Doctor Nice

Steven Hotze uses a warm, easygoing manner to peddle natural hormones to women, at thousands of dollars a pop. So who cares about credentials or documented results?

Hotze's literature describes the difference between his Health and Wellness Center and what his guests were used to: "It is intentionally designed to look and function differently than a typical doctor's office. Our office is filled with fresh flowers and attractive furnishings in addition to having a warm, friendly staff who consider it a privilege to serve our guests. Service is timely. Phone calls are returned promptly and every effort is made to accommodate you."

Flowers. Fancy furniture. Friendliness. Fortune.

According to his booklet for prospective patients, Hotze's intakes run from $2,000 to $3,900. Guests are prescribed drugs available only through his in-house pharmacy that cost about $300 a month. He also recommends a plethora of dietary supplements, also available in-house, which run $150 to $200 the first month. A ten-week supply of his experimental allergy drops is $288. He claims 1,500 new guests a year, with 35 percent coming from outside Texas.

Hotze's religious organization states that doctors shall 
not work on the Sabbath.
Al Cameron
Hotze's religious organization states that doctors shall not work on the Sabbath.
Al Cameron

Hotze admits that insurance companies generally do not recognize his treatments as "medically necessary." Most patients pay entirely out of pocket. And patients are told up front that if they don't get better, it's because they have a negative attitude. "When individuals do not believe they can get better, it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy," Hotze's literature states. Of course, the opposite also can be true. In medicine, it's called the placebo effect.

His literature is chock-full of bizarre, unsubstantiated claims wrapped in pseudo-scientific jargon. For example, birth control pills prevent "the production of women's biologically identical female hormones and pheromones, making them less attractive to men." This, despite the fact that no one has ever identified a human pheromone, and subjective claims of physical beauty are largely irrelevant to the field of medicine.

His weird claims don't apply to just women, as is evident in the statement that "When men lose their testicles to disease or injury, they have difficulty reading a map, performing math problems and making decisions."

In science, the gold standard for testing theories is the double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study, which adjusts for bias on the behalf of both the scientist and the subject. But Hotze eschews that methodology and relies on vague "in-house" studies, such as the one where his testosterone supplement increased his male patients' "mental sharpness, memory, abstract thinking, mathematical ability, goal-setting, initiative, assertiveness, decisiveness, sense of well-being, self-confidence, depressed moods, anxiety, irritability, muscle strength and romantic inclinations." Curiously, there was no mention of sharpened map-reading skills.

In addition to his natural hormones, he developed an interest in other conditions that exist only on the fringes of medicine, such as "yeast hypersensitivity syndrome." In his prospective patient booklet, Hotze states that an overgrowth of yeast in the colon "produces toxins which depress the immune system and make it more reactive to allergy." A person with yeast overgrowth "often becomes allergic to yeast, and therefore allergic to food products which contain yeast, such as beer, wine, breads, etc." Symptoms include lethargy, depression, gas, difficulty concentrating, athlete's foot, jock itch, joint and muscle pain, and hives. Hotze claims the condition can be remedied by purchasing megadophilus supplements from his in-house dietary supplement store.

In 1986 the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology called this syndrome "speculative and unproven," adding that "the basic elements of the syndrome could apply to almost all sick patients at some time."

And his treatment of thyroid disorder is in keeping with similar "wellness centers" across the country: Instead of treating all problems associated with the thyroid, Hotze treats the one condition -- underactive thyroid -- where patients need to buy thyroid replacements. The only drug he prescribes for hypothyroidism is Armour Thyroid, made from desiccated pig or cow hormones. Endocrinologists at the nation's leading hospitals contacted for this story all described Armour Thyroid as an inferior, antiquated product. Hotze, however, prefers its "natural" qualities to those of synthetic thyroid replacements. (For some reason, Hotze argues that pig hormone originally provided by the Armour hot dog people is perfectly natural for humans, while Premarin, an estrogen replacement derived from mare's urine, is not.)

"That's like selling snake oil," says Dr. Carlos Hamilton Jr., a professor of medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center-Houston. He is also a past president of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists.

"For one thing, when you give this, you're giving all the other things that sort of come up with ground-up pig thyroid, and you don't necessarily want those," says Dr. Susan Kirk of the University of Virginia Medical Center in Charlottesville.

In conventional medicine, hypothyroidism is best diagnosed by a blood test and a review of symptoms. While Hotze administers blood tests, he states in his booklet that a more important tool in determining hypothyroidism is the measure of a patient's basal body temperature. This method, discredited in conventional medicine, is a technique used to detect a dubious hypothyroid condition called Wilson's syndrome. The American Thyroid Association states that there is no scientific evidence proving the syndrome's existence, and that any diagnosis and treatment of the condition could be harmful.

From the thyroid association's Web site: "The 'Wilson's syndrome' website states that Dr. Wilson named this concept after himself 'because it had not been previously described.' In fact, for more than a century, the same set of symptoms has been given different names and attributed to a variety of causes by others, including the syndromes of neurasthenia, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, multiple chemical sensitivity, chronic Ebstein Barr disease, and chronic candidiasis," or yeast hypersensitivity syndrome.

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2 comments
feathergetter
feathergetter

Been there, done that and they almost killed me. It's nothing but high dollar snake oil and then you have to spend more money to get straight and find out what a fool you are!

 
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