Saturday, May 26, 2012

Lorilee Schoenbeck & Me

Lorilee Schoenbeck And Me
Vermont Bill S.209 
House Health Care Committee
April 11, 2012

The oral testimony presented by Lorilee Schoenbeck is available from the Legislative Council, tel. 802-828-2424. It is recorded on CD 163, House Committee On Health Care, April 11, 2012. The CD costs $1. They can also provide hardcopy of her written testimony. 

During a break in the hearing after we had both already spoken, Schoenbeck, came over to me and with a look of what appeared to be feigned compassion said that she was very sorry for what had happened to me adding that: she didn’t know of any ND who used silver; NDs don’t know how silver got into their formulary; and, they’ve been trying to get it out for years. 

Hearing NDs  deny they know any naturopaths who use silver when I do and when they included it in their state formulary makes me furious. Physician Formulary 20091211.pdf [pdf download]. (colloidal silver, p. 1; silver that “may be administered IV”, p.5). Lorilee telling me that she didn’t even know how it had gotten into their formulary made me livid. Who did she think put it there? God?

When I pointed out that she had been at the October 16, 2010 alt. med conference sponsored by Senator Bernie Sanders that Arline and I had attended, she looked confused apparently never having noticed either of us. to the bottom to see Arline’s picture.) Lorilee was probably the only one there who hadn’t noticed us which is actually funny since she constantly claims that her medical education is the same as an MD’s. 

At the Sanders’s conference, we were definitely noticed as argyric people always are. One man I’d never met said, “Hello, Rosemary,” as he walked by. I assume he was a naturopath who had read my blog. But obviously there was at least one ND who hadn’t noticed us and that was Lorilee, although she may well say that she remembers us after reading this. 

The reason, aside from the obvious one, that it is strange that Schoenbeck didn’t notice us is because she is convincing legislators that she as an ND has the education of an MD, but health care professionals like MDs and RNs are trained to notice people with our discoloration because it usually indicates a medical emergency. It looks like we need oxygen and are about to drop dead, which is why nurses and doctors who haven’t seen us before often rush over to ask if we are alright. In fact Arline and many other argyric people, but not me, hate to visit anyone in the hospital because of all the health care practitioners who run over to check on us. (Personally, I know they are doing their job and am glad to see them do it.) When we tell them that we are fine, many ask about our skin color, a medical curiosity. I suspect that those who don’t only refrain for fear of offending us although many doctors, especially older ones, realize that we have argyria, that we were poisoned by silver. 

An RN who saw me in person after having seen my photo said that the picture hadn’t prepared her to see me in person. When she did, she thought that I was either the embodiment of the walking dead or five seconds short of collapsing on the floor in need of resuscitation. She was greatly relieved when I smiled at her and held out my hand which she grasped reassured by its warmth indicating to her, a medical professional, that my heart was beating normally. Then she noticed the scars from dermabrasion on my face and could not understand how it was possible that silver supplements were still being sold and disfiguring people.

A lady who got argyria recently from a silver supplement told me how happy she is to be able to speak with me since I understand what it is like to be stared at too. She said that people often come up to her and ask if she is dying and she has to explain her discoloration to them. Recently a young boy seeing her in a store started to cry and wanted to call 911 because he thought she was about to drop dead. She hugged him and told him not to worry. She was okay.

Flying home from Germany before I was dermabraded, a stewardess came over and wanted to give me oxygen. When I told her I didn’t need it, she told me that another passenger was very worried about me. I’ve had several people tell my relatives and friends that I was terminally ill with heart disease. I  assume that they had known people who had died that way who had skin the color of mine. 

The first lady I met who got argyria from a silver “dietary supplement”, had an extremely mild case. She looked a “little off”. She is the only truly lucky silver supplement victim I know. With myself and every other argyric person I've learned about, by the time someone notices our discoloration, it is severe. At that point, we learn the cause, stop taking silver but still startle strangers in the street. 

The lady with the mild case saw her MD for a regular visit. He noticed her discoloration which, as I said, is one of the things those who practice evidence-based medicine are trained to notice. First, he checked her for heart disease. When she didn’t have it, he checked further and leaned that she had been taking silver. A biopsy showed the metal in her skin. She stopped taking the stuff and has stayed the same.

