Remembering the Pseudo-Science That Is Conventional Medicine: A Rebuttal

The recent blog article on the PLOS (Public Library of Science) website, “The Rise of Pseudoscience in Alternative Medicine and How To Talk About It”,  by Stephen Eastlack, may have some people thinking to themselves, “How can it be that some individuals are ignoring the true scientific evidence and believing in these unproven alternative remedies”?


If you were thinking that as well, this article can help to dispel some of the myths of conventional medicine that this author relies on to bolster his arguments about alternative health.  Most of what he states is hearsay and repetition of old lies that have become accepted as truth through constant repetition and little evidence.

conventional medicine doctors
Doctor by Hamza Butt on flickr

I would like to start with the discussion of Jonas Salk.  Did you know that Jonas Salk had a colleague who successfully treated polio with…  Vitamin C injections?  I repeat that the treatment was successful, as if it were not it would not be worth discussing.  His name was Fred R. Klenner, and he is known in orthomolecular (or vitamin therapy) circles as someone worthy of recognition in their Hall Of Fame.

While Jonas Salk was perfecting his vaccine, which came with a host of side effects, was contaminated with SV-40, and was not truly all that effective (as I will discuss in a few moments), Dr. Klenner was quietly practicing true science: theory, treatment, observation, repetition.  That is quality science, based on the scientific method which used to be taught in school, with the last portion of the method being perhaps the most important and most neglected in modern scientific inquiry.

Dr. Klenner had a large number of patients with polio, and he thought that perhaps he could treat their condition by using a simple, side-effect-free treatment that was also a vitamin, known by then to be essential to the proper functioning of the human body.  So, he gave his patients injections of Vitamin C, four times per day, of 1,000 mg per dose.  When this unconventional (and unpatentable, unprofitable) treatment was administered for four full days, the polio was gone and so was the disability that it had produced.  People were walking as normal, and able to go home, healthy and well.  However, Jonas Salk ignored these discoveries, laughing them off as unscientific, and continued on his way making the blockbuster, monstrously profitable, side-effect ridden and contaminated polio vaccine.

Upon the introduction of the vaccine, there was another critical introduction that would give this vaccine the undeserved credit of having cured the polio epidemic.  This was the introduction of more accurate viral testing, so that they would know for sure who actually had the virus.  Prior to this testing, the diagnosis of polio was made by certain factors, none of which included testing for the actual virus.  This meant that many conditions that were not polio were diagnosed as polio.  In addition to this, many cases of polio were actually caused by the Salk and Sabin vaccines, and outbreaks are still occurring today as late as 2015.  The Salk vaccine was also contaminated with the SV-40 simian virus, which has been shown to cause cancer later in life.

Where the author from the PLOS website states that everyone in their neighborhood knew someone stricken with the disease, more than half of those believed to be stricken were actually suffering from one of many polio-like diseases, not polio itself.  Due to the advanced testing, Jonas Salk was lauded as a hero, having defeated one of the worst diseases in history.  But was he really a hero?

conventional medicine doctors are not safe
Doctor by Daniel Lobo on flickr

The second example that is often lauded by conventional medicine proponents was smallpox.  The smallpox vaccine was a horrible miserable failure whose use took the lives of so many.  By looking at epidemiological studies and newspaper articles from those days (as Suzanne Humphries did in her excellent book debunking vaccine heroism, Dissolving Illusions, which these paragraphs are referenced from), it can be seen that the outbreaks of smallpox were mostly in areas where the vaccine was administered, and were among the vaccinated.  It turned out that, when you examine the actual evidence, the smallpox vaccine was causing more cases of smallpox than it was preventing.

In addition to this obvious mishap of science, the vaccine was created in and from the blood and bodies of animals.  These animals were never tested for any diseases, and many of them had foot and mouth disease, as well as other diseases that could be transmitted to humans and weren’t discovered yet.  Continuously during the time of the administration of the smallpox vaccine, there were outbreaks of a mystery disease whose symptoms seem a lot like the symptoms of foot and mouth disease.  So, not only was the vaccine causing smallpox, it was also causing other animal borne, human transmissible diseases.

The true eradication of smallpox actually came from improved sanitary conditions and new sanitation regulations, especially with regard to toilets, plumbing, windows, and the like.  Prior to these regulations, people used the streets as an alternative toilet, and often housing was located right next to slaughterhouses, whose waste contaminated the streets as well.

At this time, it became a common practice in some areas to remove the smallpox infected person, and their whole family, from the home.  The rooms were then completely disinfected, and when the family was returned, everyone remained well. In these areas, smallpox was eradicated without the use of any vaccine.

cup of herbal tea
Cup of Tea by Marco Verch on flick

Another common misconception about modern medicine is that the other vaccines, such as those for measles, mumps, and rubella, eradicated these respective diseases.  However, it can be seen from charts shown in the Humphries book referenced above, and at another website that the diseases were already eradicated before the vaccine was ever released.

Additionally, measles and the mumps are not generally deadly in healthy people. However, doctors who administer and promote these vaccines are not aware of this, as they are taught differently in medical school.  They are taught a false history so that they will promote these vaccines and other drugs, which many parents find have done real harm to their children.

When you move into this modern era that the author refers to, after the 19th Century when doctors no longer do more harm than good, there are some facts that he is overlooking.  Most people may not know that all of the medications that are new are, in actual fact, not truly scientifically tested.

Whereas older drugs, those created in the 20th Century before about 1980, were subjected to rigorous scientific inquiry and true research, this is not the case any longer. Another great book that is well-written and heavily researched and cited is called Deadly Medicine and Organized Crime.  In this book, we find that in this new era of science and evidence based medicine, nearly all of the medications that are currently being studied are not truly being studied by the scientists we trust.

