Owen Davis | 20 Sep
As we spoke about in our previous article, the Flexner Report essentially banned the teaching of holistic medicines at American universities. This was largely because Abraham Flexner branded such medicines as 'quackery'. Flexner's use of the term 'quack' is still influential in modern medicine with doctors, politicians and society using it as a word to poke fun at those who hold a scientific opinion that threatens a debate. The term quack has a connotation of salesmen peddling 'snake oil' and is often used to discredit and tarnish the reputation of holistic practitioners who don't abide by the Biomedical Model of Disease. While there are some unqaulified people who practice alternative therapies worthy of the quack moniker, it is important to distinguish that the term is too often misused and should not be applied broadly to anyone who practices holistic health.
A quack is someone who pretends to have medical knowledge but has no real qualifications or expertise. The term 'quack' is derived from the Dutch word 'quacksalver' (kwakzalver) which is code for quicksilver, a description for how dental amalgam reacts when it is applied and set to restore tooth decay. In the Middle Ages, the term 'quacksalver' also refers to alchemists and fraudsters who sold nostrums - medical cures of dubious and secretive origins - in markets while shouting in a loud voice.
According to Dr Stephen Barrett of the well-known American website, Quackwatch; "Quackery derives from the
word quacksalver (someone who boasts about his salves). Dictionaries define quack as "a pretender to medical skill; a
charlatan" and "one who talks pretentiously without sound knowledge of the subject discussed". These definitions suggest
that the promotion of quackery involves deliberate deception, but many promoters sincerely believe in what they
It is reported that during Elizabethan times, 'quacks' would peddle nutmeg as a cure against the plague. This is an excellent example of quackery as the word was originally intended. With time, though, the word's original meaning has been lost, and now 'quack' is used to tarnish the reputation of qualified medical and health professionals who believe in holistic medicines. A classic example of this is Holistic Dentistry.
My father, Dr Eric
was branded a ‘quack’ in the early 90s by many of his peers for removing amalgams. He was ahead of his time as he understood
the oral systemic link and the role mercury
played in heavy metal toxicity and associated symptoms and conditions. Instead of following commercial trends and succumbing to
(of being labelled a 'quack'), he stayed true to his Hippocratic Oath, first do no harm!
Fast forward some 30 years, and it is now common knowledge amongst almost all dentists and health professionals that amalgam fillings lead to mercury toxicity and are directly responsible for a whole host of health problems and chronic diseases. And herein lies the issue with branding holistic health practitioners as quacks. My father, for instance, has graduated with a doctorate in Dentistry and has pursued post-graduate studies in the areas of Clinical Nutrition, Medical Acupuncture, Neural Therapy, Homotoxicology and Electroacupuncture according to Voll. In 1986 he qualified as a Naturopathic Physician and remains a member of the Australian Naturopathic Practitioners Association, the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology, the International Academy of Biological Dentistry and Medicine and the Australasian College of Nutritional and Environmental Medicine. He is also apart of the very few dentists world wide that are still carrying on the work of the late Dr. Weston A. Price and Dr. Hal Huggins.
The point being, he certainly doesn't fit the definition of a 'quack'. Quacks were dentists who were selling
Quack or Quick Silver, not the ones taking it out. Such was the hypocrisy of those that branded him a quack
that they now refer to themselves as 'holistic' or 'biological' dentists, who now promote the safe removal of mercury fillings. Oh, the irony.
In modern times, there have been other words used by television media, journalists, politicians, and other members of society who have no medical qualifications to discredit those who dare to question the current status quo of modern medicine. Some common terms are:
Like the term 'quack', some of these words have validity when appropriately used; however, they are often misused. The question we must ask is, why? Ultimately, this name-calling propaganda is the product of groupthink psychology, whereby most people look to avoid dissent from the masses and maintain a group consensus. Groupthink occurs when a group of individuals reaches a consensus without critical reasoning or evaluating the consequences or alternatives. According to Very Well Mind, there are several problems with groupthink:
A prime example of this phenomenon was the Cholesterol ‘pandemic' in the '90s, where the ‘group' demonised saturated fat and cholesterol. In fact, many are still conscious of 'lowering their cholesterol' and 'avoiding fat' to this day without having any understanding or knowledge as to why.
