A “homeopathic physician” in Arizona versus science

I’m a cancer surgeon and have been since I finished my fellowship nearly 13 years ago. That is, of course, one big reason that, after I found myself drifting towards becoming a skeptic, it didn’t take long for me to take an interest in “alternative medicine,” in particular alternative medicine for cancer. Perhaps that’s why I went a little bit crazy on Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski earlier this week for his “antineoplaston” therapy and his clinic’s harassment of critical bloggers. As a result of that incident, I decided to keep my eye out even more than usual for clinics, websites, or practitioners promoting woo as a cure for cancer, the better to apply skepticism, and, of course, some not-so-Respectful Insolence to woo-meisters who so desperately require it. In the process, I anticipate discovering dubious doctors of whom I had never heard before and making myself more aware of what is out there in terms of cancer quackery.

The sheer quantity and (lack of) quality of cancer woo are depressing to behold.

That’s how I wandered into the Oasis of Healing and one Dr. Thomas Lodi, who describes himself as a homeopathic physician. Yes, if I were ever to be diagnosed with cancer, the first place I’d be going is to a homeopathic physician. Actually, Dr. Lodi apparently has a real MD and later became a homeopath, something I’ve never been able to understand. It’s like becoming a rocket scientist and then deciding that you’d rather play with model rockets, but only if they don’t have any have any of those little rocket engines used to launch them and have to rely on your wishing it so to make them fly. Yet, for some reason, Dr. Lodi, after years of practicing as a real doctor, abandoned science-based medicine and decided to become a Homeopathic Medical Doctor, a designation allowed by the state of Arizona. If you want an idea of how scary it must be to be a patient in Arizona, just consider that Homeopathic Medical Doctors can perform surgery and that the rules governing how homeopathic doctors can administer chelation therapy are horribly lax and that physicians only have to complete 300 hours of training in homeopathy, 40 of which have to be in classical homeopathy. Of couse, I’m guessing that it probably doesn’t matter how long one studies homeopathy. It’s still quackery, and how studying quackery for a longer period of time does anything besides make you a quackier quack I don’t know. Perhaps they should dilute the homeopathy training by 30C, as that would make it stronger and leave out the training in classical acupuncture, chelation therapy, “complex homeopathy” (whatever that is), and “neuromuscular integration” out.

Be that as it may, cancer patients in Arizona should be afraid, very afraid:

For the first ten years of his medical career, Dr. Thomas Lodi worked in conventional settings as an internal medicine specialist, urgent care physician, and as an intensivist in ICU and CCU departments of various hospitals. Subsequently, Dr Lodi continued his search for more effective and less toxic therapies by training around the world from Japan to Europe to Mexico and all around the US. Although he occasionally sees patients with a variety of medical conditions, Thomas Lodi, M.D. has narrowed his scope of practice through specific training and extensive experience over the past 12 years to Integrative Oncology (caring for people with cancer).

As I said, just what we don’t need: A homeopath specializing in cancer.

Not surprisingly, the Oasis of Healing’s website is drenched in serious woo-speak, in which natural is always better, the body is “wise,” and pharma is the enemy, or, at the very least, seriously misguided. Here’s a taste:

Health is the Natural condition of all creatures and is the consequence of each performing its function in the niche or habitat out of which its role emerged.

Humanity has become separated from Nature to the extent that it no longer functions out of instinct but rather out of a multitude of cultural interpretations, each of which views Nature as contrary, unpredictable, dangerous and in need of being subdued and even conquered. This fundamental worldview has spawned the ‘battle,’ “man vs nature” which has raged for untold millennia and resulted in what is known as, ‘civilization’ fabricated equally out of, both arrogance and ignorance delivering its progeny, a malignant miasma.