But, of course, NDs, unlike MDs and RNs, rarely work in hospitals, especially those like Lorilee who have been out of school for about 17 years meaning that when she was studying to be a naturopath, there were very few, if any, states where they had the kind of MD privileges that they have in several states today. So unable to work with patients in hospitals in acute care situations, NDs, just like laypeople, don’t often see many very sick people or medical emergencies. 

I would have had a lot more respect for Lorilee if she had admitted that: there are NDs who promote, use and sell silver; it never should have been included in the VT ND formulary; there is no excuse for its having been included and no excuse for its not having been removed immediately after I told the NDs of the problem; there is no excuse for the way that NDs, the colleagues she officially represents, ignored me and Arline and our concerns. 

If I know that there are NDs who promote and sell  silver for internal use and who use it intravenously, how is it possible that the NDs themselves don’t know it? If they really don’t, and I don’t believe that for a minute, they should.

I didn’t want Lorilee’s sympathy. I wanted her and her profession to take responsibility for a very serious mistake it had made and to act like real doctors, real professionals or at least like responsible adults.  

To me Schoenbeck’s words directed to me personally and her exhibit of concern smelled like damage control. She sounded as if she were thinking, “We got caught. This is really bad PR. I’ve got to butter her up to make her shut up.” 

Her words also came suspiciously on the heels of testimony in which I had compared the crass behavior of the NDs with that of those who practice evidence-based medicine when they see my facial disfigurement.

I will soon be 70 years old and am not aging well. During the last few years my hearing has been noticeably deteriorating. I thought I had heard all of what Schoenbeck said during her oral testimony. I heard her deny that NDs use silver intravenously, heard her say, “I will mention that we do not provide toxic things such as IV silver,” emphasis hers. “Never have. Neve will.” (4:30 CD 163) “That is a comment based on possible future testimony that you’ll hear here.” But it wasn’t until I obtained and listened to the CD that I heard her refer to me as “an individual who is opposing naturopathic physicians in general….." I was absolutely livid when I did.

I was livid because I believed that instead of accepting responsibility for their own actions Schoenbeck and the naturopaths she represented were trying to marginalize me and make it sound as if I were unjustly maligning wonderful NDs for reasons that they simply couldn’t fathom. I was also livid because I didn’t believe that NDs don’t use silver, even intravenously. I know perfectly well that there are NDs who use and sell it and can’t believe that Schoenbeck and her colleagues who put it in their state sanctioned formulary don’t know that too. Physician Formulary 20091211.pdf [pdf download]. (colloidal silver, p. 1; silver that “may be administered IV”, p.5) 

Neither can I believe that some licensed VT NDs don’t also use it, even intravenously. Why else would they have included it in their formulary for IV use? Although I don’t have evidence showing that a specific VT ND uses it that way, I most certainly do have evidence that NDs who have graduated from ND school inject people with silver. 

Originally, I intended to write a summary of Schoenbeck’s oral testimony, but after hearing the way she had dismissed me and my concerns just like she and her colleagues have been doing since 2010, I decided that could wait. Meanwhile if any of you wants to hear it, you can get the CD. Actually, I’m not sure that I will bother summarizing and commenting on Schoenbeck’s testimony. I don’t know how many would want to wade through it. I certainly hate to have to do it again. I wish Ben would post the video, but it seems as if he has decided that it is useless trying to get through to Vermont politicians and moved on to more enjoyable endeavors. 

