I am not especially anti complementary medicine. I'm skeptical. Come up with the evidence, and I'll buy it. And I am happy for people to come up with the evidence.
If you doubt me, you can read a book chapter I jointly wrote (in http://books.google.ca/books?hl=en&lr=&id=un9KoRWYTxIC&oi=fnd&pg=PR8&ots...), where we discussed homeopathy, and in particular the way that Jacques Benveniste was treated by the editors of Nature. Irrespective of the actual science, his work was described as "delusion". Using the language of mental health concerns reduced the scientific critique to a personal one, and was (I still believe) inappropriate - especially from the editors of a respectable scientific journal. Benveniste might have been wrong, but still deserved to be treated with respect, and to have his findings discussed scientifically.
The core our analysis was simple: people assess theories in ways that fit their existing beliefs. The editors of Nature specialized in the physical sciences, so homeopathy's basis in extreme dilution crashed against those core beliefs.
The same effect works the other way around. If someone's core beliefs are that pharmaceutical companies are money-grubbing bastards (and in some cases this is not unreasonable) this can be used to distort the beneficial effect that some of their products actually have. Some products of the pharmaceutical companies do save lives.
Today, a very strong-willed guy survived a pretty nasty attack from a health group, because he criticized people for making medical recommendations to others, without being a medical practitioner, of a treatment that is essentially bleach. I'm filled with admiration for the way he handled himself, and as to the story - @rhysmorgan tells it better than I ever could. The story has become known as 'Bleachgate'. For the video version, see http://www.twitvid.com/Z7TOH, or read it at: http://thewelshboyo.wordpress.com/2010/08/10/bleachgate/.
Despite my open-mindedness for complementary medicine, there is a line which should not be crossed - that of reckless endangerment, and Bleachgate crossed that line. Big time.
Examples of the kind of endangerment I mean include:
People die because of these claims.
I will be honest, the Bleachgate treatment, which is essentially related to hypochlorite, has some plausibility. Hypochlorite is used by the immune system - although in a targeted way. The original tests for this began as a "cure for balaria" (http://miraclemineral.org/aboutauthor.php). There was even a trial, of sorts, although it is pretty clear it was no very well controlled.
Here are a few excerpts from the description available at http://miraclemineral.org/part1.php.
The assistant medical technician … arranged for us to do the clinical trials. We slipped him a few dollars at several different times and he was quite cooperative. He was actually quite cooperative even before we slipped him a few dollars, but he was such a nice man that we thought it would be nice to help him out a bit. (p92)
Bribery is not really considered good practice when running a trial. They also paid the salary of the technician conducting the blood tests. These two gathered the data, so t the very least there was a conflict of interest. The clinical trial was also run in a prison. These are not conditions which would normally be conducive to solid, impartial evidence. For example, if I went in offering plain water - with a little bad flavouring to make it seem like medicine of a kind - and if I paid everyone's salary, would I get an effect? There is a reason why it is sometimes a idea to run trials in a double-blinded way.
It is my belief that the reason the Pharmaceutical Medicines and Poisons Board so readily accepted our MMS as a mineral supplement, rather than a drug, was that so many officials drank it without hesitation when we told them that it was not a drug. (p93)
Well, this is just a lie. It's a chemical. It has an effect. Of course it's a drug! (I know what you meant: they would not have accepted a treatment offered by a large pharmaceutical company. However, it is still a drug!)
You may not believe it, but for years the U.S. FDA has been suppressing all real cancer cures, as well as information concerning how vitamins prevent heart attacks, and all other information regarding products that may in any way reduce the income of the large pharmaceutical companies (Big PHARMA). Please don’t take my word for it; become informed. Read the information available on the Internet. Just go to any search engine and search on "FDA Suppression." (p117)
Now we head into the lands of conspiracy theories. Unless it's true, of course. Why the US FDA would support large pharmaceutical companies from outside the US (as many are) is unclear. But to be honest - all the information seems to be badly suppressed. I can buy books on any of them from thousands of people around the Internet, often top-ranked on search engines. Also, all the theories that are being suppressed are very different. Sometimes it is vitamins, sometimes a "miracle" cure, sometimes it is simply prescription information available elsewhere in the world. What, really, is being suppressed here?
Given a choice between believing that all large pharmaceutical companies are in cahoots with large governments to suppress information about viable treatments, or believing that those treatments don't currently exist, I want to believe they exist.
However, I personally feel that ingesting bleach is generally a Bad Thing. I would do it if a doctor advised me, and there was evidence that it would help me. I probably wouldn't enjoy it, but I'd do it.
What is simply unacceptable is lambasting somebody for questioning the evidence, and for resisting aggressive postings to at last ensure that important communications are visible to everyone, so they can make an informed decision. Anyone who claims that drinking bleach can cure these serious diseases had better have some damn good evidence, and if not, they'd better have jail time for serious fraud leading to people dying. The evidence available now looks like an unethical and mismanaged trial.
As to the group, their handling of this case is a case of sour grapes. In the original meaning, from Aesop's Fables:
Driven by hunger, a fox tried to reach some grapes hanging high on the vine but was unable to, although she leaped with all her strength. As she went away, the fox remarked, 'Oh, you aren't even ripe yet! I don't need any sour grapes.' People who speak disparagingly of things that they cannot attain would do well to apply this story to themselves.
We want the cure, but we can't have it. It seems the criticism of large pharmaceutical companies is more due to the fact that the "cure" isn't within reach. Claims of suppression by big pharma and the US FDA are simply souring the grapes.