Debunking Denialism

Defending science against the forces of irrationality.

Tag Archives: detox

Edzard Ernst on the Futility and Dangers of CAM Detox Regimes

In a scathing blog article at the Guardian called Detox: flushing out poison or absorbing dangerous claptrap?, Edzard Ernest professor at Peninsula Medical School, Exeter and a leading critical investigator of so called complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) argues that CAM detox regimes, such as colon irrigation is a dangerous delusion based on faulty science.

The central idea with things like detox (in the CAM sense) is that we ingest harmful “toxins” and that we need to get rid of them. However, proponents of detox can almost never specify what exactly these “toxins” are or why their procedure eliminates them. If you cannot even identify what it is you are supposedly are treating, then buyer beware.

Alternative detox is all the rage and comes in many guises – anything from diet or supplements to steam-baths or ear-candles. The common denominator is that, allegedly, the body is stimulated to eliminate poisonous substances. The claim is that, if we are not treated in this way, such toxins would cause ill health in all of us. Yet, these assumptions are both wrong and dangerous.

It should be an easy claim to test though. Why not just do a double-blind, placebo controlled study on the effects of these so called detox regimes? If the proponents of CAM detox really believed that their products worked, then they have nothing to lose. Performing clinical trails that give a positive results could be used to strengthen their case for their detox regimes. So why are they not doing it? Ernst has an entertaining answer. Read more of this post

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