Put conventional logic to one side and join me on a trip to the Caribbean where we will meet holistic therapists, dodgy diagnostic tests, fantastical cancer treatments, heavy metal rock gods, porn stars and also some really bad and shocking things too.
Louise Mclean (not pictured) is a rather prominent UK homeopath and writer. Based in London, and a member of the Homeopathic Medical Association, she is probably most famous for her Zeus Homeopathic News Service. This fortnightly newsletter (subscription £1) is a round up of web links for news about homeopathy. It also includes links to articles condemning real medicine, conspiracy theories, anti-vaccination sites and ‘Health Freedom’ advocates, and so reveals much about the homeopathic mindset. Naturally, there is little criticism of claims in the newsletter. Pretty much any ‘alternative’ health belief is accepted.
Her web site is now advertising “The Miracle of Ozone Therapy” which appears to be some sort of cancer therapy based at the Sante Caribe Wellness Center, Nevis and St Kitts in the Caribbean. Louise Mclean tells us that “Ozone is electrified oxygen which can turn around any disease process.” The treatments are targeting people with “degenerative diseases or cancer.” Louise looks like she is acting as an agent for this facility as she says,
Email Louise Mclean at santecaribe@XXXX or louise4writer@XXXX for details on how to contact Sante Caribe Ozone Center. I can also give contact details to prospective patients who want to find out exactly what can be treated. Telephone (UK): 0208 728 XXXX or 0208 998 XXXX. Practitioners can contact me to find out about referral commission.
The Sante Caribe Center appears to be run by Director of Operations, Dr. Richard Santee, N.D., C.N.M., Dr. Alan Schwartz, M.D. and Dr. Charles Morris, N.D. But let’s leave these characters to one side for the moment – we can have a good look at them later – and also let’s not worry too much about the Cancer Act of 1939 that makes it a criminal offence to “take any part in the publication of any advertisement containing an offer to treat any person for cancer”. Instead, let us begin by looking at the techniques on offer at the Sante Caribe Center.
We are told that:
At Sante Caribe, we treat the PERSON, not the DISEASE.
We take pride in offering only:
• holistic, and
• highly effective programs for most chronic and degenerative conditions
Some of the diseases we treat:
• Cardio-Vascular Disease
• ALS, CFS, MS
• Kidney Disease
• Liver Disease
To treat these diseases simply requires a non refundable deposit of $12,000 with the full amount of $19,000 to cover the health programme and meals (airfares and bar drinks not included.)
It is not clear from their brochure what sort of facility Sante Caribe ‘Ozone Center’ appears to be. It looks like a hotel that the ‘center’ is borrowing. Indeed, the brochure claims that
Sante Caribe is a full service wellness center as well as a top Caribbean resort destination. In addition to the wellness center services, we offer many outdoor activities for the entire family and casino gambling for adults.
Most of our modalities can be administered to you
in the privacy of your own suite.
• Our ozone generators are portable, so we bring the treatments to you.
• You will have time to go down to the beach and get plenty of sunshine
while enjoying our many beach activities.
• Meals can be served in your room or in the main dining room.
• Lectures on treatments and modalities used at our center will be
conducted several times per week in the conference room.
It would appear that the Sante Caribe ‘Ozone Center’ is actually the Royal St. Kitts Hotel & Casino, a business formerly known as “Jack Tar Village”. Apparently, this resort has won the “Most Creative Business Award” at the St. Kitts Tourism Authority’s 2008-09 Tourism Awards.
So, it sounds like a nice place. The brochure says “There are full restaurant, bar and casino facilities on the property. We have many water activities such as snorkeling [sic], SCUBA, surfing, sail boarding, kayaking and sport fishing available.” Everything the terminally ill patient may need.
Before treatment can begin at Sante Caribe, a number of special diagnostic techniques are on offer. Let’s look at these:
Live Blood Analysis
We have seen this technique before at a similar ‘alternative cancer clinic’ Las Mariposas in Spain. This technique is described as an ‘unrivaled [sic] tool in diagnostic technology’ and is able to give ‘clues to the overall condition of the patient’ and help ‘educate and motivate the patient’. Stephen Barrett describes Live Blood Analysis as “Another Gimmick to Sell You Something”. This technique appears to be nothing more than looking a blood cells down a microscope and then proclaiming that (usually) you need lots of expensive vitamin pills.
