Screw The Woo Woo – Spell Casters!

Facebook is a great place to meet some weird-ass motherfuckers. We all know that. But I’m still surprised and more than a little dismayed by the scammers. I normally just report ads that include woo woo, sometimes leaving a snarky comment, or just hide or block scammers. It’s rare that they actively seek me out, but it does happen.

Check this out! In response to my post on a blog post about legitimate, peer-reviewed science and breast cancer, Mr. Ansari was compelled by the power of the spell caster, “Dr” Akhigbe, to testify about the amazing things the spell caster can do.

It’s an impressive list worthy of the most outrageous scammy chiropractor. He apparently has the cure for herpes (HSV – I assume the genital variety), HIV, gonorrhea, low sperm count, menopause disease (it’s not a disease, even if it feels like it sometimes; he’s big on STDs and fertility), epilepsy, asepsis (I think he means sepsis – “asepsis” refers to aseptic techniques that minimize risks of bacterial, fungal or viral contamination during surgery and medical procedures), and cancer (which kind, dude?).

Where has this paragon of the medical community been all my life? Why haven’t we heard of him?

I have a few theories, but I decided to go down the rabbit hole and read more about the good “doc” and his miraculous healing abilities. First off, he has at least three profiles. Sketchy. The spell caster profile is apparently now dedicated to marriage, fertility, and “total freedom and happiness.” Hmm, I wonder how much that costs?

The posts are a feast of stock photos with tons of woo, attractive people who seem to be happy, and hashtags a plenty (candlemagic #magicspells #candlespells #astrology #occult #spellcandles #witchyvibes #bruja #pagan #witches #astrologer #psychicreading #witchcraftspells #spellcraft #conjurer #metaphysical #lovespecialist #spellcasters #brujasofinstagram #spiritualoils #spellworker #moneyspells #spiritualawakening #healing #lovespellsmaster #follow #spellcandlesofinstagram #spiritual #altarsofinstagram).

I’d take medical advice from Nandor the Relentless than the “Spell Caster.”

Yup. He’s a busy, busy man. There’s a lot going on there…

I kind of hope there’s a mockumentary based on this dude. Not that it would be as good as What We Do In The Shadows, but I’d LOVE Colin Robinson to explain the history of herbal medicine to The Spell Caster until he’s utterly drained.

I’ll focus on the other profile, which deals with herbal remedies for “great diseases,” because “it’s a gift from God.”

Here’s one of his posts related to cancer:

I’ve already covered turmeric, antioxidants (this includes the berry thing), and I’m covering mushrooms in my book, so let’s dig into what garlic and ginger can do for you (and more importantly, cannot do for you) as a cancer patient.

Note: My medical oncologist is a fan of veggies as well as legitimate research on diet and breast cancer molecular signaling/drug responses. Check out his blog for legit information and some great recipes!

Garlic. It makes food delicious, your breath stinky, and wards off vampires, but what can it do for cancer? When I searched the web, the first promising result I found was from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Reputable enough for me! When I clicked, a big fat pop up window with a disclaimer and a “Continue” button I had to click to proceed tried to jump out of the screen:

“This Web site — Information About Herbs, Botanicals and Other Products — is for general health information only. This Web site is not to be used as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment of any health condition or problem. Users of this Web site should not rely on information provided on this Web site for their own health problems. Any questions regarding your own health should be addressed to your own physician or other healthcare provider.”

They have a whole disclaimer to protect them from yahoos looking for woo woo!

What did it have to say about garlic? In terms of cancer, here’s the 411:

https://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/integrative-medicine/herbs/garlic

Getting into the nuts and bolts, the clinical summary (with references) states:

1. Possible correlation with garlic supplement and gastric (stomach) cancer mortality (death) but not incidence (getting cancer), but other studies found no evidence of either. Remember, correlation does NOT equal causality.

2. Mixed results on garlic and colorectal cancer, with some observation of reduced number and size of adenomas (precancerous lesions) in patients with a history of adenomas.

3. Mixed or unclear results on risk of other cancers, but possible association with reduced risk of blood cancer. Remember, correlation does NOT equal causality.

Bottom line: garlic makes food tasty! Enjoy it in your favorite recipes, but don’t rely on it to keep you safe from cancer or to treat your cancer.

As far as ginger, I found a great article that already covers it:

Walk Gingerly Before Declaring Ginger a Cancer Cure
It is not at all unusual to find plant extracts that will kill cancer cells in vitro. There are hundreds of phytochemicals that will do this. Neither is it unusual to find an effect in mice that have implanted tumours. But this is a long way away from demonstrating a viable cancer treatment in humans.”

