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?

According to Dr. Manuel Quinones of UCLA's David Geffen School of Medicine, "it would be malpractice, it would be unethical for somebody to diagnose somebody by a body temperature…In the medical community, we would say immediately, 'What's his or her gimmick?' "

Dr. Bill Ladenson of Johns Hopkins Hospital also is skeptical of using basal body temperatures to diagnose hypothyroidism.

"Part of this whole naturopathic gospel is [blood] tests don't detect, somehow, a group of patients with thyroid problems who can only be detected by basal body temperature," he says. "There's just no scientific evidence for this. If you want to check your basal body temperature tomorrow morning or for the next few mornings, I think that you would find you would readily fulfill this doctor's criteria for having an underactive thyroid gland…It's a good way of kind of assuring that 90 percent of your patients are going to want the treatment."

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

And Hotze's allergy drops, administered under the tongue, are considered experimental in the United States and are not endorsed by the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. In his booklet, Hotze claims that sublingual drops can "neutralize" a patient's allergic reaction to foods, but there is no scientific evidence supporting this claim.

Dr. David Weldon, vice chair of the AAAAI's immunotherapy committee, says that while European testing has shown that extremely high-dosage drops are effective for certain airborne allergies (but not food allergies), advocates in the United States of the drops often use diluted, ineffective doses to cut costs.

"Believe me, I wish that the sublingual stuff in Europe was a lot more practical and used in the United Sates," says the board-certified Weldon, who is also president of the Texas Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Society. "We have a great dilemma in the state of Texas regarding practitioners providing alternative care under the umbrella of allergy. And that alternative care, in the majority of instances…amounts to nothing more than a placebo effect. But it's a very expensive placebo effect."

He adds: "My colleagues who are board-certified or board-eligible have gone through the training in order to prove their worth and have been tested. What they do after that is up to them. But the vast majority of physicians that belong to the TAAIS practice allergy, and not the business of allergy."

In 1994 President Clinton signed the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act, setting into non-motion one of the least effective pieces of legislation in recent memory.

The act broadened the definition of "dietary supplement" beyond essential nutrients and transferred safety monitoring from the FDA to the manufacturer. Today, most dietary supplements are not subject to premarket testing.

Under the act, providers of dietary supplements are not allowed to claim their products treat, prevent, cure or mitigate disease. Claiming your supplement cures whooping cough is illegal; claiming that the target ingredient aids in overall well-being is not. And, just so the consumer didn't miss the point, the act required manufacturers to print on the label, "This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease."

To get a sense of how effective the 1994 act is, type "colloidal silver" into your search engine and see everything it's claimed to cure. Colloidal silver is the quintessential snake oil, consisting of microscopic bits of silver -- a toxic heavy metal -- suspended in a gelatinous base. The online sale of colloidal silver to cure everything from jock itch to Ebola gives Internet porn a run for its money. In 1999 the FDA got so sick of colloidal silver salesmen that it issued a statement declaring that "all over-the-counter products containing colloidal silver or silver salts are not recognized as safe and effective and are misbranded."

One of the reasons they're not entirely safe is that they carry the risk of argyria, a severe buildup of silver particles in the tissue that can turn your skin blue. Permanently.

The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (part of the National Institutes of Health) echoed the FDA in 2004, adding that other potential side effects include seizures and kidney damage.

But that did not deter Hotze from making extravagant claims about the colloidal silver he sells through his dietary supplement store, Physicians Preference.

In early June, the Physicians Preference Web site described colloidal silver as a natural antibiotic that "can heal burns, cut[s], rashes and sunburns. It can also be used for toothaches, mouth sores, eye infections, and as a mouth gargle to fight bad breath and tooth decay." (The range of fake qualities of these phony cures is astounding; consumers who want the best bogus treatment should skip Physicians Preference and get their fake cures from Utopia Silver, whose Web site shows cool drawings of silver colloid particles battling E. coli and Ebola microbes.)

Without mentioning that the product can turn your skin blue, the Physicians Preference Web site suggested children between the ages of six and 12 take a teaspoon a day, and children under six take half a teaspoon.

A representative of Physicians Preference told the Houston Press that Hotze's company gets its colloidal silver from a group in Tennessee that had studies to support the claims. However, that company, Natural Path/Silver Wings, made no claims for colloidal silver on its Web site.

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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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