Sunday, March 02, 2008

Koch's treatment

If you follow the fringe of the health debate - where the woo proponents and the deniers make their round - you'll probably have heard something about Koch's Treatment, a cure for whatever health issue being debated at the moment.

Why does this treatment always come up? Well, because it's supposed to be a cure-all treatment, that can help you against everything, including cancer (and in recent times HIV/AIDS). It was "developed" by Dr. William F. Koch, who in 1919 announced the "discovery" of a new drug, which he called "glyoxilide". This drug is injected into people, and it supposedly increases the effectiveness of the immune defense, which gets rid of the problem.

Need I say that this is not only unproven1, but in many cases scientifically impossible?

Koch's claims about his treatments have be falsified repeatedly, and when analyzed chemically, it's indistinguishable from distilled water - probably because that's what it is.

Of course, this doesn't keep people from promoting it as a homeopathic remedy, and from claiming that there is a conspiracy keeping the wonder drug away from people. The main reason mentioned for the conspiracy is of course claimed to be money, since the medical companies would go bankrupt, if such a wonder drug came to the market.

However, this is not the only reason mentioned - Koch's treatment has long ties with the Christian far right in the US. As a matter of fact, Koch created the Christian Medical Research League to sell it to people, and among his most vocal supporters in the past, were people like Gerald B. Winrod2 and The American Fascist Party3, and according to James A. Aho, the drug "is celebrated by [Christian] Identity spokesmen as a spiritual 'homeopathic preparation,' not an 'earthly substance' as are 'allopathic poisons."4 Of course, to these people, the main reason why the drug is kept from the market, is a Jewish conspiracy which either tries to undermine the health of White people, or who does it for financial reasons.

Interesting to see how crazy political beliefs and crazy medical beliefs can tie together. Maybe we should start emphasizing Koch's ties to far-right fundamentalist ideas and organizations?

1 Koch Treatment / Koch Synthetic Antitoxins (BC Cancer Agency)

2Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science by Martin Gardner (Courier Dover Publications, 1957) page 213-215. The relevant passage can be found at Google Books

3The Politics of Healing by Robert D. Johnston (Routledge, 2004) page 100. The relevant passage can be found at Google Books

4The Politics of Righteousness - Idaho Christian Patriotism by James A. Aho (University of Washington Press, 1990) p. 265.

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