Fighting the “acid” of negative (e)motions?

If there’s one quack who both amuses and appalls me at the same time, it’s Robert O. Young. You remember Robert O. Young, don’t you? He’s the guy who thinks that all disease is caused by excess acid. I’ve written about him quite a few times over the last several years. For instance, he amused me when he declared that cancers are all liquids, and this liquid is the “toxic acidic waste product of metabolism or energy consumption.” In fact, he goes beyond that by saying that the tumor making up the cancer is the body’s protective mechanism to encapsulate “spoiled” or “poisonous” cells. And what does the “spoiling or poisoning”? Why, acid, of course, because to Young acid is the One True Cause of All Disease. Consistent with this world view, Young also believes that viruses are all molecular acids. Even more amusing, Young took woo-meister Andrew Weil to task because he was too reasonable. Well, Young actually didn’t see it that way. He really, really didn’t like it when Weil pointed out that water alkalinizers and home water ionizers are useless.

I was less amused–actually, not amused at all–when Young declared that sepsis is not caused by bacteria, but rather by excess acid. He wrote this in conjunction with discussing the case of a Brazilian model named Mariana Bridi da Costa, who died of massive sepsis after what was apparently a urinary tract infection. Young blamed her death on lifestyle and the use of antibiotics to–oh, you know–treat sepsis. Finally, I was appalled when I saw Robert O. Young “treating” breast cancer in a woman named Kim Tinkham, who had been diagnosed with breast cancer. Although it was difficult to tell just how bad Tinkham’s case was from the descriptions she gave in various interviews and writings, it wasn’t difficult to tell that by trusting Young she was endangering her life. Unfortunately, ultimately she paid the ultimate price.

Truly, Young is a one-note quack in that to him everything is due to “excess acid” and that everything he views as causing disease supposedly causes more acidity. Other quacks like to take a Secret-like attitude in which they seem to believe that wishing literally makes it so and that you can cure yourself of anything if you just want to be cured badly enough. While this has the not-so-salutory effect of “blaming the victim” when such quackery doesn’t work. After all, if it doesn’t work, the victim must not have wanted it badly enough. Yes, that really is the unspoken assumed premise behind this sort of quackery. Be that as it may, Young appears to be combining the sort of thinking that claims that thoughts and feelings determine disease or health with his acid-base woo to produce a brew that’s toxic, appalling, and amusing all at the same time. In a post titled Can Positive or Negative Thoughts and Emotions Affect Your Body, Mind and Spiritual Health? he claims that your thoughts become biology. Actually, your thoughts are a result of biology, given that your brain is what creates them. As usual, Young gets it exactly wrong. Be that as it may, let’s see what he has to say:

So your thoughts are critical. Your thoughts or words do become matter, and can affect your physiology in a negative or positive way. Your thoughts do become biology. And the way that thoughts become biology is as follows:

  1. When you have a thought or say a word, it requires electrical or electron energy for the brain cell(s) to produce those actions.
  2. As you carry on with that thought, you are burning or consuming energy.
  3. When you are consuming energy in your thoughts, you are producing a biological waste products called acids which are an energetic waste product which can be measured in pH, oxidative reduction potential (ORP), hertz and decibels.
  4. Next, if the metabolic acids from your thoughts are not properly eliminated through the four channels of elimination which are urination, perspiration, respiration or defecation, then the acids from your thoughts are moved out into your connective and fatty tissues because it must not be allowed to affect the delicate pH of the blood. The delicate balance of the blood must remain quite constant at 7.365 to remain healthy.
  5. What happens next is this. As the excess and overload of acid are thrown out into the body tissues, this can easily lead to all sorts of symptomologies: lupus, fibromyalgia, Lyme’s, arthritis, muscle pain, fatigue, tiredness, obesity, cancerous breasts, a cancerous prostate, a cancerous stomach and/or bowels, indigestion, acid reflux, heart burn, heart attacks, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, dementia, autism, and the list goes on and on.

This is profoundly silly. Utterly ridiculous, actually. The reason, of course, is that by Young’s own “reasoning” (such as it is, if you can call it that), thinking happy thought also requires electrical energy, also consumes energy, and also produced waste products. How does he know that thinking nasty thoughts burns more energy and producing more acid than thinking happy thoughts? He doesn’t. Young’s idea is also profoundly ridiculous because the body controls its pH within a very narrow range through getting rid of acid through urine and respiration (primarily). You can’t change that by thinking bad thoughts. Young also doesn’t seem to understand that the extracellular fluid is freely exchangeable with the solution that makes up the blood. The pH of the two compartments (blood and extracellular fluids) is usually pretty darned close. Finally, there’s no evidence that “excess acid” causes all those conditions and diseases that Young attributes to it.

Of course, Young has an explanation, but first let’s take a look at perhaps the most annoying part of this post. You know how various quacks like to refer to “dis-ease” instead of disease? Young takes that one step further with the word “emotion”:

First of all, emotions are energy in motion. When you are (e)motional, you are energetic, either in a positive or negative way. And if you are energetic, you are literally energy in (e)motion. You are now producing metabolic acids at a very high rate which is a waste product of such (e)motions.

The rate of acid production in an (e)motional state can be even greater than that of someone who is jogging or working out. So, your thoughts do become biological or metabolic acids that can make you sick, tired, depressed, angry and even too fat or underweight.

