Part 6 of 10: Refuting Dr. Kelly Brogan’s “A Mind of Your Own”

Major Limitation #6:
Dr. Brogan Liberally Promotes Pseudoscience

 

maxresdefault
Source: YouTube

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 nonrandomizedcontrolled 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.”

 

hqdefault
Source: YouTube

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.

97da87b3c16d94216acc4c658579c1f4
Source: Pinterest

 

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.”

 

ucm483841
Source: FDA Warning about Bentonite Clay

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.

brogan begging for book sales
Source: Dr. Brogan’s website

 

 

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.

http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs366/en/

 

 

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 nurse photo

 

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.

 

Part 5 of 10: Refuting Dr. Kelly Brogan’s “A Mind of Your Own”

 

Major Limitation #5:

Dr. Brogan Presents a Limited, Narrow, One-Sided View of Depression

PfiKkuM
Source: GreenMedInfo

 

In her new book, “A Mind of Your Own,” Dr. Kelly Brogan is a cherry-picking conspiracy theorist who chooses non-credible resources to promote her negative views of the “medical industrial complex,” the derogatory name she refers to the Western Medicinal system which she liberally bashes while generously profiting from. Perhaps the most major limitation of her book is that she presents a very limited, narrow, one-sided view of depression.

Dr. Brogan selects her “depressed” patients in such a way that it’s questionable whether these patients would meet the clinical guidelines to have an appropriate diagnosis of depression in the first place. Depression is a mood disorder and mental illness which completely affects one’s ability to perform normal activities of daily living (ADLs) due to a major loss of energy. Despite the fact that major health organizations such as the Mayo Clinic and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) define depression as a “mood disorder,” Dr. Brogan states that this is not true. However, after reading her book, (which she practically begs her Facebook page followers to buy), it’s obvious that Dr. Brogan intentional deviates from the knowledge which all of the major medical organizations present to the public about depression. Dr. Brogan has never done any research on depression nor has she published any of the data from her patients, so she has no evidence to back up her refutations of a definition recognized by everyone in the medical community except for her.

12512503_495755723964614_831099464675773864_n
Source: Dr. Brogan’s Facebook page

Patients who are experiencing clinical depression lose interest in activities they previously found enjoyable, become socially withdrawn and often cannot complete tasks like filling the application which Dr. Brogan requires of patients before they can be seen as a patient. Dr. Brogan’s case studies of her patients which she shares in her book don’t illustrate the vast variety of patients which present to hospitals in need of psychological care. Dr. Brogan presents arguments for changing the definition and treatment for depression, the most common mental illness which affects 40 million people annually or 18% of the population, based on a few examples of women she’s supposedly “cured” in just four weeks. It’s overwhelmingly apparent that Dr. Brogan hasn’t stepped foot into a hospital in a while and I’d like to challenge her to try her therapies on hospitalized patients and present those results.

brogan begging for book sales
Source: Dr. Brogan’s Facebook page

According to the Mayo Clinic, depressed patients have trouble keeping commitments as they have trouble sleeping and may go through cycles of sleeping all the time versus experiencing insomnia. A truly depressed patient might experience great difficulty in going to laboratories to get all of the extensive blood work which Dr. Brogan orders, coming in for frequent office visits and completing her rigorous four-week program, which includes frequent exercise activities. Further, Dr. Brogan’s very detailed and specific meal plan is not only expensive but would take a lot of energy to put into to place and follow on a daily basis. Dr. Brogan states that she will fire a patient if they don’t follow her meal plan, which would effectively weed out any of the clinically depressed or financially strapped patients who lack the energy or finances to complete her program. If a doctor demanded that all of his patients with Parkinson’s disease be able to jog one mile a day before they could continue to be under his care, then it would be easy for that doctor to claim that he has found the cure for Parkinson’s Disease as he has weeded out all of the progressed cases in which a patient would not be able to jog and therefore didn’t fit into his narrowly selected, one-sided views of the illness he has claimed to found a cure for.

1929436_497379907135529_3456432964133717776_n
Source: Dr. Brogan’s Facebook page

 

As you’re about to find out, with one fell swoop, how meditation, sleep, and exercise can accomplish what pharmaceutical companies could only dream about.” (page 170) It turns out that as Dr. Brogan learned in medical school, there are a whole host of illnesses and diseases for which none of the above will do anything for, so perhaps Dr. Brogan is the one who is dreaming. For example, a type-1 diabetic can meditate, sleep well and exercise regularly and none of that will still change the fact that her life depends on insulin as her pancreas will not make this life-saving chemical, even if Dr. Brogan willed it to.

 

Dr. Brogan states, “Essentially, all of “modern” medicine needs to go back to the drawing board” (page 78). However, the American Psychological Association (APA), the major organization which regulates her field of psychology appears to differ wildly with Dr. Brogan’s view on depression, so perhaps she is the one who needs to revisit her roots of education and hospital training. The APA states that a combination of antidepressants and therapy will help cure depression. While depression can have a sudden, situational onset and be remedied by minor changes, clinical depression is often a life-long illness for which meditation and Dr. Brogan’s diet changes will do nothing for.

12391790_467349333471920_4105009693992885312_n
Source: Dr. Brogan’s Facebook page

Dr. Brogan claims that her diet program will cure depression and offers an entire chapter, Chapter 3, to discuss gut theory and how she believes it relates to depression. Dr. Brogan basically advocates that should an individual eat the “right” foods, they basically don’t need health insurance. “This is also why food choices are so fundamental to immune health, and by implication brain heath: eating the wrong foods for you could spell disaster from the perspective of the gut-based immune system, whereas eating the right things could literally act as a health insurance policy.” (page 79). However, this is an extremely narrow, limited view of depression because Dr. Brogan completely neglects the fact that the causes of depression can be extrinsic in nature and completely out of one’s control. What could Dr. Brogan’s diet program possibly do for a woman experiencing divorce, homelessness, financial duress, the loss of a loved one or a natural disaster like Hurricane Sandy?

In the beginning of her book, Dr. Brogan tells readers that she’ll offer many peer-reviewed studies to back up her claims that gut composition causes depression, and then links readers to a study which turns out to be a PubMed abstract which cannot be viewed without purchase (page 71). It’s worth noting that she never links readers to the APA or any other major medical organization to gather information about depression.

 

Dr. Brogan refers to “so-called Proteobacteria”, the theory that all life on earth originated as unicellular organisms which eventually evolved into the complex organisms which populate earth today (page 78). However, she doesn’t refer to her own “so-called” theories that depression is solely related to “inner disequilibrium” and completely ignores that fact that extrinsic factors such as divorce, death of a loved one, financial duress and war, could also cause depression. Dr. Brogan states that humans are suffering from an “evolutionary mismatch that fuels debilitating mood disorders” but of course doesn’t offer any evidence to back up this claim or present similar statements by reputable colleagues in her field (page 87).

Dr. Brogan states, “…it’s also no surprise that high blood sugar is one of the biggest risk factors for depression. Women with diabetes are nearly 30 percent more likely to develop depression.” Page 109. It’s also entirely plausible that a woman who is diagnosed with diabetes will suddenly experience a whirlwind of changes including monitoring every single meal she eats, pricking her finger beforehand to check for glucose levels, not being able to have a snack without worrying about insulin needs or medication, watching every single thing she eats, not being able to enjoy the foods she once shared liberally with her family and friends, worrying about her weight more than ever, watching her toes and feet for cuts, not being able to wear cute, trendy shoes any longer and so on. Couldn’t all of these changes lead to depression as well? Dr. Brogan never explores this option at all in her book, which is a major limitation.

11995957_440124782861042_2572857853715653833_n
Source: Dr. Brogan’s Facebook page

Thyroid dysfunction and blood sugar disorders are just two of the psychiatric pretenders that often go unidentified and unresolved when a person is labeled as depressed; others come from external sources, such as the beauty products you buy and the pills you pop for heartburn.” (page 111). Dr. Brogan states that the symptoms of hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, can be similar to those associated with depression. (page 110) While this is true, hypoglycemia is a medical emergency and if the patient who is diabetic does not restore their blood sugar, they can end up in diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), fall into a coma and die. It’s unlikely that a patient who has been frequently experiencing low blood sugar episodes but was mistaking them for depression would continue to make that mistake when the problem was quickly corrected by consuming food. Further, type-1 diabetic patients would beg to differ with Dr. Brogan that there is no “magic pill” or solution as synthetic insulin is the fluid which keeps them alive. Patients who have clinical depression would not experience a sudden relief of symptoms if they drank some orange juice and ate a cracker with peanut butter.

 

Dr. Brogan deviates from the American Psychological Association (APA) as well as every other major medical organization on their widely-accepted definition of depression and presents a very narrow, one-sided view of depression throughout her book. Further, her presentation of case studies and her claim that a diet will cure depression in just four weeks illustrates that Dr. Brogan needs to leave her Manhattan office and spend some time in the hospital again to be reminded that her thoughts and diet will do nothing for the 40 million American’s suffering from depression in the United States.

 

Stay tuned for next time when I discuss how Dr. Brogan stomps on infection control and promotes ideologies which are harmful to public health. 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 utilizes non-credible resources, most of which she profits from

Part 4: Dr. Brogan promotes unnecessary fear and misconception of Western Medicine

 

angela nurse photo

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.

Part 4 of 10: Refuting Dr. Kelly Brogan’s “A Mind of Your Own”

Major Limitation#4:

Dr. Brogan Promotes Unnecessary Fear and Fallacies About Western Medicine, the Same Field from Which She Profits:

 

rtavm brogan
Source: Refutations to Anti-Vaccine Memes

The best you can do today is use common sense and sound judgment based on current science.” (page 204).

 

In her book “A Mind of Your Own,” Dr. Kelly Brogan is a cherry-picking conspiracy theorist who promotes non-credible references. Aside from these major limitations is the fact that Dr. Brogan spends all 293 pages of her book completely bashing the field of Western Medicine, an ironic and contradictory choice considering that she profits from this system. Her entire book promotes unnecessary fear and misconception about Western Medicine, or the “medical industrial complex” as she refers to it. Additionally, Dr. Brogan insults all psychiatric patients by referring to them as “pill popping patients” (page 125) on her self-proclaimed mission “to serve as a gatekeeper, keeping [women] from the psychiatric pill mill” (page 97).

 

Dr. Brogan spends nearly her entire book bashing the pharmaceutical industry with cherry-picked points that inflate the risks and completely undermine the benefits of a variety of life-saving medical interventions. She states “I am here to tell you that saying yes to yourself begins with saying no to the medical-agricultural-industrial complex “(page 277) and then goes on to refer to modern medicine as an “attack” and a “danger” to our bodies (page 94). The thing which stands out the most about Dr. Brogan’s book is that she offers nothing new to the conversation of psychiatry. There is nothing ground breaking about her book at all yet she proceeds to bash the same medical industry which agrees with her that anti-depressants don’t always address a patient’s issues and that they are often over-prescribed. Rather than partnering with other great minds in her field, Dr. Brogan chooses to subscribe to a narrow theory that gut composition leads to depression while completely ignoring the extrinsic, uncontrollable facts which may lead to depression as well.

 

735225_1072793139457361_6898205601240938170_n
Source: Refutations to Anti-Vaccine Memes

Without any evidence, Dr. Brogan states, “…conventional medicine can make grave mistakes, something the pharmaceutical industry is more than happy to encourage.” (pave 14) It’s no secret that the Instutitute of Medicine (IOM) reports that up to 98,000 preventable deaths occur each year in hospitals. However, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that there are over 35.1 million Americans discharged from hospitals each year, so while 98,000 may seem like a large number, it’s actually far less than 1% of all hospitalizations.  Further, pharmaceutical companies have nothing to do with this issue, leaving Dr. Brogan’s one-sided statements to fall on deaf ears as she completely ignores the danger which can be associated with holistic medicine. “It is my grave concern that this power has been co-opted by a paternalistic system that seeks to engender fear and control by coercion and undermine a woman’s inner voice by suggesting that science has cracked the code of the human condition. A system that turns a blind eye to all the times science and medicine have been in error. That we as a society have let fear lead us down a shameful path.” (page 276)

Holistic medicine is not without its faults or dangers. For example, a Canadian couple is currently on trial for treating their infant son’s meningitis with maple syrup and not taking him for prompt medical attention, which ultimately led to his death. It’s worth noting that even the child’s naturopath recommended that he be taken to a Western hospital but the family chose holistic treatments over conventional, proven approaches to treating meningitis. In another example, a 12-year-old came to the ER with pancreatitis which was brought on by her mother’s self-prescribed daily routine of taking over 200 supplements to treat her “Lyme disease,” a condition which she didn’t even have. A Norwegian study also demonstrated that cancer patients who use alternative medicine die at a rate of 14% higher than those who use just their recommended oncology treatments. (It’s typically frowned upon to use an abstract as evidence but since the numbers are clearly stated in this abstract, it is acceptable as peer-review).

 

Dr. Brogan states, “Personally, I have no intention of ever returning to a lifestyle that involves pharmaceutical products of any kind, under any circumstances.” (page 16) The problem with this statement is that there are some circumstances in which medications are needed in order for the patient to remain alive. Dr. Brogan details her own experience with the diagnosis of Hashimoto’s (page 96), a form of hypothyroidism, and how she healed herself by visiting a naturopath. This is a dangerous story to share with readers as forgoing the necessary medication (synthroid) a patient with hypothyroidism is prescribed is extremely dangerous and can lead to serious complications and even death.

942300_1079838762086132_5679973079459784218_n
Source: Refutations to Anti-Vaccine Memes

 “Drug-based medicine makes you sick. I will go as far as to say that hospital care makes you sick,she states (page 16). When people sustain life-threatening injuries, they go to hospitals which save countless lives every year so implying that hospital care makes people “sick” without any references is a gross injustice on the part of Dr. Brogan. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), about 700,000 people die in hospitals every year, which is far less than 1% of all of the 35.1 hospital discharges each year.  Further, antibiotics have saved an estimated 2 million lives since Sir Alexander Fleming made the first discovery of penicillin in 1928. it would seem that Dr. Brogan’s statements couldn’t be further from the truth.

 

 

Dr. Brogan describes the fact that patients feel that “doctors know that they are doing” as the “Western Medical Illusion” is a “vicious system that ushers you into lifelong customer status, dependent and disempowered.” (page 13) She also makes similar generalizations without evidence: “…it appears that they have a personal or family psychiatric history (though doesn’t that include the entire population at this point)” (page 116) Dr. Brogan proudly proclaims that she specializes in psychology, yet she dispenses advice which in nature is purely oncological, gastrointestinal and nutritional, just to name a few examples, instead of referring her patients to these specialists which is the customary practice in the field of medicine. Further, patients must fill out an application and pay hefty office fees before even being seen by Dr. Brogan, which sounds to me like a “lifelong customer status” she accuses Western Medicine of promoting. Additionally, she admits right in her book that she’ll fire her patients if they don’t follow every step of her protocol (page 89), an action which would certainly leave her patients feeling “disempowered” on their journey toward holistic psychological healing.

12006169_1078690388867636_5779983436673879551_n
Source: Refutations to Anti-Vaccine Memes

Dr. Brogan states “The medical industry isn’t selling a cure. They are selling sickness.” (page 42). If this were true, then “Big Pharma” wouldn’t promote vaccines. Vaccines are one of the least profitable components of the pharmaceutical industry and treating vaccine-preventable diseases themselves is far more profitable. According to the CDC, vaccines have not only saved millions of lives, but they have saved over $295 billion in direct costs a total of more than $1.3 trillion in societal costs.

 

“While I believe that a doctor’s role is to share the tolls for self-healing with a patient, I also believe in finding your healing team,” Dr. Brogan states. However, she goes on to encourage her patients to ignore the advice of their Western Medicine doctors for whom regulatory agencies are in place in favor of professionals who are not regulated or nationally recognized by any professional associations.  “I am an avid supporter of a variety of practitioners and refer widely…craniosacral therapists, neurofeedback specialists, acupuncturists and through energy medicine modalities from sound healing to bodywork to homeopathy.” (page 238). Dr. Brogan orders thyroid and A1C tests on patients which are typically within the scope of practice of an endocrinologist. Should the patient present with symptoms which need to be followed by a specialist in endocrinology, it doesn’t seem that Dr. Brogan would make this recommendation based on her list of unconventional references and her own touting of her naturopath. There is only one word which comes to mind here: dangerous.

 

Dr. Brogan makes generalized, false statements about medications without any evidence to back up her claims:

Dr. Brogan states on pages 92-93 of her book that “antibiotics…have never been adequately studied for safety.” This couldn’t be further from the truth. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has one of the most stringent drug approval processes in the entire world. There have been so many studies detailing the effectiveness and safety of every class of antibiotics that it would take me months to collect them all. Here’s a brochure about the safety of antibiotics produced from the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC).

12494912_1079294228807252_866508739624692067_n
Source: Refutations to Anti-Vaccine Memes

Dr. Brogan states, “optimal health is not possible through medication.”  (page 13) I’d like her to say that to the type 1 diabetic who depends on insulin to make it past the first year of his/her life to continue into adulthood, or the child with Cushing’s syndrome who depends on steroids to live his life.

 

Dr. Brogan states, “I ask my patients to…shed their fear of infection that has little chance of killing a health individual and to support their system through…diet…and the use of natural antimicrobials…” (page 93). There’s a good reason why people have a fear of infection: it kills people! Infections such as meningitis can claim someone’s life within 24 hours of exposure. You can use all the “natural antimicrobials” one would like, but the reason why hospitals use alcohol-based sanitizers instead of “natural antimicrobials,” which Dr. Brogan does not elaborate upon in her book, is because the evidence demonstrates that they are effective.

 

Dr. Brogan discusses the effects which proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) can have on the gut bacteria, claiming that they will lead to “dysbiosis” in the gut (page 94) but she completely ignores the fact that some patients have no choice but to take these medications. “The problem with acid-reflux medications is that they can render you deficient in B12, which can put you on the path to depression,” she states (page 124). Patients who have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) rely on PPIs to function on a day-to-day basis and Dr. Brogan’s “miracle” diet may not be appropriate for him/her; it’s dangerous to suggest that the patient stop taking these important medications when she could just prescribe a vitamin B12 supplement if the extensive blood work she requires of her patients demonstrates that the levels are low.

 

hashimotos
Source: National Institutes of Health (NIH)

Dr. Brogan explains her own struggles with her diagnosis of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, an autoimmune disorder in which the body destroys its own thyroid tissues. Dr. Brogan states, “I also know that there are clear, evidence-based strategies for restoring thyroid function, no prescription needed.” (page 97). Her choice of wording in explaining how she saw a “wonderful naturopath” who “ushered me into the gentle, hopeful world of self-repair” (page 97) as if to tell patients that if it worked for her, it can work for them, too. For a medical doctor who has greatly criticized the consumer-based model of advertisement, she sure knows how to write one and charge an adequate price for both her book and her sessions. “Given that thyroid hormones are essentially the metabolic lifeline for every cell in the body,” Dr. Brogan states on page 99 of her book, it’s especially alarming that she would brag about her dangerous choice to forgo the recommended treatment of her doctor and continue for two years to solve her thyroid issue “naturally” (page 97). In that two-year span in which Dr. Brogan personally chose to ignore the advice of her medical professionals and forgo her synthroid medication, a patient surely could die from lack of vital thyroid hormones which are responsible for many functions in the body.

 

When discussing SSRIs, Dr. Brogan states that “I was never taught to taper.” (page 270). This is simply not plausible considering that she took advanced pharmacology courses in med school and then learned how to care for patients in her residency; sure at least once patient needed to be tapered off medicines in the decade it took her to become a psychiatrist and complete her residency. If my nursing school pharmacology course was sure to include the importance of tapering medications such as steroids and SSRIs, then it would surely appear within the curriculum of a medical program.

 

Throughout her book, Dr. Brogan bashes the Western Medical system which she profits from and promotes life-threatening choices to forgo necessary medications prescribed by other medical specialties because they don’t fit into Dr. Brogan’s narrow, limited miracle plan for solving depression.

 

Stay tuned for next time when I demonstrate the #5 limitation with Dr. Brogan’s new book: she promotes a limited, narrow view of depression which only applies to the patients she selects for. In case you missed it:

Part 1: Dr. Brogan is a conspiracy theorist

Part 2: Dr. Brogan is a cherry-picker

Part 3: Dr. Brogan utilizes non-credible resources, most of which she profits from

 

 

angela nurse photo

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.

Part 3 of 10: Refuting Dr. Kelly Brogan’s “A Mind of Your Own”

Major Limitation #3:

Dr. Brogan Abundantly Promotes Non-Credible Resources Which Lack Peer-Review:

headshot-brown-e1452197262147

Source: Dr. Kelly Brogan’s website

“As Mark Twain said: ‘it’s easier to fool people than to convince them that they are fooled.’” (page 138)

 

In her new book, “A Mind of Your Own,” Holistic Psychiatrist Dr. Kelly Brogan presents herself as a paranoid conspiracy theorist who cherry-picks her evidence. As it turns out, the majority of that evidence comes from non-credible resources which lack peer-review. “This isn’t New Age medicine; I will prove my claims and back my recommendations with current peer-reviewed studies from the world’s most esteemed publications,” she states but then continues on for all 293 pages of her book to abundantly promote junk science websites and non-medical professionals to back up all of her narrowly-presented and limited ideas (page 5)

.

f9365e49004b864d5a54146f55a728f2.jpg
Source: Pinterest post

As a medical professional, Dr. Brogan should understand and value the essence and importance of peer-review when presenting medical information to the public. The peer-review process ensures that the information and interventions we implement for our patients are evidence-based, promote best practice and ensure the highest level of safety possible. Dr. Brogan takes a proverbial dump (probably from all of those filtered, organic coffee enemas she promotes) on the peer-review process by making her most-cited source throughout her book none other than herself. She references readers to her own website and blogs over 30 times. This comes off as quite pompous considering that Dr. Brogan has not published a single research study.

Her second most references source was MadInAmerica.com, which she referenced over eight times and “employed” her readers to utilize (page 273). Dr. Brogan instructs readers to “employ the power of the Internet” and visit both her website and “Mad in America” to find support forums (page 273).  “Mad In America,” a website which features dozens of writers from many different fields, promotes a mission that encourages a shift away from the current treatment modalities of the field of psychiatry and promotes anecdotal stories over the empirical evidence which is widely available to support many of the medicinal practices of psychiatry. Dr. Kelly Brogan is a writer Mad in America, so the fact that this is her second-most cited source demonstrates just how narrow and cherry-picked her presentation of data truly is.

0bb7346abf18100379f20eaa05265642
Source: Refutations to Anti-Vaccine Memes

 

 

The third source which Dr. Brogan cites the most is Mercola.com, which she references seven times on her notes pages. Surprise surprise…look who writes for Dr. Mercola’s website: Dr. Kelly Brogan. Dr. Mercola is one of the best examples of a non-credible resource as he promotes dangerous practices, encourages people to stray away from life-saving vaccines and promotes pseudoscience and dangerous misinformation. This link demonstrates just a few of the many examples of outlandish, dangerous things which Dr. Mercola has stated. Much like his colleague Dr. Brogan, Dr. Mercola criticizes “Big Pharma” for being profit-driven but then directs site users to his giant marketplace to purchase supplements and products, none of which have been approved by the FDA. In fact, the FDA has even issued warnings against Dr. Mercola for the dangerous products he promotes.

70d563244cd5423449b402987f96f1bb (1)
Source: Refutations to Anti-Vaccine Memes

The fourth most cited resource in her book is GreenMedInfo, which Dr. Brogan references six times. And, of course, guess who writes for GreenMedInfo: Dr. Brogan. Just one glance at the “about” section of GreenMedInfo demonstrates just how non-credible this resource is as their mission is to promote expensive and medically-unnecessary “miracles” and “cures” to diseases, but then add a disclaimer that none of their products, none of which have received any FDA approval, are intended to cure any diseases at all. Their entire mission makes about as much sense as Dr. Brogan’s book.

“GreenMedInfo.com exists in order to provide convenient and open access to the biomedical research available today on the therapeutic value of natural substances in disease prevention and treatment. *

*The information we provide access to is not intended, nor designed to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any disease.”

 

While noting that Dr. Brogan never once referenced an article or publication from the FDA once in her book, she suggested that readers refer to both the Thompson CDC Whistleblower papers and Health Impact News twice, as well as Vanity Fair, Huffington Post, Fierce Pharma Marketing, WebMD, The Salon, You Tube, and the largest anti-vaccine organization, The National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC). None of these websites are even close to credible. It’s incredibly disappointing that a well-trained, intelligent medical doctor like Dr. Brogan would choose to reference so many junk science websites which lack the most pivotal aspect of research: peer-review.

 

“I have a monkey mind.” (page 169)

 

Dr. Brogan states, “…there really isn’t much to support the efficacy of most medication and medical interventions.” (page 17) Perhaps if she relied on credible sources of information more often, she would know that this statement is far from the truth. Dr. Brogan only references reputable sources such as the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) and Mayo Clinic four times and references both the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the New England Journal of Medicine only three times.

Dr. Brogan states, “If you had to define depression right, now…chances are, you’d say something about it being a ‘mood disorder’ or a ‘mental illness…’ but you would be mistaken.” Page 14) According to the Mayo Clinic, a reputable source of information which Dr. Brogan severely under-represents on her extensive list of 326 resources, depression is a mental illness and a mood disorder.

Dr. Brogan consistently cherry-picks and references non-credible resources throughout her book,and this next reference is just another example on that long list of occurrences. When offering some “peer-reviewed” resources regarding antidepressants, Dr. Brogan chooses to reference Dr. David Healy’s post from his personal website and not a research study or article. This is what Dr. David Healy has to say in this blog post:

“Our citizens would be far better off if we removed all the psychotropic drugs from the market, as doctors are unable to handle them. It is inescapable that their availability creates more harm than good. Psychiatrists should therefore do everything they can to treat as little as possible, in as short time as possible, or not at all, with psychotropic drugs.”

Dr. Brogan recommends that readers visit the website for HormonesMatter.org to see “extensively documented neurological and psychiatric conditions following common antibiotics…” (page 93). This is not a credible resource and it purely promotes anecdotal “evidence.,” none of which has been verified by any medical professionals.

Dr. Brogan states, “All you have to do is spend a few minutes on SurvivingAntidepressants.org, BeyondMeds.com, or SSRIstories.org to appreciate that we have created a monster.” (page 61) Much like VAERS, these websites are chock full of anecdotal stories of people’s experiences, none of which are verified by a medical professional so it’s a little unsettling that a medical doctor would tell patients to ignore large-scale, empirical data demonstrating that antidepressants are effective and necessary at times in favor of sensational, anecdotal, unverifiable stories.

65b6899a83eb5bf236a86444fd616786
Source: Refutations to Anti-Vaccine Memes

Dr. Brogan refers her readers to go to her blog site to learn more about vaccines instead of referring them to the Centers for Disease Control or the FDA, the two major organizations behind the safety and recommendations. (page 138). She also refers readers to the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC), one of the largest anti-vaccine organizations in the world and one which is not recommended or endorsed by any large medical association (page 315). Further, Dr. Brogan refers her readers to read more about vaccines from Health Impact News and Vanity Fair, neither of which are large, peer-reviewed organizations which are run by medical professionals who are qualified enough to provide advice on vaccines to the public (page 315). Lastly, vaccines have nothing to do with mental health, thereby making her mention of them completely inappropriate.

Dr. Brogan instructs readers to go through their homes and throw away products which are not “natural” and references several websites to follow as a guide, none of which are peer-reviewed, instead of referring readers to a more reputable organization such as the FDA which regulates these products in the first place. Which websites does she recommend? The Environmental Working Group, I Read Labels for You, Healthy Home Economist and of course yet another non-credible websites which she writes for: Fearless Parent.

Dr. Brogan states, “Start to think critically about what you buy, the medical advice you take, and what the media tells you to worry about.” (page 19). As an educated consumer and registered nurse, I definitely do follow this advice which is why I bought this book only to refute it, why I’m writing this blog post to warn readers about the misinformation which Dr. Brogan is promoting and why I am thrilled that major media sources have never shared her information or her books because they are not newsworthy or beneficial to the public.

Dr. Brogan is not only a paranoid conspiracy theorist with an irrational fear of the FDA and “Big Pharma” who cherry-picks her evidence but she is one who consistently chooses non-credible resources, many of which she writes for. For someone who accuses the pharmaceutical industry of unfounded crimes for being profit driven, readers of her book have to wonder whether Dr. Brogan received any kickbacks or additional bonuses from her bosses over at Mad in America, Mercola and GreenMedInfo for including these junk science sites as the top three of her most-cited resources.

 

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for next time in which I present the #4 major limitation with Dr. Brogan work: promoting fear and misconception about Western Medicine, the very field from which she profits.

In case you missed it, check out parts one and two.

 

angela nurse photo

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.

 

Part 2 of 10: Refuting Dr. Kelly Brogan’s “A Mind of Your Own”

Major Limitation #2:

Dr. Brogan is a Cherry-Picker Who Ignores the Empirical and Promotes the Anecdotal

 

Kelly-Brogan
Source: Health Impact News

 

“I have few like-minded colleagues,” Dr. Brogan states in her book “A Mind of Your Own” (page 272).

After reading her book, I have to say that I am relieved that few of the practitioners in the field of psychiatry share Dr. Brogan’s narrow approach to treating depression or her negative view of the “medical industrial complex,” the “powers that be,” or the field which she claims “assaults” and “attacks” patients, to use just a few of her terms of endearment for the field in which she is employed.

Dr. Brogan also claims that the medical community has “blacklisted” her book and is somehow blocking any media reports about it. Her colleagues at GreenMedInfo seem to think the media is “afraid” of Dr. Brogan. Well, they should be! There is good reason for the medical community to ignore this book: Dr. Brogan is a paranoid cherry-picker.

Cherry-picking” refers to the act of only selecting the data available which supports your argument or theory while completely ignoring all which doesn’t. Much like the anti-vaxxer who clings to one retracted study while ignoring the mountains of data which demonstrate the safety of vaccines, Dr. Brogan employs her readers to share in her mistrust for “Big Pharma,” the FDA, all corporations and the tens of thousands of medical professionals which comprise the entire medical industry…while simultaneously inviting them to trust only her. This is the best example of cherry-picking I have ever witnessed, especially considering that Dr. Brogan has not conducted a single study.

1913613_909637755794644_3877976065415223345_n
Source: Refutations to Anti-Vaccine Memes

Dr. Brogan states, “I’m generally rather suspicious of other people’s recommendations, doctors included, and I’ve always been a bit of a rebel.” (page 97). “I have strong opinions about all pharmaceutical interventions (is that obvious?) (page 136)  At least she admits to her narrow-minded views and interventions! Dr. Brogan cherry-picks big time when it comes her opinions on when someone should trust the medical community…and when they shouldn’t. Don’t trust any doctor but me, she all but states. Don’t trust the CDC, FDA or pharmaceutical industries, but definitely trust the lab where I send the dozens of expensive and unnecessary blood tests so that I can develop a specific plan of supplements for you. Don’t trust any pharmaceutical medications, regardless of the stringent approval processes they must pass, but definitely trust the coffee enemas, clay, magnesium baths and supplements I recommend even though they have never been tested or approved by any agency, let alone the FDA.

Throughout her book, Dr. Brogan employs this cherry-picking method in an attempt to add validly to the points which are completely one-sided and narrowly-presented.

What’s ironic about the title of this book is that Dr. Brogan claims she will teach her readers how to have a “mind of [their] own,” but then she lays out a strict road map and tells them that she wouldn’t continue to see them as patients if they don’t follow every step. Dr. Brogan also instructs her readers to choose anecdotal, cherry-picked evidence over the evidence-based, empirical evidence which is widely available on the topics covered in this book, including depression, antidepressant medications, the environment, health in general and even vaccines. Vaccines have nothing to do with mental health, and Dr. Brogan has probably never even administered a vaccine in her entire career so why Dr. Brogan even includes this topic in her book is beyond me.

preaching about vaccines
Source: Refutations to Anti-Vaccine Memes

 

Dr. Brogan, who associates with the Thinking Mom’s Revolution, certainly promotes non-thinking in her readers as she employs them to adopt her flawed methods solely, or she won’t continue to be their doctor.

“Before I stopped prescribing, I had never once cured a patient. Now people are cured every week in my practice,” she states (page 19). This statement seems completely backward when compared to the larger majority of the medical community who cure people and save lives every day thanks to the Western Medicine Dr. Brogan spends her entire book bashing; the very system which she profits from. It’s wrong for “Big Pharma” to make money off medications, but it’s ok for “Big Natural” to make money off coffee enemas.

Dr. Brogan states “Have you ever stopped to wonder if depression has benefits?” (page 30). Patients who are depressed experience awful symptoms and often suffer from a reduced quality of life and inability to perform basic job functions, so is it “outlandish,” to use one of Dr. Brogan’s favorite words, to ever suggest that depression can have benefits. Considering that Dr. Brogan devotes an entire chapter to discussing how every single thing we do and eat causes inflammation which Dr. Brogan claims causes depression, it doesn’t make sense that she would even state that this process she works so hard to define as “toxic,” “dangerous” and “damaging” could have any benefit at all.

Dr. Brogan refers to depression as an “opportunity.” (page 35) “For now, accept the fact that we are all designed for depression as humans. It can be a warning sign that something isn’t right within,” she states (page 37).

She claims that her readers should consider how to restore their bodies to homeostasis and how lifestyle choices can “cure” their depression instead of pharmaceutical interventions. Dr. Brogan chooses studies which demonstrate how changes in lifestyle lead to progress and reduced depression, but completely ignores that fact that depression can also be caused by extrinsic factors like homelessness, divorce, the death of a loved one or even war. She never addresses these extrinsic factors once in all 293 pages of her book, which is positively the largest and most alarming limitation of her work. One stroll through her Facebook posts can illustrate how Dr. Brogan truly believes that she has found the answer to curing depression in just four weeks, yet her work is so limited and narrow.

Consider the mother who just lost her infant child to pertussis. What diet or lifestyle modification would Dr. Brogan prescribe to assist this mother with the coping and grieving process? Less gluten? (page 89) Coffee enemas? (page 257) Epsom salt baths twice a week? (page 256)  Dry skin brushing? (page 256) Less legumes and more proteins? (page 159)

Dr. Brogan’s program does nothing for the typical psychiatric patient. As I completed her book, it became obvious to me that Dr. Brogan has lost sight of the typical psychiatric patient from the perspective of her cushy Manhattan office chair.

 

bonus-dr-brogan-ecourse
Source: Evolution of Medicine

 

How should the woman who just lost her entire 401K savings due to a stock market crash react to her depression? Go for thyroid testing to see why she isn’t coping with her stress? (page 114) Recount all of her environmental exposures, how she came out of the birth canal or whether she was breast fed or not as Dr. Brogan suggests her patients disclose on page 4 of her book? Dr. Brogan’s ideas, program or book do not apply to these patients.

Dr. Brogan only presents a part of the story of depression yet claims that her four-week program will “cure” you. Her program is actually cherry-picked for the wealthy feminist woman who has total control of all extrinsic factors of her life, has some sort of gut imbalance or “leaky gut syndrome” (page 76) As a Med/Surg nurse who cares for patients both before and after GI surgeries, I am very familiar with the wide variety of issues the human gut can develop; leaky gut is simply not one of them. Whenever a doctor states that someone has “leaky gut syndrome,” a major red flag should go up for readers. Just to illustrate this point, I searched The Mayo Clinic for “leaky gut syndrome” and nothing turned up. However, go to google and dozens of results come up from websites like Mercola.com and GreenMedInfo, two of the most non-credible resources to ever hit the Internet.

leaky gut syndrome

Dr. Brogan even cherry-picks when she respects and disrespects her patients, as demonstrated in this statement where she completely insults the intelligence and pragmatics of her patient. “Then, one week later, she got a flu shot. She hadn’t yet put on her thinking hat, the one that says ‘My immunity is within my control and a pharmaceutical product…isn’t aligned with this perspective.’” (page 135).

 

Dr. Brogan details a case report of a woman whose catatonic state was healed with a simple vitamin B12 injection. She states, “Coincidence? I think not. While it may be one of the more extreme cases, it’s emblematic of how a simple but critical deficiency can be at the causal root of psychiatric manifestations.” (page 37) This is another example of how Dr. Brogan chooses cherry-picked case studies to present to her readers. She details how medical doctors who cannot find the cause of their patient’s illness often refer them to a psychiatrist to rule out somatic illness, or one which is “in their head.” (page 21). If the patient’s symptoms of depression were due to a simple vitamin B12 deficiency, then the blood work their physician surely ordered would have detected those levels and replenished them long before referring the patient to a psychiatrist, thereby making her cherry-picked, badly-presented point completely moot.

When discussing SSRIs, Dr. Brogan states, “To think we can cherry-pick one brain chemical and cure all and every behavioral disturbance is a gross oversimplification and downright absurd.” (page 48) Dr. Brogan’s thoughts on antidepressants and their overuse are nothing new; many psychiatrists agree that these medications are over-prescribed, yet Dr. Brogan carries on as if she thought of this notion herself. When considering that of the 326 references Dr. Brogan makes in her book, which is entirely about pharmaceutical interventions and her shift away from them, I would have to say that what is actually “downright absurd” is that she doesn’t reference the U.S. Food and Drug Administration once on her notes page. Not once.

When Dr. Brogan does refer to the FDA, it is in a derogatory and insulting way which brings to light the question of why Dr. Brogan chooses to stay in a field regulated by an agency she appears to despite and propelled by pharmacological interventions she has vowed to never prescribe or personally use again. Why even call herself a “Holistic Psychiatrist?” Why not invent a whole different title for herself being that she deviates so far from psychiatry in practices? Perhaps she should call herself an anti-psychiatrist, one who follows her intuition and rejects Big Mind.

rtavm brogan.png
Source: Refutations to Anti-Vaccine Memes

Here’s my favorite cherry-picked moment in her book which actually made me laugh out loud. Dr. Brogan states, “Over the past three decades, there have been hundreds of mass shootings, murders and other violent episodes committed by individuals on psychiatric drugs.” (page 60). Dr. Brogan is cherry-picking the evidence to make a point which is not conclusive. Similar crimes were committed over this same time period by individuals who were not on psychiatric drugs, so it’s disturbing to me that a medical doctor would set up a statement to insinuate some sort of link between the medications and violent behavior where the evidence isn’t in any way conclusive. Couldn’t it be stated that people who take psychiatric drugs have mental illnesses and that the mental illnesses could’ve caused their behaviors and not the medications themselves? There is no way to definitively prove that the meds caused the behavior or that the behavior occurred independent from the meds, thereby making Dr. Brogan’s point irrelevant.

 

Dr. Brogan misuses a quote without reference by Rene Dubos, a founding father of modern microbiology and pioneer of the germ theory, to insinuate that he suggested there is harm to be associated with this ground-breaking theory which led to the development of the first antibiotics (page 71). In his quote, Dubos is clearly speaking of the delicate balance between microbial life and human life and in no way does he state that germ theory is “dangerous:”

“Man himself has emerged from a line descent that began with microbial life, a line common to all plant and animal species…he is dependent not only on other human beings and on the physical world but also on other creatures—animals, plants, microbes—that have evolved together with him. Man will ultimately destroy himself if he thoughtlessly eliminates the organism that constitute essential links in the complex and delicate web of life of which he is a part.”

Here is a reputable source demonstrating this quote from Dubos and illustrating how he understood how environments can be impacted by anthropogenic (human) activity but never once does he call his life’s work “dangerous.”

 

Throughout her book “A Mind of Your Own,” Dr. Brogan presents cherry-picked arguments, cherry-picks which medical professionals and organizations should be trusted without any clear guidelines, and even cherry-picks her patients in order to prove some sort of miracle four-week program chock full of holes (probably from all of the coffee enemas) which the medical community obviously sees right through.

 

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for next time when I discuss the #3 limitation of Dr. Brogan’s book: Dr. Brogan’s Abundant Utilization of Non-Credible Resources. In case you missed it:

Part 1: Dr. Brogan is a conspiracy theorist

 

 

angela nurse photo

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.

Part 1 of 10: Refuting Dr. Brogan’s, “A Mind of Your Own”

 

 

kelly post.png

In October 2015, the image above came across my newsfeed on Facebook.

I had never heard of Dr. Kelly Brogan before, so I took a look through her Facebook page and saw immediately that she was unconventional, anti-vaccine and promoting very dangerous practices such as calling the cancer treatments which save countless lives an “industry.” As a registered nurse who has seen the life-saving effects of chemotherapy first hand both professionally and personally, I was a little alarmed to see a medical doctor all but implying that patient’s shouldn’t listen to their oncologists, who are specialists in their field, but should take the advice of a “holistic psychiatrist” who has probably never even directly cared for an oncology patient herself. I immediately wrote a very professional comment, and took a screen shot of it as I suspected that Dr. Brogan would erase it. My suspicions were correct as she removed my comment.

brogan comment

Over the next few months, I saw my news feed, full of fellow pro-science and pro-vaccine advocates, illuminated with posts from Dr. Brogan. Most of Dr. Brogan’s posts were just typical anti-science posts, but there was one which completely shocked me in which she all but begged people to buy more copies of her book so that she could make a national best sellers list. “Then reality set in. Unsurprisingly, the top media outlets – all supported by Pharma advertising – are now blacklisting any press on this book. And even threatening negative press if they do report,” she wrote on her website, asking people to join her grassroots effort.

brogan begging for book sales.png

 

I knew that there had to be a reason why Dr. Brogan’s book was not being covered by major news outlets (have you seen her Facebook?!), so while running errands yesterday, I decided to pop into my local bookstore to see if the book was there, merely for fun so I could take a selfie and send it to my pro-science friends for laughs.

 

IMG_8579

 

After flipping through the Notes page just to see which resources she utilized in writing this book, I noticed that she used the term “Big Pharma” five different times. I made the decision right then and there that I would have to refute this book, page by page, as my next blog post; within 24 hours, I had read every word.

FullSizeRender

In the introduction of her book “A Mind of Your Own,” Dr. Brogan states, “I care deeply for women struggling with their well-being.” (page 1) This statement troubles me because Dr. Brogan then continues across 293 pages to offer dangerous, misleading and incorrect information which can put women and their families at risk. I have identified ten major limitations which I will present as a ten-part professional, peer-reviewed blog series, in no particular order of importance.

Major Limitation #1:

Dr. Brogan is a Conspiracy Theorist Who Has an Irrational Fear of the FDA, “Big Pharma” and Large Corporations:

bill clinton meme
Facebook.com/RtAVM

In the introduction to her book, “A Mind of Your Own,” Dr. Brogan states, “I’m not a conspiracy theorist…I’m a natural skeptic and a pragmatist.” (page 2) Dr. Brogan referred to the pharmaceutical industry as “Big Pharma” nine times throughout her book (pages 3, 49, 53, 55, 56, 60, 61, 65, 123) and five times in her notes pages. “Big Pharma,” sometimes written as “Big pHARMa” is the nickname given to the pharmaceutical industry but it is often used with negative connotation.

Dr. Brogan states, “I’m generally rather suspicious of other people’s recommendations, doctors included, and I’ve always been a bit of a rebel.” (page 97). “I have strong opinions about all pharmaceutical interventions (is that obvious?)” (page 136)

Dr. Brogan states that pharmaceutical companies “finance more than 70% of FDA trials” (page 53) as if she is uncovering some unknown secret. How could the FDA possibly sponsor the trials of every drug which came through the approval process? Of course the companies would have to pay for the drug trails they are testing! Dr. Brogan states, “The FDA requires only two studies for drug approval, so you can see how these companies are tossing the coin over and over again until heads comes up and hoping no one is looking when it’s tails.” As of March 2016, the Tufts Center for Study of Drug Development pegged the cost of developing a new drug and gain marketing approval is over 2.5 Billion dollars. While no one will ever argue that the pharmaceutical companies are extremely profitable, they cannot justify just spending 2.5 billion dollars liberally to “toss the coin,” as Dr. Brogan claims.

Dr. Brogan states, “As you can imagine, drug companies despise placebo effects. They will do everything in their power to minimize the impact of placebo in their studies. That the FDA allows them to use these techniques is wrong, another example of Big Pharma’s shameless misconduct.” (page 56). I searched far and wide and I did not find a single statement from a single drug company which stated that they “despise” placebo effects. Some might also feel that Dr. Brogan herself could be the best example of “shameless misconduct” as he continuously insults the medical field which she profits from by calling their interventions “assaults” and “attacks.”

Dr. Brogan states, “Keep in mind that drug companies normally don’t publish negative results. They prefer to file away those studies in a drawer where they will never be found; hence the ‘file drawer’ phenomenon.” (page 57) Unless Dr. Brogan has been an employee of a major drug company and had access to these files, I don’t see how she could make such a claim without providing a single shred of evidence. Instead, she just comes off as a paranoid conspiracy theorist.

Dr. Brogan states, “And if you think a chemical pill can save, cure, or “correct” you, you’re dead wrong.” (page 3) Antibiotics are a pill which can definitely save, cure and “correct” a wide array of infections in every major organ system and part of the body. Antibiotics have saved countless lives since they became commercially available in 1945.

Dr. Brogan states, “I’m convinced that the pharmaceutical industry and its bedfellows, concealed behind official titles such as certain medical societies and associations, have created an illusion of science where none exists, in the service of profit over professional responsibility.” (page 5) “Responding with fear leads us to make decisions that are myopic.” (page 19) The science behind medicine is clear and undeniable, so I can’t make much sense of Dr. Brogan’s statement that “Big Pharma,” the very industry she clearly fears and make myopic decisions about, “creates” science to back up their claims.

Dr. Brogan twice chose to reference Dr. William Thompson and his whistle-blower papers, which apparently proved that the CDC omitted data to conceal the link between the MMR vaccine and autism. (page 138). These papers were just a bunch of random information, none of which demonstrated any link between autism and vaccines. There never has been, nor will there ever be, a connection between vaccines and autism, and it’s concerning that Dr. Brogan, a medical doctor who took an oath to do no harm for her patients, would still try to promote a link which doesn’t exist and puts her patients at danger of harmful, debilitating and deadly infectious diseases. Here’s a link which demonstrates that over 100 studies have been conducted and showed no link between autism and vaccines. In fact, when a group of anti-vaxxers funded a study to test the link between vaccines and autism, their study also demonstrated no link. Further, this mention had no place in Dr. Brogan’s book about women’s health as the MMR vaccine is administered to children and has nothing to do with women’s health.

“Unfortunately, doctors rarely make recommendations outside of medication for fear that the science does not support their interventions.” (page 197). This is not true. Doctors and medical professionals practice evidence-based practice, so until evidence exists to support non-medicinal treatments for health issues, doctors and practitioners will continue to prescribe what the data supports. Doctors often refer their patient’s to physical therapists for more activity, which is non-medicinal, because the data demonstrates that exercise can be helpful for certain conditions.

When discussing pesticides, she states, “I care less about the monitoring and more about the actual policing of these chemicals.” (page 200) This doesn’t make any sense, as without surveillance methods to monitor the prevalence of environmental pollutants, how could any agency possibly police them?

 

“We would like to assume our elected representatives will protect us by not allowing harmful chemicals to be used or sold in this country, but that assumption would be false.” (page 202). If this were true, then there wouldn’t be several sectors of the Environmental Protection Agency devoted to agriculture, all of which follow laws enacted by elected officials and funded by the U.S. government.

“Bottom line: it’s impossible to know how many synthetic chemicals exist in the world today and how harmful they really are, especially in combination. It’s also impossible to rely on laws or regulations to protect you, given the competing myriad political interests.” (page 203). Dr. Brogan asks her patients to trust the HIPAA laws designed to protect the privacy of their information by being a patient at her practice, yet she tells them to never trust any other law which is meant to protect them.

“We cannot rely on the FDA to assure the safety of these products…” (page 207). Dr. Brogan obviously doesn’t trust the FDA, because she does not include a single link to this governing agency once on her list of 326 references. This is a major shortcoming of her work which is entirely in critique of the medicines approved by the FDA yet she operates in her book as if one of the largest agencies in the world which completely shape the direction of her field simply doesn’t exist.

 

“Unless you are growing your own organic food in a bubble hermetically sealed from the ravages of the modern industrial world, strategic supplementation is almost always going to help you get better and stay better.” (page 224). Dr. Brogan states that she will never prescribe medications for her patients, which go through stringent approval processes from one of the toughest agencies in the world, the U.S. FDA, yet she’ll proudly tell her patients to take supplements, none of which are regulated or approved by any agency, let alone one as large as the FDA.

 

Dr. Brogan makes many statements throughout her book which illustrate her clear lack of trust for large organizations as she continually refers to the medical industry as the “medical industrial complex” and the “powers that be:”

  • Dr. Brogan states, “I love to rant,” (page 13) and then includes an essay on her notes page, a section of a book typically reserved for simply listing sources only, (page 316) about glyphosate, instructing readers to find out more by visiting the website for Earth Open Source, “a group of independent scientists (i.e., they are not paid to scientifically support corporations.)”
  • “But how did drug companies convince doctors that their patients need these medications, and that they need them now? They are banking (literally) on the fact that you haven’t brushed up on statistics in a while.” (page 119)
  • “But the medical industrial complex would have you believe that cholesterol-lowering medications—statins—equate with preventative medicine.” (page 122). No cardiologist would object to a patient stating that they wanted to try diet and exercise before taking a statin pill, so long as the patient were physically fit enough to handle the exercise. However, to refer to the field of medicine, the very field in which she is employed, as the “medical industrial complex” is insulting.
  •  “There are so many scientific studies showing the direct toxic effects of fluoride on your body that it could only demonstrate the power of industrial influence that it’s not considered a scientific consensus by now.” (page 130)
  • “In fact, there have been more than twenty-three human studies and one hundred animal studies linking fluoride to brain damage. Makes you wonder if the powers that be want to keep us a bit dull upstairs.” (page 131)
  • Dr. Brogan refers her readers to the Environmental Working Group instead of their local department of environmental protection. http://www.ewg.org/about-us (page 132)
  • “If a drug were capable of such side benefits rather than the seventy-five unintended consequential side effects (some of which may be permanent or disabling), it would most certainly make the Times front page.” (page 166)
  • “Medicine is under the influence of powerful lobbies and corporate interests that sway regulatory agencies and policymakers in the assessment of safety.” (page 196)
  • “More egregiously, you’re being sold the belief that medication is treating your disease rather than inducing a drug effect no different from alcohol or cocaine.” (page 272)

Dr. Brogan also demonstrates a mistrust about the food industry, which she dubs “Big Food:”

“Lest you remain under the spell of Big Food, know that a large analysis published in 2014 echoed previous data in demonstrating yet again that high consumption of saturated fat foes not increase risk of coronary artery disease.” (Page 160). “We must stand up in protest against this nonconsensual experiment affecting all forms of like on the planet.” (page 156). While it is true that pesticides can be harmful, they are also necessary in meeting the growing food demands of the world and there are many Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) laws in place which regulate the use and safety of pesticides.

