Plechner Syndrome and the Art of Making Stuff Up

Most proponents of so-called complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) are ordinary, reasonable people, even when promoting beliefs that may be dubious or even thoroughly incredible. However, occasionally I run across one of those individuals with not only a bizarre understanding of health and disease but a bizarre sense of their own relationship with veterinary medicine. Individuals like Dr. Gloria Dodd and Eric Weisman (1,2,3) appear to see themselves as misunderstood geniuses, martyrs whose insights and efforts to improve the world are resented by the less enlightened and attacked by nebulous conspiracies dedicated to preserving their power and income by suppressing simple, cheap cures for disease.

Many of the warning signs of quackery are related to these narcissistic and self-serving narratives (including the Galileo Complex, the David and Goliath Myth, and the Dan Brown Gambit). While an exaggerated sense of self-importance and a persecution complex are not guarantees that the ideas a person is promoting are nonsense, they certainly should raise a red flag and lead one to pay even closer attention to the amount and quality of evidence behind these ideas. All too often, it appears that ego alone is all the evidence these folks need.

That seems to be the case for Dr. Al Plechner. Dr. Plechner is a California veterinarian who appears to have discovered the cause and the cure for most serious medical conditions not already curable by scientific medicine. He calls his one true cause of disease Atypical Cortisol Imbalance (ACIS), though he usually refers to it as Plechner Syndrome.

What’s The Problem?

Dr. Plechner begins his somewhat vague argument by referring to the “Medical Ice Age.”

The MEDICAL ICE AGE relates to the gradual breakdown of ourselves, our animals, and our earth. As this gradual breakdown is occurring, a concentration of predisposing factors of poor health are being created. Not only are we seeing entire families of people developing allergies, auto-immunity, and cancer, but we are also seeing even a faster progression of diseases in our animals due to indiscriminant breeding, and breeding without function. The lack of concern for our earth has further allowed for environmental breakdown, contamination of our soils and waters, and the development of an unstable atmosphere…

With this present day destruction, a potentially dangerous cortisol deficiency is being created in our bodies which allows the immune system not to protect people and animals, but instead allows the loss of recognition of the body’s own tissue by these cells, resulting in allergies, auto-immunity, and cancer. This is called, PLECHNER’S SYNDROME. The identification and control of this syndrome may slow down the MEDICAL ICE AGE which threatens our existence.

He goes on to describe ACIS or “Plechner’s Syndrome” and how he believes it is related to disease:

ATYPICAL CORTISOL IMBALANCE SYNDROME (ACIS) (PLECHNER’S SYNDROME) DESCRIBES A DEFICIENCY IN THE PRODUCTION OF CORTISOL FROM THE MIDDLE LAYER ADRENAL CORTEX AND ITS INABILITY TO PROVIDE ACTIVE (WORKING) CORTISOL WHICH IS THE UNDERLYING CAUSE OFATYPICAL CORTISOL IMBALANCE SYNDROME (ACIS) (PLECHNER’S SYNDROME) AND THE MEDICAL ICE AGE. This shortage of active (working) cortisol leads to a domino effect through the deregulation of thyroid hormones leading to the production of excess ESTROGEN and the deregulation of the immune system and all of the diseases and maladies this resulting faulty immune system creates.

…The fact that these hormones (ALDOSTERONE and ADRENAL ESTROGEN) are present relates to whether the CORTISOL and THYROID HORMONES are working, and not the ESTROGEN and ALDOSTERONE, otherwise the electrolytes and the antibodies would not be working. The comparative levels refer to the CORTISOL and IMMUNOGLUBULINS and this is why it is so important to do comparative levels, including those secretions which are regulated by active (working) hormone.

This supposed endocrine disorder is identified as the underlying cause for many seemingly unrelated diseases, including:

Food Allergies: “You must realize that food sensitivities may only occur secondarily to Plechner’s Syndrome, which is a hormonal antibody defect. If this syndrome is damaged and uncontrolled, eventually the patient will develop food sensitivities to all food.”

Skin Allergies and Infections: “Most dog skin problems seem to come from a hormone antibody imbalance referred to as Plechner’s Syndrome.”

Vomiting in Cats: Of course, food allergies can cause vomiting, and this has already been attributed to Plechner Syndrome. But apart from this problem, “The 2nd most common reason why cats vomit is due to a hormonal antibody imbalance.”

Cancer: “What then is the cause of this uncontrolled tissue growth called cancer? It occurs because of a endocrine-immune imbalance that leads to a deregulated immune system. This endocrine-immune imbalance begins with a defective or deficient cortisol which is produced in the middle layer adrenal cortex.”

Feline Viral Leukemia: “…feline-leukemia victims usually suffer from a hormone imbalance. In treating more than 2,000 cases, Plechner has discovered that with an individualized hormone-replacement plan, dietary changes and regulation, the virus can be controlled, if detected early enough. There are cases in which leukemia-positive cats have become negative after several weeks of treatment, although veterinary textbooks say this is impossible.”

Other Retroviral Infections: “The cats and humans that suffer from these viruses [retroviruses], like HIV, FIV, FIP and FELV, all have a hormonal-antibody deficiency caused by the Plechner Syndrome.”

Bladder Infections:  “Chronic bladder infections in cats are caused by a hormonal antibody imbalance which as yet has not been realized.”

Dental Disease: “The plaque, on the actual tooth may not be causing a problem unless the plaque is great enough to cause the gum associated with that tooth, to cause a gingival recession leading, to an exposed tooth root problem, causing the problem, but rather a hormonal antibody imbalance that is leading to a deficiency of the protective antibody for the gums?”

Inflammatory Bowel Disease: “The cause of the IgA imbalance, IBD and other associated diseases, come from a middle layer imbalance in natural cortisol, produced by the middle layer, adrenal cortex.”

High Cholesterol: “I have found in people and animals, that when there is a cortisone imbalance, the pituitary stimulation causes an increase of total estrogen in male and female patients from the inner layer of the adrenal cortex. This in turn binds the use of thyroid hormone, and reduces the metabolism of the liver where cholesterol utilization and breakdown occurs. Automatically you can see why cholesterol levels may remain high, even after you have done everything that had been recommended.”

Epilepsy: “However, my research studies have allowed me to discover a syndrome involving elevated adrenal estrogen, causing an inflammation of all the endothelial cells that line the arteries of the body. When this elevated level of adrenal estrogen, including ovarian estrogen, causes inflammation of the cerebral arteries, a migraine headache or epileptic seizure can occur…In animals that have had their ovaries removed and in males with no ovaries, this same elevated adrenal estrogen can occur, causing the majority of epileptic seizures in animals and other catastrophic diseases.”

Cherry Eye: “What is cherry eye? This is a condition seen in dogs that relates to the tissue near the inner area of the eye. At the inner portion of the white of the eye, is a membrane that is a remnant of amphibians. In amphibians, this is a membrane that covers the actual eye, and allows the amphibians to see under water. In dogs, there is only a small remnant. But in this remnant, there is a small lymph node, often referred to as the Hardarian gland. When Plechner’s Syndrome is present, it creates an antibody deficiency. When this occurs this small gland increases in size to make up for the antibody imbalance and can reach a size when it can actually abrade the cornea and definitely needs to be removed. At this time, you should insist that your healthcare specialist, remove the other lymph node even if it not enlarged. It will enlarge later and have to be removed, unless you correct Plechner’s Syndrome.”

Plechner Syndrome is also credited with a causal role in female infertility and poor breeding performance, Sudden Acquire Retinal Degeneration Syndrome (SARDS), “Rage Syndrome,” and infestations with fleas and ear mites.

And how is this syndrome detected when it can cause so many seemingly unrelated disorders? Why a simple blood test, of course. It has to be sent to the one lab he trusts, one which will measure the particular kinds of hormone levels he believes are important (which most labs don’t measure since most endocrinologists don’t agree with his assessment), but otherwise it is easy to identify this one underlying cause of many, if not all, diseases.

