Sunday, November 07, 2004

De-tox in sweat lodge kills 37 y.o.

A 37 y.o. Melbourne man died and a 30 year old man is still in hospital after spending time in a sweat lodge. This is not the first time that a sweat lodge has been responsible for a death in Australia. A 30 year old Byron Bay woman died last year in a similar incident that apparently included a ceremony where snake poison was ingested.

For the unwary, a sweat lodge is a native american teepee that is filled with hot rocks. The victims close themselves into the teepee and pour water onto the rocks to create a steam tent. It is said to remove toxins and align the mind, body and spirit. The chanting and consumption of dangerous substances is supposed to make the process more spiritually uplifting.

Detoxification is a common feature of alternative medicine, but I have yet to find anyone who can name the toxins that need to be removed from the body or explain how each treatment will remove these toxins.

If toxins accumulated in the body as is now suggested by practitioners of "natural medicine" then the human race would have died out centuries ago. There were no detox diets for the knights of the middle ages.

While many people swear by the detox system, there is no valid scientific evidence to suggest that they have any positive effect at all, apart from making the promoters richer. While the chance of death is still small the total lack of discernable benefit makes detoxification treatments too risky.

If anyone suggests a detox sytem for you, ask for the details in writing and report it to your local health and consumer affairs advocate. Maybe a few charges of misleading advertising will make these people think twice about promoting bogus therapies.

"There is only one truth. How we interpret that truth is called belief."
"The presence of belief, does not indicate the existence of truth."