dr. Campbell-McBride is talking about here is nothing more than a variant of the ancient concept of autointoxication, whereby our own human waste products “poison” us. The difference is that she’s attributing it to bacteria living in our gut. But where do many of the bacteria living in your gut end up? In your poop, of course! In any case, Campbell-McBride even has a name for her invented autism syndrome: Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS). She’s even developed a whole cottage industry of dietary woo to treat it, which can be found on various websites, including Gut and Psychology Syndrome, The GAPS Diet, and in her book Gut and Psychology Syndrome Book: Natural Treatment For: Autism, ADD, ADHD Depression, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, Schizophrenia. And, of course, she has her own website Doctor-Natasha.com, and if you check it out you’ll see that she claims to be able to treat anything from acne to depression to diabetes to autism to ADHD to schizophrenia to tummy pain. Yes, tummy pain. (I always thought that a good shot of Pepto-Bismol would take care of your basic tummy pain much of the time.) Here is her pseudoscience explained:

Basically, when it comes to autism (due to GAPS, natch!) Dr. Campbell-McBride blames abnormalities in the gut flora (due to GAPS again, natch!) as the cause. The information and claims on her websites can be boiled down into two or three things:

  • If you don’t breastfeed, your child’s gut flora will be abnormal, and he will likely develop GAPS, which can lead to autism, ADHD, and a variety of other conditions.
  • Females who aren’t breastfed will grow up to be women who have children whose gut flora will be abnormal too, because infants acquire their gut flora mainly from their mother. (How’s that for blaming the mother for autism?)
  • BUY MY BOOK!

Of course, listening to Dr. Campbell-McBride’s claims, I had to ask one thing: Where’s the evidence? Surely, such a hypothesis should be easy to test. For instance, if it were true, wouldn’t bottle fed babies be far more likely to develop autism than breastfed babies? The problem is, this doesn’t appear to be so. Yes, there is evidence that breastfed babies have a lower incidence of autism, but the effect, if real, is nowhere near as strong as Dr. Campbell-McBride claims, certainly not strong enough to be a cause of the “autism epidemic.” In fact, the correlation argues otherwise. Indeed, as the authors of one study pointed out, the prevalence of breastfeeding increased during the 1970s, decreased during the 1980s, and then increased again during the 1990s. By 2002, breastfeeding prevalence had reached an all-time high. Using typical anti-vaccine logic, that correlation should imply that breastfeeding causes autism, not that it protects against it. The bottom line is that the evidence is at best inconclusive that breastfeeding might be somewhat protective against the development of autism, and that’s not good enough to sustain a hypothesis like Dr. Campbell-McBride’s. On the other hand, perhaps that’s why she believes it so strongly.

Not surprisingly, though, like all good autism pseudoscientists, Dr. Campbell-McBride has a fallback hypothesis. Even less surprisingly, it’s those evil vaccines, and she claims to be able to identify children who are susceptible to “vaccine injury” based changes in their gut flora identified by various woo-tastic urine and stool tests:

In my book Gut and Psychology Syndrome, I wrote a whole chapter what I described a proposal to the authorities of what they should do with our vaccination strategy because the standard vaccination protocol is damaging these babies. They’re not fit to be vaccinated this way.

Seeing that the proportion of GAPS children in the population is growing, nobody has calculated how many children today are born GAPS. I would love for somebody to do that study to actually ascertain how many children and what proportion of the population are GAPS children. But this proportion is going to grow and grow and grow. These children are not fit to be vaccinated with the standard vaccination protocol.

Another problem is that vaccinations are commercial products and the number of them is growing and growing because they are highly profitable for the pharmaceutical industry, for the governments in the West and for those who administer vaccines, for the medical industry as well. It’s become a profit making industry (vaccination).

Yep, the tropes are all there: That the medical industry is out only for profits, that there is a predisposition to “vaccine injury” causing autism and various other health issues. And, of course, Dr. Campbell-McBride has the cure, a special diet. How do we know it works? Why, because of the testimonials, of course! Certainly, properly conducted scientific research culminating in randomized, double-blind clinical trials has nothing to do with it.

I suppose, in a way, that I should thank Dr. Campbell-McBride. After over six years of blogging about vaccine- and autism-related topics, I had begun to become a bit complacent, thinking that there was no quackery that I haven’t seen or examined. Dr. Campbell-McBride’s concept of GAPS as a cause of autism has taught me otherwise.

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]

179 replies on “GAPS in a doctor’s reasoning about vaccines and autism”

@MA – sure, with most things that are peddled as autism ‘cures’.

How is it possible for anyone to profit from pot as medicine for autism?
How can thousands be mistaken or deluded, they are not all doing it for profit, surely?
The 5000 anonymous bloggers who dare speak of their successes. Surely if they try to sell it they will get a visit from the DEA posing as customers?
Unless there is a law saying only Big Pharma can grow it and you can’t?

It must be true.

It’s become a profit making industry (vaccination).

And pedaling woo cures for autism, ADD, ADHD, Depression, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, Schizophrenia, and Toronto Maple Leafs Fans is not a profit making industry? I would like to see a comparison of ROIs between research, testing and manufacturing vaccines versus making shit up and publishing a book.

90% of all cells and all genetic material in a human body is our own gut flora.

Yes, but they are only a small fraction of the mass of the human body. However, when you are as full of shit as Dr. Campbell-McBride, then gut flora also are the majority of the mass of your body.

Dr. Campbell-McBride’s next video: One Mother, One Child, One Cup.

