While there are many taxonomies of SCAM, one thing almost all alternative therapies have in common is they are originally the de novo discovery of one lone individual. Working outside of the mainstream, they are the gadflies who see farther because those around them are midgets.
Hanneman conceives of homeopathy, the treatment of all disease.
Palmer conceives the cause of all disease and its treatment in chiropractic
Mikao Usui, while having a mid-life crisis, conceives Reiki.
Virgin births all. These pioneers boldly go where no man has gone before.
Others have been less acclaimed after seeking out new life. An example is Virginia Livingston, MD, the discoverer of the cause of all cancer (1). She discovered a bacterium, the cause of cancer, she called Progenitor cryptocides, which, unfortunately only she could grow. Her therapies include an autogenous ‘vaccine” made from your own urine, which will probably preclude widespread use even in alternative therapies circles. I wonder if Jenny would object to vaccines if there were naturally derived from the patients urine?
Discovering a new form of pathogenic microbiology that no one else can see or grow is not uncommon, since people seem to be unable to recognise artifact on slides, be it Oscillococcinum being seen by Joseph Roy 200 years ago or Virginia Livingston in the 1960’s. Sometimes I regret the discovery of H. pylori as a cause of gastritis as it gives the alternative microbiologists a medical Galileo to point at. H. pylori is used as an example, erroneously, of a bacteria causing disease that was laughed at by the medical establishment (Parenthetically, as my flawed memory has it, while I was an Infectious Disease Fellow the data for H. pylori came trickling in. I remember discussing the papers with one of my attendings who was an expert in GI infections. We all thought is was an interesting hypothesis and waited further data with interest. I cannot remember anyone dismissing the idea out of hand with derisive laughter. But then, I remain convinced that infections are the cause of all disease, at least the diseases that matter).
A letter from a reader led me to another lone reseacher who has discovered the cause and treatment of many, if not all, diseases. So may I introduce to you, Trevor Marshall, the developer of the Marshall Protocol. (As I have said many time, I want something in medicine named after me, and it is not the glove breaking during an exam. “Damn, I just had a Crislip. I need to go and clean my nails.” If Swan or Groshong can get some silly little catheter named after them, well, I should be good for some eponym). You have not heard of Trevor Marshall? Often the fate of originality is to languish in obscurity.
The Marshall Protocol has all the characteristics of modern alternative therapy: a single discoverer, a hitherto undiscovered biology, an unproven therapeutic intervention and one of the most aggravating issues in SCAM’s: Taking a scientific truth the size of a molehill and transmogrifying it into a Cascade Range of exaggerated disease etiology and treatment. Unlike most SCAM’s, however, as best as I can tell Dr Marshall does not seem to be in the business of making a business from his discovery, although he does have patent applications for his protocol.
*This blog post was originally published at Science-Based Medicine*