While Dr. Plechner identifies his eponymous syndrome as the root of most disease, he only speculates about what causes the syndrome itself: “It may be caused by genetics, exposure to toxins, stress, aging, lack of sleep, or in combinations thereof.”

And he does identify a few other causes of ill health, though most he mentions do ultimately cause disease by generating Plechner Syndrome. He feels there are “toxins” in the environment and in pet foods, though he only identifies a few specific substances (plastics, parabens, fluoride, and of course genetically modified food crops). He also considers inbreeding to be one possible cause of Plechner Syndrome, and he has a lot of concerns about radiation. And he recommends dosing the amount of vaccine given by size, in a purely subjective way despite the complete irrationality of this approach, presumably because “too much” vaccine would be harmful.

What’s The Solution?

What does Dr. Plechner recommend as treatment for Plechner Syndrome? The mainstay of his treatment is a lifelong supplementation of cortisol and thyroid hormone for any species, both as a treatment and a preventative measure. He may use the laboratory tests he recommends to guide the specific dosing he uses, but it seems clear that he isn’t really diagnosing Plechner Syndrome since he already knows it is always present; “Every patient I have been involved with, whether dogs, cats, horses or people, all have an identifiable, hormonal antibody imbalance.”

He also recommends calcium Montmorillonite clay as a panacea for numerous conditions, including: kidney disease, nutritional disorders, “detoxification” and chelation of supposed toxins, osteoporosis, urinary tract infections, radiation poisoning, skin disease, burns and wounds, gastrointestinal upset, and more.

And finally, he tosses in a hodgepodge of other alternative therapies, including homeopathy, another “magic water” called Kangen Water, and digestive enzymes.

So Why Isn’t Everybody On Board?

The first question one should always ask about any hypothesis or new approach to health and diseases is “What’s the evidence for this?” Here’s what Dr. Plechner says:

1. I have created a successful treatment program that has helped approximately 150,000 dogs, cats, horses and people. These were patients, not only at my hospital, but in healthcare facilities throughout the world.

2. My clinical studies also show that there are high levels of total estrogen in all female dogs that are diagnosed with cancer… although these dogs no longer have their ovaries.

3. Every cancer patient I have ever been involved with, whether it be animal or human, has an elevated level of total estrogen that is not indicated with standard estrogen testing.

4. Through my clinical studies over the past 50 years, I have been able to identify a genetic and acquired endocrine immune imbalance, which can be easily corrected so that the retrovirus will not end the life of a patient.

5. With my clinical studies I have found that 80 % of the causal control will not need antiepileptic drugs to control their seizures however 20 % even on hormone regulation of the seizures may need to stay on antiepileptic drugs.

Wow, these are pretty impressive research results! Let me just have a look at the published reports so I can get all the details….

….

….

Hmm, I’m not finding any published research studies. I wonder why that is….

As a clinician, my patients are my primary concern. For that reason I have not conducted controlled studies where one group of patients receives treatment and another group, for comparison, receives a placebo. I cannot in good conscience deny treatment to suffering animals who I know will benefit from that treatment.

Please realize that my clinical studies have not been accepted by my peers.

Oh, there aren’t any controlled studies, published or unpublished. By “clinical studies” he means “in my personal experience.” The theoretical foundation of Plechner’s Syndrome and the evaluation of clinical efficacy of its treatment is empirical. In other words, he made it all up!

An examination of the articles and information on Dr. Plechner’s web site reveals that he invented the entire theory and decided he was right based entirely on clinical experience and anecdotes. He has neither the inclination nor the training to conduct controlled scientific research, so his claims are purely faith based. He quotes numbers and percentages, but there is no evidence that these are based on anything more than his own imagination.

It is often pointed out, quite rightly, that science doesn’t know everything, and our understanding of phenomena as complex as living organisms is likely to always be incomplete. However, the incompleteness of knowledge is not the same thing as total ignorance, nor does it mean that absolutely anything can be true. We don’t entirely understand how gravity works at the subatomic level, but that doesn’t mean we can simply imagine ourselves into a real ability to fly if we leap off a tall building.

Endocrinology, the study of glands and hormones, is an enormous field with huge amounts of highly detailed knowledge based on centuries of scientific study. While we don’t know everything, Dr. Plechner’s theory is fundamentally inconsistent with what we do know and so is highly unlikely to be true. Perhaps through pure imagination, study, and uncontrolled personal experience, one man has discovered a fundamental principle of endocrinology that will overturn decades, even centuries of established science. Or, perhaps he is mistaken. Which seems the more likely?

Beyond the fundamental implausibility of his theory and the complete absence of any pre-clinical or clinical trial research to support it, Dr. Plechner’s claims raise many of the red flags of quackery.

  1. The Galileo Complex: As already pointed out, his characterization of himself as a misunderstood visionary ahead of his time qualifies as a manifestation of the Galileo Complex.
  2. The David and Goliath Myth, and the Dan Brown Gambit: Dr. Plechner appears to believe that the medical profession is deliberately resisting his ideas out of selfish and venal motives:

How would you feel if you found out that they’ve discovered a cure for cancer but they’re not going to let anyone know about it? I’m sure you’re all responding to this question by attacking it. “Why would they do that?” “That makes no sense!” “What about the money they could make?”

I could answer all of your objections by stating a single fact. The profits that a cancer cure would accrue wouldn’t even come close to the profits made by all of the cancer treatment drugs and the associated services involved in treating cancer. Sad to say, the treatment of cancer has proven itself to be, a tremendously successful revenue builder. Why wouldn’t you keep a possible cure under wraps?

But of course, this is purely a hypothetical question. We couldn’t possibly believe that our medical institutions could be callously driven by the pursuit of profit. Why, they’re as ethical as our great financial institutions are and look at how successful they’ve been.

The frightening fact is that a cancer cure could prove to be financially disastrous to the pharmaceutical and all of the other dependent medical industries.

The One True Cause of Disease: He believes his insight explains many apparently unrelated conditions with a single, simple answer that all other doctors and scientists have somehow overlooked.

Remember, many healthcare professionals will treat the EFFECTS of the illness or disease, but not the ROOT CAUSE cause of it.

It is no longer enough to say that my Veterinarian or Health Care Professional did the best that they could. There is another way. You as a pet owner or as a patient need to DECIDE FOR YOURSELF if you or your pet want to be just another statistic.

PLECHNER’S SYNDROME ADDRESSES AND TREATS THE ROOT CAUSES OF CATASTROPHIC ILLNESSES AND NOT JUST THE MEDICAL EFFECTS. It has the potential to help millions of animal or human patients to realize their dreams of better health and greater longevity.

Other Red Flags from Dr. Walt’s List:
Is the product or practice promoted as a “Major Breakthrough,” “Revolutionary,” “Magic,” or “Miraculous”?

Is only anecdotal or testimonial evidence used to support claims of effectiveness?

Is the treatment said to be effective for a wide variety of unrelated physiological problems?

Is the product a quick and easy fix for a complicated and frustrating condition?

Is the treatment said to be effective for a wide variety of unrelated physiological problems?

Is the product a quick and easy fix for a complicated and frustrating condition?

Who Is This Guy?

