Friday, May 30, 2008

Ann Louise, you leave me speechless

Ann Louise Gittleman says that, "Good health is paved with good intestines."


Eileen said...

Hee hee hee....

klady said...

That's what I thought.

(That and the fact that a certain Episcopal priest I know might have been doing the gig instead, just not on The 700 Club. So the gig probably wouldn't have lasted long anyway.)

I actually heard the whole parasite spiel in person about 5 years ago (and I have an early edition of Guess Who's Coming to Dinner), but I could never afford all the potions, so I remain bloated and depressed. Oh well.

But I loved hearing the talk here about the "little critters." I'm trying to sort out what the Buddhist response should be. Is a gut flush or even use of hand sanitizers deliberately taking a life? Maybe Father Christian will know.

klady said...

Dare I mention that her regimes actually are quite healthy? I just have always had difficulty with the evangelical fervor that goes with those who are deeply committed to her programs. It is no accident that she appeals to the religious right, Jewish and Christian in particular, though there's always an odd mix of Green folks as well. She's a lovely woman. She must be about 70 now and I don't think she's done anything but color her hair and do the oils, lotions, and massage routine. She always told us that we all needed to sleep more. If only .... She doesn't have children, however, let alone teenagers. And her life partner James is a treasure. No wonder she's well preserved.

Eileen said...

God Bless her lovely flushed colon...

And, if you can't afford the magic potions, neither can I, so I'll join you bloated, fat, and gassy! LOL

Whatshisface Pat Roberts, right? seemed totally mystified by the whole thing...He'll keep his colon uncleansed methinks...Actually, watching his reaction to her presentation made it very amusing to watch.

clumber said...

No one can appreciate the idea of getting rid of bloat and gas like an old dog, but if you want the science behind colon flushes, read here.

And don't be taken in by liver flushes either.

Basically we as a culture don't understand or trust science (hey, you can even buy special magnetic balls for your laundry that clean your wash without you ever buying detergent again!)... doctors and big companies are trying to kill us, don't you know?

Clumber shudders to even think of a colon flush! Go eat some live culture yoghurt instead.

klady said...


Yes -- it's Pat Robertson. His reaction (as well as ALG's chutzpah in getting herself on The 700 Club) is what had me rolling on the floor.


Actually, the primary focus of everything Ann Louise has written for decades has been nutrition -- her area of expertise. Although I haven't read the details of this "new" "Gut-Flush" program, if it's like its predecessors, it's just a repackaging of her basic nutritional guidelines and limited use of supplements (mostly EFAs like fish or flaxseed oil). She would be the very first to say that what is most important is to eat the right foods -- especially low-glycemic fruits and vegetables, lots of natural fiber, and special attention to food "aids" to digestion like garlic, some herbs and spices, etc. If one doesn't eat all the right things daily, the so-called "cleanse" formulas will be largely beside the point.

Second, the author (and supposed physician) you cite is clearly about as objective and well-informed about "alternative medicine" as the SF folks are about BP Katharine's theology. A lot of the things he quotes I have never read in ALG's writings, and he conveniently dismisses the notion that poor Western diets and environmental toxins are not a serious health concern for our colons and other parts of our bodies. While it may not be the No. 1 health problem (not sure ALG suggests that either), it is not an insignificant one. Anything we can all do to buy and eat less junk food (which encompasses far more than Big Macs and transfat Oreos), the better.

Finally, I must say that in the absence of the time and inclination to research colon-cleansing at length, I'd have to say for now that I'm an agnostic about the benefits. Personally, I have enough to do to try to get back to a healthier diet and, at the same time, try to support locally grown, fresh, and preferably organic foods. While I have always had some serious questions about the practicability and the need for "cleansing" one's insides in any way other than to stop putting junk in them, and, for various reasons, often chuckle at some of Ann Louise's activities and promotions, I must say that she and the people who work with her are both sincere (they genuinely want to help people based on what has helped them) and are well-informed about both Western medicine and the so-called "alternative" medicine stuff (Ann Louise can discuss the science of the research and cite mainstream journal articles with the best of them). Yes, they are trying to make some money -- it is their business, after all -- but they are not hucksters or narrow-minded ideologues. That is what pompous and often male graduates of Western medical schools, whose pockets are often lined with pharmaceutical money (not to mention free samples overflowing their office shelves), would like to say when they really have never bothered to look into it seriously or critically examined their own sources of information. It's not always their fault -- there is a built-in bias taught in the medical schools (that fits nicely with the prestige given those who succeed in the medical establishment) -- the same kind that keeps many doctors from listening to what other care providers (nurses on down) and patients have to say.

