“Allopathy” or “allopathic medicine” is commonly defined as “system in which medical doctors and other health care professionals (such as nurses, pharmacists, and therapists) treat symptoms and diseases using drugs, radiation, or surgery,” with synonyms including—but not limited to—terms like biomedicine, conventional medicine, mainstream medicine, orthodox medicine, and Western medicine. Regular readers, of course, will immediately see the problem with this definition, as well as the synonyms, most of which are favored by quacks, but what many people don’t realize is where the term “allopathic medicine” came from in the first place. The term “allopathy,” and hence “allopathic medicine,” was originally coined by the inventor of The One Quackery To Rule Them All, homeopathy, in order to distinguish homeopathy from conventional medicine. According to Hahneman the word “allopathy” derives from the Greek word allos, meaning other or opposite. Hahnemann meant it to describe what he viewed as a medical system that treats a symptom with something that causes its opposite, as in using a laxative to treat constipation. In comparison, his quackery homeopathy was based on the Law of Similars, which is often phrased as “like cures like” and states that to treat a disease you should use massively something that normally causes the symptom being treated (diluted to nonexistence according to the Law of Infinitesimals, of course). Basically, because Hahnemann viewed homeopathy as superior, his use of the term “allopathy” was coined with an implied denigration of any medicine that wasn’t homeopathy.

Unfortunately, over the following two centuries, all too often practitioners of science-based medicine have been wiling to ignore the origin of the word “allopathy” and accept the false dichotomy originally posited by Hahnemann, calling conventional, science-based medicine “allopathic medicine.” You can even find its unironic use that accepts the false dichotomy used to coin the term in many papers published in PubMed. Stamping out the term “allopathic medicine” for its implication that such medicine is inferior to the quackery that is homeopathy is, sadly, a battle that was lost long ago. If you want to see just how lost the battle was, I refer you to a doozy of an article by Mark Sircus, Ac., OMD, DM (P) (acupuncturist, doctor of oriental and pastoral medicine, whatever “pastoral medicine” is) entitled Natural Allopathic Medicine is Brilliant.

Before I get to the article itself, which, while an obvious rebranding of “natural medicine,” is also a rather clever rebranding, I note that I haven’t really written about Mark Sircus much here on SBM, although I have written about him on my not-so-secret other blog.

Who is Mark Sircus?

As I wrote above, Mark Sircus bills himself as an “acupuncturist, doctor of oriental and pastoral medicine.” Regular readers will realize that, contrary to the claims of acupuncturists, acupuncture is quackery based on a prescientific understanding of how the human body works whose popularity in the “West” is based largely on a clever retconning of the history of traditional Chinese medicine by China’s Chairman Mao Zedong in the 1950s through the 1970s, while TCM is mostly quackery. As for “pastoral medicine,” I decided to look it up. It turns out that “pastoral medicine” is a form of quackery that claims to be medicine based on the Bible, although now its definition has broadened to be basically any religion-based “medicine.” A pseudomedical group known as the Neuroscience Institute of Pastoral Medicine describes “pastoral medicine” thusly:

Pastoral Science and Medicine (PSM) is the term devised by the Pastoral Medical Association (PMA) to describe the system of natural approaches founded upon spiritual principles used by PSM practitioners for promoting and improving physical, mental and spiritual health. Health improvement results from making positive lifestyle changes and following other natural procedures that are biblically sound, science-based and professionally administered pursuant to acceptable standards of care.

Personally, my favorite post on the Pastoral Wellness Alliance is entitled Are Your Holistic Services Legally Protected? and describes how to avoid getting in trouble with state medical boards and the law and how to have a ready legal defense if you ever do. In any event, notice how “pastoral medicine” is careful to use the weaselly language about “natural procedures that are biblically sound, science-based and professionally administered pursuant to acceptable standards of care.” Of course, if that’s all pastoral medicine practitioners did, there would likely be little trouble, but one look at Sircus’ website shows that he, at least, does not follow anything resembling science-based standards of care.

