Exposing the flakes, fakes (phonies), and frauds in natural medicine

I was recently reminded of a danger that I’ve spent my entire career trying to guard against…

The flakes, fakes (phonies), and frauds in the field of natural medicine.

Make no mistake, these swindlers are out there in droves—or perhaps in covens—promoting their flimflam. And they harken back to the old days of snake oil salesmen. Only today, they’re preying on good people seeking to achieve optimal health outside of the toxic, mainstream medical system. And they use the all-too-accessible internet and social media to try to do so.

So, today, I want to warn you all about the unqualified “natural-know-it-alls” that are out there, and provide you with some guidance in finding a trustworthy, qualified practitioner—one who uses effective, time-tested, and science-backed natural approaches.

No understanding—nor mention—of the hard science

These natural-know-it-alls seem to have different potions in their broom closets. But they appear to share a few dangerous traits in common…

First, they don’t know enough to know what they don’t know. Thus, they think they know it all (therefore, the name I always apply to them).

But in reality—their knowledge is severely lacking.

In fact, many don’t hold advanced degrees or have any kind of legitimate training in biology, health, medicine, or science. Instead, they go on “weekend getaways” or “retreats” to swap trade secrets.

Second, they don’t conduct their own rigorous research—as I did during my 40-year-career with the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the Institute of Pathology at Walter Reed Medical Center. What’s worse is they try to cloak themselves in credibility provided by those who do conduct the real research and scholarship (until you run afoul of them).

Third, most don’t seem to understand the actual botany, biology, or science. In fact, I wonder if they even want to understand the science, the real facts, or the rules of evidence. Some don’t even appear to know how to think logically or rationally. And they certainly don’t recognize the irony of their unoriginal, singular viewpoints, which they parrot back and forth to each other without any facts or evidence.

So, while I highly recommend the right herbal remedies, I need to warn you: Be really careful of some who call themselves “herbalists.” Check out their websites and social media presence for clear signs of flimflam. It’s not hard to spot.

For example: Do they list any accreditation or notable work? Do they present themselves professionally in all of their communications? Do they have a catalogue of work, or do they only appear to follow the latest trends?

Unfortunately, these undisciplined purveyors give natural medicine a bad name. In fact, crony, corporatist mainstream medicine uses them as an indictment of anyone interested in non-drug, natural approaches.

Science-backed natural approaches DO exist

Throughout my 40-year career, I’ve spent a lot of time investigating how well natural remedies hold up to rigorous, scientific testing. In fact, I was fortunate to be part of a pioneering generation of scientists who first tested and published nutritional and natural remedies, and nutritional approaches, in the modern era.

For example, in the mid-1980s, I helped discover the role of carotenoids, lutein, and lycopene in foods and human metabolism and nutrition in my clinical and lab research with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Human Nutrition Research Center in Beltsville, Maryland.

I’ve found there’s never any real reason to resort to the untested gimmicks these natural-know-it-alls promote, as the science does exist for real, effective natural approaches.

I also take great care and pride in choosing credentialed, published professionals in medicine, health, and science (who are also trained and do serious research in natural medicine) to contribute to my natural medicine textbooks.

In fact, my textbook Fundamentals of Complementary, Alternative & Integrative Medicine was the first textbook in the U.S. in the field of complementary medicine. And it’s been continuously in print for 25 years—now in its sixth edition. When it was first released, my colleague and friend Dr. Ron Hoffman had me on his radio show (WOR in New York) to recommend it to doctors…and to patients to take to their doctors!

I regularly recommend it as a resource because it also shows you all the ways to find trustworthy, qualified practitioners in all the legitimate fields of natural medicine. I also recommend it as an antidote to the semi-superstitious practices and potions out there.

Because in all my publications—which include my textbooks, the Daily Dispatch, my Insiders’ Cures newsletter, and my online learning protocols—I aim to show doctors and patients alike that there is legitimate science and historical practice in what has been labeled as “alternative medicine.”

In these publications, I also aim to help everyone learn how to tell the difference between legitimate natural medicine and “witchcraft,” for lack of a better term.

Unfortunately, those of us who take a serious approach to science-backed natural medicine can be bludgeoned from both sides. In fact, both mainstream medicine and the natural-know-it-all fringe falsely find fault with the science-backed middle ground of complementary medicine.

Now, please don’t get me wrong…

There are plenty of solid practitioners of natural medicine who bring that extra dimension of healing, holism, and Nature into their practices. For example, I strongly endorse trained, licensed practitioners of Naturopathic Medicine (NM). These professionals attend one of several highly accredited post-graduate schools and are legally licensed in one of many states now. In fact, as I write in my textbook, NM is today’s only form of truly authentic integrative medicine, bringing natural approaches into legitimate health care.

The natural-know-it-alls of the world seem to have a strong need to express themselves. But it seems their only contributions are on social media. (And certainly not in medical textbooks…or to the world of science through actual research).

So, take pity on them. But don’t take them your business.

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