If damage to the digestive tract caused autism, wouldn’t that mean children with coeliac disease would be near-guaranteed to be autistic? An undiagnosed coeliac’s digestive tract can be a ravaged ruin. I know my friend’s was. She was diagnosed at 15, and pre-diagnosis her system was sufficiently ruined that she ate six times what any healthy child could ever force down and was underweight to the point of borderline malnutrition.

Developmental problems: zero.

Dr. Campbell-McBride runs the Cambridge Nutrition Clinic which makes it sounds like it is associated with the academic establishment in Cambridge. As far as I can tell it isn’t. It seems to be an alternative health clinic situated in Soham, a village 14 miles from Cambridge itself, in a residential street. Dr. Campbell-McBride charges £100 (about $160) per hour for her services.

It annoys me when people try to take advantage of others’ reputations. If that is not Dr. Campbell-McBride’s intention, why not call her clinic the Soham Nutrition Clinic?

@Liz Ditz – get rid of the criminal involvement just by legalising it as Orac says.

Anyway, those 5000 anecdotal accounts, please find me ONE that has an obvious way of profiting from it and link it here. I simply don’t believe you know what you are talking about.

As far as I can see those people are being brave and speaking up to help others where legal medicine is not able too, and remember that people are speaking out about it in the UK too where there is no way they could profit like in California,

Don’t patronise me. It is not just parent and child amateur research. That search I did the other day turned up 3 professional studies.

I’m really suspicious that the issue is always dodged and never tackled head-on with science based approach?

sez Ashtanga London (surely a sockpuppet for whatsisname the pot cures everything guy

How is it possible for anyone to profit from pot as medicine for autism?

Come to California where we have both medical marijuana dispensaries (do they give the product away, oh no they don’t) and armies of illegal growers, clearcutting and poisoning public lands for large-scale marijuana plantations (do they do so just for fun? oh no it’s a huge business, mostly run by drug cartels from Mexico).

So there’s profit all down the pipeline, from seeds to the final ingestion.

And there’s only anecdotal evidence that feeding young children marijuana benefits autism symptoms, or anything else. Again, it’s uncontrolled experimentation (usually by parents) on human subjects.

Anglachel, from what I can see, the adults have been testing it on themselves for years before the parents ever found it by googling, then they tried it on their kids (usually with the guidance of a shady unnamed doctor in the background).

Only tried on the kids in the last few years.

This looks different to all those other woo treatments. For starters, it doesn’t claim to cure, only to reduce symptoms temporarily.

If it really works then surely it is what the autism world needs?

Oh, I just called 01353 723234 (Campbell’s number), her husband answered, he said “I don’t want to be having this conversation.” O_o

Interestingly – there was a Danish study which did find a link between maternal autoimmune disorders and autism in their offspring, with the most significant association between celiac/autism.

Do a pubmed search on celiac autism, Danish.

PS: she probably didn’t want to call it the Soham Nutrition clinic because most people in the UK associate that place with a particularly nasty child abduction/murder case.

Lori,

she probably didn’t want to call it the Soham Nutrition clinic because most people in the UK associate that place with a particularly nasty child abduction/murder case.

I doubt that, as it was established in 2000 before those murders in 2002.

What is it about people and bowel/gut issues? I just don’t get it. Is it because we are taught bowel movements are dirty/nasty/disgusting (don’t touch that!) as a young child? Why are these people so focused on gut problems? Haven’t studies shown that gut issues are NOT an common element of AS/ASDs (except toileting issues perhaps leading to gut issues). I just don’t understand their fixation on bowels.

@Lori: it appears to be an interesting study (but oh noes! It has the EVIL Dr Thorson in the authors list) but I would like to be able to read the full study, given this is the conclusion (bolding mine):

Associations regarding family history of type 1 diabetes and infantile autism and maternal history of rheumatoid arthritis and ASDs were confirmed from previous studies. A significant association between maternal history of celiac disease and ASDs was observed for the first time. The observed associations between familial autoimmunity and ASDs/infantile autism are probably attributable to a combination of a common genetic background and a possible prenatal antibody exposure or alteration in fetal environment during pregnancy.

ORAC, AKA Frontman, AKA Whipping Boy, for Big Corrupt Pharma. This man defends vaccines as if somebody wants to take away his livelihood. Hmm… I wonder if I hit on something here!

Victor – what an amateur…..

I wonder how the various woo-meisters deal with the internal & external inconsistencies in their various “treatments.” Since you have them throwing out many different ideas or reasons for the variety of ailments out there, and all have their own “guaranteed natural” ways of dealing with the same things.

I wonder how they attempt to measure up with each other.

The curious thing is that so many doctors, who all studied chemistry and biology as undergrads, have such a poor grasp of science. But for the delivery end of medical care there is a certain element of magic–diagnose patient, apply treatment, patient is cured. For those who don’t really understand how the treatment works, it is all very “woo-ful.” Certainly for most patients the actual experience of it is not far from simple magic. And I think for many doctors it is not fundamentally different–they have a cookbook of sorts that says “use potion X to cure symptom Z,” they follow it, and it works. So for those not naturally scientifically inclined in their approach to the world, their presumably scientific impression can actually reinforce their woo-ful tendencies.

@victor pavlovic: as you may have noted from your other trolling visits, Orac’s livelihood is NOT dependent on vaccines. Most surgeons are not, and for a surgeon/researcher, that goes double.

However, as a good physician, he DOES care about his patient’s health, and probably recommends appropriate vaccines they may be lacking, especially important in someone who may be facing the immunodepression of chemotherapy in the future.

I sincerely doubt his office gives any vaccines though; they probably are referred back to their primary physicians for them.

