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Quackery and “wellness”: The case of David and Collet Stephan and their son Ezekiel

David and Collet Stephan stand convicted of not having provided their son Ezekiel with essential medical care, which led to his death from meningitis. None of this stopped the “wellness” industry from featuring David as a speaker at its expos; that is, until it started causing bad publicity. When that happened, Stephan was unceremoniously dumped. But the quackery in “wellness” remains unchanged.

There is now a whole industry devoted to something called “wellness.” It’s a big industry, too, estimated to be worth around $3.4 trillion—that’s trillion!—worldwide, which is much larger than the value of the global pharmaceutical industry. But what, exactly, is “wellness”? Well, it is a rather amorphous concept:

Nutrition and weight loss, preventative and personalized health, complementary and alternative medicine, and beauty and anti-aging treatments were the biggest growing sectors, the report compiled by the non-profit research center SRI International showed.

“All across the world we have seen, from Asia to Europe to Africa to North America, more and more people are consciously thinking about healthy food, exercising, looking to nature, getting massages and doing yoga,” said Ophelia Yeung, a senior consultant for SRI International who led the study.

Spa treatments and products, alternative and complementary treatments and weight-loss programs once considered beyond the means of many people, she added, are becoming more mainstream with a growing middle class.

As you can see, “wellness” encompasses everything from diet, exercise, lifestyle, and “getting back to nature” to “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM) or, as it’s more commonly called, “integrative medicine.” Of course, CAM, or “integrative medicine,” exists primarily for the purpose of “integrating” quackery and pseudoscience into medicine, and the “wellness” industry subscribes to the same philosophy. As I like to put it, “wellness” is nothing more than diet, exercise, lifestyle interventions, and often spa treatments plus a heaping helping of pure quackery, all frequently sold at a highly—shall we say?—profitable markup. Indeed, whenever I hear the word “wellness,” my skeptical antennae start a’twitchin’ mightily.

I don’t have to think very hard to come across examples of “wellness” and its intrinsic flirtation with pseudoscience. After all, what is Gwyneth Paltrow‘s “Goop” but a wellness company that exists to offer up high priced jade eggs for women to stick up their vaginas, magic healing energy stickers, and high priced conferences where the faithful can lap up mysticism about life after death and quackery delivered by an anti-psychiatry antivaxer?

There was another example of a story in the media this week that reminded me of the susceptibility of the “wellness” industry to quackery. It comes from Canada, where, according to stories that my readers have been pelting me with since this weekend, David Stephan has been featured at Health and Wellness Expos of Canada, which were scheduled to take place all over Canada. The result was an outpouring of well-justified criticism that I more or less missed out on because it all happened over the weekend and I (usually) do not blog on the weekend. Fortunately, however, that doesn’t stop me from making up for it now. For instance, André Picard made his displeasure known:

David Stephan was found guilty of failing to provide the necessities of life for his 19-month-old son, Ezekiel.

The toddler died of meningitis in March, 2012 because, as he fell increasingly ill, his parents opted to “treat” him with naturopathic potions and supplements instead of seeking prompt medical help.

Now, that same Mr. Stephan is doing a multicity tour as the featured speaker of Health and Wellness Expos of Canada, lecturing on “Achieving Brain & Thyroid Health.”

There are no words to express how sick this is.

When a man whose son died of swelling of the brain because of his negligence has the effrontery to lecture others on brain health, we know that hubris and self-delusion know no bounds.

You might remember David Stephan, as he has been featured on this blog on multiple occasions. Basically, back in 2012 David and Collet Stephan allowed their child to die of bacterial meningitis through medical neglect and relying on the advice of a local naturopath. Their case became a cause célèbre two years ago when they came to trial for failing to provide the necessaries of life (that is, in this case, medical neglect). Naturally, they cried persecution and blamed their being prosecuted on a plot to impose forced vaccination, demonstrating how belief in quackery and antivaccine views often go hand-in-hand. In any event, the parents were found guilty, as they should have been given what I knew about the facts of the case. Unfortunately, the case is still undergoing appeal and scheduled to be heard by the the Supreme Court of Canada in May.

The story hit the national Canadian news and rapidly spread to international news when a major sponsor of the Expo withdrew its sponsorship over Stephan’s presence in the lineup of speakers:

A national grocery chain said Sunday that it’s no longer a sponsor of a series of “wellness” expositions where a man convicted in the death of his toddler was listed as a featured speaker.

Sobeys had been sponsoring the Health and Wellness Expos of Canada, which on Sunday morning listed David Stephan as a speaker at events this month and next in Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Calgary and Edmonton.

In an e-mailed statement, a spokeswoman said the company couldn’t support the organizers’ decision to host Stephan as a speaker.

It was really amazing how fast things moved. Initially after Sobeys withdrew its sponsorship, the organizers of Health and Wellness Expos of Canada doubled down on their defense of including Stephan:

But Rick Thiessen, the owner of Health and Wellness Expos of Canada, was unapologetic.

He told CBC News in Saskatoon that the events would go ahead and the controversy was actually good for ticket sales.

Mr. Thiessen said he judges vendors by their products, not their personal lives.

“Having seen and looked at all the documentation and had conversations about what happened, it’s between them and their god, it’s not between me and them,” Mr. Thiessen told CBC. “The issue that Dave had in terms of being arrested has nothing to do with his health-care product that he’s selling.”

Actually, as one of our commenters pointed out in the comments of various posts, that’s not true at all. David Stephan belongs to a family that runs a nutritional supplements company, Truehope Nutritional Support, . He’s also a Mormon, but he belongs to the strain of Mormonism that believes in a more “natural” approach to healing based on religious texts. (It’s not a coincidence that, right here in the gold old USA, the center of the supplement industry is in Utah.) Basically, Stephan’s entire business and worldview are inextricably linked to what happened to his son’s death, with his belief in “natural healing” having lead to Ezekiel’s unnecessary death. As far as David Stephan’s business goes, Health Canada launched an unsuccessful court case in 2004 to stop the distribution of the company’s product Empowerplus, a product that the company claimed to be able to manage mental illnesses. The case ended in 2006 when the company was found not guilty of distributing the supplement without a drug identification number.

A quick look at the Truehope website reveals a number of red flags of quackery, including claims that its supplements can treat ADHD, anxiety, autism, bipolar disorder, depression, fatigue, and stress. There are some truly quacky claims on the website, too. For instance, here’s what Truehope claims about autism:

If you or your child suffer from autism and you want to address the cause effectively rather than “cover up” the symptoms with medication, Truehope EMPowerplus Advanced can help.

