In Science-Based Medicine we have science on our side. We have all the understanding of reality brought about by the study of anatomy, physiology, chemistry, biochemistry, pharmacology, psychology and the rest of the sciences and biological sciences.

What we often lack is compelling stories.

I became interested in the topic of pseudo-medicine early in my practice when I saw a 20 something young woman with a leg sarcoma who decided against cure (below the knee amputation) and sought the care of a naturopathic provider who treated her cancer with Dr. Youngs alkaline therapy. It did not work. The cancer destroyed her leg and I saw for a gangrenous, foul smelling leg. She refused surgery and died that night in her sleep when the tumor eroded into a major artery and she bled out.

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Awful. I can still see her in my minds eye.

But that is not a common complication of pseudo-medicines. Most of the time it is people taking useless therapies for self-limited illnesses and that does not make for compelling stories.

There may be the occasional stroke from chiropractic, the dropped lung from acupuncture or the death from use of honey for a diabetic foot infections, but they are few and far between. Fortunately doing nothing usually results in nothing, good and ill.

But arguing that pseudo-medicines are useless based on the facts and reality is a poor substitute compared to stories of people with miracle cures from alternative therapies.

Whar these stories all have in common is they lack the details I would want as a physician to determine what is really happening. In real life it is often a second hand story about a cousins friend who got better after some pseudo-medical intervention. And what do you say to that Mr. Smarty Pants Know It All Skeptic? Usually replies that are lame and pedantic compared to the power and grandeur of the pseudo-medicine cure du jour.

Like the entry in Alternative Medicine—How Far Will You Go To Be Healed?

There was

very good friend of ours named Richard.

whose progressive back pain was cured by Mexican stem cell infusion.

Almost immediately his body responded positively and he was able to walk again. Within six months he returned to his HMO doctor in the States to be evaluated for the surgery that was originally recommended. The doctors were amazed at his overall recovery although they did not want to talk about stem cells.

and

a woman named Sandy that we met during our visit. Sandy originally heard about alternative treatments in Mexico after receiving a diagnosis for a brain tumor. When doctors in her home town in Utah started dosing her with a pill form of chemotherapy, after she specifically requested no chemo, Sandy took her health into her own hands and went to Mexico. She originally attended a health clinic in Tijuana that offered mainly dietary treatments for her condition. Later she underwent a treatment at Sanoviv Medical Institute just south of Rosarito.

Sandy is now tumor free and feels she owes her life to the treatment she experienced at Sanoviv.

and Sandy's Mom? She had cancer and

The doctor recommended aggressive chemotherapy to begin immediately. Unfortunately, when Sandy and her husband suggested an alternate approach or at least a second opinion, the mother, father AND doctor became extremely defensive. The next day, the mother told Sandy that she didn’t want to do anything to upset her father, and would do just as her doctor told her. Six weeks later the mother was dead.

Those are superficially compelling stories, but that is all they are: stories. We have no idea how much, if any, of the details, are true. Yet I would suspect that these stories, and the ones like them, are worth dozens of articles detailing the facts and reality behind stem cells.

The reality of Whats the Harm seems to always be surpassed by the hope of the stories of Richard and Sandy. It is why I want Sisyphus to be the symbol of the society.