Bottom line: this pretty much sums up the majority of studies on plant extracts and cancer. Enjoy ginger for the flavor, but don’t count on it to cure your cancer.

AND DON’T TRUST INTERNET “SPELL CASTERS!”

Screw the Woo Woo: Apple Cider Vinegar

This is an oldie that keeps cropping up in the sphere of (completely unvetted) wellness tips – apple cider vinegar. I’m a bit puzzled by the claims that this is a “natural remedy.” Apples are natural. Cider is processed, as is vinegar, through a fermentation process involving bacteria and yeast that occurs on an industrial scale. It’s not magic. It’s chemistry.

Anyway, a Google search revealed top hits chock a block FULL of Woo Woo claims that are fantastical in nature and, you guessed it, not scientifically vetted. The “apple cider vinegar process” is only at the top because I searched for it first, I suspect. But the rest – “apple cider vinegar gummies” (gross!), “apple cider vinegar benefits” (makes foods taste yummo, but that’s it), “apple cider vinegar pills” (WTF?), “apple cider vinegar weight loss” (maybe if all you eat are salads with apple cider vinaigrette dressing – but that’s a sad way to live), and “apple cider vinegar diet” (that doesn’t even make sense) – it’s all a bunch of doo doo!

“My grandfather’s work was doo doo!” Young Frankenstein. Photo source.

But, since I’m a debunker of woo woo scams, I’m doing the research. A PubMed (database of peer-reviewed published biomedical research) search using “apple cider vinegar” yielded 94 results. Aside from a few articles on the antimicrobial and anti-fungal properties of ACV (not surprising, considering that ACV contains 5-6% acetic acid) and studies in rodent models (cardiovascular health, obesity, and something about boosting immunity in carp and – those were weird) that may or may not translate to humans, most of the articles covered the dangers of using ACV as a “natural remedy.”

Photo credit here.

For example, tooth erosion and esophageal injury was documented in at least two studies [Case Reports Ned Tijdschr Tandheelkd. 2012 Dec;119(12):589-91. doi: 10.5177/ntvt.2012.12.12192 “Unhealthy weight loss. Erosion by apple cider vinegar”; J Am Diet Assoc. 2005 Jul;105(7):1141-4. doi: 10.1016/j.jada.2005.04.003. “Esophageal injury by apple cider vinegar tablets and subsequent evaluation of products.”]. Seriously, do NOT use this to treat heartburn or GERD. It’s a fucking ACID and adding ACID to a condition caused by escape of stomach ACID is completely ridiculous. Don’t drink it. Cook with it, but don’t drink it.

Not only does ACV have no benefit for atopic dermatitis [(skin irritation) Pediatr Dermatol 2019 Sep;36(5):634-639. doi: 10.1111/pde.13888. Epub 2019 Jul 22. Apple cider vinegar soaks [0.5%] as a treatment for atopic dermatitis do not improve skin barrier integrity], topical skin treatments with ACV can cause chemical burns [J Am Acad Dermatol. 2012 Oct;67(4):e143-4. doi: 10.1016/j.jaad.2011.11.934. “Chemical burn from topical apple cider vinegar.”]! Don’t put it on your skin. Please.

One study reported a lack of antiglycemic (lowering of blood sugar) by vinegar, including ACV, in humans [Nutr Res. 2009 Dec;29(12):846-9. doi: 10.1016/j.nutres.2009.10.021. “Vinegar lacks antiglycemic action on enteral carbohydrate absorption in human subjects.”]. So no, it won’t help people with diabetes.

Apple cider vinegar and a paper funnel inserted into a cup are used as an at home fruit fly trap. Photo credit here.

Fun rando fact – apparently ACV attracts several species of fruit flies, so if you want to collect some wild ones as pest control or for DIY experiments at home, try it! I’m not citing these. Look it up yourself. There are a surprising number of studies documenting this.

Bottom line – there are no validated health benefits in humans for this “natural remedy,” but there are plenty of bad things that can happen if you drink a lot of cider vinegar, put it on your skin, or take pills (and presumably gummies).

And ACV does NOT cure or treat cancer. Only two references came up in a PubMed search for “apple cider vinegar cancer,” and neither reported any benefits for treatment of warts or moles, let alone skin cancer.

BUT…ACV can make tasty salad dressings and delicious sauces. One of my favorites for fall is apple glazed baked chicken. Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients:

1 whole broiler chicken, apple jelly, apple cider vinegar, apple pie spice, apples (tart or sweet)

Recipe

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Season the chicken with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Bake chicken for 1 1/2-2 hours. While chicken is baking, slice apples and prepare glaze. To prepare glaze, heat 1/2 jar of apple jelly with an equal volume of apple cider vinegar and 1-2 teaspoons of apple pie spice. Boil until volume is reduced by 1/2. Remove chicken from oven, drain chicken stock (can be used to prepare some DELICIOUS rice), cover with glaze, and place apple slices around chicken in the baking dish. Cook another 1/2 hour or until chicken is done. Serve with rice or potatoes, green beans, and enjoy!

