I am understating things when I say I’ve got a bee my bonnet about this.
In fact my drive to do something about it was, albeit indirectly, the reason this blog came into being. I have started writing complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority. I have been writing embarrassingly lengthy comments on forums where I had only previously lurked. I have been trying my hardest to think of what else I can do…
I simply can’t let the matter rest.
It all began when I heard, on the grapevine, of someone I know having a Live Blood Test and going on an Alkaline Diet. I hadn’t heard of either so consulted Wikipedia, which was to say the least, damning.
For a start, the description of the Diet itself is totally at odds with much of what I know about chemistry and biology. It also says one of the most famous proponents of the diet, Robert Young, has come under scrutiny from the National Council Against Health Fraud . Very intriguing.
The Live Blood Analysis article links to a detailed debunking and annihilation of the procedure published on the Quackwatch website and a Guardian article by Edzard Ernst, Professor of Complementary Medicine at the University of Exeter, also discrediting the procedure in no uncertain terms.
And if you thought that was bad, have you looked at ‘Dr’ Robert O Young’s pH Miracle Living website yet? I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. I don’t have time to quote and cite every unbelievable and frightening little thing on there but will attempt to summarise.
He has apparently trademarked his own version of biology – New BiologyTM and believes that ‘the over-acidification of the body is the single underlying cause of all disease’.
If you are ‘overly acidic’, it can cause you to be too fat, too thin, suffer from fatigue or develop what are often called symptoms of allergy but are actually caused by an over acidic, oxygen deprived body. The way to remedy this is by going on an alkaline diet. The examples of ‘alkaline foods’ and ‘acid foods’ he gives are numerous but what particularly caught my eye was the inclusion of lemons, limes and grapefruits on his ‘alkaline’ list.
He also says, in one of his Educational Videos that he is ‘probably one of the only doctors in the world who has had success with Type 1 Diabetes’, which he believes can be reversed by following his eating plan.
There are also several testimonials on his website from people who have recovered from cancer without medical intervention and after following his advice. It is gobsmackingly audacious. I can’t believe I didn’t know anything about it.
On his home page, he asks the public to make donations to his Legal Defense Fund.
He sells a vast range of products including books and DVDs, water ionizers (to alkalize, ionize, purify and structure your drinking and cooking water), dietary supplements and beauty products. You can even ‘retreat’ to one of several luxury resorts where you get instruction from Young himself and all manner of treatments, including alkaline infusions up the backside (‘to flush-out toxins’) and ‘nebulizing to infuse alkalinity and nutrition directly into the blood and tissues’. Live (and dried) blood analysis, is, needless to say, part of the deal.
If you have a spare $9995 (plus $8649 for the microscope), you can even become a certified microscopist yourself on a week’s course at his ranch in California.
Googling ‘Errol Denton’ turns up some interesting hits, including a clip of his phone call to Jeni Barnett (from March 2010) on her LBC show (sent to Ben Goldacre via Twitter). Jeni wrote about Errol in her blog on April 1st 2010, where she described him as a ‘wonderful communicator’.
On both his websites and in the clip to Jeni’s programme, he makes a strong implication that the Live Blood Analysis carried out at his clinic is superior to the Complete Blood Count one would have on the NHS (and, astoundingly, implies this is the only sort of blood testing carried out by conventional medicine). He recommends the test for ‘anyone who really cares about their health and wellbeing’ and lists over thirty wide and varied health conditions including asthma, arthritis, diabetes, fatigue, heart disease and liver problems.
He charges £195 for a 60 minute consultation and test, or a 3 month support package starting from £584 – £984, which includes two blood tests (before and after), nutritional guidelines, report and products. The aim is to get your blood clean by using food as a medicine.
On his website www.seemycells.co.uk, it is possible to buy ‘alkaline supplements’ such as Liquid Chlorophyll, at £40 for 473ml (you apparently need to take 20ml a day to ensure perfect health). Here, it states that chlorophyll is the most potent blood cleanser and deodorizer and has the identical chemical structure to haemoglobin in blood (the only difference being the central atom is magnesium instead of iron).
There was a complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority made in October 2010 about a leaflet advertising his blood testing service. The ASA concluded that the ad breached “CAP Code (Edition 11) clauses 3.1 (Substantiation), 7.1 (Truthfulness) and 50.1 (Health & beauty products and therapies)” and should not appear again in its current form.
I have serious concerns about Robert O Young’s activities and about Live Blood Analysis. I think it is shocking that a person such as Denton, who apparently believes chlorophyll and haemoglobin are identical (but for the central atom) has been able to set himself up as an expert in blood testing. Even more shocking is his strong implication that his type of blood testing is better than anything available on the NHS, especially given the wide range of conditions (some of them serious) listed on his website.
This is all just the tip of the iceberg of course. There are countless more practitioners of Live Blood Analysis and equally dubious testing and countless websites full of outlandish unsubstantiable claims.
I recently discovered that since March 2011, it has been possible to complain to the Advertising Standards Authority about claims made on websites. I have so far only managed to get through a couple of such practitioners but I will plough on.
If you fancy having a go at complaining to the ASA yourself, the Nightingale Collaboration give lots of good, useful advice. They even give you ideas of who to complain about by nominating a ‘focus of the month’. As a result of their sterling efforts, the ASA have been inundated with complaints about homeopathy.
I am going to be kept busy with this for some time, I feel. But hopefully not as busy as the ASA.