We’ve seen them before – weird, wacky and sometimes dangerous procedures purported to treat cancer and other diseases – miracle mineral solution , coffee enemas, positive thinking, laetrile to name but a few. Over at Respectful Insolence, Orac reveals a new oneBicarbonate Maple Syrup.

The Bicarbonate Maple Syrup treatment merges two ideas:

1) That cancer cells have a strong appetite for glucose

2) That disease/cancer comes from the body/cells being too acidic.

While the first idea is supported by science (here), the second is a myth that has been circulated for decades. Combined together they create a treatment that is just plain wacky.

The treatment calls for patients to brew up a mixture of bicarbonate of soda with maple syrup and then to take sips of it throughout the day. The principle behind this is that the glucose in maple syrup will carry the bicarbonate into the glucose hungry cancer cells and kill them.

So what is wrong with this process?

First, maple syrup consists largely of sucrose not glucose. Sucrose, of course, is digested in the body to produce glucose, however, this very process will also neutralise the bicarbonate of soda. Anyone who has used bicarbonate of soda to counter acid reflux knows very clearly from the carbon dioxide it produces that stomach acids effectively neutralised swallowed bicarbonate.

Indeed, this procedure like many others completely ignores the fact that substances taken orally first have to transit our digestive system, then our circulatory system to get anywhere near most cancer cells. And any substance transiting these systems will undergo a series of changes – certainly the chances of the bicarbonate and maple syrup getting to cancer cells intact is highly unlikely.

The other thing that puzzles me is that do the people promoting these “treatments” actually think that if they did work, that scientists wouldn’t have investigated and perfected them decades ago? Most of those involved in cancer research would love to find a simple and effective treatment, however, history has shown that the treatment of cancer is challenging. Even so, the treatments that are being developed are getting better and better every year.

Maple syrup and bicarbonate of soda does not make sense as a cancer treatment. Though if heated together long enough I wonder if they might form a Canadian equivalent of hokey pokey?