Episode 5: Cancer Quackery Part 3 - The Hoxsey Treatment, Zoetron Therapy, Ryke Geerd Hamer and "New German Medicine", and the Kelley/Gonzalez Metabolic Therapy

This episode covers alternative cancer treatments that got their proponents into legal trouble, including the Hoxsey treatment, zoetron therapy, Ryke Geerd Hamer and "New German Medicine", and the Kelley/Gonzalez metabolic therapy.

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Hoxsey Treatment

The Hoxsey Treatment was invented in 1840 by John Hoxsey. It’s an herbal formula made from a mixture of flowering wild plants and grasses that grew in a pasture where John Hoxsey’s horses grazed. These horses apparently had cancerous tumors on their legs that eventually went away and John Hoxsey assumed that these wild plants and grasses were the cause of the disappearing tumors. 

Hoxsey collected some of the plants from this pasture and added some old timey home remedies for cancer, mashed that all up into an herbal mixture treatment for cancer. He gave this concoction to some other horses afflicted with cancer, near his farm in southern Illinois. 

This entire account is recorded in Hoxsey’s own autobiography “You Don’t Have to Die” The subtitle was “Just Give Me Your Money” but the publisher advised against it. Just kidding… Apparently, the real subtitle is “The Amazing Story of the Hoxsey Cancer Treatment" (Full disclosure: you definitely have to die.) In this book Hoxsey states that this treatment aims to restore “physiological normalcy”.

In Hoxsey’s book he actually lists the exact ingredients that go into his treatment for “all cases of cancer, both internal and external”. The ingredients include potassium iodide combined with some or all of these substances on a case-by-case basis, according to Hoxey: Licorice, red clover, burdock root, stillingia root, berberis root, poke root, cascara, aromatic USP 14 (artificial flavor), prickly ash bark, and buckthorn bark. The last two are no longer on the official list of ingredients offered by the “treatment”. Hoxsey also offered topical treatment for tumors that used some of the same ingredients such as bloodroot we’ve covered earlier in previous episodes.

The cancer “cure” was passed to John Hoxsey’s son then finally to his son Harry Hoxsey in 1919. Apparently Hank Hoxsey was well known for his confrontational and flamboyant demeanor. Harry’s father implored him to use this herbal miracle mixture to treat people with cancer, in his own words, “if need be, in defiance of the high priests of medicine”. 

Harry’s father was a veterinary surgeon and was the first to administer this herbal remedy to people with cancer. Harry Hoxsey was the one who made this “treatment” famous. First clinic offering the Hoxsey treatment was opened in the early 1920s. By 1950s the Hoxsey Outpatient Clinic in Dallas TX was one of the most famous and largest privately-owned cancer centers in the world. It wasn’t just in Dallas, there were Hoxsey clinics in 17 other states. In its prime Hoxsey reported to have 10,000 patients under this treatment. His gross annual income around this time was $1.5 million.

So what did the Medical Industrial Complex think of Harry Hoxsey? Well, he was their worst nightmare, enemy number one! Hoxsey frequently had to shut down several of his clinics for practicing without a medical license. See that’s how they get you! You want to practice medicine in this town? Not so fast buddy. Let me see your license.

There have been no clinical trials of the Hoxsey treatment. In the 1950s there were several record reviews. One was in 1954 when a group of physicians visited the Hoxsey clinic. They supposedly inspected the clinic, spoke with patients, looked at medical documents and concluded that the Hoxsey Clinic was “successfully treating pathologically proven cases of cancer, both internal and external, without the use of surgery, radium or x-ray.” Also, that “the patients remained “symptom-free in excess of five to six years after treatment.” They also noted, “The Hoxsey treatment is superior to such conventional methods of treatment as x-ray, radium, and surgery.” Small problem though none of the data this group of physicians based this conclusion on can be found in any journal or even in Hoxsey’s own book. 

A review of the Hoxsey treatment and facilities was conducted in 1957 by a panel of faculty members of the University of British Columbia. The result for over ½ of the patients from British Columbia was either death or spreading of their cancer. In nearly ¼ of patients there was zero proof that the patients ever even had cancer in the first place. 

For nearly 1/10th of the patients the study found that these patients had a curative treatment (AKA: legit medical treatment) before arriving at the Hoxsey Clinic. In only a single case of external cancer did they conclude the Hoxsey treatment had even a slight effect on the disease, and conventional treatment would have yielded better results.

In 1930 Hoxsey along with controversial broadcaster Norman G. Baker, fell under legal trouble while operating the Baker Institute in Muscatine, Iowa. They faced multiple lawsuits for yet again practicing medicine without a license. 