While I don’t believe personal details about someone are key to evaluating the legitimacy of their scientific claims, they can be informative, particularly after the claims have clearly failed the tests of plausibility and scientific evidence and contain so many red flags of nonsense. Dr. Plechner provides a brief biography on his web site. In it, he discusses a number of dramatic experiences with the medical profession which might be expected to generate some suspicion of mainstream medicine:

1. One afternoon, when I was just seven years old, I was playing in the alley behind our house when a car came speeding up the alley and then ran over my four-year-old sister. The next door neighbors were both physicians and were home at the time. They rushed out and wrapped up my little sister in a blanket and headed straight to the nearest hospital. The interns and residents at the hospital were in a meeting at the time and were, “too busy” to attend to her massive head trauma. By the time we reached the next hospital, she had died .What a sad example for a seven-year-old child to suddenly realize that taking the, “Hippocratic Oath” must mean that you are a, HIPPOCRITE. Can you imagine what must have gone through my child’s mind seeing a hospital who did not care if a little girl died or not? 

2. One afternoon, when I was eleven-years-old, my Dad had gone to the hospital for an injection of a bronchiole dialator for his asthma called, “Aminophyline”. He suffered from a horrible allergic reaction and died within a few minutes.

3. After five years of hard work I then applied to medical school. I had hoped that just maybe I could help stop those unnecessary tragedies that befell my Dad and little sister.

At the end of my first year in medical school, I developed a horrible upset gut. The Dean of Men attributed my problem to, “freshman nerves”. After losing forty pounds, and a lot of my hair, and after being given two weeks of Paragoric, I looked at myself in the mirror and said, “self, you are going to die”. I went to see the Dean of Men the next morning, and I was so dehydrated that I spoke with a, “clicking sound”. He said to me that I could go into Public Health because it would be much less stressful…I looked like I had just come from a Concentration Camp.

I went to see my physician who with serum titers and my clinical symptoms diagnosed me with typhoid fever. My physician was livid that this, “Third World” disease could have been missed in a “high powered medical school”?

He also describes how he came to “discover” Plechner’s Syndrome. His mother was treated surgically for breast cancer, including removal of her adrenal glands and ovaries. She was on steroid replacement therapy, and Dr. Plechner’s independent reading convinced him she needed thyroid hormone supplementation. He convinced her doctor to provide this and took her subsequent good health as proof of his theories.

Is It Safe?

Since there is no research data whatsoever concerning the diagnosis and treatment of Plechner’s Syndrome, it is impossible to directly evaluate the risks of this approach. However, the glucocorticoids and thyroid hormone supplements Dr. Plechner recommend have well-recognized and potential serious side effects. While he claims that such side-effects will not occur at the doses and with the particular combinations of drugs he recommends, it must be remembered that the physiological arguments for why this is are not consistent with what the rest of the scientific community believes is the way the endocrine system works, and there is no controlled scientific evidence to show the disease he is treating even exists or that the treatment is safe or effective.

Using real drugs to treat a quite likely imaginary disorder is not a sensible way to care for our pets and our patients. While these drugs often make pets look or feel better in the short term, regardless of whether the imagined “imbalance” exists, this comes at the price of both risk from the drugs themselves and the risk of ignoring, masking, or simply overlooking  other real, and possibly treatable, disorders.

Bottom Line

Plechner’s Syndrome is an implausible hypothesis that conflicts with well-established scientific understanding of endocrinology. There is absolutely no supporting scientific data showing this theoretical disorder exists or that the proposed treatment is effective. Dr. Plechner is content with anecdotes, testimonials, and his own belief as sufficient evidence for his claims and has no intention of testing them through controlled scientific investigation. Most veterinary scientists, who generally prefer research data to storytelling, do not accept his claims.

Dr. Plechner, of course, feels this is due mostly to the veterinary profession’s fear that if his miracle cure is real it will lead to fewer sick patients and less income for veterinarians. This ridiculous and offensive suggestion is just one of many warning signs that he is promoting nonsense.

Dr. Plechner undoubtedly believes, genuinely and fervently, that he has “discovered” an important cause of disease that the rest of the scientific and medical professions have overlooked or suppressed, and he has convinced some clients and even other veterinarians of his claim. However, in the absence of any legitimate or compelling scientific evidence, despite apparently miraculous results, his treatment has not been accepted by the rest of the veterinary profession.

Just as there is no scientific evidence that Plechner’s Syndrome exists or that the proposed treatment for it works, there is no evidence to allow us to judge the safety of the approach. Using real drugs to treat a quite likely imaginary disorder is not a sensible way to care for our pets and our patients.

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204 Responses to Plechner Syndrome and the Art of Making Stuff Up

  1. Shannon Rothschild says:

    Is there any research into Dr. Plechner’s protocol or supposed outcome that you know of? Any articles from esteemed veterinarians that address his protocol and supposed outcomes (either dissenting or supporting opinions)? I am interested as my husband is all in after chatting with this doctor, but I am more skeptical and lean towards treatments that have been proven in validated studies.

  2. skeptvet says:

    That’s the problem. His theories are inconsistent with established understanding of how these diseases work. He hasn’t done any research to test his practices, and there is not reason for anyone else to do so if the ideas don’t make sense and he hasn’t provided any evidence besides anecdotes to show his claims are true. That burden should be on him as the person making those claims. Frankly, it would be hard to argue that it is ethical to subject patients to a treatment that makes no sense if the preliminary pre-clinical work has not been done showing it might be safe and effective. And since the drugs he uses can absolutely cause harm, and I am aware of cases where patients have been injured by the practice, it is even harder to recommend we spend time and scarce resources trying his stuff out on study subjects. If he really feels he’s on to something, he should be the one to prove he’s right and everyone else is wrong, and he’s made no effort to do so.

  3. Lawren Dowling-Sprague, M.Ed., R.D. says:

    I have been a health professional for over 34 years and know the importance of well controlled clinical trials. However, I am going to contact Dr Plechner to see if my recently blind dachshund would be a candidate. I was told by my veterinarian that there was no cure for SARDS and she could live a happy life as a blind dog. Really? A dog that is depressed, no longer plays and bumps into walls. That sounds real happy. Yes I agree do no harm, but also your clients with blind dogs due to SARDS should have some hope of a treatment. Why don’t you skeptical veterinarians (especially at schools of veterinarian medicine) collaborate with the pharmaceutical
    companies and conduct some trials?

  4. skeptvet says:

    Clinical trials are conducted all the time, at veterinary schools and elsewhere. There has been extensive research to understand SARDS and develop a treatment. The fact that this research hasn’t resulted in an effective therapy yet doesn’t mean no one is trying, and it certainly doesn’t mean that making up something that makes no physiologic sense is the best thing we can do for our pets. It is not the responsibility of the veterinary profession to design, conduct, and pay for clinical trials for every crazy idea some individual vet comes up with. It is Dr. Plechner’s responsibility to prove that the dramatic claims he makes are true, and to show that his therapies aren’t harming pets. I personally know of animals severely injured by his treatments, so “do no harm” does not apply in this case.

    It is awful to have a pet who is blind. It is worse to take advantage of people whose pets are in this situation by inventing a dangerous and implausible treatment and selling it without any evidence that it works or is worth the risk. I wish you well, but I still believe Dr. Plechner is taking advantage of your situation and offering hope that is almost certainly false, and that it is his job, not mine, to prove his claims.

  5. Tom Russell says:

    Understand the lack of referred journal publication(s) on Dr. Plechner’s part…but do you believe he made up the results in his on line article “Successful Return of Vision in Canine Sards Patients” (posted November 11 2015) for all those patients????…Tom

  6. skeptvet says:

    The “made up” part is his theory, which makes no physiologic sense. The anecdotes about successful treatments are just that, anecdotes, and there are many reasons why those often don’t mean what people think they mean That is the reason the scientific method exists and works so well. Here are several detailed articles explaining why such case report stories are not good evidence that the treatment actually works.

    Why We’re Often Wrong
    Testimonials Lie
    The Role of Anecdotes in Science-Based Medicine
    Why We Need Science: “I saw it with my own eyes” Is Not Enough

    Don’t Believe your Eyes (or Your Brain)
    Medical Miracles: Should We Believe?

