• The Works

Infantile Chiropractic

I am posting this out of sequence, as the last topic made me so angry that I just had to get it up there. I have calmed down a bit now, so can return to another case of a weak regulator. This time, the General Chiropractic Council. It all kicked off in late 2018, when I was tipped off about a piece in a local rag, the Henley Standard. Here is the article in some of its glory.

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Official Support for Homeopathy Persists

One thing leads to another, and with each step I am angrier. It started with a Twitter tip-off about a video on Facebook recommending homeopathy for coronavirus symptoms. Of course, homeopathic remedies are prescribed totally on the basis of symptoms, as homeopaths have no way of knowing any better, so nothing remarkable about that as such. But the video was made by Dr Elizabeth Thompson, a registered medical doctor, and apparently a consultant at University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust. I am not on Facebook and have no desire to be, and the video may have gone now. But it popped up at the same time at the National Centre for Integrative Medicine. At this point I need to explain a bit of history.

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Naturopathy – nonsense on stilts cashing in on COVID-19

The exploitation of the COVID-19 pandemic by unscrupulous quacks is such a burgeoning problem that the excellent Advertising Standards Authority has set up a very convenient online form for making a quick complaint. I used it yesterday to report the College of Naturopathic Medicine for the three videos they have online. I ran these past my very good friend (and HealthWatch colleague) David Bender, who is Emeritus Professor of Nutritional Biochemistry at UCL. Here are his findings, with his comments in italics.

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Gerson Therapy and `toxins’

Last week I had a particular reason to have a look at Gerson Therapy. For the uninitiated, this is a draconian regime based on extreme nutrition and other bizarre interventions such as coffee enemas and vitamin megadoses. It is widely claimed to be able to treat cancer. It’s a favourite ploy of quacks to explain that, when the patient gets worse instead of better, it is a sign that the treatment is working. For homeopaths it’s the `aggravation’, and for the Gerson brigade it’s this:

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How effective is the Advertising Standards Authority?

I should start this post with two big caveats:

  1. My purpose is not to criticise the ASA, which in my experience is efficient and rigorous. If there are limitations, they may well stem from circumstances, which I hope to explore here.
  2. This isn’t a particularly scientific analysis. It is not a prospective study, just a look at a large number of complaints and what happened to them.

The dataset comprises 74 complaints I have made to the ASA about misleading health-related claims, between July 2014 and January 2019. All but two related to advertisers’ own websites; one was a magazine ad, and another involved a paid-for ad by a chiropractic clinic on a local newspaper website. Here is how they were distributed (in no particular order): Continue reading

The Bell Tolls for Quack Charities?

So after nearly five years of effort, I am rewarded with a response from the Charity Commission regarding charities which make misleading claims about the treatment of ill health. Is it what I wanted? The answer is “partly”, but it depends on how the Commission applies its new guidance. Continue reading

BBC misses the point on anti-vax

An article on the BBC News site today reports on a minor celebrity who is making a stir with a stance against vaccination. The celebrity is so minor that the author readily admits that we might not have heard of her. Nevertheless, make-up and tattoo guru Kat Von D says that her forthcoming child will not be vaccinated. Continue reading

Going Undercover – Homeopathy

I don’t blog very often, but when I do……

Here in Salisbury we have a homeopathy college. I’ve mentioned it before, as it hires premises from St Thomas’s church, which sees no problem with telling lies about how the body works. I noticed that the college was running an open day, to recruit more students. The event was today, so I booked in. Continue reading

The General Medical Council: nice bedside manner with quacks

I have for some time been critical of the GMC’s acquiescence over doctors who practise quackery, but I’m concerned now at how it seems to be getting into bed with them. I just came across an `oncologist and professor of Chinese medicine‘ and phoned the GMC for advice as to whether they would regulate such a person – who is not apparently registered to practise in the UK. It was an odd conversation, which I have followed up with this email to the GMC: Continue reading

Nonsense Education

For many years I have strongly supported the Advertising Standards Authority. It is staffed by excellent people who know the difference between real medicine and quackery, and between evidence and opinion. When necessary they are not slow to call in expert help, and their decisions are usually robust and evidence-based. Continue reading

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