From Abracadabra to Zombies
Chiropractor Busts "Medical Monopoly"
November 17, 2013.
The image above shows Diem T. Nguyen in white lab coat smiling while several pot-bellied human figures float in the background, apparently waiting for someone like Nguyen to relieve them of their disfigurement. You might think this is an ad for a weight-loss clinic, but you'd be wrong. Nguyen is a chiropractor who runs a clinic called NorCal Natural Integrative HealthCare. (Where have we seen those words used together before? Natural. Integrative.) I first met the image of Nguyen while enjoying a cup of coffee in my easy chair before the warm flame of the gas fireplace on a quiet Sunday morning. There she was, in the front section of The Sacramento Bee, staring at me with her arms folded in her white coat from the bottom of an ad with the header TYPE-2 DIABETES. I have type 2 diabetes, but that's not why I read the ad or am writing this piece on Nguyen and her clinic.
Underneath the header of her ad, the following words set off several alarms in my crap detector:
An American Tragedy with Frightening Consequences!
FREE Dinner Seminar Will Reveal How America's
"Medical Monopoly" Promotes This Modern-Day Epidemic" and What You Can Do to Protect Yourself!
The dinner is "Exclusively For Diabetic and Pre-Diabetic Medical Patients." Now, if I were into guerilla skepticism, I'd crash the party and disrupt the proceedings with a few unsolicited questions and comments while my wife videotaped the event. We'd then post the video on YouTube. Maybe some skeptic in the Sacramento area will see this post and be inspired to attend the "Free Seminar" at Mimi's Cafe in Folsom, CA, on November 21st at 6 pm. RSVP 916-478-2634.
For medical doctors who might be interested in a bit of guerilla skepticism, here's a bit of background info. Nguyen has bought into the notion that diabetes is an "insulin- and leptin signaling disease" and is caused by poor nutrition. Diet, exercise, and supplements can reverse and prevent type 2 diabetes. For those who are not doctors and who don't know much about type 2 diabetes, the science-based medical position is that diabetes is a blood-glucose problem. The body does not produce enough insulin to handle all the glucose in the blood. Or the body produces enought insulin but does not use it effectively and glucose builds up in the blood instead of being absorbed by the cells. Diet and exercise are important factors in controlling and preventing type 2 diabetes. My doctor (an M.D., not a chiropractor) wants me to exercise for 150 minutes a week, lose weight, monitor my blood sugar levels on a daily basis, and eat sensibly (which means things like avoiding or minimizing sweets, avoiding excessive alcohol intake, avoiding junk food, limiting carbs, and the like, but no nonsense about evil gluten, dairy, or red meat). Supplements are generally pointless and the scientific evidence does not support the use of supplements as a routine part of a treatment program for a type 2 diabetic. (Supplements are about as much a part of a healthy lifestyle as diet soda.) Since I was diagnosed several years ago, I have not been prescribed any drugs for my diabetes. I have regular blood work done, an annual retinal exam, and an annual physical check-up with my doctor. So far there are no signs of any detrimental effects to my body from diabetes. Diet and exercise are especially important for people like me who have a family history of diabetes from both parents.
Science-based medicine is fully aware that leptin is a hormone produced by fat cells and works through the brain to manage appetite and metabolism. More on that below. First, I want to list some common myths put forth in Nguyen's ad that many "Alts"--proponents of so-called alternative medicine (aka "integrative" medicine)--have been misleading the public with for years.
Myth # 1. The "Medical Monopoly" (i.e., science-based medicine and pharmacology) doesn't want to help the patient. "Rather, it wants to to treat your symptoms until you die." Why? Because "that's where the money is--dependent patients for life." According to standard Alt mythology, science-based medicine and pharmacology want to keep us sick until we die so they can sell us expensive treatments and drugs over our lifetime. If medicine fixes us, we quit buying treatments and drugs. That would be bad for business. We've all been duped by the "Medical Monopoly" to think that science-based medicine is about helping sick and diseased people get better, live more comfortable lives, have reduced suffering and pain, and the like. Your doctor and your druggist are part of a conspiracy to keep you duped and doped. The answer, according to the Alts, is to realize that your disease or illness is due to bad nutrition that you must change to good nutrition along with supplements and detoxification.
Myth #1A. "Powerful lobbies and huge corporate interests shape the insurance model of traditional medicine" (i.e., science-based medicine, not shamanism, traditional Chinese herbal medicine, Ayurvedic medicine or the like). These powerful interests "always center on profit, control of the population through government regulation, and long-term self-survival." "Dr" Nguyen will reveal the methods used by the "Medical Monopoly" to control you at her seminar at Mimi's cafe.
Myth #2. Science-based medicine treats only symptoms of disease, not the disease itself. Worse, it treats the symptoms with "stress-creating drugs."
Myth #3. Science-based medicine doesn't want you to know about
drugless, natural approaches that help you achieve "balance" and "improved well-being."
Myth #4. Science-based medicine has been hiding from you the latest scientific findings by "cutting edge researchers."
