Do I Have a Parasite in My Prostate?
January 15, 2019 6:58 AM   Subscribe

I did Nutrition Response Testing, and my diagnosis is PARASITE. Not just that, but large parasite in my prostate. WTF?

I have dealt with IBS (or, at least, symptoms like that) for years now. Recently, my symptoms have gotten worse. See previous posts here and here. There's a particular spot just to the left and above my belly button that always churns and burns and feels tight if I eat anything that upsets it (and what upsets it seems to be random, save alcohol; alcohol always upsets it). I get headaches associated with it, and it's just plain awful.

In order to try to figure out what's going on and gain my appetite back, my friend recommended doing Nutrition Response Testing. I was skeptical, but they said they thought it helped them if you can get over the quackiness of it. I went and did it, after reading some of the threads here about it (such as this one). So, I have a healthy skepticism.

After going, however, I can't get their diagnosis out of my head. A parasite in my prostate. So weird. At this "medical" office, they have a staff of 6–8 people. It's in a nice little home that's been renovated to be an office. There are many people that come for chiropractic stuff, massage therapy, etc. There are lots of people in and out the door. There are many handwritten testimonials around. The lady who helped me with my diagnosis raved about how Nutrition Response Testing had changed her life (she apparently had a parasite in her brain; she said she pooped it out eventually after taking supplements; again, WTF?). She seemed totally sincere. They recommend certain supplements, such as parasite killers (VRM1), prostate-related health supplements (Prostate PMG) to help. Of course, these supplements are $30 each for a 60–90-day supply. They also recommend a program of 36 office visits for $1400 total.

So, I get that I'm being sold stuff here. But is there any validity to this at all? How do they seemingly have such great reviews (even Google Maps gives them 4+ stars with testimonials there too) if it's purely a scam?
posted by uncannyslacks to Health & Fitness (30 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You do not have a parasite of any size in your prostate.

But is there any validity to this at all?


How do they seemingly have such great reviews (even Google Maps gives them 4+ stars with testimonials there too) if it's purely a scam?

Because there are lots and lots of gullible people out there, and the placebo effect is a thing.
posted by randomnity at 7:03 AM on January 15, 2019 [71 favorites]

Maybe followers of Hulda Clark, here is a website about her bizarre beliefs.

I only know because I once dated someone who was really into this stuff, and they would sit and hold copper tubing wired to a 9-volt battery to zap parasites. Among other things.

Please don't fall for this stuff, and if you have real concerns, go see a real medical doctor.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 7:05 AM on January 15, 2019 [13 favorites]

Is there an actual doctor involved in this, like an MD, preferably a gastroenterologist? If not, then I'm not sure you should trust this diagnosis.

If there's a "parasite" they should be able to identify what kind, as treatments vary. If you want to find out more, ask for more details about every thing they tell you, the "who what where how why" of it; my guess is the details you get will go further down the crazy-talk road, or they'll tell you to stop asking questions because they are 'experts' and you should trust them blindly, and you will learn a lot more about the people you asked to diagnose you.
posted by AzraelBrown at 7:07 AM on January 15, 2019 [8 favorites]

Christ almighty, if I ever had a serious indication of a parasite of any kind I'd be at the hospital in a blink of an eye.

So it's either: parasite --> medical doctor or these people are quacks --> move along.

I say this as a woo loving buddhist mediator BTW.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 7:14 AM on January 15, 2019 [2 favorites]

Yeah, you need to see a REAL gastroenterologist.

Some of your symptoms sound similar to mine (alcohol induces it, the area of pain). I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, got on Remicade treatments and am doing great now.
posted by kuanes at 7:19 AM on January 15, 2019 [25 favorites]

The CDC has a page showing the tests used to diagnose parasites. I'm guessing that these are not the tests this place used.
posted by FencingGal at 7:20 AM on January 15, 2019 [7 favorites]

How do they seemingly have such great reviews (even Google Maps gives them 4+ stars with testimonials there too) if it's purely a scam?

Great reviews are mindbogglingly easy to fake. How many real people think: "Oh, this was a great program, you know where I'll go to review it? Google Maps, of course." Also, there's lots of ways to encourage "real" good reviews, just by offering a reward for reviews. People writing poor reviews aren't likely to claim the reward, and you get a bunch of nice reviews by real people.
posted by BungaDunga at 7:30 AM on January 15, 2019 [11 favorites]

The reason woo stuff has tons of good internet reviews is because the people who are true believers review it positively and frequently and the people who decide after the fact that nah actually that was weird/scammy maybe I should have been more skeptical don't really want to go around advertising to everyone forever on the internet that they just paid money for a weird/scammy thing. I see this all the time with fringe/woo health stuff. You either LOVE IT, IT'S GOING TO SAVE HUMANITY or you just... go about your business like it never happened.
posted by soren_lorensen at 8:09 AM on January 15, 2019 [20 favorites]

Practitioners like this get good ratings because they have good bedside manner and people feel they've been listened to when they feel 'mainstream medicine/Big Pharma' has ignored them.

It looks like you've had an upper endoscopy- have you had a lower GI scope? Biopsies of your lower GI can help distinguish IBS from an inflammatory disorder like UC or Crohn's. Its possible it is something else based on location, be it liver or gallbladder. Not my area. There may also be a bad fit with your GI provider from your first question on this, and a second opinion is completely ok.

I've seen brain parasites on MRI. I've treated people for them. This is not something you excrete in the toilet and feel better from.
posted by cobaltnine at 8:10 AM on January 15, 2019 [31 favorites]

How do they seemingly have such great reviews if it's purely a scam?

Of the percentage of reviews that are genuine, I would say that a big reason is that it is easier to make diet and lifestyle changes with coaching and with someone to design and monitor your supplement regime than not.

Say the diagnosis of PARASITE! is, in some way shape or form, accurate .... all the things you need to do a natural cure and diet change exist in the wild, for some price, not $0, but not as much as this program's quote. In my experience, it can be hard to figure out what you need when you have been feeling craptastic for such a very long time. Some cures have extreme die-off reactions, so one may be tempted to say, "It's getting worse!!" and quit before the real benefit is felt. Some things do make it worse, because you may have mis-diagnosed your symptom. Some things work until they don't, and when they don't its frustrating to be back at square one.

Here's my fun PARASITE! story of gentle encouragement. Because, for those saying "Get thee to thy gastrointestologist/emergency room!" ... those things don't always add up to effective treatment? I mean, take toxicosis gondii ... common, horrifying to contemplate, studies point to it affecting decision-making, yet only considered by the (U.S.) medical establishment to mandate treatment when discovered in the pregnant.

So: I was suffering for years of increasingly uncomfortable G.I. issues, with a distinct pattern. Previous reset protocol doing nothing. Brought it up with a gastroentologist at about year four who said "IDK ... IBS?" and threw some bentyl at me when a colonoscopy found no diverticulitis.

Suffered a few more months, then went on a multi-city trip. Contracted GIARDIA! for reals ... all the signs were there, but I was in a bit of denial that this was a testable/doctorable condition. At about the fifth week of cyclical misery, my discomfort overcoming the denial, read up on it to find, again, it's an edge case whether to go in with anti-parasitics, and if you can make it past 8 weeks you're probably good.

So I toughed it out, and I'll be damned if it wasn't the gut reset I needed. I am back to eating my favorite, anti-parasitic foodstuffs—stuffing my face with pumpking seeds, cramming garlic into my entrees, eatic brussels and broccoli as a side—that had become so problematic.

Things are still touch and go, and the moral of my story is not, "Go get you some GIARDIA!" (not recommended.) It's more that health issues can have a narrative outside of medical intervention, and that the thing I think helped me the most was ACTIVATED CHARCOAL! every day when I was acute, now a few times a month, with lots of water, in addition to low irritant diet, and a good probiotic supplement consistently. If the thing that could help you are coaches, supplements, monitoring and accountability to a program, who's to say? Hope you can feel better, soon!
posted by Rube R. Nekker at 8:35 AM on January 15, 2019 [1 favorite]

Why Nutrition Response Testing is Unscientific and Not Valid, by a registered nutritionist. In the conclusion he quotes a Journal of the American Dietetic Association article on it from 1988 that is particularly damning:
Applied kinesiology [another name for Nutritional Response Testing] is a technique used to assess nutritional status on the basis of the response of muscles to mechanical stress.