One wonders whether Dr. Lodi bases his practice on miasma theory. It really was a theory of medicine, much like the humoral theory of disease, that was popular hundreds of years ago. Miasma theory postulated that disease was due to a poisonous vapor or mist filled with decomposing particles (miasmas); in other words, contaminated air, water, and poor hygienic conditions cause disease, and it’s the miasma that passes disease from person to person. In some ways miasma theory was an improvement over the idea that disease is due to an imbalance in the four humors. It did, after all (sort of) explain how diseases pas through human populations, and, in fact, contaminated water and air, as well as poor hygienic conditions, are associated with disease. Before the germ theory of disease was accepted, miasma theory made about as much sense as almost any other idea at the time as an explanation for epidemics. Of course, Dr. Lodi could just be using a metaphor, cleverly turning belief in miasma theory into a description of civilization.

So maybe miasma theory is not the basis of Dr. Lodi’s practice, after all. This is:

Cancer is considered to be, ‘the enemy’. We have declared a “war on cancer.” And other than cigarettes, we are told that most other factors contributing to the development of cancer are beyond our control, such as genetics, or ‘stress,’ or pollution. Cancer in fact, is the name that we have given to the extraordinary effort of the body to protect us against chronic irritation. Consequently, cancer has been termed, “the wound that wouldn’t heal”. And the term “cancer prevention” is misused to include receiving vaccinations and diagnostic screening, such as mammograms. These and all others under this category of cancer prevention have nothing to do with the prevention of the development of the healing process that we have termed cancer.

And this:

It must be remembered that “disease” is the body attempting to re-establish optimal functioning. Health is not the absence of disease nor is it the absence of anything. It is the presence of something. It is the ability to regenerate, rejuvenate and procreate. Health is the condition that results when one lives according to the biological laws that govern the functioning of the organism.

Oh, no. He sounds just like Robert O. Young, who likes to claim that cancer is a “protective mechanism” against cells “spoiled” and liquified by too much acid or like Ryke Geerd Hamer, the creator of the quackery known as the “German New Medicine,” which morphed into Biologie Totale.

Dr. Lodi bases his woo on three principles:

Of course, two out of three of these things sound just like the “conventional” medicine upon which so much contempt is heaped. It’s just the methods that differ in that instead of being based on science they are based on magical thinking and prescientific notions of how disease develops. For instance, what is Dr. Lodi’s idea for targeting and eliminating cancer? IPT low dose chemotherapy and intravenous vitamin C. I’ve written extensively about how weak the evidence is supporting intravenous vitamin C, but what about IPT? What does that stand for? Insulin potentiation therapy, that’s what. IPT is pure quackery, with no evidence to support it. Basically, it involves the patient fasting and then being dosed with enough insulin to induce hypoglycemia. As the blood sugar level falls, chemotherapy is administered in doses far lower than what are normally used and normally effective. The claim is that insulin “opens the door” to the cell to let the chemotherapy in, or, as Dr. Lodi puts it, “Insulin is Nature’s ‘bow’ that allows us to aim straight into the ‘target’ (cancer cells).”

While it’s possible that insulin might somehow improve the efficacy of chemotherapy (one study suggests in one cancer that it might), evidence is lacking that insulin can radically decrease necessary doses of chemotherapy for various cancers. Quackwatch, of course, has a good deconstruction. More up-to-date information would suggest that some cancers overexpress receptors for insulin-like growth factors (IGFs). In breast cancer, although the data are somewhat conflicting, IGF-1 receptor expression appears to be a favorable prognostic factor. However, in bile duct cancer, the IGF-1 receptor appears to be a negative prognostic factor. Even in breast cancer under some situations, activating the insulin receptor might not be a good thing. What I find really odd, however, is that this guy’s a homeopath, and here he is, giving “unnatural” insulin (produced using recombinant DNA technology) and toxic chemotherapy drugs to patients. Seriously. That’s not in the least bit “natural.” What it is, in reality, is giving patients suboptimal doses of chemotherapy and thus lowering the chance that the chemotherapy will be effective. That’s why I get so irritated when I see testimonials like this:

