Oil Pulling

You know what doesn’t sound like any fun at all? Rinsing my mouth with oil. For 20 minutes. First thing in the morning before I can have coffee.

A reader sent me a link to a website advocating “oil pulling”. This one was a new one for me, so I thought I’d share the skeptic’s goldmine that is oil pulling. What’s that? I haven’t told you what it is yet? It’s essentially rinsing one’s mouth with oil as part of a regular oral hygiene routine. The oil helps “pull” out toxins from your body, ya know?

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Oil Pulling
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6 O’Clock BS: Signs of the Times

First – Happy birthday to the Mall of America. This past Saturday marked 20 years since the doors first opened at the mall. Yeah, yeah… cursed MOA with it’s consumerism and overconsumption and blardeeblarblar. I like the mall. It has an aquarium. And LegoLand. And a ropes course.

Anyway, yesterday we passed this sign:

It is a digital display and the picture changed about every five seconds or so. I was waiting for it to scroll through so I could re-read an ad that I had caught out of the corner of my eye (oh you tricky marketers, you). While I was there a steady stream of people walked by, including a large number of spawnlings toddling after their parents. Here’s the interesting part: four young kids – we’re talking three and four years old – stopped, looked at the sign and then tried to interact with it. Each and everyone one of them looked confused when the sign didn’t respond. One girl tried to pressed harder on on the screen, and another took her finger and tried to swipe the screen across.

The future is here, y’all.

And here’s the ad that I was waiting for:

Le sigh. That’s what I thought it said.

6 O’Clock BS: Signs of the Times

6 O'Clock BS: Signs of the Times

First – Happy birthday to the Mall of America. This past Saturday marked 20 years since the doors first opened at the mall. Yeah, yeah… cursed MOA with it’s consumerism and overconsumption and blardeeblarblar. I like the mall. It has an aquarium. And LegoLand. And a ropes course.

Anyway, yesterday we passed this sign:

It is a digital display and the picture changed about every five seconds or so. I was waiting for it to scroll through so I could re-read an ad that I had caught out of the corner of my eye (oh you tricky marketers, you). While I was there a steady stream of people walked by, including a large number of spawnlings toddling after their parents. Here’s the interesting part: four young kids – we’re talking three and four years old – stopped, looked at the sign and then tried to interact with it. Each and everyone one of them looked confused when the sign didn’t respond. One girl tried to pressed harder on on the screen, and another took her finger and tried to swipe the screen across.

The future is here, y’all.

And here’s the ad that I was waiting for:

Le sigh. That’s what I thought it said.

6 O'Clock BS: Signs of the Times

Magic Lube

Chris Pederson over at the Minnesota Skeptics Facebook group posted about Yoni’s Bliss, a “revolutionary homeopathic lubricating gel”.

Hoo-boy. Let’s do this.

According to the website, Yoni’s Bliss is a water-based lubricant. It also contains aloe, which they describe as “the base on which Yoni’s Bliss was created”. Aloe gel is mostly water, so that fits, but I can’t tell what percentage aloe is in the final formulation. Aloe is not an uncommon ingredient in vaginal lubricants, especially those marketed as “natural” – in this case, that seems to usually mean without glycerin, paraben and with a minimal amount of additives. I found a ton of personal anecdotes about the use of raw aloe from fresh plants as lubricant.

The Mayo Clinic describes aloe allergy in some people, but the Yoni website claims that chance of you being allergic to their product (even if you have a history of allergy!) is “minimal to non-existent”. That strikes me as pretty dismissive, but without knowing the concentration of aloe in the formulation or the incidence of aloe allergy in their target audience it’s hard to evaluate this claim.

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Magic Lube

Not Medicine

Tuesday morning rage-face in 3…2…

Photo source and story seen at Minnesota Skeptics by Bjorn Watland

The Bach Kids – Bach Original Flower Remedies website claims that these concoctions are a “natural way to treat your child’s emotions!”  And as you can see on the front of the packaging, Dr. Bach’s remedies are physician-approved…by Dr. Bach!

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Not Medicine

Metaphysical "Causes" of Illness

I have a new post up over at MN Skeptics! It’s all about one website that wants you to think yourself better:

…this website wants you to understand why YOU are causing yourself to develop such emotion-triggered illnesses such as migraines, nail-biting (Crud – is this an illness? Apparently I have an illness.), anxiety and depression. Oh, and AIDS, mononucleosis, ankle problems, gray hair (again – illness???) and finger problems (hint: you have different emotional problems based on which finger hurts). And did you know that every time you get bit by a mosquito, it’s because you feel guilty about something? I’ll bet you didn’t know you had such command over the animal kingdom!

To read the full article, please go visit me at the Minnesota Skeptics WordPress blog.

Metaphysical "Causes" of Illness

Metaphysical “Causes” of Illness

I have a new post up over at MN Skeptics! It’s all about one website that wants you to think yourself better:

…this website wants you to understand why YOU are causing yourself to develop such emotion-triggered illnesses such as migraines, nail-biting (Crud – is this an illness? Apparently I have an illness.), anxiety and depression. Oh, and AIDS, mononucleosis, ankle problems, gray hair (again – illness???) and finger problems (hint: you have different emotional problems based on which finger hurts). And did you know that every time you get bit by a mosquito, it’s because you feel guilty about something? I’ll bet you didn’t know you had such command over the animal kingdom!

