Tag Archives: immune system

Prevent COVID-19 naturally: WRONG

 

Some people will always try to take advantage of scary situations. It’s easy to laugh at the old ads for miracle cures against the bubonic plague or the Spanish flu… but nothing has really changed! Yes, the allegations use contemporary words, but the marketing strategies remain the same…

 

(by the way, all tips and remedies proposed in the image are real, and come from articles that have been shared online in the last few days… and are wrong)

NO food or supplement is recommended by the scientific community to prevent or cure COVID-19, or any other pandemic to our knowledge. Even plague doctors knew that…

Stay at home, wash your hands, follow public health guidelines … and ignore the opportunists!

A collaboration between Le Nutritionniste Urbain and Le Pharmachien / The Pharmafist 😏

The Goop Lab : a scientific review

The Goop Lab is a Netflix show inspired by Gwyneth Paltrow’s 250 million-dollar “wellness” empire Goop.

I was lucky enough to get early access and watch all 6 episodes of the show, and the press embargo is lifted today so I can provide you with this short review, from a scientific skepticism standpoint.

So, is it as bad as you’d think? Well, for the most part, yes. I mean, what did you expect from a company that sells highly dubious stuff like “psychic vampire repellent“? Also Gwyneth once admitted she “doesn’t know WTF they talk about on Goop.

In short: 2 episodes are complete nonsense (energy healing, psychics), 3 address legitimate topics but manage to vastly exaggerate what the science is about (psychedelics, breathing techniques, anti-aging), and 1 episode really stands out from the rest (women’s sexuality).

 

Each episode follows a basic formula:

1. Gwyneth and her Chief Content Officer Elise Loehnen chat with one or two “experts” who work on some kind of health-related stuff, which is allegedly backed by science, but somehow “little-known, scary and unregulated”. They decide to test the stuff for themselves.

2. “Testing” begins, which is really Goop employees getting their own anecdotal experiences about the stuff. Interestingly, these employees are all really stressed out, tense, anxious and/or dealing with some kind of trauma from their childhood or recent life. Most of the time there’s a self-proclaimed “skeptic” among them.

3. We hear a testimonial from someone who tried the stuff before and/or does it regularly, and has had tremendous benefits from it. There’s real struggle and suffering here, and these testimonials get pretty emotional and touching.

4. “Testing” continues. Big results are obtained right away. Participants start crying and have epiphanies in a matter of seconds.

5. More heart-wrenching testimonials.

6. Final “testing” round. Several participants say they had a life-changing moment. The “skeptic” is now baffled, even though nothing really impressive happened, so it’s pretty clear he/she never really was a skeptic in the first place.

7. More testimonials. It’s becoming hard to watch at this point.

8. Gwyneth and Elise conclude with the “experts” that they’ve witnessed some pretty amazing stuff, and they can’t believe it’s not mainstream yet. The end.

 

Alright, now let’s dive into each episode:

 

PSYCHEDELICS

We meet Mark Haden, the head of an association involved in the study of psychedelics to treat mental health issues. There’s also Will Siu, a psychiatrist who did psychedelics himself and his now treating people with the stuff. They clearly state that such interventions are currently undergoing clinical trials, and while early findings are promising, more research is needed before they can be used in a clinical setting. Everyone agrees.

So, what do they do next? The exact opposite of what was just said. Elise announces that a she and a bunch of Goop employees are going to Jamaica to test the psychedelics for themselves, because it’s “unregulated” there.

The remainder of the episode is basically the group having a drug trip with magic mushrooms. They laugh, cry, talk gibberish. We’re as far from “research” as possible: there’s a lot of hippie stuff, diviner’s sage being burned, and the leader says they need to “be with the spirit of the mushroom“.

A woman who was dealing with unresolved grief says that the experiment was like “5 years of psychotherapy in 5 hours”. A guy who was dealing with some childhood trauma says he feels somewhat better. However, none of it is convincing that the trip really helped them at all beyond some feel-good vibes for a couple of hours.

