Published on October 15th, 2014 | by Rayne2
Renaming Modern Alternative Mama’s book: A Practical Guide to Sticking to Recipes
With the launch of Modern Alternative Mama’s new book “A Practical Guide to Children’s Health“, I was sincerely interested in reading what MAM had to say on the subject of children’s health. After reading and debunking her post on “Rejecting Modern Science“, I didn’t have high hopes for the Quiverfull mum who distrusts doctors because “Many doctors think they can intervene and do a better job than God“. Especially a book written by a person who encourages her readers to tell others “you believe God created us perfectly and we don’t need these interventions in almost any case to continue to be perfect. God gave us all the medicine we need all around us, which Chinese medicine and other natural healing takes advantage of“.
Given MAM’s distrust of doctors and evidence based medicine, I was interested to see what sort of advice she would be giving her readers. Particularly since she has no formal qualifications in nursing, medicine or basic science, she has expressed a distrust for the scientific method and medicine while throwing in (seemingly as an afterthought) that doctors should be trusted for things such as surgery (which is something alternative medicine cannot and does not claim to do). As I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts, alternative medicine only promotes cures for things that medicine can only manage. While medicine has a few holes in it that alternative medicine attempts to fill with woo and pseudoscience, medicine has surgery all figured out. Modern Alternative Mama uses the holes in medicine to peddle alternative medicine because alternative medicine doesn’t require any specialist knowledge.
The first thing you read after the contents page is a Foreward written by Dr. Tyson Perez, D.C, a chiropractor operating in America. Dr Perez writes for Greenmediainfo, the pseudoscientific website devoted alternative treatments that haven’t been proven to work. When I typed in Dr Perez’s name into Google, it came up with this link to articles written by Perez for Greenmediainfo. The article titled “The Hidden Connection Behind Viruses, Vaccines and Cancer” says it all really. Dr Perez is clearly anti-vaccine and anti-science mixed with conspiracy theorist. A perfect fit for a woman who distrusts medical doctors and has no training in the scientific method.
Dr Perez describes himself as a pediatric and prenatal chiropractor – a chiropractor that specialises in children. Think about that for a moment. Chiropractors believe that all illness stem from a misalignment of the spine and nervous system. A chiropractor will “adjust” your spine which somehow cures diabetes or ear infections.
Chiropractic is not science. According to his social media, Dr Perez studied Kinesiology at the University of Victoria (British Columbia). Kinesiology is defined as “Essentially, Kinesiology as used in the complementary health or natural medicine field, is defined primarily as the use of muscle testing to identify imbalances in the body’s structural, chemical, emotional or other energy, to establish the body’s priority healing needs, and to evaluate energy changes brought about by a broad spectrum of both manual and non-manual therapeutic procedures” (source). Kinesiology is chiropractic woo based on the idea that the way your muscles respond to being pushed against can tell the chiropractor what you’re suffering from.
The lovelies over at The Skeptic Zone explain how Kinesiology really works and why it’s a bunch of pseudoscientific quackery:
Perez is a human shaped mass of quackery mixed in with an unhealthy dose of scientific illiteracy. In his forward, he writes “Added to that is an accumulation of toxins from exposure to genetically modified foods (GMOs), pesticides, vaccines, prescription drugs, chlorinated swimming pools, fluoridated water and a host of other insults.” also ” Over time, these deficiencies and toxicities build up and allow germs to take root in this weakened and diseased tissue. These germs reproduce and, in some cases, release toxins of their own resulting in clinical symptoms of illness“. Perez goes on to say the way to have a healthy child is a detoxify them from the toxins accumulating in their bodies. We all know the concept of the detox and detoxing regimes are no more than scams based on junk science and fear.
The introduction by MAM herself has her reciting the following quack Miranda warning “Remember: I’m just a mom, like you. This book is based on what I’ve learned over the past 5 years or so of “being mom” to four children. It’s not a substitute for medical advice and shouldn’t be treated as such”. Remember kids, this book shouldn’t be used as a substitutefor medical advice, she isn’t a doctor. Perez isn’t a medical doctor either but both feel comfortable telling parents about things they don’t understand nor have qualifications in. As we shall see in the second half of MAM’s book, her not-medical includes but isn’t limited to: discussing measles, vaccines, rubella, prescription medicine and dental care among others.
