Friday, August 21, 2009

"Natural Cures 'They' Don't Want You to Know About" by Kevin Trudeau

I had been hearing of this book for some time but never read it. I remember seeing part of an interview a couple of years ago and basically what Trudeau said was "there is a cure for ___ but I can't tell you what it is cuz they would sue me, so you will have to read the book to find out." He repeated this about a half dozen ailments, and I came away with the feeling like this guy is out to sell books and may or may not have anything very helpful to say therein. I'm always sceptical when someone says "you have to buy the book to find out" you know?

Well, apparently a friend of my in-laws saw something about the book and was impressed and got the book for them. They have some (little) interest in natural health, and my father-in-law read the book...or at least started reading it...I don't know whether he actually finished it (there was a bookmark just a few chapters in ☺) His conclusion was that the guy is out to sell books, (that makes two for two here) and he was very sceptical of the content of the book.

So while we were staying with them, my father-in-law asked if I had read the book, and I said no. He asked if I'd like to, and I said um, sure. So he gave it to me. As I started reading I noticed several things immediately:

  1. Trudeau says a lot of things that I've heard before about both natural and mainstream medical practices--some of these things I agree with and some of which I've never seen evidence for (more on that in a moment).

  2. He is convinced that the medical community as a whole is in one giant conspiracy to keep us all sick so that they will make money.

  3. Throughout the book, he has a very unprofessional writing style. He repeats himself a lot, saying the same things and talking in circles around topics (while often not really making a discernable point). He also writes in a very defensive manner ("I would tell you but they would sue me and burn this book, I have the letter from the FTC that says so"). Worst of all though is point 4.

  4. He does not provide references or sources or verification for anything he says. This is very troubling to me--why should I trust him over anyone else when I don't know his sources?! He says that on his webpage he has all the references about which study he means when he states that "a study was done which found ___." However he never gives even a simple "In [year] an article appeared in [publication] about a study which said ___" in the actual text of his book. Even if I've heard the same information from other sources, not documenting the source is unprofessional and (in my opinion) just plain fishy. In fairness I should note that he does have two chapters of the book ("Not Convinced?" and "Still Not Convinced?") where he gives lists of articles and books which he says validate the things he is saying. Still though, unprofessional and just poor writing.
If you have been a reader here for more than about two days you probably know that I am a proponent of natural medicine, or, rather, that I'm a great proponent of taking the path of least-intervention whenever possible (which usually leads me down more 'natural' paths).

Here are some things where I agree with Trudeau:

  • Medical 'fact' is (and always was) not really facts. It is merely the educated opinion based on the knowledge and research of the time. (Bloodletting was once a cure-all, bodily fluids were considered to be composed of four humors, and in the 1920s smoking was touted as healthy...clearly medical facts change with time.)

  • The medical world (drug makers + doctors) makes their money off our being sick.

  • Being sick all the time is not normal (he suggests that the annual flu or even the 'common cold' shouldn't be common in a healthy individual, and that all the bigger stuff from diabetes to impotence to cancer should definitely not be common).

  • In spite of numerous new drugs and new treatments, the population of the USA is more sick than ever, including still dying of cancer at the same rate as we did 50 years ago (and being infected with it much more often).

  • Mainstream medicine treats symptoms, not causes, which is why it doesn't work very well (why we stay sick, or why the drug may solve one problem while causing another).

  • The medical world in general (from drug researchers & manufacturers to the FDA) is out there to make money, so if something simple and cheap and (most importantly) non-patentable (ie, natural) comes along that solves the problem, they will try to dismiss or even squelch it so that it doesn't cut into their bottom line.

  • We see advertising for mainstream drugs (and not for natural cures) because that's where the money is--and the TV/radio producers don't want to lose the hefty amounts of advertising funding that they get from the pharmaceutical companies, so they won't advertise the little guys who are in conflict with them.(You may remember my little rant about this topic in my recent post on healthcare reform

  • The medical associations are out there to protect the doctors (including their incomes)...not to protect the patients. Therefore, when you see a statement from the American Medical Association (AMA), American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists (ACOG), American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), etc, you should remember that they are looking out for the doctors, not for you, and thus the statement should be taken with a grain of salt (and verified with your own research if at all possible).

  • There are effective natural (non-patentable) alternatives to mainstream medical treatments/drugs, but we don't hear about them because of the reasons listed above. These options include things from vitamins, supplements, herbs and homeopathic drugs, to chiropractic care, parasitic cleanses, exercise routines, and special diets. (Please note that I think some of these options hold more water than others...but I do agree with the basic premise that there are effective alternatives to much if not all of mainstream medicine.)

  • A great deal of what we eat, drink, breathe, and come in contact with in our daily lives is putting toxins into our body, and reducing exposure to those toxins (and working to eradicate the ones already within us) will improve our health. (He feels that most if not all health problems stem from toxins in our bodies, nutritional deficencies, or stress.)
He goes on to present a list of ways to eradicate (or at least reduce) our personal exposure to toxins, improve our personal nutrition, and reduce stress. I find that I agree (to varying degrees) with much of his toxin list, and almost all of his nutrition and stress lists. Honestly, I don't know that the rest of book is worth reading, but I would recommend the chapter with those lists.

Some things where I don't agree so much:

  • All drugs (prescription or non-prescription) are intentionally made with negative side effects in order to keep us buying more drugs/treatments. Trudeau even goes so far as to suggest that some fatal drugs are knowingly released so that the manufacturers can get a few years of income off them before they are pulled from the market--because the money matters that much. (On the one hand, yes, I agree that most of these drugs have scary side-effects, which is why I am typically skeptical about them--especially new ones--but I don't agree with the notion that they are made that way's a little bit too conspiracy-theory for me.)

  • All those working in the world of mainstream medicine want us to stay sick so that they will stay in business. (Sorry, but I just don't believe that every little family practice doctor is that malicious...yes I can easily believe it about the CEOs of big pharma, but not about every single researcher or doctor out there.)

As I said, he's got a massive conspiracy theory complex going on. I think he has some good advice about specific lifestyle/nutrition choices, and based on what I do know of natural medicine I think most if not all of his advice there is probably pretty good too. However the book is so poorly written that he discredits himself with almost every word.


Mallory said...

I, too, get put off of a lot of informational material because it is obsessed with one conspiracy theory or another. I don't think drugs are good for us, I don't vaccinate, I try to use paraben-free etc products, I do think that doctors kind of gloss over the bad stuff that we may be doing to our bodies by using these things....but I don't think it is some kind of conspiracy to keep us sick or to kill us or to control us. Interesting, and amusing!

natalie said...

Frustrating! I liked a lot of info in "How to Raise a Healthy Child in Spite of Your Doctor", but got so irritated at the every other paragraph rant about how your doctor would would want to do X, Y, or Z, despite no evidence, and how you had to fight them every step of the way. Sure, you have to be well informed and look at the evidence, and you might have to fight an uninformed doctor to get the best care, but do we have to have the entire book, which is on keeping kids healthy, have an anti medical tone?

Yes, I was irritated. Could you tell? ;-)

sara said...

This guy has commercials on the radio and you can supposedly call a 1-800 number to get the book for free. I wonder what the catch is. I'm glad you gave a review. It's pretty much what I expected it to be. Also wanted to add that I agree that doctors aren't all evil and most of them probably want to help people. Pharma though - YES. Evil. LOL.

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