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Expert Pro Network and La Genius #quack sciencebasedmedicine.org

We are always careful to point out that inactive does not equate to harmless when it comes to fake medicine. Even a product that is completely inert, like most homeopathic potions, causes harm in numerous ways. They divert attention and resources away from more effective treatment, may delay proper treatment, cause financial and psychological harm, may endanger species or the environment, and instill pseudoscientific beliefs which lead to further menace.

But it is true that fake treatments which are capable of causing direct harm are even worse. In this way doing nothing is a small virtue. I was reminded of this when reading about a new medical scam in Thailand – Energy Cards.

The cards are credit-card sized and are claimed to do all the usual things: “The distributors claim these cards can improve the immune system, strengthen the heart and energise the user’s metabolism. The (sic) also claim the card can purify water if it is briefly soaked in it.” The ability to purify water may seem a bit unusual, but remember clean water is a luxury in much of the world. The cards sell for either $35 or $50 equivalent.

That is bad enough, and puts the cards in the same category as the magical power wrist bands, or the plastic cards alleged to improve the taste of wine. But these energy cards are worse than worthless. They are actually radioactive. The Thailand Office of Atoms for Peace (OAP) recently put out a PSA on the danger of the cards. The OAP (I suspect something is lost in translation) is essentially their atomic energy regulatory agency. They research and regulate the peaceful use of nuclear science. They warn:

Tests on sample cards conducted by the state agency found radiation measuring at 40 microsieverts per hour, which is 350 times higher than the maximum exposure humans should get to radiation a year.

The agency also warned against drinking water in which an “energy card” has been dipped, as doing so raises the risk of cancer. It said OAP would take legal action against the distributors once it has gathered enough evidence from its tests on the cards.

So far, tests have revealed that the cards contain radioactive metallic elements of uranium and thorium, as well as their “radionuclide” or radioactive isotope.

Let’s put that amount of radiation into context. First, I think the “350 times higher” is a mistake. If someone is exposed to 40 microsieverts per hour for an entire year, that results in 350 millisieverts (mSv) total exposure. I think that’s where the “350” comes from. The recommended limit of radiation exposure is 100 mSv per 5 years. So that is 17.5 times the recommended maximum exposure. Another way to look at this is that you would reach your 5-year radiation exposure limit in 104 days of continuous exposure. 100 mSv is also the lowest annual dose that has been clearly shown to increase cancer risk. This means that long term exposure to these cards (from keeping it in your wallet, for example) could lead to unsafe levels of radiation exposure.

[...]

The OAP further reports that these cards are being sold through a pyramid scheme, which is not unusual for snake-oil distributors.

The obvious question is – why would the company bother to make their cards with actual uranium and thorium? And how did they source these radioactive elements? Other reports indicate that the cards also contain heavy metals.

The company selling the cards, Expert Pro Network, sells other supplements with dubious claims. They claim the cards work through “negative ions”. It is further reported that:

Surin, a former police officer, claims to have begun selling the cards after he acquired them from La Genius.

La Genius was a Malaysian MLM company that has since collapsed. The cards themselves are reportedly of Indonesian origin, but also contain the words “German Technology” on them.

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Quacks and antivaxxers #fundie sciencebasedmedicine.org

Kennedy, Fisher and Bigtree: a triple dose of anti-vaccine injected into upcoming chiropractic conference
Even as the flu rages, chiropractors will be stoking their anti-vaccination ideology at a March conference with speeches from anti-vaxx Illuminati Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Barbara Loe Fisher and Del Bigtree.

Even as the flu season, with its consequent hospitalizations and deaths, rages on, chiropractors are outdoing themselves in promoting anti-vaccine ideology at this year’s “Freedom for Family Wellness 2018 Summit Washington, D.C.” (but actually in Reston, VA), scheduled for March. While in previous years so-called “chiropractic pediatrics” conferences have invited anti-vaccine hucksters like the disgraced and defrocked former British physician Andrew Wakefield and Barbara Loe Fisher, founder of the National Vaccine [Mis]Information Center, this year will feature not only Fisher, but also “Ranting Robert” F. Kennedy, Jr., fresh from his disappointment in not being named head of a proposed, but never realized, vaccine safety commission by fellow anti-vaxxer, President Trump, and Del Bigtree, producer of the widely discredited “documentary,” VAXXED. Attendees will get 24 hours of chiropractic continuing education credit in 37 states (so far), as well as D.C. and British Columbia.

