Category: Blood Type Diet
Just got done adjusting the valves on a 1973 Super Beetle. The car was a gift from Martha and the girls for my birthday, the result, no doubt, of ceaseless recitation about my drive out to Bastyr College (in Seattle) from Arizona in the late 1970's, all by my lonesome, and with a grand total of $80 in my pocket; in a virtually identical car.
Back then it seemed everyone drove a Beetle. They were inexpensive, widely available, and lent themselves to the machinations of the â€˜shade tree mechanic.' That 1974 bug stayed with me all through my naturopathic education and continued to render good service well into my first few years of practice, by which time I had moved back to New York City.
Somewhere on the Oregon Coast, 1981.
By the time I felt that I was ready to move on to a new car (a 1984 Toyota Corolla, if I remember correctly) that Bug and I were bonded on an almost Emersonian spiritual level; something that you could do with those older mechanical cars, that today's fuel injected, GPS, power-everything cars actually try their darnest to insulate you from.
Just the act of shifting a VW Bug is a sensuous joy. You can't force the stick shift; it will just repay you with grinding and bucking. Instead, you must glide it into place and wait until the car is ready for you. Then, you shift. Couple that with a delicate interplay of the clutch and you wind up with two types of classic VW Bug drivers: One who drives the car into the ground, and complains about it's fussiness; and the other, who sees the car as an extension of their nervous system.
The â€˜Bible' of the classic VW is John Muir's "How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive Forever; A Manual for the Compleat Idiotâ€?, usually just referred to on VW forums as â€˜The Idiot Book'.
Many people consider Muir's VW book the grand-daddy of all â€˜Idiot' type self help books.
Muir (who died in 1977) was my guru on all things VW. Interspersed with wonderful pen and ink drawings, The Idiot Book was a micro-encapsulation of late 1960's vernacular and perhaps more poignantly, late 1960's self sufficiency and hopefulness.
The book is full of short term fixes that will hold you until â€˜you get a bit more bread.' It could also take you through the entire process of pulling and rebuilding the engine, something I did once, by myself, entirely on Muir's guidance.
My new-old VW is in pretty good shape, with about 89K miles. There is a tremendous VW Bug community on the web, and many, many aftermarket and NOS (â€˜New-Old Stock; basically an original part that has hung on a shelf, or in a box, for the last thirty years.)
Some rust, but not too bad. The title showed only three owners, and I was pleased to see that the first owner was a woman who was in her early sixties when she bought the car new. Perhaps sadly, the next owner was the American Cancer Society. Finally, there was a third owner who apparently just let the car sit in a garage for a decade.
So here I am: A copy of Muir's Book, a pair of greasy hands and a smile from ear to ear.
A common criticism of my work with blood type and diet seeks to brand the BTD theory as a â€˜pseudoscience.' Now, according to most accounts, a pseudoscience is â€˜any body of knowledge, methodology, or practice that is erroneously regarded as scientific, and which fails to meet the criteria met by science generally.'
According to most accepted sources, a pseudoscience can be identified by a combination of certain characteristics. So, let's see how the BTD measures up:
Asserting claims or theories unconnected to previous experimental results.
It is amply demonstrated in the scientific literature that ABO blood type and secretor status possess biological significance outside of the realm of transfusion science. Roughly 1/3 of all published studies on blood type polymorphism measure some sort of physiologic response, typically having to do with digestion, immunity and circulation.
Asserting claims which cannot be verified or falsified (claims that violate falsifiability).
Falsifiability is the notion that if something cannot be made false, it cannot be proven or disproved. For example, the notion of constructing an anti-cancer diet for type A could be said to be logical based on the fact that virtually 90% of all published studies show a higher rate of malignancy in type A over the other types.
To say otherwise (i.e that type O had a higher occurence over type A) would be to falsify this fact.
Using type A again, we could also say that a cardio-protective diet would be more appropriate in type A, since virtually all published studies show a higher rate of heart and artery disease in type A over the other blood types. Again, to say otherwise would be to falsify this fact.
Not only do we know the occurrence of these facts, we have biomedical reasons for their existence; for example, many types of cancers mimic the type A antigen, and with regard to heart disease, type A has higher levels of cholesterol and more arterial inflammation than the other blood types.
Other studies show that type O have more of a type of inflammation made worse by wheat, whereas non-secretors have lower level of intestinal enzymes that help the body assimilate fats and calcium. Every fact behind the Blood Type Diets neatly falls within the framework of being falsifiable.
Asserting claims which contradict experimentally established results.
No aspect of the characterizations or recommendations of the Blood Type Diets contradict established experimental results. In fact, the inherent flexibility of its doctrine help explain information and results which would otherwise appear aberrant, such as the inability of herd type epidemiology to produce cogent answers to the ongoing debates in nutrition, and the simultaneous persistence of multiple heterodoxies (paleodiet, vegan, etc.)
Failing to provide an experimental possibility of reproducible results.
All aspects of the Blood Type Diets are eminently testable. Ongoing research is monitoring at a variety of recognized biomarkers (soluble endothelial factors, breath hydrogen, to name two) and their modulation as a direct result of adopting a specific blood type diet protocol. Unfortunately, one of the more dire consequences of our internet fueled ability to mudsling to a scale unknown previously is that nascent ideas can easily die stillborn under a barrage of ad hominem and ad hoc attacks, inhibiting serious consideration from independent researchers. This can be especially dangerous to subsequent scholarly analysis; though any scientific theory should be able to withstand the scrutiny of honest research, even if its ultimate goal is to disprove its claims.
Failing to submit results to peer review prior to publicizing them.
I have authored a number of peer-reviewed papers that examined the influence of specific dietary patterns on individuals of differing ABO groups. Predictably enough, they attracted little or no attention at the time of publication. It was only when I wrote a book for the general public, did any of my work attract any sort of attention at all.
By claiming a theory predicts something that it has not been shown to predict.
The characterizations of the digestive strengths and weaknesses of the ABO blood groups and secretor types are a matter of public record; any one with the interest and free time can explore the existing research on MEDLINE or any of the citation services. As I have said time and again, I have merely reassembled and reorganized prior, largely disorganized material into a cogent collection of facts, That as I understand it, is the basis of virtually all scientific development. Paradoxically, if my training as a naturopathic physician was a liability with regard to my ability to develop this theory in a conventionally scientific environment, it was a distinct advantage with regard to the development of a vista broad and flexible enough to knit the disparate facts about blood type, diet and physiology together in the first place.
By a lack of progress toward additional evidence of its claims.
I think the emerging sciences of nutrigenomics and metabolomics will for the first time give the Blood Type Diets the type of intellectual and conceptual framework necessary to allow for their proper place in science to be established. Far from inhibiting or lacking progress towards additional evidence, the Blood Type Diets probably need at least another decade to allow for the genomic discoveries to penetrate traditional medical sensibilities.
This last point illustrates what would be a much more resourceful way to depict the Blood Type Diets: As Protoscience.
Protoscience is a term sometimes used to describe a hypothesis which has not yet been tested adequately by the scientific method, but which is otherwise consistent with existing science or which, where inconsistent, offers reasonable account of the inconsistency. In essence, a Protoscience is an area of science which is in its formulative stages. Some authorities substitute â€˜Frontier Science' for Protoscience. I can accept that as well.
In general, pejorative terms like â€˜Pseudoscience' are often employed by skeptics and critics, and may often have ulterior motives behind them, such is the politics of science and health care these days.
However, just as we have pseudoscience, let us not forget that we also have â€˜pseudoskeptics' as well. A pseudoskeptic is an individual who claims to support "reason" and the "scientific worldview", but frequently uses logical fallacies, attempts to silence opponents, and employs various invalid strategies of persuasion. Funny enough, pseudoskepticism is a class of pseudoscience, masquerading as proper skepticism.
Historically, how many protoscientific discoveries (Galileo's Astronomy and Harvey's discovery of the circulation of blood are two that come to mind) would have at the time of their publication been classed as pseudoscience when in fact they were on the very frontiers of discovery?
Pseudoskeptics have often taken their shots at me and my work. Yet I wonder how some of these folks get away with a skeptical stance about something they appear to know so little about? How often is what we call skepticism is just the simple lack of curiosity?
Now, is this a tome in defense of the inalienable right to be protoscientific?
There is a lot of junk out there. Just the other day I received a hostile email from a book reader who chastized me for not 'being honest' about the 'whole secretor thing.' Apparently my lack of honesty in this person's mind centered around my withholding the knowledge that we can change our secretor status with color therapy.
Note: I used quite a bit of material from the Wikipedia for his blog. Paradoxically, Wikipedia features one of the more pseudoskeptic representations on the BTD to be found. But hey, I still love it.
Yesterday I cleaned an old brass plaque that says:
Peter J. D'Adamo, ND
It was severely tarnished, and it took a long time to shine it up, but after a while it really came to life.
The plaque once hung on the door of my first office in Connecticut, at 54 Lafayette Place in Greenwich. After I moved from that location there never seemed to be an appropriate place to hang it, so, as sort of a joke, I hung it on the door to my home office.
Then the other day I thought, "I'd like to hang that plaque on the outside of the new clinic."
So I pulled it down, shined it up, and went over to the worksite to tell the carpenter where I wanted it hung.
Interestingly, the last time it hung on a office:
1. I was just starting in private practice.
2. The practice was in a house.
3. I was spiritually invested.
Perhaps that old plaque will bring some of the old energy with it.
On another note, I reformatted and cleaned up the Clinic Website. There are some neat things over there, such as downloadable pamphlets, etc. Give it a look.
"Hi there. The study by Michael Dansinger of Tufts-New England Medical Centre in Boston may be of interest to you, if you haven't already heard about it: "One diet won't work for everyone, scientists warn slimmers" (Guardian, UK) They tested Atkins, Ornish, Zone and WeightWatchers. Why not Blood Group??? Best regards, Aidan"
The Dansinger study is interesting. For the study, he chose 160 overweight people and randomly assigned 40 to each of four different diets. They weighed an average 100kg and needed to lose between 13 and 35kg. All agreed to follow the diets to the best of their ability for two months, although none was enrolled in the full programmes that Weight Watchers and Dr Dean Ornish advocate. These include exercise, group meetings and food diaries for Weight Watchers and stress reduction for the Ornish diet. After two months, 22 per cent of the dieters had given up. After a year, 35 per cent had dropped out of Weight Watchers and the Zone diets and 50 per cent quit the Atkins and Ornish plans.
The study suggests there is no one-size-fits-all diet best for everyone. Wonder where I hear that one?
"The best way might be to be open minded about all of the options rather than focusing on finding the same 'best one' for everybody says Dansinger."
I think they were probably looking for diets that could go head-to-head with each other, and the BTD really can't be used for that. I remember a while back Wired magazine compared popular diets, and when they profiled the BTD, they used the type O diet and avoided mentioning the A, B and AB diets altogether.
I was up way to late last night watching the 24 hour 'Twilight Zone' marathon on the Sci-Fi channel, which featured the classic episode 'To Serve Man.'
The Kanamits, a race of nine foot tall space aliens, with big light bulb heads and curious little goatees, arrive on Earth, and immediately start helping man. They appear totally trustworthy and full of goodwill. This idea is backed up when they leave a book titled "To Serve Man" at the U.N. Michael Chambers, a decoding expert, along with thousands of other people book passage to the Kanamit's home panet. Meanwhile, Michael's assistant Pat is trying to decode the book left by the Kanamits. As Michael is boarding the Kanamit spacecraft, Pat runs up and tells Michael she has finished translating the book - it's a cookbook!
Besides the fact that it was shot in glorious black and white and gorgeously lit, the show had oddly moralistic endings, which were themselves often quite twisted. Not too scarey to a saucer-eyed kid in 1964 who could still run to his grandparents sitting in the kitchen if things got too intense.
This all-consuming soliloquy reminds me of a classic line from the Simpsons, during the opening credits of the Clown's holiday special:
"It's a Krusty Kinda Kristmas. Brought to you by ILG: selling your body's chemicals after you die. And by Li'l Sweetheart Cupcakes - a subsidiary of ILG."
Which of course reminds me of the famous scream by Charleton Heston that 'Soylet Green is made from humans!' or, even better, the repeated attempts of an Apache-necktied Heston parody on a long-ago Saturday Night Live trying to get the phrase just right.
Back soon with a 'heartier' blog!
Spent yesterday's austere training session working on something called a 'jump spin back kick,' a strange gyration that involves spinning in the air as you jump, ultimately kicking into a direction that you cannot actually see.
Interesting how easy something like this appears to a twelve year old, versus, say, a forty-eight year old. A kid just jumps, much like a cat, knowing that he is springy enough to get up and around, and flexible enough to not be troubled by the thought of a posterior landing. By the time you get to my age, you start to ponder the osseous consequences of this sort an action, which is why you hesitate and fail.
Napoleon once said that it was amazing what you could get an eighteen year old to do for a piece of ribbon.
The immortality thing.
The forty-eight year old is more likely to say 'Uh, no thanks. I have enough ribbon right now.'
Last night my sister in law Rita, an nurse with an extensive background in research, sent me an abstract from the Journal of Clinical Oncology, titled 'Herbal Remedies in the United States: Potential Adverse Interactions With Anticancer Agents' (J Clin Oncol 2004;22 2489-2503). The crux of the article being the potential threat to chemotherapy drug effectiveness posed by such botanicals as garlic and echinacea, which may influence the body's ability to metabolize chemotherapy drugs, and compromise their effectiveness. She asked me what I thought about the article.
When I finally got a full version, two things stuck out immediately. One, this was a review article, meaning that there was no proof of any such activity being presented, but rather a tenuous connection between the known, but rather modest, effects of certain herbs on the cytochrome p450 system (drug detoxification) and the p-glycoprotein levels (drug delivery).
More accurately an editorial, it provided absolutely no evidence to back up any of its assertions. C'mon guys, talking about garlic interfering with p-glycoprotein and blocking a drug like taxol is like saying that a paper bag containing your lunch has the 'hidden potential' to derail an Amtrak train. Hey, if garlic or herbal antioxidants and p-450 modulators were all that effective at blocking cell damage (chemically programmed or not), there wouldn't be any need for oncologists and oncology journals in the first place.
Amazingly, the article then goes on to advise physicians to look into herbal use in non-responding cancer patients as a rationale for treatment failure, a rather cruel balm to the fact that greater than 99% of those non-responders are simply not going to be cured by chemotherapy, herbal medicine or no herbal medicine.
An article published in the Archives of Internal Medicine (Archive Int Med; 1998;20: 2187-2191) may help explain why medical academics spend their time worrying about garlic blocking chemotherapy. It looked at conventional attitudes toward supplementation. Their conclusions: Throughout 20th century American academic medicine has resisted the concept that supplementation with micronutrients might have health benefits.
According to the authors, this resistance is evident in several ways:
(1) by the uncritical acceptance of news of toxicity, such as the belief that vitamin C supplements cause kidney stones;
(2) by the angry, scornful tone used in discussions of micronutrient supplementation in the leading textbooks of medicine; and
(3) by ignoring evidence for possible efficacy of a micronutrient supplement, such as the use of vitamin E for intermittent claudication.
Part of the resistance stems from the fact that the potential benefits of micronutrients were advanced by outsiders, who took their message directly to the public, and part from the fact that the concept of a deficiency disease did not fit in well with prevailing biomedical paradigms, particularly the germ theory. Similar factors might be expected to color the response of academic medicine to any alternative treatment.
I boldfaced the line about 'outsiders' as I can relate to that one personally, since I am a naturopathic physician (strike one!) posit a diet theory that does not fit in well with the prevailing paradigm (strike two!) and wrote a book on the subject for the public (yer out!)
Instead of wasting time looking for herbal inactivators of chemotherapy these folks should look at ABO polymorphism to help explain cancer treatment variation. Type A individuals may have as much as seven fold higher levels of p-glycoprotein, 30% higher levels of von Willebrand Factor and significantly higher levels of e-selectin and ICAM --all know modifiers of metastasis, drug delivery or resistance.
There is a certain lack of candor in a medical community that rebukes supplements as weak and ineffective medicines, yet warns that these same supplements are dangerously blocking chemotherapy drugs.
Reminds me of the joke about the two oldtimers at the early bird special:
The first one turns to the other and says 'The food here is terrible.'
The second oldtimer turns to the first and says 'Yeah, and the portions are small, too.'
The composer John Cage (who actually composed the world's first piece of music that was entirely silent, titled â€˜4:33') was once offered the chance to sit in a completely sound-proofed chamber at one of the large universities.
Cage, who had excellent hearing, entered and almost immediately commented that he heard a low whooshing sound. He was informed that this was the sound of his cardiovascular system. A few minutes later he began to hear a high pitched siren-like sound, and was told that this was the sound of the neurons of his nervous system firing.
After a long period of concentration, he managed to tune out these two sounds and began to hear a chirping sound, like thousands of migrating birds.
This, he was told, was the sound of the Brownian Motion of the atoms forming the oxygen, nitrogen and carbon dioxide molecules in the air of the chamber.
There are many examples of similar types of low-threshold sensitivities. Most people can smell or taste as little as one molecule of an aromatic or flavorful substance. As Cage demonstrated, our powers of deep listening are similarly discreet. Perhaps even more impressive than low-threshold listening is our ability to zone in on certain bandwidths of the auditory spectrum. As any new mother can tell you, they know when they hear the crying sound of a baby whether that baby is their baby. Next time you are in a busy shopping mall or train station, ask a spouse or child to move at least 150 feet away and engage in a conversation at normal volume. Despite all the ambient noise and voices, you should be able to clearly hear their voices above all others.
It is amazing what we can sense when we stop trying to sense it.
Yesterday I went through with what I call â€˜weather head,' a fullness that I occasionally feel when the outside barometer goes up while the inside barometer in my head is still heading down, or vice versa. Better this morning.
Great day in the office. Eight office calls, several featuring favorite patients who I have tended to for literally decades. What a delight it is to grow old with a good patient! To see their children mature and develop; to see the lines and wrinkles and gray hairs develop on their faces and they on mine.
Dinner tonight will be at my brother's place. He and his wife have a delightful little one-year-old son, Alex.
Ally-Boy, as his proud godfather prefers to call him (as opposed to Andy-Boy, a brand of broccoli) is a true child of the â€˜info-toy' generation. By this I mean the battery-operated, push-button, stimulus-response and â€˜educational' device toys everybody gives kids nowadays.
Now at age one, Alex thinks everything that looks like a button should produce some sort of computer voice, light or music tone when he pushes it. How insulted he gets when his best effort to twiddle a knob or dial on an unplugged radio or push a knot or whirl pattern in a piece of furniture is repaid with stony indifference!
On my way out to my office (which sits behind my garage) Martha passed me a news article from the NY Times about a man who is suing the estate of Robert Atkins and the company that promotes his dietary products.
A group with the improbably highfalutin name â€˜Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine' (PCRM) but who are actually a veganism and animal rights support group is actively assisting the plaintiff. The lawsuit seems more of a publicity stunt and is not surprising, since the PCRM has maintained an â€˜Atkins-watch' website for several years now, where people can report adverse reactions to the use of animal products in their diet.