When saturated fat and cholesterol were demonised, margarine was proposed as a 'healthier' alternative to butter as it lowered fat and cholesterol - supposedly improving health. A 'heart friendly' tick was even slapped on margarine labels. The truth, however, is that margarine - a chemically designed cheap black oil - is much worse for you than butter. While many people have now reverted to butter over margarine in light of new information, groupthink around this topic persists. The fact that saturated fat (contained in butter) is good for you is still not widely known or understood by people.
When you take a deeper dive into the subject, you will learn that Big Pharma plays a significant role in demonising cholesterol and fat. Money became a major driving force when the National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) guidelines became available, as the American Heart Association (AHA) needed funding. Unable to raise funds from public donations, the AHA sought private financing from a select few pharmaceutical companies.
The mantra of lowering cholesterol to reduce the 'risk' of heart disease generated substantial profits for big pharmaceutical companies. Pfizer, in 2001 alone, reaped the benefit of around $7 billion from the sale of the cholesterol-lowering drug called Lipitor. Similarly, the Australian Chronic Disease Prevention Alliance (ACDPA) determines the acceptable blood chemistry reference range for cholesterol in Australia for pathology labs. When someone's range sits outside of this, they are commonly prescribed cholesterol-lowering medication to avert 'risk'.
Contrary to popular belief, cholesterol isn't always a bad thing, and it the idea that we should lower it at all costs is ludicrous when you understand the many vital roles it performs in the body. Did you know that in pregnancy, cholesterol will rise? Did you know that cholesterol is essential for mercury detoxification? It also helps the body respond to inflammation? Finally, cholesterol is necessary in order to protect vital organs like the brain against alcohol? The notion that cholesterol is fundamentally detrimental to human health and should be lowered at all costs disregards all of these facts. It suggests that the demonising of cholesterol is politically and financially motivated.
Ultimately, the cholesterol narrative is largely driven by propaganda marketing. One of the greatest exponents of propaganda marketing is Edward Bernays - the great uncle of Netflix CEO Marc Randolph and nephew to psychoanalysis pioneer Sigmund Freud. Bernays had tremendous success in promoting female smoking by branding cigarettes as "Torches of Freedom". Naturally, this came at a significant profit to tobacco companies and the American government (who profited through taxes on increased cigarette sales). However, the real issue is that it manipulated people into believing that smoking was equivalent to liberating females.
When you label holistic health as quackery, you become a victim of propaganda marketing, as many people did with smoking. When you label holistic health practitioners as quacks, you are dismissing an entire branch of medicine that has proven time and again to have scientific validity. If you're still not convinced, ask yourself this question; what is a better definition of health? Is it the absence of disease only through the suppression of a symptom via a drug? Or is it where the body is in a perfect balance of chemistry (homeostasis), supported, to triumph over disease? Health autonomy can only exist if the bodies design is respected and supported.
This is not to say that health should not be defined by the 'group', and it is foolish to automatically discredit those who challenge the status quo (the Biomedical Model of Disease) and brand them as 'quacks'. The 'group' does not always have the correct answer when it comes to health. This was shown with mercury amalgam removal, again with cholesterol and also with the government-prescribed food pyramid. If it were not for the so-called 'quacks', perhaps mercury amalgam fillings would still be commonly placed today, and people would be suffering the effects of heavy metal toxicity. The bottom line is, the dismissal of holistic health by society fails to acknowledge that the modern healthcare system is driven by the uniquely intertwined relationship between government and big business.
If you are not empowered to make your own health choices, the group will make them for you, and they will often make the wrong choice. When this occurs, it effectively removes one’s right to give informed consent.
We believe in informed consent. We believe in a health system where modern medicine and holistic health take on a collaborative approach and where people have autonomy over their health. The body is designed to win, and the role of the healthcare system should be to facilitate this. If you would like to learn more about how the body is designed to win click here.