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

  1. skeptvet says:

    I have edited your comments, including this one, because you keep pasting in personal details about me and then acting as if they are somehow relevant to the discussion about whether Dr. Plechner’s theories are true or not. The point of this blog is to discuss the evidence for the therapies and practices I am writing about, not to debate whether I am nice, smart, “wishy-washy” or whatever. This is the last comment centered on your obsession with my personality I will allow, after which you will be banned from the site. If you wish to talk about Dr. Plechner’s therapy, feel free. Otherwise, your personal attacks and pop psychoanalysis are contribuitng nothing useful to the discussion.

  2. Patricia pepper says:

    Well the refrain in Skept vets theme song seems to be that the adrenal hormone defect, and resulting thyroid and estrogen imbalances that Dr. Plechner discovered are “implausible”, and the fact that a large body of data does exist to demonstrate this, has been roundly ignored. Dr. Plechner has instead been very seriously accused by Skept vet: “he made it all up”.

    There are about twenty five thousand of the more recent lab tests from National Veterinary Diagnostic Services which can be readily accessed to argue against the truth of this statement.

    v.t. has accused Dr. Plechner conducting “bogus” lab tests. “Bogus” is a synonym for “false”. Where is v.t.’s evidence that Dr. Plechner or National Diagnostic Services is falsifying laboratory tests? Or does he mean that the tests themselves are false tests?

    The tests that Dr. Plechner runs, T-3, T-4, Cortisol, Total Estrogen, Total IgA, Total IgM, and Total IgG are lab tests which are run all over the world. ICN Labs, a world wide company, provides the kit used for the Total Estrogen test, which is the least commonly used of the tests Dr. Plechner uses.

    v.t. at one point argued that what Dr. Plechner is doing is just loading with cortisone which is completely conventional old hat. Is v.t. claiming that Dr. Plechner is an old style completely conventional cortisone loader, or is he claiming that he is a copmplete quack running “bogus” tests? The two accusations seem diametrically.

    Someone on here, was it v.t. accused Dr. Plechner of running tests at his “ultra-private lab”. Dr. Plechner has no financial interest in National Veterinary Diagnostic Services, nor in any of the three laboratories which he listed in his book, “Pets at Risk”.

    If SV’s proof of Dr. plechner’s quackery were reduced to a marthematical proof, it would go like this, “I cannot believe it, therefore it is implausible.” This is a definition for solipsism, nothing else.

    Since time immemorial, new ideas in science have undergone this kind of assault. it would appear that perhaps Dr. Plechner among senior vets has been singled out for attack is not arbitrary. he is somewhat alone in charting new inroads into healing, independent of large commercial interests.

    SV and others, such as v.t. have condemned Dr. Plechner for not providing “vigorous scientific research”, yet Dr. Plechner has always worked using clinical laboratory testing on his patients which demonstrate the adrenal hormone defect, the high estrogen the depressed immunity and then the rising immunity and lowering estrogen as the hormone “deficits” are funded.

    Why Skept vets contention that Plechner’s findings fly in the face of conventional science– that in this case, excess estrogens could be the result of pituitary hyper stimulation when cortisol is inadequate, beats me. The discovery of reverse T-3 which is easily demonstrable with laboratory tests, starts to confirm what Dr. Plechner is finding. Skept vet is ignoring the fact that the work of not one, but TWO respected researchers in human medicine are similar to Dr. Plechner’s findings, starts to make a very large hole in Skept vet’s implausibility theory. Plechner discovered that there is parallel research by both Dr. Broda O. Barnes on the problems of bound thyroid hormone and on the issue of high cholesterol when thyroid hormone is bound. Dr. William Jeffries found a very similar set of illnesses and had very similar results to Dr. Plechner’s working with hydro cortisone at physiological doses. The physiologic hydrocortisone therapy was also demonstrated to be quite safe by Dr. Jeffries.

    It seems presumptuous of v.t. to accuse Dr. Plechner of “criminal” treatment of animals. Is he presuming that allowing an animal to have a LACK of cortisol which has been demonstrated by a laboratory is safer than “funding the deficit” and returning the animal’s cortisol level to NORMAL?

    Is this kind of PRESUMPTION as a base for accusations of criminal activity against Dr.Plechner what “evidenced based medicine” is all about?

    SV seem to be holding Dr. Plechner responsible for running extensive double-blind clinical trials on his patients, when this has always been the province of universities and research institutions. And, in fact, for Dr. plechner as a treating clinician, it would be unethical to run a double-blind trial on his patients, as his role as a treating physician, and his duty to his patients is to treat each one of them to the best of his ability.

    What seems to be building here is a kind of totalitarian attitude towards medicine.

    SV has presented NO ACTUAL evidence against the existence of the adrenal defect which Dr. Plechner defined, nor has he presented any actual EVIDENCE against the mechanisms of interrelationship between the pituitary, thyroid and adrenals being different from how they were elucidated in years of patient work and testing of animals by Dr. Plechner. Nor has Skept vet presented any actual evidence against the ability to raise the immunity that a normal amount of cortisol and thyroid provides in the system, as opposed to a deficient amount of the two hormones.

    The fact that an EXCESS of cortisol as conventional medicine has defined, LOWERS immunity does not mean that adding missing cortisol and thyroid hormone does not RAISE immunity. In fact, this is not implausible AT ALL. It simply means that cortisone and thyroid hormone are regulating hormones and that the system works best when they exist in the body in normal amounts. Where is the implausibility? Where is the conflict with standard theory? Dr. Plechner simply ELUCIDATED a mechanism which had not previously been studied. The relationship of cortionse to the immunity is known, otherwise an excess of cortisone could not lower immunity as it is known to do.

    Skep vet has piled out pages of theory here, including a psychological evaluation of Dr. plechner which flies in the face of what people who actually KNOW him have to say about him, but there is not ONE SHRED of evidence to say that Dr. Plechner “made it all up” did “bogus” testing, or has an “ultra private lab”.

    Nor is there any evidence that his theory is scientifically implausible, and in any event the data and the results Dr. Plechner has achieved argue otherwise.

