Monday, July 11, 2011

Are We That Gullible?

Unfortunately, having a chronic disease like multiple sclerosis—a disease that continues to be defined as incurable—makes us more susceptible to charlatans and snake oil. We desperately want better answers … and that makes us, to put it bluntly, gullible. Case in point, there recently was a sad story of a woman who was told by a “doctor” that she didn't have MS (it must instead be Lyme Disease)—and to change her treatment completely … and to take a baldness treatment, a drug for Alzheimer's, and shots of vitamins (B12). Her daughter, who was told by the same practitioner to soak in a hot tub while eating watermelon, eventually reported the man to authorities after thousands of dollars had been spent ($300 a visit can get pricey). The mother later died. Stories that end fatally are unusual—it’s more common that the story ends with you and your money separating while your disease progresses.

I know what you are thinking. “Dave, I’m way too bright for this and there’s no way I’d fall for eating watermelon in a hot tub, or cantaloupe for that matter.” Here’s the problem. The allure of elixirs claiming to fix us is hard to resist because their supposed solutions have enough fact to sound plausible, indeed enough quasi-science to sound beneficial. And elixir companies are only too happy to exploit this, stopping at nothing to get to your wallet or billfold.

For example, after ignoring phone calls and e-mails from an MS supplement/diet "business," I got an unsolicited check in the mail for $100 sent 2-day air "just to show you how easy it is to collect commissions from us" if I promote their special "MS course" on ActiveMSers (and in my e-newsletter). Of course I was asked to also plug their webinar, which incidentally will discuss the pros and cons of chronic cerebro-spinal venous insufficiency (CCSVI), a topic that’s a clever and guaranteed audience draw even though their treatment has nothing to do with CCSVI. It goes on to say "you can help your followers learn how to get rid of their MS symptoms"—like, he explains, fatigue, pain and tingling, and loss of balance and memory—and "generate income to help your business." Wow, a miracle treatment that also makes me money. Hmm. This gentleman, and I use that term loosely, is either a fraud or a soon-to-be winner of the Nobel Prize in both medicine and business.

On the internet there are gatekeepers, and I am proud to be one. I never responded. But for every website like mine, there is another that will cash that check, make extra money, all at your expense. So when you read effusive praise about some supplement, diet, program, or procedure, beware. Then take a cold shower while eating a bowl full of pomegranate seeds sprinkled with cinnamon. The cool water will help restore nerve conductivity, the continuous stream will activate the critical stimuli responsible for the neuro-reconnection between your axons and spinal column, all while the antioxidant properties of the pomegranate, used by ancient Egyptians, will act as a powerful immunomodulator. Its effects are magnified when combined with the anti-inflammatory properties of cinnamon, which currently is being studied by the NIH for its ability to counteract and inhibit the glial activation that causes brain cell death. The simultaneous fusion of all three has the proven potential to improve symptoms and reverse MS.

Or just take a cold shower and chill out. And for gosh sakes, don’t buy that bridge.

5 comments:

Mike said...

Well said Dave! After four years I still have someone ask me if I have tried 'x' miracle cure every few months. Cinnamon! I've seen that all over, what's next, water?!

Anonymous said...

Hey Dave, glad you got this thing working. Are we that gullible? No probably not. Do "they" have access to banks of marketing firms that specialize in tweaking our interest and selling us worthless crap? Yes.

Here's a thought. In addition to not promoting them, how about exposing them? Of course, then I look at the Wikileaks founder who stepped on some very large toes and I sort of have to question the wisdom of that too.

Larry

Dave Bexfield said...

Mike—I can't count the number of times people have told me about miracle cures. Cinnamon, whether it helps or not, is going to be big business now since it is being studied in one small clinical trial.

Larry—Actually the hucksters I know of usually write compelling letters to reel you in. As for exposing these folks, members of ActiveMSers can read about them on our member-only forum. (Join by signing up for the newsletter at www.activemsers.org)

bobo said...

Thanks Dave. Sometimes in frustration, people are willing to try anything, no matter how bizarre it sounds or how miserable it makes them, all in hopes of curing MS.
Hopefully we are accepting of the fact that our MS has been diagnosed and that it's chronic, and we need to think of strategies that allow us to live with our MS, not be dominated by the MS label.
Thanks for your words.

Dave Bexfield said...

Thanks bobo, as you can see I am just trying to bring a little common sense into the conversation. Which is not always easy to do.