Pseudoscience is everywhere – on daytime television, on nearly every organic food label, and, most of all, online. Here, due to the lack of any real legal consequences, quackery is rampant and showing no sign of slowing down or going back to the dark ages where it belongs. The industry is becoming so massive and lucrative that it is spawning its own cottage industry made from its own victims. These once duped chumps have now become the self-proclaimed health experts and they seem to be fighting it out to see who can promote the most bizarre cure-all tonic. Recently, I have become aware of people who want you to drink hydrogen peroxide, which has a striking resemblance to Jilly Juice and turpentine therapy.
Whilst many see quacks as relics of the past, from a time when modern medicine was still in its infancy, the truth is that they are still among us. Wearing the cloak of science and playing on the fears of their victims, they are master salesmen who often convince their punters to come back for more and more and more. Whereas they once stood atop a soapbox spouting their dubious claims free of legal consequences, they now do it online, hidden behind disclaimers leaving behind a wake of misery. Yes, they may no longer be selling literal snake oil, but what about homeopathy? acupuncture? chiropractic adjustment? organic diets? all of which (we are told by theses charlatans) will cure our aches and pains, and all of which have zero credible evidence of their effectiveness. In more recent times, they have become harder to spot, with many reporters, who are poorly schooled in science, unable to differentiate between these self-appointed frauds and genuine experts, allowing them to not only spread their dubious claims, but advertise their own brand of pseudoscience. As a result, business is booming for the quacks, as they peddle the latest tonic that promises to relieve those who suffer in pain, to cure those who the medical establishment says are incurable, and promise better health and longer life to those willing to pay the exuberant cost. Yes, business has never been better for the quack, and with the invention of social media, not only can they reach more people, but they can also turn them into salespeople.
Most people who believe that they have been helped by a quack’s unorthodox methods often share their story with friends and family. We tend to believe what others tell us of personal experiences and thus testimonies can be powerful tools of persuasion. Not only does this help the snake oil salesmen sell their quackery to other victims, it’s also appealing to the vanity of the person promoting it. After all, they are the ones who took control of their health and didn’t need a fancy medical qualification to do so. They are the ones only motivated by a sincere wish to help their fellow man, and not the puppet of deceitful pharmaceutical companies interested only in selling more drugs. I can imagine it’s a fantastic feeling, which is why you find that some people go on to promote more and more quackery in hopes of getting the same buzz. Some realise that they can cut out the middleman altogether and start making up their own holistic pseudo-medical treatments, which nicely brings us to Justine Iannello Haynes.
Justine runs the YouTube channel, ‘Happy Health’, and calls herself a “nutritional consultant”. Like so many of these second-generation quacks, Justine has turned her back on the old ways in favour of promoting more radical, maverick, and natural remedies. So what, you are probably asking yourself, natural remedies does this “nutritional consultant” recommend that you consume. Justine promotes the consumption of the pola solvent DMSO, the industrial bleach MMS, the household laundry and cleaning compound borax, magnetised water, and the bleaching agent hydrogen peroxide, to name a few.
She is also a strong supporter of Robert Young’s pH miracle scam, where he tried to convince people suffering from cancer that if they were to eat more alkaline foods, their blood pH would increase (which is impossible without killing someone) and their cancer would be killed. Young also believes in spontaneous generation, and believes that in acidic blood (another impossibility without killing someone), viruses, bacteria, fungi, etc come into existence. Young, in November, lost a $105 million lawsuit filed against him by a woman whose breast cancer progressed to incurable whilst being treated by him.
Justine’s “remedies” belong under my sink and in my laboratory chemical store, not in my medicine cabinet, yet she is hellbent on trying to convince her audience that consumption of these compounds is good for them. She does this by appealing to nature, stating that these compounds all have natural sources and, therefore, are somehow good for you.
DMSO, like turpentine, comes from a substance found in some trees, and is a by-product of paper manufacture. MMS (sodium chlorite) is not natural whatsoever, and is synthesised from sodium chlorate, a non-selective herbicide, which, in high enough doses, can cause multi-organ failure. Borax is dug up out of the ground, but then again, so is asbestos, and peroxide is generated in miniscule amounts in biochemical processes in the human body and therefore is not only natural, but safe to drink. Justine’s criteria of what constitutes as natural is so loose that I would argue that, until we develop Star Trek-esque replicators, everything is natural.
Justine believes that hydrogen peroxide is a legitimate panacea and, when asked why she believes this, she often quotes the book, “The One-Minute Cure: The Secret to Healing Virtually All Diseases”, which recently a subscriber happened to send me.
Like all good quacks, the author Madison Cavanaugh starts his book with a rather in-depth disclaimer warning the reader not to act on any of the advice it contains. This has always stuck out to me as a red flag because it shows that the author fears legal consequences and that they don’t 100% stand behind their product.
Madison then quickly moves on to another quack trope, when he shouts to the high heavens that his brand of quackery is being suppressed by the medical establishment. The reason quacks need to do this is not only because it helps foster mistrust towards modern medicine, but it also answers the question about why their simple cure-all tonic is not already in use if it is so effective.
After 43 pages in this rather small 113-page book, we finally are told where peroxide gets its magical properties from. Turns out oxygen is the most abundant element in the human body (no… that would be hydrogen, which makes up approximately 9.5% of your mass but 62% of the atoms you are made from), and disease-causing microorganisms can’t survive in an oxygen-rich environment. Therefore, if you were to increase the level of oxygen in your blood by being exposed to a compound that had an extra oxygen atom in its makeup, you would be cured of all your diseases. This is where peroxide helps out, because it contains one more oxygen atom than water. This extra oxygen can then detach, forcing an oxygen free radical that hunts out disease-causing microorganisms, but not, miraculously, any beneficial bacteria. The book also recommends coming into contact with ozone for the same reason, because it contains one more oxygen atom than the diatomic oxygen we breath. I had to read this section several times to make sure I had not missed anything, because I could not believe how juvenile their explanation was.
Despite clearly not having a firm grasp on human biology or reality, the author goes on to promote intravenous injections of a dilute solution of peroxide to help “oxygenate” the blood. He says that this super-oxygenated blood will be bright red, which “signifies health”, to which I say, so does carbon monoxide poisoning.
Justine believes everything in this book, from the concentration of peroxide to use to various methods of injection. In one of her videos, she describes the inhalation method, where she makes a weak solution of peroxide, puts it in a squirt bottle, and sprays it into her young children’s mouths as they inhale.
Peroxide may cause irritation, gastrointestinal irritation, abdominal pain, vomiting, and serious burns, and it’s clear from her videos that some of the people taking her advice have been suffering. In the video, ‘Hydrogen Peroxide Therapy for Autoimmune Diseases + How to Do a Hydrogen Peroxide Rub Down’, Justine spouts the mantra, “pain is healing”, as she tries to convince her audience that the discomfort they are feeling is proof that peroxide is working. She says, “expect to feel unwell”, “allow yourself to be sick”, and most importantly, “don’t stop taking it”, to people who potentially could be critically ill. Her explanation for this is identical to Danny Glass’ turpentine therapy, in which the snake oil is being too effective in removing parasites and toxins from your body, and your immune system is becoming overwhelmed.
Justine recommends using very low concentrations of peroxide, which clearly, from her videos, is having a negative effect on some. She also, however, shows people how to increase the potency of a peroxide solution to an unknown concentration because she believes it then somehow makes it “food grade”. In the video, ‘How To Make Your Own Food Grade Peroxide – Super Simple Process!’, which has been watched a worrying 137 thousand times on YouTube, Justine shows how easy it is to increase the concentration of a peroxide solution by simply freezing it. In the process, she accidentally bleaches her fingers white.
Justine is also a big believer in mixing and matching different quackery together, believing that it makes them more potent. For example, she believes that DMSO can help MMS get into the cell easier so it can then bleach it….better? I am not really sure what her point is, to be honest.
The peroxide panacea, turpentine therapy, and Jilly Juice are all the same. Their creators and promoters all believe that their alternative treatment is the one true treatment suppressed by the medical establishment because of how effective it is. They all believe that their treatment is natural and, therefore, can’t harm you. They all use bold statements and multisyllabic scientific-sounding jargon to give the impression that the science is on their side to con people into trying their poison. All three of them believe that some form of parasites are responsible for all of man’s ailments, and that pain is healing. And, most importantly, all have zero credible evidence of their effectiveness, and all have the potential to harm.
These second-generation snake oil salesmen act like they have people’s best interests at heart, but, in reality, they are predators seeking out vulnerable victims for their own gain. Although they are making money – Jilly with her books, Danny with AdSense, and Justine with her Etsy store, they are not raking it in like the first generation quacks. So what’s in it for them? I believe they are doing it for their ego.
They are obviously not getting the attention or admiration they believe they deserve in real life, and thus have turned to the internet, where they can pretend that they are a “nutritional consultant”, or a “candida and parasite elimination specialist” or someone of importance. The more outlandish their claims and the more illnesses they claim they can cure, the more attention and admiration they get from desperate people. Their almost cult-like belief in their particular brand of panacea gives them the sense that they are the holder of privileged knowledge and are above not only the entire medical community, but also the complementary and alternative medicine industry. But, in reality, they are none of these things. They are idiots online who value their own egos above the health of the people coming to them for help.
With quackery on the rise online, it’s only a matter of time before governments step in and we start to see more people like Robert Young in court, and I personally can’t wait for that day!