    In his lecture at the Royal Society Skept vet acknowledges that medicine is an art as well as a science, but he does not go beyond lip service, in his relentless prosecution of Dr. Plechner, he has not acknowledged anything other than a double-blind trial as “evidence”

    I ask, where is his double blind trial for each one of the dubious theories he has used to prosecute an honest, hard working veterinarian of nearly fifty years of clinical experience? Skept vet says the three most dangerous worrds in medicine are, “In my experience”, but perhaps that is because he has little experience compared to Dr. Al Plechner, whom most of his clients would agree is a veterinarian of extraordinary intelligence, and ability. Not that Dr. Plechner would not be the first one to welcome cextensive clinical studies of his work, but in the lack of such, in the less than perfect world we live in, Dr. Plechner’s clients are arguing for “results based medicine”. And I think we can consider simple tests like whether the animal is alive or dead, does it live a long and healthy life, does it go quickly blind. or retain its vision, as far more sensible than allowing our animals to die or go blind because there is no double blind study for a treatment protocol which has been used for over a hundred thousand animals, by a well-respected veterinarian who is beloved of his clients not only for his extraordinary level of capability, but for the sort of decency, which has been conspicuously absent in this website where his life work has been tried in the court of no evidence, but plenty of unsupported accusations and innuendo.

    None of Skept vet’s extensive theorizing about Dr. plechner’s personal traits or about the work which Dr. Plechner has done which he actually seams unfamiliar with both in theory and in technical detail–so much so that it is impossible to know why he thinks he could have any opinion of it at all–none of Skept vet’s theorizing has ANYTHING to do with whether or not the Plechner Syndrome EXISTS, or whether Plechner’s treatment protocol WORKS.

    Skept vet has no evidence against Dr. Plechner, Skept vet’s case adds up to “Much ado about nothing”.

  3. v.t. says:

    I have an idea Patricia Pepper, how about asking all those scientists and vets why they do not believe Plechner’s syndrome has an ounce of plausibility. It seems you only want answers that confirm your own belief, misguided as it is. How is it that Plechner and only Plechner can answer for you? Hmm, you might start there.

  4. skeptvet says:

    You manage to miss the point in a lot of words. Yes, of course you can measure thyroid hormone levels, estrogen levels, etc. The fact that Dr. Plechner send these tests to labs has nothing to do with the question of whether or not the clinical symptoms he claims to be treating are at all related to his theories about these hormones. “Proof” of this would involve demonstrating a real connection between the values measured and the clinical symptoms associated with them and demonstrated, in properly designed and conducted clinical trials, that these symptoms respond predictably to the interventions he uses to change these hormone levels. Simply measuring things, giving drugs, and then subjectively watching the patient do not constitute scientific investigation or validation of his theories or practices. “Results based medicine” is simply a form of surrender, giving up on knowing the truth and relying on anecdote and personal observation. We tried that for thousands of years, and the fact is science works better.

    As for providing evidence these theories are not true, that too is not how science works. You make a claim, you provide evidence to suypport it. There’s no “persecution” here. Asking Dr. Plechner to publish the evidence his claims are true is a basic practice in science. Only in religion is one not expected to provide evidence for one’s belief and is questioning those beliefs labeled as “persecution.” Is Plechner Syndrome a faith-based belief or is it science? If it is intended to be part of science and medicine, then it has to meet the same tests of validity as everything else. There’s no special treatment or exemption from the usual rules of evidence just because Dr. Plechner is a nice guy or because it makes you angry that the rest of us don’t simply take him and his supporters at their word.

  5. John Steele says:

    Well I must say this is a most confusing situation I find myself facing. I have had these tests suggested to me after my Henry’s mast cell tumors returned after a full regiment of aggressive treatment at the Veterinary Oncology Center here in Renton, Wa.
    I tend to be skeptical of quack medication but find the arguments posted here baffling. I must say that one thing that tends to make me lean one way or the other is the precise way in which the posts are written and when I find miss-spelled words in a post that sets a flat for me. While it could be heightened emotions causing the lack of spell checking or heaven forbid an intelligence issue I am unclear. But to make sure you come off as reliable, run a spell checker.

    To my situation, Henry is an 8 year old German Shorthair pointer and like most pet owners a very valued and loved part of my family and I would like to see him well and healthy.

    As the posts are lengthy and many of the pretentious I did not find too many alternatives or supplemental regiments for an ailing animal so while there is much to be pointed out that the vilified Plechner Syndrome only suggests anecdotal information why would I not consider this also. If I were dying of cancer should I not also consider other less mainstream treatments?

    Are there other suggested treatments listed here or is this blog only for the vilification of Plechner? That in and of itself would suggest some underlying motive to a simple minded person such as myself.

    However I do appreciate the emotional expressions here and will keep up my search for all treatments for my ailing and much loved Henry.

    Cheers and Blessings to all seekers.

  6. skeptvet says:

    Well, I’m not sure about the typos (which seem a pretty superficial way to evaluate arguments and factual claims in any case), but the emotion and “vilification” is coming from Dr. Plechner’s supporters. I have pointed out, I think in a clear, fact-based way, that Dr. Plechner makes dramatic claims for success for his therapies based entirely on opinion and anecdote, in the complete absence of scientific evidence for his underlying theory or his actual treatments. He is, as I said, quite simply making this up. Whether this is sufficient to justify employing a treatment with no real evidence to support it is up to you.

    I will only point out that all the failed medical therapies throughout history have been justified in the same way. And there are clear, documented examples of unproven therapies not merely failing to help but causing active harm and increased suffering, as in the case of the Gonzalez regime for people with pancreatic cancer. The idea of “what is there to lose?” can be really dangerous.

  7. v.t. says:

    John, I can’t answer to any alternatives that you have not already possibly brought up with your dog’s oncologist, but I would only suggest you remain trustful of his guidance, as mast cell tumors can be nasty and I’m not aware of any alternative treatment that even remotely meets, let alone exceeds conventional.

    You posed another question that is often asked – “If I were dying of cancer should I not also consider other less mainstream treatments?” You would be free to choose any area of treatment you wish, that you’re comfortable with. However, I would hope you would choose that treatment based on a scientific and proven method, one you could favor the odds, not treatment that has not been proven by the scientific method (as alternatives often are not).

    When it comes to pets, however, the answer may be quite different. Your pet doesn’t have a say. I could for example, choose some off-the-wall crazy unproven treatment for myself, but my treatment decision would be mine and I would be the only one responsible for the decision, whether it succeeded or failed. If I made such an off-the-wall crazy unknown treatment decision for my pet, I would be twice as responsible, that’s not something I would be remotely willing to do without substantial evidence to support my decision.