Elise concludes by suggesting that experimenting with psychedelics could be a great alternative to team-building activities at work. Wow.

 

 

WIM HOF’S BREATHING TECHNIQUE

The whole thing is centered around Wim “Ice Man” Hof, a true anomaly of nature who has unusual genetics and abnormally high amounts of brown fat, which allows him to tolerate extreme cold. Good for him. Now, they don’t tell us ANY of this in the show; they tell us it all has to do with Hof’s breathing technique (controlled hyperventilation), which he can teach other people in 10 minutes.

So, he teaches his technique to a group of people who are all dealing with anxiety and/or trauma for some reason, and suddenly it’s about curing them of various ailments. Hof tells the group his technique “makes the body more alkaline” (wrong) and “boosts the immune system” (?). We later learn that by breathing his way, you can cure a whole range of physical and psychiatric health issues. This is no surprise, as Hof has claimed in an interview that his technique can even cure cancer.

The group goes outdoors and has a workout session in the snow. They also jump in cold water. Thanks to the breathing technique, they don’t panic. Nothing really feels surprising or impressive.

 

 

ANTI-AGING

We meet Valter Longo, a legitimate scientist doing legitimate research on fasting and prolonging healthy life. But throughout the episode, he proceeds to overhype his research and one is lead to believe it’s ready for mainstream.

We also meet Morgan Levine, who studies the “bioinformatics of aging”. She says that by taking a blood test, she’ll reveal Gwyneth’s, Elise’s and a 3rd lady’s “biological age“, by opposition to their boring chronological age. Why haven’t you heard about “biological age” before? Because it’s a made-up concept. Also, a quick search revealed that Ms Levine works for a company who sells the aforementioned test for 500$, as well as an anti-aging supplement.

The group will also try to reverse their biological clock by undergoing a special diet for a week: one will go vegan, another pescatarian, and the third one will eat a “fasting mimicking diet“, a kit made by Longo which is made of packaged ultra-processed foods that make astronauts’ meals look mouth-watering. At the end of the episode, we learn that they reduced their biological age by about a year after the diet. What does that mean? Nothing, because again, it’s a made-up concept.

There’s a second part in the episode in which the three women get plastic surgery, because… that’s considered anti-aging, I guess? One of them unexpectedly gets a facelift live, where they insert wires in her face and pull it back; my wife was watching with me, and she was traumatized by that. Gwyneth gets a so-called “vampire facelift“, a highly controversial and potentially dangerous technique which consists of injecting platelet-rich plasma (PRP), made from her own blood, in her face. Her face gets red and swollen. The whole thing is pretty disturbing. Gwyneth concludes with: “I’m happy it’s my own blood and not some toxin. People put some weird shit in their skin!“. No shit.

 

 

ENERGY HEALING

We’re introduced to John Amaral, a guy who offers “energy healing” to his clients who are mainly celebrities. He starts by going all-out quantum mysticism, a type of quackery that uses sciencey-sounding words (like “subatomic”) and misuses concepts related to quantum physics. Also present is Dr Apostolos Lakos, an “integrative physician” who has “studied magnets and vibration”. Whatever.

Amaral starts doing energy stuff on four people, including a “skeptic” dude. Amaral looks like a puppeteer, pulling strings in the air from as far as several feet from the participants’ bodies. It’s quite theatrical and absurd. Now interestingly, he talks a lot and pretty much says what the participants should feel and do. For instance, he might say: “You have an energy blockage in your lower back, right here. So I’m going to pull on it, you’ll feel yourself being pulled upwards slightly, and you’ll feel less tense“. And unsurprisingly, people react in the exact way he just told them! So that’s a great demo of what I would call guided autosuggestion.

