Advice for the Holistic Movement 4/16/19

By Richard Bleil

A friend of mine posted a meme claiming that “Cannabis has 34 known cures for cancer.” I challenged this meme, to which her friend replied “it doesn’t cure cancer, but it puts it into remission.”

So, I asked for references.

When I ask for references on this, it is not my intention to be insulting. Instead, it’s my acknowledgment that I do not know everything, and it’s very possible there has been a study released of which I am not familiar, but, I do have standards for such studies. I understand where the animosity towards big pharma comes from, honestly I do. Their unethical practices of hiking prices to maximize profit means that I currently cannot afford the insulin that I need to remain healthy. I get that. But I also understand what has to happen for pharmaceutical companies to put anything on the market. They have to have clinical trials to demonstrate the efficacy of the medicine with a high certainty and study the side effects, they have to prove that their medicine has a significantly higher probability of helping the patient than letting the condition go untreated, they have to have biochemical studies examine the mechanism of action that makes it work, they have to publish their results in refereed journals to allow other scientists to examine and criticize their work, they have to defend their findings to the FDA; in short, it’s a long journey that has been honed over many decades of experience. Yes, there have been times that some of this has been circumvented by unscrupulous characters, but in general it works. It also works, by the way, because if a company tried to circumvent or misrepresent their findings, the competitors of the company would pounce on the opportunity to call them out on it make them look bad.

Yes, I hold “holistic healers” to the same standards. And why not? Posts such as the one above are dangerous, especially because there is a high probability that it will appear to work for a time. See, I’m all for using marijuana medicinally. There have been appropriately peer reviewed studies that indicate that they have physiological benefits for those with cancer or undergoing treatment, including but not limited to pain mitigation, improvement of appetite (which allows for intake of much-needed nutrients), and if I am remembering correctly, helping with balance as well. I would far rather have friends suffering from chronic pain be allowed to smoke marijuana than becoming addicted to opioids. But one of the most critical keys to successful treatment of cancer is early detection and treatment. So what happens if somebody sees this meme, and decides to blaze up a fatty? Their pain will dissipate, they’ll get their appetite back…in short, it will appear as though the marijuana is indeed curing the cancer, but it’s not. The cancer will continue to grow, and potentially begin to invade other systems that might be more difficult to treat, such as bone marrow or the lymphatic system. By the time the pain becomes too much for marijuana to continue to mitigate, it may well be too late for treatment to be of service. We are talking about life and death, and that deserves careful and somber treatment.

When challenged to find references, I was provided a myriad of papers about how marijuana helps with pain and appetite, and ironically enough, none from refereed journals although I know these studies have been done. But now there is this leap; MJ has been demonstrated to help treat some of the symptoms of cancer, which lead to this post that it cures cancer. These are the kinds of leaps that harms the entire holistic healing movement. There ARE benefits to holistic healing, so why the need to leap from these known benefits to completely falsified extremes? I actually looked up the individual who first posted this meme (the one my friend re-posted). As it turns out, the originator is a self-employed holistic healer.

Think about this for a minute. Right now, there is an anti-pharmaceutical movement because of greed, and who is my friend following? An individual who stands to make money from every person that decides to try holistic healing rather than serious cancer treatment. Unfortunately, this holistic healing has no studies to verify the efficacy of their approach. This is a gamble on the life of the patient to make…you guessed it…money.

She also posted a meme claiming “Glyphosate has been proven to cause CANCER. It has also been found in all current childhood vaccines.” Talk about souring the milk. I cheered the court case that found this link to cancer to be true; it opens to door to more careful regulation of this herbicide and lawsuits for victims to get treatment. Unfortunately, this case was used by a well-known anti-vaxxination conspiracy theory group to try to link it to vaccinations with no evidence to support their claims. Again, my friends’ holistic healer friend reposted the meme, and my friend reposted that one as well. This will have the effect of, again, muddying the water, resulting in discussion of the truth of the original finding. The anti-vaxxer movement will use this to recruit more parents to their side, even in the midst of one of the greatest outbreaks in modern times. These types of actions are highly dangerous, and unfortunately harm the holistic movement, watering down the true benefits and keeping the entire movement in the realm of pseudo-science. Isn’t it time to start telling the TRUE benefits of the natural movement, and stop extrapolating to easily disproved limits so people can start believing what they hear from this group?

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