  8. Edie says:

    I think Dr. Plechner’s explanation for SARDS makes a whole lot more sense than my other vets and eye specialist who all said, “It just happens sometimes.” Yes, because a dog going blind literally within two days should just be accepted as, “It just happens sometimes.” We finally put the poor dog (who for over a year seemed lethargic- I thought at the time due to being blind) on steroids and within a short time had our same dog back. His tail was wagging, he was getting up early again, he was curious again. Thank you, Dr. Plechner, for making the MOST sense when no one, or nothing else, did.

  9. skeptvet says:

    His explanation makes no sense at all, but it does provide the psychological comfort of an explanation and an opportunity to do soemthing. The popularity of mistaken theories and ineffective treatments ofte rests on how well they treat human emotional needs rather than on their inherent truth or ability to treat physical medical conditions.

  10. Edie says:

    It’s my understanding that he proposes a hormone imbalance can cause an autoimmune response (which can result in blindness). While that may be true that this explanation may have been a “comfort”, it still doesn’t change the fact that our dog went blind within two days, was largely lethargic for over one year, and returned to his “old self” once we put him on steroids and thyroid hormone. The blindness in itself doesn’t just happen in a vacuum- something happened to the retinal cells. The lethargy could have been due to hypothyroidism. Makes sense to me, but I’m open to suggestion. I have been to several vets and specialists, and have spent countless hours researching this- that’s how I came across your blog. I’m all ears if anyone else has another take on SARDS and/or treatment.

  11. Diane says:

    Edie, steroids may have helped your pet; they are a tool of conventional medicine and they often help various conditions. But that’s irrelevant to whether Dr. Plechner’s theory makes any sense. Steroids simply are a real drug with real effects. You can’t give credit for their effectiveness to Plechner.

    Thyroid meds are also conventional medicine whose effectiveness has nothing to do with Plechner’s theory. But on a related note, there is a school of thought among some conventional vets that you might as well throw thyroid meds at any dog who seems lethargic, who gains weight or even has a low-normal range T4 with no clinical signs at all. The client sometimes/often subjectively feels that their dog is less lethargic, which IMHO is almost certainly a placebo effect, and sometimes an overweight dog even loses weight while on thyroid meds–perhaps because the client’s focus on this problem is heightened and they are feeding the dog less/exercising the dog more, or perhaps because the vet has created hyperthyroidism–that happened to at least one of my clients–which was great for the vet because he got to charge for several more diagnostics and a couple more office visits to make sure the dog didn’t have some disease causing him to lose weight. Because of course, the vet was an idiot who could not make the connection; or perhaps was just unscrupulous and this was an easy way to make money.

    If the owner of a healthy dog who was wrongly put on thyroid medication thinks their dog is more energetic, or if the dog loses weight, this is not evidence that their dog had a secret thyroid deficiency. And it also is not evidence that Plechner’s theory is correct. Nor is it evidence of any other theory, for that matter.

  12. Rita K. says:

    Hi John,

    My dog had a mast cell tumor which my vet suggested amputation of his toe (that is where the tumor was and so I had it removed – this was prior to even knowing about Dr. Plechner). My dog who has had many Lipomas and other bumps removed from his body (at least 40 over the last 8 years) no longer has this problem…nor has he had another Mast Cell incident since going on the Plechner protocol. I’m still not sure why the nay-sayers of this post refer to Dr. Plechner’s theory as “quackery”. Dr. Plechner is NOT a holistic vet. He uses traditional medicine that has obviously gone through “scientific studies” and made available to doctors to use them as part of their treatment for their patients. It’s funny that these medicines are at the Vet’s disposal/discretion yet when 1 vet chooses to apply it in a way that no one else considered, he becomes a quack! I am also aware that medicines get used “off label” all the time to treat something it was not originally intended for. I see Dr. Plechner’s application no different than that.

    At any rate, if you were diagnosed with cancer (heaven forbid) it would certainly be your choice to seek all of your options. Even if some options are “unconventional” but have had great success.

    All the best,

  13. v.t. says:

    It’s funny that these medicines are at the Vet’s disposal/discretion yet when 1 vet chooses to apply it in a way that no one else considered, he becomes a quack! I am also aware that medicines get used “off label” all the time to treat something it was not originally intended for. I see Dr. Plechner’s application no different than that.

    The difference is clear, but you refuse to acknowledge it.

    Vets use steroids or thyroid medications to treat conditions that have been diagnosed via proper testing.

    Plechner makes up a disease and uses (questionable) lab tests to validate the made-up disease to convince his clients that only his protocol can treat this imaginary disease. But he doesn’t stop there, he claims he can treat nearly any disease, because well, they are of course, caused by Plechner’s syndrome.

    As one of the vets posted at the top of this thread, it appears Plechner’s tests use reference ranges that are not consistent with common reference ranges for small animal profiles. Either he is deceptive about his practices, or the lab needs to use correct reference ranges. I’m guessing both, and both are a real problem.

    No one else considers prescribing steroids and thyroid medications in the manner which Plechner does, because vets don’t make up imaginary disease. They certainly try to avoid prescribing such medications for life unless the condition warrants their use (examples have already been mentioned to you).

    Plechner’s off-label use of meds is in no way ethical nor legitimate in the manner he is applying it to patients. Off-label use does not mean you get to make stuff up and dose at will. I’d wager the majority of his patients (if not all) would never have needed them had they never been seen by Plechner.

    By the way, it’s entirely possible that had you left some of those 40 lipomas and other bumps alone, they may not have recurred. Of course, if any were benign mast cells, once manipulated, they tend to reoccur. Needle aspirates and cytology may have been the first step to determine whether removal for biopsy was necessary. I’m not questioning your other vet or his decisions to remove them – maybe he had a valid reason due to the mast cell tumor on digit – but your anecdote that Plechner’s treatment had anything to do with no recurrence is highly doubtful.

  14. Rita K. says:


    Had I left those Lipomas alone and it turned into something worse then that would be on me and my Vet who did not suggest it as a precaution and then there would be a question as to why a vet would not suggest the possibility that tumors can become cancerous. Of course since you are not a VET your “medical” suggestions are meaningless to me since you are NOT speaking from experience as I am.

    I suppose since you feel medicines are used to treat conditions that have been diagnosed by proper testing, you would also feel that a cancer patient who has HIV goes through cancer treatments and ends up no longer having HIV would be what, implausible? A miracle? What?