Now crawl back under your bridge.

@Lawrence: BUT they aren’t tools of Big Pharma! They only offer medications, treatments, pills (only available from themselves) out of the goodness and kindness of their hearts, doncha know? They can’t be making tons of money off their offerings. That would make them moneygrubbers. And we all know that people like Dr Natasha isn’t out for the money.

If you don’t breastfeed, your child’s gut flora will be abnormal, and he will likely develop GAPS, which can lead to autism, ADHD, and a variety of other conditions. Females who aren’t breastfed will grow up to be women who have children whose gut flora will be abnormal too, because infants acquire their gut flora mainly from their mother. (How’s that for blaming the mother for autism?)

Blaming the *grandmother* even. It’s quite absurd. Clearly, she’s unaware of research which showed that an infant’s gut flora changes radically several times during the first year of life — regardless of the method of feeding or birth. This is probably mostly because babies stick EVERYTHING in their mouths. Heck, I’m doubtful that breastfeeding is actually a big contributor to gut colonization, because gut bacteria don’t normally live in the breasts (if they do, that’s actually quite a bad thing), and most women shower regularly and then keep their breasts covered, preventing them from getting much more than lint on them. I doubt very much that this is the major route of bacteria entering the child’s gut.

Also, anecdote time (if her anecdote is good, surely she’ll think mine is too?): my mother breastfed me; I breastfed my daughter; my daughter is on the spectrum with attention problems as well. Of course, she does weasel out of cases like that, by saying essentially that insufficient breastfeeding causes autism, except when it doesn’t. Then it’s vaccines, which somehow alter gut flora even in babies which haven’t been vaccinated yet and in vaccines that are delivered subcutaneously rather than orally.

I also wonder what she considers “normal” gut flora. Gut flora in healthy individuals varies quite widely, after all.

Militant Agnostic:

Yes, but they are only a small fraction of the mass of the human body. However, when you are as full of shit as Dr. Campbell-McBride, then gut flora also are the majority of the mass of your body.

ZING!!!! You win the thread.

Sami:

If damage to the digestive tract caused autism, wouldn’t that mean children with coeliac disease would be near-guaranteed to be autistic? An undiagnosed coeliac’s digestive tract can be a ravaged ruin. I know my friend’s was. She was diagnosed at 15, and pre-diagnosis her system was sufficiently ruined that she ate six times what any healthy child could ever force down and was underweight to the point of borderline malnutrition.

Agreed. I’ll add another anecdote: two of my cousins. They’re sisters, raised together in a loving family with nearly identical conditions, except for diet. One of them has celiac sprue, so she never touches gluten. She was diagnosed at 6 months, when she first tried wheat cereal. She was hospitalized for a couple of weeks; it was that bad. Today, she is getting ready to start college, and is a bright, normal girl. Her older sister, who has no problem with wheat, has attention deficit disorder. So they are the opposite of what Dr Campbell-McBride’s “theory” would predict. (I put “theory” in quotes because it doesn’t seem sufficiently well formed, and it’s certainly not adequately tested.)

I can think of a few possible explanations for why celiac disease could nevertheless seem to have a weak correlation to autism and other related disorders. First off, celiac disease makes people uncomfortable and also impairs absorption of nutrients — both of these things will aggravate mild cases of attention problems or other impairments. So perhaps a person with ADHD is more likely to be diagnosed if they have a comorbid diagnosis of celiac disease. It’s not that it’s more common; it’s just more noticable. Second, celiac disease has a very clear-cut genetic basis, and it is strongly heritable. It’s a recessive trait, however, so lots of people carry the gene but do not have celiac disease. Developmental problems can also be heritable. It is not implausible that the genes for one are more common in the same populations that are more likely to have the other through chance alone. It is also possible that the genes relate to one another in some way that has not yet been discovered without either being dependent on the other. But this would not demonstrate that one condition causes the other, any more than having dark skin causes sickle cell anemia; it would merely mean that they run in the same bloodlines. For Campbell-McBride’s claims to hold water, she would need to not only actually study the question (rather than merely assuming in her arrogance that she cannot possibly be wrong) but also rule out these other possibilities.

I doubt very much she’d be interested in doing all that work, though. It’s so much simpler to assume correctness and begin treating patients immediately.

The curious thing is that so many doctors, who all studied chemistry and biology as undergrads, have such a poor grasp of science.

Alas, survey-level chemistry courses (at least, in my direct experience, and I’ve heard tales about undergraduate biology) aren’t really taught in a manner that fosters scientific or critical thinking… a lot of the time it’s cookbook lab stuff and formula-cramming, with little difference between a wet-bench and an altar with the CRC “Rubber Bible” standing in for the Gideon version.

I wish it was different; I wish those courses went more into the philosophy of science and the scientific method than they do… but I guess it’s a problem of limited time and the large volume of knowledge that needs to be imparted within it.

— Steve

I know someone who’s really into the GAPS diet. Don’t know why, her son is not (AFAIK) autistic.
I’ve posted about her blog before. Here’s a recent article on why people who refuse to “change their food” are not as good as she is: http://movingstronglyforward.typepad.com/moving_strongly_forward/2011/07/the-no-action-problem.html
She seems to obsess about food, trying clay, butter oil and gluten-free and waxing poetic about some paleo diet.

She’s also anti-vax and seems to have a child with so many little ills it seems she ought to have “cured” him by now. She deletes my comments, but has let other dissenters like Lawrence comment.

By the way, she’s going to be lobbying in North Carolina for CAM and she seems quite persuasive. This is my biggest concern.

