Beware of Saboteurs Posing as Experts

For the discriminating reader, Dr. Rosenfeld's performance in this book suggests another definition of quackery: The physician who poses as an expert when he really knows nothing about the subject and nonetheless attempts to discredit it.

Watch out for conventional doctors posing as experts in the field of alternative medicine-they may be the proverbial wolf in sheep's clothing.

Now that alternative medicine is entering the financial mainstream of North American medical life, there is a new danger that could imperil the progress we've made. Watch out for conventional doctors who cozy up to alternative medicine as impartial experts-the "friendly" doctors with the warm bedside manner. They may be saboteurs in disguise.

This is the newest way in which conventional doctors, filled with deep criticism, skepticism, and distrust of the emerging alternatives in Western medicine, will try to sabotage the truth from within our field. When someone openly criticizes alternative medicine, you note their comments with this in mind; but when somebody pretends to be an expert in alternative medicine and tells you he's here to offer you judicious recommendations, you may miss the mental sleight of hand as he slyly sours and corrupts your view of the field.

Consumers must now be on guard to not be duped by biased and ill-informed conventional doctors posing as experts in alternative medicine. Their goal is to co-opt alternative medicine into conventional medicine. In so doing, they adulterate and emasculate it to such an extent that it no longer holds any therapeutic challenge to establishment medicine or money.

This sounds good, but if readers are not exceptionally wary in reading this book, they may conclude as I did (midway across Dr. Rosenfeld's bridge) that, like the British soldiers in the film The Bridge On the River Kwai, Dr. Rosenfeld built the bridge only for the purposes of blowing it up to prevent passage across it.

In this bridge-bombing book, we have a friendly-faced, "distinguished" physician passing himself off as an "unbiased" clinician who with an "open mind" diligently evaluates the field of alternative medicine "unencumbered" by biases or "preconceptions." This is what Dr. Rosenfeld wants the reader to presume; I'm arguing that the reality and intent of this book are far different.

The discerning reader will appreciate that what Dr. Rosenfeld is in truth unencumbered by is any knowledge of U.S. medical history and the mighty struggle between conventional and alternative medicine that has been waged for 150 years. In fact, this schism has existed for about 2,000 years, according to medical historian Harris L. Coulter, Ph.D., beginning in classical Greece, then playing out in Europe, and now the U.S.

One group of doctors has considered the whole human being, the root cause of illness, and precise observation of symptoms and results. We call these the alternative medicine doctors. The other group (what we now call conventional doctors) has fragmented the body into parts and isolated systems, sought single molecular causes of illness, and often ignored the actual patient in their prevailing theory about illness.

Reading Dr. Rosenfeld's book critically, with U.S. medical history and medical politics in mind, you soon suspect he is encumbered with the veiled mission of sabotaging any alternative modality that is a financial or therapeutic threat to conventional medicine. The modalities he focuses on in particular are the ones that work the best-chelation, homeopathy, chiropractic, diet therapy for cancer, oxygen therapy, among others-and stand to disenfranchise the conventional medicine establishment of their $1 trillion market monopoly on U.S. health care.

First, Dr. Rosenfeld distorts U.S. medical history by implying that the spurt in popularity of alternative medicine in recent decades is a new, upstart phenomenon flying in the face of the "accomplishments" of established conventional medicine.

The "accomplishments" of conventional medicine, which incidentally has existed in its present form for barely a century, have been meticulously documented in their many guises in the Digest. In Digest #17, for example, I explained how, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association(JAMA), conventional medicine's mouthpiece, prescription errors and side effects for conventional drugs cost $76 billion a year. Evidence was presented showing that the true cost of prescription drugs is really double the sticker price.

InDigest #17, we cited another JAMA report that chronic illness now affects 100 million Americans, costing about $659 billion in total yearly costs. Any crowing about the accomplishments of conventional medicine must be tempered (and deflated) by these sobering failures.

Second, Dr. Rosenfeld ignores the intense 150-year struggle between conventional and alternative medicines. He offers the following advice to consumers: "Look very carefully" into each alternative modality, he says, and check to see if the American Medical Association (AMA) has "approved" it before you use it.