    There have been many documented cases where cancer patients with HIV who have gone through cancer treatments no longer have HIV yet the treatment was not intended to treat HIV it was intended to treat cancer. So what do people in the medical profession call something like that? A phenomenon? A coincidence? No. There are too many documented cases for it to be just a coincidence. A possible cure? Maybe.

    Perhaps the medical profession cares more about healing people and finding cures than the veterinary profession does about finding cures for ailments that end the lives of so many animals. It seems by this blog this is a sad but true conclusion. When one doctor has taken it upon himself to do years of research and find that his research has brought him to realize that a cortisol imbalance is the root of many ailments and his treatment of using MILD steroids and MILD doses of thyroid medicine corrects this imbalance, you all feel you have the right to attack him for it?

    Many of us who love our animals dearly have been through our share of vets. We have come to trust a few and even those that we trust for the most part, we question them too from time to time because we as “parents” know in our hearts that the suggested treatment or lack thereof does not sit right with us. This is when we seek out other options and are thankful when we come across very few vets who have an open mind for a treatment plan. Those vets are too few and far in between and it’s such a shame that for those of you on the SkeptVet bandwagon who have put in intense hours of study and training to become a vet don’t utilize the energy you put out on this blog to finding cures and a better way to treat the problem as opposed to masking the symptoms.

  15. skeptvet says:

    What you persistantly fail to understand is that Dr. Plechner has NOT done “years of research.” There is no research at all, only uncontrolled trial and error, and this is no better than the evidence for faith healing or astrology. If there were actually research showing he was right, we’d all be on the Plechner badnwagon. And the idea that somehow becuase we don’t believe Dr. Plechner’s claims without real evidence we must not care about our patients is childish nonsense. The arrogance you express in thinking anyone who disagrees with you must eb a bad person is phenomenal!

  16. v.t. says:

    Oh, now all pet owners, all vets, the whole of the profession, are just evil b*****s because we don’t care enough to trust Plechner and employ his imaginary crap.

    Don’t be so open-minded your brains fall out, Rita K.

  17. Diane says:

    OK, Rita K, we all get it: You believe that Plechner’s a misunderstood genius, he routinely saves pets from the brink of death with his protocol, personal experience is the best kind of evidence there is, and anyone who doesn’t agree is evil and doesn’t care about animals.

    Am I missing anything? Aside from all the anecdotes and attempts to explain the intricacies of Plechner’s theory and protocol to a person (skeptvet) who knows infinitely more about endocrinology, cognitive errors, research design, etc. than you do?

    I know you haven’t heard anything that we’ve said, but you also won’t hear it if we repeat it or rephrase it, so I think there’s nothing left to say on this topic.

  18. Rita K. says:


    It’s funny how you’re a hypocrite. When I called you “arrogant” you said I was not “civil” yet you are now calling me childish AND arrogant. What gives, Mr. “Civil”??

  19. Rita K. says:


    You also preached about being “civil” so why don’t you practice the same. I must have struck a nerve…

  20. v.t. says:

    Rita K, read Diane’s post. Read it again. And again.

    At this point, you are trolling, nothing more.

  21. skeptvet says:

    As you have repeatedly suggested that anyone who doesn’t share your faith in Dr. Plechner doesn’t care about animals, I think the description of arrogant is accurate. Civility requires both parties in a discussion to listen respectfully, to hear each other, and to maintain their focus on the ideas and not the person they are debating. You have repeatedly failed to follow any of these conventions and appear to be incapable of civil debate, so you aren’t really entitled to much consideration. I think I have shown significant restraint in permitting you to continue posting your diatribes even though, as v.t. pointed out, you arent’ really interested in dialogue but just in haranging the infidels.

  22. Patricia pepper says:

    Skept vet, you have absolutely NO real evidence of ANY kind behind your statements that Plechner “made it all up”. If you were even remotely a “scientist”, you would have to say that you “don’t know”, until you see further evidence. To claim that the only “evidence” in science is the double blind trial, peer-reviewed, and then independently confirmed, is a definition which attempts to cleverly rule out all players except the “big boys” –the industrial forces in medicine–the pharmaceutical houses, the medical device makers, the pet food companies, the universities, most of whom work hand in glove with the industrial funding sources, and split the take. To know where Skept vet is coming from and why, anyone reading this blog should click on the symbols at the side of Skept vet’s home page. Click on the” Ask for Evidence” campaign symbol and find out that it was was rolled out at MIT. The “Ask for Evidence campaign looks very much like a fight to create totalitarianism in medicine in the fight for market share, b y using a sort of Mc Carthyism. Young researchers are being actively recruited at MIT to do something like denounce anyone or any product by “Asking for Evidence”, then turning in anyone with out double- blind studies to the authorities for making false marketing claims. That should limit the competition from the natural health industry. One has to ask, why is MIT so interested in denying our freedom? Is it because we are, as a population, more and more inclined to vote against industrial medicine with our feet? Are they trying to block the exit from their clutches? These are the guys who are looking forward to delivering drugs to your brain with computer chips. Read all about it in the New York Times. What an expensive marvel that will be! Ditto for the new artificial pericardium which will control your heart. (Wouldn’t it be smarter not to ruin our hearts and need the artificial pericardium?)

    Despite the fact that a major researcher, Dr. Johanna Budwig, fought against the hydrogenated fats in the diet form the time of their inception, which was what–60 0r 70m years ago, the whole world has had this stuff pushed down its throats–in Europe, by law, they can even put a certain percentage of it in chocolate and NOT report it on the label–the FDA and other agencies worldwide who are charged with protecting public health, did nothing about this until in recent years when the US government was petitioned by Citizen’s for Science in the Public Interest to fund studies of hydrogenated fats. Now these studies have revealed these fats to be SO damaging as to not be safe in EVEN IN SMALL AMOUNTS, and the FDA has just proposed a near total ban. Now I ask you, where was the FDA all these years? Enormous damage was done, millions died if you use their estimates for just how many cardiovascular deaths per year are due to the presence of these fats in the diet.. Dr. Budwig was treated like a crank. She lived to be around 94 on her special diet–a mere anecdote–and like Dr. Plechner, she created quite a lot of mere anecdotes of healing. She didn’t live to see her work come to fruition, but finally it seems to be happening. What this little anecdote tells us–and Dr. Budwig was sued twice by German fat manufacturers for what she had to say about hydrogenated and chemically refined fats, is that “science” is unfortunately being driven largely by INDUSTRIAL FORCES which are very large and very powerful, and that often, what is of interest is NOT the public health, or ultimately animal health, it is the chase for the “bottom line”.

