There’s a War Going on — Dr. Farrah and Her Garlic Vs Dr. Adam

The dangers of traditional medicine, and why people like Dr. Farrah Agustin-Bunch are a danger to public health

Photo by Matthew Pilachowski on Unsplash

When I was a child in the Philippines, I was hit by a viral ailment and they sent me to this person who is called a Manghihilot. A manghihilot practices the traditional healing art of Hilot, which utilizes any combination of chiropractic-like manipulations, massages, oils, herbs, and prayers. The Manghihilot’s place was packed. People showed up in droves and in long lines waiting for their turn to be “healed”. In our case, the Manghihilot was a female in her 60s, she was what other cultures would call a “witch doctor”. Her “clinic” per se was her own house, every corner of it was littered with Christian symbols, trinkets, and figurines, and the entire place smelled like a combination of formalin and gasoline. When the “act” began, I could remember her hands looking very frail but they were rigid, it seemed as if she was doing this for decades. She knew the overall lining of muscle and bones on my back. I must say, I really did feel better afterwards — or maybe it was the fumes.

There are also individuals who are called Albularyos that more or less do the same thing. The word “hilot” nowadays simply translates to “massage”. Our family was slightly above middle class: my father was a geoscientist, while my mother was an educator. You’d think because of these, that we’d be less inclined to seek help from a traditional healer. But, we did go, and this mirrors the mindset of millions of Filipinos back home. Even to this day, alternative medicines are still popular in the Philippines. Which is why recently, there was a feud that broke out between an Australian Physician — Dr. Adam Smith, and a Filipina Doctor — Dr. Farrah Agustin-Bunch.

Two Doctors

As of 2020, both the Filipino FBverse and Twitterverse erupted with heated discussions in support of either side.

Dr. Smith, popularly known as “Doc Adam” in Youtube has always been very vocal and passionate about doing proper medicinal practices whilst correcting the wrong ones — especially in the Philippines. Doc Adam was born in England and is now based in Australia. He has deep connection with the Philippines and its people and even learned how to speak Tagalog — which is the official language. His vlogs are also in tagalog because he’s more focused on helping Filipinos than English speakers.

On the other hand, Dr. Farrah has built quite the following, with nearly 4-million followers on facebook. Her approach to treating her patients is in more traditional forms of medicine while also inventing her own. She has accumulated hundreds to thousands of testimonials from people that claimed to have been treated because of her intervention. Now, I do believe that Dr. Farrah is a real licensed medical practitioner. However, I don’t think she shows a lot of transparency in her work.

How the Feud Started

Dr. Farrah’s track record gets all the more sketchy the more you look into her background. The recent Feud was brought about when Doc Adam uploaded a video on Youtube that called out some of Dr. Farrah’s questionable health tips as well as her background. One notorious health tip was to apply “cabbage” on inflamed parts of the body, or to eat chilli peppers “if you have a heart attack”. She also used to run a clinic and a pharmacy which in 2018, has since been ordered to close by the FDA of the Philippines.

Doc Adam’s video is in the Tagalog language and it has raised interesting questions about Dr. Farrah.

The video opens up with Dr. Farrah in front of the camera, seemingly emotional after her business operations in Tarlac, Philippines was ordered to close down by the FDA of the philippines in 2018. She then attempts to squeeze some sympathy from the Filipino people claiming she has received death threats and further states that she “fought for [her] fellow Filipinos to have choices in their health care.”

Here are the questionable claims from Dr. Farrah that Doc Adam pointed out

1. Eating Chilli peppers will save your life when you have a heart attack

“You can take Siling Labuyo, it can — even if you’re having a heart attack, that will save your life.”

— Dr. Farrah

Siling Labuyo is a common chilli pepper from the philippines, and no, if you have a heart attack, do not go to the fridge and look for chilli peppers. Call for help!

2. Garlic is the cure for cancer

“[garlic] is one of the best herbal medication that was ever created by the Lord. If you have toothache, if you have headache, [high-blood pressure], migraines, if you have cancer, the best thing for you is garlic

— Dr. Farrah

This is dangerous, there are many types of cancers, and eating garlic will not cure your cancer. Seek professional help. In this statement, Dr. Farrah reveals that she has the divine backing her and her products up.