At the end of Schoenbeck’s oral testimony, the committee Chairman, Representative Michael Fisher who had hopefully read the written testimony that I’d submitted,, said to Schoenbeck, “You mentioned earlier aluminum, uh silver, sorry. Can you tell us where this comes from? You said very matter of faculty, ‘Naturopathic doctors don’t do this and have never done this.’”  (19:20 CD 163)

Schoenbeck responded, “In other committees in other issues in the State House there has been testimony by an individual who’s opposing naturopathic physicians in general. My understanding is she was harmed by IV administration of silver that was performed by a medical doctor, an MD, and naturopathic physicians have never used IV silver, never have, never will. We don’t understand why this particular person is pursuing naturopathic physicians (unintelligible). I just want to make it very clear that that’s not something that we do.”  (19:53 CD 163)

Well, Sweetie, I just want to make it very clear that I am that “particular person”. I have a name. Unlike your presumed colleague who comments on my blog, I never have and never will be anonymous on these issues. I’m out there in your face. I attended the conference you were at in October 2010, the one you didn’t notice me at, and spoke up at a workshop. The ND manning your information booth said that VANP (Vermont Association of Naturopathic Physicians),, your official state agency, the one you represented at the hearing, met once a month. She said she was going to tell them about me and hoped that the issue would be “resolved at the next meeting”. She was also going to phone all VT licensed NDs to tell them not to use silver, presumably along with the reason why, and then if she had to she was going to walk into the Secretary of State’s Office with an updated formulary in hand, one that did not include silver or colloidal silver, to replace the 2009 one that does contain those things. You, Lorilee, are very active in VANP. Did you miss this or did the young woman, the only ND I’ve dealt with so far who has in my opinion acted like an honest, decent, caring human being, not do what she said she would? She never got back to me to report and I didn’t contact her because I thought it was out of her hands.

Did you also miss the blog I’ve had about this since 2010, the one that your colleagues and regulating agency have been reading? 

I’ve been speaking to your state regulating agency since 2010 and they have been speaking with your advisors. Didn't they mention this to you? 

My story is on my webpage and has been there for about 15 years. When you finally heard that I was “pursuing naturopathic physicians” and expected that I’d give testimony to the same committee you were giving it to, didn’t you review my material to find out why I was “pursuing” you and the details of my case? I think I’ve made the reasons very clear on my blog.

I am raising major issues about the competency of your profession to practice medicine. I am shouting that naturopaths lack the competency, skills and education required to practice medicine safely and effectively. I am saying you are dangerous and that you terrify me. I’m screaming it at the top of my lungs in a very public way and have been for two years now. Many if not most of your colleagues in Vermont know that, yet in April 2012 you didn’t know my name or the details of my case, even though you knew I was probably going to give testimony before the same committee that you would be speaking to. I find it truly incredible that you never even wondered, “why this particular person is pursuing naturopathic physicians…” 

From my observations, Ms. Schoenbeck, this is totally typical of the way your profession deals with unpleasant issues and with the way you “practice” medicine. It is one of the reasons why you terrify me! Is that clear? Have I explained yet why “this particular person” is “pursuing naturopathic physicians”? Or are you still inhabiting your pretty little imaginary garden where everyone loves and needs NDs? 

In case you still don’t get it, let me try again. I think your profession is dangerous. Naturopaths terrify me. I’m afraid that you will harm people. I think you are as ignorant as my medical doctor was over 50 years ago and that you are replacing the evidence-based or scientific medicine that took us out of the Dark Ages with the folkloric kind that never helped and often killed our ancestors and is still doing that today. Here is why I think that since you’ve obviously missed it all.,,

And it gets worse Lorilee. I think that you are infecting the entire American health care delivery system with your naturaopathic disease. Your profession has been the most successful of all alts in breaking down the door and blurring the distinction between evidence-based and belief-based medicine. Many MDs and what used to be scientific institutions now offer a smorgasbord of evidence-based drugs and therapies right alongside of the untested belief-based folkloric kind so that it is impossible for most patients to know which is which. I fear that in no time at all those of us who believe in scientific or evidence-based medicine will no longer have the freedom to use it because the entire system will be diluted by practitioners of the “integrated” “holistic” kind. Some will be true believers like many NDs are. Others will be outright quacks like those NDs who see a way to make a lot of money fast using bogus tests to diagnose imaginary diseases which they proceed to “treat” with useless, hopefully harmless, remedies and therapies that they also sell to “prevent” people from getting the diseases that they fear whether or not they are at risk of getting them or not. Others will be MDs who take the path of least resistance. They will decide, “You can’t beat city hall. These fools are going to buy this stuff from someone. Might as well be me. I can easily make a fortune here and protect people from dangerous products and practitioners at the same time.  It sure beats treating sick people and trying to juggle all the serious, often life threatening problems they have. A win-win situation.” 