It's hard to believe that somebody, much less an entire congress of Alts, can say with a straight face, that the medical profession, the government, and many corporations want to make us sick and keep us sick so they can control us and take our money. But not only do these folks say this, they really believe it. And they see no hypocrisy or irony in the fact that they want their patients to buy supplements and detox programs from them for the rest of their lives. I guarantee you that the Alts do not work for free and are not members of the Universal Benevolent Society that provides free medical care to anyone who wants it. The Alts resent the fact that insurance companies cover surgery but not quackery. [An unsatisfied customer claims Nguyen charged her $8,500 for a six-month supply of supplements. See below.]
The evidence that supplements should be part of a diabetic's regimen is not based on large-scale randomized control studies, but on anecdotes. Yet, a mainstay of the Alts' philosophy is that supplements should be a part of everybody's daily regimen to keep us healthy and "balanced." The Alts love words like 'balance,' 'harmony,' 'attuned,' and the like, but these terms are void of any medical meaning. Alts love to claim that their approach is natural, as if that were good. It isn't always good to be natural.
One of the cutting-edge developments used by Dr. Nguyen in the chiropractic part of her "natural integrative healthcare" is about as natural as the internal combustion engine: spinal decompression.
One of the most popular forms of treatment currently being offered by chiropractors is a form of motorized computer-controlled traction called “decompression therapy.” It is an expensive form of axial or longitudinal traction provided by machines that cost up to $125,000. While any form of traction might be helpful in relieving some types of back pain, promoters of decompression therapy claim that using a computer-driven table to control the level of disc decompression will rehydrate and restore a disc structure by pulling nutrients into ruptured or degenerated disc cartilage. Advertisements promoting decompression therapy often suggest that surgery for a herniated disc can be avoided by using decompression therapy to “restore the disc.” There is no credible evidence to support this contention. (Sam Homola, Science-Based Medicine)
It is unlikely that "Dr" Nguyen or any other Alt would be interested in knowing that the American Diabetes Association awarded Christian Bjorbaek, Ph.D., with the Pinnacle Project Award (funded by the Richard and Susan Smith Family Foundation) for his work on the effects of restoring leptin sensitivity to specific neurons in the brain.
Many researchers have found that leptin is responsible for weight regulation and appetite control through its effects on the central nervous system.
Leptin is a hormone released by fat cells that is known to indicate fullness, or satiety, in the brain. If the body is exposed to too much leptin, however, it will become resistant to the hormone. Once that occurs, the body can't "hear" the hormonal messages telling the body to stop eating and burn fat. Instead, a person remains hungry, craves sweets and stores more fat instead of burning it.
Leptin resistance also causes an increase in visceral, or belly, fat, which has been shown to predispose people to an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes and metabolic syndrome. (Medical News Today)
Most researchers believed that it was through a region in the brain's hypothalamus known as the arcuate nucleus (ARC) that leptin primarily did its work. Dr. Bjorbaek was able to restore insulin levels to normal in obese and diabetic mice by genetically restoring leptin receptor activity to neurons in the pro-opiomelanocortin or POMC region of the brain.
According to Dr. Bjorbaek, POMC neurons may reduce the amount of glucose released into the blood by the liver and/or increase glucose uptake from the blood into the muscle." The glucose levels were restored independent of food or weight changes, so it may be possible to normalize blood glucose without weight loss. Maybe. It's a long way from lab work on mice to medical prescriptions for humans.
Neither Dr. Bjorbaek nor any other cutting-edge researcher has found that supplements of any kind can affect leptin sensitivity in the brain and reduce hunger cravings. Certain kinds of foods, if taken in excess (e.g., fructose), can induce leptin resistance in rats. This has led some Alts, such as Joe Mercola, to claim things like the following:
You become leptin-resistant by the same general mechanism that you become insulin-resistant – by continuous overexposure to high levels of the hormone. If you eat a diet that is high in sugar (particularly fructose), grains, and processed foods – the same type of diet that will also increase inflammation in your body – as the sugar gets metabolized in your fat cells, the fat releases surges in leptin.
Over time, if your body is exposed to too much leptin, it will become resistant, just as your body can become resistant to insulin.
The only known way to reestablish proper leptin (and insulin) signaling is to prevent those surges, and the only known way to do that is via diet. As such, diet can have a more profound effect on your health than any other known modality of medical treatment.
While it is true that a low-calorie, low-fat, low sugar diet will help most people lose weight, it is not true that losing weight will necessarily make a person less leptin resistant. Nor has the research been done yet that shows that a low- or no-fructose diet in leptin-resistant people will eliminate leptin resistance. Furthermore, many obese people have healthy blood sugar levels and many people with type 2 diabetes are not obese. Also, directly increasing leptins in obese people who are leptin resistant may be harmful. Increases in leptin may produce colorectal cancer.
Thanks to the work of Dr. Bjorbaek and others like him, we may one day have therapeutic drugs for treating those who are obese and leptin and insulin resistant. Of course, the Alts will see this as just one more attempt by the American Diabetes Association (a charter member of the "Medical Monopoly") to control us and make us dependent on them so our pockets can be easily picked. In the meantime, "Dr" Nguyen will treat us pot-bellied humans with supplements and dietary advice. Odds are we'll be told to take these supplements for life and they won't be cheap and neither will she.