3. Inflammation can be cured by applying cabbage on the affected area

“ If you have anything swollen in your body, this is effective. Anything in your body! Even in your skin, if it’s swollen, even if it’s a dermatitis, Even if it’s arthritis, even if you have a muscular strain, or a muscular sprain, just have the Cabbage compressed [on it]”

— Dr. Farrah

According to Doc Adam, Inflammation in your body is caused by many factors, it could be heart failure, kidney failure, blood clots and liver failure. You don’t need cabbage, you need a proper physical examination. This cabbage treatment will give the people a false sense of security.

4. Her Pixie Dust helps treats diabetic and hypertensive people

“Pixie Dust is helpful. Actually, I give this to those people who are diabetic, hypertensive… ”

— Dr. Farrah

Pixie Dust is a Magnesium Citrate-based dietary supplement that Dr. Farrah sells on the internet. It is available in Amazon for around $60 USD. And her products are not even FDA approved. There were no scientific evaluations on the product, except Dr. Farrah herself. She further expands on the products scope of effectiveness stating that it helps in anxiety, insomnia, and ulcers. It maybe true that the human body needs Magnesium, but we only need it in trace amounts. Doc Adam then explains that there’s not a lot of studies surrounding Magnesium as a cure for Diabetes, or Ulcers.

5. Her Boston-C product can treat…. just about anything

In addition to Pixie Dust, Dr. Farrah then further adds that her treatment for Lymphoma — which is a form of cancer, is her own Vitamin C products namely, Mega Dose Vitamin C and Boston-C. The site describes Boston-C as a “scientific blend of herbs and extracts” that evolved from a concoction developed by her grandfather in the early 1980s and improved by her father in 1988.

In the Boston-C website, it claims that:

“Boston-C Herbal supplements are really effective in combating stage IV cancer diseases when simultaneously used with chemotherapy, cobalt or radiation therapy…Ninety percent (90%) of tumors disappeared in just 10 days of accelerated treatment. tumors of any size could disappear completely even before the treatment is over…. BOSTON-C Herbal Supplements have also been able to heal Prostate, Bone and Brain cancers, Bronchial Asthma, Cirrhosis of the Liver, Diabetes Mellitus, Edema, Sinusitis, Emphysema, Hemorrhoid, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Viral, Bacterial Infection, and Psoriasis; as well as hasten the recovery of people who have suffered from a stroke and rehabilitate the kidneys of those undergoing dialysis. . . . This God-given supplement can cure all illnesses that science or modern medicine cannot cure.”

So basically, she’s claiming that her product, that she sells on the internet, is a silver bullet to nearly all diseases. Also, that last statement clearly means it is marketed towards religious people.

6. She Went to Harvard Medical School

Enlarged Screenshot taken from the Official Facebook page of Dr. Farrah Agustin-Bunch on August 2020

Harvard Medical School is one of the top 10 medical schools in the world, based on the QS world University rankings by subject in 2019. Doc Adam conducts his own investigation and looked into Harvard Medical School records, and found out that her name was not present on any of the list of graduates. What she actually has is a Certificate of Completion on a course in Evidence-based Optimal Nutrition: The Quest for Proof, which if you access the official Harvard site, is actually a 5-hour online course that anyone can take, which costs $49 USD.

Screenshot of Doc Adam’s video highlighting Dr. Farrah’s certificate of completion

As of October, 2020, after some publicity, Dr. Farrah has since changed the description on her page, omitting any mention of Harvard Medical School.

Enlarged Screenshot taken from the Official Facebook page of Dr. Farrah Agustin-Bunch on October 2020

The dangers

Most people in the Philippines face poverty and would rather suck it up or have their ailments treated in more traditional ways. Furthermore, many of them don’t consult their doctors, sometimes it’s out of mistrust, or that medicine is expensive. Others only see the doctor once, the doctor gives them a prescription and they don’t come back. Doctors cannot 100% assess you correctly you just go for one visit, you need multiple visits. The thing is, people usually don’t feel any better after that first visit and that’s normal. What Filipinos mostly do is seek another doctor and reset the whole assessment process all over again. Doc Adam then states that health education in the Philippines is limited, and that people like Dr. Farrah are exploiting this.