Science is a terrific thing and, yes, there are still the equivalent of blood-letters out there. But the problem, as I see it, is not that people are anti-science but rather that there are very good reasons not to trust the people who control science as applied in Western medicine today. Nutritionists, nurses, midwives and maybe even some tribal healers know a lot more than the guys in charge often give them credit for. Not sure who's got it right on the colon, but I suspect there's some truth on both "sides." OCICBW....

clumber said...


I'm confused on a number of fronts on this. First, the article I cited says nothing about environmental toxins. It talks about the CAM claims of toxins given off "by the body" and by the build up of feces.

Likewise, there is no claim that Western diet is not a problem, it's just not a problem as the CAM people claim, causing buildup in the colon.

Another excellent article on CAM can be found here. I know, you'll probably say it's by another male Western medical person who just doesn't appreciate the alternatives because he's part of the problem. I think the response they might give is found in the last 2 paragraphs:

This, of course, is not to suggest that mainstream medicine is beyond criticism; it is not. Nor am I implying that all forms of CAM are without value, just that they should be subjected to the same standard of care as we have come to demand from mainstream medicine - a standard based upon sound scientific logic and evidence.

What is best for our society? To have a system of healthcare that requires a very high standard of professionalism, ethics, and knowledge on the part of practitioners, and that protects the public from harmful or useless therapies and from fraudulent health claims. The public deserves a high standard of care, and history has demonstrated beyond any doubt that the only proper basis of such a standard of care is reliable evidence, careful and thoughtful review of best practices, and sound logic. What is not in the best interest of society is to have a double standard - one mainstream and one alternative.

What I read on the ALG web site has little to no scientific background (including her own qualification to be selling this stuff), no scientific study of the products, no complete listing of the chemical make up of the products (and what is there seems to be couched in "pseudo-scientific" terms - "L-Glutamine Powder" for example. From Wikipedia:

Dietary sources of glutamine include beef, chicken, fish, eggs, milk, dairy products, cabbage, beets, beans, spinach, and parsley. Small amounts of free L-glutamine are also found in vegetable juices and fermented foods, such as miso.

It appears to me that ALG's products bypass scientific trials to rely on anecdotal experiences "Gut Flush Success Stories".

All this is not to deny that our modern medical treatment does not need a lot of work, or that as individuals we need to take more care with our diets (as you say, eating locally, eating wisely, taking note of how our bodies respond to what we put into them, etc. etc.). It is to say that we can have all of the benefits of ALGs ideas of nutrition without buying into the ALG System, for a fraction of the cost of her vast product line. She's a smart salesperson, who is able to weave a web of science, pseudo-science (what exactly is her focus on parasites all about, anyway?), hopes and dreams (I lost 8 pounds, OVERNIGHT!) with whatever X Flush program she has dreamed up lately. Where exactly is the research behind her products? We demand it of any medical product, why not demand it of her medical products as well?

Oh oh, got to get back to the conference. Another guest speaker is coming on

klady said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
klady said...

Dearest Clumber,

I don't want to argue with you about this or detract from much more important work being carried on at BARKCON. Let's just say that you and I can agree that Gut Flush probably is not worth anyone's trouble for the sake of just the colon cleanse.

I don't like the way ALG has conducted her marketing campaigns in recent years either. On the other hand, I will always remain a staunch supporter of her nutritional programs and also of the basic approach of alternative medicine that considers the whole person and actual experience in treating patients and not just information gleaned from clinical studies, which may have built-in biases of various kinds and often ignores or is years behind what health care providers observe (in both traditional and alternative settings). While I wouldn't expect that a good dog like you with a keen nose for BS (floating or steaming in a pile) to be the least bit impressed with ALG's commercials, please forgive me for not wanting to entirely trash the nutritional program, which I believe is quite sound and does produce some dramatic results (hey, it worked for me once - lost 71 lbs - yes, I gained much of it back but it was good while I followed it).

I don't believe in "testimonials" as substitutes for controlled, empirical studies. But I don't believe in dismissing them either, because they can point to what should be studied. Anyway, if you don't believe me, you might try checking with Mary Dodge, a skeptical newspaper woman, whose experience with Fat Flush is pretty typical of many I've met. See her report here.

Or, you might just go back to Eukanaba and the occasional biscuit and meat-bearing bone. ;)

clumber said...

Yum! Eukanaba and beignets, the breakfast of champions, and bishops!