I cannot count the number of times that someone has said to me that something is good because it is natural. Yet, in order for plants and animals to survive, they have to create all sorts of poisons. Every part of a tomato plant is poison except for the fruit. Ginseng is a natural medicine, but can be a blood thinner if taken in too large a dose. Exposure to high levels of ammonia can kill you.
People also tend to believe that naturopathy is a good thing. Well, it sounds nice.
I was recently invited to hear a naturopath speak and decided to take the time to look into this naturopath’s offerings more carefully. Out of curiosity and a healthy dose of skepticism, I decided to check out her website and see what services she offered.
This naturopath offered a pH evaluation that evaluated levels of acidity or alkalinity in the body. The website warned that diseases and “imbalances” occurred when the body was in “too much of an Acidic state”. I searched the web for similar pH evaluation services, and found another naturopathy website that claimed that “balancing the pH is a major step toward well-being and greater health.”
They claim that an alkalizing diet will prevent fatigue, slow the ageing process, help you lose weight, increase your bone strength, be more energetic, and even prevent cancer. Sounds great, doesn’t it?
I looked at some more naturopathy websites and found claims that you can control the acidity and alkaline levels in your body by buying and using their products, whether it be alkaline water purifiers, alkalizing face and body cleansers, alkalizing supplements, or alkaline pH booster drops.
But is it true? Do we really need to worry about how acidic our bodies are? Can we really prevent cancer and lose weight by using products to increase the alkalinity of our bodies? I did some research.
Gabe Mirkin, M.D., who is an expert on health, nutrition, and sports medicine, says:
“Anyone who tells you that certain foods or supplements make your stomach or blood acidic does not understand nutrition. You should not believe that it matters whether foods are acidic or alkaline, because no foods change the acidity of anything in your body except your urine. Your stomach is so acidic that no food can change its acidity. Citrus fruits, vinegar, and vitamins such as ascorbic acid or folic acid do not change the acidity of your stomach or your bloodstream. An entire bottle of calcium pills or antacids would not change the acidity of your stomach for more than a few minutes.”
Robert T. Carroll, Ph.D., who wrote Unnatural Acts: Critical Thinking, Skepticism, and Science Exposed, echoes this sentiment:
“The first clue that (an acidic) diet would be worthless as a cancer treatment is the general principle it advocates: dietary modification can change the acidity of the blood. It’s not true that the acidity of the body can be changed significantly by diet. Whatever food you eat passes through your stomach, which is highly acidic (pH between 1.5 and 3.5), making it an ideal environment for pepsin, the main digestive enzyme, to break down food. Stomach acid pH levels can be affected by the quantity of food you eat, infection, and stress. Eating foods designated acidic or alkaline is irrelevant to affecting pH in the stomach.”
It’s easy to want to believe in a miracle, that any ailment we suffer can be healed easily without painful and cumbersome treatment, and that nature can cure anything. Over my lifetime, I’ve received over 531 transfusions. I had to give myself painful injections with an iron chelator from the age of five to the age of twenty-one, and be attached to an infusion pump overnight five to six nights a week.
Would I ever decide to end my blood transfusions and chelation therapy and rely on alternative medicine for a cure? Hell, no. After all, as my beloved Tim Minchin says:
“Do you know what they call alternative medicine that’s been proved to work? Medicine.”