A Response to All the Quackery & BS in One Blog Entry

This post started because I realized I’d go to jail for cleansing colons. I saw one too many articles today about cleansing colons. My first thought was to go cleanse some people’s colons for publicizing this quack crap, but I’d probably end up in jail.

So I’m going to write instead. And it’s probably going to piss some people off. But, you know what? I’m sick of people messing with their kids’ bodies on the basis of instinct and what sounds good. Facts are not evil, people! When you have some facts, you should use them.

Sadly, the people doing the actual colon cleansing on innocent children get away with it, without jail.

So here’s my response, just in case anyone is curious about any of this.

First, your kid doesn’t need his colon cleansed.

Seriously. He doesn’t. No, he doesn’t. Yes, he has shit in his colon. You do too. But keep the shit in the colon and don’t replace your brains with shit. It’s supposed to be there! But you can read about the science of this here. Don’t have shit for brains. Keep it where it belongs.

Your kid doesn’t need a GF/CF Diet

Okay, if your kid really has celiac disease, certainly keep him on a GF diet (no need to do CF, however). For those not in the know, GF is “gluten free.” Gluten is found in pretty much all wheat and grains. Here’s a news flash: grains and wheats are good for you (unless you truly do have an allergy, and most of us don’t, autistic or not). It’s one of the key things that makes bread, well, bread.

CF is “casein free”. Casein is in milk and milk products. If your kid has a milk allergy (not noticed through behavior, but rather by things like a life threatening anaphylaxis reaction, hives, swelling in the lips and throat, etc), certainly don’t give the kid milk! But, again, milk is generally good for almost all autistic people.

Your kid almost certainly isn’t both gluten and casein allergic! If you have that rare kid, certainly, feed them whatever is left that doesn’t contain these things. But get a second opinion when deciding to alter your kid’s diet and restrict him to only a handful of things. The medical profession actually can diagnose this type of thing, so let them!

Now, lots of people say that removing G or C from a diet made their kids behave/communicate/toilet better (actually, it’s almost always both G and C). Science says bullshit in general.

You Don’t Need to be Perfect

Related to diets and such, one common quackery theme is that even one particle of contamination (where contamination is something natural in food, like gluten) will cause your kid to regress. The theory is basically that this seed of evil will germinate inside your kid and destroy him, without another cleansing/chelation/etc treatment.

So, if the treatment doesn’t help, guess what the problem is…if you guess YOU, you guessed right! You probably missed some infinitesimal seed of gluten. You didn’t do it good enough. The diet is fine. It’s you that’s a failure.

Again, that’s bullshit. One microgram of wheat will not hurt your kid.

But putting your kid on an extremely restrictive diet (how many food items can you name without milk or wheat or grain) is not good. It’s a lot harder to make a balanced diet when you cut out whole food groups – especially if your kid is a picky eater. Heck, plenty of autistics practically live on pizza. I’ve tried GF/CF pizza. Never again.

Shots don’t Give Mercury Poisoning

I’m not going to bother to support my argument, not because I can’t, but because thousands of other people have done so online, who have a lot better medical knowledge than you or I do.

Vaccinations are safe.  Period.  You are rejecting science if you don’t believe this.

Vaccinations also keep your kid well.  Despite the garbage to the contrary, it is good for your kid to be well.

Mercury Poisoning is Nothing Like Autism

Despite a published list a few years ago by some quacks that compares “symptoms of mercury poisoning” to “symptoms of autism,” the symptoms are not even close to the same. Mercury poisoning affects the skin and, particularly, the eyes in addition to the brain. If your doctor can’t tell the difference, you need a different doctor.

You Don’t Need to Ingest Metal

No, gold dust, gold pellets, and gold salts are not helpful. If you want gold, stick to jewelry that you like the look of. After all, it’s not even that great of an investment. But I’ll guarantee it’s a better investment as a coin or jewelry than ending up down the toilet.

Nor do You Need to Chelate Metal!

When the quacks aren’t trying to get people to take metal, they chelate them. Again, mercury isn’t autism, but plenty of quacks convince people it is. In the process, they suggest things like chelation – a process that is designed to remove metals from the body. One particularly scary treatment is EDTA chelation. Like most autism-related quackery things, it’s also a sold as quackery to cancer patients – so the American Cancer Society says some things about it, including:

Available scientific evidence does not support claims that chelation therapy is a safe treatment for any type of cancer. Chelation therapy may produce toxic effects, including kidney damage, irregular heart beat, and swelling of the veins. It may also cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and temporary lowering of blood pressure. Since the therapy removes minerals from the body, there is a risk of developing low calcium levels (hypocalcemia) and bone damage. Chelation therapy may also impair the immune system and decrease the body’s ability to produce insulin. People may also feel pain at the site of the EDTA injection. Chelation therapy may be dangerous in people with kidney disease, liver disease, or bleeding disorders. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not use this method.

Chelation therapy is often given along with large doses of vitamins and other minerals, which may actually contribute to the processes that produce dangerous free radicals in the body. Loss of zinc can also lead to mutations in cells. For this reason, chelation therapy may actually increase the risk of cancer.