Given the qualifications and ideals of Perez and the ideals of the author – it’s already clear this book does not favour evidence based medicine nor does it favour science. It favours woo and quackery and alternative pseudoscience junk. This is evidence in the next chapter of the book: Resources.
• Real Food: What to Eat and Why by Nina Planck
• Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon and Mary Enig
• The Nourishing Traditions Book of Baby & Child Care by Sally Fallon and Thomas Cowan
• Healing Our Children by Sally Fallon and Ramiel Nagel
Most of the above four books are not written by professionals with an understanding of science and nutrition. Mary Enig was a Ph.D who promoted the idea unprocessed coconut oil could be effective in the treatment of viral infections, including HIV/AIDS. Thomas Cowan is a holistic “doctor” who treats cancer at his clinic with Iscador. Iscador is an alternative cancer treatment made from the lacto-fermented extract of fresh sap of mistletoe (viscum album). It has been shown to kill cancer cells in vitro (meaning while the cancer cells were outside of their normal environment – in this case, in an artificial culture medium housed in a petri dish), that statement really doesn’t mean much when I can fill a petri dish with orange juice and my spit and the cancer cells will die. It doesn’t mean ingesting large quantities of orange juice and my spit will kill cancer cells in the human body. Cowan also goes on to say he “sometimes use digitalis, turmeric, intravenous vitamin C, and a variety of natural and herbal medicines in a comprehensive cancer program“. Spices and injecting vitamin C for cancer. Fuck me. I have a headache already.
• How to Raise a Healthy Child In Spite of Y our Doctor by Dr. Robert Mendelssohn
• The Vaccine Book by Dr. Robert Sears
• Rosemary Gladstar’ s Herbal Remedies for Children’ s Health by Rosemary Gladstar
• Vaccine Free: 111 Stories of Unvaccinated Children by Andreas Bachmair
• Vaccines: Are They Really Safe and Effective by Neil Z. Miller
• What Y our Doctor May Not Tell Y ou About Children’ s Vaccinations by Dr. Stephanie Cave and Deborah Mitchell
• Herbal Healing for Children by Demetria Clark
• Gut and Psychology Syndrome by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride
• Naturally Healthy Babies and Children: A Commonsense Guide to Herbal Remedies, Nutrition, and Health by Aviva Jill Romm and William Sears
• Curing Tooth Decay by Ramiel Nagel
Do I really need to go into detail with the above books? All anti-vaccine books. Enough said.
• Positive Discipline by Jane Nelsen
• Positive Discipline A – Z: 1001 Solutions to Everyday Parenting Problems, by Jane Nelsen, Ed.
• How to Talk so Kids will ListeN; Listen so Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish
These books are mostly about how to parent a child, children don’t come with instruction manuals. Fair enough. Nothing wrong here. If anyone has anything to add about these books – let me know.
Vitamin deficiencies have been tied to:
Asthma (deficiencies in A, C, and D),
Allergies (deficiencies in D),
Autism (deficiencies in D),
ADHD (deficiencies in magnesium)
Learning disabilities (deficiencies inC, D),
Hypothyroidism (deficiencies in A,B12),
Obesity (deficiencies in calcium, D,dietary fat),
Diabetes, type 1 and 2 (deficiencies in B12, D, K),,,
Anemia (deficiencies in iron, B12, D),,
Would you look at that? Pseudoscientists have learned to back up their assertions. Too bad MAM hasn’t backed up her assertions very well. Vitamin D deficiencies have been found in adults with severe and uncontrolled asthma but asthma has not been linked to vitamin deficiencies – “evidence from randomised-controlled trials is insufficient to recommend a specific role for vitamin C in the treatment of asthma” (Kaur B, Rowe BH, Stovold E. 2009). Past research has suggested for people with asthma, vitamin D may help reduce symptoms. A new study published in JAMA finds that for asthmatics with low vitamin D levels, supplementation with the vitamin had no effect (Mario Castro et al. 2014).
The statement “Vitamin deficiencies have been tied to” (insert illness/condition here) is far reaching considering further research is needed to understand the role vitamins may or may not play with regards to the above conditions. MAM said it herself – “How is a parent supposed to know what to believe with conflicting “studies” coming out almost daily?” and yet here she is making assertions about vitamins and various conditions.
