The doctor in question is Jeremy Kaslow (MD, FACP, FACAAI). Dr Kaslow makes some, er, interesting claims on his website about a condition named ‘histadelia’. Similar claims have been made by nutritionist Patrick Holford among others.
Histadelia is not a condition that is much referred to in the medical literature (Pubmed: “Your search for histadelia retrieved no results”). I can’t find any evidence that histadelia (high histamine) is recognised as a medical condition. I can find diagnostic tests for histadelia, and supplements claimed to remedy the condition, for sale. This PDF includes a price for histamine testing: link. Apparently, you can buy supplements* from Dr Kaslow (“contact Mary or Vanessa in our Supplement Dispensary…”), although it’s not entirely clear whether Dr Kaslow actually sells supplements specifically for histadelia.
When I wrote about Patrick Holford and Histadelia, I pointed out that those promoting the idea that high histamine was linked to depression and OCD had “their own un-evidenced test – for an un-evidenced condition that requires un-evidenced treatment”. In the comments below this post, people posted their personal anecdotes telling me how they were helped by treatment for their histadelia.
When I pointed to the lack of evidence for the claims being made regarding histadelia, I was encouraged to “[look] at William Walsh’s research at the Pfeiffer Research Institute. He has done a lot of research in this area”. This research was not available on the internet and I was unable to find contact details for the PRI. I contacted the Pfeiffer Treatment Centre to ask if they could provide me with the research into histadelia. I haven’t heard back from them yet (I wrote to them in 2009).
So. The PTC couldn’t (or wouldn’t) provide me with the research relating to histadelia. Despite Patrick Holford’s famous referenciness, the section of his book (Optimum Nutrition for the Mind) that deals with histadelia has no references. That’s right, not one single reference to back up the claims of these advocates of Orthomolecular Medicine. Dr Kaslow doesn’t have any references on his page about histadelia either. It’s almost as if there is no evidence…
Here are some of the things Dr Kaslow has written on histadelia:
Many patients with obsessive-compulsive tendencies, “oppositional-defiant disorder,” or seasonal depression are under-methylated, which is associated with low serotonin levels. Often with inhalant allergies, frequent headaches, perfectionism, competitiveness and other distinctive symptoms and traits. Tend to be very low in calcium, magnesium, methionine, and vitamin B-6 with excessive levels of folic acid.
Biochemical treatment revolves around antifolates, especially calcium and methionine. Certain forms of buffered vitamin C can help by providing calcium and ascorbic acid. Three to six months of nutrient therapy are usually needed to correct this chemical imbalance. As in most biochemical therapies, the symptoms usually return if treatment is stopped.
Three to six months of “nutrient therapy” to treat something that, as far as I can tell, hasn’t been identified as a medical condition?
Update, 19th August
I contacted Dr Kaslow to ask for references to the research that supports the statements on his website. His reply is quoted, in full, below:
Contact the Pfeiffer Institute.
I’ve decided to write back to see if he will clarify a few points for me.
I’ve also contacted the Pfeiffer Treatment Center at the Health Research Institute (which appears to be the proper name for what is sometimes known as the Pfeiffer Institute). This is the organisation I contacted in 2009 and never received a reply from. Here’s the auto-reply I got:
We regret to inform you that the Pfeiffer Treatment Center will no longer be providing patient care. While this news is disappointing, we are pleased to inform you that the HRI Pharmacy remains open and will continue to serve your compounding prescription needs.
I shan’t hold my breath.
*Just a note here to point out that this range includes supplements “based on the work of Linus Pauling in addressing elevated lipoprotein (a) and homocysteine levels”. I believe there is some controversy as to whether homocysteine is actually a risk factor or a false surrogate end point. Potter et al concluded that their findings supported the hypothesis that homocysteine “is a marker for renal impairment rather than an independent cardiovascular risk factor”. See also this paper (“short-term treatment with B-vitamins is associated with increased FMD, long-term homocysteine-lowering did not significantly improve FMD or CIMT in people with a history of stroke”) and Effect of Homocysteine Lowering on Mortality and Vascular Disease in Advanced Chronic Kidney Disease and End-stage Renal Disease: supplements did lower homocysteine levels, but there was no significant effect on mortality, no significant effects were demonstrated for secondary outcomes or adverse events, and “the composite of MI, stroke, and amputations plus mortality (P = .85), time to dialysis (P = .38), and time to thrombosis in hemodialysis patients (P = .97) did not differ between the vitamin and placebo groups”. [Link] More recent papers here (homocysteine and inflammatory biomarkers appear to enhance the degree of affected arteries and so the severity of coronary artery disease), here (results indicated that tHcy and Lp(a) levels were possibly atherogenic risk factors independent of conventional risk factors), and here (vitamin B treatment showed no beneficial effect on the angiographic progression of coronary artery disease, and the post hoc analyses suggested that folic acid/vitamin B(12) treatment might promote more rapid progression).