  7. RS says:

    Hello Lois,

    I was wondering if there were any positive results with the treatments. I know it’s been almost a year since you posted this.

  8. skeptvet says:

    As indicated in the comments, there has been no published research on this approach. It would be difficult to ethically justify clinical trials until the basic idea has been validated, but since Dr. Plechner is using this approach despite this, it would be possible to collect data in a controlled way to help investigate the treatment. He has apparently either chosen not to do this or elected to keep the information he collects secret. All we have are anecdotes and testimonials, and for all the reasons I’ve cited many times in these comments, these are not useful evidence.

  9. Patricia Westling says:

    My dog has been very ill since November and was diagnosed with SARDS a month ago. began Dr Plechner’s protocol three weeks ago and is not only feeling 75% better but started regaining his vision last week. More comes back each day, his far vision beginning first. I wholeheartedly recommend this treatment and am horrified that any vet would refuse to do it when there is no other option for recovery.

  10. skeptvet says:

    Your horror reflects the fact that you haven’t seen the animals Dr. Plechner’s protocol has injured. Steroids are not benign, and they can and do cause significant suffering when misused. “No other option” is not a reason to do something that makes no sense and can cause serious injury. You are free to experiment with such things for your own pet, but expecting vets who understand the risks and the reasons why anecdotes like yours don’t constitute evidence that this approach actually works to grasp at such straws for their patients is misguided.

  11. Sophie says:

    I am a retired health professional. My 9year old ( miracle!) Gordon setter was first diagnosed inflammatory (respiratory disease) less than one year of age along with her first benign tumour and general allergic tendencies. Over the years a further 3 benign tumours, then hemangiosarcoma and most recently pulmonary adeno carcinoma. Also suffers from inflammatory bowel and chronic rhinitis.in my experience conventional medicine is only capable of treating what stares it in the face. On more than one occasion I have been told by specialists “but she was not referred for that condition” no one has ever treated my girl as a whole being, just a condition. That in itself speaks volumes! It is no coincidence that she hags suffered so many problems. When she was two years old a friend told me about Plechner. His theories made good sense and surely it is well recognised now that there are strong links between the immune system and endocrine systems. She had basal levels for cortisol and thyroxine checked at a young age at my request. The results were surprising in that her cortisol was borderline low and thyroxine borderline high. The sample was taken first thing in morning and she was under stress at vet visit. As there was no lab in the uk that measures oestrogen and immunoglobulins with the cortisol and thyroxine I tried to find a way of sending sample to Plechner but was unable to arrange this. I believe he is onto something and do not understand why mainstream vet medicine has not investigated his theories further. If you have nothing else that is better to offer you are in no position to criticise. Do you care how many problems an animal suffers from? Can you honestly say it just coincidence?

  12. skeptvet says:

    Yes, I can say that his theories don’t make good sense and that anecdotes don’t prove them true. The reason you have trouble finding labs that measure what Plechner is interested in is because he is making stuff up and no one who understands how the endocrine system works takes his ideas seriously. If he really is right, it would be easy to prove it using published evidence, but he refuses to do so. True science-based medicine does have plenty to offer, but the fact that not every condition can be cured doesn’t mean grasping in desperation at straws is a good idea. What Plechner does is dangerous, and the fact that he can make people believe in it doesn’t change that.

    Why We’re Often Wrong
    Testimonials Lie
    The Role of Anecdotes in Science-Based Medicine
    Why We Need Science: “I saw it with my own eyes” Is Not Enough
    Don’t Believe your Eyes (or Your Brain)

  13. Asha Greyjoy says:

    The unfortunate circumstance of a SARDs diagnosis for my dog brought hours of internet research. I have seen many websites and reviews with positive results of Dr. Plechner. I have yet to see one negative until this blog. I am still in the early stages of diagnosis, and I am certainly not going to jump to any conclusions, but the blogger does talk of numerous pets who were treated and had an negative outcome. If this is true, why do I not see one comment of a harmed pet owner?

    I appreciate the blogger bring attention to the lack of research and trials of this condition. I myself have a unique blood condition that is so rare no clinics have pursued research or study. Luckily my doctor has a conservative approach and with some trail and error I’m doing fine. I guess my own personal experience would have me believe that there must be a huge cost to do research on SARDs, etc.

    My dog is very young compared to the usual average SARDs patient, so I hoped to find anything that might not have her suffering for the next ten plus years (if we are lucky to have her that long).

    I am sure any treatment carries risk, but I do not see any details of what a negative outcome might be? I would greatly appreciate some discussion on the side effects or bad outcome from the doctor’s treatment.

    Thank you in advance.

  14. skeptvet says:

    I have knowledge of several patients harmed by the large doses of steroids that Dr. Plechner recommends, and this is not surprising since the risks of these medications at these doses are well-established. These are commonly used drugs with well-researched side effect profiles, and you can easily look at the protocol Dr. Plechner recommends and the literature for the effects of steroids and see the risks.

    There are several reasons you see mostly positive testimonials. One is simply that people who feel they have witnessed a success share that experience, or Dr. Plechner shares cases he believes he has helped. People who do not feel the treatment has worked move on and don’t spend a lot of time telling everybody about the miracle that didn’t happen. That’s just human psychology. Here is a research study examining online testimonials for healthcare products and showing how they are biased against negative reviews:

    Testimonials Lie

    The second reason is that veterinarians generally avoid criticizing other veterinarians, even when they are doing something clearly wrong. It is partly a feature of veterinary culture, but also a desire to avoid controversy. My original article about Dr. Plechner drew a large quantity of hate mail, including some really angry and aggressive threats. Most vets aren’t willing to expose themselves to that just to warn pet owners about someone like Dr. Plechner.

    If you want to hear honest, informed opinions about his protocol, find a board-certified veterinary eye specialist or internal medicine specialist and ask them. They will more likely tell you the truth in person even if they don’t want to go public with their thoughts.

  15. Sophie says:

    I reply not only to your latter comments but also your response to my comment of 3rd March.
    Firstly I think you must agree that the endocrine system is not fully understood. It is also fact that in the uk ( and I imagine the USA as well) that research clearly demonstrated in clinical trials/ studies that critically ill patients entering intensive care had a much higher survival rate if hey were given steroids on admission. Prognosis was not so good for those that were not given steroids on admission. It is common practice now to routinely give high dose steroids to critically ill patients because the chance of favourable outcome is improved. My point being that steroids can and do save lives. Yes they have a long list of Potential side effects but disease left untreated is not itself benign!

    With regard to my original posting you did address the issues raised so no surprises there then. Your response was only typical of mainstream medicine. You only treat what stares ou in the face. You don’t treat the cause. I repeat it is no coincidence that my girl developed two different types of cancer at the same time and has a 9year history of numerous inflammatory conditions which mainstream medicine has failed to address.
    I strongly believe having studied plechners theories and read both editions of his book( the first published in 1966) that this man is on to something and it is about time that people like yourself start to listen. Unless you have something better to offer?

  16. skeptvet says:

    You are simply mistaken, on several bases.

    First of all, high-dose steroids are clearly NOT recommended across the board in critically ill patients. There is some evidence that low-dose hydrocortisone may improve survival in patients with septic shock, however results of various studies and analyses are conflicting, and additional research is being done to sort out which patients might benefit and which will not. This kind of sloppy and completely un-nuanced view of scientific research characterizes your approach and Dr. Plechner’s, where you take a little information you don’t fully understand and twist it to support your beliefs. There is, indeed, much that is not understand about endocrinology, but that is not equivalent to saying we are free to make up whatever we want about it.

    The second problem is that the potential benefit of low-dose steroids for humans with septic shock is not evidence for the use of different drugs at different doses in a different species, which is what Dr. Plechner is advocating. Treating SARDS in dogs and every other disease he can think of in dogs and cats with high doses of methylprednisolone and prednisone is an entirely different subject. The evidence needs to be pertinent to the problem and the patient population if it is to matter. Some uses of steroids are definitely beneficial. Others, like the once common use of high doses for spinal cord injury, have turned out to do more harm than good. The details matter, and you and Dr. Plechner have the details wrong.