Notice how MAM states vitamin deficiencies have been tied to? Not linked. Not “there is a relationship between” but tied to. “Tied to” is a great way for pseudoscientists to attempt to correlate two variables without much evidence. In pseudoscience land, finding “evidence” means evidence to support their preconceived ideas. This is called confirmation bias.
The two links she offers as support for her assertion that vitamin deficiencies are “ties to” autism can be found here and here. The first link (“What If Vitamin D Deficiency Is a Cause of Autism?“) is debunked at the start of the second paragraph: “The idea, although not yet tested or widely held, comes out of preliminary studies in Sweden and Minnesota“. The school of thought needs a lot more in-depth research before the statement “Vitamin D is tied to Autism” can be uttered out-loud. At this stage, the article has found a higher rate of children with autism in a region of the world where those children don’t get a lot of vitamin D – a shaky correlation at best. Since correlation doesn’t imply causation – more research is needed.
The second link (“Vitamin D and autism: Clinical review“) features in its conclusion “Vitamin D deficiency – either during pregnancy or early childhood – may be an environmental trigger for ASD in individuals genetically predisposed for the broad phenotype of autism. On the basis of the results of the present review, we argue for the recognition of this possibly important role of vitamin D in ASD, and for urgent research in the field”. Note the words “genetically predisposed” meaning an individual will have an increase likelihood of developing a particular condition or disease based on a person’s genetic make-up. Even the most scientifically illiterate among us know that genes are inherited from your parents – the conclusion is stating a vitamin D deficiency maybe an environmental trigger for those genetically predisposed to develop ASD based on their genes inherited from their parents.
I think MAM missed the bit in the review where it mentions “genetically disposed for the broad phenotype (characteristics) of autism”. As I’ve mentioned, she states later in the book, autism is linked to vaccines.
There is a list of “superfoods” (foods with super powers?) and a bunch of reasons why they are “super”. Raw cheese, plain yoghurt, bananas, nuts, avocado, eggs and honey are all great foods and quite yummy (except avocado – it tastes like fail) but they aren’t superfood. They’re just food. The term “superfood” like the term “organic” and “chemical free” is a great marketing strategy to justify paying $10 for a head of lettuce. All in all, eating healthier is not a bad things – spreading pseudoscience to attempt to get people to eat healthier is a bad thing. Spreading misinformation about medicine is a bad thing. MAM also has a short list of foods to avoid with links to sites to back up her assertions, many of those sites are science based but either they have been read incorrectly based on her lack of scientific training or she forgets the fundamental principles of the chemistry, pharmacology and science.
There is a brief section on the case for and against attended “well-child” visits – schedule doctor visits. In the case for schedule doctor visit, MAM says they should be attended by those who want to keep to a vaccine schedule. In the case against, MAM states if you are delaying vaccinating or not vaccinating “For parents who do not vaccinate or who delay until after age 1 or 2, taking the baby to the doctor every couple of months may seem like overkill – especially if they are not first-time parents” also “Every time a child goes into a doctor’s office, s/he has the potential to be exposed to illness – just by the nature of what doctors do. Even with careful hygiene and separate waiting areas (which not all doctors have), children are at greater risk of catching something in a doctor’s office than almost any other place“.
She also mentions that she decrease her visitations with her medical doctor to the point where she may not take her fourth child to the medical doctor at all (unless there is a real concern) however she takes all of her children to her chiropractor weekly. “On the few occasions our children have been sick enough to warrant a call to the doctor (once each for our oldest two and never for our youngest), the chiropractor was our first stop and another local alternative doctor was our second“.
She should probably rethink who she takes her children to and how often and what for, especially considering her young child had a broken arm for a week. She took the child to her chiropractor after 2 days but the chiropractor missed the fact the baby’s arm was broken:
Continuing through the “Health” section, I came across a section entitled “A note on vaccines”. This should be interesting, I thought. Interesting like watching a drunk guy try to chat up a mannequin. It’s sad but I can’t look away.
Firstly this quote about whether parents should fully vaccinate, partial vaccinate or not vaccinate: “There is no a lot of solid science on either side yet; although there is emerging science to support a variety of positions”. There isn’t solid science but there is emerging science to support a variety of positions.
No, there isn’t. There isn’t science to support a variety of positions regarding vaccines. There is science and there is junk pseudoscience published by a quack who has had his medical licences revoked in every state he was licensed in.