The ad says you will learn how "hormone imbalances" cause fat people to be fat. That's probably good news to many people who might have mistakenly thought it had to do with all those desserts they'd been eating at the fast food restaurants, their eight hours a day on the couch watching television, or some other bit of nonsense.
What kind of "wellness expert" holds meetings at a cafe?
She's back again and this time she wants your thyroid!
3 April 2014. Today's ad by the cafe chiropractor in the Bee has the following header:
Again, to find out more about this exciting new development, the reader is invited by Dr. Nguyen to Mimi's Cafe for a free dinner lecture. The ad is aimed at women who take thyroid medicine and those who suffer from any of the following: continual weight gain, insomnia, fatigue, brain fog, constipation, or depression. As most people know, there are two kinds of thyroid medicine one might take: one for an overactive thyroid and a different medicine for an underactive thyroid. Like the diabetes she claims to have the answer to in her first ad, Nguyen puts the blame on hormone imbalances and drugs that medical doctors prescribe that do no good. Dr. Nguyen promises to reveal "what really works to relieve your condition." Let me guess. I'll bet it has something to do with diet and supplements, the "natural" way to better health.
Whenever I see or hear the words "functional medicine" I think "here is another piece of jargon trying to give a good name to what used to be called 'alternative medicine,' medicine that has a very low standard of evidence for its evidence-based approach." Nguyen describes herself as a "functional wellness practitioner," a bit of meaningless wordplay meant to mislead the unaware into thinking she's practicing some sort of medical specialty. She's not. Primarily, she is against medicine that prescribes drugs and does surgery. She is for "natural" cures and treatments, regardless of what kind of evidence there is for their efficacy. As long as there are good anecdotes in support of a natural treatment, people will line up to buy the natural supplement. Maybe Nguyen read and was inspired by Stop the Thyroid Madness: A Patient Revolution Against Decades of Inferior Treatment (where Armour Thyroid pills are recommended; they're 'natural'; they're made from pig thyroids).
I wouldn't be surprised to see another ad from Nguyen in the future that promises to relieve people of their joint pain naturally and without the use of drugs that have awful side effects. There's a big market there, as the sellers of such products as Arthri D and glucosamine tablets know. Along with 'functional medicine,' another expression that makes me want to gag is 'it treats the problem, not the symptom,' which is a favorite tag line of quacks selling Arthri D on infomercials.
April 27, 2014: She's back with a half-page ad in the Sunday Bee. According to Nguyen's latest ad:
She doesn't say where the estimate came from but I'd say it came from the lower end of her alimentary canal. The National Institutes of Health estimates that from 5% to 8% of Americans have one of the more than 80 identified autoimmune disorders.
In her new ad, she encourages the reader to believe that physicians are misdiagnosing thyroid and autoimmune disorders at an alarming rate but that this chiropractor can do a proper diagnosis that all those incompetent physicians aren't doing. Again, meet at Mimi's cafe to find out more.
The Mayo Clinic website provides the following information on Hashimoto's disease:
Hashimoto's disease is a condition in which your immune system attacks your thyroid, a small gland at the base of your neck below your Adam's apple. The thyroid gland is part of your endocrine system, which produces hormones that coordinate many of your body's activities.
The resulting inflammation from Hashimoto's disease, also known as chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis, often leads to an underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism). Hashimoto's disease is the most common cause of hypothyroidism in the United States. It primarily affects middle-aged women but also can occur in men and women of any age and in children.
Doctors test your thyroid function to help detect Hashimoto's disease. Treatment of Hashimoto's disease with thyroid hormone replacement usually is simple and effective.
I'm surprised Dr. Nguyen hasn't been arrested for practicing medicine without a license.
May 28, 2015
I just came across this article on Dr. Nguyen. It is so right on. I am a victim of her lies, scam, deceit, practicing medicine without a license.
I was so sick and she preyed on my weakness and gave me false hopes. This woman is so narcissistic and in denial. I believe she has lied so much she believes her lies.
Her six-month plan is astronomical. She charges $8500.00. Isn't that interesting that everyone gets charged the same amount? She promised me she could get my thyroid back to normal. I was constantly sick. I would call and she would shoot from the hip as to what to give me next. I want to get the word out to let everyone know what she is really like. Please do not get caught in her trap. She is a fake; she does not cure anything. Her supplements taste like dirt. I could not even stomach them; they were awful. Before I got off her program she had me on 36 pills a day and 5 liquids.
I hope if this helps one person from getting into her web it will be worth it. Buyer beware! It's a scam and sells snake oil. Look at her web page. Arms folded standing like 'ha I caught one more fool.'
reply: I find it hard to believe that a chiropractor wouldn't be an expert in thyroid disease and diabetes. What next? A homeopath that doesn't know how to cure cancer? A naturopath who can't heal broken bones with herbs? What is this world coming to? Please don't tell me about 'chiropractic nose balloons'.