@victor,
You make that lame pharma shill claim as if there were no financial gain for the woo meisters advocating anti-science to the gullible.

(@ triskelethecat – Dawn, I think that parents of children with ASDs are focused on these issues because, in the wake of de-institutionalisation, they are often the care-givers, thus responsible for possibly in-communicative, partially untrained older children and young adults: woos pick up on what concerns potential marks. Similarly, issues surrounding the SMI – smoking, drug use, sexuality- were not generally discussed decades ago because they were not living at home in the community- out of sight, out of mind. Plus restrictions were enforcable by others)

A couple of other things here: red flags for me about Dr Campbell-McBride- I would be very wary about anyone who says ” threw me into a large learning curve” and studied nutrition to deal with developmental issues. Actually she sounds like woo-meisters selling diet plans ( non-gluten/ non-casein; supplements) for autism, learning disabilities, and mental illness. Again, they postulate an external cause and relish an external cure, the usual manner of attribution of causality amongst the nutritionism crowd.

Why are they so afraid of an even partially genetic explanation? Do they see it as stigma? This seems to be a general trend in woo-topia: denial of genetic causes to serious physical and mental illnesses as well as ASDs: they have a problem accepting that awful things can occur that are beyond personal control- people can get cancer even if they live in a healthy fashion, people who were never mis-treated can be SMI, and unvaccinated children can have autism. It is not the external toxic world tampering with previous perfection. If these conditions are caused by nutrition, people are able to control them – as least in their own minds.

I’ve spent the past few days reading AoA’s most recent entries and following television coverage of the countdown to World Economic Ragnarok-Gotterdammerung-Apocalypse** and can’t decide which of the two uses the more frightening language ( probably the former). There are some truly complicated acts of “reasoning” illustrated in a few of these articles: if you like that sort of thing, take a peek.

** which btw, seems to have been averted and I’z going to a party!

From Militant Agnostic @ #1:

And pedaling woo cures for autism, ADD, ADHD, Depression, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, Schizophrenia, and Toronto Maple Leafs Fans is not a profit making industry?

QFT

(Disclosure: I am a fan of a competing NHL team in Toronto’s division.)

“So all sort of toxins and microbes flood into the bloodstream of the child and get into the brain of the child.”

Ok, I’m no expert by any stretch of the imagination, but it seems to me that she’s describing a condition that would lead to septic shock, bacterial meningitis or some other serious, physiological crisis. “Developmental stasis” would be the least of a child’s problems, if his/her bloodstream was truly being “flooded” with anaerobic bacteria and (presumably endo-/exo-) toxins.

@Composer99: Do the Red Wings count? I don’t follow hockey, but as a former Detroiter, my heart belongs to those teams, if any. (Don’t know if there IS a cure for that…)

Thanks for posting this. I first became aware of Campbell-McBride via my sister whose daughter has a number of food sensitivities. Her daughter also has no signs of autism, but she is definitely a big fan of the diet for reasons I can’t quite comprehend. I’ve been hoping more bloggers would shine a light on GAPS and expose the pseudoscience involved.

A recent exchange demonstrates how corrupt medical journal publishing has become. This can be seen from a long list of citations of medical journal papers posted on Mnookin’s blog and claimed to be evidence vaccines are safe and do not cause autistic conditions.

Fortunately, as AoA and CHS have pointed out previously, numerous US Government agencies have confirmed vaccines can cause autistic conditions.

oxycodone10.com

@Annette Jackson: CITATION NEEDED. Real studies, not AOA’s junk science, please. You can simply post the pubmed information.

Triskelethecat, I personally doubt that “Annette Jackson” is a bona fide AOAer, given the url gratuitously slugged in… I suspect pharma-spammer, myself, though given that there’s no way I’m going to visit a web site named after an abusable drug while at work I have no way to confirm my suspicions.

Should “Annette” not be a ‘bot/spammer, though, I second the request for legitimate citations to back up these otherwise-unsupported assertions.

— Steve

Tim, you must be my doppleganger. I actually first found Orac a few years ago looking for people taking on this very thing because of my in-laws ‘treating’ my nephew with this crap. What shocks me the most is my FIL, who is a very smart guy, buys into it completely. It’s maddening.

Calli Arcale,

Heck, I’m doubtful that breastfeeding is actually a big contributor to gut colonization, because gut bacteria don’t normally live in the breasts (if they do, that’s actually quite a bad thing), and most women shower regularly and then keep their breasts covered, preventing them from getting much more than lint on them. I doubt very much that this is the major route of bacteria entering the child’s gut.

You ignoramus. This is what’s going to happen when we let uneducated people like you talk about immunology. Everything will be pure BS. Please, please, please read about what naturally acquired passive immunity is and take note of what is essentially being provided to the infant.

This thread is going to end soon.

Is it just me or are people like Dr. Cambell McBride starting to resemble those who use to peddle snake oil to the uneducated masses back in the day of the traveling medicine show? When souless greedy profiteers, often those who didn’t even have a real medical degree would claim “just one drop of this or that can heal all that ails you?” I’m kinda waiting for them to bring out the performing monkeys next….

I do get tired of everyone (at least the anti vax crowd) thinking it’s alright to put those with autism through experiment after experiment with these woo treatments, some of them which can be quite painful. We are not text subjects, we are human beings, and we deserve better than that! I don’t think it’s right that parents get away with doing those things because it is all done in the name of a cure which DOES NOT EXIST!!

They can think and even spout whatever crack pot theories about autism they want, but when the person who is actually the one with autism gets turned into a human guneiu pig, something needs to be done about that!