Screw the Woo Woo: For The Love of The Flying Spaghetti Monster Do NOT Sun Your Bunghole!

Beavis and Butt-head are the intellectual property of
Mike Judge.

In this installment of Screw The Woo Woo, I’m tackling a “wellness” trend that’s been making the rounds on social media, including my Facebook feed, and that is disturbing on sooooooooo many levels: butthole sunning. At first, I thought it was a joke. I really, REALLY hoped it was a joke. Then again, jade eggs for the vagina, vagina steaming, and coffee enemas were (and apparently still are) a thing, so what’s one more bizarre bit of ridiculousness in the wooniverse? This isn’t directly related to breast cancer, BUT(T), since ultraviolet light from the sun can cause skin cancer, I’ve decided to tackle the subject and debunk its alleged benefits to, er, bring to light the very real dangers of exposing your junk to the sun.

That and one of the proponents of this weird ass practice is making shady claims about how butthole sunning balances hormones in the sex organs. It doesn’t. More on that later.

First off, the notion that sunlight can enter your body through your vagina or anus is ludicrous, as is the notion that butthole sunning prevents the leakage of “chi” from the body, mostly because “chi” isn’t a thing, and if you’re experiencing any kind of leakage from your anus or genitals, you DEFINITELY need to seek your doctor. The vagina doesn’t just magically open to the heavens like a flower when you open your legs to the sun. Don’t believe me? Read The Vagina Bible by Dr. Jen Gunter, M.D. and gynecologist who covers everything you need to know about care and maintenance of your girly parts.

In addition to blocking chi leakage, woo woo practitioner MetaphysicalMegan (~a clearly qualified source of accurate, reliable information~) claims that sunning your perineum (a.k.a. the taint, the gooch, the fleshy fun bridge) provides a myriad of health benefits (link to a story that shares her tweet – I refuse to link directly to woo woo bullshit sites) – such as regulating “hormone function in the sex organs.”

That claim is a GIANT steaming pile of bullshit.

Hormone function in sex organs is regulated by intracellular hormone receptors expressed in the cells of internal sex organs that are well-protected from the outside world, including sunlight. For example, estrogen receptors in females are expressed in mammary glandular epithelium deep within breast tissue (where they can contribute to the growth of breast cancer cells in ER+ disease), the endometrial tissue that lines the uterus (internal organ protected from sunlight), ovary, bone (which is why bone loss is a concern for menopausal women and breast cancer patients on estrogen suppression therapy – estrogen contributes to cellular signaling pathways that promote bone growth), and other organs and tissues that are protected from the elements. As sunlight cannot reach estrogen receptor expressing cells, it cannot influence the function of estrogen signaling within them.

But what’s the harm, you might ask? Lots of people believe in and incorporate New Age and Wellness practices into their daily lives. Well, in this case, exposing delicate skin to ultraviolet sun rays without the benefit of sunscreen can actually be harmful. Ultraviolet light breaks bonds in the nucleotide bases (thymine and cyotsine) of DNA in skin cells that absorb it. This can facilitate abnormal bonding between adjacent thymine (thymine dimers) and cytosine (cytosine dimers) that form kinks in DNA. If not repaired, this can lead to DNA mutations that contribute to the development of skin cancers. Now, MetaphysicalMegan recommends 30 seconds, but given that every second you are in the sun, 50 to 100 of these dimers are formed in each skin cell. That’s a hell of a place to risk getting skin cancer, not to mention that the proverbial “places where the sun don’t shine” are horrible places to get a freakin’ sunburn!

Bottom (giggle snort) line: exposing your asshole/taint/vagina/penis/nutsack to the sun isn’t going to help your health. It’ll probably give you a sunburn, it can increase your risk of skin cancer, and it will most certainly make you look like a fucking idiot. Don’t do it.

Publicly available references from The US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health: Estrogen receptor expression and function in female reproductive disease; Estrogen receptors and human disease: an update

*Apparently Josh Brolin tried butthole/perineum sunning and, not surprisingly, regretted it. Yup, not even Thanos can handle that flavor of sick burn. The evil part of me REALLY hopes that Ryan Reynolds works in some butthole sunning jokes at Cable’s expense in the next Deadpool film!

Maybe they’ll even do a little superhero bro bonding with joint butthole sunning. They could even bring along Colosus and Dopinder.

I mean, who DOESN’T want to see dat ass? You’re picturing it. I know you are!