“Despite what parents have been told by doctors and the mainstream media, there is science to suggest that vaccines are linked to ADHD , autism, asthma, and a number of other serious chronic conditions. In no way have these questions been settled, and in no way has a vaccine-autism link been debunked, as is often stated. (In no way has it been fully proven, either; nor are vaccines the only factor in autism. There are many, many factors, largely environmental in nature.”
I need to fix her statement: “There is science to suggest vaccines are linked to “insert disease medicine doesn’t have an definitive origin for”, in no way have these questions been settled but I’m going to link you to fourteen low quality studies that state vaccines are linked to these conditions ignoring the numerous meta-analysis and 75+ high quality studies stating the opposite of my position. The vaccine-autism link has not been debunked because I can’t tell the difference between low and high quality studies but it also hasn’t been proven either. Vaccines aren’t the only factor in autism because I’ve already mentioned vitamin D deficiency has been tied to autism. I don’t really know because everything causes everything“.
She then parrots a lot of pseudoscience about vaccines and gut flora (gut microbiota) which has its origins in Andrew Wakefield’s terrible, now retracted study. Anti-vaxxers seem to have a hard on for things that live in our gut. Alterations in gut microbiota can affect digestion and vitamin production but I fail to see what vaccines have to do with gut microbiota. I’m thinking it’s because anti-vaxxers have the idea that vaccines destroy your immune system therefore wreak havoc on your guy microbiota which leads to illness. The role of vaccines is to prevent the spread of disease by increasing herd immunity and prompting the body to recognise and produce antibodies to fight disease without ever having to contract the disease itself.
“Continue to ask, read, research, pray, and do whatever you need to do before coming to the right decision for your family“. This is my favourite quote. MAM is part of the Quiverfull movement which she discusses on her blog. It is a branch of evangelical Christianity that believes family planning should be kept up to their god, they shun birth control, they often homeschool, lean towards creationism, women are used as baby factors for their god, the daughters are taught their role is to serve their husbands whereas the sons are taught their role is to be the head of the family in which their wives have no say whatsoever. Vyckie Garrison a former member of the Quiverfull movement speaks about her experiences and escape from the cult. Trust in one religions unprovable god, not medicine. Right.
The rest of the section on health includes how to care for fevers, measles, rubella, mumps, food allergies, dental hygiene, sleep issues among others. MAM actually suggests seeing a chiropractor for an adjustment as a way to reduce a fever.
She also suggests “oil pulling” as an alternative to brushing ones teeth. Oil pulling is the action of taking a shot of oil (sesame, coconut, vegetable) and swishing it around your mouth for about 10 minutes. It tastes like shit and should not be used as a substitute for brushing your teeth. She also mentions that root canals have been linked to cancer, surprisingly with no evidence. There is no evidence to support this idea and the only sites promoting this idea are pseudoscientific quack conspiracy sites like mercola.com and naturalnews.com. She recommends to find a holistic dentist – which should be avoided.
At the end of the book, she offers a small section dedicated to schooling, giving advice to parents about public, private and home-schooling options. The sections can be summed up as: talk to people and decide what is best for your child. Which is nice but it doesn’t really offer much in terms of knowledge.
MAM closes the book with the following: “This book was quite the undertaking – it has over 300 sources and took me a couple hundred hours to put together“. The quantity of sources are not as important as the quality and understanding of the subject matter you’re writing about. MAM lacks both quantity and understanding. This book is not a guide intended for scientifically literate parents but for followers of MAM who don’t want or cannot research correctly and would rather just blindly follow what another mummy says. MAM should stick to giving recipes. If she has time to write a book, she has time to learn about science.
The reviews on amazon for the book are enough to tell you this is a book you should avoid if you are looking for health advice for your children. Please see your medical doctor and/or pediatrician.
Modern Alternative Mama should stick to recipes.
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Okay, those studies in Sweden and Minnesota linking vitamin D deficiency to autism? I work in a health care setting in Minnesota. It’s more rare to run into someone WITHOUT a vitamin D deficiency in Minnesota than with one, and I imagine Sweden is much of the same. We spend 6 months out of the year stuck in our houses because it’s butt cold (or in an ice fishing shanty). We get approximately 2-3 months of marginal weather and maybe 2-4 months of awesome weather. Those studies would have come up with the same results analyzing Minnesotans who drink water, or breathe air.