Welcome to Sebi’s Pseudoscience 101! Here we will review Sebi’s teachings concerning the healing art of using herbs and related matters, that his educational background doesn’t qualify to discuss, because who needs books? According to Sebi
“I didn’t read any. I read my mama. My mama is the only person I listen to… I learned that which is natural…that which is complementary, that which didn’t come out of a book.” (Video entitled Dr. Sebi Cures A.I.D.S Diabetes, Cancer, etc pt 1)
Sounds like the wisdom of Bobby Boucher.
Sorry Sebi, but mama is wrong. And so are you.
And with that we shall begin by examining what disease is according to Sebi…
“For the last 450 years the “Western medicine” has been prevailing. What do they say? When you are sick, you have a germ, virus, or bacteria, which is the cause of the manifestation of the disease… Oh yeah? Why then if you have discovered the cause of disease are you not curing anything? I said no. Its mucus… There is only one disease.” (Video entitled Dr. Sebi Cures A.I.D.S Diabetes, Cancer, etc pt 1)
So disease in Sebi’s worldview is an accumulation of mucus. A view which contradicts the modern, evidence based understanding of disease. His belief is nothing more than the ancient belief in “humorism”. Humorism was a belief concerning human physiology that centered on four bodily fluids: blood, black bile, yellow bile, and phlegm. When these four fluids were in “balance” the belief held that you were in good health. The humors were also associated with different “temperaments”.
- Good thing our science has moved beyond this point, even if some people have not.
Despite being the predominate theory of medicine in the western world for approximately two millenia, humorism began to fall out of favor around the mid 1800’s. It was then that evidence from experiments conducted by Louis Pasteur, Robert Koch, and others began to shift opinion within the scientific community. Louis Pasteur, you might remember as the inventor of pasteurization, a process used to eliminate harmful bacteria from milk and other foods. However, Pasteur’s experiments led to two important realizations(among others); first, that fermentation was the result of the activity of microorganisms,and second, that those microorganisms did not come about through spontaneous generation but through biogenesis. Many people are probably less familiar with Koch but he is considered one of the founders of microbiology. His postulates, though amended since his time, were foundational to the understanding of microbes and their relationship to disease. The postulates are a rubric for determining causal relationships between bacteria and disease. Using his postulates other scientists found the organisms responsible for syphilis, diphtheria, meningitis, and several more have been found since. The works of these scientists and others led to the what is known as germ theory. The theory states that specific microorganisms are responsible for specific diseases. Lets remember from a scientific standpoint that a theory is not a mere guess. Theories are frameworks that provide explanation of how the relevant facts, scientific laws, etc fit together to explain some phenomena. There are many scientific ways to think about disease or disease etiology like germ theory, or theories concerning gene-environment interactions, etc, but accumulation of mucus or phlegm is not one of them.
Unfortunately, Sebi isn’t alone in clinging to these long discredited ideas. A number of individuals in the public eye either have expressed disbelief in germ theory at some point, including Bill Maher of the popular show, Real Time with Bill Maher, and Mike Adams, of NaturalNews.com (the worst site ever to get any information about health- or ANYTHING). Nor is Sebi alone in his belief that modern medicine hasn’t cured anything. However, he would be wrong modern medicine is capable of curing syphilis, gonorrhea, tuberculosis, bacterial meningitis, appendicitis, and a host of other bacterial infections and conditions. Modern medicine is also capable of preventing disease through the use of vaccines. All of these cures, in conjunction with improved nutrition and food abundance, have led to increased maximum life expectancy (from about 48 years to 78.1 and beyond) and reduced infant and childhood mortality rates. Even if science based medicine never progresses from where it currently stands-it is more effective than so-called alternatives.
Sebi also confuses symptoms with disease. Accumulation of mucus isn’t the cause of disease its a symptom of disease. Increased mucus in the lung for example helps to trap or isolate irritants, like pollen or other particles, or infectious agents, like bacteria. In the case of large and small intestines it serves as lubricant. Your mucus is just one indicator of your health, it itself does not cause disease. This notion that it causes disease comes from promoters of detoxification “woo”, any practicing pathologist will tell you that mucus doesn’t cause disease.
So how does one combat disease according to Sebi’s view?
According to Sebi you combat disease with a combination of diet and his special blends of herbs. Although that doesn’t sound bad on its surface lets examine this further. The sort of diet Sebi claims will help reverse or cure disease is based on “alkaline” or “electric” foods.
