Woo on Woo – layers of nonsense

October 24, 2008 at 4:16 pm (Alternative Medicine, Bad Science, NLP, Supplements, Woo) (, , , , , , , )

I’ve written before about woos trying out different ‘healing modalities’ seemingly as the mood takes them. I think that the last time I wrote on this topic, it was a homeopath disseminating dietary advice that had caught my attention: Dr O. I received an email yesterday that included a link to this page: Sulis. The advice is Holford’s, but why an NLP practitioner would feel the need to reproduce woo-ish dietary advice on their website is beyond me. I can understand someone believing in the value of NLP, but why assume other woo is true? Seems to be quite common to me. Instead of speculating wildly about the thinking of people who are into multiple forms of woo (which is what I’d normally do at this point), I’m going to have a quick laugh at the advice.*

Eat three pieces of fruit such as apples, pears, bananas, berries, melon or citrus fruit […] Avoid any form of sugar, also white, refined or processed food with chemical additives, and minimise your intake of alcohol, coffee and tea.

It works best with these two pieces of advice if you show them together in the same quote. According to the Sulis site, Patrick Holford is advising you to avoid all forms of sugar while, at the same time, advising you to eat fruit such as banana. Hmmm… I wonder if bananas contain sugar in any form? Why, yes – yes they do. According to the USDA database, bananas are about 12% sugar and this comes in the form of glucose, sucrose and fructose.

Supplement your diet with a high strength multivitamin and mineral preparation and 1000mg of vitaminC a day.

Well, the rest of his advice seems to fit in with the ideal of eating a balanced and varied diet – including advice to eat plenty of fruit and veg – so why would anyone following this advice need a high strength multivitamin and a 1,000mg vitamin C tablet? They almost certainly wouldn’t. Which is what makes Patrick’s advice so laughable – he advises people to eat plenty of foods rich in vitamin C and then tells them to add a supplement. Why? To make expensive piss? I can’t think of any other reason.

Drink six glasses of water, diluted juices, herb or fruit teas.

Ah, water woo. http://tinyurl.com/draust will give you more info on that topic.

Eat whole, organic, raw food as often as you can.

Why? Is there any evidence that organic, raw food is better for you? Should we eat all foods raw or is it better to cook, say eggs to prevent Biotin deficiency [the avidin in raw eggs is a bastard for binding to Biotin, apparently] – or tomatoes to increase the bioavailability of Lycopene? Is organic food healthier than non-organically grown produce?

*I will say this: it’s bad enough that experts believe themselves to be more expert than they actually are [*cough* experts-versus-equations], but surely it’s worse when amateurs believe themselves to be competent in various domains when they haven’t, actually, demonstrated their competence in any or all of these domains?

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Allergy Alternatives – NLP

October 17, 2008 at 5:15 pm (Alternative Medicine, Dangerously Wrong, Placebo, Woo) (, , , , , , )

A reader named Claire recently left a comment on my blog that included a link to Allergy Alternatives. I was surprised to see that they claimed to relearn your immune system by having a nice chat with you. I dropped them a line to find out more.

Dear Allergy Alternatives,

I was interested to read your website, featuring statements to the effect that you can provide an allergy treatment that is effective without
any drugs or supplements, that you help “re-educate [the] immune system”, and that the treatment “educates your immune system with the news that the allergen is not harmful“.

The treatment is apparently along these lines: “The process is largely conversational. We will discuss your allergy and its possible causes. You will explore any attachments that you may have acquired, ensuring that you are ready and eager to let this behaviour go. Using the power of your imagination through enhanced visualisation we will teach your immune system a new response.

Please can you send me further detail of how discussing an allergy with someone can teach their immune system to respond differently to the allergen? I would like this because I am interested in the actual mechanism of action of your treatment.

I would also like to see references to the trials that you or others have published which refer to the effectiveness of your treatment. I ask for these references because I would like to see what kind of clinical evidence you have for efficacy.

Kind regards,
Mr X.

Since sending this initial email, I’ve been pondering that someone out there would apparently tell people with genuine allergies that they can simply wish them away. Not only does it feel weird that they seem to be suggesting that allergies are something that you can wish upon yourself or wish away, but it seems to me it could be dangerous to tell someone you have relearnt their immune system as they could easily assume that this would mean they no longer had to take their antihistamines – or, in the worst case scenario, that someone with a serious allergy could be led to believe that it was safe for them to throw away their EpiPen. Now that I’ve spent five minutes thinking on these lines, I’m left wondering what the hell Allergy Alternatives are thinking. I have drafted a new email to ask whether they tell people with genuine allergies to maintain their prescription and keep hold of their EpiPen (not to mention continuing to see their GP). Reproduced below with original spelling.

[…]

Further to my previous email, I would also like to know if Allergy Alternatives advises patients to keep up their prescriptions of antihistamines and to continue to carry an EpiPen (if requried) and maintain contact with their GP?

Regards,
Mr X.

ETA: link.

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