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One of the great lies about "alternative" medicine is that, unlike real medicine, it is harmless. The opposite side of this lie is that real medicine is harmful and somehow gets in the way of natural processes. One fruitful area for quackery is mental illness, where dreadful stories are told about the mind control that happens with psychiatric medications. It is often suggested that these drugs have no value except to the shareholders of the pharmaceutical companies. There is no doubt that living a drug-free, normal life is everybody's goal, but it is ludicrous and evil to suggest that people with psychiatric problems should stop taking their medication because it is doing more harm than good. Some of these medications truly deserve the description "wonder drug" as they allow people with problems to have lifestyle options that simply were not available to them a few years ago. I still get asked, however, to give examples of people who have been helped by these drugs, with the sneering implication that no such people exist.
Let me tell you about just one. This person was taking Prozac so that she could keep control of her life while the long process of behavioural reconstruction took place, something which could take two or three years. At the time this was written, she had recently reached a milestone and had started work again. It was only a few hours a week but it was vital for both introducing some structure and discipline into her time and for demonstrating to her that she could do something useful.
Some time before that she had stopped taking the medication because she felt that it was changing her personality in some way (it is meant to do that, of course). I hope I never again have to spend time trying to find the place where someone has gone to commit suicide. Luckily, she had also been trying to find the right place, and by the time she found it had had time to reconsider. One of the lies told about drugs like Prozac is that they increase the risk of suicide, but the truth is that they are administered to the type of people who are already potentially suicidal.
While I was on my odyssey I heard a naturopath on the local community radio station. She was advising people taking anti-depressant drugs to stop immediately. Had I not been fully involved in trying to save someone's life I would have gone around to the studio and got myself arrested for assault.
Truehope is preying on the desperation of people with psychiatric disorders and their families. The cancer quacks kill people by convincing them to abandon medical treatment, and afterwards rationalise the deaths by talking nonsense. Mental illness quacks are in a sense worse because their activities can not only lead to premature deaths through suicide (and suicide can be more traumatic for surviving family members than a "natural" death) or other self-destructive behaviour, but can lead to real harm to others by removing some of the behavioural restraints that protect others from the patient.
Truehope redux (10/5/2003)
Some time ago I wrote a piece about a scam outfit called Truehope who were telling people to stop taking anti-depressants and other psychiatric medications. A two-year investigation has shown how pills from Truehope which were supposed to stop piglets from chewing each other's tails and ears were given to mentally ill people as substitutes for real medication. The scandal is not only how crooks were able to dream up the idea that a random mixture of herbs could stop pigs in a confined space acting like crowded pigs and that the same mixture could cure human psychological disorders, but the way that governments, education institutions and bureaucrats could assist the fraud through inactivity, apathy and even complicity. You can see part of the story here, and buy a copy of the book about the investigation.
(Disclaimer: I don't get any money from sales of this book, although I know the people who wrote it.)
Quackery's slimy trail (14/2/2004)
Spanish is not widely spoken in New Zealand, so you might be surprised to find a web site with a New Zealand domain name written completely in Spanish. You might have an additional surprise if you checked and found that the site is not hosted on a computer in New Zealand, but comes from Florida in the USA. You might be even more surprised to find that the site is not owned by a Spanish-speaking New Zealander but is in fact owned by a company in Canada, where the last time I looked the major languages were English and French. All of this might set you to wondering why a Canadian company gets a New Zealand domain name in order to run a Spanish language web site out of Florida. The answer is simple. It is because Truehope is a company which lies about what it sells, deception is just part the business culture, and recent government action restricting their activities in Canada has made a need for more creative marketing.. What this outfit sells is a "cure" for mental illnesses, and this cure is a herbal pill which is supposed to stop piglets chewing the tails off other little pigs. That's right, packaged grass clippings used as pig medicine is being sold to humans with the advice that they can replace conventional psychiatric medications. Truehope is en exemplar of quackery - what they sell is useless and untested, it costs nothing to make and lots to buy, they have no interest in the health and welfare of their customers, they try to circumvent any legal or regulatory action which might restrict their activities, and they are prepared to hide and to lie. I have made some comments about them in the past, and you can read those comments here.