The Summit is hosted by the International Chiropractic Pediatrics Association (ICPA), which promotes straight subluxation-based chiropractic treatment for pregnant women, infants and children. Well, actually, for anyone with a pulse, but that’s who they concentrate on. Its 2014 conference headliners were Fisher and Wakefield.

“Chiropractic pediatrics”

Before we get to the upcoming conference, let’s review the field of “chiropractic pediatrics,” its affinity for pseudoscience and hostility to vaccination. The ICPA is just one of three chiropractic pediatric groups, all of which support anti-vaccination ideology and promote chiropractic diagnosis and treatment of infants and children for both musculoskeletal and non-musculoskeletal conditions, including:

otitis media, asthma, allergies, infantile colic, . . . enuresis, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, myasthenia gravis, ADHD, and Tourette syndrome. For the most part, treatment for all of these conditions is based upon detection and correction of vertebral subluxations, . . . [even though] there is no scientific basis for the contention of chiropractors that subluxation correction will restore or maintain health or that such subluxations even exist.

In addition, pediatric chiropractors promote “wellness care” for children, advising that children should visit a chiropractor 6 to 12 times a year to be checked for phantom subluxations.

Another pediatric chiropractic group, the International Chiropractic Association’s (ICA) Council on Chiropractic Pediatrics, featured Wakefield at its 2016 conference, as well as a showing of VAXXED. In 2017, the ICA Council on Chiropractic Pediatrics conference participants were shown portions of the film Vaccines Revealed, essentially a parade of well-known and thoroughly debunked anti-vaccinationists, in some cases being interviewed by other anti-vaccinationists, produced by someone whose past work has promoted anti-vaccination views, who also spoke at the conference.

Chiropractic education in pediatrics consists of one 22-hour pre-clinical course in “pediatric topics” and chiropractors can graduate without ever having seen an actual pediatric patient in clinical training, which chiropractors themselves admit is inadequate. The ICA’s post-graduate courses (they don’t do residencies) which allow one to call oneself a “Diplomate” in chiropractic pediatrics, consist of less than 400 hours of classroom training in a series of weekend courses, sometimes in airport hotel conference rooms, with no hospital training and no contact with diseased or injured children. The ICA’s recommended books on vaccination contain plenty of anti-vaccination propaganda.

The third chiropractic pediatrics group, the American Chiropractic Association’s Council on Chiropractic Pediatrics promotes “the acceptance and advancement of pediatric chiropractic care.” Although it does not have its own training program, four out of five Council Board members are ICA “diplomates” in pediatric chiropractic, one Board member describing the program as a “3-year post-graduate course of study,” conveniently leaving out the part about the weekend courses and lack of clinical training.

The ICPA offers its own certification (200 hours) and diplomate programs (an additional 200 hours), under the auspices of the Academy of Chiropractic Pediatric Practice and is “endorsed and certified” by an organization called the Academy of Chiropractic Family Practice. Like the ICA, the ICPA teaches its courses in hotel conference rooms.

The ICPA also sponsors a certification in the Webster Technique, which is based on the biologically implausible and unproven notion that a chiropractic “adjustment” will “reduce the effects of sacral subluxation/SI joint dysfunction” facilitating “neuro-biomechanical function of the pelvis,” supposedly leading to an easier birth, even to the point of turning a breech baby (all the while denying that this is what they are claiming).

Chiropractic anti-vaccination ideology is not limited to chiropractic pediatrics. It is long-standing, firmly entrenched in chiropractic philosophy, and well-documented in the medical literature.

Anti-vaccination attitudes still abound within the chiropractic profession. Despite a growing body of evidence about the safety and efficacy of vaccination, many chiropractors do not believe in vaccination, will not recommend it to their patients, and place emphasis on risk rather than benefit.

One study found a correlation between seeing a chiropractor or a naturopath and lack of flu vaccination in pediatric patients. Another study found that children who saw chiropractors were significantly less likely to receive each of three CDC-recommended vaccinations. Yet another found that student anti-vaccination attitudes actually increased in the later years of chiropractic and naturopathic programs. Anti-vaccination attitudes among chiropractors have been documented by the mainstream media as well (also here and here).

It is thus that Kennedy, Fisher, and Bigtree find their ideal audience: a group preconditioned to uncritically accept their anti-vaccination message, impervious to science and evidence, yet perfectly positioned to spread their misinformation to patients and parents via their unlimited license to diagnose and treat any person of any age with virtually any disease or condition, thanks to state chiropractic licensing laws, aided by a closed loop, chiropractor-controlled system of education and regulation.