In 1956 the Food and Drug Administration Commissioner issued a “Public Beware!” warning against Hoxsey’s treatment. These posters were hung in post offices and subway stations across the country. These repeated run-ins with the FDA led eventually to the closing of the Dallas clinic in the late 1950s.  

Hoxsey was forced to shut down all of his U.S. clinics in the early 1960s. In 1963, with Hoxsey’s approval, a nurse who worked closely with Hoxsey named Mildred Nelson started the Bio Medical Clinic in Tijuana, Mexico! Nelson died in 1999, and so the Bio Medical Clinic was handed over to her sister, Liz Jonas.

You may now be asking well, what happened to Mr Hoxsey himself? He died in 1974. Can you guess what he died from?  He died of prostate cancer! 

Here’s the interesting thing though, it would appear there is at least some evidence that Harry Hoxsey actually believed in his “cure”. Why? Because when diagnosed with prostate cancer he actually treated his own cancer with his own bullshit cure. It didn’t work (obviously) and he died. The End.

But WAIT! It actually doesn’t end there. Though Hoxsey did attempt his own treatment but when that failed he opted for the very cancer treatments he railed against all his life. Those treatments like surgery and other standard medical cancer treatments. So lesson was he was a total hypocrite. THE END.

WAIT!!! NO! It’s not the end there’s even another twist! It’s like we’re watching an M Night Shyamalan movie marathon here. After a long life of promoting a fake cancer cure while railing against “Big Medicine” then getting cancer using your fake cancer cure it not working then switching finally to actual medical treatment for cancer. … Harry Hoxey died seven years later. THE END. 

Reviews by the FDA, National Cancer Institute, American Cancer Society, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center all have found no objective evidence that this treatment provides any noticable benefits to people with cancer. They obviously also do not advice the use of Hoxsey Treatment. The sale of the Hoxsey Treatment is banned in the U.S. by the FDA on September 21, 1960 and is described as a “worthless and discredited” remedy and form of quackery” 

Zoetron Therapy

It’s hard to beat the first line from Wikipedia,

Zoetron therapy is an ineffective cancer treatment based on a large doughnut-shaped electromagnetic device (the "Zoetron machine").


Originally called “Cell Specific Cancer Therapy”, The CSCT clinic opened in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic in 1996 and moved to Tijuana, Mexico in 1998, Continuing a grand tradition of frauds and hucksters ruining the reputation of our Latin American neighbors.

I wonder if Zoetron Therapy will continue in the beautifully ironic practice of charging loads of money for their treatments? You betcha! Treatment originally cost $20,000! In actual fairness (and this is rare for us), their promotional brochures said they would offer their services for low or no cost for patients unable to afford it. Some patients of the clinic told Stephen Barret, M.D. of Quackwatch that this was actually true. In 1997, CSCT even promised to refund dissatisfied patients in 1997. Since every patient forked over 20 grand and left with nothing, CSCT quickly recognized the error of their ways and rescinded this policy.

So, what the heck is Zoetron Therapy anyway? Urine? Enemas? Christmas bushes? Nope! ZT used a new method in this series: MAGNETS! The patient say on a table surrounded by a giant nut with a two foot diameter. The therapist would listen for sounds the machine would make indicating the presence of cancer cells. This giant nut could apparently detect the “vibrational differences” between cancerous and non-cancerous cells. Once it found them, it “sent back their frequency”, causing them to rupture while leaving healthy cells with good vibes intact.

How does CSCT explain Zoetron Therapy? 

The energy used in the Zoetron device to disrupt the life cycle of the cancerous cells and cause cell death, is magnetic energy from a specially contrived array of both permanent and electromagnets. The complex magnetic field so created and to which the patient is exposed is an extremely active field of phased incoherence, but one which, even so, operates at a very low gauss level…

Whereas a modern Magnetic Resonance Imaging device (such as are now in widespread use) may have a magnetic field with a gauss (measure of intensity) in excess of 10,000 gauss, the Zoetron device normally operates at a maximum field intensity of less than 100 gauss.

100 gauss? Let’s put that into perspective. According to the Magnet Blog (of course that’s a thing!) by Adams Magnetic Products, “the pizza-shaped refrigerator magnet you got from your local pizzeria is 10 gauss”. So instead of dropping 20 grand on Zoetron Therapy, take that trip to the Caribbean and pick up a few gift shop magnets on your way back. It would be just effective.