    Recently a New Yorker article pointed out that recycled grease from restaurant deep fat fryers has become a very lucrative industry. Guess what the end use for much of this product is? The spray it on animal feed and use it in pet foods. Has anyone every studied the trans fat level in this product? It ruined diesel engines because of the glycated fats in it until they learned how to split the cross links in the fat in the diesel fuel. It would coat the diesel engines and fuel tanks with a substance like glass, and gunk up the engines. Now we all know what glycated fats do in the engines in our bodies–the cells and mitochondria have their essential functions interfered with by glycated proteins and fats. These fats can form a sort of cellular grease that deafens cell receptors, such as hormonal receptors (think Dr. Plechner’s findings that something is pulling down animals adrenal and thyroid functions) and such as receptors for insulin., rendering (no pun intended) the system deaf. In the case of insulin receptors becoming “deaf”, this creates Type II Diabetes. Has any government agency looked at the level of trans fatty acids and glycated fats to be found in animals which have been fattened on these feeds ,then killed for human consumption. Has anyone ever looked at the trans fatty acid levels and glycated fat levels in these re-cycled oils which are put into pet foods? It is also interesting, that a vet I know who is an adjunct professor at the vet school near here, says that he works on “a lot” of feline diabetes? Hey when did feline diabetes become so common (Another anecdote?) Interesting too, that Type II Diabetes which was previously nearly unheard of in human children is now becoming epidemic. Well, trust industry. trust industrial medicine, they are lookin’ out for you. Trust Skept vet, he’s all for turning off your common sense, and swallowing the party line. Hook, line… and sinker.

  23. Kelli Mason says:

    I have had horses for over 40 years. I am not a vet, but by working with horses, and training and handling them everyday for over 40 years, I know a thing or too about what they have when they are sick, and what meds to give them to make them better. I have not done any scientific studies but observation is a great tool and experience is also very important in maintaining a healthy pet. I have worked with vets(who are at the top of their fields) for over 20 years, and I have come to the conclusion(from my experiences) that most of their work is an educated guess. I have spent 10’s of thousands of dollars for these educated guesses. I have had horses examined, xrayed, ultra-sounded, bone scanned, blood evaluated, injected, chiro’d, massaged, taken to surgery, you name it,(all done at one of the TOP equine clinics in NE.) sometimes, it’s one guess after another. Most of the time treatments work, but some of the time they just throw meds at the symptoms and guess what, it costs me even MORE money. They are convinced that this is the way to go, only to find out that no, we need to go a different way. They are convinced that it is the way to go, but only to find out that we need to go a different way. All based on medical “facts” with studies. Another word for guesses. Well, sometimes the “proof” that you need is in the outcome of the situation. My friends horse had an eye problem. The vets(again from one of the top equine clinics here in Ma.) through everything they could at this horse for months. The eye was not getting better. My friend tried Dr. Plechners “theory.” let’s call it. Within a week, eye was better.
    I have a horse that is my problem child. His immune system is compromised(no one can tell me why). For the past 6 years, he has been colicing at the same time every year. For the past 6 years he has gone to (one of the top equine clinics in Ma) for this problem. They treat his symptoms he gets better and he’s good for another 10-11 months, then like clockwork for the past 6 years, boom he colics. but 10’s of thousands of dollars later, and three past years of failed preventative measures(i.e..guesses), I am willing to try Dr. Plechners theory. So which way am I crazier? To keep following a path, I know is FAILING, or to try something new? Well, they say insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and not getting new results, so we are trying something new that makes more sense than the past. Call me a quack follower, but just remember, the doctor who discovered that mothers who gave birth were dying at a high rate because the doctors delivering the babies did not wash their hands after they left the morgue a quack too. They made fun of him so badly, that he committed suicide. It was later determined that he was right and he saved the lives of countless mothers with new borns. and guess what? he did not do ONE scientific study except observation and experiences.

  24. Sarah Smith says:

    My beloved Golden Retriever came to me at 8 weeks old with a compromised immune system. I did not know this at the time, however, after 2 1/2 years of countless trips to the vet for UTIs, “allergies”, skin disorders, digestion disorders and outrageous amounts of money and time spent trying to make my dog well I was fearing the end was near for her since even the specialty vets had no better solution than to continue to administer steroids and antibiotics for her increased itchyness, lethargy, and overall discomfort. These medications were simply no longer working. She was licking and biting herself to the point where she actually knawed herself all the way through to the the bone of her tail. She was so miserable and my conventional vet just kept prescribing more antibiotics and more steroids. Meanwhile, I was watching her life seep out of her before my eyes. She was dying, she looked old and fat, she was losing her fur in fistfulls, she had terrible breath, she was up most of the night licking and biting…. and she was 3 years old. Someone recommended I take her to a holistic veterinarian in western MA. This dr. pried the prescribed meds out of my hand and instructed me to put her in an Elizabethan cone for what ended up being eight weeks. In the meantime, she suspected Plechner’s and we ran the blood tests which supported this with the lab results. My dog had such an imbalance that her body was not able to digest her food properly and she was getting none of the nutrients. Her Plechner lab test results were the lowest this doctor had ever seen. She was given a cortisone shot to basically keep her alive. After the results from the Plechner lab came back she was put on the low dose of thyrosin and low dose of hydrocortisone in the form of a capsule once a day. In a matter of a week or two she had returned to the energetic, loving, happy dog that she had once been. This was one year ago. She continues to thrive. Dr. Plechner’s treatment has extended my dog’s life and, more importantly, given her a quality of life that I didn’t think would be possible. Before judging and naysaying please take a moment to consider that although you may be skeptical this is a first hand experience and, considering the alternative, I would choose this treatment again without question.

  25. skeptvet says:

    Anecdotes do not become reliable simply by accumulation.

  26. v.t. says:

    The Plechner anecdotes and magical cures keep getting more wild every day.

  27. Sarah Smith says:

    v.t., read my last sentence. Read it again. And again.

  28. v.t. says:

    Sarah, yours is an anecdote, it isn’t proof that Plechner has cured your dog. It certainly isn’t proof that Plechner is curing other pets with his bogus “therapy” either. For all we know, you may have omitted some very important information in treatment, therapy, dietary change, etc that could explain the results in your dog’s condition.

    Don’t you find it a bit hypocritical (and ironic) to blame your prior vet who prescribed steroids, and Plechner prescribes steroids – furthermore, that Plechner prescribes steroids and thyroid medication for everything, and for the life of the pet?

