Editor's Note: This article was originally written by patient expert Hope Trachtenberg-Fifer.
One example of well intentioned--yet skewed--advice, is "the coconut macaroon prescription," for common diarrhea AND Crohn's disease, popularized in the nationally syndicated newspaper column, "The Peoples' Pharmacy."
Every so often, the column mentions this alleged miracle cure.
Several years ago, when my youngest son was at his worst, in terms of his, severe, refractory Crohn's, more than a few folks-- clearly suspicious and/or critical about why I "allowed" my child to become so very ill, for so long, when I could have simply packed a few coconut cookies in his lunch bag-- boldly ventured forth, to offer the seeming revelation espoused by The Peoples' Pharmacy.
Someone who, I thought, would have known better (he was a high-level, health care professional and administrator) was among those who suggested said therapeutic macaroons, for my, then, twelve year old. I responded:
"I understand that you mean well, to suggest 'coconut macaroons' (yes; I've heard the stories, about the amazing power of the Archway brand...). But, whether or not coconut has wonderful, long overlooked, anti-diarrheal efficacy, Crohn's disease is not 'diarrhea.' Diarrhea can be a symptom of Crohn's disease; many patients do have bouts of varying degrees of diarrhea when they flare. Certainly, my son's presentation is at the far end of the spectrum, but believe me, that's not all there is to this disease.
Coconuts are not likely, as far as anyone knows, to reverse auto-immunity, heal oral ulcerations, esophageal erosion, intestinal lesions, strictures, fistulas, fissures, correct hypercoagulability, or even cease rectal hemorrhage. Coconuts won't quiet overactive inflammatory cytokines, and stop the intestinal malabsorption, arrested bone development, or reduction in red cell production.
You know, Crohn's disease is very prevalent among Ashkenazi Jews. If macaroons 'cured' Crohn's disease, don't you think that, come each Pesach (Passover), all of the currently suffering Jews of our bloodline would be freed from their Crohn's disease? Mt. Sinai Hospital's IBD Center would have shut down after the first round of the macaroon feeding frenzy, never to reopen again"
About twenty-five years ago, the then head of the giant, internationally respected firm, United Technologies, published a list of his personal, inspirational and motivational concepts. My favorite item, from that list, was: "If a million people believe in a dumb idea, it's still a dumb idea."