Major Limitation #6:
Dr. Brogan Liberally Promotes Pseudoscience
In her book, “A Mind of Your Own,” Dr. Kelly Brogan, Holistic Psychiatrist, is a cherry-picking conspiracy theorist who utilizes non-credible resources to bash Western Medicine while presenting a narrow, limited “cure” for depression. Another major limitation of her book is that Dr. Brogan promotes pseudoscience. “My job is to give back the basics—clean air, earth and light, and to rehabilitate the soil of their health so that we can remove the scaffolding and create a lasting healthy foundation,” she states. (page 141). However, Dr. Brogan encourages patients to stop taking their FDA-approved, clinically-backed medications to take the unapproved pseudoscience which she promotes instead.
Dr. Brogan spends all 293 pages of her book bashing “Big Pharma” despite the fact that pharmaceutical products must pass the stringent safety guidelines and demonstrate effectiveness through large-scale clinical trials, but then she promotes pseudoscience and products which are not subject to these same safety guidelines. In fact, there are no agencies in place to monitor any of the products which she supports, which means that these supplements don’t have to demonstrate safety or effectiveness through large-scale clinical trial evidence before being marketed to the public. The Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) division of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) lists treatments as they are proven effective through studies, and it’s especially alarming that Dr. Brogan would promote such quackery, none of which is on the NIH-CAM.
Dr. Brogan’s entire book is practically a love story to Dr. Nicholas Gonzalez, a late mentor whose supposed cancer “miracle” treatments actually killed patients three times faster than those who utilized conventional cancer treatments. Dr. Gonalez, like Dr. Brogan, was not celebrated by colleagues in his field, with good reason. Here’s what Dr. Louise Lubetkin had to say about Dr. Gonzalez, in conjunction with Dr. Ezard Ernst, a physician who specialized in complementary and alternative medicine: “Those who recognize and appreciate a fine example of pseudoscientific baloney when they see one know that there is no richer seam, no more inexhaustible source, than the bustling, huckster-infested street carnival that is alternative medicine. There one can find intellectual swindlers in abundance, all offering outrageously implausible claims with the utmost earnestness and sincerity. But the supreme prize, the Fabergé egg found buried among the bric-a-brac, surely belongs to that most convincing of illusionists, the physician reborn as an ardent advocate of alternative medicine.”
“…Add a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar if you like for its acidifying effects—a key nutritional tool for depression according to Dr. Gonzalez.” (page 250) Dr. Nicholas Gonzalez was a cancer doctor whose life long research heavily promoted unapproved supplements, which he dubbed “The Gonzalez Regimen.” Dr. Gonzalez asked cancer patients to take as many as 187 supplements each day, none of which are FDA-approved, and his diet regimen was found to be completely ineffective. “So what are we to make of Gonzalez? Is he a cynical fraud or does he genuinely believe that coffee enemas, skin brushing and massive doses of supplements are capable of holding back the tsunami of cancer? At the end of the day it hardly matters: either way, he’s a dangerous man,” says Dr. Lubetkin. She is not alone in her opinion that Dr. Gonzalez is a dangerous man whose advice should not be followed as it was determined that the “The Gonzalez Regimen” killed cancer patients three times faster than conventional chemo and radiation treatments and actually offered them a reduced quality of life.
“A later nonrandomized, controlled clinical trial compared the effectiveness of standard treatment with that of the Gonzalez regimen in patients whose pancreatic cancer could not be removed by surgery. Patients treated with standard chemotherapy survived an average of 14 months and patients treated with the Gonzalez regimen survived only an average of 4.3 months. In addition, patients treated with chemotherapy reported a better quality of life than those treated with the Gonzalez regimen.”
Despite the lack of evidence to support coffee enemas, Dr. Brogan recommends daily coffee enemas during week 2 of her program (page 256). She even points readers to her website to check out a step-by-step video on how to perform a coffee enema at home; this video, however, cannot be found on her website as of April 2016. The National Institute of Health (NIH) offers information on complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) which has been proven through trials to be effective in healing common ailments, but coffee enemas are not listed. Therefore, it is irresponsible for a medical doctor such as Dr. Brogan to continuously promote products which are not approved by any regulatory agency at all, let alone the only large regulatory agency tasked with approving CAM “treatments” such as coffee enemas.
Perhaps the most disturbing and dangerous practice which Dr. Brogan promotes is chelation therapy in the form of bentonite clay. Chelation therapy is a serious and dangerous form of therapy which is reserved for instances in which the person is experiencing a toxic overload of metals such as iron, mercury, arsenic or lead. Chelation therapy can have damaging effects on the body if it is utilized without the presence of toxicity. Chelation therapy is not an approved method of treatment for depression. It’s also worth noting that Dr. Brogan has not done any research to test whether this dangerous treatment method has been effective for her patients. Dr. Brogan is the perfect example of cognitive dissonance, in which an individual clings to their beliefs even when presented with evidence to avoid the discomforts which arise when their belief system is challenged; this often leads to “irrational and sometimes maladaptive behavior,” as can be seen in Dr. Brogan’s suggestions to try pseudo-scientific products which have no merit.
Despite these dangers, Dr. Brogan states, “bentonite clay is unique in its ability to produce an electrical charge upon contact with fluid, enabling it to absorb and remove toxins, heavy metals, impurities and chemicals. Bentonite Clay is a common ingredient in detox and cleansing products…drink 1 tablespoon of liquid bentonite in a cup of water most days.” (page 257). First of all, “most days” is not an approved direction on a prescription for a patient, which is the first problem with this recommendation. The second is that bentonite clay is a product not regulated by the FDA or any safety organization and there have been several citations against companies promoting these products for safety concerns and mislabeling, including this massive warning letter in October 2010. Bentonite clay also appears on the FDA’s list of health fraud scams, stating:
“Health fraud scams refer to products that claim to prevent, treat, or cure diseases or other health conditions, but are not proven safe and effective for those uses. Health fraud scams waste money and can lead to delays in getting proper diagnosis and treatment.They can also cause serious or even fatal injuries.”
