From Abracadabra to Zombies | View All
All cancers are alike. They are all caused by a parasite. A single parasite! It is the human intestinal fluke. And if you kill this parasite, the cancer stops immediately....It takes 5 days to be cured of cancer regardless of the type you have. Surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy can be canceled because, after Clark's recipe cures the cancer, it cannot come back--Hulda Clark
This is, of course, complete nonsense. --Orac
Hulda Regehr Clark (1928-2009) was a naturopath (Clayton College) with a Ph.D. in zoology (University of Minnesota, 1958)* who claimed to be able to cure all cancer with treatments like the "liver flush." She died of multiple myeloma, cancer of the blood and bone, in 2009.
Clark wrote several books, including The Cure For All Cancers, The Cure for All Advanced Cancers, and The Cure For All Diseases. According to her, just about every disease is caused by toxins from our polluted environment and worms. (Although she also claimed that "all cancers are in some way involved with Freon gas that leaks out from our refrigerators.")* The cures offered are such things as tincture from green hulls of black walnuts (soak the green hull 3 days in 50% grain alcohol), dried wormwood leaves, and cloves.
Clark made many false and absurd health claims, including that all cancers, AIDS, and Alzheimer's disease are caused by the flatworm Fasciolopsis buski. Hookworms, she said, cause depression.
She promoted various quack devices, including the ParaZapper (for zapping parasites), which is marketed as a cure for athlete's foot, diarrhea, HIV/AIDS, and other illnesses.* (A new and improved model is also for sale.) This device allegedly generates "positive offset frequencies" and "kills all bacteria, viruses and parasites simultaneously" in seven minutes.
Another device she promoted was the Syncrometer, which allegedly scans the body for parasites, viruses, bacteria, and toxins:
She claimed that her Syncrometer could identify diseased organs and toxic substances by noting whether the device makes various sounds when "test substances" are placed on a plate. The device is simply a galvanometer that measures skin resistance to a low-voltage current that passes from the device through a probe touched to the patient's hand.*
After some troubles with the law in the U.S., Clark set up shop in Tijuana, Mexico.
Hulda Clark had many followers and supporters, despite the fact that she was a near total ignoramus regarding cancer and other forms of illness. This YouTube interview with Clark and commentary on her claims reveals the depth of her ineptitude.
Why some people become cult-like followers of medical charlatans is not that difficult to understand. The late Barry Beyerstein provides a short and comprehensive explanation in his classic essay Why Bogus Therapies Seem to Work. The evidence and support for the ideas and devices of Hulda Clark comes exclusively from testimonials. Even her own "research" seems to have been nothing more than her interpretations of data, which she never tested in scientific ways.
Personal experience, insight, and intuition are not the best guides when trying to understand complex causal issues like cancer cures and treatment. One of the most common errors in reasoning made by humans is to mistake correlation for causality. The most common defense of quackery is "I've seen it work with my own eyes." What people see and remember, however, is very selective. The dead don't send in their testimonials or rise up to defend the quack's work. You have no idea how many deadly failures the quack has left in her wake. Those who live and provide the "living proof" of the efficacy of quackery should not be taken as evidence that the quack is correct. The patient may have been misdiagnosed. She may be testifying to a temporary psychological boost in mood. She may have actually been ill, but the illness has run its natural course or she may have gone into remission independently of the treatment. The quack's encouragement and expressive optimism, based on little or no objective evidence, bolsters the patient's belief that the treatment is working. The patient may be distorting and exaggerating the efficacy of the treatment out of a psychological need to please the quack or to convince herself that her hope for a cure is justified. The patient may be receiving additional treatment from a science-based practitioner (hedging her bets), but give credit to the quack for any actual improvement. Symptoms might be relieved temporarily due to the placebo effect. The quack may even be conscious of the fact that she is prescribing placebos.
Finally, just because the quack has been in business for many years should not be taken as evidence that she is not a charlatan. Many woo-woo promoters are outed, but few are prosecuted. Those who are prosecuted often just pay a fine, change a few words on the packaging, and are back in business in a matter of months.
See also alkaline diet, Jon Barron and the Barron effect, Russell Blaylock, M.D., Rashid Buttar, The China Study, Hulda Clark, Phillip Day, electromagnetic field (EMF), electro-sensitives, faith healing, Gerson therapy, Ernst Hartmann, John of God, Matthias Rath, William C. Rader, radionics, shark cartilage, vibrational medicine, and Robert O. Young.
by Robert Todd Carroll
The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee (2010)
How Doctors Think
by Jerome Groopman, M.D. (Houghton Mifflin 2007)
The Cure Within: A History of Mind-Body Medicine
by Anne Harrington (W. W. Norton 2008).
Snake Oil Science: The Truth about Complementary and Alternative Medicine
by R. Barker Bausell (Oxford 2007).
Requiem for a quack by Orac
Requiem for a quack, part II by Orac
The Bizarre Claims of Hulda Clark by Stephen Barrett, M.D.
Hulda Regehr Clark by William T. Jarvis, Ph.D.
Swiss Company Charged by FTC with Making Unsubstantiated Health Claims The Federal Trade Commission has charged a Switzerland-based company and its U.S. counterpart (Dr. Clark Research Association) with making numerous unsubstantiated efficacy claims for a variety of dietary supplements and devices that they sell on the Internet.
Parasitology.com (for those who want scientific information about parasites)
Hall, Harriet M.D. 2012. "CAM for Cancer: Preying on Desperate People," Skeptic, Volume 17 number 4.