Let’s see. We have “dis-ease” and now “(e)motion.” One wonders what the next word is that quacks will butcher. “Can-cer,” as in “we can cure this”? “Die-abetes”? The possibilities are, unfortunately, endless.

In any case, Young then goes on to butcher acid-base physiology yet again. it’s not worth rehashing too much because as I write this it’s late and I’m tired, and I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve dissected just how little Young understands about the mechanism by which mammals maintain acid-base homeostasis. Truly, what Young says about acid-base physiology and how acid-base physiology actually works in real human beings are related to each other mainly only by coincidence–and areas of knowledge that Young apparently didn’t bother to butcher yet.

However, even if you accept Young’s mistaken premise that cancer and all “dis-ease” are caused by excess acid, a large part of which is, according to him, caused by our “(e)motion” (which is “energy in motion”), that still doesn’t explain why happy emotions don’t cause just as much acid production as sad emotions? After all, does anyone think that happy emotions can’t be just as intense as emotions of anger? Not to Young they’re not:

Now this next thought is very important! The negative emotions of anger, resentment, and fear­being the most powerful and acidifying of all emotions are all highly acidic to the blood and tissues and in many ways are paralyzing to all bodily functions. Over time, the fear of the unknown is probably the most powerful and acidic of them all. Fear is so devastating to the body that even if you’re on an alkaline diet, overcoming a serious health challenge is practically impossible.

In contrast, apparently:

On the other hand, positive (e)motions, such as love, peace, hope, faith, joy, forgiveness and charity can be alkalizing to the blood and tissues. These (e)motions require far less energy and can cause you to be relaxed in your mind and stop the playing of some acidic movie in your head. Students of higher consciousness know that you can even enter into a state of bliss wherein you have no thoughts and wherein you are producing no metabolic acid.

I have no doubt that Young is very adept at entering states where he has no thoughts inside of his head. He’s generally there at least 90% of the time anyway if his post and blatherings about metabolic acid, hydrochloric acid in the stomach, and basically anything else about health and disease. In any case, there’s little doubt that negative emotions seem to be associated with certain chronic health conditions, but teasing out whether this is causation or merely correlation is anything but simple. For certain conditions, however, there is no good evidence that negative emotions impact outcomes. Cancer, for instance. It’s long been claimed that a positive attitude results in better outcomes in cancer, but more recent evidence finds no correlation between various interventions designed to improve the mood of cancer patients (psychotherapy, for instance) and improved survival in cancer.

Particularly hilarious is the part where Young exults over how much he loves his exercise regimen and his yoga “alkalinize” his body:

That is why I am addicted to why I Love this type of alkalizing exercise that I do every day. It’s called a Positive Addiction. I Love to have my friends and guests work out with me as I lead them through the steps. I teach them the Young version of Yoga. I tell them that it is known as Younga Yoga. They Love that. (Well, at least they laugh.) It incorporates proper breathing, stretching, toning, mediation, relaxation, and of course some sweating to remove yesterday’s dietary and metabolic acid and to help bring me into a state of happiness and bliss.

Did it ever occur to Young that any sort of aerobic exercise generates acid, as in lactic acid? Actually, come to think of it, so do stretching and “toning” exercises. Why is that acid any different from acid that, according to Young, comes from “negative emotions”? Even if negative emotions caused that much “acid” and that acid actually caused all the horrible diseases and conditions that he attributes to “excess acid.” Apparently yoga produces happy acid that’s good for you because it ultimately leads to “alkalinization,” while negative emotions destroy you.

But that’s not all. Remember how I mentioned above the “Secret”-like aspect of alternative medicine. One of the most vile aspects of such thinking is that it blames the victim. If the woo being used isn’t working, it’s not because it’s quackery. Oh, no. It’s because you’re not following the regimen perfectly enough, or you’re not believing enough, or you’re thinking negative thoughts that are interfering with the magic. Lo! And Behold! Young says just that in this post. If his “alkalinization” cure isn’t working for you, then it’s your fault for thinking negative thoughts. Sure, he doesn’t phrase it that way. He tries to put a positive spin on it. But, when you strip it down to its essence, that’s what he’s saying:

In such a dire case, with what may seem to be little or no improvement, you might be wondering if the pH Miracle Lifestyle and Diet may not be working. You may be asking, “What else am I not doing that I should be? How come I feel the way that I’m feeling? I’m eating the right way, I’m drinking the right alkaline electron rich water, but I can’t seem to achieve the type of extraordinary health and energy that I’m seeking.”

In most cases like this, when you are eating and drinking correctly, it will come down to your negative acidic (e)motions or thoughts that are holding you back from achieving extraordinary health, fitness, mental clarity, happiness, and bliss. However, keep this in mind:

When you’re eating an alkaline diet and you are doing everything you know how to do, and yet you are overwhelmed with worry, doubt and negative emotions, thank God you’re eating an alkaline diet! If your body were not seriously in the alkaline direction, you might very well be experiencing a struggle for your life. Your acidic (e)motions can literally kill you. So the alkaline lifestyle and diet is the saving grace. Knowing that should give you the positive hope that you can hang on to, get through the emotional stress, and still come out physically and mentally able.

Translation: If my quackery isn’t working, it’s because you have a negative attitude. But be thankful! If you weren’t using my quackery, you’d be in even worse shape than you are not. To Young, that means it’s time to double down and “hyperalkalinize” yourself. Oh, and don’t forget to undergo an extreme attitude readjustment. After all, wishing makes it so. That, and baking soda, apparently.