In other words, this is not something to do to your kid, except in one circumstance: if you have solid proof your child has heavy metal poisoning. Note, again, that would never be confused with autism by anyone in the slightest bit competent. It has enough side-effects, I’d make sure to get a second opinion from another mainstream doctor, and then I would make sure that the facility where it is done can respond to the life-threatening emergencies (such as heart failure) that may occur.

But, again, it doesn’t do shit for autism.

Enema – More Shit Problems

Again, related to colon cleansing, this generally shouldn’t be a routine procedure for people! It can help with constipation and it can help with getting rid of shit for a colonoscopy. Other than that, it doesn’t particularly help autistic people.

Even worse is when standard enema are replaced with – essentially – bleach. Do you really think exposing sensitive organs (the colon) to bleach is a good idea? It’s not. Even when it’s called something like Miracle Mineral Supplement (nor is MMS good ingested orally – go figure, drinking bleach is bad for you). Did I mention MMS supposedly treats cancer?

Protip: anything that treats both cancer and autism does neither; this goes double for anything that adds HIV to the mix of things it supposedly treats.

Ah, the Fascination with Shit

There’s a huge fascination with shit among quackery. There’s a lot of parents that have trouble toilet training their autistic children, so I can understand the focus on shit. But, at the same time, not being able to communicate to a person to teach toilet training does not mean that the person has a health condition in their gut. Nor does periodic bouts of diarrhea or constipation indicate general health issues – we all deal with this. But if it is frequent, definitely talk to a mainstream doctor about the condition. But you’re not dealing with autism, you’re dealing with something else.

There’s also difficulty autistics have processing sensory information and sometimes making motor movements, both of which are required for successful toilet training. Someone that is helping will know this and consider this, and not just radical diet changes without evidence of problems (other than stool).

Finally, stress messes up people’s guts. And plenty of autistic people have stressful lives, due to sensory issues, social expectations, and, sadly, some of the things people do to try to cure them. I don’t know much about toilet training, but I know that stressing out the kid doesn’t help. Go figure – stress doesn’t help with any kind of learning. Or health.

Oh, There’s More

Yes, there are other quackeries. I’m not going to get into some of the other ones now, as these were the ones that annoyed me today. Maybe you’ll see a second post later.

So What Can You Do?

In general, what you do for other kids. Feed them good food (not restricted diets only because the kid is autistic). Focus on things other than shit all the time (seriously!). Stay away from things that claim to cure cancer. Don’t think that there is some sort of secret knowledge that science and Big Pharma is hiding from you – there’s plenty of problems in our health care system and with corporate pharmaceuticals, but spreading autism isn’t one of them – and plenty of Big Pharma developed drugs are good and helpful, even life saving.

Realize there is no cure for autism. So instead of curing and overcoming, focus on ways you can raise your kid to be at the fullest of his autistic potential. Listen to him when he complains (with words or otherwise) of environmental stimulus (like sounds, tastes, etc). Try not to add to a stressful life!

Find your kid’s strengths and gifts. What does he do best? Did you know that research has shown that there are some brain functions that autistic people do really well, not just ones they do badly? Discover what is unique and wonderful about your child. Autism or not, he’s your child!

Brockovich Syndrome

A recent Wall Street Journal article describes what happened as a result of Wakefield’s lies. In the name of “keeping kids safe”, parents are avoiding vaccines that are known to be both safe and effective, and which, ironically, really do keep kids safe.

I call it Brochovich Syndrome. Erin Brockovich, a non-scientist, single mother, uncovered a health disaster caused by the local utility near her small California town – the utility was poisoning the water and then lying about it.

This has caused countless others to search for the causes of things like autism. Many non-scientist parents blame vaccines for causing their child’s autism, either through the preservative (which contains mercury atoms) or the MMR for being too much for the child’s body at once. Some even combine these theories. A man named Andrew Wakefield, who had a serious, undisclosed conflict of interest proposed the MMR theory.

A diagram of a Thiomersal molocule.  See the gray thing?  That's where the Mercury atom is.

A diagram of a Thiomersal molocule. See the gray thing? That’s where the Mercury atom is.

Of course smart people – with actual medical training – came up with the idea to use preservatives in vaccines to prevent bacterial and fungal contamination of the vaccine. In essence, it’s not too different than asking medical professionals to decontaminate wounds with agents that kill bacteria – these infections can be deadly. Obviously, injecting live infectious bacterial or fungi into a body is a bad thing. So they added thiomersal (alternative name/spelling: thimerosal). They needed something that would kill fungi and bacteria, to keep vaccines safe. So they used this chemical to do it. Thiomersal technically includes mercury, although saying that is rather like saying “Water contains explosive hydrogen” because water has two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom. Thiomersal consists of, yes, mercury atoms, and also sulfer, sodium, hydrogen, and carbon. And while it is a toxic substance (so are lots of drugs we use – the key is dosage – when you want to kill disease, you use things that…well, kill – for instance, oxygen is toxic). So, a tiny amount of thiomersal is used, which has been determined to not be harmful to humans (even infants) in the concentration used, to avoid infection, which has been determined to be deadly to humans (even infants).