Made up of 36 clinically proven vitamins, minerals, amino acids and anti-oxidants, Truehope’s EMPowerplus Advanced could help with your autism.

Extensive independent research shows that when the body and brain are provided with the essential nutrients found in EMPowerplus Advanced, they are able to function properly—often negating the signs and symptoms of autism. Don’t be fooled by imitations—only Truehope EMPowerplus Advanced contains these nutrients in a microground form so the body can easily absorb them into the bloodstream.

Since the symptoms of autism are caused by chemical issues in the brain, why treat your autism with more chemicals? Try EMPowerplus Advanced today to see for yourself how nature can work in harmony with your body to help you feel like your best self.

You get the idea. Let’s just say that these claims are a fetid load of dingo’s kidneys (and rotting ones at that). What evidence do they have? The best they can come up with is a paper describing the use of micronutrients in a “naturalistic case-control study.” It’s basically an utterly worthless study, as it’s not randomized, and it’s not blinded, much less double-blinded. In other words, it’s typical of the sorts of studies that supplement companies use to try to support their claims that their products can treat a disease. In the US, Truehope would have to sport a quack Miranda warning. Oh, wait. If you scroll to the bottom of the page you’ll see that there is indeed such a warning, “These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.”

As for the supplements themselves, they are remarkably uninteresting. If you look at the list of ingredients for EMEmpowerPlus Advanced, for example, contains nothing but a bunch of vitamins and minerals. As I said before, it might as well be Flintstones vitamins! OK, not quite. It also contains choline bitartrate, DL-phenylalanine, citrus bioflavonoids, inositol, L-glutamine, L-methionine, grape seed extract, ginkgo biloba leaf, and other things. I note that, among the other quackery used to treat Ezekiel before he died, Stephan also gave him EMEmpowerplus:

In addition to those treatments, Ezekiel regularly took several supplements, including one called EMPowerplus. It’s the same pill David’s father developed after Debora’s death. The same pill that David has been selling as vice-president of his father’s company. The same pill that has made the Stephan family heroes to their customers and adversaries of the government.

The full story of the family business can be found here. In brief, David’s father Anthony started looking for vitamin combinations that could cure mental illness in the wake of his wife Debora’s suicide by running a hose from the exhaust pipe of her car to the window in 1994. She was only 40, and had been suffering from from bipolar disorder. Two of David’s siblings, a brother and a sister, also suffered from bipolar affective disorder. Anthony claimed to have cured his son and daughter of their bipolar disorder using his megavitamin supplement. Of note, he basically force-fed his daughter the concoction after pumping her full of Ativan. The story of Truehope is indeed bizarre, beginning with a typical quack’s tale of finding some secret formula to cure a disease that had personally affected him through his family and progressing to corporate intrigue, prosecutions by the government, and finally the death of Ezekiel and David Stephan’s subsequent conviction.

Another vendor was outraged:

A long-time vendor at the Winnipeg Wellness Expo Show says he won’t participate this year, or ever again.

“I’m out. It’s too little, too late,” said Graham Todd, who owns Reliable Mobility and is speaking out because he’s angry.

He’s the latest person to back out of the expo after learning that David Stephan was invited to speak at the Health and Wellness Expos in multiple western Canada cities. Stephan was the man found guilty of failing to provide the necessaries of life for his 19-month-old son who died.

“It’s my own ethics, and where I believe the ethics of my company lie, as well,​” Todd said. His company provides people with healthcare equipment such as medical grade compression, raised toilet seats and complex rehab seating structures. ​

“There’s a place for different philosophies of medicine to coexist, and do well, especially on the preventative side of things, not just on the reactionary​,” he said. “But there comes a line where western medicine has to be what we fall back to.”

Todd provides a useful service. Medical grade compression is often used to treat lymphedema, for instance, and complex rehab seating structures, raised toilet seats, and his other offerings are important to patients undergoing rehabilitation. However, I can’t help but wonder: Why didn’t he notice the quackery before? It took a negligent child killer as a speaker before he decided he had a conscience and could no longer be associated with these expos?

Once one of the main corporate sponsors had pulled out and there was a revolt among vendors, it didn’t take long for Rick Thiessen to bow to the inevitable:

In an e-mailed statement, a spokeswoman said the company couldn’t support the organizers’ decision to host Stephan as a speaker.

By Sunday afternoon, his name was removed from the expo’s website and links to the events’ schedules no longer worked.

“He’s no longer involved with our company in any way, shape or form,” said Rick Thiessen, the expo’s owner, when reached by phone on Sunday.

And:

Thiessen said his sponsors and vendors are pulling out, and he doesn’t know if upcoming shows in Calgary and Edmonton will go ahead.

Not surprisingly, David Stephan was none too pleased with this decision. So he took to Facebook Live to rant:

Surprise! Surprise! He starts out saying that he saw activity from “trolls” on his Facebook page and the Saskatoon Wellness Expo. Later, he claims he was never convicted of killing his son, which is a massive straw man. Stephan was not convicted of killing his son; he was convicted of not providing him the medical care he needed. Not surprisingly, he also referred to it as an “astroturf” movement, because, well, dismay at a wellness expo featuring a quack like David Stephan. He goes on about how he’s done 30 recent presentations, with no news coverage, and direly asking about why the Saskatoon Health and Wellness Expo was targeted, calling those who complained “pharma trolls” and blamed a a concerted campaign of disinformation on behalf of journalists supported by Canada’s pharmaceutical industry. It’s the classic “pharma shill” gambit. I found it rather odd, actually. So what if no one took much notice of his previous dozens of presentations? Maybe no one noticed, but skeptics have noticed now.

Yesterday, Stephan was ranting about how his removal from the Expo was evidence of an impending corporate takeover of the natural health industry:

I laughed. The “natural health industry” was taken over by corporate interests a long time ago and is as profit-oriented as any pharmaceutical company.

The credulous embrace of David Stephan by the “wellness” industry to speak at its various expos is not surprisingly, nor is its disavowal of him as soon as there was negative publicity. Organizers of “wellness” expos are fine with someone saying that he can cure bipolar disorder with vitamins. They’re not so fine with someone convicted of, in essence, medical neglect causing the death of a child. Wait, that’s not true. Expo organizers were perfectly fine with Stephan—until he started producing bad publicity and sponsors and vendors pulling out of the show. Only then did they act. The lesson is clear. Deadly quackery is fine in a wellness expo as long as no one notices and starts making a stink that causes publicity sufficiently bad to endanger the conference financially.

