Tuesday, October 1, 2019

#2247: Maya Shetreat-Klein

Yes, she is a genuine MD. But no: you should not take medical advice from her. Maya Shetreat-Klein is the author of the book The Dirt Cure: Growing Healthy Kids with Food Straight from Soil”, detailing the eponymous dirt cure, a health regimen Shetreat-Klein apparently developed through dealing with her own son’s ostensibly mysterious illness at one year old, an illness that apparently caused a sudden delay his development. Through her work, she – according to herself – “began to uncover the surprising roles food play in many modern childhood (and adult) ailments.” According to Shetreat-Klein, modern food production, with pesticides and GMOs, are to blame; at least “there is mounting evidence that these food transformations are some of the root causes of illnesses manifesting in childhood and beyond.” “There is mounting evidence that X” of course means that X hasn’t been established with any significant degree of likelihood (but that Shetreat-Klein and her ilk are certain that it will be established regardless of the state of the evidence), and usually that there is little evidence beyond poorly designed studies in predatory journals. (Apparently her son’s illness was caused by soy allergy; “once she removed it from his diet, his development went right back on track as if he’d never faltered.”)

The Dirt Cure blames the food and pharmaceutical industrial complexes (she has plenty of conspiracy theories and shill gambits for you) for filling our foods with toxins, and describes “the mounting evidence” (yes, again) of how these toxins are provoking huge rises in chronic childhood illnesses, as well as cancer and illness in adults. Perhaps the worst villain is RoundUp, which she ties to Agent Orange and which she – damned be the evidence pretty conclusively showing the opposite – thinks is stored in the body to make us sick. Apparently everything was much better 200 years ago, when we knew exactly what we were eating and the average life expectancy in the Western World was 35.

Now, in fairness, the main thesis of the book, that sterile environments contribute to the prevalence of allergies, does actually have some evidence to support it. But Shetreat-Klein really isn’t concerned with the state of the evidence; she takes the thesis as a starting point for fully embracing appeal to nature as a guiding creed. And it’s not like exposure to germ will only help prevent allergies, as Shetreat-Klein sees it: it will help boost your health and energy, too

Shetreat-Klein seems to have abandoned her medical training more or less completely in favor of random appeals to nature (where “nature” means whatever she wants it to mean). Currently she subscribes to terrain medicine, a long discarded view of medicine that once became the basis for naturopathy, and her website describes her as “neurologist, herbalist, shaman, astrologist” (no less). And of course, once you start down the path to the dark side, it is hard to stop. Shetreat-Klein has for instance given talks on “Herbal Medicine in Pediatric Neurology” (as well as a talk on her dirt cure) at the anti-vaccine and quackery summit AutismOne.

Her website is pretty illuminating: you’ll get a special offer on the “Shetreat 28 day cleanse” (we didn’t bother to check the new price) and an invitation to “learn which healing practice will help you connect with the Earth.” She even has something called “The Intuition Prescription”, a masterclass that will help you “[t]une into your inner voice, tap into the power that resides within you, and find balance between science and the sacred”. We wager a guess that there won’t be much of the former in her “balance”. Oh, and then there are the “6 Ways Drumming Heals Your Mind, Body and Spirit.” In short: this is what post-truth looks like in a medical context.

Diagnosis: Yes, she is somewhat marketing savvy and knows how to tap into fashionable new age trends. You really, really shouldn’t take medical advice from her, however.

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