To read the full article, please go visit me at the Minnesota Skeptics WordPress blog.

Metaphysical “Causes” of Illness

Conspiracy and Coffee

Ugh…this was the first video of the morning. Someone I follow on twitter posted this with the statement, “a must watch if you’re into natural ways to heal the body. I highly recommend this film!”

This was released back in 2008 and it’s already been ripped to shreds by people who are smarter and more familiar with the topic than me, but I’m feeling snarky and only just starting my first cup of coffee, so let’s do this!

Don’t cancer/Big Pharma conspiracy theorists ever consider that doctors are first and foremost human beings who are just as susceptible to cancer as everyone else, and that they have loved ones who suffer and die from cancer? Secrets of this magnitude don’t stay secret just so someone can make a few bucks. People don’t let their wives, husbands, children, parents and friends die of cancer even for a few thousand or million bucks.

Dr. Max Gerson thought that diet and “detoxification” could cure cancer and just about anything that ails you. Not potentially prevent cancer, but CURE cancer. Independent review of the cases he observed in his book, A Cancer Therapy, determined that there is insufficient evidence to support his claims. His case studies have been shown to have sloppy methodology, and his claimed cure rates have been called into question. The Gerson Institute calls all of these findings “persecution” and protests that the medical community shuns the Gerson Therapy because of ties to Big Pharma. After all, “You can’t make money off of a bag of carrots“.

Patients have gotten sick from the wacky treatments proposed by the Gerson Therapy – and I’m not even including those who die from their cancers because they didn’t seek efficacious treatment. Many professionals and professional groups have discredited this course of treatment. But hey, if drinking hydrogen peroxide and taking ozone up the butt is your idea of a good time, maybe the Gerson diet is for you.

Conspiracy and Coffee

And the Scariest Book Award goes to:

The Bible Cure for Candida and Yeast Infections

Dr. Colbert is an Oral Roberts U alumnus and board-certified MD who peddles faith-based AND alternative medicine kookiness – it’s a two-fer!

First, he’s addressing the controversial issue of candidiasis.  Science-based medical doctors know from the evidence that there are genital and oral (thrush) yeast infections, and that there is also a systemic form of chronic candidiasis that can occur in immunocompromised patients, such as those suffering from AIDS, mono and cancer.

Then there are alternative health proponents who believe that candida overgrowth is common, even among apparently healthy people.  These practitioners believe that candidiasis might be at the root of many vague symptoms such as fatigue, irritability, constipation, diarrhea, abdominal bloating, mood swings, depression, anxiety, dizziness, unexpected weight gain, difficulty in concentrating, muscle and joint pain, cravings for sugar or alcoholic beverages, psoriasis, hives, respiratory and ear problems, menstrual problems, infertility, impotence, bladder infections, prostatitis, and “feeling bad all over.” (Quackwatch).

But I digress…the candidiasis issue has been torn into by people much smarter and more informed on the issue than I.  Along with the Quackwatch link above, Wikipedia appears to have  a decent write-up, including a list of references for anyone who has an interest in learning more about candidiasis.

Now back to the damned book, and to the heart of my ire (no, it’s not candida overgrowth).  I flipped through the thing, and do you know what I found inside?  Very common-sense diet and exercise advice that I imagine any doctor would give to almost anyone.  Yea for eating well and exercising!  It’s the miracle cure of the millennia (literally, according to Dr. Colbert).

But aside from the facepalm-worthy medical “cure”, the book caters to people who believe in God, and this is the religious message that it promotes: If you succeed in losing weight and feeling better it was God’s will, and you only succeeded in completely revising your shopping, eating and exercise habits because you relied on God.  And actually, God was the one who led you to The Bible Cure for Candida and Yeast Infections, which wasn’t really written by Dr. Colbert, but by God.

I know that there are people who would agree wholeheartedly with the paragraph above, and not find a single thing wrong with the idea that God controls all aspects of our lives.  But in that case, why bother with any kind of recognition of our fellow human beings?  Why don’t we all put on matching uniforms and call ourselves God Robot #1, God Robot #2, etc?  By this reasoning Dr. Colbert didn’t do anything remarkable by writing this book, he just happened to be a convenient vessel when God wanted to upload a new program to his Robot Army.  So no accolades for Dr. Colbert…I mean, God Robot #358454980.  He was just the equivalent of a plugged-in human battery from the Matrix who was transformed into an agent for that brief period of time it took to get the book written.

Humans rock!  Individuality rocks!  The choices that human beings make are precious!  If you’re feeling out of sorts and you make the decision to help yourself by buying a diet book, and then by busting your butt to avoid tempting, yummy foods, and to set your alarm clock an hour earlier so you can get to the gym before work…that’s all YOU!  You did that, and you should get to take pride in your efforts.  None of this damned “Yea, I feel better, God must have helped me!” and the dangerous flip side of that coin “Oh, man, I ate thirteen White Castles this weekend…God must have decided that I wasn’t worthy enough to succeed.  I guess I’ll go watch some TV until God makes me go to the gym”

We have control over our lives, we live and die, wither or thrive, because of the decisions we make.  I am my own personal demon and hero, and you are yours.  When you do something wonderful, I have nothing but awe and respect for your accomplishments, because even if you believe that you need your faith to succeed, I have faith that you don’t.

And the Scariest Book Award goes to: