His latest "reliable and safe" treatments, posted just yesterday, are a set of homeopathic remedies for the flu. When I saw the headline, I couldn't wait to read on: one of my favorite quacks, endorsing the most laughable of all quack remedies - how delightful!
It's a short article, and almost every line is wrong. Given Mercola's recent scare-mongering about the flu vaccine, which I wrote about a few months ago, I'm not surprised that he continues to push his own "natural" cures - that's how he makes money, selling ineffective treatments after making bogus claims about them. Let's look at how he says we should treat our flu symptoms.
First, he writes that homeopathy "emphasizes adjusting medications and dosages in precise ways according to how each individual happens to feel." Wrong! Homeopathy starts with compounds that have no demonstrated effectiveness and then dilutes them so much that there isn't a *single molecule* of the original substance left. That's right, they're nothing more than water. I wouldn't call that "adjusting" - "removing" would be the correct term. (For example, a typical dilution is 20C, which is equivalent to a dilution of 1040. If you know Avogadro's number, you'll know that this dilution won't contain even one molecule of the original substance. For more reading on the pseudoscience behind homeopathy, and numerous references, see the excellent resource at Science-Based Medicine.)
So that's misleading, but wait, there's more! Mercola then presents a list of 6 different flu symptoms, and for each one he tells you the remedy that you need. I don't have time to discuss them all, so let me just administer a judicious dose of scorn to two of them:
(1) "Coldlike symptoms, such as exhaustion, anxiety, chills, diarrhea and vomiting, and thirst for warm water. Remedy: Arsenicum album. "What the heck, you might ask, is Arsenicum album? It's a derivative of arsenic, which of course is a poison (ever seen the wonderful old Cary Grant film, Arsenic and Old Lace?). Among the side effects of arsenic: diarrhea and vomiting, thirst, convulsions, and death. Wow, that signs like a good treatment. Luckily, homeopathic preparations only contain water.
(2) "Sensitivity to both hot and cold temperatures, thick coating on the tongue, bad breath, raw and sore throat, excessive saliva production, and possibly profuse sweating. Remedies: Mercurius solubilis or Mercurius vivus. "Really? Really? Mercurius solubilis just means liquid mercury, which is highly toxic. What is so appalling hypocritical about this recommendation is that Mercola has written dozens of articles on his own website (here and here and here, for example) with titles like "how the mercury in vaccines can kill your baby" and "avoid the destructive wrath of mercury in vaccines," and "new flu vaccine is loaded with mercury" - and now he is recommending mercury to treat the flu! How deliciously ironic. How extraordinary. I couldn't make this stuff up.
But I'm not being entirely fair to Dr. Mercola. You see, he just copied his list of recommendations, virtually word for word, from another quack: Mark Stengler, a naturopathic "doctor" who is almost a carbon copy of Mercola. On his website, he sells loads of natural products, books of advice, and a "natural healing" newsletter. So maybe Stengler is the real brains here - he recommends same six homeopathic flu remedies plus two more.
Mercola cites Stengler as his source (how scholarly!) but his website doesn't tell you that he simply edited down the list and used it word for word. But hey, Stengler probably doesn't mind.
Maybe I should have more respect for these guys. But why? They are trying to hoodwink the public, first by scaring them with misinformation about the flu, and then selling books, newsletters, and ineffective remedies to sick people. Scorn seems the most appropriate reaction.