Alternative medicine is filled with people filled of warm and fuzzy, right? Not Truehope. They have written Natasha Tracy a letter to the effect that if she doesn’t take down a series of articles that she wrote documenting her experiences and opinions about their product, they will sue.
I have watched Andy Behrman (aka Electroboy) speaking against the dangerous effects of Abilify when it is used as a mood stabilizer for a couple of years now. Now, Andy might correct me, but I haven’t heard him announce that he has received any letters threatening court action against him. Nor have I heard anyone else who has declared that certain medications haven’t worked for them or given them harmful side effects complain about harassment from Big Pharm’s lawyers.
Proponents of alternative medicine rail against the profits of Big Pharm, but what they don’t tell you is that their end of continuum rakes in $4 billion dollars a year; and, what is more, when they call themselves “homeopathic”, a 1938 law protects them from having to conduct clinical trials. Scientists have nevertheless tested vitamin therapy several times over the last few decades. Every time, vitamins have worked no better — or worse — than a placebo for treating mental illness. A couple of supplements have proved efficacious, however: N-Acetyl-Cysteine complements lamotrigine well and fish oil and flax seed oil have a moderate effect on depression. So Science isn’t against finding alternatives to Big Pharm’s meds; it just expects them to work.
The “research” that led to Truehope is this: a hog farmer fed a certain vitamin combination to his pigs and thought it made them happier. He then marketed it as a product which could be used to treat mental illness. He has accumulated testimonials from people who claim that it works for them, but aside from one psychiatrist who uses unknown techniques to vet these claims, he has funded no reproducible clinical trials.
My testimonial is this: I have known a few people who tried it and they swore — despite the fact that they were buzzing like an old light bulb with mania or suffering from depressions as deep as the doodoo on a hog farm — that it was helping them. I don’t trust anecdotal evidence, even when it agrees with my own views. I will sometimes cite them, but only as illustrations of statistics. (And I warn people when they should be careful — for example, carbamazepine helped quell my manic storms, but statistics show that it doesn’t help everyone.)
Natasha’ crime seems to be that TrueHope didn’t work for her. TrueHope is threatening to sue her for slander, probably hoping that her relative poverty will cause her to back down. This blog takes the position that this bullying underscores the flimsiness of TrueHope’s claims. It will now be up to them to prove in a court of law that their product works; this means they will have to perform some actual science. I would like to see that day and I look forward to the line of scientists waiting to sit in the witness chair who will skillfully rebut TrueHope’s ongoing fraud.