Sanum Therapy: More Homeopathic Nonsense

Stephen Barrett, M.D.

Sanum therapy is based upon the medically disputed concept of pleomorphism, which holds that microorganisms can shift from one form to another in response to environmental influences. It was developed by Günther Enderlein (1872-1968), who theorized that tiny microorganisms called "protits" normally circulate harmlessly throughout the body but can change into disease-producing bacteria or fungi if exposed to various internal or environmental triggers. Sanum remedies are dilutions of bacteria or fungi that are said to work homeopathically. Enderlein maintained that these remedies could help reverse these harmful changes, "rebalance" the patient’s internal milieu, and support the body’s natural ability to heal itself [1]. His rationale is difficult to summarize because it is voluminous and includes his own terminology that makes reading of his papers difficult or impossible [2].

Enderlein was born in Leipzig, Germany, got a Ph.D. in zoology in 1898, and became a professor in 1924. During his career, he wrote more than 500 articles, mostly about insects. He became production manager in a small pharmaceutical company called Sanum in 1933 and founded his own pharmaceutical company, IBICA in 1944. In 1975, Sanum and IBICA merged to form the Sanum-Kehlbeck company, which still manufactures the products developed by Enderlein plus others based on his research [1-3]. For many years, the North American distributor was its subsidiary, PleomorphicSANUM, of Glendale, Arizona. Recently the distribution rights were acquired by Terra Medica in Ferndale, Washington.

Dubious Claims

Sanum remedies are usually given by injection, although other routes of administration are used. The PleomorphicSANUM Web site states that the products are designed "to help restore balance" by working to:

The claims made for Sanum products are not modest. Biomed International, a Canadian distributor, describes 73 Sanum remedies grouped into ten categories: milieu modulators, isopathic fungal remedies, bacterial remedies, excretion remedies, botanical remedies, chelation remedies, glandular remedies, sanukehls, and polysans [4]. Chrysocor, for example, is said to contain "human-placenta hydrolysate to stimulate the metabolism and to address functional disturbances of the male gonads, climacterium virile, conditions of 'old age' and sexual asthenia (libido), hypogenitalism, sexual adynamia and as an adjuvant for cellular regeneration."

The 180-page SANUM Therapy Prescription Book, authored by Konrad Werthmann, M.D., lists more than 300 diseases and conditions that are amenable to Sanum therapy [5]. Werthmann is an Australian physician hired by Sanum-Kehlbeck to educate practitioners throughout the world [6]. The choice of remedy is commonly determined with applied kinesiology (testing muscle strength while the person is exposed to the product) or with an EAV device (a computerized galvanometer that supposedly relates skin resistance to diseases and their treatments). Neither of these methods has the slightest value in actually diagnosing disease [7,8]. My Medline search for "Sanum" did not locate any studies of sanum remedies or any articles that discuss their use.

Legal and Regulatory Status

All products marketed for the treatment of disease are required to have FDA approval. To gain approval, they must be proven effective for their intended purposes. Sanum products are not approved, which means that it is illegal for the manufacturer to market them in the United States. As far as I can tell, however, the FDA is not aware of their existence.

Use by practitioners is regulated by state licensing boards. State dental boards have taken action against four dentists who included Sanum remedies in their practice: Terry J. Lee, Anthony J. Roeder, Richard Vander Heyden, and William K. Nabors. Lee was ordered to serve five years of probation [8]. Roeder permanently surrendered his license [9]. Vander Heyden's license was revoked [10]. Nabors is facing charges of negligence [11]. All four based their remedy selection on applied kinesiology and/or EAV testing.

The Bottom Line

Sanum therapy is based on a bizarre and senseless theory. The Medline database reveals no evidence that Sanum products have been scientifically tested. The products, said to be homeopathic, are promoted as effective against the full gamut of disease. They lack FDA approval and are not legally marketable in the United States, but several hundred practitioners appear to be prescribing them. I believe that their use reflects extremely poor professional judgment. My advice is very simple: If you consult a practitioner who advocates their use, head for the nearest exit and ask the state licensing board to investigate.

References

  1. Understanding pleomorphism and isopathic/homeopathy. Phoenix, AZ: Pleomorphic Product Sales, Sept 1998.
  2. Günther Enderlein. Wikipedia, accessed October 7, 2009.
  3. SANUM therapy. PleomorphicSANUM Web site, archived July 31, 2007.
  4. Sanum isopathic/homeopathic | By categories. Biomed International Web site, accessed October 7, 2009.
  5. Werthmann K. The SANUM Therapy Prescription Book. Hoya, Germany: Semmelweis-Verlag, 2002.
  6. Slagel KR. Pleomorphic: Interview with Konrad Werthmann, senior SANUM instructor. Explore! 11(6), 200
  7. Barrett S. Applied kinesiology: Phony muscle-testing for "allergies" and "nutrient deficiencies." Quackwatch, March 12, 2009.
  8. Barrett S. Quack "electrodiagnostic" devices. Quackwatch, June 20, 2009.
  9. Disciplinary actions against Terry J. Lee, D.D.S. Dental Watch Web site, revised Feb 13, 2005.
  10. Final decision and order. In the matter of the disciplinary proceedings against Richard Vander Heyden, D.D.S., July 13, 2005.
  11. Consent agreement and order. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania vs. Anthony G. Roeder, D.D.S. April 2, 2003.
  12. Notice of hearing on Nov 6, 2009. In the matter of William K. Nabors, D.D.S. before the North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners.

This page was posted on October 7, 2009.

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