Tuesday, 26 March 2019

Autism & Toxin Removal System (TRS)

In the last few years I've developed a disturbing affinity for detox therapies, with the same unhealthy affection you might feel for a troublesome wart that won't fall off, or a weird attachment you might develop towards the last guest at a party too jagerbombed to leave.
We're contrary creatures who sometimes miss the irritating itch when it's finally scratched, but that doesn't mean quackery, in all its guises, shouldn't be politely invited to perform illegal acts of indecency while being directed towards the door.
But no matter how often they're instructed to slope off into the wilderness and die, quack therapies resurface with sickening predictability.... like a tenacious dose of herpes, or a new series of Love Island (which are not mutually exclusive).

I keep foolishly hoping that people will finally understand that our liver and kidneys are the most advanced pieces of detox technology in existence;  shelling out for pricey tinctures and ungents produces nothing more useful than expensive urine.
We're literally pissing our money down the toilet.
Our abdominal cavity handily contains all the equipment we'll ever need to dismantle the compounds we don't need into molecules we can excrete... we've been happily doing it all our lives without needing external help.

So what is it about detoxing that lures us to surrender sense and reason like the Pied Piper of Pseudoscience?
We seem to be helpless to resist the urge to scour away all our sludgey innards, replacing it with pristine purity; there's a born-again virgin in all of us screaming to get out.

My feeling is that our affinity for detoxing in embedded in our ancestral DNA; every religious and spiritual discipline seems to express an element of cleansing and rebirth.... the notion seems to be important to our mental and spiritual health.
Maybe our drive to get the feels on with the Master of the Universe is what's exploited by the producers of detox therapies?  We find comfort in ritual, and hope in the promise of renewal, which the detox industry sell to us like commodities.  It's fortunate for them that they're unburdened by conscience; their sleep doesn't seem to be disturbed by selling false hope to desperate people.
Lucky them.

Also, a central tenet of the detox industry is that toxins make us fat, sick and stupid, and that using their product will effortlessly transform us from doughy, diseased airheads into the glorious love-child of Albert Einstein and Scarlett Johansson.
I suspect that the detox industry appeals to the tired, time-starved people we are;  it's much easier to spend a few quid on a box of crushed Tibetan snail shells  (infused with dewy lotus flowers harvested by Buddhist monks in the light of a new moon, obviously) than to eat less, move more and read a few books.
But becoming a genius god(dess) takes time and effort and it's so much easier to swallow a promising, if useless, remedy.

But, whatever the reason behind our continuing love affair with them, detox therapies are a hugely lucrative business; if they were based on something more than lies and deception, I'd have no issue with them... but they turn a profit by creating fear, promoting lies and luring frightened people away from therapies that actually help.  Quack therapies have a sinister edge to their comic silliness.... they can prove dangerous as well as pointless.

So, with heavy heart, I joined a Facebook page called 'Advanced TRS (Toxin Removal System) Detoxification' so I could check out this new kid on the block; TRS is a liquid  produced by a company called Coseva, promising to remove toxins from the body in a safer, faster manner than chelation (notwithstanding the fact that there is zero evidence to show that 'toxins' cause Autism, and that the removal of them cures it).  Before I even read it's claims, it's a given that anything that alleges to cure everything from Autism to infertility (and just about everything in between) is Fake News. There is no panacea that will cure all ills, much less cure Autism  (on a side note, I've been carrying out robust clinical trials studying the effectiveness of wine and chocolate as an Autism antidote, and so far it's had no effect on my son, but I feel a whole lot better.  I will also selflessly continue to collect data, because I'm thorough like that).
Using sciency sound-bytes like 'nano-technology', 'zeolites' and clinoptilolite' do nothing to cover up the absence of evidence supporting its use.  Gushing testimonials about reversal of autistic symptoms are heavily peppered with "OH MY GOD!!"s and "I CAN'T BELIEVE IT!!!"s, along with the zealous use of exclamation marks, just in case you're a little hard of hearing. ... but yelling lavish praise is a faint distraction from the fact that there is no empirical evidence holding up their loud claims.

In barely discernible print at the bottom of the Coseva website, is a disclaimer stating that they have not been evaluated by the Food & Drugs Administration and that they do not intend to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent any illness.  Maybe they just don't notice that their product is sold specifically to treat Autism, and that their facebook page is rabid with gratitude for improving children's symptoms?
A paper published last year demonstrating the safety of zeolite (a main ingredient of TRS) is a pretty big leap from proving it's therapeutic use; you might as well hand your child a nice Mars bar (as it's safe.... apart from the whole diabetes and dental decay thing, maybe) and keep your fingers crossed that your kid will stop stimming.
Your kid will also adore you....
....while all his teeth fall out.

If biochemistry is your jam, you can check out a good article here  explaining why zeolites (and therefore TRS) don't treat Autism; although, personally, I'm just a little disappointed that the word 'zeolite' is misplaced in yet another tedious Autism scam.... I think it'd better describe a member of a remote religious cult who wears clothes made of  bulrushes, howls at the moon and wrestles grizzly bears for a bit of fun. Using it to describe an inoffensive, but useless, molecule is a bit of a waste.

So, the frustrated affection I feel for TRS means I'd like to place it in a Home for Bewildered Detox Therapies, and maybe visit it at Christmas and Easter to see if it's playing nicely with the other residents.
It's getting to be an awfully crowded house.

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