Unfortunately, “wellness” and quackery are intertwined and, it appears, inseparable. Yes, one “health and wellness” expo showed a modicum of shame by disavowing a man found guilty by the Canadian court system of not providing proper medical care to his child because he was blinded by his belief in quackery. If he had “merely” been an antivaxer and HIV/AIDS denialist (for example) he might well have been still speaking at these events, as Kelly Brogan did at In Goop Health a couple of weeks ago. Of course, as much as skeptics complained about Kelly Brogan, In Goop Health had an impenetrable shield in the form of Gwyneth Paltrow and her phalanx of media and celebrity sycophants, who overwhelmed skeptics’ attempts to point out the dangerous quackery being presented at In Goop Health with fawning coverage mixed with mild but harmless incredulity. Health and Wellness Expos of Canada had no such such shield, and even Kelly Brogan wasn’t a parent convicted of not providing her child with the necessities of life, leading to his death.

That’s how bad the quackery is in “wellness.” It takes not just a dead child, but the public shaming of the organizers of wellness events over a dead child to break the connection, even temporarily. I definitely am likely to have more to say about “wellness,” maybe even this week.

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]

61 replies on “Quackery and “wellness”: The case of David and Collet Stephan and their son Ezekiel”

“Why didn’t he notice the quackery before?”

Elephant in the room effect? It is a bit of a mental leap to reclassify woo from mostly harmless to actually dangerous so you might very well need some sort of trigger to come to that conclusion.

Maybe he actually thinks vitamins and ginkgo balboa are good for you. There’s got to be a lot of overlap between his clientèle and people who turn to softcore supplements with names like Woman’s Optimize and Happy Tummy.

I think the key phrase is the statement “There’s a place for different philosophies of medicine to coexist…” that’s classic post-modernist ‘ways of knowing’ language of the kind that has been used to infiltrate all kinds of pseudoscience (Alternative Medicine, ‘Science’, Pseudo-history, etc.> into academia.

Now if only the Supreme court could impose a real sentence on the two morons. Neglect your child and cause it’s death… Well 3 months house arrest and 4 months jail seems appropriate. BULLSH*T. Especially given that neither of these wonderful humans have seen fit to express the slightest bit of remorse over their actions. They regret their child died, but nothing about how they were the direct cause. Both have doubled down on their idiocy and continue to campaign for parents rights.

There is another appeal waiting in the wings. The Crown gave notice of intent to appeal the sentences shortly after the original trial. I don’t know what is likely to happen now. If the Supreme Court upholds the Alberta Court of Appeal ruling, hence the original convictions, I assume the Crown will proceed with sentence appeal. The Supreme Court could order a new trial, which would vacate the original sentences, or it could set aside the original convictions and not order a new trial, in which case the Stephans walk free. I think the latter is very unlikely. If a new trial is ordered, the whole thing could drag on for a few more years.

The case got to the Supreme Court by virtue (?!) of the fact that Justice O’Ferrall dissented in the ruling of the Alberta Court of Appeal. Some of his remarks during the ACA hearing made it seem very likely to me that he would dissent. The other two judges seemed remarkably unconcerned with the issue he was taking. His dissent was entirely a matter of law and had nothing to do with evidence (no evidence presented at appeal hearing). He’d made some remarks earlier that were clearly not to the Stephans’ benefit. (judges in appeal hearings are the only ones to ask questions, which are directed to the lawyers; the lawyers do some speecifyin’ and try not to look too dopey when questioned; prior to the hearing documents get dumped on the Court – in this case there was a huge pile). Because it was a criminal case, there is an automatic right to a hearing by the Supreme Court of Canada if there is dissent. It doesn’t mean that the Supreme Court will take more than a few minutes uphold lower courts’ rulings and send the Stephans packing.

The decision of the Alberta Court of Appeal is here:
https://www.canlii.org/en/ab/abca/doc/2017/2017abca380/2017abca380.html?autocompleteStr=stephan&autocompletePos=1

In another Alberta case, Tamara Lovett was found guilty of failure to provide the necessaries of life (same charge as Stephans) and criminal negligence causing death. Her conduct in the death of her 7 year old son Ryan was not terribly different from that of the Stephans, though she was just a user of quackery, not a promoter for gain. She was sentenced to 3 years in prison on the latter charge (former officially “disappears” due to what is called the Keinapple principle – only the most serious charge stands when the are multiple charges on essentially exactly the same actions and evidence.)

back in the day, around 300 years ago, those two might’ve been put in the public stocks and stoned. For people like them, old style justice was not cruel nor unusual.

Doug:

Apparently, David Stephan has now hired an “investigative team” (according to the Prayers for Ezekiel facebook page). On the page they are trying to make an issue over supposed “missing evidence” that wasn’t turned over to them during the trial.

I’m not a lawyer, but I don’t think that this would be looked at by the supreme court.

However, they might be considering post conviction relief, which (I think) in Canada involves an application to the Minister of Justice. I don’t know of any other way that this “new” evidence would help them out with their convictions.

Thank you for clarifying the Canadian legal aspects.

I live between Vancouver, WA and Vancouver, BC, plus I married into a Canadian family (hubby’s parents moved down south as part of going up in the ranks of a California company that paid the bills — his parents became naturalized US citizens, it happens).

I always knew that things operated differently when we crossed the border for family events (one thing was that my kids got WA state ID cards at a young age so that Canadian border guards knew they were not being kidnapped by non-custodial parent). But some of the differences seemed to be very confusing with the RCMP surveillance powers and extradition conditions tied to US death penalties:
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/atif-rafay-family-killer-targeted-in-mr-big-sting-wants-case-reopened-1.2912885

As I googled, I see those two guys are still trying to work the two conflicting systems to their advantage.

Seriously, I really appreciate your updates. And really applaud that you actually attended some court sessions.

The Stephans have been claiming there was a coverup and that they were denied evidence since before their trial ended. Some of this apparently is due to some testimony of the former Chief Medical Examiner in Calgary suggesting that li’l Zeke may have had viral meningitis, not bacterial. She no longer holds the post and did not leave it amicably. Ezekiel was taken to the Alberta Children’s Hospital. The people there are not fools.