CSCT also claimed that cancer cells contain iron. The Zoetron Therapy machine would cause the iron to vibrate, generating heat, which killed the cancer cell.

CSCT released two case studies to demonstrate the effectiveness of ZT. A 1996 case report discussed 50 Dutch patients whom it sorted into 4 categories: favorable (23), unfavorable(7), indefinite(16), and other(4). But it had a few problems: it didn’t provide raw data, so there was no way to tell how these criteria were applied, how patient follow-up was done, which patients also had real treatments, and which patients were still alive.

A 2000 case report claimed that patients with pancreatic cancer treated with ZT since 1996 had a 196% better success rate compared to conventional approaches. Wow! What a result! I wonder who they compared their “successes” with? Turns out, they compared anticipated results from patients in a french textbook. SCIENCE!

Now for the fun stuff: INTERNATIONAL JUSTICE! In 2003, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) ordered obtained a restraining order against CSCT. They could no longer claim that ZT cured cancer. They also froze their assets and shut down their website. A snippet from the complaint reveals their m.o.,

During the patient's stay at the clinic, staffers claim to assess the patient's condition by analyzing tumor size, blood chemistry, and tumor markers. As time goes by, the clinic may tell a patient that his or her tumor has reduced in size or that their tumor marker tests are decreasing. If a consumer expresses some doubt, possibly because the consumer's observation of the tumor indicates that there is no change, the clinic will assure . . . that the cancerous cells are in fact dead and explain . . . that the body simply takes time to eliminate the dead cancerous cells.

I get a scammer tricking folks into thinking their unobservable tumors are getting smaller. But it takes a real asshole to convince folks their VISIBLE tumors are getting smaller! Word of advice: You never want dead stuff inside of you. You’re alive! Get that stuff out of there, and if these CSCT idiots won’t do it, there are plenty of qualified medical professionals in Tijuana waiting to assist you. 

In 2004, the FTC announced that CSCT, Inc. signed an agreement to stop marketing ZT or any other unsubstantiated “service, program, food, drug, or device”. According to the Mexican Ministry of Health, 850 people were scammed in a five year period. 

Ryke Geerd Hamer and “New German Medicine”

Ryke Geerd Hamer graced this planet with his existence from 1935-2017. He was born in Mettmann, Germany and became a German physician. He started “German New Medicine” or  “Germanic New Medicine”. What did Hamer offer to the world? RationalWiki calls it “alternative medicine”. Wikipedia calls it “pseudo-medicine”. 

The great wisdom Hamer graced us with is his idea that every single disease has its psychosomatic origin in their neurological impact as well as many other psychological conflicts and anxieties. In the similar fashion to the macrobiotics scam. Hamer thought cancer was caused by mental conflict.

On August 8, 1978 Hamer’s son Dirk was shot to death by the son of the last king of Italy, Vittorio Emanuele of Savoy. Dirk was fast asleep on a yacht off of Cavallo. Shortly after Dirk’s death Hamer started to construct Germanic New Medicine and gave “Five Biological Laws” as it’s foundation. According to these “laws” no diseases exist, but rather a “special meaningful program of nature”, of which fungi, viruses, and bacteria also belong. 

Around the time of his son’s death. Hamer was diagnosed with testicular cancer and his wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. Of course Hamer attributed the cancer in both himself and his wife to the trauma surrounding their son’s death. The cancer surely would be treated if they could just confront and remedy this emotional conflict. Staying principled, Hamer had a conventional medical operation in 1979 to treat his testicular cancer but instead of advising his wife to do the same used her as a guinea pig for his quackery. She was to be the first patient of the New German Medicine. She died in 1985. It’s almost as if he had a hand in her death. Almost. Understanding the importance of not ever falling for “emotional conflict” Hamer continued his research despite the death of his first patient and wife.

Hamer announced the creation of his “New Medicine” in 1981 and opened a group of clinics between 1982-1985, despite his theories being completely rejected by the medical establishment. All of these clinics were closed eventually by the authorities for illegal medical practices. 

Hamer’s success rate was not so good. Most of his patients died at the clinics and as any good leader or President of the United States would do, he never admitted any wrongdoing. We have the greatest clinics. The most tremendous! He consistently reported nothing but complete success for his patients as they were all dying without actual medical assistance in his clinics. Hamer’s license was revoked. Hamer continued practicing illegally across multiple countries in Europe. Shockingly, courts found Hamer to be “mentally unstable” thus “unfit to practice medicine”. 

