Alternative medicine practitioners have had a lot of success marketing their methods to the mainstream veterinary profession by obscuring or downplaying the most egregiously unscientific and ridiculous of their beliefs and practices when speaking outside of their own groups. They will often claim an acceptance of scientific evidence, though not to the extent that it overrides their personal experiences or anecdotes. And they will employ the term “integrative medicine” to suggest that they consider all therapies, conventional or alternative, equally and fairly before selecting the right method for each patient. The outwardly reasonable marketing of such integrative medicine can be very effective at convincing reasonable, mostly science-based animal owners and veterinarians to take seriously methods that, when understood fully, are deeply unreasonable and incompatible with science.
However, when speaking amongst themselves, such practitioners often feel free to reveal how they really feel about science and conventional medicine and to speak more honestly about the ideas and beliefs underlying the alternative methods they integrate with scientific medicine. One of the regular functions of this blog is to put such more thorough and honest comments on display so that people considering integrative alternative medicine into their veterinary practice or their care of their own pets can have a fully informed understanding of what they are being offered.
Having collected quite a bit of such material, I have created a new thematic post to collect all of it, which you can find here: Alternative and Integrative Medicine Revealed
The Latest Pseudoscientific Nonsense from the IVC
Today’s selection comes from the latest issue of the faux journal IVC (Integrative Veterinary Care Journal). I’ve written about IVC before, and it’s a rich source of the kind of honest anti-science sentiment that pervades alternative veterinary medicine but is seldom publicly expressed. In the latest issue, the nonsense begins right up front, with the editorial by Christina Chambreau, a homeopathy I’ve written about before as well.
…it was a huge relief when I learned that holistic modalities are very successful replacements for surgery and drugs…
Pretty clearly an “alternative” rather than an “integrative” view. Despite claims to meld science-based and alternative therapies, many so-called holistic vets firmly believe alternative methods are frequently safer and more effective than conventional medicine and will replace science-based treatments with alternatives rather than integrating them.
Understanding the energetic basis behind holistic approaches is especially important for these serious ailments. Dr. Janet Gordon palm delves into the physics of Newtonian and Quantum sciences to remined us that our goal is bigger than merely resolving symptoms – it’s to guide the cells back to optimal health and harmonic resonance.”
This refers to a bizarre article on “energy medicine” which I will address shortly. It makes sloppy and disingenuous use of a grade-school conception of quantum physics to justify quasi-religious mystical beliefs that have nothing to do with actual physics. This kind of dressing up of spiritual beliefs in scientific clothing is a key feature of the integrative medicine marketing strategy which allows practitioners to conceal from colleagues and clients that they are effectively selling faith healing instead of medicine. Dr. Chambreau continues this nonsense as a means to promote her favorite useless therapy, homeopathy.
Dr. John Saxton shows us the effectiveness of homeopathy to rebalance the quantum field…
Faux Physics for Neurologic Disease
The article Dr. Chambreau first refers to in her editorial introduction is a classic example of the bizarre misuse of poorly understood metaphors from quantum physics to justify quasi-religious medical nonsense. Quantum physics is a field most of us can only access through metaphor, but a real understanding of its principles and implications requires a facility with higher mathematics very few veterinarians or pet owners are likely to have. Unfortunately, not understanding what she’s talking about doesn’t restrain Dr. Gordon Palm from making ridiculous claims about quantum physics supporting her personal spiritual and therapeutic beliefs.
Conventional medicine is based on Newtonian science, in which the body is a veritable solid object surrounded by space. Current quantum physics shows that the body is more space than solid matter. Your choice of science will influence your treatment plans…The conventional approach focuses on treating physical symptoms rather than the energetic root causes.
The distinction between Newtonian and quantum physics is used here to imply a distinction between physical symptoms and non-physical causes, a version of the philosophy of dualism. This is a philosophical and religious concept, not a scientific fact supported by the evidence and logic of quantum physics.
We are primarily energetic electromagnetic beings, and secondarily physical beings.
Environmental and ingested pollutants, electromagnetic field radiation (EMFs) genetically modified organism (GMO) grains…disturb the normal resonance frequencies of healthy tissue.
Apart from the evidence-free claims about negative health effects from GMOs and EMF, the distinction given here between “electromagnetic” and “physical” is false because electromagnetic phenomena are part of the physical universe. She is essentially using “electromagnetic” and a substitute for “spiritual” so that she can claim magical therapies with no real physical effects still treat disease. This spiritualism is even more explicit in the following section:
Regardless of a patient’s primary complaint, all enlightened veterinarians would agree that the most important tool we can apply to affect outcome and healing success is the power of our intentions. Literally falling in love with the animal can be transformative. He receives our positive vibrations through our body language and the relaxation of our energy.”
This is an example of the quasi-religious, mind-over-matter doctrine which suggests that we influence the outcome of disease by our thoughts and mysterious “energy.” Some lip service is given to the more plausible idea that our body language influences stress levels in our patients, but that is a shallow scientific camouflage for the underlying idea that our thoughts have magical influence over physical health and disease in our patients.
Dr. Gordon Palm goes on to list a variety of alternative therapies for neurological diseases none of which have been scientifically demonstrated to be safe and/or effective. These include:
Ozonated fluids- discussed on this blog here
Essential Oils- discussed here
Tuning forks for balancing chakras- too ridiculous to bother discussing
PEMF- discussed here
Homeopathy- thoroughly debunked over and over again
Veterinary orthopedic Manipulation- discussed here
Cold Laser- the only halfway reasonable option mentioned, discussed here
This is not the integration of scientifically validated alternative therapies with conventional medicine. This is the use of the word “quantum” and some vague hand-waving to create the poor-quality illusion that a collection of quasi-religious beliefs and unproven or disproven therapies should be taken seriously as options for animals with serious neurologic disease. That is the reality underlying much of the claims of “integrative medicine.”
The rest of the IVC issue continues the trend, discussing the worthless nonsense of homeopathy as if it could be a legitimate treatment for seizures and other neurologic conditions, recommending the mythical mumbo-jumbo of Traditional Chinese Medicine, pushing the nonsense of Standard Process glandular supplements, an generally showcasing the underlying truth of the integrative medicine concept, as a Trojan Horse for smuggling unproven and unscientific alternative therapies into mainstream practice without going to the trouble of demonstrating scientifically that they have any value.
Heck. I laughed so much I think that my Chakra has gone out of balance….
Is it me or does the term Essential Oils bug you. I mean if we use the term “essential” in terms of a nutrient that the body does not synthesize and is essential in our biology, much like essential amino acids, or essential fats, that it is indicating that our bodies need these oils in order to function?
I hate that. Last time I checked, and I could be wrong, but biological function doesn’t need primrose oil, or lavender oil, or tea tree oil, to function.
I love this skepticism! People need to see a balance of ideas and decide for themselves what resonates with them.
I’m certainly not offended, just driven to continue presenting animal responses to these “unproven” modalities. Animals don’t conceive of a placebo effect, and responses are measurable.
Keep an open mind and stay in your integrity, and you will do well.
Actually, there are plenty of ways placebos and other errors can make it look like ineffective treatments work in animals.
Hey skeptvet I stumbled upon your page looking for cruciate surgery. Thanks for your wise advice, I used to be a vet nurse and wanted to start a blog just like this to combat the bullshit that every second animal industry professional was spouting. Its very, very common and frustrating. I was wondering if you had any comments on hydrotherapy for dogs to treat hip dysplasia and muscle atrophy? I volunteered doing this for a while but the owner, a teaching professional in a government institution, who is also a lovely person, also offered herbal, red light laser and massage therapies. Cheers.