I would personally like to know why there is no outcry against parents experimenting on their children with autism, yet people throw absolute fits over animal testing.

*rant over*

Denice:

they have a problem accepting that awful things can occur that are beyond personal control

This is a common thread in vaccine denial, religion, 9/11 denial and many other forms of woo: the refusal to accept that sh*t happens. Keep it in mind next time you hear something loopy; odds are it can be reduced to exactly that.

When you hear augie wax poetic about black helicopters or Thingy assure us that our children will not get sick if we just make sure they don’t play in public, that’s exactly what is going on: they cannot, will not accept that sh*t happens. It makes them uncomfortable. They cannot handle it. Everything else follows from that, ending in mysanthropic paranoia and pathological cognitive dissonance. Keep it in mind.

Thingy:

This is what’s going to happen when we let uneducated people like you talk about immunology.

That just made my irony meter go supernova, sweetheart. I’ll now go ponder that while taking a cigarette intravenously.

This thread is going to end soon.

Your arrogance is outdone only by your ignorance.

As a parent of an autistic child, I just wanted to drop a quick note to let you know how thankful I am for these ScienceBlogs anti-vax-quackery articles. Back when Dr. Jenny McCarthy was spouting her braindeadedness, it was refreshing to see a saner take on things. And this article is really great. Thanks.

Actually, my son is now 8 years old, and could probably be described as “cured” – I believe it was a result of him playing Pokemon on his DS. I plan to patent “Nintendo Therapy” as an autism cure. Step 3: profit!

ps. @Militant Agnostic: surely, watching a Leafs game is the best cure for Leaf Fandom. Thankfully, it’s also free, thanks to HNIC.

At the risk of legitimising Our Lady of the Snot Armour by addressing him/her/it:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passive_immunity#Naturally_acquired_passive_immunity

Link generated in seconds by a simple Wikipedia search… Note the incredibly-limited range of immunities listed in that article that can be transferred via lactation, and how the article stresses the importance of post-natal inocculations to cover the gaps. That’s because the authours don’t fixate on any One True Cause for illness but rather look at all the evidence and acknowledge that the human body is a very, very complex assembly with many complementary (or even redundant, sometimes) parts.

And now back to ignoring RI’s weak substitute for an Archimedes Plutonium. (They just don’t make cranks like they used to…)

— Steve

@ Stu : Sure- this provides fertile ground for woo-meisters who tell the marks exactly what they’d like to hear rather than the hard truth ( Paul Simon: “You gotta keep the customer satisfied”) unlike those cruel SBM doctors . Interestingly enough, while woo-meisters are obviously deficient intellectually in *many* ways, they appear to have just enough social cognitive skills to read the marks’ needs and typical habits of thought- which are then incorporated into their hard sell.

News! It was true!

‎”Hester-Perez attributes dramatic improvements in her son’s behavior and overall health to the addition of cannabis to his treatment. Approximately 10 other autistic persons have seen improvements since augmenting their therapy with cannabis within UF4A’s case studies. She hopes this will form the basis for official academic research in the future.”

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/cannabis-science-reaches-final-partnership-structure-with-unconventional-foundation-for-autism-uf4a-2011-08-01

You ignoramus. This is what’s going to happen when we let uneducated people like you talk about immunology. Everything will be pure BS. Please, please, please read about what naturally acquired passive immunity is and take note of what is essentially being provided to the infant.

Thingy is half right. Maternal IgA has a profound effect on what bacteria are present in the infant’s intestines.

Stop breastfeeding and you remove that selection which means the gut will reach equilibrium. In the long term, breastfeeding won’t have a major impact on the flora.

Oh good lord, the nonsensical non sequiturs in her list of “ailments”. Is vegetarianism an illness? Here was me thinking it was a life choice:

Did you or your child suffer from tummy aches, dyslexia, dyspraxia, was anaemic or vegetarian, and then developed psychotic episodes and was diagnosed with schizophrenia?

This one’s a cracker:

Has your baby been diagnosed with Failure To Thrive?

As John Betjeman never wrote:
Dr Campbell–McBride, Dr Campbell–McBride,
I think you are taking us all for a ride,
What tortuous nonsense this syndrome you see,
I may be bipolar, you’re not treating me!

D’Arcy,

I have a nephew with some developmental disabilities, and part of what his parents are doing to help him is Dungeons and Dragons: it’s the right kind of structured narrative to help him grasp narrative/story better.

Has your baby been diagnosed with Failure To Thrive?

“Failure to Thrive?” I haven’t heard that phrase since All Creatures Great and Small!

Anyway, I once had a Kenwood receiver that it turned out the tape monitor jacks were wired backwards. I put it on a strict diet and it was totally cured! True Story….

Dear Thingy, passive immunization from breast milk happens via antibodies. Gut colonizations happens via life bacteria. Please take remedial biology at your local CC and come back next year.

Vicki — that’s an interesting idea. My daughter loves stories, but struggles with writing them. She can do scenes, and illustrates surprisingly well for her age, but that’s it. She does show interest in watching me and her dad play role-playing games on the computer. I hadn’t thought of trying the old pencil-and-paper ones with her. I will have to try that!

@Vicki and Calli

Good to hear others finding the benefits of RPGs. They’re great for developing the imagination and honing problem-solving skills. Just don’t let any hyper-fundamentalist types hear that you’re into them. They are, after all, tools of the devil.

I’m surprised that no one said this yet: Dr. Campbell-McBride appears to have some GAPS in her education. (Thank you. I’m here all week.)

Calli: you could even try getting a few MtG starters. They tend to be awesome as “gateway drugs”.

