Aside from the wiles of the merchant, genuine medicine also has always had to do battle with the well-intentioned para-healer, who unwittingly has the capacity to prove equally as threatening to the cause, but for very different reasons. The non-conventional medical marketplace seems to be dominated by those who are able to deliver an admirably coherent deconstruction of the conventional paradigm, but who choose not to apply the same level of intelligent critique to their own often wacky nostrums.

As such, we are subject to an equally misguided barrage of pronouncements such as, “Submit not to the ravages of chemo. Let White Eagle purge you of those negative energies.” Visit a pyramid, a shaman, “My sickness is a shamanic gift and calling.” A cancer guide, “OK group. Eyes closed. Your cancer is receding. The lump is disintegrating. Envisage the all-consuming fire!” A coat of mud, of seaweed or both, some psycho-surgery, some radionics, this therapy, that therapy and of course, a thousand and one folk remedies, Grandma’s trusted “brain tumor elixir” perhaps, a walnut kernel, perfectly preserved in rainwater, seven drops three times a day.

Celebrities with the more serious illnesses receive these well-intentioned “tips and tricks” by the sack load. John Diamond was no exception. “I’ve had anecdotal evidence from those who believe in voodoo, the power of the fairy people — yes, really — drinking my own p**s and any number of other remedies. … I should put my faith in the Bessarabian radish, the desiccated root of which has been used for centuries by Tartar nomads to cure athlete’s foot, tennis elbow and cancer, as detailed in their book Why Your Doctor Hates You And Wants You To Die, review copy enclosed.”

Notwithstanding the genuine treatments available in the natural cabinet, which we shall discuss shortly, a huge number of remedies being sold as “medicine” today contain no sensible methodology, yet amazingly, they are selling very well. No better is this phenomenon illustrated than in the lucrative minor ailments market, where on a daily basis across the world, untold £millions is being spent on pharmacologically inert mixtures and ‘essences’, producing truly marvelous results with illnesses from which we were going to get better anyway.

Dangers of uncritical thinking

In truth, were the general public to be given clear information on the nature of self-limiting illness and on the wondrous ability of a properly nourished immune system to overcome and repel almost all ills unaided, (a phenomenon rarely discussed in many of the alternative medical texts) the bottom would fall out of the minor ailments market tomorrow, conventional medicine included. To illustrate that point, the Feb. 7, 1991, issue of the New England Journal of Medicine tells us “90 percent of patients who visit doctors have conditions that will either improve on their own or are out of reach of modern medicine's ability to solve.”

Some non-conventional / alternative therapies claim that their particular remedy helps kick-start the immune system into action. These claims hold no more ground than those fraudulent claims made by the vaccine industry. As if the wondrously intricate immune system needed the finer tinkerings of man to improve upon it! (unless that therapy happens to be sound nutrition, of course.)

Unfortunately, most of the more awkward questions arising from such a discussion are usually defended, not by answering the actual question itself, but by the therapist appealing to the worthiness of his wider philanthropic goals and to “the much greater threat to the global populace” posed by the merchant’s house with all its toxic wares, etc., etc. And such is the wholesome, wishful appeal of the literature supporting the therapist’s wares, and so honourable are his aims, that all intellectual and therapeutic weaknesses are overlooked in the ensuing fog of bonhomie and he is allowed to continue his practice, unhindered by such tiresome obstacles as intellectual consistency or demands that his practice is made “open to fair scrutiny.” So often, all objectivity is sacrificed in this manner.

Donald Gould, the author of The Black and White Medicine Show, warns of the dangers we invite by adopting such laissez-faire reasoning: “Why not make the most of what the non-conformists have to offer and to hell with uncharitable logic? There is, I suggest, a powerful reason for rejecting this superficially attractive option. The truth is a fundamental value. If we accept uncritical thinking in one area of our lives for the sake of convenience or because of the popular appeal of a seductive myth and the short-term comfort to be gained by believing in the unbelievable, or because the false answer lets us pretend we are competently coping with a painful problem we haven't truly tackled, then we are all the more likely to adopt the same strategy in other situations, from dealing with the family, to managing the national economy, and from chairing the parish council to handling arsenals of nuclear weapons. The result is likely to be unhappy and stands a decent chance of proving a disaster. Irrational beliefs are always dangerously corrupting, even when they only relate to the cause and cure of piles.”

Reputation is everything

But what relevance does all this have to the debate on treatments for cancer, you might ask? Where is all of this headed? This has been a necessary diversion firstly, that we might begin to understand some of the frustrations many reasoned thinkers have with the issues raised. Secondly, begin to consider the impact that such weakened thinking has on genuine natural treatments for the disease.

For instance, what damage is secondarily being wrought upon the reputation of the genuine treatments in the cabinet, the ones that can actually heal? Sadly, there is no clear division between the reputation of much of the unregulated alternative health industry and that of the many sensible non-conventional treatments available today. It has all become a horrible blur and is a point of major concern even to the non-orthodox regulatory bodies overseeing the alternative / complementary health movement. The whole arena is fraught with as much vested interests and misunderstandings as conventional health, but commentaries drawing such conclusions even from those concerned bodies sympathetic to the natural approach are viewed as almost heretical and somehow betraying the brotherhood of the alternative hierarchy.

The critical debate should commence as soon as possible with regard to those “helping” therapies that only temporarily distract the seriously ill. In need only of sensible advice and sensible treatment, these people can very quickly end up worse off in body, mind, and spirit; and last but not least, in pocket, leading very quickly to derision and a carte blanche dismissal of all the good that genuine natural treatments have to offer. John Diamond stated that there was as much chance of him going down the alternative treatment route as there was of the Pope getting drunk on the communion wine and getting off with a couple of nuns.

Whilst we can perhaps understand some of John Diamond’s frustrations, his comparisons don’t exactly aid the cause. Because the truth is that the alternativist’s cabinet is not all “mumbo-jumbo” by any means. Genuine medicine can be found in there. Perhaps a name change is in order. Are we alternative? Are we complementary? But complementary to what? To chemotherapy perhaps? But then what medicine could possibly complement chemotherapy? Shouldn’t there just be medicine and non-medicine, full stop?

Be that as it may, many people are wrongly assuming that the non-orthodox medical cabinet is barren and not worthy of closer inspection. The hazy and often crazy information being disseminated on numerous non-conventional treatments coupled with our innate and naïve trust in the orthodoxy is the reason why thousands of people like John Diamond are staying with and relying upon conventional treatments for serious illnesses, including cancer. As a result, thousands of people like John Diamond are dying, and often in a horrible fashion.


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“This informative and empowering essay shows that the main beneficiaries of cancer treatment are the medical and pharmaceutical interests, while most cancer patients continue to suffer and die of this spreading disease — and not only despite conventional treatment but often because of it! Death by Doctoring should be required reading for anyone who values his or her health.
— John J. Moelaert, author The Cancer Conspiracy