Tag Archives: CAM

Holford on migraines: the referenciness is giving me a headache

Writing on “Migraines, methylation & B vitamins”, Holford argues that supplementation with B vitamins can be useful. He offers two suitably referency links to pubmed-indexed papers. However, both links fail substantiate Holford’s claims and are the source of a little embarrassment for one who so frequently upbraids others for their knowledge or being up to date with recent research. Continue reading


Filed under patrick holford, supplements

Alternative Nutrition bingo: we predict industry responses to the JAMA trial of vitamin C and E

The Journal of the American Medical Association has recently published a good quality, placebo-controlled, randomised, double-blind trial looking at whether vitamin C and E supplementation can reduce cardiovascular events. It ran for 10 years, and included “14 641 US male physicians enrolled, who were initially aged 50 years or older, including 754 men (5.1%) with prevalent cardiovascular disease at randomization.” The trial concluded that “[t]hese data provide no support for the use of these supplements for the prevention of cardiovascular disease in middle-aged and older men.”

I was surprised to see that the alternative nutrition industry has not yet responded to this – I was waiting with bated breath for Sir Cliff Richard’s definitive critique of the science – so I thought that I would respond on their behalf: frankly, the alternative nutrition industry’s response to such trials has become tediously predictable so there seems to be little point in waiting.

I will list a number of likely industry responses below; I will then enjoy the small satisfaction of ticking them off when they appear in industry press releases: Continue reading


Filed under antioxidants, supplements, vitamin c, vitamins

Ben Goldacre and Placebo (Part 2) Radio 4: Lacking In Cheese or Missing An Eye

Bad Science‘s Dr Ben Goldacre has collaborated with Radio 4 to produce a 2-part exploration of the potent, intriguing power of placebo. Both Part 1 and Part 2 discussed the history, science and theatre of this fascinating phenomenon and it has been notable that the examples spanned from Perkins Tractors, Mesmer and animal magnetism, to work that was published only this year. Placebo has such an extensive and rich history and encompasses so many issues aside from medicine such as social influence and trust that it isn’t practical to present more than a tasting menu of it in 2 half-hour programes. Nonetheless, at the risk of sounding like Brillat-Savarin, it was strangely unsatisfying that neither of the programmes addressed the issue that some researchers argue that the placebo is both over-rated and ineffective and that there is no role for it in medicine, outside the context of a clinical trial. Continue reading


Filed under Ben Goldacre, children, placebo

The Elmhurst Epidemic: classic example of the cultural and scientific clash between CAM and medicine

Dr Scott Gottleib has reviewed Trick or Treatment? Alternative Medicine on Trial for Wall Street Journal. He also recounts an intriguing anecdote from his own experience. Continue reading


Filed under complementary and alternative medicine

British Chiropractors Join the Legal Intimidation Party

Hot on the heels of the recent action involving Professor Frank Frizelle and the New Zealand Medical Association‘s journal v. the New Zealand Chiropractors’ Association we now learn about the British Chiropractic Association issuing a legal writ against Simon Singh: Doctors Take Simon Singh to Court.

Simon Singh expected to arouse controversy when he claimed that chiropracters knowingly promoted bogus treatments for illnesses including asthma and ear infections. The bestselling author and Bafta-winning broadcaster did not, however, expect to have a High Court writ issued against him.

Continue reading


Filed under complementary and alternative medicine

Cialdini and Consistency: Why This Might Influence Trust in CAM

Dr Dave Gorski has sparked off an interesting discussion on the topic: Death by “alternative” medicine: Who’s to blame?. A patient with early stage breast cancer is advised on a course of medical intervention but elects to pursue alternative healing modalities. After 3 years she then re-presents to the original diagnostician. Unfortunately, the tumour had progressed “from a highly curable clinical Stage I to a difficult to cure clinical stage IIIC”. Despite this, the patient was not willing to accept any medical intervention.

The patient is a fully competent, autonomous adult who is exercising her right to choose her treatments. Does the responsibility for this perceived failure lie with anyone but the patient in question? Could her doctors have done more to dissuade her while maintaining a therapeutic alliance with her? Continue reading


Filed under Holford, patrick holford

The last rites for ‘alternative’ nutritional therapy?

In yesterday’s Telegraph, Damian Thompson asks whether we’re seeing “The last rites for alternative medicine?” For Thomson

CAM’s [Complementary and Alternative Medicine’s] real problem…is shortage of proof. The information technology brilliantly exploited by unorthodox therapies is now being harnessed to spread the inconvenient truth that most of them don’t work. Sceptics in the blogosphere have assembled a global daisy-chain of links exposing the falsehoods of alternative practitioners.

Interestingly, Thompson believes that media nutritionists such as Prof Patrick Holford of Teesside University (and – in particular – Holford’s unjustified support for Wakefield’s bad science) have played an important role in CAM’s problems Continue reading

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Filed under Andrew Wakefield, autism, Holford, MMR, patrick holford, University of Teesside

Life’s 4 Living: bizarre energy-medicine ‘cure’ for MS

Another break from Patrick Holford, to look some more at Life’s 4 Living (L4L). They are offering a “unique opportunity” for young people with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) to participate in a documentary on an ‘alternative’ MS treatment. Participants are asked to spend 3 months in China, for a documentary by Creation Film and TV (apparently they would like to broadcast this on Channel 4, although we hope that Channel 4 will be forewarned and will avoid this documentary). We’ll look over their PDF document on this ‘opportunity’, and find that L4L combine a highly stereotyped attitude to Chinese people with an unfounded denigration of evidence-based medicine, unjustified claims to cure MS, and demands for young people with MS and their families to commit a lot of time and money. However, we will also consider how – despite the serious problems with L4L’s treatment plans – they are still likely to be able to produce a TV documentary showing MS to be ‘cured’.

Firstly, it’s a fascinating coincidence that L4L chose to do a documentary on MS: a condition that can naturally go into remission. Continue reading


Filed under children, health, Life's 4 Living, Mental Health

Life’s 4 Living, The Energy Clinic, Claire Sutton and Sarah McCrum

Holfordwatch was initially concerned that Life’s 4 Living was unaware of the chequered history of The Barefoot Doctor Stephen Russell in his dealings with his clients. However, it now looks as if some vulnerable young people and their families are invited to accept treatment and support from an organisation that is staffed by people who believe that their energy therapy can treat and mitigate cancer, Aids, Cerebral Palsy and a variety of chronic or terminal illnesses as well as disabilities. And who are willing to work with people such as Barefoot Russell who manifest a shaky sense of appropriate sexual boundaries with clients and vulnerable people. Continue reading


Filed under children, health, Life's 4 Living, Mental Health

Barefoot, Sex, Sleaze and Life’s 4 Living

There is no connection between the Barefoot Doctor Stephen Russell and Patrick Holford unless you are playing a New Age version of Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.[1]

However, looking into the Barefoot Doctor, who would have been well-advised to stick to games of footsie or standing on one leg while looking tranquil, Holfordwatch came across a series of associations that suggest the need for a version that should be entitled Six Degrees of Sleaze. Continue reading


Filed under children, health, Life's 4 Living, Mental Health