@The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge: Failure to Thrive (FTT) is actually a known medical diagnosis. Basically, baby is not gaining weight appropriately, and the doctor thinks, What the hell is going on? FTT leads to a bunch of “rule-out” diagnoses.

The doctor starts to play detective – is the baby getting enough calories? Is the baby allergic to the formula/something in the breastmilk? Does the baby have some rare disease that doesn’t allow him/her to digest food properly? Is the baby vomiting his/her meals?

FTT is a “garbage can” diagnosis used until the baby has a definitive diagnosis…if one can be found. I have friends whose 3 year old child STILL has a diagnosis of FTT. Child won’t eat, and it’s very hard to give a growing child sufficient calories via tube feedings. Child weighs about 18 lbs (at age 3, should be 30 lbs or so)

It’s interesting to hear about RPGs, (videogame or tabletop) and Magic:tG in relation to autism and Asperger’s. I was diagnosed at age 30 last year as Aspergers. My mother had long suspected I had something odd, though teachers, staff, and such didn’t put much interest into investigating since I was a well-behaved A/B student.

I was very much into videogame RPGs, Magic, and I touched a little D&D (as an adult, I’ve got lots of D&D books right now, even though I rarely play), and generally “crunchy” games where simple mechanics form complex interactions. I’m even thinking about getting back into Magic, though I’ll need somewhere to play.

@Todd #45
No fair going after such low hanging fruit.

Also, Interesting ideas on RPGs. IIRC, there were some that let you create characters online – fun for the creative visual learners. My kids are grown so my info is sadly out of date but that concept cannot have wholly disappeared.

Stu — I used to be a dungeon master. I still have the dice and the books and everything. I tried Magic: the Gathering, but it didn’t really sustain my interest as well. CalliBaby 1.0 loves Pokemon, but only collecting them, drawing them, watching them on TV, and such. She doesn’t actually enjoy the game much. She will play a modified version that she invented herself, but part of the rules involves just letting Ada tell you what has happened and who is winning each match. I’m going to try D&D with her sometime. If that fails, and she needs something more visual, we can move to Neverwinter Nights, which I used to spend a lot of hours on. 😉

Oh, and to tie it in to the breastfeeding thread, I actually use to play Neverwinter Nights *while nursing her*. It actually worked pretty well, and she’d usually fall asleep like that.

It’s true, Campbell-McBride seems overly certain of her theory despite a paucity of evidence. But Orac’s arguments don’t convince me that there is ZERO truth to what she says. In fact, many scientists around the world are hard at work looking for some kind of environmental contributor to autism (in addition to the genetic link).

So here’s another theoretical possibility that would render both Campbell-McBride and Orac partially right: that there is a disorder called autism that has nothing to do with gut function… but that there is another sub-group of kids with gut bacteria problems who behave as if they have autism. It’s as if there could be two different problems that are currently being conflated into one diagnosis. Several 2011 studies support the fact that gut bacteria can profoundly affect mental functioning, at least in mice. More studies will sort this out over the next few years, as gut bacteria is a very hot topic of research.

Autism is currently diagnosed based on observable behavior (communication, socialization…) rather than biology, so if there were indeed two types of kids called autistic (one with gut bacteria problems and one without), clinicians would need to update the diagnostic criteria to reflect the distinction.

Thanks, Orac, for keeping this dialogue going.

-KC, the Intestinal Gardener

I follow information on Dyspraxia, a related neuro-processing problem in the Autism neighborhood, and even less understood. Dyspraxia treatment is also collecting lots of Woo, and wouldn’t you know it, the GAPS books at Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride has now started showing up on those sites.

I know Orac gets tons of requests for subjects, but I’d love it if he could weigh in on the medical side of Dyspraxia diagnosis and treatment. My WooDar continually goes off when looking for resources on Dyspraxia.

The curious thing is that so many doctors, who all studied chemistry and biology as undergrads, have such a poor grasp of science.

I TAed a college biochem course for pre-med folk at a reasonably prestigious institution. The degree to which they actually studied the material… varied. It’s definitely a box-checking exercise for a certain subset.

Jody, I know what you mean! I had to leave the Araxia-Kids listserv when the woo-meisters started to take over. Though it looks on their website to be staying away from the woo.

Recently research in Scandinavia has demonstrated that 90% of all cells and all genetic material in a human body is our own gut flora.

“Recent research”? I think this has been known for decades. Sounds like Dr. Campbell-McBride has succumbed to the common illusion that ‘things did not happen until I personally heard of them’.

Further evidence for this theory:

It was a very rare disorder. Even I as a medical graduate have never seen an autistic patient. By the time I graduated from my medical school I have never an autistic individual.

So she only starts noticing autism when she moves out of a social environment where families found ways of institutionalising any embarrassingly-different children, and deduces that it is only just appeared.

there is evidence that breastfed babies have a lower incidence of autism
Breastfed babies also have a lower rate of Down’s Syndrome but this is not because lack of breastfeeding causes DS.
————————————–
Whipping Boy, for Big Corrupt Pharma
Victor, you might want to learn the meaning and proper use of common English idioms like “whipping boy”, and then get back to us.

Why are they so afraid of an even partially genetic explanation? … This seems to be a general trend in woo-topia: denial of genetic causes to serious physical and mental illnesses as well as ASDs

When your business model consists of selling environmental changes, it makes sense to emphasise environmental causes. Genetic causes just sound less treatable.

Mu,

Dear Thingy, passive immunization from breast milk happens via antibodies. Gut colonizations happens via life bacteria. Please take remedial biology at your local CC and come back next year.