There was not a single word about coverup or missing evidence at their Alberta Court of Appeal hearing. Their primary claim was that the trial judge failed in his gatekeeper duties to keep the prosecution from interrupting the defense witnesses, particularly Stephan Sr. They also tried for relief under the Supreme Court’s Jordan ruling saying that it took too long to get the case to trial. Curiously, the dissenting voice from the judges was about something that wasn’t even really raised by the defense, and it was a matter of law only – the instructions of the judge to the jury and what O’Ferrall called conflation of two points that should have been made distinctly. There was considerable back-and-forth between O’Ferrall and the Crown lawyers about this. The Crown lawyers did not impress me favorably with their ability to think on their feet.

As far as I know, which is not very far, the Supreme Court will not hear any evidence, but deal very strictly with the matter of law leading to Justice O’Ferrall’s dissent. If the Stephans had to apply for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court, I suspect leave would have been denied. Leave is denied in a large majority of cases and the published rulings of the Court are typically extremely short.
Here is some opinion on what may happen at the Supreme Court.

Speaking of this supreme court trial, I want to attend and back in the first few days of January, I did email the crown prosecutor about the possibility to attend the supreme court hearing (I’m 2 hours from Ottawa by train), she referred me to the SCC registry (which I have no clue how to contact).

Alain

So a supplement company rep – explicitly – thinks others are shills? Interesting.

I wonder why he thinks letting people know that he has been and intends to continue to aggressively promote the products he used to not save his son’s life is a good idea. Seems a little like inviting continued attention to his activities and future calling out.

Simple: it denial. It allows Stephens to deny he is the proximate cause of his son’s death, which allows him to cope with said death. If you deny you are the problem, then you don’t have to face your own culpability and you can ignore it.

You, and some other notable defenders of science and health did make a large outcries against GOOP/Brogan and all the dangerous bullsh*t they’ve promulgated (both at GOOP’s conference and Brogan at SWSX). All to no avail.

The US seems to be the place for quacks to profit and flourish. Anti-vax, chiroquacks, naturoquacks, quackademics, conferences, movies, seminars, lobbying groups, disgraced de-licensed lying UK physicians who spread death and disease, etc etc, etc. Not sure what it’s going to take for the tide to change.

Sadly were not immune to it in the EU either. Germany is a very bad case. The UK and Ireland are getting bad too, our one saving grace is we have mostly public healthcare systems and they point blank refuse to pay for a lot of woo people demand. They are very bad at using their block power to negotiate with the pharma companies but thankfully they can see woo for what it is.

Every few weeks I see one of those classic Daily Mail style stories in one of the tabloids and the headline is typically “I CURED/ERASED SYMPTOMS for MY DAUGHTER/SON WHO HAS XYZ AND THE NHS/HSE WON’T PAY FOR IT!”. Then the article is all about how “Brave (parents name) was offered (conventional drug/treatment protocol) and it wasn’t working but decided to do her own research (researching something is apparently he same as googling it these days, with no actual way of filtering the results that pop up and weighting their credibility), it worked miracles but the department of health say they can’t pay for it because it’s not proven effective. Final quote from parent ‘it worked for me so obviously it does work'”. I’m seeing the stories more and more often. We even had an independent member of parliament introduce an utter train wreck of a bill for medical cannabis (I’m aware it can have some uses but he was pushing it as the miracle corporate free cure all, everything from seizures to depression to severed limbs) and because we have a hung parliament atm it might have passed, thankfully the bigger parties said they’d pass it but sent it to committee to clean it up and put some restrictions on it.
The NHS and Aussies Medicare seem to me ditching CAM though so that is some positive step.

Whilst Kelly Brogan was never convicted of a crime, she like many other woo-meisters, DOES encourage people to get off psychiatric meds and eschew SBM for serious conditions.

In the case of the Stephans, Canada has shown a cleaner, clearer link between the woo and the child’s death in court.. But how many other people’s lives have been cut short or made worse because of practitioners who “prescribe” and profit from nonsense? It’s hard to prove especially when it is adults who choose to follow these charlatans buying the products on-line or becoming educated through the internet or broadcasts, perhaps even spreading misinformation themselves through social media or arguing with professionals on RI.

In short, I think that there are lots of others who may be responsible for death and damages.

Attending the trial of Tamara Lovett for the death of her son Ryan really hardened my attitude against the purveyors of quackery. I strongly suspect that if she couldn’t have purchased quack remedies at the local store and couldn’t have found quack advice on the web, she would have taken Ryan to a doctor, maybe in time to save time to save him.

The difference in the Tamara Lovett case was that she seemed have genuine remorse and expressed culpability whereas the Stephans have no remorse and are blaming the hospital and paramedics even implying the doctors may have murdered their son by causing him to have a heart attack by giving him the wrong meds while they were resuscitating him. The sentences are unbalanced in my opinion. Tamara got 3 years and David gets 4 months.

When I had cancer I had well meaning people telling me about the benefits of juices, it was googling that stuff that I ended up on RationalWiki and Quackwatch reading about CAM and eventually got to a seperate blog about Belle whatsherface and then came here.

I immediately laughed off the idea that coffee enemas could cure renal cell carcinoma (how would the stuff even get to my kidney from there? and if it’s ‘absorbed’ into the blood stream wouldn’t drink it be just as effective?). I replied politely to friends (sadly mostly female, friends who are otherwise extremely intelligent university educated women who should know better but do seem more predisposed to this stuff) who suggested this that while diet control could help lower your odds of GETTING cancer, it aint gonna cure it. I then pointed out I was 23, the odds of me getting RCC were already very low, and lower still since I had the mens health body and ate extremely healthy ALREADY so if it didn’t stop me getting it in the first place it wasn’t going to cure it. I wonder though if it had been caught at stage 4 instead of stage 2, how desperate would you get? The fear of losing your life is way way way way more powerful than I ever expected it to be the idea of your no longer existing – it stuns you in a kind of “does not compute” kind of way, even when I had mental health issues and had been suicidal I never really had it hit me this way, and I wasn’t in as much danger as many people with cancer so I had to wonder how desperate you would get, and it seems to me these people pray on that desperation for their own personal profit – something they accuse big pharma of doing all the time. I have to wonder how many lives have been destroyed with people who could have just gotten conventional treatment and been saved, or at least had more time.