The “Summit”

Long-time anti-vaxxer Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., who will be delivering the keynote at one evening session of the “Summit,” is no stranger to regular SBM readers. His crackpot ideas about vaccines, lies and conspiracy mongering have been the subject of numerous SBM posts. Kennedy continues to flog the debunked connection between thimerosal and brain disorders, including autism, long after thimerosal was, as a precaution, removed from pediatric vaccines and remains a trace ingredient only in some flu vaccines. Assisted by another person honored with an SBM post this very week, Mark Hyman, MD, he wrote a book promoting his discredited ideas. Our good friend Orac has extensively covered Kennedy as well. Among Kennedy’s anti-vaxx escapades:

* His article “Deadly Immunity,” an “anti-vax hit piece,” was riddled with so many errors that it was ultimately pulled from Salon’s archive.
* Calling CDC officials “criminals” because they area “poisoning kids” in an interview with fellow anti-vaccine crank Boyd Haley.
* Saying he’d like to see pediatric infectious disease physician and co-inventor of a childhood vaccine that saves thousands of lives, Paul Offit, MD, behind bars.
* Analogizing the CDC whistleblower manufactroversy to the Tuskegee syphilis experiment on black men, an analogy he dredged up again in describing a California bill (which has since become law) tightening vaccine exemption requirements, all the while cozying up to the racist and anti-Semitic Nation of Islam.

Well, you get the idea. But in case you don’t, Laura Helmeth nicely summarized Kennedy in Slate:

The short version of the vaccine conspiracy theory (if you are stuck on the phone with RFK Jr., you will be subjected to the long version) is that a vaccine preservative called thimerosal causes autism when injected into children. Government epidemiologists and other scientists, conspiring with the vaccine industry, have covered up data and lied about vaccine ingredients to hide this fact. Journalists are dupes of this powerful cabal that is intentionally poisoning children.

You’ve met Barbara Loe Fisher here on SBM too. In the heyday of the media’s penchant for reporting “both sides” of the vaccination manufactroversy, Fisher was the go-to gal for reliable fear-mongering about vaccines. She was, after all, a founder of the NVIC (a sponsor of the “Summit”), a source of vaccine “information” that claims to be neither for nor against vaccination, only for “safe” vaccinations and informed consent. Fisher’s talk is titled “Your Right to be Informed, Your Freedom to Choose.” By continuously moving the goalposts, the NVIC ensures that vaccination is never safe and that there is always a fresh supply of misinformation with which to scare parents from choosing vaccination for their child by exercising their (not the child’s) freedom to exempt the child from school vaccination requirements by claiming their (again, not the child’s) religious or philosophical opposition.

Fisher remains unrepentant after being excoriated by investigative journalist Seth Mnookin in his excellent book The Panic Virus (2011). Here’s how Mnookin described Fisher’s talk at a 2009 Autism One conference:

Barbara Loe Fisher, the grande dame of the American anti-vaccine movement, explained how vaccines are a “de facto selection of the genetically vulnerable for sacrifice” and said that doctors who administer vaccines are the moral equivalent of “the doctors at Nuremberg.” (That parallel, she said, had been pointed out to her by Andrew Wakefield . . .)

Finally, Del Bigtree will speak on “Finding our Freedom,” freedom apparently being a code word at the “Freedom for Family Wellness 2018 Summit” for “refusing vaccination based on bad science and debunked conspiracies.” Bigtree was recruited by Andrew Wakefield to make the “documentary” VAXXED, a film version of the anti-vaccination movement’s talking points, delivered by an all-star team of dedicated anti-vaccinationists. He then shamelessly fed on the African-American community’s understandable mistrust of medicine to promote it. Fortunately, the movie seems to have impressed no one outside of the anti-vaxx echo chamber. It was widely panned as propaganda, “fraudulent,” presenting facts out of context, “closer to a horror film than a documentary,” “paranoid,” and a “desperate attempt to hoodwink the public for no greater purpose than making money.”

As if that weren’t enough propaganda, Andrea Marconi, a chiropractor and the NVIC’s Director of Professional Resources, and Theresa Wrangham, the NVIC’s Executive Director, are giving a talk on “Efffective Vaccine Informed Consent Advocacy.” Marconi’s NVIC bio makes it clear that pediatric chiropractors are expected to be advocates for vaccine refusal:

she has the honor of working with the Chiropractic profession as well as other groups to educate and support doctors who are speaking with their patients and communities about protecting the legal right to exercise religious and conscientious belief vaccine exemptions to go to school, be employed and otherwise participate in society.

And chiropractors are stepping up to the plate, as a recent CBC investigation revealed, discouraging vaccination as well as other evidence-based care.