But it isn’t that at all, not in the longterm. In the longterm it is a lose-lose situation. People will be injured and killed by untested drugs erroneously assumed to be  harmless,, and the cost of medical care will increase exorbitantly as people shell out money for snake oil, both the dangerous and useless kind.

Naturopaths have succeeded in getting third party payers who get their money from everyone else in the system including those of us horrified by what you do, to reimburse you for your “services”. That’s money from the pockets of those of us who are terrified of your drugs and therapies. It marks the end of our freedom of choice and raises the costs of everyone’s already exorbitantly high health care costs. 

The fact that naturopaths do not understand that the only way to accurately evaluate the safety and efficacy of drugs and therapies is through the use of rigorous, objective, scientific tests truly terrifies me, but, unbelievable as it sounds, you compound the problem as far as I’m concerned by the way you and your colleagues have responded to me and my concerns since 2010. You ignored me for as long as you could. Then you repeatedly told legislators that NDs do not use silver and for some strange reason the politicians never asked you how it got into your formulary, not once but twice.  

As for the details of my case which you should have checked before giving testimony about me, Ms. Schoenbeck, - I was not given silver IV. I was given it in the form of nose drops. The skin condition I have has a medical name. It is called argyria. It is well known and well documented in the medical literature, and if you had toxicology courses in your “4 year medical schools” like MDs do in theirs you would have learned that argyria is caused by taking silver internally. It causes skin discoloration that disfigures people. This is all very basic stuff. I would think that naturopaths of all people who believe they are experts on “natural medicines” would know which natural substances are toxic. It is certainly information that any competent doctor could easily find for himself simply by cracking open a toxicology textbook or searching for “silver” in PubMed,, the online data base where medical journal articles are indexed.  

There is a wealth of medical literature on silver and argyria and has been for over 100 years. I guess it just never got into the toxicology courses at “naturopathic medical schools”. Oops, sorry. I didn’t notice any toxicology courses in the school curriculum you gave to the committee,, click on “5 yr ND track), but I expect there will be a course listed with that name there soon now that I've brought it up, in time for your next lobbying effort. 

Lorilee Schoenbeck; Vermont House of Representatives; House Health Care Committee; Michael Fisher; naturopaths; S.209; VANP; Vermont Association of Naturopathic Physicians


  1. Rosemary, why are you picking on Lorilee Schoenbeck, she didn't turn you blue did she?

  2. Lorilee is actively and successfully lobbying to give NDs the same privileges to practice medicine that MDs have. She is accomplishing this by telling the legislators that NDs receive the same education in their schools that MDs get in theirs. I know that this is not true.

    As I've stated repeatedly, I am terrified of NDs licensed to practice as primary care physicians. I am afraid that they have caused and will cause cases of argyria and that one or more of the untested or disproven remedies they routinely use will turn out to be as deadly as cigarettes and that when that is discovered it will be too late to save many from premature deaths.

    I am also annoyed with Lorilee because she told me how sorry she was for my having argyria but never apologized for the inclusion of silver for internal use in the VT State Naturopathic Formulary or for the way my concerns were ignored by NDs when I presented them. I find her statements that NDs do not use silver internally, that they don't know who put it in their formulary and that they've been trying to remove it unbelievable.

    You know that Lorilee did not turn me blue. Do you know if because of her lobbying efforts people have been or will be exposed to unnecessary risks? Do you know if some have or will be injured by remedies and treatments that have no evidence to support their use? While you may believe that Nature heals, I am terrified because I believe that naturopathy brings us back to the bad old days, the pre-thalidomide era of medicine.

    Why is it so hard for NDs and their fans to understand this? I don't mean you have to agree with me, but why can't you at least understand the very real rational basis of my fears?

    When people decide to market and lobby for something, they have to realize that they may be criticized and either accept the heat or get out of the kitchen.