His clients swear by the natural treatments, but many others are doubtful
August 27, 2009 5:23 PM
After one consultation with Daryn Peterson, a selfdescribed natural-medicine doctor, Selena Lori decided to drop her $458-a-month health insurance.
She paid nearly that, $450 an hour, to hear Peterson’s alternative approach to wellness. He explained how toxins — whether in food or medication — cause all disease, and how he has bottled prevention and cure in his line of organic vitamins and supplements.
To buy that antidote, clients pay for his “natural health insurance,” which doesn’t cover hospitalization, prescriptions or tests but offers discounts on his natural medicine.
“It just made sense,” says Lori, who runs a restaurant employment Web site. “It was a real logical transition for me.”
Peterson, 37, says his products have cured cancer, AIDS, peanut allergies and heart failure. While he has no data to prove those assertions, he does have a loyal following of clients who discovered him on the Internet or through cable TV infomercials.
He and others who reject Western medicine have capitalized on growing American demand for organic products and holistic approaches to healing.
F. Catanza Rite, a Costa Mesa holistic healer, recently self-published a book asserting that biological age can be reversed and that cancer and diabetes can be cured by his seven steps, including absorbing energ y from the Earth.
Linda Gigliotti, a University of California, Irvine, registered dietitian, said that historically some American companies and health care practitioners have made unsubstantiated claims about their products. The Food and Drug Administration recently warned the maker of Cheerios to stop promoting the cereal as a way to lower cholesterol.
“These claims are not that unusual,” Gigliotti said. “It’s very sensational and people want false hope. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Check out the credential of the person making the claim.”
Lori’s indigestion and menstrual cramps sent her to Peterson. He listened attentively. He explained how chemicals poison the body and how doctors prolong illness rather than prevent it.
Lori dropped her Health Net policy and signed up for Peterson’s “natural health insurance” membership plan.
“I just couldn’t justify spending that without getting any results,” she said.
Lori and her partner, Emanuel Thomas, pay Peterson $116 a month for unlimited consultations and a 15 percent discount on Peterson’s 14 products. They typically spend $100 to $300 for vitamins, fiber and salt.
Lori, who lives in Tustin says her symptoms have all but disappeared. She doesn’t worry about forgoing preventive checkups to screen for cancer, for instance.
“Now that I understand how the body works, it wouldn’t necessarily be a priority of mine,” she said. “What I’ve learned from Dr. Peterson is how the body works if everything is properly processed. My chances of any thing happening have been eliminated.”
Peterson arranges for his clients to purchase catastrophic insurance if they’re worried about accidents, though he says a car ran over his legs and he recovered by mending the sprains himself.
During a recent consultation with Lori, Peterson told her that statistically, cancer patients who refuse chemotherapy or radiation live longer than those in remission. Dr. Frank Meyskens, an oncologist who heads UC Irvine Medical Center’s cancer center, said the statement makes no sense.
“If a patient with cancer is in remission, he has had something done to put him in remission — usually surgery, radiation or chemotherapy,” Meyskens said.
Peterson shrugs off skepticism. “If you call the Mayo Clinic the obvious reaction is, ‘He’s a quack.’ That’s just a stereotype I’m going to have to live with.”
Peterson meets with clients at his dining room table, wearing a white doctor’s jacket, his credentials displayed behind him. He has a diploma from Canterbury University in London, a doctorate in bioscience, which he said he completed online and in person. He also is board certified by the American Alternative Medical Association, a designation available for $285 to those with a traditional or “nontraditional” doctoral degree.
“When I first graduated from medical school, the Mission Viejo hospital actually referred many patients to me,” Peterson said. “After a year or so they stopped referring patients to me because they didn’t come back and they stopped buying drugs.”
Kelsey Martinez, a Mission Hospital spokeswoman, said the hospital’s medical director had never heard of Peterson.
Peterson’s most popular product, Multi Mega 100, costs $49.95 and contains high amounts of vitamins made from organic whole plants.
“Nothing we give to our patients could ever hurt you, there are never any side effects, you can never take too much, and the more you take, the better you’ll feel,” Peterson said.
Gigliotti, the dietitian, reviewed several of Peterson’s supplement labels including Multi Mega. “I would say that’s very pricey,” Gigliotti said. “Most of the items on there are water soluble. If the body does not have an immediate use for them, they’re going to be excreted. It’s expensive urine.”
Yet Peterson’s clients swear by his results.
Erin Taydus, who lives in Kentucky, has never met Peterson but discovered him online. A mechanical engineer, she said her ovarian cysts disappeared after using his products. “He’s wonderful on simplifying the whole process. There’s so much information out there,” said Taydus, 30. “We’re just giving the body tools so the body can do the job.”
Cid Martin, 44, of Irvine lived on junk food and soda until he read a motivational book that included a chapter on health. He said eating healthy, organic whole foods and taking Peterson’s supplements have given him abundant energy.
He was first treated by Peterson’s mother, Victoria Peters, who is also a natural medicine doctor. When Martin’s doctor could not treat a painful knot underneath his arm, he drank saltwater and fasted for three days. The knot disappeared.
“I haven't been to a doctor since.”