Dangit! You beat me to it. I should spend more time here during the day rather than working =P

Lawrence @15: I wonder how the various woo-meisters deal with the internal & external inconsistencies in their various “treatments.”

They don’t, but that’s not a bug, it’s a feature. The absolute failure of one treatment doesn’t rule out any of the others. Ideally, each patient will try all of them, allowing maximum income.

I firmly believe that RPGs and college politics of the “we’ll have the world fixed in a week, two tops” variety vastly improved my social skills and allowed me to function normally in society. I never touched such mainstream stuff as dungeons and dragons though. I went straight for Ars Magica and purely locally invented RPGs (one of which was eventually sold by the GM to Steve Jackson Games and became a GURPS variant. I still think the original concept was better than what the final SJ version.)

So I find the idea of RPG therapy delightful. Where do I sign up? And if I claim it’s therapy for Asperger’s, will my insurance pay for the pizza?

My almost seven year old brother was cured of Autistic Disorder by chicken nuggets, bananas, and watching PBS several hours weekly.

Of course, he’s not really cured, given that he still is diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome. Oh, and we can’t really say if it was his diet and PBS viewing that did it, given that he received speech therapy, social work, occupational therapy, special education, and DIY behavior therapy at home. but I’m going to give credit to the nuggets, bananas, and PBS, because I want to.

Fwiw, he is actually very close to not qualifying for a formal diagnosis (his doctor described it as looking more like residual traits than full blown ASD) however he legitimately met the full DSM criteria for autistic disorder at one point.. And, even if he does not qualify for a formal diagnosis, he will always be… well, who he is.

Dr. Campbell-Mcbride states,

“DC: It was 1 in 10,000 when I graduated. It was a very rare disorder. Even I as a medical graduate have never seen an autistic patient. By the time I graduated from my medical school I have never an autistic individual. I have seen other psychiatric conditions through my course in psychiatry but have never seen an autistic child. To be honest, the first autistic child that I have encountered was my own.”

So, I was wondering what her (limited) medical specialty was in Russia, that would preclude her from ever seeing an autistic person, prior to having her son?

So, I “visited” her website and came across this gem:

“After practicing for five years as a neurologist and three years as a neurosurgeon, she started a family and moved to the U.K.”

It seems that there is a huge disconnect between what is posted on her website and her statement on the video. And, no I’m not willing to give her a “pass” based on the logical fallacy of autism not being on her radar until her child was diagnosed with autism.

BTW, Dr. Campbell McBride is “franchising” her woo. On her website (www.gaps.me) is her upcoming U.S.A. schedule for classes to become a “USA Certified GAPs ™ Practitioner”. The cost for the two day training seminar is $1,175 which includes lunches, training materials and a “business starter package”. Note here, the good doctor will only provide patient (marks) referrals to “USA Certified GAPs ™ Practitioners”.

So, I was wondering what her (limited) medical specialty was in Russia, that would preclude her from ever seeing an autistic person, prior to having her son?

Alternative diagnoses, denial of autism and warehousing of patients seem to be standard features of Russian neurology:
http://www.opendemocracy.net/od-russia/dmitry-golubovsky-svetlana-reiter/everyones-different-living-with-autism-in-russia

Let’s try the Herxheimer test with Dr Campbell-McBride’s GAPS diet! The “herxheimer reaction” is the explanation given when people try a quack diet or a quack treatment and start feeling more ill rather than any better: it is the toxins leaving their body, or the underlying infection fighting back, and the way to beat it is to step up the treatment.*

Googling “campbell-mcbride” herxheimer:
About 11,400 results. That’s a lot of people feeling sicker.

* Similar to the excuse given by economic ideologues when applying their policies damages a country’s economy rather than improving it.

The GMC website does not show that Dr. Campbell-McBride has ever been licensed to practice medicine in the UK. She is probably a former physician now working as a nutritionist, but using the title “Dr.” because she does have that medical degree.

On the tangent, I will also give a parental testimonial for the efficacy of RPG therapy (Final Fantasy highly recommended)and Collectible Card Game therapy for ASD. Also for FPS therapy (Half-Life 2 highly recommended) as beneficial to parents.

@ herr doktor bimler: Sadly, I am only too aware of the deplorable neglect of the physical, medical and educational needs of developmentally disabled children and adults in the former Soviet Union and its “satellites”. The link you provided is very interesting about present day Russian clinicians who are just beginning to diagnose “autism” and the paucity of treatment and educational programs that still exist in Russia to help autistic children meet their full potential.

Perhaps I was remiss in my prior posting by not linking the good doctor’s neurology specialty with her statement of never having seen a person with autism and the fact that Treatment Resistant Epilepsy (TRE) is highly prevalent among “autistic” individuals. I still don’t give her a “pass” as persons with autism (and persons with autism mislabeled as being mentally retarded) are hospitalized frequently for their TRE and I strongly doubt that this neurologist never saw a person with autism (or a person with autism mislabeled as mentally retarded). See:

Treatment-Resistant Epilepsy Common in Idiopathic Autism; Associated with Early Seizure Onset and Cognitive Impairment (Science Daily, April 11, 2011).

P.S. I never responded to the clever poster a while back who drew the conclusion that the “expanded” diagnostic criteria for ASD has resulted in the curing of mental retardation…it gave me, the parent of a profoundly mentally retarded son with autistic-like behaviors, an immense chuckle…belated thanks.

Just a quick thank you from another autism parent; I really appreciate these autism-related posts and learn a lot from them. It’s great to have someone keeping an eye out for the quackery, and being bold enough and informed enough to place such people under public scrutiny.