It was just on the news here in Ireland that our vaccination rates are falling and they are getting very concerned. I am big into my involvement in politics and policy wise I’ve always pushed the idea of the harm principle, let people do what they like so long as they don’t hurt others. It’s one thing sticking jade eggs up your snatch but if you are doing what the likes of this guys doing ^ you are hurting other people. I used to get people throwing the harm principle back at me when we discussed proposed laws here to ban gay conversion therapy, they’d say to me “i get you wanna ban it for kids but why can’t adults do what they wanna do?”. I would always say “I have no problem with an adult doing what they want to do – but I do have a problem with people presenting something as a medical treatment when it is no such thing”.

Depending on Mr. Todd’s background, it may be reasonable that he was slow to spot the quackery. One of the pernicious things about quackery is that so much of it is not obvious to people without a background in medicine. Sure, homeopathy and reiki are obvious bunk, but there are many things that would fool a layman, and as Orac has noted, many of the changes in diet and exercise that these people recommend actually do have a scientific basis. So Mr. Todd could happily coexist with these people until they installed as a keynote speaker somebody whose treatment plan contributed to the death of a child–something so obvious that even a layman could not ignore it.

Meanwhile, I am trying to figure out why the name Rick Thiessen rings a bell for me. Google tells me there is a chicken farmer by that name in Abbotsford, BC; a pastor by that name (I am not sure where), and people by that name in Edmonton and Winnipeg. At least 30 people by that name have LinkedIn profiles. The Globe and Mail editorial linked in the OP is on the first page of results. Could somebody tell me why the name seems familiar to me?

@ Eric
I think it is just a common enough name that we recognise it. I had the same reaction and then remembered a teenager of that name who did some part time work for the company in London ON 20-30 years ago.

It’s that people tend to either think of quackery as either harmless (like they’ll laugh and roll their eyes at acupuncture) or effective. Very few really understand it’s DANGEROUS. Were in a bit of a bubble here, it’s similar to when you are involved in politics and you are very aware of government policy, what way the budget really breaks down how much is spent on what etc – and end up being stunned by what people THINK those policies are because they’re so uninformed and are not as into it (ive met people who think politicians expenses make up to a 1/3 of the budget, that unemployment payments are €7-800 a week etc No even here in commie Europe they’re not that big lol :P)

This is another version of the same thing. Were shocked at peoples lack of understanding, but we shoudln’t be.

We have another nominee for Outstanding Parent of the Decade.

It’s reported that an Indianapolis mom gave her autistic child MMS mixed with hydrochloric acid, based on a Facebook group recommendation.

http://fox59.com/2018/02/12/indy-mom-accused-of-feeding-child-hydrochloric-acid-chlorine-in-attempt-to-cure-autism/

I’d heard of mixing bleach with fruit juice (weakly acid) to drive out Vaccine Toxins (or is it witches?), but using HCL takes it to another level of abuse.

Were it not for the prohibition on harm to innocent bystanders (in this case, the kid), I’d recommend that mom to be put on the Darwin Award watchlist. Bleach plus one of the strongest acids in existence? I don’t want to know what thought process led that mother to think that was a good idea. And it sounds like some of the people in that Facebook group need to be investigated for criminal stupidity (and put on the Darwin Award watchlist) as well.

Are those the same people blaming ‘nasty chemicals’ in vaccines for autism?
If you are talking about nasty chemicals, bleach and hydrochloric acid, are really nasty chemicals.
I can’t wrap my had around this.

@ Eric Lund
A Darwin award would be in place of the mother would have taken the ‘remedy’ herself. Alas she gave it to her child which she should take care of and not abuse.

Corporate interests have taken over the wellness industry. The Stephan family is part of the corporate interest. Truehope takes in millions in profits annually and Anthony Stephan (founding owner and David’s father) has a personal income of $500000+.
The wealth of the family and their willingness to put it to use in court I believe is a factor in the Stephans having faced only the mildest of charges. Similar cases of medical neglectful death in Alberta at the time included criminal neglect (Lovett) and homicide (Radita).

It’s not just that the economic power of Truehope may have figured in the mild charge, but in the press coverage as well, which barely mentioned Truehope. The most glaring ommision in all of this is the Stephans were using Truehope products as the primary ‘treatment’ for Ezekiel. It wasn’t so much the EmpowerPlus, though they gave him that too, but Truehope OLE™, an Olive Leaf Extract supplement advertised (no sh!t) as a ‘natural’ antibiotic. (This is established by the court documents, if you read them closely. In fact ,David Stephan went so far as to promote the curative value of his garbage during his questioning by the investigating officers.) The prosecution never questioned the Stephans on the specifics of what potions they used, and the press mistakenly reported the story as if their primary treatments were home remedies Collet mixed up in her kitchen, or something.

It is unfortunate that the prosecution and press didn’t do better with regard to the specifics of remedies, but I suspect inexperience in this specific sort of thing was a big contributor. Now if they’d had a local someone like the cranky ol’ blinky box to do some agitation, the press, at least, might have done better.

However, it really is the prosecution’s job to focus on what they failed to do, rather than what they did do. The charge was “failure to provide the necessaries of life.” It really would be up to the defense to try to establish that the quack remedies were a reasonable alternative, at which point a well-prepared prosecution would make cross examination very uncomfortable for the defense witnesses. It would be quite gratifying if the prosecution, in closing arguments, could say to the jury “The defense has failed to provide satisfactory evidence that their remedies are not useless” and then have the judge include a description of the failure in the findings of the court.

I strongly doubt that the Stephans’ wealth played any part in the relatively minor (in comparison with criminal negligence causing death) charges against them. There is no one in the decision making chain who is elected so no one on the Crown’s side risks anything by prosecuting the wealthy. No judge would be removed from the bench because someone didn’t like the charges or the verdict. It may have been that the Crown prosecutor felt there was some weakness in the evidence that would make it hard to secure a conviction on a negligence charge. Still, why they wouldn’t lay the charge and leave it up to the court to find on each charge individually, I have no idea. There would be nothing in the trial where “this evidence is for this charge and this evidence is for that charge.” Regardless of whether the trial was by jury or by judge alone, they could have been convicted on both charges or just the lesser charge. But Lethbridge isn’t exactly a hotbed of crime, so lack of experience with this sort of case may have been an element in the decision. Tamara Lovett had Alain Hepner, one of the top, if not the top criminal defense lawyer in Calgary, so her legal bill might even have exceeded the Stephans’, even though the Stephan trial was longer and each of them had a lawyer. As I understand it, their supporters kicked in money for their legal expenses. Tamara had no money (she cashed in empty bottles to get money to buy a quack remedy for Ryan just before he died), and no friends with money. Her father paid for her lawyer.

