Swine flu and Woo
Continuing with the theme I’ve had on swine flu, I’ll start with this: Don’t panic.
Don’t start looking for random alternative medicine treatments and prevention for swine flu.
Don’t, for example, give yourself an enema. That may seem like it’s in bad taste, and tangential at best, but it’s exactly what Kim Evans, author of “cleaning up!” over at Huffington Post is suggesting. Her article is so ridiculously wrong that I feel the need to explore it with you.
She starts with some potentially relevant information.
1) Stay home as much as possible.
2) Avoid public places unnecessarily.
3) Wash your hands frequently, and keep your hands from your face.
4) Get some surgical face masks and wear one when you need to be in public places, even if you feel a little foolish and until others have caught on.
I agree completely with number 3. Hand washing is key. It’s a good idea to avoid smearing all the junk that is on your hands onto your face. The rest of this, is fear mongering.
Given the small number of cases, and the mildness of the cases seen in America so far, 1, 2, and 4 are overboard. They aren’t completely unreasonable, unless you’re in mexico. If you have a risk factor – you’re on chemotherapy, you’re otherwise immunosuppressed, maybe even just bad asthma, than you might consider being cautious and avoiding public places. The evidence is out on whether or not masks are that helpful right now.
Not that it matters, that’s not why she’s writing all of this though. As far as I can tell she’s really writing this to create an atmosphere of fear.
Why scare people? She has a hook. A hook that sounds crazy unless you’re scared!
The above is all pretty basic stuff, I’m going to offer more as well. But before I do, you should know that I’m a huge proponent of body cleansing, or removing the accumulated waste that most people have stored in their bodies. I’ve been a fan for years and have seen cleansing work miracles in myself and others, but in circumstances like this, I believe deep cleansing could actually save your life
I hate it when people say they can save your life. I hate it when doctors say it, and sometimes they’re right! Doctors aren’t usually the ones who say it. Liars say that. Hustlers say that. In fact, it looks like she only says that there distract from the fact that she still hasn’t given us a reason to believe cleaning out your colon would heal your lungs.
And it’s my understanding that many people who took regular enemas instead of vaccines during the 1918 pandemic made it out on the other side as well.
This is impressive. Her understanding is that people who took enemas instead of vaccines in the 1918 pandemic made it out on the other side as well. Why is this impressive? There wasn’t a flu vaccine in 1918. In 1918 we weren’t even sure of the cause of influenza, at that time some people thought it was caused by hemophilus influenza, a bacteria. We couldn’t grow influenza virus until 1931, and the first inactivated vaccine was used in World War II. Either she didn’t do her homework at all, or she thinks people used time machines to go forward in time, get a flu vaccination, then go back, and die.
This is normally the point at which I’d cite articles on why this is wrong. The problem is I can’t even find articles on this! I haven’t found one scientist who was willing to test enemas for the flu. In lieu of direct evidence, I tried to look up her basic science on this. Why would this even potentially work? Her article has some junk about taking out the trash to get rid of flies. I found it patronizing AND uninformative. I checked her website, and found it a barren wasteland of propaganda. Not a fact in sight.
Failing to find anything helpful on her website, I exercised my google-fu, which reveals: Not much. On one website, Diagnose-Me.com, I found this. That website recommends a warm, and then a cold soda enema. Why?
Most of the mucous from the respiratory tract is swallowed and waste to be expelled from this mucous makes its way to the colon. During an illness like a cold, viral particles remain in quantity in the colon. The gentle washing away of the bulk of this material allows the immune system to focus on the respiratory tract rather than maintain a second larger front in the colon. This is one reason why almost all doctors in the preantibiotic era recommended enemas, or at the least laxatives, for colds. The use of enemas gives immediate relief of symptoms and helps to concentrate the immune response where it is needed.
That almost sounds reasonable if you haven’t studied medicine. When you have influenza, you primarily have lung problems. You are not fighting a second battle in your colon. When you have something that feels like influenza, and you have diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, you might not have influenza. It’s not impossible, sometimes influenza can cause those symptoms, but there are a lot of other viruses that are more likely the culprit.
I can’t find anything anywhere saying that doctors in the pre-antibiotic era prescribed laxatives or enemas for colds… It’s not as if doctors in the antibiotic era prescribe antibiotics normally for the flu – it’s a virus, so I’m not sure where she was going with that.
The use of enemas doesn’t relieve any symptoms! If we stick a tube up your butt and clean out your colon, your lungs will still be filled with junk. Your immune response will do just fine without the enema.
This whole article is just irresponsible. Blogging may be a less formal media form, but if you have a large audience and you act like a newspaper, like HuffPo does, you’re obligated to do some fact checking. This goes double for when you’re offering medical advice. This goes triple when you’re writing about a potentially panic-causing issue like epidemic swine flu!
Shame Huffpo, shameScience, Swine flu comment below, or link to this permanent URL from your own site.