The AMA is about as likely to "approve" alternative medicine as the Pentagon is to reveal the truth about germ warfare in the Gulf War. After all, the AMA was one of the key players in the move to run the homeopaths and herbalists out of the American medical scene.

Third, Dr. Rosenfeld clearly does not understand the first thing about alternative medicine-that it reverses illness by addressing the root cause. Dr. Rosenfeld sees the field as a sometimes useful adjunct to conventional treatments of symptoms, but almost never as a first-line approach. Generally, he advises patients to always try all conventional approaches first, then, if all else fails, to consider an alternative but only in consultation with a conventional doctor. He couldn't qualify his support for alternative medicine any more without it becoming an outright dismissal.

Dr. Rosenfeld seems unaware of the fact that, increasingly, patients are taking their own medical decisions in hand, ignoring their conventional doctors. Dr. Rosenfeld's recommendation to always use conventional medicine first also seems destined to prevent healing. That's because, on the one hand, conventional medicine never looks for root causes and treats only body parts, isolated symptoms, and increasingly microscopic aspects of physiology. On the other hand, the major modalities in alternative medicine need an open playing field: that is, a patient whose body is unencumbered by conventional drugs and approaches which ruin the immune system and deeply suppress the body's highly vital self-healing capacity.

Let's focus on how Dr. Rosenfeld assesses certain alternative modalities. Dr. Rosenfeld criticizes homeopathy because it does not reliably reduce dental pain or allegedly work as well as antibiotics against infections. He conveniently ignores-more likely, he does not understand-that homeopathy addresses deep-set illness dispositions and tendencies in the whole and unique patient and was never meant to be exclusively a first-aid modality.

Reducing dental pain was never put forward by practicing homeopaths as homeopathy's chief virtue. However, if Dr. Rosenfeld had done his homework-even a little of it-he would find many reports from practitioners on how to successfully use certain homeopathic remedies to reduce tooth and gum pain, swelling, infection, and other dental problems.

Regarding chelation therapy, Dr. Rosenfeld asserts there is "no real proof" that it works against heart disease and he advises patients to "go the conventional route first." He would rather you spend the $72,000 for a bypass (probably followed by more bypasses within a few years) than the $3,000 that chelation costs to reliably and safely clean out your arteries.

Unilaterally ignoring volumes of research, Dr. Rosenfeld next erroneously asserts that the theory of chiropractic is "disjointed," that hyperbaric oxygen therapy is ineffective against stroke, and that enzyme therapy is incapable of producing benefits in cases of infections, arthritis, or cancer. The Digest has amply documented successes in all these fields.

Dr. Rosenfeld dismisses the Gerson Diet therapy for cancer (despite its clinically proven efficacy for skin cancer) because it's too much work for cancer patients. That's true: it requires much less effort to lay back and be systematically poisoned by chemotherapy or radiation, but the cancer reversal rate is far lower for this approach.

Similarly ignoring the medical facts, Dr. Rosenfeld tells readers that high doses of vitamin C have no benefit in cancer treatment and that a daily intake exceeding 1000 mg can produce unpleasant side effects. Here, his appalling lack of actual medical knowledge coupled with truly bad advice puts the gullible reader at risk.

Among the vast body of evidence supporting the benefits of vitamin C, consider the fact that Nobel laureate and chemist Linus Pauling, Ph.D., who died at age 93, attributed his longevity in part to the long-term consumption of high doses of vitamin C, which for him was 18,000 mg (18 g) daily, in divided doses.

Dr. Rosenfeld thinks he is aiding the consumer new to the complex field of alternative medicine by outlining criteria by which a "quack" may be recognized. For the discriminating reader, Dr. Rosenfeld's performance in this book suggests another definition of quackery: The physician who poses as an expert when he really knows nothing about the subject and nonetheless attempts to discredit it. "There's a sucker born every minute," Dr. Rosenfeld warns. Unless you read his book with extreme care and vigilance, it may be you.

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