A judge goes mad (5/8/2006)
I received an email during the week (from one of the crooks promoting a scam, with the subject line "Have you read the Evening news loser?") which contained a news story about how a pack of crooks named Truehope had been found by a judge to be not guilty of the charge of selling medications without the appropriate registration number, despite them having produced these concoctions without the benefit of a registration number. Truehope sells pills which were supposedly designed to stop pigs from chewing each other's tails and offers them as a cure for bipolar disorder. (You can see something I wrote about this disgusting outfit here.) The judge declared that Truehope "were overwhelmingly compelled to disobey" the law. As judges are not supposed to tell people that breaking the law is acceptable, one can only hope that the judge is removed from the bench as soon as possible and confined to an institution where he can receive the appropriate treatment. Perhaps he could be medicated with grass clippings from Truehope to fix his psychiatric disorder. He might even stop chewing other piglets' tails. See the story of this travesty here.
From: Anonymous via Panta Rhei <email@example.com>
Date: Wed, 09 Aug 2006 14:49:20 +0000
I note your report on TrueHope is riddled with erros.
You couldn't report a fact even if it bit you in the arse.
Here's a fact:
Now that TrueHope has a judgement, they are sueing Polevoy (Liar/Charlatan/Molester) Barrett (Liar/Not-A-Doctor) and Bowditch (Liar/Unemployed/Convict) for Libel and Defamation.
Seems the three of you have no assests so the suit will be just for fun.
I know it's anonymous and I know who wrote it, but is a threat so -
* As Mr O'Neill died on March 31, 2013, I don't expect any further communication from him so I stopped the counter.
A quack wins in court? I don't think so. (23/6/2012)
Truehope is a Canadian organisation that sells grass clippings in pills designed to stop piglets chewing each other's tails off. These pills are supposed to cure a host of illnesses in humans, most notably psychiatric conditions. In 2006 they managed to find a judge either insane or corrupt enough to rule that they had an obligation to break the law by selling the pills without having the requisite government permission. The Canadian government wasn't too happy about this, so they went ahead and seized as many of the pills as could be found. The crooks appealed. Now read on ...
One of the other people who has been following the Truehope saga is spokesphincter to the quacks, Tim Bolen. I assume that he is trying to attach himself to a money teat, as he seems to hop onto any quackery bandwagon that goes past. In his latest newsletter to "millions of health freedom fighters" he talks about meeting one of the principals of the Truehope scam at a conference somewhere. (I almost typed "principles" there, but that particular word has no meaning in this context.)
Anthony Stefan, from Canada, came, and we had lunch the day of the event. Many of you will remember Tony's efforts from the famous Truehope v Health Canada case where Tony successfully argued that his supplement EMPowerplus, a powerful anti-bipolar product, was a "necessity" for Canadians. In short Tony frog marched Health Canada through the Courts - a tactical lesson for us all.
In an interesting note, when "Anthony Stefan" emailed me in 2006 he was called "Anthony Stephan", but I guess Tim has to include some spelling mistakes in case the lie quotient drops too far.
So let's look at the latest "frog march", shall we. You can read the court report here, but the significant parts seem to be:
 It is not contested that, in 2003, Truehope was offering EMpowerplus for sale in Canada through its website without the required Health Canada authorization. It is also not contested that the seizures under review were conducted as a direct result of TrueHope's failure to comply with Health Canada's demand, first made in 2001, that it cease its unauthorized conduct. Therefore, apart from the Charter challenge aspect of the present Application, there is no question that Health Canada had sound legal reasons to perform the seizures for breaches of the FDA and the FDA Regulations as they existed in 2003.
So the crooks are appealing against the seizure but admit the seizure was legal.
 In my opinion, the following factors establish that Mr. Hardy and Truehope have no credible basis upon which to make a Charter complaint about the seizure: in the two years preceding the seizure there was a high degree of personal contact between Mr. Hardy and officials of Health Canada; during this period, Mr. Hardy knew that TrueHope and Synergy were acting in violation of the FDA and the FDA Regulations; Health Canada was patient in making it clear that the violations could not be disregarded and compliance with the law was required; and, most importantly, Mr. Hardy flatly refused to devise a way to put Synergy and Truehope into compliance. Thus, when all factors are considered, I find that Mr. Hardy and Truehope has no privacy right in the product seized, and, as a result, the seizure had no superadded impact on either of them.
So the crooks knew they were breaking the law but refused to do anything about compliance.
 The Application is dismissed.
So there it is. Health Canada was certainly "frog marched". Right into winning a case against the liars who sell grass clippings to sick people. Sometimes the Internet meme "Die in a fire" is so very appropriate.