Note how the woman featured in the video says she’s getting “less than 10%” of the usual dose of chemotherapy. If she’s going to take that small a dose of chemotherapy, she might as well not take it at all, because she’s getting none of the benefits of chemotherapy while subjecting herself to its risk. In addition to that, she’s receiving intravenous hydrogen peroxide and vitamin C, not to mention treating her own blood with ozone and reinfusing it. To top it off, Christine is a mother of four and the YouTube page reports that she “opted out of radiation and chemo for a completely different approach to breast cancer!” Without knowing her stage and receptor status at diagnosis, I can’t hazard an estimate of by how much Christine is decreasing her chances of survival by pursuing this quackery, but she is decreasing her chances of survival. Apparently Dr. Lodi now lists her as a “cured” patient, but assuming Christine is disease-free, she did herself no favors by not following the standard of care. I rather suspect that she’s a testimonial like that of Suzanne Somers in that she probably had curative surgery and refused recommended adjuvant chemotherapy and radiation therapy in favor of quackery. When she did well, she credited the quackery, rather than the surgery that was the actual curative modality.

The “immune enhancement” part is fairly typical woo-speak. More interesting to me is the part about how to “stop making cancer.” This is, as any one with a bit of knowledge of cancer knows, impossible in that we are always producing cancerous cells, particularly as we age. For example, 80% of men over 80 in autopsy series are found to have foci of prostate cancer, but the vast majority of them never exhibited symptoms of disease while living. So how do you stop cancer from forming? Lots of ways:

  • Living Foods
  • Juicing
  • Oral & IV Supplements
  • Chelation Therapy
  • Lymphatic Drainage
  • Structural Integration
  • Infrared Sauna
  • EWOT (Exercise With Oxygen Therapy)

And, of course, colon hydrotherapy! And with such a brain-dead analogy, to go with it:

It is funny, that we don’t think twice about changing the oil in our cars, or showering once or twice a day, but when it comes to internal cleansing of our bodies, we question whether or not it should really be done. Funny? Not really! It is tragic!

As I’ve said before, the colon is more than capable of handling the body’s waste. That’s its function. There’s no need to squirt water up there and flush it out; in fact, doing so too often can be harmful.

So what does Dr. Lodi have to demonstrate the efficacy of his therapy? What do you think? Does he have clinical trial evidence? Well, not exactly. He does have a bevy of testimonials, though:

In the beginning I wasn’t sure I wanted to have surgery, but with pressure from the medical (allopathic) world and fear of my family, I succumbed to surgery. I had a lumpectomy and then 5 weeks later a lymph node dissection. At that time I needed to make some very difficult decisions as to whether I was going to have further treatment. Again the medical powers were encouraging me to just “have faith” and do what everyone else does! I have never been a follower and have chosen to make my own path. I knew in my heart that there was another answer out there but was afraid I would have to leave the country to find treatment. I found Oasis of Healing on a Google search and had liked what I read-I then received an email from a colleague about Dr. Lodi that was an entirely separate experience. I also have a brother that lives in Phoenix, making my stay here possible. Dr. Lodi’s philosophy closely matches my own. It was refreshing to talk to someone so passionate about becoming healthy. The answer resides with all of us. Just look in the mirror! We are nature! Why would you choose to radiate or further poison nature in an attempt to cure it? Since coming here my progress has been steady. The staff are extremely supportive. I recall my first day of IPT, which uses 10% of the usual dose of chemotherapeutic drugs.

Note how when this patient does well, she attributes her survival to the quackery, not the surgery, which was the real cure.

Unfortunately, as much as I’d like to see nonsense like this go away, Dr. Lodi seems to be thriving. In fact, he’s looking to hire another doctor and a patient care coordinator. The patient care coordinator, for instance, will be responsible for followup and coordinating raw food diets, juicing, and various other things the clinic does. Sadly, Dr. Lodi’s empire of woo looks as though it’s expanding.