An article in the Guardian described Live Blood Analysis as where
…patients are potentially cheated three times over. First, you are diagnosed with a "condition" you don’t have; then a lengthy and expensive treatment ensues; and finally the bogus test is repeated and you are declared "improved" or "back to normal".
Seeing one’s own blood cells on a video screen is, admittedly, a powerful experience. It gives patients the impression of hi-tech, cutting edge science combined with holistic care. And impressed patients are ready to part with a lot of money. American websites explain how a practitioner can make $100,000 (£57,000) annually by purchasing the equipment necessary for performing LBA. The bulk of this money is made not through charging for the test itself but by selling expensive nutritional supplements to the patient with the promise that these will correct whatever abnormality has been diagnosed.
Not satisfied that the blood test is enough, Sante Caribe will next deliver:
Hair Mineral Analysis
We have discussed this technique too on the Quackometer, as it is a tool favoured by disciples of Patrick Holford. Once again, the technique looks very scientific and gives you lots of computer readings, but it is just not possible to make dietary or clinical recommendations based on such a broad sweeping tool. As Barrett says,
Hair analysis is worthless for assessing the body’s nutritional status or serving as a basis for dietary or supplement recommendations. Should you encounter a practitioner who claims otherwise, run for the nearest exit!
The few clinical trials of this technique have not been favourable with labs not being able to agree with each other:
The reported levels of most minerals varied considerably between identical samples sent to the same laboratory and from laboratory to laboratory. The laboratories also disagreed about what was "normal" or "usual" for many of the minerals. Most reports contained computerized interpretations that were voluminous, bizarre, and potentially frightening to patients.
Six laboratories recommended food supplements, but the types and amounts varied widely from report to report and from laboratory to laboratory. Literature from most of the laboratories suggested that their reports were useful in managing a wide variety of diseases and supposed nutrient imbalances. However, commercial use of hair analysis in this manner is unscientific, economically wasteful, and probably illegal.
Need to stoop a little lower? Then try:
Yes, taking their lead from Gillian McKeith, they will earn their $19,000 by poking around in your poo. Actually, I am wrong. They say, “Stool samples are sent to our partner laboratory”. I am sure they do not want to ruin the smell of the sweet Caribbean air by doing it themselves. Whatever results comeback from the poo lab we can be pretty sure that it may well lead to further vitamin pill sales.
And on to the treatments.A wide range is available.
Immuno Therapy and Liver Detoxification
Things that ‘boost the immune system’ and ‘detox’ are simple quackery. Meaningless mumbo jumbo usually involving the sale of ‘immune boosting’ and ‘detoxing’ vitamin pills.
This a technique that Sante Caribe claims to “digest and destroy cancer and to aid in the reduction of fibrin round the tumor mass. Enzymes can also boost the immune system and enhance the circulatory system.” A company that developed “Enzymatic Therapy products” was closed by the Amercian FDA “follow[ing] a six-year FDA investigation prompted by reports to the agency of serious injuries and a death following use of so-called "nutritional supplements" manufactured by the firm.”
Now, this is the only treatment that I may not get too upset about. Who would not want a good rub down. For $19,000 though you would hope it was ‘top notch’.
Cesium / High PH Therapy
Now we start getting into serious quackery, Cesium Therapists claim that cesium chloride supplements can kill cancer cells. Apparently “proponents claim the intracellular pH of tumor cells is usually very low, or acidic, compared to normal cells, and that cesium chloride supplements raise the pH level of tumor cells to a normal level, which may slow the cancer’s growth.”
According to Cancer.org “evidence does not support the claim that the intracellular pH of a cancer cell is any different than that of a normal cell or that malignant cells are more susceptible to toxic effects of high pH. Thus, the underlying principle behind high pH therapy remains unproven
Side effects of this treatment can be severe, including “ nausea, diarrhea, disturbed heart rhythm, loss of consciousness, or even death.” Not want you want on your Caribbean casino break.
And on to a quack favourite,
This treatment “involves the safe removal of toxic elements like Mercury, Lead, Arsenic, Antimony and Uranium from the body”.
Whilst chelation is a mainstream therapy for heavy metal poisoning there is no evidence that it can help people with cancer.
And so, to the main course,
The Sante Caribe claim is that:
Almost all chronic and degenerative illness is caused by one factor:
oxygen deficiency at the cellular level.
By flooding the body with reactive oxygen in the form of ozone, we can safely and
quickly stop the process of fermentation, also known as cancer.
Cancer can not exist in a high oxygen environment. People suffering from a chronic
or degenerative illness are without question deficient in oxygen.