Elise says it feels like she “just had an exorcism”, which is something we hear in the show’s trailer, but fortunately there’s no actual exorcism… I can’t believe that’s a positive point for the show 😕

 

 

PSYCHICS

Say hello the Laura Lynne Jackson, a medium/psychic who speaks to the dead. Next to her is Dr Julie Beischel, who says she’s done research which irrefutably shows that psychics aren’t frauds and have real powers (no, it does not).

Jackson then proceeds to showing us a beautiful, perfect example of the classic fraudulent technique called cold reading. The idea is to make many broad claims (guesses) in a short amount of time, so that the people in front of you will invariably make a connection with something personal (watch this video for another great example).

In one instance, she tells a woman: “I hear something like E-L“. The woman starts crying almost instantly; somehow, she connects that with her dead mother. And of course, Jackson goes like “yeah sure, your mother is here right now!“. More broad guesses, more crying. Unfortunately, we’re only shown a few bits of the cold reading, so we can’t calculate how many of her guesses are right. But Dr Jen Gunter (a Canadian OB/GYN) saw her full performance live in 2018 and wasn’t impressed.

Finally, she tells a group she can teach them to be clairvoyant. Woman 1 hands Woman 2 a picture of a dog. W2 focuses and says: “I see an M, and something that has to do with allergies“. Well, turns out the picture showed W1’s former dog, his name was Muffin, but they no longer have him because of her brother’s allergies. The group concludes that W2 is clairvoyant. Sure.

 

 

WOMEN’S SEXUALITY

Goop already has a pretty bad rap sheet regarding women’s health, suggesting dubious things like vaginal steaming and saying bras cause breast cancer. I didn’t see any of that stuff in here, however.

This episode is radically different from the others. It explores women’s relationship with their sexuality, as well as acceptance and knowledge of their own bodies. It talks about masturbation, orgasm, and how porn has created unrealistic expectations about sexuality.

This is beyond my field of expertise and I watched the episode with less of a critical eye, so I might have missed some dubious stuff, but overall this episode appears to make some good points. It’s biggest downside, though, is being part of this terrible show.

(Note : If you have some specific criticism regarding this episode, please tell me and I’ll add a note with credit.)

 

 

CONCLUSION

The Goop Lab is the embodiment of pseudoscience, because it’s really good at pretending it’s science-based. There’s sciencey-sounding words. There’s people with PhDs and MDs. There’s talks of clinical trials, studies being referred to, calls for more research. But all of this is ultimately a facade, because most of what is presented is speculation, exaggeration, hype, or utter nonsense.

The most troubling aspect, to me, is that the show relies heavily on anecdotes and testimonials that are legitimately appealing and touching. You can’t help but feel sympathetic to these people who suffer from physical and psychological trauma, and whose needs have been unmet by the medical system. They need help. Unfortunately, The Goop Lab pretends to help by offering them psychic readings, by teaching them overhyped breathing techniques and by increasing their anxiety about overall health and aging, amongst other things. In that sense, the show (and therefore Netflix) comes out as socially and scientifically irresponsible, in my opinion. In fact, the biggest danger here is that it will further impair scientific literacy and people’s overall trust in science.

One might be under the impression, after watching the show, that it’s not so much an infomercial for Goop’s products after all. And sure, they don’t suggest buying any products, or even advertise them… But wait a minute: Goop DOES sell products related to every single one of the topics discussed in the show: immune system boosters, energy crystals, anti-aging supplements and cosmetics, jade eggs (no longer for the vagina)… I don’t think it’s a coincidence. The only exception might be psychedelics, but interestingly in the episode, they say Goop could help do research; I don’t think that’s a good idea.

Should you watch for the sake of entertainment? Well, personally, I did not find it entertaining. Early during our binge-watch, my wife said: “Wow, that show is depressing“. Yeah, I think she’s right. Or there’s something wrong with our subatomic particles.

TOP 10 useless remedies for the common cold

The cold season has begun.