Dr. Farrah’s videos are giving people a false sense of security about how they can fix their medical illnesses. Instead of getting the correct treatment that they need, people do things like putting cabbage on their problem.

— Doc Adam

Dr. Farrah holds around a thousand testimonials, some of which are in video, from patients that claim to owe their treatment to her intervention. This is misleading, because some ailments, such as viral infections have a way of getting better by themselves. Our own body is the one fighting the infection but it needs time to synthesize the right immune response proteins, and molecules. This is why vaccines are important, they are like target practice for your immune system. Taking Dr. Farrah’s miracle cures while having an infection can lead to inaccurate associations. People will think that their sickness was cured solely because of the supplements, which is wrong. It’s a twisted self-narrative of cause and effect.

With close to 4 million followers and claims of being a Harvard Graduate, Dr. Farrah actually makes a decent amount of money selling her products. But these things give people a false sense of hope for the wrong drug, and it’s dangerous.

People die

There are actually countless cases when people die after seeing a Naturopath, and having natural treatments. In 2017, a toddler in Calgary, Alberta died of meningitis after his parents did not provide the necessary medical treatment to the toddler, but instead relied on “natural treatments”. The parents were found guilty.

People like Dr. Farrah poses a danger to public health. Her false and misleading claims of being a graduate of Harvard Medical School, is wrongly legitimizing her practices and the products she sells or endorses.

In diseases like cancer, it’s easy to understand why people seek every possible treatment. This is a disease that kills and it damages families. People get desperate and it sickens me that an actual licensed physician such as Dr. Farrah just brushes it off saying garlic is the cure. How insensitive.

Dr. Farrah on COVID-19

In another video published on Dr. Farrah’s own Youtube channel, she discusses some tips to prevent COVID-19. They were basically just the same guidelines that WHO suggests like observing cleanliness, handwashing, limiting exposure to crowds, wear mask, limit sneezing. However, she ended the video with suggesting that people fight the disease with — you guessed it — Garlic, as well as ginger, honey, cinnamon, and Siling labuyo.

Not all Natural treatments are ineffective

Not all natural treatments are ineffective, there are certain compounds found in the natural world that do have effects on our bodies. Most drugs are derived from plants and animals. There are natural sources of vital nutrients present in food. Vitamin D, and Omega acids for instance, are found in fish oil. Antioxidants like anthocyanins are found in berries and yes also chilli peppers. Garlic in some studies have also shown to have medicinal properties like reducing colds. These nutrients are very important to our bodily functions and immunity. However, after seeing all of Dr. Farrah’s outrageous claims and the people that regretted going to her, I’m sorry to say that she has a different intent, and that is to make money. Never did she claim responsibility for the many lives that she ruined — and I do see a lot of sad stories from the people who sought out her expertise and instead have gotten worse. They are popping up from time to time. I believe that part of being a physician is having a sense of accountability and responsibility. I’m afraid Dr. Farrah doesn’t possess any of those.

Lawsuit of $100,000 USD

The feud furthermore escalated with a lawsuit of $100,000, not on Dr. Farrah’s health claims, but on Doc Adam’s “Bullying”. After Doc Adam’s video got viral, Dr. Farrah sent a lawyer to his own clinic stating that she demanded damages exceeding $100,000 USD. The full video to his reaction is available here in this link — albeit with some tagalog. She threatens to report Doc Adam to the Australian Medical board in order for his medical license to be removed. She retaliates further by uploading a photo of her actual physician ID (Not Harvard of course) and then calls out Doc Adam for selling his own brand of chia seeds as well as other products — which were all FDA approved, as well as calling him a “Bully” and then further using her own pregnancy and womanhood as a way to gain sympathy.

Screenshot of a post from Dr. Farrah in her own private facebook group

And so the war continues

This is a developing story, I wonder what happens next. Who's gonna win in court?

What do you think?

Does Dr. Farrah have the right to continue her lawsuit?

Is Doc Adam just a meddling foreigner?

Did the Philippine government have any right to close down her clinic back in 2018?

Anyway, thanks for reading, have a nice day.

Hi, there. I mostly write science stuff✚Optimistic that humanity survives the 6th Mass Extinction✚Love my Toyota✚Environmental Monitoring Technician✚CANADA

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