“Modern medicine has very little willingness to acknowledge the complexity and true origin of chronic illnesses that are the result of environmental, pharmaceutical, and dietary exposures.” (page 197). Since it would take me a century to survey all of modern medicine, whatever Dr. Brogan thinks that entails, to decide whether it is willing to acknowledge these things or not, I’ll just leave this over-generalization alone.

“Regulation and transparent oversight that controls for embedded conflicts of interest will be our only way out of this chemical soup.” (page 200). I’d like to hereby coin Dr. Brogan with the exclusive recognition of renaming this planet, previously known as” Earth,” as planet “Chemical Soup.”

 

I have presented over two dozen different statements which Dr. Brogan made throughout her book which clearly demonstrate that she is a conspiracy theorist, despite her claims otherwise, with an irrational fear of the FDA, pharmaceutical companies and large corporations. Might I also point out that Facebook is one of the largest corporations in the world, ranking number 10 on Forbes’ list of the world’s most valuable brands, yet Dr. Brogan has no problem selectively accepting Facebook as a means of promoting pseudoscience yet rejects large corporations otherwise.

 

Thanks for reading, and stay tuned tomorrow when I present the #2 limitation of Dr. Brogan’s book: her cherry-picking of the evidence.

angela nurse photo

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.

 

 

Correcting a Blogger Who Thinks She’s Smarter than the FDA

 

Vaccines are important for everyone, but one of the highest risk groups who greatly benefit from vaccinations is pregnant women. The anti-vaccine community often presents misinformation which encourages pregnant women to forgo the recommended vaccines. One example is a blog by Gretchen Bossio featured on Mom.Me entitled “If You’re Pregnant, Read This Before Listening to the FDA (1).”

Gretchen Bossio is a freelance writer with no medical training, yet she writes this blog post which states right in the title that pregnant women should listen to her before listening to the medical experts at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) about the safety of vaccines during pregnancy. It is irresponsible to make poor health care recommendations for a high risk group without any background to do so. This is best evidenced by her statement that “The FDA is recommending intravenous injections during pregnancy…” Vaccines are not given intravenously; they are given through either the intramuscular, subcutaneous or intra-nasal routes, hence why they are often referred to as “shots” and not infusions (2).

Bossio states that “it’s apparent that the FDA has a poor track record of fast-tracking drugs and vaccination[s] that are meant to do good, but in the end, after sending their money-making recommendations into a larger pool, do great harm.” However, Bossio offers no credible links or references when making this claim. The FDA does not fast track just any drug; it must demonstrate superior effectiveness, avoid serious side effects and be effective enough to replace a current drug therapy (3). There have only been two vaccines which have been fast tracked by the FDA. The first was the Gardasil vaccine, which prevents HPV; this vaccine has been found to be safe and effective in trials of over 10,000 women from 13 different countries (4). Secondly, the MenB vaccine, which prevents meningitis, was fast tracked to allow inoculation in high-risk areas where outbreaks were occurring. (5) Further, there have never been any recalls on any of the drugs which were fast tracked for serious issues, as Bossio claims (6). Therefore, Bossio’s statements regarding the FDA and their “poor fast-tracking” record are completely false.

Perhaps the most ridiculous moment in this blog post is when Bossio quotes Barbara Loe Fischer, president of the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC). Fischer, just like Bossio, has no medical training. The NVIC is one of the largest anti-vaccine organizations which spreads misinformation and promotes unnecessary fear about life-saving vaccines. Considering that there are countless credible resources regarding vaccines including the Centers For Disease Control (CDC), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), it’s unacceptable and irresponsible that Bossio chose to quote Fischer, an unlicensed medical professional. Further, it is irresponsible for either of them to make a single recommendation about healthcare decisions for pregnant women since neither of them have a license to do so.

Bossio claims that there isn’t any data to support the recommendations for vaccines during pregnancy yet she provided no references for this statement. If she had “done her research,” as she tells her readers she did, she would know that leading organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Mayo Clinic have demonstrated that both the influenza and Tdap vaccines are safe, effective and recommended during pregnancy (7) (8). If Bossio had “done her research,” she might also have shared with readers that the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) makes public all transcripts of their meetings with top health officials in order to formulate vaccination recommendations (9).

Bossio contradicts her conspiracy theory comments against the FDA and pharmaceutical companies by saying, “That’s right, vaccines during pregnancy. Even though every vaccine insert I have ever read specifically says there are no long-term safety tests or data available for effects on pregnant moms and their unborn children.” It doesn’t make any sense to proclaim in one instance that drug companies and the FDA honor profit over patient safety but then to point to their vaccine package insert as some holy grail in another.

Another example of Bossio supporting the conspiracy theory of the drug companies is when she states, “…if every single pregnant mom received one, two or three more vaccines throughout her pregnancy, that’s big money.” What Bossio fails to discuss is the fact that vaccines must yield some profit for the drug companies so that they can continue to produce them; essential oil peddlers also yield a profit, but anti-vaxxers don’t stand outside of their offices and protest against them. It’s also worth noting that doctors often lose money on vaccinations (10). According to The Economist, “for decades vaccines were a neglected corner of the drugs business, with old technology, little investment and abysmal profit margins” (11). Vaccines only comprise about 1.82% of total drug sales revenue for pharmaceutical companies (12).

Bossio makes the claim that the recent resurgence of pertussis in the U.S. is due to those who have been receiving the pertussis vaccine rather than taking responsibility for the fact that anti-vaxxers have led to these resurgences. In California in 2010, more than 9,000 children became infected with pertussis and a study published in Pediatrics showed that anti-vaxxers contributed to this outbreak by forgoing the recommended vaccine schedule (13).

In conclusion, Bossio presents a poorly written blog post urging readers to choose her cherry-picked misinformation rather than following the plethora of peer-reviewed, scientifically sound data from the FDA when she has no business doing so.

References:
1. http://mom.me/blog/26059-if-youre-pregnant-read-following-fdas-recommendation/

2. http://www.immunize.org/catg.d/p3084.pdf

3. http://www.fda.gov/ForPatients/Approvals/Fast/ucm405399.htm

4. http://www.fda.gov/ohrms/dockets/ac/06/briefing/2006-4222B3.pdf

5. http://blogs.fda.gov/fdavoice/index.php/2014/04/fda-is-working-closely-with-manufacturers-of-meningitis-b-vaccines/

6. http://www.fda.gov/downloads/Drugs/DevelopmentApprovalProcess/HowDrugsareDevelopedandApproved/DrugandBiologicApprovalReports/UCM216527.pdf

7. http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/adults/rec-vac/pregnant.html

8. http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/pregnancy-week-by-week/expert-answers/vaccines-during-pregnancy/faq-20057799

9. http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/acip/

10. http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/pediatrics/124/Supplement_5/S492.full.pdf

11. http://www.economist.com/node/17258858

12. http://www.skepticalraptor.com/skepticalraptorblog.php/big-pharma-supports-antivaccine-movement-conspirac-vaccines-maybe-not/

13. http://healthland.time.com/2013/09/30/parents-not-vaccinating-kids-contributed-to-whooping-cough-outbreaks/

 

By: Angela Quinn, BSN, RN

 

Angela Quinn is a registered nurse on Long Island, NY. She is passionate about nursing and public health. She is an Executive Board Member for Nurses Who Vaccinate and is the founder of Correcting the Misconceptions of Anti-Vaccine Resources.