But there’s something worse out there: the plethora of esoteric remedies to allegedly prevent and cure the common cold, like…

  • Rubbing Vicks on your feet
  • Sticking your face above a bowl of hot, scented water
  • A swig of gin and/or cayenne and/or oregano oil
  • Sweating out the virus
  • The mustard plaster
  • Flu busters
  • Putting something in your bum (like suppositories)
  • Chicken noodle soup
  • Cough syrups
  • Antibiotics

Being a pharmacist, I get asked about those all the time. And really, I don’t care if people wanna use medication, natural health products or home remedies… as long as what they do is safe, effective, evidence-based and science-based.

Would you like to know what works and what doesn’t? Here are the TOP 10 useless remedies for the common cold. Please laugh at each of them. They deserve it.

Translated by Valentin Nguyen; edits and proofreading by Robyn Penney.

 

 

 

Rubbing Vicks on your feet

Rubbing Vicks on your feet continued

 

 

 

Sticking your face above a bowl of hot, scented water

Sticking your face above a bowl of hot, scented water continued

 

 

 

The mouth-burning contest

The mouth-burning contest continued

The mouth-burning contest continued even more

 

 

 

Sweating out the virus

 

 

 

The mustard plaster

The mustard plaster continued

 

 

 

Flu busters

Flu busters 06b

 

 

 

Putting something in your bumPutting something in your bum continued

 

 

 

Chicken noodle soupChicken noodle soup continued

 

 

Cough syrups

Cough syrups continued

 

 

Antibiotics

Antibiotics continued

 

 

Conclusion

 

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How to make your milk NONTOXIC

milk_header_02

You’re probably aware that milk is a disgusting, toxic, white poison filled with blood and pus, threatening mankind every day.  I read that online.

If you drink milk, you will have cancer, osteoporosis, divorce and your credit card debts will increase significantly. You’ll also die one day because of dairy.

Chances are that you’re lactose intolerant too, because everyone is. So if you give milk to your kids, you’re basically a criminal.

But fortunately, I’ve found a way to make milk slightly better for you. Here’s how.

Translation by Olivier Bernard, proofreading by Lauren Knight.

 

How to make your milk nontoxic

Milk is white poison according to the Internet

I share my findings about milk on Facebook

Lactose intolerance mammals and the milk industry

You are lactose intolerant and also an idiot

Adding lemon juice to milk makes it less poisonous

Curdled milk with lemon kicks ass

The ultimate testimony about sour milk

 

A note from the author (me):

You think that the arguments brought forward in this comic are too good to be true, overly simplified and unproven? Well done! You should do the same with most of what you read on the Internet.

I created this comic in order to provide something more entertaining than all the propaganda articles found on the web about milk. Really, I believe it’s better to read the above-written crap than anything found elsewhere, because at least my crap doesn’t take itself seriously.

A few things to consider about milk:

  • Milk is not unhealthy. But you don’t “need” to drink milk to be healthy. Dairy is an excellent source of protein, calcium and vitamin D, but if you can find those nutrients elsewhere, go for it.
  • Milk does not have positive, negative or otherworldly properties. It’s a food… and you shouldn’t choose foods according to whether they allegedly have special benefits (because they don’t).
  • Milk does not make your bones weaker. What studies actually say is that milk is not enough to prevent fractures, which comes to no surprise.
  • No, there is no pus, blood or bacteria in milk… if it’s pasteurized. As for antibiotics, the industry is (fortunately) under a lot of public pressure to stop using them routinely in livestock.
  • 9 to 23% of Caucasians are lactose intolerant, compared to 60 to 100% of African-Americans and Asians, so we’re very far from the “epidemic” that some people speak about; it has more to do with genetics. Also, lactose intolerant people can still consume dairy moderately.
  • Some large-scale, well-built studies suggest that people who drink a lot of milk have a higher mortality rate and a higher risk of developing some types of cancer, but these studies cannot conclude that milk is the cause. People who drink more drink may have other risk factors, such as having more sugar or fat in their diet. People who consume a moderate amount of dairy don’t seem affected by this.

In the end, my impression is that the anti-milk panic exploding online right now comes from activists trying to stop the exploitation of livestock. I am 100% with them regarding the need for ethical treatment of animals, but if this requires demonizing milk, telling outright lies and making me feel guilty to drink it… no thanks.

 

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5 badly informed opinions about vaccines

5 badly informed opinions about vaccines

Initially, I wanted to create a comic about the influenza (flu) vaccine.

My goal was to convince you that this vaccine is effective, safe and essential to modern society. Because that’s what I think.

But by doing this, I would have skipped steps … because before trusting the flu vaccine, you must first trust vaccines.

You’ve probably heard of some public figures’ efforts to limit vaccination in the USA:

jenny mccarthy vaccines

But they’re not the only ones. All over the world, tons of people are opposed to vaccines. Many of them are intelligent, highly educated people who seem to know the topic extremely well. Some of them are even healthcare professionals, including physicians.

So, who should you believe? I can easily understand why you’re confused when you hear stuff like:

  • “Vaccines cause autism!”
  • “Vaccines are released on the market before we know they’re safe!”
  • “The diseases we vaccinate against are long gone!”

There’s much to do to put the record straight.

So the flu vaccine will have to wait for another comic. In the meantime, let’s start from the beginning.

Translation by Olivier Bernard, proofreading by Lauren Knight.

5 badly informed opinions about vaccines

Live attenuated and inactivated vaccine

Subunit and conjugate vaccine

The great paradox of vaccination

Poliomyelitis , measles , meningitis and preventable diseases

Vaccines are not 100% safe , but nothing is

Making vaccines isn't even good business for big pharma

There is no single scientific evidence that vaccines systematically cause autism

The Wakefield study , thimerosal and aluminum adjuvants

Homeopathic vaccines , gluten-free diet ... nothing can replace a vaccine

Open letter to people and parents worried about vaccines

Open letter to the anti-vaccine lobby

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Cancer, chemo, radiation and … dandelions

Cancer chemo radiation and dandelions (header)

My initial idea was to write a cartoon titled “5 toxic beliefs about chemotherapy”. The goal was to take 5 myths about chemo and deconstruct them. In doing this, I wanted to challenge the false notions about chemotherapy that are perpetuated over the internet.

However, along the way something became obvious: it’s absolutely pointless to attack false beliefs on chemo… when the majority of people do not know what cancer really is.

Then, by pure chance, two oncologists appeared out of nowhere and proposed to help me make a comic on cancer! It’s great how things work out.

After reading this comic, you will have a better understanding of cancer, surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy. And you will never see dandelions the same way.

Author’s notes:

I want to thank my two great collaborators for authoring this comic! They proposed to me the dandelion analogy, and told me they didn’t know where it came from (in short, we don’t really know where it comes from)… An ENORMOUS THANK YOU to you two for your massive help in the creation, preparation and improvements on this comic!

– Marc-Émile Plourde, MD, FRCPC (Radiation Oncology)

Marc-Émile is a radiation oncologist, meaning his specialty is radiotherapy. He is also the author of the blog radiotherapie.ca (in French) and he develops medical apps for mobile devices.

– Vincent Éthier, MD, FRCPC (Hematology Oncology)

Vincent is a hematologist and oncologist, meaning his specialty is chemotherapy.

– And the two generous doctors who translated this cartoon to English : Pierre-Yves McLaughlin, MD with the help of Martin Korzeniowski, MD.

 

* Note: This comic explains what cancer is, and how it is treated. I do not address prevention, not because it’s not important (to the contrary), but simply because it’s a very vast subject that I indirectly bring up all the time when I promote healthy living habits on this website.

cancer01_EN_1 cancer02_EN

cancer03_EN cancer04_EN_01 cancer05_EN cancer06_EN cancer07_EN_01 cancer08_EN_01 cancer09_EN cancer10_EN

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