Just a quick thank you from another autism parent; I really appreciate these autism-related posts and learn a lot from them. It’s great to have someone keeping an eye out for the quackery, and being bold enough and informed enough to place such people under public scrutiny.

Just a quick thank you from another autism parent; I really appreciate these autism-related posts and learn a lot from them. It’s great to have someone keeping an eye out for the quackery, and being bold enough and informed enough to place such people under public scrutiny.

KC,
Not that I dispute what you say, but you got any evidence for that speculation? Or is all that just blue sky?

I got called a fuck head on my blog recently for immunising my son. A child who was ASD the day he was born. And was breast fed. And had no reaction to any of his shots. I wish these quacks would crawl in a hole.

Ashtanga London @#5, #32
Liz Ditz @#10

I am by no means an expert. But I can shed some light here, based on what I know from both my older brothers being into pot, and the stories my wife tells me (she was into pot before we met). Also, my wife’s ex-boyfriend was a pot dealer. I’ve also had some friends who are dealers. Also, as a forensics person (I hesitate to call myself an expert), I have some knowledge of the legal side.

Now, medical pot is legal in California. And the question seems to be revolving around how people can make a profit off of it.

Since Ashtanga London has a series of questions, I’ll insert numbers to make it easier.

1) How is it possible for anyone to profit from pot as medicine for autism?
2) How can thousands be mistaken or deluded, they are not all doing it for profit, surely?
3) The 5000 anonymous bloggers who dare speak of their successes. Surely if they try to sell it they will get a visit from the DEA posing as customers?
4) Unless there is a law saying only Big Pharma can grow it and you can’t?

I’ll answer the questions one at a time.

Pot as a medication isn’t sold just for Autism. It’s sold for nearly anything. The problem is that most of those who want pot to be legal for medical reasons don’t want to have the medical research done, they just want it as an excuse to smoke. This is proven by the current medical pot laws: those who have a prescription (which, btw, costs about $200 [1] can get it for about any reason; my wife got hers by claiming “anxiety” and “sleep problems”) are allowed to grow up to x plants, and carry up to x amount of pot. Notice how it’s not like every other medication out there, with specific doses for specific treatments, and research showing efficacy and safety prior to legalization of the medication. Also, normal medication uses specific molecules in order to obtain a specific response. Compare that to pot, which is taking an entire section of a whole plant (smoking, orally, rectally, etc..) with no known dose to treat a plethora of symptoms, all of which are undefined. And there’s little-to-no research on efficacy or safety prior to legalization.

1) So how is it possible to profit? Well, the docs profit by selling prescriptions (sorry, “appointments”) at about $150-200 a pop. The prescription-holders still has to buy the pot from dealers or growers if they are unable to grow themselves (not everyone knows how, or how to cultivate the active parts of the plant). Since medical pot is legal in California, and since pot is a HUGE industry in California, I think that speaks for itself on how people can profit from it. On top of that all, there is a pot option from the pharmaceutical industry, and even the DEA helped fund it. It’s called Marinol[2].

Beyond that, here’s a news article about the business of pot [3]. Notice how in 2009, it was estimated that Mendicino County alone generated over $1 Billion per year in marijuana sales. It is definitely a for-profit industry.

2) How can thousands be mistaken or deluded? Easy. Perfect example: not all religions are correct. Some of them must be wrong. Therefore, those adherents (of which, there are at least thousands) must be either mistaken or deluded. It is possible for thousands of people to be wrong about a subject. And medical treatments are not immune. How many thousands of readers read Whate.to, and believe it? How many thousands of readers read Mercola.com and believe it? So based on that, why would you think those 5000 are immune to being wrong? People are very fallible (including you and me). Which is why we have to do proper research: to help us overcome our inherent tendency to be mistaken. I’m all for using pot to help treat autism, provided that there is evidence that it helps. At this point, we don’t even know how autism comes about, and I’m fairly certain (I could be wrong) that there aren’t any real or consistent treatments for autism that work. Since autism is a spectrum, I’m willing to accept a “for this type of autism, this treatment will work on roughly this many patients” type of deal. But we need to research to show the numbers.

3) The DEA doesn’t really peruse message boards. They do take tips from the population, though, and if the tip is significant enough, they’ll look into it. The DEA typically goes after the big dogs – and individual pot farmers are not big. Pot is legal in California, but not Federally, so those pot farms up in Humbolt County, while they’re protected by the local law, still get raided by the DEA. Remember, though, that the DEA also has to deal with national and international drug rings dealing with more than just pot – meth, coke, etc.. So a bunch of people growing pot for themselves (and maybe making a few bucks selling to a few others) are usually under the DEA’s radar.

4) I think I answered this above. Medical pot shouldn’t have anything to do with growing your own. It should be about treating specific conditions with specific molecules; not about smoking 400+ chemicals in the hopes that a few of them will work.

it’s a huge business, mostly run by drug cartels from Mexico

Not all of it. For example, the pot farms up in Humbolt and Mendicino Counties are not run by the cartels. In fact, the local law enforcement are so concerned about it, that they focus on protecting the pot farmers from murders and raids by the cartels, rather than stopping the farmers from growing. (Sorry, no citation, just based on what I’ve been told by law enforcement from that area).

[1] http://www.webehigh.com/news/detail.php?choose_subject=1&newsId=331&CITYID=0

[2] http://www.justice.gov/dea/ongoing/marinol.html

[3] http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/28354324/ns/business-cnbc_tv/t/pot-growers-thrive-northern-california/

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: