Feds investigating church selling bleach as a cure for autism

❝ Federal prosecutors continue to scrutinize a bizarre church and its exiled founder who claims he was sent here from another galaxy to sell a “miracle cure” for autism.

The Genesis II Church of Health and Healing has been accused of preying on thousands of families with autistic children by selling the corrosive antidote known as “Master Mineral Solution,” which is nothing more than household bleach…

“They might as well be selling Clorox,” Ben Mizer of the U.S. Department of Justice told ABC News in an investigation into the church. Mizer said so far one person has been prosecuted for selling the so-called cure…

❝ Humble, who…now says he is a billion-year-old god from another galaxy, writes on one of his websites that he “discovered” the antidote “whilst prospecting for minerals deep in the jungles of South America” and used it on a companion who fell ill with malaria.

Now the bottles are sold on several fringe websites, including one U.S. based company that charges $12.95 for a 4 ounce bottle, and up to $96 for a package of 12 bottles. The store’s site says all sales are donated to the Genesis II Church of Health and Healing…

❝ Experts in the autism community say there’s no merit to their claims and that Humble and other church members are peddling “poison.”

This is a poison. This is high-strength industrial bleach,” Dr. Paul Wang, the senior vice president of Autism Speaks…“It really scares me that people would give this to their kids, because it is a poison…”

A sucker born every minute is a long-standing American religious proverb.

Milestone: The only man ever cured of AIDs


“The Berlin Patient” – Timothy Brown
Daylife/Getty Images used by permission

Aids researchers believe the time may have come to think the unthinkable: a growing body of expert opinion believes a cure for HIV infection is no longer a scientific impossibility but a realistic goal that scientists could reach in the very near future…

Françoise Barré-Sinoussi, who first reported the discovery of the Aids virus in 1983 with her colleague Luc Montagnier of the Pasteur Institute in Paris, is expected today in Washington to say that talk of a cure for HIV should no longer be a taboo subject for Aids researchers.

She will cite the case of the “Berlin Patient”, an American gay man called Timothy Brown who received a bone marrow transplant in 2007 while a student in Germany. The transplant was undertaken to treat a type of blood cancer but in the process it also apparently cured Mr Brown of his HIV infection.

Five years after his transplant, he continues to be free of HIV despite having given up his anti-viral drugs. It is still not clear to scientists why Mr Brown has managed to shrug off his chronic HIV infection so effectively…

But Mr Brown’s highly unusual case has given some scientists cause for optimism. In a comment article in this week’s Nature, Professor Barré-Sinoussi and her colleague Professor Steven Deeks of the University of California, San Francisco, say that Mr Brown has been effectively cured of HIV – the first person in the world to fulfil the strict scientific definition of a cure…

Mr Brown’s bone marrow donor was someone who was an “elite controller”. As a result of the transplant, Mr Brown’s white blood cells – the T cells of the immune system – were repopulated by those of his donor, apparently making Mr Brown resistant to HIV.

But even if Mr Brown does continue to defy scientific dogma, the method of his cure would never be appropriate for treating the millions of people in the world who are infected with HIV. A bone marrow transplant is not only expensive and difficult to undertake, it is extremely risky – Mr Brown suffers chronic neurological problems as a result of a second bone marrow transplant he had to receive to treat a relapse of his blood cancer.

Professors Barré-Sinoussi and Deeks accept that his case is only a starting point on the long journey towards a possible cure for HIV.

Bravo.

Yes, it’s only a start. But, it’s a start towards an end that wasn’t thought possible a few years ago.

Genetically-modified mosquitoes can’t transmit malaria

Last year, Prof. Anthony James announced that he and his colleagues had genetically altered Aedes aegypti mosquitoes in a fashion that could drastically reduce their populations. In a nutshell, the altered genes cause the female mosquitoes to be born without wings – this makes it rather difficult for them to go foraging for blood, and turns them into easy prey for almost any predator. The non-biting males are born with wings, and subsequently go off and mate with unmodified females, passing the modified genes along to their offspring. Now, James has done some more genetic engineering, to create mosquitoes that can’t spread malaria…

They started with mice that were infected with the Plasmodium falciparum parasite, which causes malaria. Those mice created antibodies in order to kill the parasites. The scientists identified the molecular components of this immune response, then altered the genes of the Anopheles stephensi mosquito in order to cause the same response to occur in their bodies – ordinarily, mosquitoes simply act as carriers of the parasites, exhibiting no immune response towards them.

In short, parasites picked up by the mosquitoes are killed by the insects’ altered immune systems, meaning that people subsequently bitten by those mosquitoes won’t develop malaria. Although the study was done using Anopheles stephensi, the technique could reportedly be used on dozens of different types of mosquitoes.

Unlike James’ previous efforts involving the flightless females, this approach would not actually reduce the numbers of mosquitoes present in an area. Much as many people might like the idea of the eradication of mosquitoes, this could be a good thing – it’s still unclear how the sudden elimination of a species as plentiful as the mosquito might affect ecosystems…

A significant benefit to that large portion of the world’s population that suffers from malaria. Small area controlled trials are next; but, there are lots of folks waiting for this to be a success.

Indonesians seek cures via electric train track therapy

Ignoring the red-and-white danger sign, Sri Mulyati walks slowly to the train tracks outside Indonesia’s bustling capital, lies down and stretches her body across the rails.

Like the nearly dozen others lined up along the track, the 50-year-old diabetes patient has all but given up on doctors and can’t afford the expensive medicines they prescribe. In her mind, she has only one option left: electric therapy.

“I’ll keep doing this until I’m completely cured,” said Mulyati, twitching visibly as an oncoming passenger train sends an extra rush of current racing through her body.

She leaps from tracks as it approaches and then, after the last carriage rattles slowly by, climbs back into position.

Pseudo-medical treatments are wildly popular in many parts of Asia — where rumors about those miraculously cured after touching a magic stone or eating dung from sacred cows can attract hundreds, sometimes thousands…

Medical experts say there is no evidence lying on the rails does any good…

She turned to train track therapy last year after hearing a rumor about an ethnic Chinese man who was partially paralyzed by a stroke going to the tracks to kill himself, but instead finding himself cured.

It’s a story that’s been told and retold in Indonesia.

Until recently, more than 50 people would show up at the Rawa Buaya tracks every day. But the numbers have dropped since police and the state-run railroad company erected a warning sign and threatened penalties of up to three months in prison or fines of $1,800.

No one has been arrested yet, and none of the participants in train track therapy has died.

Well, not yet.

Study: Extreme low-calorie diet to reverse Type 2 diabetes

A Newcastle University team has discovered that Type 2 diabetes can be reversed by an extreme low calorie diet alone…

In an early stage clinical trial of 11 people, funded by Diabetes UK, all reversed their diabetes by drastically cutting their food intake to just 600 calories a day for two months. And three months later, seven remained free of diabetes.

Professor Roy Taylor of Newcastle University who led the study and is also Director of the Newcastle Magnetic Resonance Centre said …, “This is a radical change in understanding Type 2 diabetes. It will change how we can explain it to people newly diagnosed with the condition. While it has long been believed that someone with Type 2 diabetes will always have the disease, and that it will steadily get worse, we have shown that we can reverse the condition.”…

Under close supervision of a medical team, 11 people who had developed diabetes later in life were put on an extreme diet of just 600 calories a day consisting of liquid diet drinks and non-starchy vegetables. They were matched to a control group of people without diabetes and then monitored over eight weeks…

After just one week, the Newcastle University team found that their pre-breakfast blood sugar levels had returned to normal.

A special MRI scan of their pancreas revealed that the fat levels in the pancreas had returned from an elevated level to normal (from around 8% to 6%). In step with this, the pancreas regained the normal ability to make insulin and as a result, blood sugar after meals steadily improved.

The volunteers were then followed-up three months later. During this time they had returned to eating normally but had received advice on portion size and healthy eating. Of the ten people re-tested, seven remained free of diabetes…

The usual precautions apply: Don’t go putting yourself on a 600 calorie a day diet; don’t make too many assumptions or draw too many conclusions from a single small study; etc. All that said, this is indeed interesting.

Thanks, Tom, for finding the story; and Eid, for letting me steal it.

We still don’t know how cranberries combat infection

For decades cranberry juice has enjoyed a reputation as an effective way to prevent bladder infections. Scientists have doggedly tried to confirm this well-known folk truth with dozens of studies, some in test tubes and some in people.

The latest results are now in, and the answer is conclusive: This field is all bogged down. Har!

Some older studies found the juice worked. Some found it didn’t. All were too small to be definitive. In 1998 a substance presumed to be the active component in the cranberry was identified with some fanfare, and two years ago another study suggested that a cranberry extract containing this substance was almost as powerful as an antibiotic.

Now a large, impeccably designed and executed study of cranberry juice has found that the presumed active compound apparently has no effect. And yet the newest study closed no doors. It may simply mean that the juice works, but by an unknown mechanism.

How can one little berry be so difficult to pin down?

For one thing, the cranberry contains more than 200 active substances in addition to vitamin C, citric acid and an array of other acids…Researchers have repeatedly shown that the juice does effectively prevent some species of bacteria from adhering to the cells that line the urinary tract. More to the point, urine from both mice and people who drank modest amounts of cranberry juice also prevented bacterial adherence…

The questions asked – continue. There are so many variables, including the ingredients used in the placebo side of substances devised to imitate cranberry juice 🙂 that researchers haven’t even decided which class of components may govern the success replicated in some aspects of the studies.

Like, the placebo used to imitate cranberry juice in one portion of the study resulted in diminished recurrence of infection.

How to brand a disease — and sell a cure

If you want to understand the way prescription drugs are marketed today, have a look at the 1928 book, “Propaganda,” by Edward Bernays, the father of public relations in America.

For Bernays, the public relations business was less about selling things than about creating the conditions for things to sell themselves. When Bernays was working as a salesman for Mozart pianos, for example, he did not simply place advertisements for pianos in newspapers. That would have been too obvious.

Instead, Bernays persuaded reporters to write about a new trend: Sophisticated people were putting aside a special room in the home for playing music. Once a person had a music room, Bernays believed, he would naturally think of buying a piano. As Bernays wrote, “It will come to him as his own idea.”

Just as Bernays sold pianos by selling the music room, pharmaceutical marketers now sell drugs by selling the diseases that they treat. The buzzword is “disease branding.”

To brand a disease is to shape its public perception in order to make it more palatable to potential patients. Panic disorder, reflux disease, erectile dysfunction, restless legs syndrome, bipolar disorder, overactive bladder, ADHD, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, even clinical depression: All these conditions were once regarded as rare until a marketing campaign transformed the brand.

Once a branded disease has achieved a degree of cultural legitimacy, there is no need to convince anyone that a drug to treat it is necessary. It will come to him as his own idea…

It is hard to brand a disease without the help of physicians, of course. So drug companies typically recruit academic “thought leaders” to write and speak about any new conditions they are trying to introduce. It also helps if the physicians believe the branded condition is dangerous.

Interesting article. There is an obvious parallel in American politics. The Madison Avenue thugs who worked for the Bush, Cheney and Rove troika being the leading example.

RTFA and reflect upon cultural advances like “I’m always peeing in my pants” becoming “overactive bladder” – or how shyness was transformed into social anxiety disorder.

Pope’s sainthood on hold after ‘miracle cure’ nun ill again


Get that fracking bird. He crapped on my tiramisu!”

It was the miracle that set Pope John Paul II on the road to sainthood and provided faithful followers with proof of his holy powers. But hopes that the former pope’s canonisation would be fast-tracked by Sister Marie Simon-Pierre’s recovery from Parkinson’s disease have been set back by reports that the French nun has fallen ill again.

Simon-Pierre described three years ago how she regained her health after a night of prayer to the then recently deceased Polish pontiff. John Paul also suffered from Parkinson’s disease, which is incurable.

“It’s like a second birth,” she said at the time. “I feel like I’ve discovered a new body, new limbs.”

In 2007 Simon-Pierre could barely move her left side, could not write legibly, drive or move around easily and was in constant pain.

Her disease worsened after the pope’s death, and her order prayed for his intervention to ease her suffering. Then after writing his name on a paper one night, she woke up the next day apparently cured and returned to work as a maternity nurse with no traces of the disease.

But according to the Polish daily newspaper Rzeczpospolita, one of the doctors charged with scrutinising the nun’s case believed she might have been suffering from a similar nervous disease, not Parkinson’s, which could go into sudden remission. A report on the paper’s website went further, saying that the 49-year-old nun had become sick again with the same illness.

The Vatican was making no comment on the grounds that the late pope’s case was still under examination.

Ah, the irregular course of miracles. Not that it means anything to True Believers. Say that “it’s so” – and it is so.

Sort of like American foreign policy or a creationist history of the world.