  17. Sophie says:

    So do you have anything else to offer skept vet for a dog who develops two different cancers at the same time, one aggressive and one slow growing I imagine your answer will be no. This dog has a nine year history of inflammatory conditions. Plechner advocates 5mg prednisolone to address hormone imbalance. Hardly a high dose! I think you must also acknowledge the strong links between endocrine and immunology. So maybe Plechner is right.

  18. skeptvet says:

    What I might offer would depend on the type of cancer, the stage, and all of the individual factors for that particular patient. There in no one-size-fits-all approach to medicine that works, which is part of why Dr. Plechner’s approach makes little sense. As for the effect of steroids on the immune system, this is does dependent. At 0.5mg/kg-0.1mg/kg of prednisone, there is an anti-inflammatory effect in the short term and a large number of potentially deleterious long-term effects. At >1mg/kg of prednisone per day, steroids actually suppress the immune system, which makes them useful for treating autoimmune diseases, though often with significant side-effects, but which make the risks of infectious disease, parasites, and possibly cancers higher. Part of the problem with Dr. Plechner’s approach is that he claims many diseases to be autoimmune in nature when this often hasn’t been demonstrated.

    Unless your dog is very small, 5mg prednisolone per day isn’t going to have significant effects in the short term, unless the dog has hypoadrenocorticism, and it may or may not have harmful effects in the long-term. It is not going to “address hormone imbalance” in any dog without hypoadrenocorticism. That is part of Dr. Plechner’s ideas that he has made up and never demonstrated to be true.

  19. DJB says:

    I would like to second Skeptvets comments to Sophies response. Firstly it is entirely possible for a dog to have developed two different tumours coincidentally, be it at differing times or at the same time. Indeed there are tumour forms that occur as a single entity made up of two different tumour cell types.
    Secondly chronic inflammatory disease is a well established precursor to tumour formation – Chronic solar inflammation (sunburn) leading to malignant melanoma being the classic. Before good denture fixation was developed, gum inflammation from poorly fitting dentures often lead to oral squamous cell carcinoma through chronic inflammation of the gum. There are many other well described, well published examples.

    Inflammatory disease may have several causations including exogenous and endogenous irritants, and hereditary predisposition. In fact we know that dogs with genuine hypoadrenocortism (pathological reduction in steroid) lack the ability to mount a good inflammatory response (the absence of a “stress leukogram’ in the presence of ill health is a secondary diagnostic criteria for the disease). Therefore how do you attribute a lack of cortisol, the foundation of Plechners Syndrome, to your Setters inflammatory disease?
    Thirdly I’m sorry your Gordon Setter has suffered with such a lifetime of disease, but have you ever laid the causation blame at the breeders door? In a survey of 293 Gordon setters carried out by the Kennel Club the most common cause of death was cancer at 29% beating “old age” which came in at 16.6%!. Interestingly endocrine disease and immunological disease as causes of death where both 0.6%.

    Genetic / hereditary predisposition to disease, especially cancer /tumour forms is well established in the human and veterinary literature. Inbreeding increases the likelihood of many of these developing. This is especially true in the veterinary world where inbreeding to gain breed uniformity and specific desired traits has been grossly abused. It is well established that mutations in the tumour suppressor genes is a significant cause of tumour formation, and that inbreeding is a major factor in genetic mutation rates.

    Look at that. I’ve managed to provide causation for your dogs ill health without the requirement to reach for hypotheses I have no evidence for. I mean that with sincerity.

    (NB. Steroids and thyroid hormones are also known to give improvements in an animals or persons demeanour even in the absence of disease states as the positive effects on the system often occur faster than the detrimental affects which occur slower through accumulation)

    I would also like to point out i am a full time small animal Veterinary Surgeon.

  20. Dr. Plechner (aka Dr. Steriod) KILLED MY DOG. He overdosed him over the course of a month with ridiculous amounts of steriods and thyroid meds. With each subsequent blood test his liver levels and cortisol levels were escalating to the point the were off the charts. My parents are the ones who drank the Plechner cool-aid and insisted on bringing our dog back there. He reassured us “it temporarily gets worse before turning around.” BS! By the time my dog had completely stopped eating and was vomiting anything we tried to give it (including water) it was too far gone to save. We finally brought him to a normal vet who was flabergasted when he read the records of what was done to our poor dog. The sad part is there are a lot of beneficial holistic remedies out there and some of which he advocates. The disconnect comes from his belief in natural healing in addition to his believe steriod is the cure for everything!
    I’m lodging a formal complaint with the vet board and hope I can get other people who’s dogs he’s killed or irreparably harmed to join me.

  21. v.t. says:

    Jeanine, such a tragic tale, I’m so very sorry for what your baby and you endured.

    I’m also very glad to hear that someone finally is lodging a complaint… while a tedious endeavor, I’m hoping your complaint will be taken seriously – here’s wishing you all the luck in the world.

  22. Jodi says:

    Dr. Grozdanic, university of iowa, seems to be doing experimental treatment. While the approach/treatment is different he also appears to view the likely cause of blindness to be autoimmune related. So maybe Dr. Plechner isnt as far off afterall. At least with cause. Not saying the treatment fits but autoimmune is not at all well understood in humans cant imagine itis further along in animals.

  23. skeptvet says:

    Sure, the hypothesis that SARDS is an autoimmune disease is plausible. However, the response to this thought, which is assuming it is true, blaming everything from “toxins” to electromagnetic fields, and then putting animals on dangerously high doses of steroids as well as “magic clay” without any proof is irresponsible. Anyone can take a guess at the cause of a mysterious disease, and autoimmune causes are always a reasonable guess. But simply having a guess isn’t the same as formulating and then testing a scientific hypothesis, and it is a lot riskier and more likely to lead to harm.

  24. Jim Coblentz says:

    Jeanine Curcione, I am very sorry for what happened to you and your dog. All I can tell you is that we have followed Dr Plechner’s protocols with our Malamute and have only great response. The only thing that was an issue once,was when on Medrol he was always hungry and a bit moody. Not aggressive more grumpy less tolerant. Lessening the dose and all is well. There isn’t much in the way of studies on Acupuncture or empirical evidence to show that it works but I can assure you that it certainly has for both my wife and myself. Not proven doesn’t mean it’s not true. Sorry skeptvet but before you say it’s all made up do some research,Dr. Plechner is only trying to get people to look at things differently and he has had a lot of success where others have failed. My dog included. I think those who dismiss him might be put off more by his fervor more than anything else.

  25. skeptvet says:

    Sorry, but I’ve done the “research,” and the bottom line is there is nothing there but Plechner’s theories, which make little sense, and anecdotes like yours. He’s injuring patients with a fake cure using real, and dangerous, medicines, and it’s unethical. All the personal faith and anecdotes in the world don’t add up to real evidence.

  26. kat says:

    Hi,

    I am looking for the best treatment options if there are any. Has anyone tried or heard about Ocu-Glo Rx?

  27. skeptvet says:

    There are two articles on the subject:

    Here

    And an update here.

  28. Mike says:

    How much does the ENDOCRINE-IMMUNE BLOOD PANEL ANIMAL TEST cost and how is it different from other related tests?

  29. skeptvet says:

    I have no idea what Dr. Plechner charges. Other vets generally do not run this panel because, as I have explained, there is reason to believe the results are meaningless.

