The purpose of this blog is purely educational. It does not advise any reader to forgo medical treatment for any condition. It describes methods that have not yet been proven effective through widespread scientific testing. Readers who are concerned about their health are advised to contact their physician.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Let's get some clarity on the Bengston Method

Every once in a while I run across a forum discussion on the Bengston Method. The latest one is here. There is usually a predictable pattern as the discussion polarizes between a group of enthusiastic supporters who know next to nothing about the method except what they can find on the internet, and another group that is on principle opposed to anything "woo-woo" and calls Dr. William Bengston, the founder of the method, a charlatan.

So backed by my experiences with both Dr. Bengston and the method, I would like to offer some clarification.

Is he a charlatan?

In response to Dr. Bengston's detractors I will say that I do not believe he is a "charlatan". His mouse experiments are quite convincing, and there have been enough of them to show that there is indeed something anomalous going on. As far as mice go, it's all well and good: Dr. Bengston can demonstrably cure them. He also has visual proof of at least one human cure and might be able to produce testimonials of others. He is, however, very uninterested in treating people, so the claims he makes are not designed to make sick people flock to him as his critics charge.

Propagation, not enrichment?

What Dr. Bengston seems to be focused on is the propagation of his method and this is where things get interesting. Unlike some other teachers of bioenergy healing, he does not appear to be doing what he does to enrich himself. There are no weekly or monthly workshops of hundreds of students paying large sums to attend. He seems to be teaching mainly to see what will happen when people learn the method, and he claims, anecdotally, that some of his students are doing "amazing things".

The key word here is "some". Obviously Dr. Bengston can't keep track of all his students, but because the mouse experiments resulted in near-100% cures, the received wisdom on the internet is that the method is 100% successful. But not so fast: it's only 100% successful if you are a mouse. The track record for human beings is entirely different, because human beings are far more complex than mice. This is also true with conventional treatment: many promising anti-cancer agents that work on mice fail when applied to people. The other issue is transmission: Dr. Bengston may indeed be able to cure people of cancer, but that is no guarantee that the people he teaches will be able to do likewise.

Dr. Bengston claims in his experiments to have successfully taught the method to skeptical volunteers, who then went on to cure mice. He offers a caveat, which is that because of the way the method worked in the experiments (through something he calls "resonant bonding") he could not be sure that it was the volunteers who cured the mice rather than he himself using them as proxies. He will also say that those volunteers never tried their hand at curing humans. But in the rhetoric around the workshops these volunteers are being used as proof that the method can be taught, even though early on Dr. Bengston himself expressed some skepticism about actually "teaching" them.

An on-going sociological experiment?

So in effect Dr. Bengston's workshops seem to be an on-going sociological experiment around healing, belief, and transmission (which is fitting, because Dr. Bengston is a sociologist). The problem is that the people who attend are not going to them in this spirit but with the intent to learn a healing method that they believe is 100% successful in curing cancer. And the result is that we have graduates of these weekend workshops who then go home and post on their websites that they have learned this method, and offer treatments with the statement that Dr. Bengston says eight weekly sessions are sufficient to deal with stage-4 cancer. It's when I see these claims that I begin to see red, because I think they are firmly in the realm of snake oil. We have gone from someone curing mice in the lab over 40 years to someone who took a single weekend workshop and now believes they can reliably cure people, without ever necessarily having cured a single person.

Somewhere in the middle

Attending a workshop, however, is not a waste of time and neither is practicing the method. We found that it had a lot to offer in terms of palliation: patients treated with it had less pain and a much better quality of life, and they also (anecdotally) seemed to live longer than their doctors predicted. But I think it's less than ethical for a student of the method to offer it as something that cures and ditto to use the success of the mouse experiments as proof of efficacy in humans. Call it what it is: something experimental. Tell the truth: the 100% success rate applies to mice, not to people. Don't claim anything you cannot back up: don't say you can cure stage-4 cancer in eight weekly treatments unless you have done it, repeatedly, yourself.

So, as always, the path of truth lies somewhere between the cheerleaders and the detractors. To say that the method is 100% effective without adding "in mice" is to promote a lie; to say that it's worthless is to throw out the baby with the bathwater. The best way to describe it is as something potentially helpful, a work in progress, and an intriguing glimpse of what one day might be absolutely possible.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Healing cancer in the lab - can it be done without a healer?

This talk was recorded for the 2015 Conference on the Physics, Chemistry, and Biology of water. Dr. Bengston talks about in vivo experiments using mice and a variety of cancers and an in vitro experiment with leukemia cells.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

A note on Dr. Wayne Dyer's passing

The last couple of days my stats have been through the roof with people landing on my blog after searching for Dr. Wayne Dyer on Google. What seemed to arouse the most interest in relation to this blog was whether Dr. Dyer had died of leukemia. As a result of a Facebook posting I was directed to, I am now able to relay that his death was related to something to do with his heart and that he did not have leukemia at the time of his death.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

In memoriam Dr. Nicholas Gonzalez

Dr. Nicholas Gonzalez, the controversial cancer doctor who appeared in Suzanne Somers' book, Knockout, has died of an apparent heart attack in his home on July 21st. A full obituary, with details of his life and career, is given here. The site also contains a comprehensive video interview, in which Dr. Gonzalez talks about his training, his mentors and his work, and describes in detail what inspired him to treat cancer as an alternative physician.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Making assumptions - Part 2 (also continues the theme of cats and energy healing)

In "Making assumptions" we visited with Truffle, an elderly feline whose newly developed habit of not finding the litter box was attributed to old age and decline, instead of a bladder infection that needed medical attention.