In this study, 11 subjects were evaluated independently by three experienced applied kinesiologists for four nutrients (thiamin, zinc, vitamin A, and ascorbic acid). The results obtained by those applied kinesiologists were compared with (a) one another, (b) standard laboratory tests for nutrient status, and (c) computerized isometric muscle testing.

Statistical analysis yielded no significant interjudge reliability, no significant correlation between the testers and standard biochemical tests for nutrient status, and no significant correlation between mechanical and manual determinations of relative muscle strength.

In addition, the subjects were exposed in a double-blind fashion to supplements of thiamin, zinc, vitamin A, and ascorbic acid and two placebos (pectin and sucrose) and then re-tested.

According to applied kinesiology theory, “weak” (indicating deficiency) muscles are strengthened when the subject is exposed to an appropriate nutritional supplement. Statistical analysis revealed no significant differences in the response to placebo, nutrients previously determined (by muscle testing) to be deficient, and nutrients previously determined (by muscle testing) to be adequate.

Even though the number of subjects (11) and nutrients (4) tested was limited, the results of this study indicated that the use of applied kinesiology (NRT) to evaluate nutrient status is no more useful than random guessing.
posted by WCityMike at 8:36 AM on January 15, 2019 [11 favorites]

Wouldn't an actual parasite show up in a sonogram*? Or are these microscopic parasites? Of the type only "seen" with this testing?

I think you've gone down a path and you're skeptical...I would be, too. I think going back to your earlier doctor or finding a different one for a second opinion and say, "Hey, I'm desperate for answers here. I'm in a lot of pain. My quality of life is suffering. What haven't we tried? Am I stuck with pursuing expensive placebo maneuvers?"

Good luck. This sounds awful and I hope you're able to get some better help!

*edited to add, I see you've had extensive imaging. I think a parasite would have revealed itself.
posted by amanda at 8:57 AM on January 15, 2019

How do they seemingly have such great reviews (even Google Maps gives them 4+ stars with testimonials there too) if it's purely a scam?

Because it isn't purely a scam. If it were purely a scam, the scammer and the marks would be distinct groups of people. But alt-med practitioners are almost always true believers, so the scammers and the marks form a unified and self-sustaining community bound together by hope and willful ignorance.

I say this after watching my late father apparently entirely lose, after retiring from a successful career in teaching high school physics and chemistry, all of the the critical thinking ability I had always admired in him. He went deep down the alt-med rabbit warren and got right into all this iridology, zappers, radionically harmonized vials and muscle testing nonsense. I let him test me a few times, just to check out the process; every single time he found me "testing weak" it was because he'd just shoved my hand at least twice as hard as he did when I "tested strong".

People loved what he did. He got loads of word-of-mouth recommendations and heaps of repeat business. I was not so happy, because he used to give great back rubs before the woo set in; afterwards he just stopped doing that because he knew about methods that "worked better".

(narrator voice: they didn't work better).
posted by flabdablet at 9:09 AM on January 15, 2019 [12 favorites]

Parasites and yeasts are two of the most popular quack diagnoses out there. One of the sure signs of quackery is when a supposed health problem or treatment is being promoted by chiropractors and other non-doctors of medicine.

If there's an effective and safe treatment, it will be part of established medicine. If there's no basis for it, established medicine has traditionally shied away from it.

Unfortunately, established medicine from the medical schools and insurance companies down to individual practitioners have lately realized two potential benefits of providing quack/placebo treatments themselves: it's often safer than using real drugs and therapies on people who aren't actually sick, but worried about their health; and it is hugely profitable. They learned those lessons from Big Quackery, which is a huge and thriving marketplace selling fake cures and often dangerous treatments that actually cure and treat nothing. But as you noticed, they have lots of satisfied customers! Those are the one who think they've been helped. The ones who were actually harmed, of course, don't end up on their testimonials pages.
posted by Lunaloon at 9:28 AM on January 15, 2019 [11 favorites]

As far as good reviews - there is something to be said for how people feel about bedside manner, about sitting with a practitioner that asks them about their life and then really listens for 45 minutes. And I think sometimes that in itself can be healing, in a sense, depending on what was wrong. It obviously won't cure strep throat or an actual parasite (which I don't believe you have), but if the problem was something more vague and something affected by emotions or stress, it's not hard to imagine that being heard can help a bit, or that people feel helped.
posted by needs more cowbell at 9:48 AM on January 15, 2019 [9 favorites]

As far as your question about how they could be in the position they're in without being legit goes: look at your own response here. You basically know this is a scam, and even your friend who recommended it called it quackery. But you still can't shake the idea that there might be something to it. Why is that? I'd say there are two reasons.
1. Your body is kinda a black box as far as you're concerned. You have access to inputs and outputs, but not any reliable information about what's going on in between. That makes it easy for someone to fill in the gaps and tell you they have information that you don't. In this case, they presented you with a pretty horrifying image (a parasite in your prostate!) so it's unsurprising that you're preoccupied with it.
2. You have a syndrome, which sucks. The reason syndromes especially sucks (as opposed to diseases) is that the cause/mechanism/treatment is a little murky. You want relief, which is understandable. Medicine has so far failed to give you that relief. These people are promising you that relief. It makes a lot of sense that part of you wants them to be telling the truth. A prostate parasite sounds bad, but if you had one, you could just get rid of it, and your problem would be solved! Of course you want that. So do all of the people writing glowing reviews.
posted by Ragged Richard at 11:16 AM on January 15, 2019 [6 favorites]

So, I have a healthy skepticism.

After going, however, I can't get their diagnosis out of my head.

One useful lesson you can take from this is that you are, in fact, highly vulnerable to quackery. It's not a question of individual intelligence or character (I say as someone who deals professionally with quackery and related phenomena), it's just a question of individual psychology; some people can take or leave woo for its placebo value, but you can't. Now you know in the future not to expose yourself to the risk, just like other people know they can't "just have one quick drink."

Because, I mean, you know you're not going to poop a parasite OUT OF YOUR BRAIN. Your rational intellect is telling you the exact right thing. It is your (parasite-free) lizard-brain that's screwing with you. You need to do what I call taking yourself into receivership: you know you're in a situation where you're experiencing harmful impulses, so you need to decide in advance that you're not doing anything of the kind, no exceptions "in the moment," because you know your impulses won't be trustworthy.
posted by praemunire at 11:40 AM on January 15, 2019 [5 favorites]

But is there any validity to this at all?

Nutrition Response Testing is fraud, straight up. As others have mentioned, it's a subset of "applied kinesiology," which is also fraudulent.

How do they seemingly have such great reviews (even Google Maps gives them 4+ stars with testimonials there too) if it's purely a scam?

Aside from planted reviews, magical thinking and self-deception play a role. We're all capable of this kind of thinking to a greater or lesser degree.

Applied Kinesiology and Self Deception:

This is a critical concept that skeptics appreciate and many believers (whether in the paranormal, spiritual, or some other pseudoscience) simply do not. There is a tendency to naively grossly underestimate the human capacity for self-deception. Of course, the only remedy for this human frailty is carefully controlled observation – or science. When properly blinded tests of AK are conducted, the effect disappears.