What happens when something like thiomersal is not used? Simple – people die. Of course if you think autism is worse than death…well, maybe it’s worth it for the discredited hogwash that generated mercury-in-vaccine hype.

Then there is the MMR which doesn’t contain thiomersal (it works on a different principle and thiomersal would destroy the vaccine). The theories are that the three elements of the MMR overwhelm the body’s defense mechanism, causing autism, and that these should be given individually instead of combined. Of course they are given combined because all three elements – measles, mumps, and rubella – can be dangerous or deadly. Ironically, rubella is one of the few known causes of autism – when the mother has rubella in pregnancy, birth defects are a too-common result. And you get rubella by not getting vaccinated (note that there is no link in children getting rubella and autism). So the very act of people not getting the MMR (uh, to supposedly avoid being given autism) is likely to increase the prevalence of autism! But the idea with giving all three at once is that it is much easier to accomplish. Instead of a child needing to see a medical facility three times, and have proper records and such, it’s one visit. One visit is easier than three, particularly once the diseases are mostly under control (and thus not seen as a reason for rushing to the doctor to prevent). Plus, most people’s experience with the mumps or measles is that “you get over it.” Often, you do. But it still can have lifelong effects. For instance, the mumps, while not causing autism, can cause deafness, impotence, miscarriage, meningitis, encephalitis, and even death in some cases. And while these things are rare, they are more common than it causing autism! But even so, the call for separate vaccines persists – despite it meaning less people will get the vaccines, and it being bad medical science to cater to people who hold irrational fears of medicine.

But, when the medical professionals shouted about “MMR DOESN’T CAUSE AUTISM” AND “THIOMERSAL DOESN’T CAUSE AUTISM,” people saw it as a cover-up. It was the medical community protecting themselves. And then came people with Brockovich Syndrome – they “discovered” the connection between giving their child a vaccine and the child “developing” autism, usually with a dramatic fever at some point shortly after the vaccine. Medical science says autism is clearly not related to vaccines. But that’s not enough to cause someone to think that it doesn’t, if they think they’ve made the connection.

Oh, on Erin Brockovich and her findings of contaminated water causing the unusually high prevalence in Cancer? Some skepticism may be warranted.

Another Reason to Support Vaccines

Vaccines save lives.

Seriously.  Even for diseases you don’t think kill.

I’m not going to argue about whether they cause autism.  They don’t.  That’s scientific fact.  We don’t need additional studies.  It is clear, verifiable, easily researched fact.  Just like the earth is round, not flat.  Not understanding this doesn’t make your opinion any more true – vaccines have nothing to do with autism.

But they do have everything to do with both your and other people’s well being.  Even your life.

A family member came down with whopping cough a month or two ago.  He’s a bit older than me.  Up to this point, he was pretty healthy.

He’s still got a cough, but much of it was getting better.  During the worst of it, he coughed so hard that he broke his ribs.

He would cough hard and long enough to lose consciousness.

In a complication from this, today he was rushed to the hospital while having a heart attack.  Fortunately, everything lined up perfectly in this man’s life and everyone did exactly the right things – he’s recovering now.

It was a blood clot from his lung that cut off blood flow to part of his heart.  A blood clot most likely due to the damage he did to his lungs coughing.

It took an emergency procedure, amazing medical technology, and a stint to keep him alive.  Fortunately we have some wonderful, life saving procedures and devices today.  It took a bunch of them to keep him alive.

One of those amazing things we have is vaccines.  This is what “just” whooping cough can do.  Don’t let your kid spread something that will kill someone else.  And certainly, if vaccines are recommended by the medical authorities for you, GO GET THE DARN THINGS.  You might save your life.  Or someone else’s.

If you’re an adult (19 or older), the CDC recommends a Tdap booster every 10 years.  The Tdap includes the Whooping Cough vaccine.  (children also have recommendations for being vaccinated against Whooping Cough – that information is easily available online)

An Oldie…The Perfect Storm

One of the autism causation theories currently circulating is the theory that mercury causes autism. This theory follows a long line of theories that hold the “promise” of allowing parents to cure their autistic offspring. We’ve been through this before – we’ve seen the refrigerator mother theory. We’ve seen the demonic possession theory. We’ve seen changeling and elves. We’ve seen holding therapy. We’ve seen secretin. We’ve seen mega-doses of vitamins. We’ve seen gold salts. We’ve seen the MMR and the leaky gut theory. All these share, with mercury, a complete absence of valid scientific evidence. I doubt we’ve seen the last of the unscientific theories, either.

This is an old article, written around 2005.  I’ve reposted it because, sadly it’s still relevant in some circles.  But since 2005, there’s been court cases on this, notably in the vaccine court, which according to one of the judges, “This case . . . is not a close case. The overall weight of the evidence is overwhelmingly contrary to the petitioners’ causation theories.”  Yet many people are still avoiding vaccinating their children, largely because of the bogus theory that there is a link between mercury and autism. Continue reading