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."


At Friday, November 12, 2004 11:31:00 am, Blogger Ontario Emperor said...

I ran into the same question some time ago - exactly what toxins are removed by these treatments? Since I couldn't find out anything about a specific toxin, I made one up - "vonsinium" (named after a grocery store in Southern California which was being struck at the time). I guess that's as good an answer as any.

At Tuesday, December 28, 2004 4:59:00 pm, Blogger David R. Mark said...


Could your readers please help to fight this scam? Please call to protest. Thanks.

David R. Mark (


I listen to Air America most weekdays driving to or from work. And one advertiser that pops up occasionally is hypnotist Wendy Friesen, who has more than 100 products for sale on various web sites.

Now, I have nothing against hypnosis CDs. But if you are familiar with Penn & Teller's Showtime series, you might remember an episode a few months back in which they look closely at some of Friesen's products. Turns out Friesen not only hawks cds for confidence building or smoking cessation, but also ones in which she claims she can help increase breast or penis size.

And, amazingly, she offers a tape that she claims will help you fight cancer.

Her promotional paragraph for the "Heal Your Body" CD:

"One of our best selling CDs. Designed for those with cancer, chronic or other serious illness, this program inspires you to choose LIFE, stimulates your immune system to fight, and some say ... creates miracles. Three sessions, one will access your ability to heal, the second will strengthen your immune system, another will cleanse your body of bacteria, viruses and toxins. This process can help to speed the healing of surgery, illness, or even a cold or sore throat."

I find this repugnant, and dangerous for anyone who decides Friesen's $29 cd is a worthy alternative to a trip to the doctor, a biopsy, chemotherapy, etc.

This hits close to home because I am a cancer survivor. On Dec. 12th, I celebrated my third anniversary of a successful adult stem cell transplant, which cured me of acute myeloid leukemia. Unfortunately, my father, who developed a similar leukemia in 2002, did not have a donor match, and succumbed to the disease after a 10-month fight.


I explained all of this to the Air America advertising representative, Barbara Brown (646-274-4900, ext. 3087), saying simply that Air America shouldn't be this desperate. Friesen doesn't advertise the cancer-healing hypnosis CD on Air America -- a get-out-of-jail-free card, apparently, for Air America's decision-makers -- but she offers the product on the web site she mentions in the Air America spot.

Brown, the ad rep who landed the Friesen account, said she understood my complaint. In fact, she said, several of the on-air personalities had lodged a similar complaint.

Two weeks have passed since my 20-minute telephone call, yet Air America continues to broadcast Friesen's ads. So now I'm asking family and friends to call Brown, and I'm asking others to do the same.

Friesen is spewing the lie that hypnosis can help you fight cancer (or grow your breasts or penis). There is no medical evidence to support that theory, and there never will be. And while it's a shame that people will waste money hoping that listening to a CD will help them grow their breasts or penis, it's a potentially fatal decision to listen to a hypnosis CD hoping it will help your immunity system fight cancer.

At Wednesday, July 27, 2005 5:40:00 am, Blogger Ontario Emperor said...

Well, now Katie Holmes is alleged to have gone through Purif, which not only apparently includes massive doses of Niacin, but also "saunas" (kinda similar to sweat lodges, I guess). Some believe that the Niacin accounted for the splotches that were visible on her face earlier this year.

At Friday, September 08, 2006 3:37:00 pm, Anonymous Jess said...

I can understand where the author of this article is coming from - but he also lacks evidence in his argument.

Of course the knights of the middle ages didnt have de-tox - there were no toxins in the middle ages as there are now.

Think of all the chemicals which have been released into our world since even the second world war.
Its approximately 100,000 or so - and of those, only 10% have been tested.

Our bodies are not made to elimate all these foreign toxins - hence natural remedies such as herbs which can detoxify the body are available.

Tha basic idea of a sweat lodge is that it opens up the pores of the skin, which is one of the eliminatory routes of toxins ((but one of the least effective )).
Urea, heavy metals, even vitamins are lost through the skin.

But as with all alternative health practitioners - do your research, check there credentials.
Just like all other forms of making money, there are sure to be some phonies out there who are just trying to make a quick dollar.

At Thursday, October 05, 2006 7:07:00 am, Blogger Egmonster said...

There certainly were toxins around in the Middle Ages! Ergot, a fungal infestation of spoiling grain, similar to LSD, may even have contributed to the frequency of contemporary reports of religious visions and demonic possession. Other food poisoning as well as the usual array of natural chemicals (including flouride, which appears to have damaged the bones of ancient residents of Petra) were around then as now. Misidentified plants and mushrooms are another common source of toxins, still dangerous today. Farther back, the Tyrolean Iceman (frozen in a glacier since before the Bronze Age) showed that industrial pollutants such as toxic metals and inhaled soot have been getting into people's bodies for well over 5000 years.

Mediaeval knights (not a particularly healthy population to choose for an example) actually did do detox, though their aim was spiritual cleansing. Fasting was part of becoming a knight (unless you got knighted for heroics in battle, which was not usual). Combined with prayer, and optionally with sleep deprivation, music (chanting, etc.) and pain, fasting was a common practice.

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