See also: Applied Kinesiology by Any Other Name…Arm wrestling is not a good way to confirm a diagnosis. But it is a great way to elicit confirmation bias.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 11:55 AM on January 15, 2019 [1 favorite]

Honestly I think part of the reason it's sticking with you is that it is VIVID and GROSS. I have neither parasites nor a prostate, and I can't stop thinking about it. In all seriousness, people who do crazy memory tricks sometimes use a technique to think of the grossest mental image possible, because it just. sticks. with. you. I don't know that it means you're especially vulnerable to quackery; it might just mean that you and all of us are vulnerable to gross mental images.
posted by fast ein Maedchen at 12:11 PM on January 15, 2019 [11 favorites]

Here's the sawbones episode on this type of scam practice You do not have a parasite in your prostate.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 12:20 PM on January 15, 2019 [3 favorites]

I think placebo effect is great. I use it as much as possible and have studied the best ways to get the most from it.

That said, this is so, so quacky and complete bullshit. And you know it, so you're ahead of the problem. Chalk this one up to a bad decision but one you can learn from.

Some people prey on the hopelessness and pain of others and the total, physical and emotional, exhaustion that comes with having a chronic illness. Some truly believe that what they are doing is helping. Either way, it leads you down a path farther away from figuring out what is truly wrong with you, and either way, it has consequences for your wallet and for your mental health.

The plus side here is that hey! You don't have a parasite in your prostate! So that's something to celebrate.
posted by fiercecupcake at 12:41 PM on January 15, 2019

Not only do you not have a parasite in your prostate, that woman did not have a parasite IN HER BRAIN that was treated with supplements.
posted by namemeansgazelle at 12:52 PM on January 15, 2019 [3 favorites]

You 100 percent do not have a parasite in your prostate and NRT is not a legitimate field of medicine. Please don't spend $30 on supplements and definitely see a real doctor!
posted by MysteriousSympathy at 1:15 PM on January 15, 2019 [1 favorite]

The only parasite here is the one attached to your wallet.

If it did not come from a licensed, practising M.D., it is not a "diagnosis", but rather speculation.

In this particular case, the speculation is either spectacularly ill-informed, or actually malicious and dispensed with the sole intention of parting you from your money.

I have a Mr. Occam on the line, and he says it's the second one. Mr. Barnum is holding on line two.
posted by sourcequench at 2:03 PM on January 15, 2019 [2 favorites]

This is unmitigated bullshit.

Impossible to "poop out" a brain parasite, fwiw. For about five years I specialized in "complementary healthcare" marketing, helping promote several clinics that all sorts of woo woo stuff, including chiropractors and naturopaths.

They were all registered with auto insurance providers as treatment clinics and some of them provided quicker service than a family doctor or hospital.

But so many of the clinics I encountered were such bullshit. People love this alternative health shit, like your friend with the brain parasite.

With IBS, you have a chronic, underserved medical condition. People are desperate for a solution, and will try anything.

Good luck.
posted by JamesBay at 5:17 PM on January 15, 2019 [1 favorite]

This is unmitigated bullshit.

With respect, I disagree. It's unmitigated horseshit.
posted by flabdablet at 6:36 PM on January 15, 2019

Yeah, I have to amend my earlier comment, as I was under the mistaken impression that this pronouncement was from a nutritionist or experienced herbal medicine practitioner assesing a lab result. I do not in any way, shape or form endorse the practice of NRT!

The guidance and coaching I was referring to would be in the form of someone studied in dietary interactions, like a nutritionist to guide you through FODMAP elimination, using some kind of observable, scienc-y metric, like poop testing, for a benchmark!
posted by Rube R. Nekker at 8:15 PM on January 15, 2019

Holy shit.
No, you do not have a parasite in your prostate.
"Arm wrestling is not a good way to confirm a diagnosis. But it is a great way to elicit confirmation bias."
posted by mannyfeefees at 11:55 PM on January 15, 2019

Arm wrestling

Harriet Hall vs a gang of Applied Kinesiologists
posted by flabdablet at 2:39 AM on January 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

I've always wanted to do nutrition response testing, but am too skeptical to pay the price. I've been dealing with chronic fatigue, brain fog, dizziness, headaches, etc. and still haven't found an answer after several years of searching. Maybe I'll give this a fair shot and see what they tell me!
posted by nichostetler at 6:46 AM on January 17, 2019

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