Our well trained staff administers Ozone in many safe and effective methods
including Direct Injection, I.V. Diffusion, Rectal and Vaginal Insufflation, Inhalation,
Ozone sauna, Ozonated water, etc.
At the heart of this stupidity is a confusion of the form of oxygen that we breathe 02 and ozone 03.
02 is what we breathe and absorb in our lungs for transport to our cells. 03 is a highly oxidising form of oxygen that has very harmful effects on our respiratory systems. As such, if you squirt ozone on cancer cells on a dish they will die – but then so will all cells. Cancer therapies work, in the main, by exploiting poisons that kill cancer cells faster than non-cancer cells. This is pretty hard in practice as cancer cells are very, very similar to normal cells. The mere fact that a poison kills cancer cells in a test tube does not mean that it can form a therapy. Vodka kills cancer cells in a test tube – yet we do not see vodka therapy yet. Ozone has been proclaimed as a miraculous cure for over a hundred years. There is yet to be any meaningful evidence that it can help cancer patients. The available good evidence so far suggests that harms will outweigh any potential benefits. To me, it looks just like one more exploitative quack therapy.
So, the diagnostic techniques and therapies at Sante Caribe do not look as if they hold much promise. But maybe, just maybe, the doctors at the centre have made some major breakthoughs and are doing wondrous things.
So who are these doctors and have that made these miraculous discoveries?
Let’s start with,
Dr. Charles Morris, N.D.
Morris claims that he has “received a Doctor of Medicine In Alternative Medicines – M.D.(A.M.) from The Indian Board of Alternative Medicines.” Just how much study did Morris require to receive this honour? Well according to their site, this course takes one year (by correspondence) and $750. You can take the final exam in your own home and then post off your results for ‘evaluation’. I am inclined to suspect that academic standards here might not be what you would expect for an innovative cancer specialist.
Dr. Alan Schwartz, M.D.
Dr Schwartz would appear to be a real doctor who claims to be the Owner and Medical Director of the Holistic Resource Center in Agoura Hills, California. According to Casewatch, Dr Schwartz had his medical license revoked for “charges of incompetence, gross and repeated negligence, unprofessional conduct, and violating a previous probationary order”. The case makes disturbing reading. Nearly ten years ago, the Medical Board of California had placed him on 10 year’s probation and required him to have a chaperone present during medical examinations after he had ‘inappropriate sexual contact with a 15 year old male patient’. In his defence he said that “the penis was most accurately measured while erect.” Unfortunately, the measurement continued “until he ejaculated”.
Director of Operations, Dr. Richard Santee, N.D., C.N.M.
This is the most intriguing character here and investigating him is made much easier when you realise that Richard Santee may not be his real name. Santee appears to go by various names including, Dick Santee, Christian Logue, Christopher Black or Ricardo Santini.
Christian Logue is lead singer with the 1980’s speed metal band Savage Grace (pictured). Under various names, he appears to also run the porn production company Bordellonoir. Since my gentle readers may not be familiar with his oeuvre I will not link to his sites as it may cause consternation whilst you surf this site during your coffee break at work.
A few years ago, Logue appears to have been arrested for practising medicine without a license. He was held on
10 felony counts, including fraud, identity theft, grand theft and assault weapons charges. He is accused of performing blood tests, diagnosing patients and offering cures for cancer and diabetes, officials said. His fees ranged from $350 for an office visit to $1,000 for health aids that he claimed would cure disease.
When the authorities raided his flat they seized
medical supplies and equipment, along with a cache of military-style weapons, thousands of rounds of high-powered rifle ammunition and hand grenades.
Typical doctor’s bag contents.
Santee/Logue is apparently now free and about to tour with a reformed Savage Grace. And all whilst fulfilling his commitments in the Caribbean Cancer Center now doubt.
Where can we go from here. The quackometer is founded on the principle that the best form of criticism against quacks is often just plain laughter. There are a few cases where this may well not be justified.
Telling people with terminal illnesses that you have special cures when you do not is a pretty unfunny thing to do. It is hard to imagine the state of mind of someone who is willing to fork out thousands of dollars in the hope that Santee and co. have a special cure for you after your real doctors have told you that your choices are few. What such centres do is provide totally unrealistic hope whilst depriving the patient of thousand of dollars that may help their families after they have gone. It is about as low as you can get.
It is hard to believe that Louise Mclean is really attracting her commissions for this outfit. I hope I am right. What I think this story really highlights is that homeopaths struggle to tell right from wrong.