  30. pambogillis says:

    It’s true that accumulated anecdotes do not constitute evidence such as the evidence obtained from double-blind controlled studies. It’s also true that “absence of evidence” of an effect does not constitute “evidence of absence” of an effect. The jury is out until the burden of proof is met, but in the meantime the anecdotes that dogs diagnosed with SARDS have dramatically regained their sight after following the treatment regimen recommended by Dr. Plechner continue to accumulate, while I’m aware of only one anecdote so far of a dog who regained his sight apparently spontaneously with no treatment after a SARDS diagnosis.

  31. skeptvet says:

    Your argument is reasonable, but I think it’s ultimately off the mark in a couple of ways.

    I agree that it is impossible to say with a high degree of confidence that Plechner’s theories and practices are wrong in the absence of definitive evidence. It is possible to say that they are unlikely to be true based on their inconsistency with well-established knowledge about basic endocrinology, however. The absence of perfect evidence doesn’t mean that everything must be regarded as equally possible. I cannot prove that all disease is not caused by evil spirits which one can cast out only by playing Justin Beiber to sick animals, but to claim this is true and employ this practice solely on the basis of there being no clear evidence against it is irrational and unwise.

    Likewise, Plechner cannot properly claim that his theories are true and his practices work and that the rest of the veterinary profession is mistaken without producing appropriate evidence to support these claims. Yet he does exactly this and injures patients with inappropriate use of drugs in the process. Anecdotes do not justify this practice, nor does the absence of definitive clinical trial evidence showing he’s wrong.

    Scientific medicine doesn’t work by presuming anything is possible and any treatment is fair game until clearly proven useless or harmful because this would be a dangerous and unproductive approach. The burden of proof is on the claimant, and it must be met BEFORE the practice is used outside of controlled, regulated experimental conditions because unless this is done patients are far more likely to be harmed than helped by new, untested practices.

    Anecdotes are such thoroughly unreliable forms of evidence, which validate everything from bloodletting to prayer to ritual sacrifice as readily as they validate ideas like Dr. Plechner’s, that they don’t justify dispensing with the usual guidelines for testing treatments and protecting patients. So “the jury is out” may be true to some extent, but it is not synonymous with “We can do anything we like based only on anecdotes until someone else proves us wrong.”

  32. Mel says:

    Dr. Plechner’s treatment plan has brought my dog from blindness to vision again. For those of you reading this that are wondering if you should believe it or not, I can emphatically tell you that my dog can now see after 3 weeks of complete vision loss. Dr. Plechner’s treatment worked for my dog and I am utterly grateful for him. If you are unwilling to accept your vet’s diagnosis of a lifelong blind dog, please reconsider Dr. Plechner’s advice.

  33. RobSF says:

    Mel, thank you for sharing your experience, our dog has just been diagnosed with SARDS and we are seriously considering Dr. Pleshner’s protocol. I appreciate all the comments and different views because at the end of the day as a pet owner I want to make sure that I make an informed decision and listen to all the sides. I can also understand the skepticism expressed by Skeptvet when it comes to the lack of published material on Pleshner’s work. However, one could also argue that MANY published studies have been financed by the drug companies themselves and the doctors writing them are receiving compensation from these companies via grants, etc. So just because something is published doesnt mean is objective. How many times there have been studies and research about drugs calling then safe but are later pulled from the market because they cause birth defects etc? Or better how many remember the time when there was no scientific evidence linking smoking to cancer or nicotine with addiction….What would Skeptvet had said to those dying of cancer blaming the tobaco industry ” I am sorry but you are delusional and making stories because there is no scientific proof or studies linking smoking to cancer?…..I am not saying that all published papers are biased, what I am saying is that if the absolute truth was a requirement to being published then there would be way less published studies out there. By the same token something that has not been published doesnt mean that is not true. We also seem to forget that “science” can change in lieu of better ways to measure results and thank God for that otherwise we would still be under the belief that the earth was flat…..

    I have spoken with a couple of pet owners that have seen Dr. Pleshner and they all seem very grateful and speak very highly of him. These are people from opposite sides of the USA who have taken their time to share their stories and speak with me. So there are cases and real people with real success cases. Also, if you search on Youtube for Dr. Pleshner and Sards and you will find videos and testimonials. I am pretty sure that Skeptvet will write a long response to discredit all of these people and their stories just because they have not been published or accepted by others in the medical community… Well thank God for the internet and the democratization of information because it allows real people to share real stories making them accesible to everyone everywhere. I do not know Pleshner so I have nothing to gain or loose if you believe he is for real or not. I am just a pet owner with a dog that has been diagnosed with SARDS and I am gathering information to make informed decisions. I have consulted with vets, read papers saying that there is no cure, but I have also spoken with other pet owners who have shared their stories for no reason other than to help someone who loves his pet as much as they do. For my these testimonials are powerful evidence that there is hope and something is happening. If at the end it doesnt work I feel that I did all I could and exhausted all the possibilities. As per SkeptVet I thank you because you are providing another channel where people can share their concerns, experiences, and their opinions. I do however encourage you to find those success cases and take the time to call them and listen to their stories, because by negating that there are specific cases you are misrepresenting the truth. It would be more honorable to say that you have not taken the time to find and contact patients with success stories than to say that they are fictional. I wish you all good luck in this sad and frustrating journey, and I also wish that you have the courage to make decisions out of conviction and not fear and dont allow yourselves to be manipulated by either side!

  34. skeptvet says:

    There’s really nothing I can say. It’s not about discrediting people or disbelieving them It’s simply a fact that anecdotes prove nothing. Thousands of years of relying on personal stories, and half our children died before adulthood, most women died in childbirth, and average life expectancy was less than 40. Thousands of years. And in only a couple centuries, we have given longer and healthier lives to most of the world’s population by relying on science instead of stories. Science isn’t perfect or without bias or error. It’s just better than the alternative, anecdotes and testimonials. You seem to forget that the belief the Earth is flat wasn’t a scientific idea that later proved wrong; it was a belief based on personal experience that science showed to be false. The fact that tobacco smoking caused cancer wasn’t discovered by anecdotes and stories, but by scientific research. But if the evidence of history doesn’t convince you that science works better than personal observation, nothing will.

    I listen to the stories the same as you. Not only the stories of supposed successes that most people want to tell others, but the stories of failures that they don’t share. I’ve had heartbreaking letters from pet owners whose companions have been seriously harmed by Dr. Plechner’s irrational approach. I’ve had angry letters from vets who have had to treat such patients. Yet these people are afraid to tell their stories because they will be attacked, as I have been, by those who believe in Dr. Plechner’s claims. I wonder if you would you change your mind if you heard those stories?

    It’s not that I don’t listen, it’s that I understand why stories, for all their emotional power, don’t lead us to the truth the way science can. Relying on stories will take us backwards, not forwards. Stories are what keep people using homeopathy, despite all the evidence that it is worthless. Stories are why people fear to vaccinate their children, and diseases we once conquered are coming back to sicken and kill them. They are as likely to be false as true, yet we choose to believe those that tell us what we want to hear and ignore the others. That is a major reason why they cannot be trusted.

    I wish you and your pet the best of luck, and I hope that you too won’t let yourself be manipulated by stories and by what you want to be true.

  35. RobSF says:

    Thank you for your wishes and we are fully documenting the experience on video and will post the results either way.

