A prominent Los Angeles doctor who claimed that specially-prepared herbal supplements could treat a wide variety of diseases including cancer, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson's disease - with a success rate as high as 80 percent - has been convicted and sentenced to prison.
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Christine Daniel, a Pentecostal minister, sold her miracle cures through her San Fernando Valley clinic and on the Christian Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) show Praise the Lord. In September 2011 Daniel was convicted of several crimes including wire fraud, tax evasion and witness tampering. Last week Daniel was sentenced to 14 years in federal prison and ordered to repay over $1 million that she took from clients.
According to a story on Yahoo News, some of her patients died of treatable forms of cancer within 3 to 6 months after taking the supplements. Chemical tests showed the treatments contained beef extract flavoring and a sunscreen preservative.
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Herbs can't treat or cure cancer, of course. But this case shows how the chronically ill can be exploited by fraud artists and unethical alternative medicine practitioners. Prosecutors also explained that Daniel's status as a minister and association with TBN enhanced her credibility. Many fundamentalist churches advice their members to avoid modern medicine in favor of prayer and herbs.