Apparently, one of the “other groups” chiropractors are working with are midwives, with whom they are promoting “collaboration” as the ideal pregnancy-perinatal team. While the science-based training of Certified Nurse Midwives might make them resistant to chiropractic pediatrics and its attendant anti-vaccination ideology, direct-entry midwives and naturopath-midwives, who lack medical training and come equipped with their own anti-vaccination proclivities, will be a softer target.

So, besides “wellness” through chiropractic “adjustments,” what do pediatric chiropractors recommend to ward off vaccine-preventable diseases? Another speaker provides a clue: Cilla Whatcott, a homeopath who holds a Ph.D. from the Kingdom College of Natural Health, will be giving a talk on “Real Immunity and Homeoprophylaxis.” According to Whatcott’s website:

The goal of [homeoprophylaxis] is to introduce into the human system safe, homeopathic versions of particular diseases in order to naturally stimulate the immune system. As a result, susceptibility to targeted diseases can be reduced. . . protecting your children from infectious contagious disease.

This is dangerous nonsense, as explained by SBM’s own infectious disease expert, Mark Crislip, MD. Whatcott is disciple of Issac Golden, an Australian homeopath whose ideas are rejected not only by responsible medical authorities but other homeopaths as well.

It is sadly ironic that, even as state health departments and the federal Centers for Disease Control fight the worst flu season in a decade, it is the state and federal governments who create the conditions for this perfect storm of dangerous pseudoscience and conspiracy-theory crankery that will discourage people from getting vaccinated. State licensing laws and chiropractic self-regulation (remember, 24 hours of CE credit!) along with federal Department of Education approval of chiropractic school self-accreditation, allow poorly educated and trained health care practitioners to provide substandard care to a vulnerable population

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Acupuncture advocates #fundie sciencebasedmedicine.org

Legislative Alchemy 2017: Acupuncture
Acupuncture is nothing more than a theatrical placebo. Yet acupuncturists, defined as primary care practitioners in some states, are succeeding in licensing and practice expansion efforts in state legislatures.

Acupuncture is a theatrical placebo. Its proposed mechanism of action is highly implausible and:

after decades of research and more than 3000 trials, acupuncture researchers have failed to reject the null hypothesis, and any remaining possible specific effect from acupuncture is so tiny as to be clinically insignificant.

In layman’s terms, acupuncture does not work – for anything.

Even the very CAM-friendly National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), in its own weasel-worded way, comes close to conceding the point:

Research suggests that acupuncture can help manage certain pain conditions, but evidence about its value for other health conditions is uncertain. [Emphasis added.]

Somebody tell the state legislatures. Via the magic of Legislative Alchemy, 47 states have legalized the practice of acupuncture along with, in some cases, Traditional Chinese, Oriental or East Asian medicine. In several states, acupuncture practice acts describe acupuncturists as primary care practitioners and/or give them the authority diagnose and treat any condition or disease. For example, in my state, Florida, the practice act says that acupuncture:

means a form of primary health care, based on traditional Chinese medical concepts and modern oriental medical techniques, that employs acupuncture diagnosis and treatment, as well as adjunctive therapies and diagnostic techniques, for the promotion, maintenance, and restoration of health and the prevention of disease. [Emphasis added.]

In Nevada,

“Acupuncture” means the insertion of needles into the human body by piercing the skin of the body to control and regulate the flow and balance of energy in the body and to cure, relieve or palliate:

(a) Any ailment or disease of the mind or body; or

(b) Any wound, bodily injury or deformity. [Emphasis added.]

And in New Mexico:

“doctor of oriental medicine” means a person licensed as a physician to practice acupuncture and oriental medicine with the ability to practice independently, serve as a primary care provider and as necessary collaborate with other health care providers . . .

“oriental medicine” means the distinct system of primary health care that uses all allied techniques of oriental medicine, both traditional and modern, to diagnose, treat and prescribe for the prevention, cure or correction of disease, illness, injury, pain or other physical or mental condition by controlling and regulating the flow and balance of energy, form and function to restore and maintain health. [Emphasis added.]

As with state chiropractic and naturopathic licensing, most states rely on a closed-loop system of education and examinations that is completely controlled by acupuncturists in determining who is qualified to become licensed. The National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) administers the certification exams recognized by the states. Applicants for certification must have either graduated from schools accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (ACAOM) or foreign schools meeting criteria set by the NCCAOM.