    I dont think that you got my examples about things that at one point were believed to be true by many respected scholars of the time but were later proved wrong. You see I am a firm believer that science has made our lives better as you pointed out. However, there is a big difference between science and scientists, and the latter can make mistakes, be manipulated by economic interests and be so close minded to what they know that such closed mindness becomes their worst ememy. Many of todays advances in technology were made by people who dared to go beyond what had been documented or proven by the so called scientific comunity. As a matter of fact if these mavericks would have been intimidated by the “establisment” we would not have many of the inventions that we have today because at the time our understanding of things was limited to what existed. Imagine speking to scientists and scholars in the 18th century about the internet and hosting things in something called the cloud!!! They would have called you crazy and we would still be using pigeons to send messages. So yes science is great but dont cofuse science with scientists. On your response to my other post you mention having received many letters by angry owners who have lost their dogs by following Dr. Pleshner’s protocol and yet no postings are made by these owners to back up your claim. I am very sorry for their losses but just like the success stories that you so much criticize, these stories could be anecdotes. At the end of the day you have no proof either way of anything and thus are in no position to criticize and make anecdotal allegations to Pleshner’s treament. However, it is evident that there is something personal against Dr. Pleshner by the amount of content here to discredit and attack not only his theories but him as a person. At the end of the day you dont hold the truth and have not conducted experiments that disprove Pleshner claims or have examined the pets that have been cured. You only offer criticism and your opinion, so you are exactly the same that you criticize….you just happen to be at the opposite side of the spectrum. There are several pet owners who are willing to share their stories of success thanks to Plesner’s protocol, you on the other hand have “many secret” letters from pet owners sharing horror stories….

  36. skeptvet says:

    Of course scientists are imperfect as individuals. No more and no less imperfect than anyone else. However, your view of how science works to compensate for these imperfections is incorrect. The overwhelming majority of advances are not made by “mavericks” who ignore established facts and go off on their own. Occasionally these folks prove correct. Much more often, then prove wrong and we simply forget who they were or what they believed. A careful study of the history of medicine shows that most advances are incremental and built on the foundation of existing knowledge. Even great new advances that are unexpected, such as Einstein’s theories, don’t necessarily overturn established understanding but simply augment it.

    And when a new idea that is initially scoffed at turns out to be true, it is quickly embraced once the data is generated to prove it. The individuals who figures out duodenal ulcers were often causes by Helicobacter instead of stress went from ridicule to a Nobel prize in their own lifetimes. Plechner could do the same if he followed the process of proving his theories, but he chooses instead to inflect them on patients for money without this evidence, which is what I am criticizing.

    I have never said his theory is wrong, only that it is unlikely because it conflicts with established knowledge and most theories that do this ultimately fail. What I am most critical of is his treating patients with dangerous drugs based on an implausible theory with no real evidence. This is unethical and endangers patients unnecessarily, and it is all part of his ego (or his interest in profit) since he could submit his ideas to the test of good science if he chose to do so.

    As for anecdotes, you have missed my point entirely. Plechner and so many others who comment here claim their positive anecdotes prove that he’s right. I have simply pointed out that 1) they do not and 2) they seem willing to be convinced by positive anecdotes but willing to ignore negative ones. There is, in fact, controlled research evdince showing that online testimonials are misleading and tend to create the appearance of positive effects even for treatments known not to work (I have cited this hear many times). So I am not arguing his treatment doesn’t work based on anecdote (which would make me guilty of doing the same thing as those I criticize). I am arguing that we don’t know if his implausible theory is true or not but that he is wrong to claim it is based on anecdote.

    Ultimately, you wish to believe what you wish to believe, and you will do so regardless of the evidence. That is your privilege, but you are mistaken if you think hyou are somehow doing the right thing and I am somehow being unfair in criticizing the blatant abuse of desperate people that Dr. Plechner engages in.

  37. MargaritaDog says:

    It was amazing how vilified the Doctor was who treated stomach ulcers with antibiotics. His theory was that the ulcers were caused by bacteria. He was curing patients right and left, but, the medical community attacked him for being a quack doctor for about a decade. In the meantime, many people died from stomach ulcers that could be easily cured. It took a long time for the medical community even to do the medical trials. This is currently happening with fecal transplants that are savings hundreds of lives of people with chronic diarreah as we speak. After many years of discussion and success stories, the medical community is finally doing the trials. A normal “successful” medical trial has a success rate of 5%. The very first trial on fecal transplants had a 94% success rate. So, please do not wait for the medical community which teaches and promotes only protocols that have been “proven”. There are a lot of successful cancer protocols being used by cancer specialist that they have proven works, but, since the medical trials have not been done, no-one has access. Only their patients get the benefits of their lengthy study and experience. Much successful medical protocols will be out there years before formal medics recognizes it. Find them. Use them. Save yourself, and, your pets.

  38. skeptvet says:

    You miss the point. The fact is that science accepts hypotheses, no matter how controversial, once they generate the data to prove they are true. The folks who discovered the role of Helicobacter in duodenal ulcers were appropriately challenged and criticized, and then they did the work to prove their claims and ended up with a Nobel prize. All those many, many others who made similar claims that were not true failed to generate the data to prove their claims, and their claims were rightly forgotten. And there are far, far more failures than successes, so rolling the dice before the evidence is in is a poor chice.

    Plechner has done none of the work a real scientist does. He simply makes his claims and expects to be believed on his word and anecdotes alone. This is how medicine worked for thousands of years before the scientific method, and it was a consistent failure. All the successes you take for granted, from the elimination of infectious disease to the doubling of our lifespan, have all come from demanding data, not faith and testimonials. There is no difference between trusting Plechner and trusting any snake oil salesman or faith healer.

  39. Helby says:

    I am so glad I have found this blog. Last Christmas our 14 yo mixed breed dog Anna passed away. We had bought for my mother from the RSPCA and then inherited her back when my dad passed away and mum needed to go into care. We were holidaying in our caravan at our regular Christmas campground and Anna had been a little bit quieter lately, not keeping up with us on walks and being a little less excitable when people arrived but otherwise she had been well. Then she suddenly lost her appetite and began to go blind. She was quite depressed and fading quite fast. We took her to two vets – partly because of it being the Christmas season and one of the vets having limited access to pathology. Turns out she was diagnosed with probably having SARDS but nothing was fully diagnosed because over two weeks Anna just gave up and became more and more unwell despite some hefty antibiotics and iv rehydration. We said goodbye to her on the 7th January. During the time Anna was still with us I had spent some time searching the internet for answers, I had found a video by Dr Plechner about SARDS and how it possibly had a direct link to pesticides. I knew that the caravan park and surrounding parks used ‘Roundup’ an Australian brand name for a pretty strong herbicide chemical in the preseason to control the weeds and save manual labour as the caravan park is closed from mid autumn to late spring and I wondered if it had had any impact.

    A few months later we were preparing to go away in our caravan again and I saw a 2ltr bottle of pesticide spray in the boot of the caravan. I inquired why we might need to take it with us in the caravan and my husband replied that he used it at Christmas around the base of the annexe to keep the spiders out. I recalled Dr Plechner’s words and I wondered if we had been the cause of Anna’s demise. A sudden exposure to a small enclosed area that had been treated with a pesticide. I still wonder if this could have had an impact and would not be surprised if it had – we still do not know all the affects that the chemicals we use can have on everything, but my whole point of posting in this blog is that I feel a little less convinced that we are totally responsible for Anna’s illness because when I watched the clip I thought I was watching a renowned vet, an expert in his field with the respect of his fellow vets. I now know differently and while I will always have a question in my mind I can view it as a scientist and not be convinced by unproven theory.

  40. skeptvet says:

    It is natural to look for causes when bad things happen, and hard to resist the tendency to blame ourselves or someone else. Knowing the cause and who or what is to blame at least gives us the sense that we have some control and maybe can prevent these things from happening in the future. Unfortunately, the normal way we identify possible causes isn’t very reliable. And it can lead to real harm when we misidentify a cause. The mistaken worry about vaccines causing autism, and the subsequent re-emergence of preventable diseases in children is just one recent example.

    So while I agree there is a lot we don’t know about the possible role of environmental toxins and disease, there isn’t any sound reason or evidence to support Dr. Plechner’s ideas about SARDS. I’m glad that knowing this has helped you in trying not to unfairly blame yourself for what happened to Anna.