The Raditas were convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to life. Their case didn’t involve quack remedies. There was some aspect of religious kookery, but it came down to their refusal to believe that Alex had diabetes. Alex died in an ordinary house in an ordinary neighborhood.
https://www.canlii.org/en/ab/abqb/doc/2017/2017abqb128/2017abqb128.html?autocompleteStr=radita&autocompletePos=2

If the Supreme Court orders a new trial, I have no idea where it would be heard. The Stephans now live in B.C, If it comes to Calgary and Mr. Hak, who prosecuted Tamara Lovett, prosecutes, they may wish they’d just accepted their original convictions. I thought he was very well prepared and did a good job in the Lovett trial, though I have nothing for comparison. He certainly would be in a good position to identify the points of evidence to go after. I have no doubt the Stephans would bring in hired “experts” to testify for them.

It does seem unfair to me that Tamera Lovett ended up getting a 3 year sentence and that David only got 4 months.

At least Tamera showed remorse during her trial. She said:


“Every day I punish myself; I think about Ryan and I blame myself for not knowing better and for holding limiting beliefs that ultimately led to the death of my child. At the time, I thought I was doing the best for my child. And although I have lost faith in myself and can’t begin to forgive myself, I hope others learn from my ignorance because these beliefs are no longer entrenched in my psyche and this has been a painful lesson.

“Every moment of every day is a reminder of what I’ve lost. I loved my children, and as any single mother can attest, I wanted the best for them. I believed I was doing what was the best at that time. I now know better. Forgive me for my ignorance. It has cost me a loving son and there is a pain which will last forever. And at the end of the day, it’s all about Ryan, it’s not about me, and I am so sorry.

David, on the other hand, seems more interested in blaming others than looking at how his own actions contributed to his son’s death.

I don’t think 3 years is an excessive sentence for Tamara, but I do think, as does the Crown, that the Stephans’ sentences were too lenient. Part of the lenience was clearly due to consideration for the other Stephan children, and not wanting to break up the family. Not that lots of people who do relatively minor crimes don’t end up in jail to the detriment of their family. I don’t think any useful purpose would have been served by sentencing Tamara for a longer term. As I recall, the maximum sentence for criminal negligence causing death is at least 15 years and possibly 25. I think she is intelligent and capable (she does have a degree in history) and could be a benefit to other women in prison, given the opportunity – if she can set aside some of her inflated self-image,

My impression of Tamara was that she put on several performance pieces, starting while she was initially being questioned by police. I saw part of the video recording from her questioning and while she was sitting in the room waiting for police to return (I missed part because I couldn’t attend every day of the trial), and got the distinct impression she knew how to act when to elicit sympathy. The last one was on the day when Justice Eidsvic delivered her findings. Hepner asked for a psych evaluation of Tamara and she said she didn’t understand what was happening. I didn’t believe for a second that she didn’t understand fully.I don’t doubt that she was remorseful and that she very much loved Ryan. But she was also very taken with her own ability to “deal with” things, and she clearly really didn’t like anyone trying to tell her what to do. I’m fairly convinced that part of the reason she didn’t take Ryan to a doctor was because a doc would tell her what to do.

Perhaps I shouldn’t have said “economic power”. That is, I don’t think it’s just a question of mere relative wealth, but rather of a more complicated case of political influence. I’ve read some vague references that Truehope has friends in high places, and there’s also a possibility that the government feels burned by their history of trying to rein in the company. Whatever the cause, there has to be some explanation for the hands-off attitude in the trial and the press coverage. Heck, the early coverage presented Collet and David as naive know-nothings seduced by alt-med, and never mentioned that selling this junk is their (very lucrative) life’s work. (Collet apparently worked as one of the Truehope phone reps before marrying David and becoming a full-time mom.)

Marv Ross, Ron Reinhold and I wrote a book in 2003 called Pig Pills, Inc : An Anatomy of an Academic and Alternative Health Fraud. It’s about the early days of Truehope’s rise from the pigsties and pig troughs of Southern Alberta. We were never sued, but an unsuccessful complaint was filed against me with the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario by Univ. of Calgary researcher Dr. Bonnie Kaplan.
The book is still available for your enjoyment on Amazon. https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B008MHFYEU/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_tai_Er0GAb6ERTCYR

Everyone with an interest in this case, or in the workings of supplement quackery, or, well, basic human decency, should read the work of Polevoy, Reinhold and Ross on Truerhope. There are chunks of the book online, and Google will find a number of newer of newer articles by those authors in assorted publications. Essential and excellent debunking and muckraking journalism!

“Why didn’t he notice the quackery before?”

Whilst Todd sells helpful equipment he talks about different philosophies of medicine. He talks about ultimately having to fall back on “western medicine”. He doesn’t realise that there’s only medicine which has been rigorously tested and shown to work, or not work, and medicine which has not been rigorously tested. CAM by definition. There’s a widespread failure of public understanding or acceptance of the nature of medicine. It’s strengths and its limitations. This lack leads to difficulty in public acceptance of the reality of medical limitations. Limitations which demand true medical research not pseudoscientific, wishful, magic medicine.

Nobody should have needed the criminal death of Ezekiel to keep an arms length from Truehope. That firm’s perfidy goes far beyond just making supplements advertsied with dubious health claims. It’s HOW they sell their crap, through very aggressive phone sales from ‘customer support health consultants’, who work to get their gullible customers to buy ever more and more Truehope products. ‘Oh, it won’t work for your condition unless you combine it with this and this. Their primary customer base is people with mental health issues, and they not only actively cudgel these folks to go off their real meds, but try to convert them into Truehope addicts who spend literally thousands of dollars on their ‘habit’, even to selling all their possessions to buy more supplements, go into bankruptcy, etc. And who supervises the Truehope sales department that executes these utterly unscrupulous and dangerous tactics. Yup, David Stephan.

Is all of Truehope’s marketing direct? Calgary Co-op, which is a pretty big local grocery supplier with a lot of stores across the city, flogs homeopathic and other quack crap. I gave an outside person who was restocking the shelves a pretty hard time not long after the Lovett trial. If Co-op sells Truehope (should have looked today when I was there), I might try to bring some pressure on them to quit. It was a Calgary doc that started some of the action against the Wellness Expo over Stephan.

