Jason Allen is an N.D. affiliated with Bastyr University, an influential and rather powerful establishment that “educates” naturopaths and other quacks through courses in naturopathic medicine, covering a range of methods and treatments that lack compelling evidence for efficacy, such as homeopathy, herbalism, acupuncture, and Ayurvedic methods. There is a good resource for naturopathic and similar “educations” and “educational institutions” here and here.
Allen is probably most famous (if that’s the right word) for his promotion of “sauna detoxification” and has even done a study on it at Bastyr, funded by the NCCIH, despite the latter organization’s stated promise to try to do some science fora change. And yes, the rationale is the pseudoscientist/naturopath delusion that our environment is full of usually vaguely defined disease-causing toxins that we can rid ourselves of through various forms of usually rather expensive magic. Of course there is no evidence that detoxification regimes provide any benefit whatsoever for patients. Allen himself, together with coauthors like fellow Bastyr naturopath Wendy Weber, has even written a survey of naturopathic detoxification practices published in the cargo cult journal the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, which was also funded by NCCIH and which tried to put a positive spin on detox practices by showing widespread use of such practices – the lack of evidence of benefit notwithstanding. The authors pointed out that environmental chemicals can have negative health effects, which is true enough but doesn’t even begin to justify their conclusion that “doxification therapies used by NDs may serve as an adequate means to reduce the body burden of synthetic chemicals found today in humans”; they did, very unwillingly, almost admit that there is no scientific support for the safety and efficacy of these therapies, however.
Concerning sauna detoxification, Allen believes that a few turns in the sauna would get rid of “toxins” by sweating them out, which is demonstrably false – indeed, sweating can actually impair the body’s natural detoxification systems (liver and kidneys). Now, in his proposed study, Allen set out to measure PCBs in the blood before and after sauna detox regimes; it is therefore worth emphasizing that a reduction in PCB would not be evidence for any beneficial health outcomes. Rather typical, isn’t it?
Diagnosis: There is a scary amount of money, labor and resources going into this kind of bullshit, with people like Allen wasting talents and lives on things that are not just meaningless bullshit but which may actually cause real harm to real people and will certainly not help them. Bastyr and the NCCIH, including Allen, is a staggering tragedy, no less.
Hat-tip: Jann Bellamy @ sciencebasedmedicine
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