Anti-ScienceReligion

Canadian Women’s Mag Peddles Nonsense

I was unaware of Autumn Stringam, Truehope, and a Canadian women’s magazine called Chatelaine until reader Sally Kwan wrote in yesterday to tell us about yet another ass weasel selling overpriced vitamins as a cure-all. In this case, it’s a company called Synergy (isn’t that word just code for “Incoming BS?”) marketing vitamins as a cure for people with serious mental diseases. Chatelaine promoted Synergy’s crap-based medicine in a recent issue, and Sally wrote them a very well-worded letter in response.

After reading Sally’s note, which I’ll include in full below, I thought for a moment about the danger of encouraging people who are bipolar to cease their medications — I’ve had the misfortune of managing an apartment building with tenants in very, um, stabby states of mind. I wondered who could possibly want to do such a stupid thing to ruin so many lives. Then it occurred to me that I know one organization that would be all for that — the “Church” of Scientology, which runs Narconon and preaches that all psychologists are evil tools of Xenu. The CoS shows up alongside a number of references to TrueHope, but after a lot of reading, I’m not sure there’s any direct connection. Anthony Stephan, the guy who developed Truehope, is a Mormon. I still can’t shake the feeling that the CoS is somehow in on this, so if any of you have any leads, let me know in the comments or through the contact form.

Sally’s letter follows the jump. If you want to complain to Chatelaine as well, do so via their web site.

Dear Chatelaine,

I have been a reader and subscriber of your magazine for many years, and love the combination of health and beauty articles you provide.

The last two months (Your June and July issues) gave me pause, however. First, there is the Autumn Stringam article. She is famous; her book Promise of Hope is being published by Harper Collins. However, that is as far as her credibility goes. As a family member of the person who is marketing and selling the vitamin product Truehope, she is definitely not the best person to be providing the testimonial.

She stands to personally profit from a non-clinically tested and unapproved drug that claims to cure bi-polar disorder as well as other serious psychological disorders – anything from psychosis to schizophrenia is supposedly cured by this mixture of vitamins. Synergy / Truehope is suggesting that psychiatric patients forego their doctor recommended prescription drugs and switch to an untested vitamin regimen. The effects of this would be obvious – in some cases where a mental disorder was misdiagnosed might improve by placebo effect, and in most cases where the vitamin regimen has no effect, the patient will be unwilling to go back to their medication because they’re mentally unstable.

The Synergy Corporation also has a history of lying to the press. For years they have claimed that Truehope is a non-profit organization. In reality they have been incorporated since 1996 as a for-profit company. At over $50 a bottle and a suggestion of two bottles a month for a vitamin concoction with the same ingredients as most multi-vitamins for about $15, that is one profitable “natural” drug indeed.

You might not be aware of this, but the Skeptics Magazine has recently published an online article linking the Stop-C51 website to Truehope. Health Canada has tried to stop the vitamins from being illegally sold in Canada, and when C51 passes, that would be one drug off the market. The sensationalist tactic to sell this drug by Tony Stephan, using his daughter’s affliction and winning sympathy and “hope” by women with bi-polar disorder, is disgusting. I, as a woman, don’t appreciate my emotions being targeted in a marketing campaign.

I’m not sure if you’ve read the stopc51.com website, but I urge you to take a good look. It’s at www.stopc51.com – it’s a great piece of fear mongering paranoia. If you look in the contact section, the e-mail goes to [email protected]

Despite your clarification in the feedback section on how you’re “cautious of endorsing any unconventional medical treatment” you still published the name of the vitamin. There will be women seeking this out on the internet, trying to find a cure, and all they’ll find in Truehope is Quackery. I urge you to warn your readers against doing this in a more revealing article on this “mixture of vitamins” that supposedly “cured” bi-polar disorder.

I also can’t help but notice that after that little disclaimer in your feedback section, there is a one page article on “Two views” and acupuncture. Acupuncture doesn’t work. Pinch yourself, and your brain will release endorphins and ease your pain in general. Meridians and spiritual talk aside, there is no proof that traditional acupuncture works – electricity applied to the skin between the thumb and forefinger works just as well. Chiropractic therapy might be affective in treating some forms of back pain, but acupuncture is a definite no. Please do more research before publishing medical articles in the future.

Sincerely Yours,
Sally Kwan

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Rebecca Watson

Rebecca leads a team of skeptical female activists at Skepchick.org. She travels around the world delivering entertaining talks on science, atheism, feminism, and skepticism. There is currently an asteroid orbiting the sun with her name on it. You can follow her every fascinating move on Twitter or on Google+.

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17 Comments

  1. Great letter. I am so, so glad that someone has brought up the Canadian Bill C-51, which, in short, is a bill that will result in more regulation of ‘natural’ therapies. (FYI, the link to the skeptic website that published the article on the StopBill C-51 facebook group is here: http://www.skeptic.com/eskeptic/08-05-28.html.) When the Stop Bill C-51 facebook group came out, I was alarmed at how many members it had, and the amount of BS its members were peddling. I promptly joined the Support Bill C-51 website, which sadly has a lot fewer members. It’s a great example of fear mongering and the power of facebook – unfortunately it is mostly spreading ignorance in this case.

  2. Pretty much all women’s magazines peddle crap about how too fat we are, what expensive clothes we need to buy to be pretty, what to do to make our “man” happy (I guess lesbians don’t read magazines), etc etc. So I just don’t buy them. Does anyone know of any good women’s magazines that are geared towards women’s interests but don’t suck? If so, I’d appreciate a head’s up! If not, why don’t we start one?

  3. Yeah, the name Synergy should be an indication of a bunch of brain-dead twits, and I lived with a bi-polar person at one time. Proper meds are essential.

    Also, “ass weisel” sounds like something I used to be able to get for cheap in the red light district.

  4. If you’re in the Northern United States, all you have to do is look around…you just may catch a glimpse of the rare Canadian Ass Weasel.

    For more information on the Ass Weasel, contact the Canadian Wildlife Service in Ottawa.

  5. Chatelaine isn’t too bad, actually. There is the usual nonsense on keeping thin, sorry, “healthy lifestyle”, but they do try to slip on some feminist points of view between the recipes.

    Not an endorsement, I’m just saying it doesn’t suck as badly as it might.

  6. Thanks Rebecca! The more people know about this BS, the better. I’m hoping for a correction on their part. (crosses fingers)

    In their defense, I must mention that they didn’t exactly say “buy truehope it cures bi-polar disorder” but they did basically publish Autumn Stringam’s struggles with bi-polar disorder in detail, as well as mentioning her book “Promise of Hope.” With that much information, anybody could find the vitamin’s name on google.

    They had to publish the name of the vitamin after a bunch of readers (something like 25% of the month’s letters) wrote in about Autumn Stringam. That’s when the word “Truehope” tipped off a warning in my brain since I’ve already read the e-skeptic article on it.

  7. Does anyone know of any good women’s magazines that are geared towards women’s interests but don’t suck?

    Bitch
    Bust
    Venus Zine

    I read these once in a while. That’s not to say that there’s never anything stupid in any of them. A rational, nerdy women’s magazine would be fantastic.

  8. Wow, mickeynola, way to imply that women don’t have their own interests past fashion and weight loss… Anyway, even if they wanted to stick to those topics there are ways to do it without being as vapid and sexist as they are.

  9. I’d be willing to bet,

    That every time a skeptic says “Ass Weasel”, a cute furry puppy is born!

    (In Rebecca’s case, maybe two).

    rod

    P.S.

    Sorry, I just never heard that before and I really like it.

  10. I always thought a chatelaine was one of those retractible key ring holders that janitors clip to their belt. I couldn’t figure out why that was a name for a women’s magazine.

    After getting all googly, I discovered that a chatelaine is also a mistress of a castle or chateau. That makes more sense.

    And I learned something today.

  11. “A women’s magazine peddling nonsense? Stop the presses!!!”

    True dat.

    I was going to say that laddy mags aren’t much better, but the sad fact is that they actually are. I once even saw a medically accurate article on “how to recognize if your girlfriend has inflammatory bowel disease” in Maxim.

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