I don’t think it’s all direct. That is, I’m pretty sure they do sell wholesale to intermediate vendors. But I take it the direct sales are where they make the big $$$. The sales tactics have been documented in calls recorded by Terry Polevoy, by reports from ex-customer Natasha Tracy (who Truehope then sued), and in news coverage of the case of ‘Truehope junkie’ Caro Overdulve. Here’s one link, an article by Polevoy’s colleague Marvin Ross: http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/marvin-ross/vitamin-tragedy_b_1650054.html

Listening to Stephan was sickening. He seems to think that the ambulance attendants are to blame for not having the correct equipment to intubate an infant, and if only his wife had kept up the CPR, his child would’ve survived, It’s pretty clear he doesn’t appreciate how sick his son was; in fact he denies Ezekiel even had bacterial meningitis. While it’s understandable that a parent would deny responsibility for the death of their child, it’s more difficult to understand how child protection services leave the rest of their children with these clueless parents. Is there any supervision? —any requirement for the remaining children to have vaccines and regular visits with a real physician?

Stephan knew damned well how sick Ezekiel was, but is desperate to have the blame for his death fall on some else. If I recall, the ambulance was lacking a bag valve mask (“Ambu bag”) in the right size for Ezekiel, but they did get him ventilated (intubated?) after a brief delay. If the Stephans had taken action to get him emergency care just a bit earlier, the ambulance equipment would have been a moot point. Again if I recall, he had stopped breathing previously but his parents got him breathing again, and then on the second occasion had not been breathing for some time by the time the ambulance met them. Ventilation doesn’t help much when the brain is gone.

Curiously, Justice O’Ferrall, who gave the dissenting opinion, had, before raising the subject that lead to his dissent, said words to the effect that any possibility of meningitis would send a reasonable person to seek immediate medical care. He pretty much stated flat out that the Stephans had failed to provide the necessities of life in reality if not in law. A nurse of the Stephans’ acquaintance had told them that she thought Ezekiel might have meningitis some time before he died. It might already have been too late, even if he was immediately taken to an ER, but he might have been saved. He was taken to the ER at the hospital in Lethbridge then flown by helicopter to the Alberta Children’s Hospital in Calgary (I would guess flying time would be under an hour – it’s about 180 km, 112 miles, as the crow flies; the helicopter was probably the one based in Calgary – I have no idea when it was dispatched to Lethbridge). What a reasonable person would do is very much the basis on which charges like failure to provide the necessaries of life are decided.

There was a court order that the other children be seen by a real physician periodically. I don’t think any of the appeal process has changed that.

The original sentence included requirements that their children see a doctor once a year and see a public health nurse every three months. The public health nurse is the person who generally gives vaccines to children in Alberta, but I didn’t see anything in the sentencing order that required them to actually follow the advice of the public health nurse and doctor.

Sadly, woofulness strikes in unlikely places, namely my very smart and well-educated Young Rockin’ Daughter. I recently learned that she is applying to that dreaded hive of scum and quackery, the Pacific School of Oriental Medicine, to become an acupuncturist. I tried to tell her that acupuncture is a busted valise (Thank you, Jimmy Breslin for that phrase.) but “I know more about it than you do.” That might even be true, but that doesn’t do her any good if the things she knows are utter garbage. And even if she does know more about it, in this case I’m like the hedgehog, who knows one big thing.
She also is not concerned that two years after graduation some 60% of graduates don’t have jobs, and at six years out the average annual income is $18,700. She could do as well working 40 hours a week at WalMart, Hell, I do better than that with Social Security alone. In addition, nearly every online review cites the financial aid officer as being seriously incompetent.
I will not break with her for anything short of murder or sedition, but since she became a vegan and worked in Taiwan I suspect that she is being exposed to woo that draws her in, possibly against her better instincts.
I know this is a side road from the topic, but I have few to none others to hear me bitch about it.

I’m sorry, ORD. That really sucks. If I had to guess the issue of employment and income is more likely to make an impression than the (obvious to us) non-scientific nature of acupuncture. Maybe if you compare it to therapeutic massage?

Good luck, and good on you for sticking with her. That’s a harder row to hoe than most understand.

JustaTech, thanks for your reply. Unfortunately, she assumes that because I got it from the web that it can’t be trusted and that it’s my opposition to acupuncture that motivated me to look that up.
In truth, my biggest issues with her are that she takes over the living room and leaves a mess, and that her vegan ingredients fill every cubic inch of kitchen space that was empty before. I am just happy that at 27 she is finally heading toward some kind of career (and won’t use our house as a perch before flying off on her next adventure).

It’s appalling that individuals like this are even considered a credible source of health information by some especially within the context of obvious, unequivocal medical neglect.

Dear Orac,

Thank you for all the good work that you do, which I have followed with great interest.

Although I am fully aligned with your usual skepticism and I even agree with most of what you present here, I disagree with your dismissal of the entire concept of “wellness”, potentially to the detriment of many people who are seeking to gain control of their health with validated, evidence-based methods.

As a trained surgeon who then opted to become a health coach using science-based methods (and avoiding all the ‘up-sell’ conflicts of interest common in the wellness industry), I know first-hand how much of an uphill battle it is to remain intellectually and ethically honest in this industry. But I am afraid your dismissal of “wellness” harms the noble and honest efforts of non-profit organizations, such as the American College of Lifestyle Medicine and others, which aim to empower individuals to take charge of their health and STATE OF WELLNESS to avoid suffering from chronic, lifestyle related diseases.

I trust that you’ll agree that the solution to the chronic disease epidemic and the current healthcare costs crisis is the promotion of safe and effective prevention through lifestyle modification.

In my opinion, this piece would have been more fair and informative to the public if you had briefly acknowledged the existence and value of legitimate wellness efforts, organizations and even for-profit companies, before stating that you would be focusing on describing the ugly underbelly of the wellness industry, which is, to be sure, infested with opportunistic quacks pushing pseudo-scientific bull-pucky and certainly is in need of a massive clean up.