Starting with “alkaline” foods, Sebi teaches in his lectures about the pH scale (ranging from 0-14), which is a measures how acidic or basic foods are. The lower the pH of a substance the more acidic it is, while the higher the pH of a substance the more basic it is. Substances, such as blood, near 7 on the pH scale are considered neutral. According to Sebi accumulation of acid in the body causes disease, and therefore foods which are more acidic are not only harmful but aren’t made by god-unnatural. In one video he says,
“Anything you put in your mouth that is acid will eat you up. And anything that you put in your mouth that is acid God did not make. For instance wheat, rice, beans, cows, hogs, chickens. All that stuff is garbage. How do I know that? At thirty I was impotent.”(Video entitled Dr. Sebi Cures A.I.D.S Diabetes, Cancer, etc pt 1)
Anything you put in your mouth? I wonder if that includes anything already in your mouth? Like saliva, the pH of which varies but can be less than 7. Or maybe stomach acid? Which somehow people who embrace this nonsense for get about. Food you consume does not go directly into your blood stream. All food that is consumed travels from the esophagus to the stomach which breaks the food down with hydrochloric acid, potassium chloride, and sodium chloride. With a pH ranging from 1-2 stomach acid makes all the food that it comes into contact with more acidic, producing chyme. Now after the chyme leaves the stomach which is protected from stomach acid by mucus, it enters the duodenum. The duodenum doesn’t have this mucosal lining and to account for this the liver and pancreas secrete bile (from the liver) and bicarbonate (from the pancreas) into the duodenum which brings the pH closer to 6 or 7. By the time your food has completed its journey through the small intestine the pH is between 7-8. So regardless of how acidic or alkaline you imagine your food is, it makes not one bit of difference to your digestive system (yes even when it comes to ulcers). The pH of the bloodstream is tightly regulated as well via homeostatic mechanisms between 7.35-7.45. In addition of evidence that an alkaline diet can affect your body’s pH there is no evidence that it can prevent or treat cancer either or any other disease.
The next claim that Sebi makes about acidic foods not being made by god (another way of saying unnatural). This is also false and misuses the premise of something being natural, confusing “natural” with “good”. The first mistake with this is that there are lots of natural poisons, from snake venom to cyanide and arsenic. Actually any substance can be a poison, what determines whether it behaves as poison is the dose. This principle is credited to Paracelsus, the father of toxicology. Even water, can be poisonous in large quantities, like in water intoxication. People who promote this idea often state that chemicals are harmful and we ought to live with natural herbs and remedies. The first problem with that is EVERYTHING IS CHEMICAL where biology is concerned. There is no such thing a “natural receptor” which can recognize or selectively responds to things that are “natural”. Receptors simply recognize molecules with which they can interact also called ligands. And once your food is digested, your body doesn’t recognize cow, or wheat, or rice. It recognizes proteins, lipids, carbs,vitamins, and water.
One of the other major claims that Sebi makes is that because our bodies are electrical we need “electric” food. Electric foods he claims are foods which are not only alkaline but alive. In essence he’s espousing two forms of woo , one is raw foodism, the other is the long discredited belief in vitalism. Raw foodists claim that cooked food is less healthy or nutritious than uncooked food. This claim is false for a number of reasons but the most important ones in my view are that cooking kills bacteria and also makes many foods more digestible, like plants which contain cellulose. Many raw foodists (mostly vegetarian) including Sebi, and quacks like him, go beyond this false claim that uncooked food is more nutritious and claim that raw or “living food” has an essence or vital energy a part from its physical and biochemical qualities that we miss when we consume cooked vegetables and meat. Put another way it is the belief that all life is animated by a soul, spirit, or otherwise immaterial essence. Which being immaterial you might imagine it would be pretty difficult to digest anyway, seeing as our digestive system is physical. So yeah… **Shrug**
Sebi seems to think that electricity isn’t the flow of electrical charge but is resonance which creates the electricity charge. Sebi claims he uses the electrical resonance of plants to determine their curative potential, no word on how he measures that.
And these are just his major claims. This is by no means an exhaustive debunking of Sebi’s nonsense. This is just to give you a glimpse into the type of quackery he promotes and that gets promoted all over the internet by people like Mike Adams, Joseph Mercola, and others. I hope by sharing this information with you that you won’t be taken in by quacks like Sebi. Because even though, no one who disbelieves Sebi is obligated to debunk him, I do it because I think its important as an exercise to demonstrate to others how one can use what is known or formulate questions that will help them to better determine the truth about claims they encounter. If you remember nothing else, remember, that the burden of proof is always on the person making the positive claim. Where is his evidence?
(Taken from pubmed searches and Sebi’s own website)
I can’t find it. Can you?
- Alternative medicine: The illusion of control (scienceblogs.com)
- Sebi, The Snakeoil Salesman (rhoadestoreality.wordpress.com)
- Germ Theory Calendar
- NCCAM has spent over 2.5 billion dollars and a little more than a decade research “alternative medicine”and still hasn’t found anything more effective than placebo
- Hawking mucus on the net
- MCAT Review of Digestion
- Alkaline Diets and Cancer: Fact or Fiction?
- Acid/Alkaline Theory of Disease is Nonsense
- Your Friday Dose of Woo: Acid, Base, or Woo(Revisited)
- RationalWiki’s article on Alkaline diets
- Fatal Water Intoxication
- 9 Reasons to Completely Ignore Joseph Mercola
- Miasmic Theory