In 1995, Hamer treated a young man at the age of 6, named Olivia Pilhar. Poor dear suffered from Wilms’ tumor, which is a cancer of the kidneys usually only found in children. Olivia’s parents was fearful of the painful conventional therapies so they sought the help of Dr. Quackenenstein. His brilliant diagnosis was that there was no cancer but rather “conflicts”. Due to her parents refusing conventional medical treatment the Austrian government removed their rights of care and control of their daughter. So Olivia’s parents took Olivia and fled to Spain where Hamer could treat her directly. Negotiations ensued from the Austrian president with Olivia’s parents. They were convinced to come back to Austria. Of course by then Olivia’s health had completely deteriorated. The tumor had enlarged to four kilograms and filled her abdominal cavity, pushing up against her lungs. Her survival rate went from 90% to 10% under Hamer’s care. Conventional cancer treatment such as surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy was ordered for Olivia by the court. Due to getting ACTUAL treatment Olivia made a full recovery. And her parents were sentenced to 8-month suspended jail sentence. 

In 2007 Hamer, exhausting most his options on where he can cheat people out of their money for his fake cancer cure, sought authorization to do medical work in Norway. Surprisingly, the Board of Medical Practitioners denied him his application with an unanimous vote. They said he was unfit to practice medicine and could likely harm patients. Strangely Hamer was not happy with this decision and sued the Board, demanding his medical license because among other things,

The Board did not disprove his theories, so how could they suggest that his patients died off? If the Board would let Hamer practice for a few years, they would be amazed at the result. They laughed at Semmelweis and Galileo, didn’t they?

Hamer stated in court that he would not use or even recognize standard medical practices regarding cancer in his patients but only use New German Medicine. So the court said, fuck that and said replacing all known medical science with this quackery would be stupid and deadly to cancer patients. The court also reminded Hamer that a doctor’s role is not to treat his patients as guinea pigs testing out his treatments on. 

Even after this court decision, this didn’t deter Hamer one bit, he kept on keepin on with the quackery. Hamer was a huge conspiracy theorist. He believed that mainstream medical establishment was part of the “Jewish conspiracy” to destroy all non-Jews. He explained that morphine and chemotherapy were used to “mass murder” Western Civilisation. He claimed that these conventional treatments for cancer were not used in Israel, which is why no one died of cancer there. He said most of the oncologists in Germany are Jewish and that “no Jew is treated with chemotherapy in Germany”. 

According to Hamer hypodermic needles were used during chemotherapy treatment that implanted “chips” that contained “chambers of poison” which could be activated by satellite by shadowy Jews to kill patients. In 2009 Hamer thought the swine flu vaccination campaign was part of a conspiracy to mark people with those damn “chips”. 

And just to cover his bases, Hamer thought the reason the medical establishment didn’t accept his dumb theories was because of the Jewish conspiracy. So all the problems with all things all the time? - Jews. Got it, Dr. Germaniac!

While the first black president was being elected in the United States in 2008, Hamer presented a document signed by “Chief Rabbi “Esra” Iwan Gotz who confirmed that Hamer was correct and there was a conspiracy among Jewish oncologists against non-Jews to use  the “torture” of chemotherapy on non-Jewish patients, while Jewish patients were allowed correct German New Medicine treatments in secret. 

Well here’s the thing about that: Gotz is a known German holocaust denialist who was convicted time and time again by German courts on account of this. As well as defamation, fraud, falsification of documents, misuse of academic titles (“Chief Rabbi” isn’t protected legally in Germany) 

The medical establishment in Germany and the European Union issues warnings of the detrimental effects and dangers presented by Hamer’s theories. In some countries practicing Hamer’s treatments is punishable as malpractice, but of course Hamer’s quackery seems to never die. There are press reports from all throughout Europe of victims of Hamer’s practice. 

Kelley/Gonzalez Metabolic Therapy

William Donald Kelley, D.D.S., was getting bored of teeth and in the 60’s decided to try his hand on simpler pastimes: curing cancer. The cause is simple and sexy: hormone imbalance! (I might take liberty with paraphrase at just this moment.)

We all got male and female hormones in us. Normally we have the right amount and the pancreas takes care of them. But because we eat like garbage and foolishly drink coffee instead of sticking up our rectum, this balance goes haywire.

Hormones travel the body and reproduce where they shouldn’t. Since the pancreas doesn’t know where these hormones are it doesn’t take care of them, thus CANCER. So your brain cancer is literally just too much testosterone where your amygdala should be. SCIENCE!