Keep up the great work,

Sincerely,

V

The Stephans maintain a frightfully defamatory and egregiously inaccurate number of blogs and web sites. One of the worst ones attacks the autopsy finding, including x-rays of Ezekiel Stephan.
https://www.meetthestephans.com/ezekiel-stephan-story.html
https://stand4truth.ca/investigating-pathologist-dr-adeagbo-asks-who-is-david-and-collett-stephan/

A. Picazo’s excellent article tears apart David Stephan’s false claims:
https://apicazo.com/2016/04/26/re-death-by-pseudoscience-the-misinformation-campaign/

Court transcript of the trial:
https://www.canlii.org/en/ab/abqb/doc/2016/2016abqb319/2016abqb319.pdf

Physician’s report from Children’s Hospital:
http://s3.documentcloud.org/documents/2800482/Scan-1.pdf

The physician’s report is the likely source of two misconceptions about the case, based on simple ‘errors’ Dr. Jenn D’Mello made in writing down what Collet had told her.
!. Dr D’Mello Faild to recognize that the “olive leaf extract” the Stephans had given Exekiel was the branded product Truehope OLE™, and wrote it down in lower case.
2. D’Mello wrote “the family decided to drive to Lethbridge to do some errands which included picking up the BLAST from their naturopath.” However, Collet did not identify Tracey Tannis as “their” naturopath in the recorded interview with the police. In fact, the Stephans had no previous relationship with Lethbridge Naturopathic, Tannis had never seen Ezekiel nor even met Collet before. The Stephans were entirely DIY with Ezekiel’s healthcare never having taken him to see any healthcare provider of any kind – conventional, “natural”, “alternative” or otherwise. D’Mello apparently, and naturally I suppose, wrote “their naturopath” when Collet told her they stopped at Lethbridge Naturopathic to pick up the supplement.

Dr. Polevoy’s second link is a .pdf of the judge’s decision, not the trial transcript. There were two facts in there I didn’t know before reading it. One is that the Stephans were giving Exekial yet another Truehope product in their attempt to “treat” his illness: Truehope Total Relod. That makes 3; OLE, Total Reload and Empowerplus – reaffirming that they were relying on their own products, not home remedies. The second is that on the day Ezekiel died, after going to their lawyer’s to sign papers, and after stopping by Lethbridge Naturopathic to pick up the BLAST, they went to Superstore to do some shopping. The judgment notes that Superstore houses a walk-in medical clinic, and though Ezekiel was so sick he was as stiff as a board, they didn’t bother to take him inside to be seen at the clinic. Of course they could have also taken him into Lethbridge Naturopathic to be seen by Tannis, but they left him out in the car, and Collet didn’t even bother to tell Tannis that the tot was outside, in serious distress.

So0, yeah, I’m staying with the thesis that they were seriously under-charged, and got off with little more than a slap on the wrist.

@ Terry Polevoy:

prn.fm is a sickeningly wretched sinkhole of quackery and conspiracy mongering that I’ve followed since its horrid inception that features. hiv/ aids denialism (Crowe), anti-vax mania ( Louise Kuo Habakus), anti- psychiatry and meds ( Peter Breggin) and of course, chief woo-meister and ultra poseur, Gary Null, who supports any BS that will enrich him.

These people are using whatever technology they can afford to spread their nonsense far and wide- supposedly globally.

-btw- You do great work- I’ve known about you for years

Victor Pena cites the “honest and noble efforts” of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine to promote wellness, as opposed to those “pushing pseudo-scientific bull-pucky.”

Dr. Pena might want to take a closer look at a company identified as a member of ACLM’s “corporate roundtable”, Functional Formularies, which makes what it calls whole food meal replacements and enteral formulas, touting its non-GMO policy.

The company website contains a testimonial from its founder, describing how the firm was inspired by a traumatic brain injury and coma suffered by her father. She suggests that her application of the eraser end of a pencil to “emergency” acupuncture points helped bring her dad out of the coma, and also credits homemade juicing as opposed to the nasty non-food he was given by feeding tube in the hospital, although she is careful to say that the FDA does not allow claims of medicinal value for food.

http://www.functionalformularies.com/our-story.html

One of Functional Formularies’ products, called “Liquid Hope” has this description:

“Liquid Hope is the worlds first shelf stable organic whole foods feeding tube formula and oral meal replacement. Robin created Liquid Hope using the Functional Medicine/Food as Medicine model so each ingredient has been chosen for its potential to promote health and vitality and its ability to support the body’s natural immune system. When our bodies are given what they need… well let’s just say, food was our original medicine and Robin thought it was time to get back to our roots.”

I get the sort of woo vibes that lead me to expect an accompanying Quack Miranda Warning (though there isn’t any).

Physician, heal thy sponsor.

Dear Dangerous Bacon,

I sincerely appreciate you bringing this up to my attention, however cringeworthy it may be for me. I will definitely bring this to the attention of the College.

This is my personal opinion and I am not speaking on behalf of the ACLM: I can tell you that the ACLM takes its mission very seriously and it is, in fact, bombarded every year by all kinds of health-washed supplement manufacturers trying to elbow their way into the lifestyle medicine arena, probably because it tends to be made up of mostly healthcare professionals (MD, DO, PhD, MS, NP, RN, RD, etc) with relatively more credibility than say, the ‘functional medicine’ crowd.

So yes, all kinds of companies using all kinds of questionable products target the ACLM and I know for a fact that they try to vet all sponsors very carefully. However, I cannot and will not attempt to explain nor excuse the claims made by the sponsor you have highlighted.

I have worked, and will continue to work, very hard to promote an intellectually honest culture ethical practice as well as evidence-based, non-commercial methods at the ACLM. I know the board of directors and the majority of the College’s members share my sentiments. I know this because last fall I led a survey of all the members and the vast majority of the respondents share the concerns expressed by the usual readers of this excellent site.

Again, thank you for bringing this up.

Heal thy sponsor indeed.

VP

Appreciate your response, Dr. Pena.

It’s too bad that sometimes useful concepts have been corrupted by overuse/misuse/co-opting by woo promoters. Words and phrases like “wellness”, “cure”, “do your research”, “let thy food be thy medicine” and “healing journey” tend to make me wary or outright nauseated.

Best of luck with the ACLM.

Dangerous Bacon,

Lifestyle Medicine is definitely a constant and at times seemingly overwhelming battle against the current commercialist state of the wellness industry.

Our efforts at the ACLM are fueled, in part, by the belief that facts and evidence stand on their own and ultimately prevail, even through today’s bizarro world.

We feel strongly about ‘doing no harm’ to already vulnerable patients and clients, both clinically but also financially.

To quote the Hippocratic Oath, “I will remember that I treat a sick human being, whose illness may affect the person’t family and economic stability” In other words, “Thou shall not fleece thy patient with uselessness!”

Your encouragement is greatly appreciated!

V

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