Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Brad Wildberg's Diabetes "Cure"

It was almost like Christmas when my package from Integrated Health of Minnesota arrived the other day. As I wrote earlier, after seeing an ad in the Pioneer Press I sent for a "free guide" that would tell me how to cure Type II diabetes without exercise.

The ad invited readers to be part of a study. I base that statement on the ad's headline, which read "New Diabetes Study," and the subtitle: "Encouraging Study on TYPE II DIABETES Shows the disease CAN BE REVERSED in as little as 1 WEEK!". But the language on the booklet skirts that claim:

How Would You  Like To Find Out If You Qualify
For This Amazing Type II Diabetes Reversal Program?

Oh, it's a program, right… not a study. It then goes on to refer to it as Type II Diabetic Reversal Programming. No scientifically recognized study is involved.

The booklet, plus a two-page cover letter and one-page testimonial from a supposed patient, totals to 21 pages. Medical facts are few and far between, although there are 51 exclamation points, 65 uses of italics, 109 uses of boldface, 78 uses of all caps, and 60 underlines… modifying continuous assaults on "evil drug companies" and "uncaring doctors" who only want your money and don't think of you as an individual.

It doesn't provide anything described in the ad: it doesn't "explain in plain English how many diabetics have been able to reduce and eliminate their drugs and insulin injections, lose weight without exercise, reduce and eliminate the risk for diabetic complications, restore pancreatic function, and even become non-diabetic."

It doesn't reveal "rarely used diagnostic testing that is helping doctors understand potential causes of diabetes beyond weight gain, genetics, and lack of exercise." Well, it does mention some kinds of testing, but the connection is vague.

Instead, the booklet casts aspersions on the term "standard of care," accuses doctors of being in the pockets of drug companies, and tells the reader s/he is a special snowflake with a unique reason for having diabetes.

It mentions the evils of drug companies 14 times and, separately, of diabetes treatment medications 21 times. The writer claims to be a doctor (a doctor of chiropractic rather than medicine, though that's never mentioned) but he distances himself from the profession with phrases like "I am about to reveal SHOCKING information...that puts me in hot water with the powers that be."

Readers are threatened with phrases like "your life is on the line," "you are in big trouble," "ultimate downfall," and -- get this -- "DIABETIC DEATH MARCH. YIKES!" Not to mention teased with phrases like "What I've Discovered Is Like The Fountain of Youth for Diabetic Sufferers."

What underlies all that animosity to medicine

Steve Novella's recent Science-Based Medicine post about medical conspiracies seems pertinent here. A recent study found that 18 percent of people believe in three or more medical conspiracy theories. The conspiracies included:
  • The FDA suppresses natural cures because of pressure from Big Pharma
  • Health officials know cell phones cause cancer
  • The CIA infected large numbers of African-Americans with HIV
  • GMO foods are part of Agenda 21, an effort to shrink global population
  • Doctors know vaccines cause autism
  • Water fluoridation is a secret way to dump dangerous byproducts from phosphate mines
The 18 percent who believed in at least three of those whoppers were most likely to use supplements, eat organic, not vaccinate, etc…. But the study didn't ask if they visit alternative medicine practitioners. Novella hypothesizes that there might be an even stronger connection there. "This is based upon the observation (documented in many of the articles here on SBM) that much [alternative medicine] promotion is intimately tied with medical conspiracy thinking."

Harriet Hall's review of the book All Natural by Nathanael Johnson highlighted the author's point that what people are often looking for in their medical care is to be listened to and cared for (care in the interaction/feeling sense, rather than the medical sense).

Johnson's book also takes on the common criticism that medicine identifies your problem and treats it (usually its symptoms, but sometimes curing it), rather than attacking the cause. As Hall put it,
He puts a new spin on the old canard that doctors only treat symptoms, not underlying causes. After his appendectomy, he asks the surgeon why it happened to him and why it happened when it did. He gets only a vague answer. “Conventional medicine is concerned with helping pragmatically, using the information available to accomplish what it can…you don’t have to know why a fire started to put it out.”
Both of these points were a common complaint in the diabetes screed from Integrated Health of Minnesota. Your diabetes is unique, the pamphlet said over and over again. Your doctor doesn't care about what caused you to become diabetic, he just wants to sell you drugs. You need individualized care. Don't be part of the "diabetes herd."

But the pamphlet also said, You need someone to listen to you. Your doctor only spends 5 minutes with you -- I'll spend hours. I'll do all these tests you've never heard of.

What it didn't say:

Forget that I'm a chiropractor, which means I know nothing except maybe physical therapy with an aura.

Come get my FREE evaluation (a $245 value!) so I can rope you into who-knows-what-cost going forward.

All this from a questionable guy

And that's not mentioning the less-than-savory background of the chiropractor, Brad Wildberg, whose name is listed at the end of the guide. Here's what I found out about him from the interweb:

In addition to the address at 7250 France Avenue in Edina, which sent out the diabetes mailing, he practiced (may still practice) in Medford, Wis. (between Wausau and Ladysmith) for many years. His wife, Kristin or Kristan or Kris Arndt Wildberg, is from there. (Yes, her name is spelled all those different ways in legal documents, obituaries, and newspaper articles.)

Wildberg has no website of his own that presents his credentials or his practice as such. He is mentioned on many "find a health practitioner" sites with very little information. A clinic in Thorp, Wis., appears to be another place where he currently practices. Their site says that he graduated from Northwestern College of Chiropractic in 1980.

In 2005 he and Kristan (with an "a") were plaintiffs in a lawsuit in Michigan. They and several others sued a guy who ripped them off. From what I can tell, the guy was a con man who let them think they were ripping him off, then pulled a switcheroo. The case was thrown out because the judge found the plaintiffs (the chiropractor, his wife, and their friends) were acting in an illegal way to begin with.

He and Kristin (with an "i") declared bankruptcy in 2009. That's not so notable, but what did catch my eye was the list of businesses they declared with the notice: seven clinics, three real estate businesses, and five financial or other vaguely titled businesses. Shell corporations? Rackets? Your guess is as good as mine. They are reported to have had $811K in assets against $4.8M in liabilities.

The IRS has federal tax liens against the Wildbergs' property.

Crook or caregiver?

Now, given all that -- is this the kind of person anyone should entrust with their health? He seems to have more than an average interest in getting some money in the door to pay for his past problems.

And remember, the cost of one ad that size in the Pioneer Press is at least $1,700. How many "free" consultations does he have to do to pay for it?

Oh -- wow -- I just realized that today's the deadline they stamped on my booklet.

Yes, Wildberg throws in the old "time-limited offer" canard — twice in a rubber-stamped date and again in a P.S. message. I better go make my appointment.

Or maybe I should find out if the state's attorney general is interested instead.


My ad cost estimate is based on the ad size, which was two column inches wide by 6 inches tall. The PiPress's open rate is $241.33 a column inch, which would mean the ad cost $2,896. However, if it was run as a standby, it could have been discounted 40 percent, which would be $1,738. (Although the PiPress rate sheet says standby ads have to be a minimum of 31.5 column inches, there was a clause that made it clear they can make exceptions, so who knows.)

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