Apparently Mr. Jody Gorran, a wealthy manufacturer of solar panels and swimming pools, and who ate quite a bit of cheese and cheesecake while on the Atkins Diet, had his cholesterol increase from a rather low 146 to a potentially hazardous 230. This resulted, he claims, in a 99% blockage in one of his coronary arteries, requiring angioplasty.
From what the article said, most law experts do not believe the lawsuit would get anywhere, and even the plaintiff said he contacted the PCRM â€˜because they are familiar with publicity.'
So I guess this is where the Great American Diet Debate eventually winds up.
Not that I believe for a second that this will end matters. In fact, I'm certain that the heavy-handed manner of the PCRM will eventually boomerang badly, since they in turn leave themselves open to litigation from any ex-vegan who goes on to develop cancer or some other ailment supposedly prevented by their vegan diet.
Blades cut in two directions.
But who knows? If one-year-olds can eventually adjust to their lack of results in expert knob twiddling and button-pushing, then perhaps there is hope for Mr. Gorran and the PCRM.
Music: 'String Quartet in Four Parts: Nearly Stationary' by John Cage
Yesterday was full of extremes, mostly emotional.
The morning featured its regulation dose of austere training; the almost standard hodge-podge of line drills, forms, kicks, stretches and chi-qong like breathing exercises. What makes the particular instructor that I train with so unique is how he weaves the disparate elements into a greater realization, which then becomes the lesson for that class.
In today's class we used the most basic form* taught to all white belts, then removed all the 'hardness' from it. Blocks and punches became open-handed, almost Tai-Chi like apparitions; stiff forward movements and stances became sinuous, each flowing from the hip and into the next.
One of the newer white belts is my friend and patient Michael, AKA 'Gerard' in ER4YT. 'Gerard' was the fellow headed for the liver transplant who never actually went down that path. 'Mikey' continues to do phenomenally well, so well in fact that here he is, grunting and sweating with the rest of us.
My time in the office went well. One returning patient was a gentleman with throat cancer who is almost ready to get his trach tube removed, as they no longer see any signs of disease. Another new patient was a young women with strange skin rashes that nobody can figure out the cause of. Not too surprisingly a type O who eats a lot of wheat and dairy.
Then had to bolt down a bowl of lentil soup and head over to my daughter's school for their choral performance. Both of our children have gone through the local Montessori school to the 6th grade, and if nothing else, these kids can sing! Cute little songs about 'painting with the wind' and other similiarly happy motifs.
Being around an event full of Montessori parents (at least in Connecticut) is sort of like discovering that the Soviet Politburo has suddenly moved to Esalen. In the old days, nobody wanted to be the first person to stop clapping after one of Stalin's speeches, so they installed a bell and rang it so everyone could stop at once.
We needed a bell --Not that the kids didn't deserve it.
The event was actually a part of the school's 40th aniversary celebrations, which takes place all this week, so the songs were interweaved with little speeches by past and present luminaries, one of who gestured backwards with her hand and used the phrase: 'look at your beautiful children, these children are the society of the future.'
I found this statement rather depressing, considering the screwed up world these children are destined to inherit. Some society. Can we possibly mess it up any further for them? At some point in time, in their new society, when the grown-up version of these kids write their history, how will it read?
Here is my guess:
The Second Thirty Years War, variously referred to by some authors as the 'SUV War,' 'The Well-Poisoners War,' 'The Land For Dead War' or 'Liberty/Terrorist Victim War', was waged by ideologic extremists of all varieties and cultures, in a vacuum created by inequitable wealth distribution, lack of individual expression and environmental deterioration.
But hey, I'm just an aging hippie.
* A form [or 'hyung' in Korean, 'kata' in Japanese] is a series of programmed moves along a pattern. It's goal is to develop one's technique and refine their nomindedness, i.e. relying on the innate rather than the conscious.
Good for martial artists, bad for political leaders.