Belle Gibson's Cautionary Tale

Last week, the alternative-health community took a blow so big it's making it look as if it's even more full of horseshit than expected in the eyes of conventional medicine. And the turd is Belle Gibson, an Australian “wellness” blogger and creator of the wildly popular lifestyle app the Whole Pantry. Gibson claimed she had cured her brain cancer with solely natural remedies, including cutting out sugar, going gluten-free, eating a whole-foods diet, meditating—the living goddess probably went on some vision quests, too. She gained hundreds of thousands of dollars in profit from poor souls seeking a different way to heal.

But Gibson never had cancer. In her brilliant article in VICE, Emma Do points out that it's not surprising Gibson conned as long as she did, since you'd look like an asshole for questioning someone with a severe illness. But Gibson's friends called her out when they noticed their pal hugely overstated how much money she actually donated to nonprofits from the app's sales.

The real, disheartening issue with Gibson's story isn't that humans are evil; it's that it makes it even harder for consumers to choose the right combination of natural and conventional medicine. The alternative community is awash with bloggers akin to Gibson, and because scientists don't often test natural remedies, anecdotes are often the only information.

Lesson learned? There is no cure-all. Chemo has cured as many cancers as not, and natural remedies work for some and not others. Just because something wears a label with trendy buzzwords, doesn't mean it's healthy. Research, folks. And Gibson? Fuck off.

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