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
Hulda Regehr Clark (1928-2009) was a naturopath 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.* Her naturopathy degree was from the non-accredited Clayton College, but she did have a Ph.D. in zoology from the University of Minnesota (1958).
For those who are wondering what a liver flush is:
In the usual “flush,” half a cup or more of a vegetable oil is consumed together with citrus juice and Epsom salts (magnesium sulphate), usually after a brief fast. Many green, brown, yellow or black blobs of various sizes may later appear in the bowel movements. Some bear a slight resemblance to gallstones, but they are not stones. They are merely bile-stained "soaps" produced by partial saponification (soap formation) of the oil.*
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 worms and toxins from our polluted environment . (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. The basis for these cures is probably the same as the basis for her claim that the cures are 100% effective: she created them out of her imagination. Even Andrew Weil questioned Clark's claims: "No studies have backed up [her] bizarre claims, and it’s unclear whether the cancer patients she’s supposedly cured ever had cancer to begin with."*
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.
In the tradition of Alfred Abrams, 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.*
"Her cases validate her tests and her tests validate her cases. The snake swallows its tail! There is no excuse whatever for her not to monitor her patients with standard methods such as X-Rays, MRI's, and valid antigen marker tests" (Steve Dunn). "Clark claims she can tell that patients are cured as soon as their ortho-phospho-tyrosine test is negative—within days or even a few hours after her treatment is begun. This claim is preposterous" (Steven Barrett).
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 come 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.
[new] A cancer diagnosis is very scary business and the first meeting with an oncologist who lays out the details of the possible side-effects of chemotherapy, surgery, and other forms of medical treatment is overwhelming for many people. Some doctors are rather blunt and direct: they present their honest opinions in harsh terms that sometimes include dire predictions based on statistics or past experience with similar cancers. The desire to take control of what your doctor clearly tells you is out of anybody's control can motivate a person to engage in magical thinking for the comfort it provides. Millions of people turn away from science-based medicine out of fear and turn to junk science like that offered by the Hulda Clarks of the world out of hope that there is a simple, natural, non-surgical, non-toxic way to cure cancer. Many also buy into the idea that natural cures are suppressed by the medical establishment and Big Pharma. No amount of evidence that a cure is bogus can counter the testimonials of alleged satisfied customers and success stories of cancers cured miraculously. Many will choose false hope rather than accept what they perceive as medical science condemning them to a short or long trial of suffering followed by death. Most cancer patients, like most people, are not very knowledgeable about cancer. Most people aren't very good critical thinkers under the best of circumstances, but when you add the emotional distress of a cancer diagnosis to the ignorance most of us have regarding cancer, a torrent of cognitive and affective biases are likely to wash out any ability to make good judgments about the best course of action. Wishful thinking, the illusion of control, the illusion of understanding, self-deception, and numerous other natural hindrances to making good decisions under conditions of uncertainty can take over. Such conditions make up the perfect storm that drives many people to seek refuge on some island run by quacks and their minions. [/new]
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. Some, like Hulda Clark, just make stuff up. Clark told one patient with advanced pancreatic cancer that she was "cured" after two days of bogus treatment.*
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.
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.
Hall, Harriet M.D. 2012. "CAM for Cancer: Preying on Desperate People," Skeptic, Volume 17 number 4.