  29. is says:

    skeptvet – I just discovered your blog here. Can you please tell me something about your background? Degrees earned, scientific papers published, number of years in the field, etc. Thank you!

  30. skeptvet says:

    That information is both available on the site and irrelevant. I suspect you are committing the fallacy of appeal to authority, where you think characteristics of the person making an argument can be used to judge whether or not the argument is true. Apart from not being a useful way to judge a claim or an argument, it is almost always a way to dismiss something one dislikes without having to deal with any real evidence. If I turn out to be a teenager working at the grocery store, you will likely not accept things I say that differ from your opinion. But if I turn out to be a Nobel prize winning scientist, will you then change your mind and accept what I say? Of course not. Nor should you. Any claim should be judged on its own merits, not on the basis of your opinion about the credentials of the person making it.

  31. Mike Costoff says:

    Our nine-year old Dachshund lost her site over a few week period. Our local vet didn’t a agree with my contention that “something is wrong” with my dogs sight nor did the vet we saw at the University of Wisconsin-Madison during our first visit there. Unfortunately as days and a few weeks passed while the lengthy Cushing’s related tests were done, Bailey eventually went totally blind – finally confirmed by a UW opthamologist a week after our initial visit there.

    Could her sight have been saved if our vets had been a bit more knowledgeable and considered SARD’s at earlier visits? I don’t know but I will tell you I am very disappointed in the established veterinary protocol. Once the UW vet finally informed us of the diagnosis she basically said – that’s it she’s blind – love her – most blind dogs can live a good life. No further testing was recommended -period.

    Pour local vet out her on Melatonin but we’re now three months down the road and Bailey is still lethargic, confused and drinks excessively. Another round of tests that were done previously now supposedly show Cushing’s.

    We are awaiting our vets next suggestion but I will tell you I am beginning to believe that Plechner has done far more research and is much more qualified to treat our pet than the vets we’ve seen. It’s unfortunate that there is no Mayo Clinic for pets as my experience has left me less than impressed with many vets.

  32. skeptvet says:

    Trying stuff out based on a hunch and then deciding whether or not it has worked based on uncontrolled personal experience is not “research.” Dr. Plechner doesn’t know more than other vets, he just everestimates what he knows more freely and aggressively.

  33. Kim says:

    I have been looking into Dr. Plechner’s protocol for my dog and came across this site. I am at a loss at what to do with my dog, as is my vet. He has pretty bad allergies that have resulted in chronic ear infections (mainly pseudomonas which has been impossible to get rid of), lick granulomas, other various open sores, itching, GI issues, etc. On top of it, my boy is difficult to treat. He’s had so many surgeries, procedures and uncomfortable vet visits, that he’s extremely fear aggressive at the vet and turns in to 140 lbs of fury. So…he’s not exactly an easy patient.

    I really do not know what to believe at this point, but I do have this question to those who shoot down Plechner’s work, assuming you are veterinarians….
    If the dog does have adrenal insufficiency and low thyroid hormones (that is what the blood work is testing for), what is the harm in replacing cortisol and thyroid hormones?
    To me, his theories seem plausible, but they are just that. There is no evidence to back them up which makes me suspicious. I do have a lot more reading to do on the subject though, so really can’t make a completely informed opinion right now. However, I am at the point now where I will try hocus pocus assuming it is not too dangerous. We are out of options.

  34. skeptvet says:

    The problem with you weustion is that it includes the assumption that the testing he does identifies adrenal insufficiency and hypothyroidism. It does not. The values he claims are too low are values endocrinologists consider normal and which many dogs have who are perfectly healthy. The disease he claims to have identified is not one anyone else believes exists in the way he imagines or diagnoses it. So while giving steroids and thyroid hormine has effects on your dog’s body, it is not because he has a deficiency of these hormones but because he is getting more of them than needed. Steroids suppress immune system activity, so of course they can improve allergy symptoms. That may or may not be appropriate for your dog, balancing the risks and benefits, but it has nothing to do with adrenal insufficiency.

    While I don’t know your situation, I can say that you have many options other than rolling the dice on this “hocus pocus.” I would strongly recommend seeing a board-certified veterinary dermatologist. These are veterinarians who are true experts at handling allergic skin disease, and they have many options and much knoweldge far more legitimate and evidence-based than what Dr. Plechner makes up.

  35. Kim says:

    Thank you for your opinion.
    Unfortunately I’ve called some veterinary dermatologists in the area and they don’t want to deal with a 140 lb fear aggressive dog. My last option is trying Tufts since he was a patient there for his TPLOs, but they cost a TON of money and I can’t afford that right now.

  36. v.t. says:


    It’s unfortunate what you were told about not wanting to deal with a fear-agressive dog. Did any one of them mention that something like acepromazine might be an option to give prior to a vet appointment? Your own vet, knowing your dog the best, can recommend what is best, what med, what dose, if appropriate etc. It is counterproductive not to be able to be seen and diagnose because someone “doesn’t want to deal” with a particular situation. Please consider bringing this up with your own vet for proper guidance.

  37. Kim says:

    Thank you. I will bring this up with my vet and also see if he knows anyone that will treat my dog.

  38. C. P. says:

    My dog has gone blind with suspected SARDS. He has all the symptoms of SARDS and I am trying my best to understand this disease better.

    So far I have found 2 camps of thought.
    1. Dr. Plechner and the ‘Low Cortisol and High Total Estrogen = SARDS group.
    2. The ‘ This is an Auto-I

  39. C. P. says:

    Sorry I hit the post button to quick.

    2. The ‘This is an Auto-Immune Disease and you don’t want to do anything that will cause the immune system to kick into overdrive’ group.

    I am totally confused. I want the best for my dog but with such opinions that oppose to each other I feel at a total loss as what to do, if anything, to help my dog.

    My dog has seen our vet several times and the vet said that if anything changed come back right away. If not come back in a couple of months to do a check up.

    My question is. Is just going back for a check up enough?

    Thank You

  40. skeptvet says:

    I would encourage you to see a veterinary eye specialist if possible, someone board-certified by the Amercian College of Veterinary Opthalmology.

    Unforunately, the reality is that we don’t know what causes SARDS, and we don’t have an effective therapy for it. It is not accurate to say there are two “schools of thought” any more than there are two legitimate schools of thought on the subject of human evolution. There is the scientific view, which accurately and honestly presents what we know and what we don’t know about the disease, and then there is Dr. Plechner making things up and porducing no research evidecne to back up his claims. I can understand why Plechner’s view is more attractive bcause it offers hope, but it is a hope based on fantasy.

