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Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) to me implies mostly unproven therapies with at least some partial evidence in support. By contrast, “fringe therapies” are more bizarre, with only anecdotal evidence.
1. America loves nutritional therapy, and not only for weight loss. You can go casein-free or gluten-free, or find diets based on blood type, for example. Celebrities weigh in: Actress Alicia Silverstone prechewed her baby’s food before giving it to her. Suzanne Somers advocates a natural approach to health and takes over 60 supplements a day. You can’t get more natural than that!
2. One dietary approach is enzyme therapy (digestive enzymes, not enzyme replacement). I first learned about this in an otherwise respectable magazine for parents. The article concluded unashamedly by telling parents that they should try it because it couldn’t hurt. The same issue had the first and only time I had seen a full-page advertisement for buying enzymes. When I wrote to the editor, I was told the 2 were unrelated.
3. I have no problem with chiropractic manipulation for back pain in adolescents. Some chiropractors manipulate infant spines. They have learned from lectures and sometimes mannequins, but when they get their license they have essentially no hands-on experience with live infants. There have been several case reports of serious injury from these manual therapies.2
4. Chelation therapy for developmental disorders, done with actual high-powered medicine, has been advocated. There have been several deaths associated with this practice. The Pfeiffer Treatment Center, Warrenville, Illinois, specialized in chelation. The original center has since closed, to be replaced by the Pfeiffer Medical Center, which did not reply when I asked if they still practice chelation.
5. Genova Diagnostics, Asheville, North Carolina, will be happy to analyze lab specimens (blood, urine, and stool) to determine nutritional imbalances, yeast infections causing systemic problems, and more. The company can then use the results to suggest supplements that one can purchase to cure himself/herself. My most recent patient to use the lab is on 24 pills a day as supplements.
6. Dr. Joseph Mercola, a wealthy alternative medicine practitioner, has a website, www.mercola.org, talking about advocacy, charitable donations, and also the scourge of profit-driven health industries. The main link on the above website is to www.mercola.com, where one can purchase his supplements, cat litter, even light bulbs. He no longer sells tanning beds as wellness tools, having settled his lawsuit with the Federal Trade Commission by agreeing to pay them several million dollars.
7. Some providers use the WaveFront 2000 (now WaveFront 3000). With this electronic device, which is small enough to hold in your hand, you put someone’s saliva into the input well, and the machine will “analyze the electromagnetic energy” and use that to create an anti-allergy product. The machine is best known through the case of pediatrician Ming Te Lin, MD, in Chicago in 2016, who used it to make alternative vaccines for children, incorporating vodka and cat saliva in the process of making his own modified vaccines.
1. Farber JM. Autism and other communication disorders. In: Capute AJ, Accardo PJ, eds. Developmental Disabilities in Infancy and Childhood, 2nd ed, Vol. 1. Baltimore, MD: Paul H Brookes Publishing; 1996:347-364.
2. Todd AJ, Carroll MT, Robinson A, Mitchell EK. Adverse events due to chiropractic and other manual therapies for infants and children: a review of the literature. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2015;38(9):699-712.