More recently Truffle experienced breathing difficulties. The next morning her owner took her to the vet, and the vet said "your cat is dying" and offered to euthanize Truffle right on the spot. He detected a heart murmur and diagnosed heart and lung insufficiency, and essentially predicted progressive organ failure. He warned Truffle's owner that if she had to rely on an emergency vet for euthanasia over the weekend, she'd be paying upwards of $800. If she availed herself of his services, however, while he was available, she'd be paying a lot less.

Truffle's owner declined, mostly because she wanted to consult with her husband. So she made an appointment for Truffle's final visit with the vet for the next morning. This would allow Truffle's "family and friends" to say the appropriate goodbyes.

Truffle's admiring circle of family and friends, however, includes some enthusiastic energy healers. Over the course of the afternoon she received plenty of tearful goodbyes as well as Reiki and applications of the Domancic Method. The next morning her owners took her to the vet -- and then brought her home, very much alive still.

The Truffle is still with us. Her breathing difficulties appear to have resolved. She can now find the litter box, at least most of the time. She can climb up to her favourite sleeping spot on the third floor and jump up on the bed to claim it. She is thoroughly enjoying her new geriatric cat food. She may be old and declining, but she is still enjoying life.

Postscript January 4, 2016: the old girl is still trundling along six months later, looking forward to celebrating her 19th birthday.

Postscript April 26, 2016: Still trundling along.

Postscript May 10, 2016: Rest in peace, Truffle.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Mind blown - Reiki at the Mayo Clinic

Periodically I check my standing on Google, entering the search term "energy healing cancer." I am pleased to see that this blog remains near the top of the first page. Today's search, however, turned up something else I found interesting: "Energy therapies offered at the Mayo Clinic". Yes, the Mayo Clinic is offering Reiki and Healing Touch to support the healing of cancer patients and cancer survivors. The site explains that
For people living with cancer, the healing energy of Reiki and Health Touch can be used to provide relief from conditions such as fatigue, stress, pain, anxiety and side effects of cancer treatments.
It also says that "energy therapies work in harmony with standard medical care and treatment" and that "Reiki promotes relaxation and enhances healing within the body." Way to go, Mayo Clinic.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Making assumptions

My friends Stephen and Alison have an elderly cat named Truffle. Truffle is 18 and a half, a Methuselah in cat years, and blind as a bat. Not too long ago Truffle started peeing in the kitchen. Someone would go down for breakfast in the morning or arrive home at the end of the day and find a puddle in the kitchen. The inescapable conclusion was that because of her advanced age Truffle was becoming disoriented in addition to being blind, and could no longer find the litter box.

Wrong. What Truffle was desperately signaling by peeing the kitchen was that she had a bladder infection. Because everyone came to the wrong conclusion, the problem was only flagged when she stopped peeing altogether and needed emergency veterinary care.

The same kinds of assumptions are made about elderly humans. Since there is an expectation that their health, mental acuity and quality of life will invariably decline before they die, solutions to their problems are often missed. It could be that the culprit behind their confusion or poor balance or forgetfulness is their medication or their insufficient diet, but that is often not investigated, even though a small tweak in dosage, a different medicine, or some supplements and fresh fruits and vegetables could make all the difference.

Illnesses are treated the same. It is assumed that once you have an illness, especially one decreed to be fatal, all your pain and discomfort can be attributed to it. Several years ago some colleagues and I treated a pancreatic cancer patient who responded with an astonishing turn-around from being on his deathbed to reversing his jaundice and being released from the hospital. Even though he went home to receive outpatient care and continued to improve (being able to get out of bed, walk around the house, go up and down the stairs, walk to the park, go grocery shopping, spend weekends at the cottage) the expectation was that he would eventually decline and die. Because of this expectation, his multitude of healthcare providers all missed the clues of the impending septicemia which in the end killed him.

A friend of mine who is an MD tells an interesting story from his days as a resident. He was on his neurology rotation and he was asked to go down to admitting and take a history on a woman who was about to be admitted to the neurology department because she kept falling down. When he got to the waiting room, my friend found a very large woman sitting in a chair holding her hugely swollen knee. After she complained to him that her knee was giving out on her and causing her to fall, it didn't take him long to discover that she had a torn ligament. My friend then logically sent her to orthopedics and got into big trouble with his supervisor for not playing along with the assumption that her problem was neurological.

It can take some powerful advocacy to get the right kind of care for the right condition in the face of mistaken assumptions.