  41. Nelli says:

    Hi,
    Just wanted to thank you to your post… I am one of the desperate owners whose dog went blind in the lost couple of days and found Plechner’s and Levin’s pages and even though I already knew while reading that eg. “modern environmental” theory must be a bullsh*t, because dogs had always gone blind in the past before modern life, it was stronger that I wanted to believe there is hope. Especially, because my dog is a kind that has always been relying on her vision very strongly and a heartache to see it is now gone.
    What finally alerted me was Plechner saying that he is happy to share his protocol with anyone, but only if you write to him.. I mean if he really means to share it with anyone around the world, then he would post it on his webpage so the proof of his “treatment” could be all different vets getting the same results without the need to contact him. And this is how I started searching for criticism of his methods and got to your post – which “woke” me up. 🙂

    I am definitely a layman in medical science, so a good candidate for falling for such “miracle stories”, but now I believe that SARDS may be the same group of symptoms, but for several different diseases that science don’t know yet? And if his treatment worked for some that may be for a component in it really did address the cause and that just the pet got better sooner before the side effects of his treatment could finally cause serious damage? Anyway, I still would like to say thank you to all owners, too, who say that blindness was reversible (even if partially) in their pet, because it gives me hope that if there is a slight chance, our vet and ophthalmologist will find that.

    So thank you, Skepvet for taking the time and effort to educate. Your post was a great help, even if sad to face the reality. But that’s the way it is with false hopes, isn’t that?
    (Ah, sounds like as if I got money from you for typing all these, but obviously I didn’t. 🙂 )

  42. skeptvet says:

    I’m glad the post was useful. While I understand how hard it is to watch a beloved companion go blind, I really believe the evidence is clear that Plechner’s ideas make little sense and his casual use of powerful drugs is dangerous, so I hate to see him leading people into bad choices.

    Good luck to you and your companion!

  43. My dog did this process with Dr plechner for SARDS. His vision never returned. His liver was shot, and I am taking him in to my vet this afternoon to be put down. He has suffered and fought against the difficulties this procedure caused for three long years. He would have been better off with only SARDS BUT THE IMBALANCES THIS CAUSED MADE MY DOG MISERABLE. My suggestion love your dog even if he is blind. Plechner has visions HE IS NOT A VISIONARY. Save you dogs suffering. Don’t let this man gamble with your dog.

  44. Brad Yazell says:

    Hi Skeptvet,

    I realize my response to this blog isn’t exactly timely, however our dog seems to have SARDS. Cushings has been ruled out when we were concerned with acute weight gain, and frequent/prolonged urination – and regular blood tests haven’t revealed much. Now we have experienced acute blindness. After calling our Vet with my suspicion, he has agreed and we are taking him to be officially diagnosed (or rule it out if we are wrong). These occurrences have led me to Dr. Plechner’s website after spending some time researching possible treatment.

    I am an executive in the medical field, and completely understand the value of evidence based medicine. I am also skeptical of what Dr. Plechner has claimed, however I have read several accounts of individuals saying their SARDS pet has regained some or all of their vision after following his treatment.

    My question to you is – has their been any studies to at least disprove what he is claiming, instead of just brushing him off as a quack because he doesn’t follow the standard protocol (or lack thereof) for treatment? It seems that if his claims can be validated by results, that someone should take the ball and run with it to either prove or disprove what may be hope. It seems like this would be a better methodology than to simply discredit what he believes to be true through his experience. It also seems like exploring these options might be better than the standard response of “there isn’t a treatment for SARDS, however your blind pet will continue to live a happy life.”

  45. skeptvet says:

    The first misconception I think you have is that it is the responsibility of the rest of the profession to disprove Dr. Plechner’s idiosyncratic claims. When he invents a cause for nearly all diseases and then begins selling the cure, it’s really up to him to prove that what he’s offering is safe and effective. If medicine worked on the basis of believing every claim and trying every new treatment, no matter how unlikely, until it was disproven, we’d harm a lot more patients!

    In terms of actual evidence, Dr. Plechner has done no controlled studies and published no scientific papers. He has collected anecdotes and called them “research,” but that’s false and misleading. From the perspective of basic endocrinology, his theories don’t make sense, so for them to be true there would have to be something of a revolution in our understanding. This, again, is a reason why it is imperative to have real evidence, not one-sided testimonials from the fellow selling the treatment.

    This is a classic case of a lone individual ignoring what is known and preying on the desperation of people with sick pets to offer them what they most want, hope for a cure, without bothering to do the work of validating his ideas. That’s pretty much the definition of a quack. The fact that his answer is more comforting than the truth is sad, but not a reason to subject your pet to a therapy that can hurt them. I know of a number of pets seriously injured by his use of steroids, which is a set of anecdotes he’s not going to share on his web site. So while I understand your desire for a better outcome for your pet, I think you would be risking hurting the animal you care about by grasping at this particular straw.

    In any case, good luck to you both.

    Why Anecdotes and Testimonials Can’t Be Trusted

  46. Paul says:

    Hi
    Is your dog still experiencing positive results from the treatment?

    Thank you

  47. Teddy says:

    You have to understand that holistic veterinarians or those vets that are practicing integrative medicine face a lot of scrutiny and negativity for their unconventional practices. As a follower of holistic medicine for myself and my dog I have found this to be a more gentler and humane approach to treating illness. I am now following Dr. Plechner’s protocol for my dog who has Plechner’s disease. If you want validation on Dr. Plechner’s practices, I suggest you call an independent veterinarian that is using his protocols. I take my dog to Dr. Margo Roman in Hopkinton MA. She has had great success in using some of Dr. Plechner’s treatments. So before SKEPTVET keeps sounding off in judgement just based on what he’s initially reading, ask him if he’s ever used any of the protocols. The AVA doesn’t always support these innovative, independent holistic veterinarians who are on the cutting edge of healing. Let’s get back to basics and use food as medicine. Supplements to support the body, Fresh air and clean water to sustain our health. Healing begins within whether it be for ourselves or our pets. SKEPTVET…..take a different approach! Contact Dr. Plechner and have a discussion. Call Dr. Roman and have a discussion. Broaden your perspective and get out of your conventional medicine box!!

  48. skeptvet says:

    Yeah, it would be nice if “try it and see” was an effective strategy for deciding which treatments work and which don’t. Unfortunately, life, and medicine, is too complicated for that approach. There is a reason we’ve double our average life-expectancy since we started relying on science more than personal experience, and your approach would just take us back to the thousands of years of ineffective medicine that science has started to leave behind. No thanks.

    Why Anecdotes Can’t Be Trusted

  49. Francesca says:

    I also unfortunately had a terrible experience with Dr. Plechner’s protocol. My dog was diagnosed with adrenal cancer. She was operated and was doing fine, but I was terrified of the tumor coming back so I reached out to Plechner who immediately started her on his cortisone protocol. Within one month, we lost her. Her liver was destroyed. She was constantly monitored during the 6 months prior to commencing Plechner’s protocol and all her values were perfect. within 2 weeks of it, her values were disastrous and she ultimately died. I will never forgive myself for this. I went against everyone’s advice and my own good judgement to follow this glimmer of hope…because that’s what it’s about. I get it, and I understand everyone who is posting about wanting to try, but trust me, you could actually be doing harm to your dog. Please don’t make the same mistake I made. You’ll never forgive yourself.

  50. Shanmarie says:

    Our 9 year old American Hairless Terrier was diagnosed with SARDS and had a wide array of other symptoms. As a last resort, we tried the Plechner protocol. This included the hefty expense of shipping blood to the lab. Everyone was nice to us, but we had zero positive results. Riley actually got very sick from the steroids. We stopped the treatment. She did not regain any sight. I am not a medical doctor. I know many people claim to have had cures for their dogs. I just believe it is fair for people to get to read both sides of the the story. Having a sick pet is very emotional and we are vulnerable…so it is important to share information.

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