‘Dr’ Holford on the immune system in the Galway Advertiser

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.


Filed under AIDS, cancer, HIV, illnesses, patrick holford, vitamin c

4 responses to “‘Dr’ Holford on the immune system in the Galway Advertiser

  1. That Galway Advertiser article is gubbins of the first order: there is a JKN’d and annotated version. However, it couldn’t begin to unpack all of the erroneous implicit claims and assumptions in that item.

  2. Wulfstan

    Might I take this opportunity to remind you of Isaacs’ and Fitzgerald’s guide 7 alternatives to evidence-based medicine. However, given the tan in that photo that is nothing like his current appearance, might I suggest that there is a smidge of Eloquence-based medicine? The generous accolades smell of Eminence-based medicine. Might I offer Arrogance of Ignorance medicine for your consideration?

  3. Claire

    Hmm, this looks like paid advertising masquerading as editorial (that horrible word, advertorial). Something tells me the Galway Advertiser is not a heavyweight broadsheet but probably a free advertising publication. Is this where Mr Holford is reduced to plying his trade?

  4. Yes, JKN is a nice tool, isn’t it. Just a shame that the sheer erroneous-ness of certain web pages exceeds what anyone could do to correct them :( I wonder if some kind of 3D JKN could help to add notes about the multiple ways in which an article is incorrect…

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