    Here are some links with accurate information about this awful disease.
    American College of Veterinary OpthalmologyDr. James Schoster, DVM, DACVO

  41. C.P. says:

    On another group I posted that I could not find any peer reviews of Dr. Plechner and that my vet did not believe in Dr. Plechner’s views. Would you care to comment on the below response from someone that claims to be an M.D. ?
    “I will preface by saying I am a respected MD. May I just weigh in here and say that if we had relied on double blind randomised trials to treat humans with penicillin, and various other treatments – we would still be dying from pneumonia. Many clinicians do not publish peer reviewed studies because they don’t have time, others don’t publish because they do not feel it ethical to run a study for a treatment that has been shown to work in patients that have no other option. Others publish rubbish and have been proven to fudge their results – I don’t hold much stock in many scientific publications and would certainly not limit my treatment of a patient simply because I don’t have a peer reviewed publication to support it. There is evidence that the lag between a proven medical treatment being implemented by the majority of clinicians and the original work being published is over 10 years. There are many medical therapies that doctors initially thought were rubbish and then embraced wholeheartedly after further evidence emerged – and this is in the human medical world where Billions are spent on research – who is going to pay for the work necessary to provide the science you wish to see? It does not surprise me in the least that nothing has been significantly taken up – this is an uncommon condition in the veterinary field.

    There are many rare conditions that treatment is used because it has been shown to work in a few cases. Trying to get together a study for these small case series is impossible – your prerogative is not to treat your dog. Others is to try everything that exists and maybe something will be suitable. If there is some scientific plausibility, I am prepared to try anything that will not cause harm.

    “Kodiak was treated with what a lot of people would consider highly experimental treatments for an illness that has no cure and leaves dogs blind regardless. He has retained some sight – minimal but some – confirmed by the highly sceptical ophthalmologist who was good enough to follow us on our experimental journey and our vet who was also prepared to go out on a limb for a condition they know very little about. I am grateful that the vets we used had open minds and were prepared to listen to my ramblings. I know dogs cope very well blind as many in this group will attest to, but it makes me feel better that we did everything we could and Kodiak can tell the difference between night and day.”

  42. skeptvet says:

    There is no question that not all treatments can or should be evaluated by double-blinded randomized clinical trials. That is why evidence-based medicine identifies a hierarchy of evidence and clearly calls for the integration of clinical knowledge and experience with objective research evidence. However, there is an enormous history demonstrating many therapies that were widely employed for decades or even millenia and which controlled scientific study found to be either ineffective or actively harmful. This reminds us that without such studies, we are essentially conducting uncontrolle dmedical experiments on our patients. To do so legitimately, we need to:
    1. recognize and acknowledge the risks involved
    2. clearly communicate to our clients that we are experimenting and that the safetu and efficacy of what we are offering is unknown
    3. be certain that the need to intervene is great enough to justify taking such a risk
    4. not make unjustified claims about the treatments we are using
    5. make a good faith effort to document and report our experiences so that others can evaluate our methods

    Dr. Plechner does none of these things. He has come up with a theory experts in the field find implausible, he has used his unproven therapy widely while making bold and unsupported claims about it, and he has made no apparent effort to gather or share objective data of any kind. People who have a commitment to such idiosyncratic practices rarely udnerstand or admit the tremendous risk they are subjective patients to or the complete lack of reliability to their sujective assessments of whether they work or not. Yet science would be unecessary if such uncontrolled trial and error actually worke.d The history of medicine and human health over thousands of years, especially the last few hundred, show unequivocally that science produces better results and should be relied on when possible.

    In this case, there is no convincing reason why appropriate scientific study of Plechner’s theory or methods could not be done, and there is no excuse for making the strong claims he does without such evidence.

  43. sickdogeye says:

    As a practicing veterinary ophthalmologist, I would like to make several comments regarding Sudden Acquired Retinal Degeneration syndrome (SARDs). Patients with acute blindness and normal fundi are classified as being affected with amaurosis(vision loss without discernible ocular lesions) of unknown cause. The actual diagnosis of SARDs requires an extinguished electroretinogram (ERG). Neither Plechner, Levin or Grozdanic, to my knowledge, have demonstrated a patient, diagnosed with SARDs, confirmed by an ERG, have a credible return of vision, and subsequent return of ERG function, following their respective treatments. This is the most low hanging fruit of “evidence.” One patient. I do not believe that is too much to ask.
    If asked, most of my colleagues would confirm that most, not all patients demonstrate other clinical signs of hyperadrenocorticism such as polyuria, polydipsia, increased hunger and weight gain, but not all patients. Several breeds, such as the Miniature Dachshund, Miniature Schnauzer and Miniature Pinschers seem to be predisposed; these are breeds that have an increased incidence of primary hyperlipidemia. Does the presence of a chronically elevated blood triglyceride play a role in SARDs, or elevated hormone levels? Are patients with chronically elevated triglycerides predisposed to diabetes mellitus, systemic hypertension and other conditions that Dr. Plechner ascribes to SARDs? Do patients with the absence of other clinical signs of hyperadrenocorticism and an absent ERG have the same condition? What would an MRI show in confirmed SARDs patients? Certainly these are questions that should be considered when discussing this syndrome.
    To reply to C.P., many of my confirmed SARD patients retain distant motion vision for weeks to months following loss of functional vision, without any treatment. Patients with undiagnosed amaurosis in our practice are routinely treated with a therapeutic trial with oral prednisone. An occasional patient regains vision. Our conclusion: we did not cure SARDs, we did not make a correct diagnosis of the cause of their vision loss. I would partially agree with C.P.’s statement that “if there is some scientific plausibility, I am prepared to try anything that will not cause harm.” Without adequate knowledge of the condition you are treating, and associated disorders, are you causing harm? A Miniature Schnauzer, with SARD and primary hyperlipidemia, may be at an enhanced risk of pancreatitis and diabetes mellitus when treated with chronic oral corticosteroids. Should this patient be placed on the Plechner protocol? I believe that there were several patient deaths following IVIg therapy for SARD per Grozdanic. Do false hope and money spent on indecipherable laboratory tests cause harm? Only the well informed pet owner can make these decisions.
    I remain skeptical of the numerous claims many have regarding the pathogenesis or treatment of this confusing and complex disorder. From my point of view, Dr. Plechner appears to have little experience, short of internet communication, regarding SARDS. He doesn’t ask the right questions.
    “Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge.”
    Charles Darwin

  44. skeptvet says:

    Thank you very much for your comment. It is valuable to have the input of someone with your level of familiarity with what w eknow, and what we don’t know, about this condition.

