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All natural: just add money

Why has Trudeau's book caught on enough to make it a bestseller?

You've seen the commercial. You may have bought the book. Yes, you're probably familiar with the face of Kevin Trudeau, author of the bestselling 'Natural Cures 'They' Don't Want You To Know About.' His infomercial, complete with a fake-news-interview look and a serious-looking 'host' reacting with appropriate amazement, is full of miracle guarantees. Be healthier! Cure cancer! Live to be a hundred! Just buy the book, and you'll be set for life.

Most reasonable people can figure out that Trudeau's 'natural cures' are pure snake oil. So why has Trudeau's book caught on enough to make it a bestseller? Maybe it's the shear hubris of Trudeau's assertions: cancer cured, AIDS vanquished, the common cold brought to its knees. Many health quacks are cautious, but not Trudeau, who claims to have '…all natural, non-drug, and non-surgical ways to prevent or cure virtually every disease.' It's not enough to make you healthier. No, Trudeau actually knows how to heal all known sickness. (I'm looking forward to his next book on how to walk on water and resurrect the dead.)

The book is mostly a pitch for Trudeau's web site, which bills itself as 'your alternative to drugs and surgery,' and offers unlimited access - for a fee. The book opens with: 'You can call this chapter: 'How to Cure every Disease'; 'How to Live Healthy and Disease Free Forever'; 'How to be Young Forever'; 'How to Have Dynamic, Vibrant Health.'' And you can call this columnist skeptical. Trudeau says that aches, pains, indigestion, colds, and other minor maladies are not a normal, everyday part of life, but symptoms of ill health. A truly healthy person, he says, '…has little, if any, body odor, they have no bad breath, no foot odor, their urine and stool do not smell, they sleep soundly, they have no skin rashes or dandruff, they are not depressed or stressed, they rarely if ever get colds, flus, heartburn, aches and pains.' Turns out you're not as healthy as you thought. Do you ever get insomnia? Heartburn? God forbid, does your flatulance smell? You're terribly ill! He goes on: 'The bottom line is that you are either: a) very sick; b) somewhat sick; or c) about to get sick.' So, for only $14.95 (or $24.95 if you want the new 'MORE Natural Cures'), you can find out just how very, very sick you are.

He warns of 'toxins' that flood your body from the air you breathe and the food you eat. He doesn't identify specific chemicals or substances, just scary 'bad stuff' that has no basis in science. He speaks of vague 'energies' in your body, adding that drugs and processed food 'disrupt' them and make you sick.

But, despite your dire illness, you apparently don't need prescription drugs. Trudeau's blanket statement that pharmaceuticals are making you sicker is dangerous. Millions of people depend on insulin, painkillers, blood thinners, and other medications just to live. Sure, a lot of people don't need any prescription drugs whatsoever. For those who do, though, stopping their use would lead to illness or death.

Who knows how many people have delayed or stopped needed drugs or medical treatment in favor of Trudeau's bogus medicine? Not to mention the people who have tried his 'cures' for themselves or a family member suffering from an incurable illness in hopes of improving their health, only to discover - surprise - that Trudeau's methods don't work. Trudeau isn't conning just anyone. He is capitalizing on people who are desperate.

Bottom line: If Trudeau, or anyone, discovered a cure for any of these diseases - cancer, AIDS, even back pain - wouldn't you think there'd be a headline somewhere? Maybe, 'Infomercial Personality Wipes Out Cancer'? Or 'Crackpot Cures AIDS'? How about 'No More Back Pain Thanks To Well-Known Con Artist'? (His list of previous misdeeds includes posing as a doctor to deposit $80,000 worth of false checks, defrauding American Express out of over $122,000, and recruiting for a pyramid scheme.) Doesn't anyone think it's odd that there are cures for all known diseases out there but no one wants to try them? If they worked, you'd certainly hear about it from a source other than Trudeau's infomercial.

Most of his claims are simply tirades against the medical establishment. The whole of western medicine, according to Trudeau, is a giant scam. Doctors only want to prescribe you drugs, not because they'll make you healthier, but because pharmaceutical companies are paying them off. Apparently, a few hundred years of medical progress and billions of dollars of pharmaceutical research is all for naught, and the only person who has the courage to say it is - surprise, surprise - Trudeau.

Furthermore, he constantly claims he's being censored. He repeatedly says in his infomercial that he 'can't mention' specific cures on television 'because the government forbids me to.' Actually, he's barred by the FTC from advertising health products because he was prosecuted for making bogus cancer-cure claims. But he can say anything he likes on his infomercial as long as he's selling a book, not a health product.

Like Trudeau, conspiracy theorists have long used the words 'they' and 'them' to signify a vague authoritarian threat - i.e. the government, big business, or Marvin the Martian. Most conspiracy nuts can't define 'them,' but know that they're being oppressed and that someone's behind it. Trudeau won't identify any particular person, company, or organization (except for the FTC), but mentions 'doctors,' 'pharmaceutical companies,' 'the government,' and 'the medical establishment.'

Yet no one's censoring or oppressing anyone here. There are thousands of books, web sites, and products relating to 'natural cures' and alternative medicine. Trudeau's book isn't unique, just the most notorious. The idea that there are hundreds of suppressed disease cures out there is absurd. Sure, there are plenty of nutritional supplements that are good for you. Sadly, though, they won't cure your cancer. Trudeau, of course, doesn't back up any of his assertions with research. He knows what he knows, and that's good enough for him. It's not, however, good enough for me. Would you let a doctor with Trudeau's history of fraud, much less a person with no medical or scientific credentials, make decisions about your health?

Remember-you heard it from the Science Delinquent!