For one thing, Sircus is a big fan of treating disease with bleach. For those not familiar with what I’m talking about, he very much advocates treating various diseases with Miracle Mineral Solution, which is a form of industrial bleach used for water purification and cleaning. For example, he advocates treating COVID-19 with MMS—as an alternative to vaccines!—as well as treating COVID-19 “vaccine-induced” cancers with MMS, as well as using “voltage healing” to treat cancer and a number of other diseases, while a brief perusal of his website uncovers a whole lot of quackery, particularly with MMS being advocated to treat a host of other diseases. Moreover, the very first time I ever encountered Sircus was in 2011 in the context of his advocating the killing of CDC scientists in a post charmingly titled String the Bastards Up. This was a precursor of the violent rhetoric of the antivaccine movement that science advocates have become all too familiar with since the pandemic arrived four years ago.

Basically, Sircus is a quack who’s been around a long time. But what about “natural allopathic medicine”?

Mark Sircus and “natural allopathic medicine”

In retrospect, I can’t believe that I haven’t written about this topic before, given that the first time I ever encountered Mark Sircus and his “natural allopathic medicine” was nearly a decade ago, when he was advocating it to treat Ebola. (You might remember the Ebola outbreaks of 2014 in Africa and the fear mongering that accompanied it.) Back then, Sircus described “natural allopathic medicine” as a “new therapeutic principle that revolutionizes both allopathic and naturopathic medicine offering a radical shift in medical thought and practice” focusing on “pH management, cell voltage, magnesium and iodine medicine, cannabinoid medicine, carbon dioxide medicine, re-mineralization of the body, increasing oxygen transport and oxygenation of the tissues, opening up of blood vessels, saturation and healing of cells with concentrated nutrition via superfoods, breathing retraining, emotional transformation processing, detoxification and removal of heavy metals and radioactive particles.”

This is, as I like to call it, “biobabble.” Remember “technobabble” from Star Trek: The Next Generation? Basically, technobabble is usually a word salad of real scientific terms thrown together almost randomly, often mixed with made-up “science-sounding” terms or acronyms, the result being impressive-sounding nonsense—impressive-sounding, at least to those without the scientific background to recognize it as nonsense. “Biobabble” is the same concept, just about biology. Unsurprisingly, quacks and antivaxxers are masters of biobabble and use it to provide impressive-sounding nonsensical “mechanisms” for whatever it is they are advocating, be it highly implausible treatments or how vaccines supposedly cause autism, cancer, or whatever, and Sircus appears to be no exception.

So what is he saying about “natural allopathic medicine” now? He begins:

Natural Allopathic Medicine is a form of medicine brilliant in its simplicity. It is as simple as surgeons washing their hands before surgery. It is as apparent as giving water to a person coming out of a desert who is severely dehydrated. It is brilliant because it prescribes magnesium as the first medicine for patients who are magnesium deficient, which is just about everyone. Meaning magnesium is applicable in all medical situations. However, because mainstream doctors do not know how to reason about medicine and health, they never prescribe it.

The value of surgeons washing their hands before surgery came to be appreciated through science, basically a combination of the work of Ignaz Semmelweis plus Louis Pasteur’s germ theory, which provided the mechanism by which handwashing could decrease the incidence of postoperative infection. I have to wonder whether Sircus also considers wearing sterile rubber gloves to operate is “natural allopathic medicine.” I once described how in the late 1800s surgeons demonstrated that wearing such gloves greatly diminished the chance of infection after surgery and how they came to be the standard for surgery. As for giving water to someone who is severely dehydrated, it’s clear that Sircus is definitely not-a-doctor. For someone who is severely dehydrated, it’s not enough to give just water. Solutions containing salt, such as saline, are much more efficient and effective in reversing dehydration and expanding intravascular volume.

As for Sircus’ fixation on magnesium, I wondered what the heck he was talking about. Sure, magnesium is an important mineral. It’s essential to cardiac function, for instance. But how does Sircus claim that “everyone” is “magnesium deficient”? Because that’s just plain not true.

Sircus’ very premise is also, of course, a false dichotomy. Is it actually “natural” to wash one’s hands before doing surgery? I could make a plausible claim that doing so might remove beneficial bacteria whose presence can actually help the patient. How can we know which is the more accurate claim? Obviously, the only reason that we know which is true, whether handwashing by surgeons is good or bad for the patient, is science, at which point the distinction between “natural” and “not natural” is nothing more than branding.

I admit, though, that I was amused by this passage:

If one’s motive is to treat and heal people of their disorders, the first thing to think of and do is to give the body what it needs. It is fundamental medical reasoning. Even the best doctors who are brave enough to confront the mainstream narrative on COVID-19 vaccines cannot bring themselves to address the real needs of their patients. They always have their favorite drugs, even if they are repurposed pharmaceuticals deemed safe. Doctors’ biggest mistake is prescribing medications before meeting patients’ basic physiological needs.

That’s a dig at physicians falsely claiming that repurposed drugs like ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine can cure COVID-19, which amused me. That being said, much of medicine actually does involve giving the body what it needs. Indeed, anyone who’s taken care of patients in an ICU setting knows just how much time and effort are expended making sure that deficient electrolytes and nutrients are repleted, for example, and that the lungs are receiving sufficient oxygen and that the blood is transporting that oxygen to the tissues that need it. There’s a whole specialty devoted to “giving the body what it needs” in such a way as to improve health. It’s called nutrition, and its practitioners are called dietitians.

Next up is a passage that provoked much facepalming:

Add iodine, selenium, glutathione, and sulfur to the list of essential medicines for the chronically ill. Zinc. Vitamin C and D and copper, too. One can also legally obtain and use chlorine dioxide if you pretend not to treat disease with it. Dentists, campers, and public water experts use it, so why shouldn’t you? There is nothing like cleaning the blood and treating red blood cells with it.

Notice the clever trick here. Yes, iodine, selenium, glutathione, and sulfur are essential compounds. (Note that glutathione contains sulfur.) However, most people get enough from their diets. However, MMS (chlorine dioxide) is not a nutrient or an essential mineral. You don’t need it. Sircus, however, throws it in there as though it is an essential nutrient, mineral, or vitamin. There is no evidence that it “cleans the blood” (whatever that means) or that the blood even generally needs “cleaning”; that is unless you’re talking about “cleaning” it with hemodialysis in the presence of kidney failure, which Sircus most assuredly is not.

Sircus is just getting started, though:

Natural Allopathic Medicine treats cold conditions with infrared heat. Why can doctors not see and do this? It is smart enough to give oxygen in intense ways to hypoxic patients. It is innovative in administering hydrogen inhalation therapy to people suffering from inflammation and oxidative stress, which describes 100 percent of the chronically ill.

Natural Allopathic Medicine offers a path to medical simplicity and the brilliance of medicine sometimes found in ambulances, emergency rooms, and ICU wards, where some of the best medical practices are found. Did you know sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) is commonly used as an emergency medicine? Or that injected magnesium is the best medicine for cardiac arrest when people are at death’s door.

In the emergency room, medicines must be safe while delivering instant life-saving healing power. Most of the above-listed medicines are already used in the best hospitals. If they are safe and robust enough for emergencies, they will also help us with chronic and acute diseases. Thus, what is presented is astounding regarding safety, low cost, and proven effectiveness.

It’s been a while since I’ve done ACLS (advanced cardiac life support), but even so I looked askance at this claim about magnesium. So I looked it up. It turns out that in the latest ACLS guidelines it’s recommended for the treatment of treat polymorphic ventricular tachycardia with a pulse, acute coronary syndrome with hypomagnesemia (low magnesium), life-threatening ventricular arrhythmias due to digitalis toxicity, and atrial fibrillation with rapid ventricular response. It’s not generally recommended for cardiac arrest unless hypomagnesemia is suspected or the arrest occurred after a specific arrhythmia, Torsades de pointes, which can be caused by low magnesium.

As for sodium bicarbonate, well, yes, it has a number of uses. It has also been overused. I still remember the debates in the ICU when I was a resident over when it was appropriate to administer bicarb in the setting of severe acidosis. In cardiac arrest, earlier ACLS guidelines recommended routine bicarbonate administration as part of the ACLS algorithm, but more recent guidelines no longer do. While it is true that the debate in the literature continues, right now SB administration is only recommended for cardiac arrest related to hypokalemia (low potassium) or overdose of tricyclic antidepressants. Indeed, there has been a trend over the last decade against routinely using sodium bicarbonate to treat cardiac arrest, a trend supported by guidelines published by professional societies and organizations, with one recent article about bicarbonate in cardiac arrest arguing it’s “time to put it away.”

Funny how complex medicine is, isn’t it? It goes beyond just what’s “natural” and what is not, and it’s certainly more complex than just “giving the body what it needs.” None of this stops him, however, from opining:

Modern medicine poisons people with drugs when patients already have high levels of toxicity. To top off their madness, they give medicines that make patients’ nutritional deficiencies worse.

The best natural medicines are the ones you must have—no matter what—to continue your life. Nutritional law is vital to resolving disease—not pharmaceuticals damaging cellular environments. Our cells need the right conditions for health and recovery from disease. There is no substitute for a nutrient that is lacking in the body. No pharmaceutical can make up for a nutritional deficiency.

Today, we need more nutrients, not less, because toxicities of too many types are a plague affecting the entire biosphere. We consume extra nutrients in the process of detoxification. However, over the last fifty years, the nutritional values of foods have been dropping, so we get less, we get sick, and we die. Superfoods help us make up the slack by addressing profound dietary deficiencies.

That’s truly some amazing biobabble, isn’t it? I mean, “nutritional law”? What th heck is that? Unlike physics, there are few “laws” in biology; rather, there is science and scientific theories. Quacks like Hahnemann do love to label their quackery as some sort of immutable “laws” of nature, though. Also, the biobabble has all the buzzwords, including “superfoods,” a meaningless term, nothing more than marketing nonsense. So is “detoxification,” a concept that vague, poorly described, or even unnamed “toxins” cause disease and need to be “detoxified,” which has become fashionable nonsense and ritual purification.

My favorite rebranding, though, has to be “natural chemotherapy.”

“Natural chemotherapy” vs. “regular chemotherapy”?

Sircus starts this discussion the same way that so many cancer quacks discuss cancer and chemotherapy, by demonizing chemotherapy:

Chemotherapy is like a battering ram; it feels like a battering ram with apparent harmful effects that patients have to suffer through. No one should have to endure harsh treatment’s avoidable impact, but that is not how oncologists see it. Most oncologists push the dose of chemo agents as high as they can. Dr. Patricia LoRusso, who leads drug discovery at Yale Cancer Center, said, “You get side effects, and then you have to stop the drug to recover from the side effects, and the tumor can grow.”


I do not know what doctors are doing, but they are not practicing rational medicine. When it comes to cancer or any other disease, if the first thing recommended is not magnesium, then they are guilty of medical malpractice. On that same list of essentials would be bicarbonates.

Oncologists who use chemo and radiation but ignore magnesium are committing their patients to much higher incidents of death. Surgeons not using magnesium before, during, and after operations also make surgery more dangerous. Cardiologists who prescribe Statin drugs and ignore magnesium, which most still do, are dooming their patients and societies to extremely high death rates via cardiac arrest.

What is it with this obsession with magnesium as a cure-all, even for cancer? None of this is evidence-based. Indeed, elsewhere Sircus lists his reasons and the evidence for claiming that magnesium (and bicarbonate) should be used to treat cancer, calling it “nontoxic natural chemotherapy“:

Magnesium deficiency seems to be carcinogenic, and in case of solid tumors, a high level of supplemented magnesium inhibits carcinogenesis.[v] Culture of lymphocytes from humans in Mg-deficient media, resulted in morphologically and functionally abnormal cells. Mg is strongly related to the immune system in both nonspecific and specific immune responses, also known as innate and acquired immune responses.

Some medical scientists believe that mitochondrial problems may be at the heart of all chronic diseases, including cancer. People’s health and energy largely depend on how much oxygen they have and how well their mitochondria utilize it.