  45. C.P. says:

    I am not versed in medical jargon/talk/whatever. Dr. can you comment in a simple way as to why most vets do not want to try Dr. Plechner’s treatmets? The problem I have is if vets do not know what causes sards and they cannot treat it why not do something, anything to help, be it Plechner’s treatment or whatever. There are so many on the internet that claim that Plechner’s and some nurse’s treatment has saved their dogs life and eyes. With all the talk that is going on about how well Plechner’s and the nurse’s treatment work, why not get into it and at least explain why vets will not try it. FYI, my dog has been to two vets and I have spend over 800.00 on the first vet just to find our after the third visit that he does not know anything about sards. He did call and say he has read some article about it and has found out that the symptoms are similar to Cushings. I was like “You could have told me from the get go that you did not know anything before I paid my hard earned money”. I am now on a second vet and it remains to be seen if he knows anything about sards. He did state that Cushings and SARDS have similar symptoms.

    To say I am frustrated is an understatement.
    Thanks for any input. C.P.

  46. skeptvet says:

    I can’t see a way to eplain in detail why most of us think Plechner’s theories are nonsense without talking about physiology and using medical jargon. The details of why his theories aren’t accepted do require some medical education to get into in detail. If medicine were simple and didn’t require a lot of training, we wouldn’t have to spend 4 years in college and 4-6 years in veterinary training to be veterinarians.

    Let’s start byb trying an analogy. Let’s say there’s something wrong with your car. You go to the mechanic, and he tells you it seems to have something to do with the alternator, but he’s not sure. He’ll have to remove some parts and run some tests, and he might find a fixable problem, or he might find something that can’t be fixed.

    Then you walk outside and a mechanic from down the street says he knows what the problem is, and all you have to do is buy this stuff and pour it in the gas tank. Nobody else uses the stuff, and most other mechanics think it’s BS, but he swears it works for almost anything that ever goes wrong with a car. He gives you the names of a lot of his customers who say their cars ran fine after they tried it. If you tried looking, you would also find a couple who have complained that they bought the stuff and used it and their cars went from bad to worse or gave out completely, but the ones the new mechanic tells you about were all satisfied customers.

    So do you buy the stuff and put it in your car? Do you trust the fiirst mechanic more or the second? If you car keeps running, did the stuff in the gas tank work? Or did it just keep running despite that? If you use the stuff and the car craps out, did the stuff do it or was it going to die eventually anyway?

    Plechner doesn’t know anything about SARDS that other vets don’t know. He simply has a theory which most of the rest of us think is BS and which has never been tested. He sells a lot of steroids and thyroid hormone and other stuff, and some of his patients get better (certainly all the ones he will tell you about). Some don’t get better, but you aren’t going to hear about them from Plechner or find their stories on his web site or in his book.

    If you read the post from sickdogeye, that is the opinion of an actual expert who knows as much about SARDS as anyone. You could also find a local veterinary opthalmologist to give you an opinion. But there is going to be a cost to more testing and treatment. And the frustrating, painful bottom line is there is no proven treatment for this disease. Sometimes, things may not be fixable. I understand that this drives people into the arms of folks liek Dr. Plechner, but what it’s easy to forget is that not only is there little reason to believe his therapies work, there’s no reason to believe they won’t make your dog’s life worse. Any therapy that does anything at all has side effects, and certainly there are know side effects to some of the drugs he uses. We used to live in a scoiety where anybody who wanted to could make something up and sell it as medicine, but we stopped allowing that for humans because it hurt far more people than it helped. Unfortunately, animal patients don’t have as much protection, so pet owners are often asked to try therapies no one would ever be permitted to try for humans without appropriate scientific testing.

    Only you can decide if you want to take this risk with your dog. But those of us who disagree with Dr. Plechner have no motivation other than the safety and well-being of veterinary patients. I own and regularly use the same kinds of drugs he uses, so if I wanted to I could take his protocol and sell it myself. Contrary to Plechner’s paranoid propoganda, I have no financial reason to challenge his claims. He’s not hurting my business or my feelings. But he might be unintentionally hurting patients and he is too convinced he’s right to submit his ideas to the careful scientific testing the majority of the medical community believes is necessary to make safe and effective medicines.

    Good luck.

  47. C.P. says:

    skeptvet, you make more sense than any of what I have read from other So Called SARDS experts. As I am sure you know, I want to help my dog but I also do not fall for things that do not make sense to me. My biggest problem with Plechner’s treatment is that if it works as others would have you believe, then why do other vets not get in on the act.

  48. v.t. says:


    It’s for the same reason that quacks treat (human) cancer patients with bogus treatments (or any other quack claiming to treat whatever illness).

    Just think of all the millions and all the nobels to be made if just once, one of the brave maverick doctors would do a proper clinical trial, and publish the results that could be favorably replicated (results that aren’t biased, poorly done, flawed etc) and that would prove to the world all those magical cures actually existed to benefit humanity.

    Those vets who do not get in on Plechner’s act, as you say, can see right through his bogus claims (doesn’t require rocket science, only requires critical thinking, a skeptical eye, and the ability to spot b.s. when you see it). Yes sometimes, it is hard to get past that it’s too good to be true thing…

  49. KC says:

    Obviously the guy is doing something right if he has boat loads of people bringing their animals there for treatment when they were given up on by other vets. I have lived plechner syndrome personally with my endocrine problems and witnessed an extreme drop in igas in accordance with elevated estrogen. His concept is not hard to grasp or even complex. The fact that most doctors do not understand the relationship between the endocrine system and the immune system enabled his theories. As for his science none of it is really hard to believe. It is known estrogen In large amounts promotes cancer and interferes with thyroid function. Most of what he says is common sense and has been proven in research studies. The knowledge just has not been combined. And if you can’t combine pre existing knowledge god help you.

  50. skeptvet says:

    So if lots of pet owners believe him he is right? But if lots of other veterinarians don’t believe him, that doesn’t matter? SO truth is a popularity contest, but only counting the votes of people who agree with you? If this is how we decide which medical therapies work and which don’t, God help us.

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