While the ACAOM is approved as an accrediting agency by the U.S. Department of Education, the Department does not review the scientific validity of what is taught or perform any independent analysis of the graduates’ ability to competently and safely practice. Its focus is on administrative matters and the financial stability of the schools. The ACAOM standards do not require a college degree for admission to an accredited acupuncture/Oriental Medicine school and only 500 hours of supervised patient care are required in accredited programs to graduate with a Master’s in acupuncture (700 hours for a Master’s in Oriental Medicine). A Master’s allows one to sit for the NCCAOM exam. In sum, someone with no college degree and 500 hours of clinical training can become a “primary care provider” in some states.

2017 bills

Today we look at bills filed in eleven states to license, or expand the practice of, acupuncturists during the 2017 state legislative sessions. Six were successful. Two bills were defeated; three remain pending.

Prior to last year, acupuncturists did not have a practice act in Wyoming. This year they succeeded in gaining one, although the Wyoming legislature stopped short of giving them the right to practice Oriental Medicine, which was eliminated in the final bill. Acupuncture is somewhat narrowly defined as inserting needles, with or without electric current or heat, into the body for:

therapeutic purpose of promoting, maintaining and restoring health, including [but, we note, not limited to] the treatment of dysfunctions of the body involving pain.

Wyoming also joins several states who’ve been bamboozled into thinking sticking needles into peoples’ ears, otherwise known as “auricular acupuncture,” is effective for substance abuse and mental health issues. Promoted based on an unpublished and cherry-picked review of the evidence by an organization called the National Acupuncture Detoxification Association (NADA), it is a perennial favorite with state legislatures looking to address mental health issues and drug abuse on the cheap.

New Hampshire enacted legislation creating something called a “Certified Acupuncture Detoxification Specialist,” who must be trained in the NADA protocol and supervised by an acupuncturist, although the “Specialist” needn’t be an acupuncturist himself. They can use “acu-detox” for:

behavioral health applications, including addictions, mental health, and disaster and emotional trauma.

One version of the bill specified that “acu-detox” could be used only in conjunction with other therapies but that bit of consumer protection against the ineffectiveness of pseudoscience in treating serious conditions was rejected.

Likewise, in Maine, a new law requires the state Department of Health and Human Services to develop a pilot project that will treat alcohol and substance abuse using the unproven NADA protocol. Fortunately, more sober minds prevailed in West Virginia, where a bill allowing the practice of NADA auricular acupuncture for chemical dependency failed.

Like their fellow CAM practitioners, naturopaths and chiropractors, once licensed, acupuncturists will return again and again to the state legislatures for practice expansion. In 2017, they succeeded in a big way in Illinois. There the legislature added the practice of “East Asian” medicine to the acupuncturists’ scope of practice, defined to include needle acupuncture, moxibustion, herbal medicine, and dietary supplements, among others, to:

normalize physiological functions, or for the treatment of diseases or dysfunctions of the body.

Acupuncture itself is broadly defined to include not only traditional needle acupuncture, but also far-infrared, electro- and magnetic stimulation, cold laser, cupping, dry needling (discussed below), and the bruising massage practice known as gua sha:

In a move reminiscent of the chiropractic lobby’s efforts to make chiropractic schools the arbiter of what chiropractors can and cannot do, Illinois practitioners of acupuncture and East Asian medicine are permitted to perform a differential diagnosis via principles and techniques taught in acupuncture schools, like the fanciful tongue and pulse diagnosis.

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Albert Pinnes #conspiracy sciencebasedmedicine.org

[Comment under "Another “Chronic Lyme” VIP disciplined by NY medical authorities: Bernard Raxlen"]

Top holistic author Ann Boroch known for fighting big pharma (and curing multiple sclerosis) found dead. Over the past 18 months your big pharma hit squads have killed 60 of these holistic truth warriors. http://ewao.com/2017/11/08/top-holistic-author-known-for-fighting-big-pharma-found-dead/ Ather Ali, ND was another victim of the big pharma hit squad. The eloquent John Weeks writes: Notably, Dr. Ali’s work as a point person for multiple integrative medicine initiatives at Yale was within close internet shouting down distance of a Yale medical school faculty member (Dr. Steven Novella) who irresponsibly dismisses naturopathic medicine as “pseudoscience from top to bottom” and used his perch to decry integrative advances for health care as “quackademic medicine.” Then consider this: Ather was a practicing Muslim in a frequently challenging US climate, and in a medical leadership populated not infrequently by Jewish physicians. https://www.integrativepractitioner.com/whats-new/memoriam-yale-integrative-medicine-leader-ather-ali-nd-mph-mhs-1975-2017/ And Weeks is the editor of a medical journal.