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 »
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 »
Principle Healthcare, who removed claims from their website shortly after I contacted the MHRA in 2009, also made some claims on their website for products that did not come under the jurisdiction of the MHRA. So, with their remit extended to cover marketer’s own websites, I thought I’d try the ASA… 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.
The vitamin pill trade has been described as the very corporate $50bn food supplement industry by Ben Goldacre on the Bad Science blog. Although there is some regulation of the industry, there will likely always be a way to promote unnecessary pills, powders, and liquids by making claims that do not withstand examination. Personally, I think I would favour a bullshit box. Read the rest of this entry »
You can find lots of websites recommending B vitamins for depression, some offering high strength vitamin B supplements for lifting “mood naturally” – like this website, which sells vitamin B6 along with a claim that it can help to relieve premenstrual symptoms and depression. Read the rest of this entry »
A recent article in the BMJ attracted comment from the drearily ubiquitous John Stone (known to some as “the Pope of Jabs”). This comment on competing interests reminded me of Patrick Holford’s foray into the rabid responses section. Read the rest of this entry »
Woo in sport comes in many forms. From the array of supplements taken by weightlifters to the horse placenta treatment tried by Robin van Persie. Read the rest of this entry »