Here at HolfordWatch, we were interested to see the Galway Advertiser referring the ‘Dr Patrick Holford’: Holford is not a doctor. The paper has been contacted about this – and we are sure that Holford himself will be keen to see this error corrected. However, there are also a number of other significant problems with the article: two many to analyse in one post, but we will look at a couple here.
Firstly, Holford claims that the immune system
fights off viruses, bacteria and other organisms which try to attack you and cause illness, from the common ones that cause cold…to the more rare but often deadly ones like…AIDS.
AIDS is not a virus, bacteria or organism: it can be defined as “a set of symptoms and infections resulting from the damage to the human immune system caused by the human immunodeficiency virus”. AIDS is also – with apologies for stating the obvious – a serious condition. People who have developed AIDS, or are concerned about HIV/AIDS, should discuss this with a qualified doctor rather than taking the advice of a self-described nutritionist.
Secondly, the article advices using the herb cat’s claw (Uncaria tomentosa) for a whole range of symptoms. What’s particularly worrying here is that the article does not mention that – among other contraindications – cat’s claw should not be taken by pregnant women: it may cause miscarriage. The fact that a treatment is ‘herbal’ or ‘natural’ does not mean that it is safe, or can be casually recommended.
Finally, we were concerned to read that the article advised responding to tender lymph glands by taking supplements like vitamin C and cat’s claw. However, the patient.co.uk page on swollen/tender lymph glands advises that while “Swollen lymph glands due to virus infections are common” patients should contact their doctor if they “find swollen lymph glands and…do not know why they have swollen. For example, you do not have an infection to cause them to swell [or] swollen lymph glands due to an infection do not go down again within two weeks.” Changes in lymph glands can occasionally be related to serious conditions such as cancer – and, in such cases, messing about with just supplements like vitamin C would be an extremely bad idea.
It is therefore very disappointing to see the Galway Advertiser run an article like this: not only do they mistakenly call Holford a doctor, but they also offer a great deal of dubious advice.