Instead, all of the data, all of the research, all of the information from the study is given to the drug company.  The doctor whose name is on the study in many cases never even sees this data.  The data is then manipulated exclusively by the drug company, which is free to destroy whatever portions do not agree with their desired conclusions (that their drug is safe and effective, and more effective than other, older drugs).

canned pickes and preserves for natural health
Canned Pickles by Marco Verch on flickr

The drug company then provides the manipulated data to their marketing and PR departments for them to write the papers that are sent the FDA, the regulatory body.  Thus, the FDA is receiving heavily manipulated data and written papers that do not necessarily reflect the truth. These drugs are then approved on the basis of false data.  This may explain why so many drugs are pulled from the market for having caused many deaths, such as Celebrex and Warfarin. In both cases, the drugs were returned to the market with extra warnings on their labels.

In addition to this, there is no longer any independent research allowed or required for any drug.  Whenever a drug company does submit to an independent research analysis, their drug does not come out in such a great light at the end.  As an example, one of the statin drugs was subjected to independent review, and it was found that, instead of helping 50% of the people who took the drug (which is what the manufacturer and the FDA state), this particular drug actually helped only 1% of people.  Given the incredibly debilitating side-effects of statins in general, this is unacceptable.  The researchers were David Diamond, of the Veterans Hospital in Tampa, Florida, and independent researcher Dr Uffe Ravnskov.

So in answer to Stephen Eastlack’s claim that medicine is no longer doing more harm than good, the above examples should stand as testament to the untruth of his statement.

When it comes to alternative medicine, there is a consensus among conventional medicine practitioners that there is “no evidence.”  Stephen Eastlack actually goes so far as to state that most types of alternative medicine, in a blanket statement, owe their effectiveness to the placebo effect.  In other words, people imagine that treatments work, but in reality they do not.


However, this is simply untrue.  A quick search for a couple of alternative medicine modalities on will reveal that therapies such as massage therapy, acupuncture, and certain herbs (check the AREDS study on macular degeneration) have a great deal of double blind, controlled, peer-reviewed studies to back them up.  This is solid evidence that was generally paid for by disinterested third parties, who were usually non-profit or government organizations.

ginger as a natural remedy
Ginger by Marco Verch on flickr

The website is a website place where huge amounts of research about vitamins in therapy are posted.  For example, Dr. William Kaufmann found that after six months of treatment with niacinamide (vitamin B3) for arthritis, the joints began to heal.  Continued treatment with the vitamin lead to continued improvement, until many of the patients who were given the treatment no longer had arthritis as long as they continued the treatment with niacinamide.  Joints that appeared severely deteriorated were able to be rebuilt with this inexpensive and side-effect-free vitamin treatment.  You can learn more at this page from Dr. Kaufmann’s website


As referenced above, macular degeneration is a condition for which there is no conventional medical treatment.  However, using a formula containing lutein, zeaxanthin, vitamin C, zinc, and other nutraceuticals, macular degeneration can be reversed.


There were multiple double-blind placebo-controlled studies and follow-up studies determining the effects of the above nutrients for preventing development and engendering reversal of macular degeneration.  This study was funded by the National Eye Institutes (a governmental research institute), and patients were followed up with for five years and ten years.  It also turned out that patients taking the formulation including zinc had a lower rate of death from circulatory diseases of any type.


In addition to this type of accepted research, there are literally hundreds of case studies published on the internet, on pubmed, on, and in alternative health magazines, that demonstrate the effectiveness of alternative medicine treatments for many conditions that conventional medicine has few solutions for.  Cancer, arthritis, macular degeneration, and many other conditions would fit this category.


I do appreciate the fact that the author of the PLOS article admits that iatrogenic harm and hospital acquired infection make it so that some people would have been better off (and still alive in some cases) had they not sought medical treatment.  According to an article published in the JAMA in 2000, iatrogenic (doctor caused) deaths, deaths from improperly and properly prescribed medications, deaths from hospital negligence and incurable infections has nearly surpassed the death toll from the so-called “number one killers” of heart disease and cancer.

nature is my medicine
Nature Is My Medicine by mkhmarketing on flickr

Given that these numbers are self-reported, by a profession whose malpractice insurance rates are astronomically high and would go higher if it were known how many deaths they actually cause, these numbers are likely much, much higher.  You can see an article about this on NPR and an article about the JAMA article (which has been deleted from the JAMA website).  In the last 17 years, this situation has undoubtedly grown worse rather than better, as MRSA infections and other resistant bacterial infections are now rampant in hospitals.


One last point I would like to make, about the above mentioned malpractice insurance.  The rate that a practitioner has to pay for their malpractice insurance is generally based on actual claims that people in their profession have had made against them, for death, dismemberment, or long-term disability.


So it is interesting to note that while physicians pay in the thousands to tens of thousands annually for their insurance, nearly all alternative health providers pay a couple of hundred dollars for their equivalent insurance.  This includes chiropractors, midwives, physical therapists, acupuncturists, and massage therapists.


I am not familiar with the prices of malpractice insurance for other alternative medicine providers, such as naturopaths, but I would guess that it is similar to these low rates.  That cost should give you a good indication of what practitioner is more likely to make a decision that would lead to your death, and it isn’t the alternative medicine provider.


So, perhaps now that you have read this article, you will understand that conventional medicine is not all that it is supposed to be.  For many health conditions, especially those for which conventional medicine has few effective treatments, natural medicine may be an answer.  When you weigh the benefits and the risks, you may in fact decide to skip conventional medicine entirely.  In all likelihood, you will live a longer and healthier life without it.

Elizabeth Pringle