The FDA released a statement in January 2016 and again in March 2016 warning the public that bentonite products contained lead.
“Once the mind-bending junk is removed, your native preferences will guide you.” (page 146). Readers should use their “native preferences” wisely when taking the expensive advice of Dr. Brogan as the woo products she promotes can cost readers thousands of dollars on top of her hefty office fees. It’s worth nothing that an entire year’s supply of Prozac, an antidepressant she tells her readers to stop taking, would cost less than one single office visit with Dr. Brogan.
Aside from the poor medication/supplement advice which Dr. Brogan offers her readers, she promotes a whole host of ridiculous products that have no scientific merit and have no place on the recommendation list of a medical doctor as they are not approved by any agency or regulatory body.
Dr. Brogan tells readers that they “should invest in EMF mitigators, Earthing sheets and earthing pads “to offset the effects of our shoe-wearing, electrical lives by sleeping on a grounding pad (Earthing mat) that stabilizes bioelectrical circuitry.” (pages 186-187). None of these products are regulated by an agency like the FDA, yet they are liberally sold on websites to the public. It’s worth mentioning that Microsoft Word does not even recognize “earthing” as a word.
Following in the footsteps of her mentor Dr. Gonzalez, Dr. Brogan recommends that readers “dry brush” their skin without providing a single shred of evidence that this practice has been found effective in stimulating the lymphatic system, as she claims. (page 206). There has never been a study which demonstrates that body brushing stimulates and restores the lymphatic system, yet she tells readers, “do this twice a day, or up to four times a day during times of intense toxicity.” Dr. Brogan does not define or elaborate on what “intense toxicity” is. The lymphatic system protects the body from infection and nowhere in any credible links about the lymphatic system does it state anything about dry brushing the skin to stimulate this system.
“Until you can purchase an organic mattress, buy 100 percent all-natural covers that fit snugly to prevent off-gassing: chemicals from passing through the sheets.” (page 208) Readers are encouraged to throw away their existing mattresses and invest hundreds of dollars in an “organic” mattress. There are over 35 million mattresses sold in the US every year and if “off-gassing” of mattresses was truly a concern, then why isn’t there a single report of “off-gassing” on the website of the Consumer Product Safety Commission?
“Magnetic field, an invisible form of pollution that’s totally understudied, should be minimized. For this reason, I recommend that you budget extra time at the airport to request a pat-down instead of going through the full body scanner and subjecting your DNA to ionizing radiation in advance of the inevitable radiation form the flight.” (page 213). Dr. Brogan offers no evidence to back up this claim. The American College of Radiology (ACR) finds no harm to be associated with airport scanners, which emit far less radiation in a single scan than a person would receive during the entire flight. The FAA also found that flight crew, who fly several times a week over an entire career, are at minimal exposure to radiation during their work hours and has only restricted the flight hours of pregnant women, a restriction which their OBGYN’s would likely make anyway due to their requirement on being on their feet and unsecured while the flight is in motion. Dr. Brogan has no problem flying across the country to all of her book signings and to make appearances. She even promised readers that if they purchased more of her books, that she’d make an appearance in the city which purchased the most books, which would no doubt raise her risk of the very “flight radiation” she tells readers to avoid…except when it’s to make money.
Aside from the pseudoscience products which Dr. Brogan promotes, she also promotes bad science about health and promotes misinformation. Dr. Brogan discusses that helminths, such as tapeworms and whipworms, have been wiped out of our “gutscape” by industrialization, stating on page 86, “…which offered positive effects on our immunity and over our shared evolution…” According to the World Health Organization, over 1.5 billion people, or 24% of the world’s population, are infected with soil-borne helminth infections worldwide, which have significant impacts on growth and development as these parasites feed on the host’s tissues and blood as well as most of the food which passes through the digestive tract. It’s extremely disturbing that a medical doctor would state that helminths have bad positive effects in any way when over 270 million preschool-age children and over 600 million school-age children live in areas where they can contract these harmful parasites. I wonder whether Dr. Brogan discusses these facts with her patients from the seat of her comfortable Manhattan office with her patients who are financially stable enough to afford her hefty rate. We are fortunate that in the United States, we don’t have to experience outbreaks of helminths. If Dr. Brogan feels that she has some sort of sacred bond with this parasites, then maybe she should relocate her practice to an area where helminths are endemic and try out her “cure” for depression on those citizens. I look forward to reading those research findings.
Just like her beloved mentor Dr. Gonzalez, Dr. Kelly Brogan is a dangerous physician who promotes quackery and pseudoscience which can have harmful and dire consequences for readers.
Stay tuned for next time when I discuss how Dr. Brogan stomps on infection control, the very premise of healthcare which keeps our communities safe.
In case you missed them:
Part 1: Dr. Brogan is a conspiracy theorist
Part 2: Dr. Brogan is a cherry-picker
Part 3: Dr. Brogan promotes non-credible resources, most of which she also profits from
Part 4: Dr. Brogan promotes unncessary fears about Western Medicine, the same system from which she profits
Part 5: Dr. Brogan presents a narrow, limited view of depression
Angela Quinn, BSN, RN is a registered nurse on Long Island, NY. She is passionate about nursing and public health and is involved with a number of projects which promote life-saving vaccines. Angela volunteers as an Executive Board Member in Vaccine Advocacy for Nurses Who Vaccinate, is the founder of this blog, Correcting the Misconceptions of Anti-Vaccine Resources and is the creator of Future Nurse Abby.