Tag Archives: swine flu

Holford demonstrates why online health advice can be problematic

Patrick Holford has made clear his opinions on vitamin C and swine flu (we have already discussed an earlier version of his post, and I don’t know that there is much else to add). However, I was interested to not some of the user comments now on this post, and Holford’s responses. Giving health advice online is always problematic, and Holford does a good job of demonstrating some of the pitfalls.

It is always problematic to give advice without a full – and competently taken – patient history, not something which can be done in blog comments. This issue comes to light when one woman asks in the comments:

I think I have swine flu with a terrible cough and phlegm. What do you recommend I eat and drink?

In such circumstances, one would have hoped that the commenter would have been advised to phone her GP’s surgery or another competent medical professional: a lot of things cause coughs; many (thankfully) heal fine without any intervention, but some will require medical treatment.

Perhaps most worrying, though, is advice relating to current product use. ‘Vix’ states that

I am trying to ensure that both of my sons (aged 2 and 9) are well prepared to battle the impending flu season. I currently give my eldest son 500mg of Vitamin C per day – along with Echinacea, 2 teaspoons of Sambucol and a teaspoon of Colloidal Silver. My youngest gets about the same. Is this enough? And is there a childrens Vitamin C powder that you can specifically recommend? I can’t seem to find one on the Totally Nourish website – only capsules.

Colloidal silver carries risks, but does not bring any benefits. Dosing varies between products, so it is quite possible that a 2 year old and 9 year old child could be getting significant doses of the stuff. I would have hoped that Vix would have been warned of the risks of the product and referred to a competent professional; at a minimum, one would have hoped that enquiries could have been made as to the doses used. However, Holford responds by stating that:

I am not sure that Echinacea is the right thing for swine flu during infection. RE vit C BioCare do a good value vit C powder. I don’t see it on the Totally Nourish website though. I’m sure they can get it for you if you ask. That, in some diluted juice, works best for children.

I do not think that Holford’s blog post is an appropriate setting to offer this type of advice. I also have concerns about some of the advice offered. I will therefore be sending a complaint off to BANT (Holford is a Fellow) this weekend; I hope that they take prompt, effective and transparent action on this issue.

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Patrick Holford’s Recommendation for Swine Flu – Same As Those for Bird Flu But With Phrase Substitution – Updated

Patrick Holford on ITV Lunchtime 16 April 2008

Patrick Holford has broken his (unaccountable) silence about pandemic fears around Mexico City flu (aka, swine flu). Take vitamin C. Jab more vitamin C into your veins. Take more supplements. Black elderberry makes it harder for viruses to enter your cells. Roll up. Learn about the Rath formulation that cures everything from cancer to HIV and flu. Roll up. Continue reading

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