Confessions of a Quackbuster

This blog deals with healthcare consumer protection, and is therefore about quackery, healthfraud, chiropractic, and other forms of so-Called "Alternative" Medicine (sCAM).

Monday, December 05, 2005

Chiropractic Footbath cures everything

....and just when you think you've seen it all in the chiropractic zoo, this one comes along. Why am I not surprised?..... :

Chiropractic Footbath cures everything

HOUSTON -- Patients are pouring into a north Houston doctor's office for help with everything from cancer to constipation. The treatment involves a footbath, but does it really provide a cure? The KPRC Local 2 Troubleshooters went undercover to find the answer.

A hidden camera caught every crack and adjustment during a recent visit to Cypress Chiropractic, located at 9950 Cypresswood Drive. The appointment seemed routine until Dr. Brooke Fowler had the undercover patient, a KPRC producer, put her feet into what looked like a regular footbath.

After soaking for several minutes, Fowler said the machine pulled out metal from the pores of the producer's feet.

"See the black chunks? Those are mostly metals and you can pick up metals from tap water, smoking, tobacco or even second-hand smoke," Fowler said.

They are toxins that Fowler and her husband, Dr. Mark Hopkins, who also works at the clinic, said might add to the producer's PMS problem.

But the KPRC Troubleshooters found patients soaking for all sorts of medical conditions.

"I brought my husband because he had a cyst on his head," a patient said.

Another woman did not want to be identified, but she does want to know what's in the water.

"He will treat (you), no matter what you have. You can go in there and he'll say, 'Sure, stick your feet in here. I'll fix you up,'" the woman said.

Several members of her family are coming to Cypress Chiropractic for everything from depression to skin problems.

Cypress Chiropractic's office pamphlets said the footbaths help with arthritis, migraines, and even cancer.

The doctors told patients that the colored specs in the tub were toxins pulled from their bodies and each poison is a different color.

"He'll keep you going back week after week after week," the woman said.

Each week, patients are charged hundreds in supplements, office visits and footbaths, the station reported.

So, the Troubleshooters went to Rice chemistry professor Andrew Barron to find out what the patients are actually getting for their money.

"Absolutely nothing is really the straight answer," Barron said.

He tested the water from the KPRC producer's footbath.

"We've got calcium and sodium, which we would expect," Barron said.

He found metals, but no toxins that could physically come through the pores of someone's feet.

"To be pulling out chunks of magnesium or copper, if that's the claim, seems difficult," Barron said.

Dr. Charles Layne, with the University of Houston's Department of Health and Human Performance, read the research on the footbath, but still has questions, specifically about the metals that are supposedly toxic.

"Even if these could be drawn out or are being drawn out by this process, I don't understand why these are toxic," Layne said.

"Scientists say you're not pulling metals out through people's feet," KPRC's Amy Davis said.

"Then you're checking the wrong studies," Hopkins said.

The manufacturer of the footbath claims a battery creates a negative charge in the water that helps to grab onto the toxins in a patient's body and suck them out.

Barron said the problem is not with the studies, but with the science.

"There is no evidence that it would have any effect whatsoever, other than having a pleasant feeling," he said.

"We see patients every day come in and they get better. And like I said, we've got testimonials to prove it, tons of them," Hopkins said.

As a chiropractor, Hopkins said he makes it clear he does not treat conditions. He treats patients who suffer from conditions. And as long as they're happy, he said he would continue letting them soak.

click here to watch video

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