I can’t help but note that the articles that he cites date back to 1986 and even, later in his article, to 1930. Naturally, I looked up the articles. The 1986 article abstract states:

It is known that carcinogenesis induces Mg distribution disturbances which cause Mg mobilization through blood cells and Mg depletion in non-neoplastic tissues. Mg deficiency seems to be carcinogenic in cases of some particular haemolymphoreticular diseases only, more often, in cases of solid tumors, it inhibits carcinogenesis.

Oops! So, according to Sirucs’ own reference, low magnesium isn’t usually carcinogenic—just in a small subset of cancers—and actually inhibits the development of the more common solid epithelial malignancies. Seriously, do these quacks read even just the abstracts of the articles they cite? As for treating cancer with sodium bicarbonate, that is a longtime favorite bit of cancer quackery, often paired with some truly outrageously stupid claims, such as the claim that all cancer is a fungus.

I might have to do a post just on that article, and all the “natural chemotherapy” touted by Sircus, but for now, I’ll leave with an observation before moving on. The broadest definition of “chemotherapy” for cancer is any chemical administered to treat the disease, or “the treatment of disease by the use of chemical substances, especially the treatment of cancer by cytotoxic and other drugs.” Colloquially, the term is rarely used outside of the cytotoxic chemotherapy of cancer, the sort of drugs that do indeed range from toxic to very toxic and that tend to target the replication of tumor cells. The amusing thing, though, is that we already use a number of “natural chemotherapy” agents according to this very definition. Taxol, for instance, is derived from the bark of the Pacific yew tree. In addition, many other plant-based antitumor drugs remain in clinical use, such as vinblastine, vincristine, and podophyllotoxin analogs, and screening natural products for anticancer activity is a very active area of research. In other words, it’s not as though science- and evidence-based oncology ignore “natural chemotherapy.” Scientists and oncologists just require that a drug work, while not caring so much where it came from.

“Natural allopathic medicine”: A meaningless buzzword

Near the end of his article on “natural allopathic medicine” and how “brilliant” it supposedly is, Mark Sircus claims:

It took me twenty years to develop Natural Allopathic Medicine, yet professionals and patients alike can learn how to practice and think about its basic tenets in a few hours. Until this year, one had to navigate through’s 1800 pages or do private consultations with me. I have now developed a multi-media course that aims to quickly get patients up and running the protocol.

Perish forbid that knowing how to treat disease takes years and years of education. You can be up and running treating yourself with “natural allopathic medicine” in a few hours, or so Sircus seems to be claiming; that is, if you pay for his multimedia course. But don’t worry, the price is a low, low…well, this:

The first course is tailored to cancer patients with no time to lose in starting their treatments. The course can be purchased as a standalone or with consultations, as well as my 99-lesson cancer course. It will be offered free to anyone signing up for an hour consultation, but when it is officially published, the standalone course will cost 275 dollars.

Only $275? What a bargain! Only $25 more than a one-hour consultation, too! Truly, the grift is strong in this one.

Circling back to what I originally said about “allopathic” medicine versus homeopathy, though, I can’t help but be amused how a quack like Sircus, who obviously desperately wants to be taken seriously, thinks that branding his quackery as “natural allopathic medicine” will do it. While it’s funny how thirsty he is for the apparent scientific cred that comes from associating himself deceptively with conventional medicine, it’s kind of depressing that Hahnemann’s 200 year old disparaging term for conventional medicine has become so ubiquitous that almost no one knows its origin or realizes that it was not meant as a complement when it was coined, so much so that even quacks seeking to rebrand their quackery as scientific try to coopt it.

Quacks like Mark Sircus.



Posted by David Gorski

Dr. Gorski's full information can be found here, along with information for patients. David H. Gorski, MD, PhD, FACS is a surgical oncologist at the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute specializing in breast cancer surgery, where he also serves as the American College of Surgeons Committee on Cancer Liaison Physician as well as an Associate Professor of Surgery and member of the faculty of the Graduate Program in Cancer Biology at Wayne State University. If you are a potential patient and found this page through a Google search, please check out Dr. Gorski's biographical information, disclaimers regarding his writings, and notice to patients here.