Remember Patrick Holford? Well, he’s still going. Here is the latest post on his blog. There are some interesting comments on lifetime risk of cancer and on five- and ten-year survival rates. Let’s start with Cancer Research UK though. Read the rest of this entry »
There’s the TV adverts for Schiff, the advertorials from Alta Care, the celebrity endorsement by Carol Vorderman (Bioglan). People seem to really want me to buy krill oil pills. Read the rest of this entry »
The note at the bottom of this Guardian article ‘the science behind dietary supplements’ states that the website mentioned in the article is “an independent encyclopedia on supplementation and nutrition. It does not accept advertising.” However, nowhere in the article does it mention any other website that the author is involved with. Well, I found one that looked pretty interesting. Read the rest of this entry »
Dr Robert Verkerk has written an opinion piece for the April 2014 issue of What Doctors Don’t Tell You. Verkerk’s article is essentially a complaint about Big Pharma being involved in selling vitamin pills, and he ends by recommending that people use ‘natural’ forms of supplements not made by Big Pharma as these are never found to be harmful. It’s the synthetic, Big Pharma vitamins that are bad. If there were references in his article to the evidence that backs up his claims, I missed them.
Down the left hand side of the article, Verkerk is described as “the executive and scientific director of the Alliance for Natural Health International, a consumer group that aims to protect our right to natural healthcare and nutrition”. But that’s not all he does. Read the rest of this entry »
The webpages here and here marketed supplements and contained statements implying that a balanced and varied diet cannot provide appropriate quantities of nutrients in general. For example: “I believe that if you wish to stay healthy, or recover from almost any illness, then taking nutritional supplements is essential. My reasons are given in Nutritional supplements – why we all need them.” Read the rest of this entry »
Private hospital, The Breakspear, offer several medical products and services. Some of which look like they may be of dubious value. Read the rest of this entry »
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.
I find it odd, and on occasion a little unsettling, to see instances of people or ideas being subject to criticism for what appear to me to be the wrong reasons. I think some of the criticism of Andrew Wakefield and Gillian McKeith falls into this bracket. Read the rest of this entry »
Risk of adverse effects from (mis)information
As well as relying on the placebo effect when making claims of the efficacy of their therapies, those providing alternative treatments may also be aided by something akin to the nocebo effect. If you tell healthy people they are sick (or sick people that they are sicker than they thought), it may be possible to induce the perception of symptoms that you can later claim to have resolved. Read the rest of this entry »