Not only did Kelley discover the simple cause of cancer (ignored by the medical establishment because of its simplicity), he even devised, “the most accurate and extensive cancer detection system ever developed.” Is it an MRI? Cat Scan? PET scan? Something with a motor or made out of fancy plastic at least? Nope! It’s a questionaire! The Kelley Malignancy Index. And to top it all off, it is filled out by the patient. There are never problems with the accuracy and reliability of such questionaires and anyone who suggests otherwise is part of the medical establishment and should be ignored immediately.

Not only is the cause and detection of cancer easy, but the cure is easy too, if long lasting: Kelley said that only lifelong adherence to his program would keep the body clear from toxins and therefore cancer. So, what do I have to do? Kelley has a 5 part program:

First there is nutritional therapy: “Tablets and capsules of coenzymes, megavitamins, minerals, high-dose vitamin C, bioflavonoids, rutin, a compound of "organic" and trace minerals, raw almonds, an amino acid-lipoid compound, and a formulation of concentrated beef pancreatic enzymes.”

Detoxification: All that testosterone is leaking out “toxins”, so you got to get them out of there. This involves “laxative purging” with epsom salts, fasts, and, you guessed it, enemas! Coffee enemas, of course. But also enemas of fermented milk or lemon juice.

Initially started with a vegetarian diet but allowed “variations” which apparently included an all-meat diet. Quite the variation if you ask me.

Neurological stimulation: “Osteopathic, chiropractic, physiotherapeutic manipulation, or manual "reshaping" of the skull (mandibular manipulation).”

Also, read the bible a bunch. That one seems kind of ad hoc.

We all know what happened next: an oncological revolution which swept cancer away into the dustbin of history. Wait, did I say “cancer”? I meant “Kelley’s right to practice medicine without a license.” In 1970, on the basis of witness testimony that Kelley diagnosed lung cancer with a blood sample from the finger, Texas told him to quit practicing medicine. Kelley managed to appeal the decision for 6 years, until finally getting his dental license suspended for 5 years in 1976. But Kelley wasn’t done! He continued promoting his quackery into the 80’s under the guise of the International Health Institute in his beloved Texas.

But he wasn’t alone; Kelley was helped by “certified metabolic technicians” and a big ass computer. The techs would administer the questionaire across the country. I’ve taken questionaires. How many questions could it be? Like a fun BuzzFeed one? It took me 100 questions to be a bug man, so it can’t be more than that. 3200 questions! Lordy be!

The computer would crunch the questionnaires and spit out a diagnosis. Not only did it tell you the “metabolic status” of the patient, but also suggested treatment as well, including imbibing 100-200 dietary supplements a day.

In 1987, Dr. Nicholas Gonzalez enters the picture. He began a treatment similar to Kelley’s and even drafted a book discussing 50 patients treated by Kelley. In defense of Kelley, Gonzalez was basically a rip off: coffee enemas, vegetarian diets with a billion variations including only meat, 150 pills a day.

While ripping off the ideas of another crank is bad enough, the New York State licensing authorities that Gonzalez was also ripping off his patients. In 1994, they concluded:

  • His “alternative protocol” didn’t entitle him to an alternative standard of care.

  • He failed to “correctly interpret signs and symptoms of disease progression”

  • He treated patients incompetently.

  • … and his record keeping was inadequate. 

NYC placed him on probation for 3 years and required him to undergo retraining and have his work supervised by the  Office of Professional Conduct.

That wasn’t the only trouble Gonzalez got in; in 1997, a jury awarded one of his patients 2.5 million dollars in actual damages and 150000 in actual punitive damages. Basically, the amount of fuck up he inflicted on this patient was 2.5 mil. The 150000 was just because he was a super prick. That’s how much moral properties weigh, apparently.

In 1991, the patient was diagnosed with uterine cancer and received a hysterectomy. Instead of the chemo and radiation recommended by her cancer specialist (key word “specialist”), she went with Gonzalez. He tested her hair and concluded a more effective treatment would be 150 pills a day and coffee enemas. He claimed her cancer was cured. It was in fact getting worse, eventually damaging her spine and leading her blind.

Being a real piece of shit, Gonzalez appealed the decision. The jury rescinded the 150000. But kept the 2.5 million verdict.

In April of 2000, a jury awarded the husband of a hodgkin's lymphoma patient who died $282,000. They said Gonzalez was negligent because apparently looking at hair isn’t adequate oncological diagnosis. 

Gonzalez finally dropped dead in 2015 of heart problems, leaving behind a legacy not only as a scam artist who harmed many, but an unoriginal one at that. May God not rest his soul.


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