ASA complaints provoked by the Evening Standard ‘PH’ article

I have already made several complaints to the ASA regarding live blood analysis. I thought I had made my point and had been planning to forget about LBA for a while and concentrate on the Nightingale Collaboration’s Focus of the Month. Following my complaint about the Evening Standard’s ‘PH’ article last week however, and after examining the related company websites, I felt I should inform the ASA of my concerns.

Although the complaints are fairly lengthy, my basic method is as follows:

  • Quote (or summarise) ‘nonsense’
  • Ask for it to be substantiated
  • Point out that it may discourage clients from contacting a medical professional

Let’s first consider Stephanie Morgan’s Raw and Juicy website . My complaint went as follows :

(EDIT: This complaint was ‘informally resolved‘ on 29/06/11. I expect the offending claims to be removed shortly.)

“Alkaline Program

The website implies that a condition of acidosis (a blood pH of less than 7.35) is likely to be caused by:

“-Refined sugars and sweeteners
-Dairy products and meat
-Processed foods and hydrogenated fats
-Chemicals on plant foods and in meat.
-Chemicals in tap water
-Alcohol
-Caffeine & soft drinks
-Environmental pollution (radio waves from wifi, mobile phones, car pollution)
-Chemicals from cleaning and body care products
-Smoking, Prescription and recreational drugs.
-Stress”

It also states “over acidification of the of the blood leads to an instant deterioration in health with complaints starting from Fatigue, Depression, poor digestion, weight gain, inability to gain weight, headaches, poor memory, Premature aging, Skin disorder, PMS and sleep disorders and leading to, Diabetes, Arthritis, Fertility problems, heart disease and all the other “Nasties” that we know so well!”

I do not believe this is true with regard to acid-base homeostasis and feel it needs to be substantiated. I also feel it implies people suffering from any of the conditions listed would benefit from the ‘Program’. It may therefore discourage potential clients suffering from (or at risk from) any of those conditions from consulting a qualified medical professional.

Colon Cleansing

The website makes a number of claims regarding the colon and colon cleansing, which I feel are inaccurate, misleading and ought to be substantiated:

“Arthritis, heart disease, fatigue, headaches, acid reflux, stomach pain, bad breath, depression, aching muscles, joint pain, diverticulosis, spotty skin, dull eyes, cellulite and water retention are effects of an unhealthy colon.”

“Colon cleansing also offers relief from IBS, elimination of parasites, relief from gas and bloating, improves weight loss and flattens the stomach.”

“The colon is the largest contributor to disease of any organ in the body. An unhealthy colon is the largest contributer to disease, causing up to 80% of the bodies illnesses”

I also believe these claims may discourage people suffering from any of the listed conditions from consulting a suitably qualified medical professional. The list includes heart disease, which is potentially life threatening.

Juicy Home Retreat

The website states that ‘Juice Cleansing’ is beneficial in improving muscle and tissue regeneration, mental alertness and well-being, fatigue, depression, anxiety, weight loss, digestive problems, organ cleansing, IBS and arthritis. I do not believe this is possible and would therefore like these claims to be substantiated. I also feel it would discourage people suffering from any of these conditions from consulting a suitably qualified medical professional.”

The Energise for Life website also contains plenty of grounds for complaint.

Here is what I said to the ASA:

“The website contains inaccurate and misleading information about acid-base homeostasis. It implies that all sickness and disease is caused by an imbalance in the pH of the body. It also implies that cancer and diabetes can be cured by following an alkaline diet. It implies that there is scientific evidence to back this up, quoting Dr Robert O Young, who according to Energise for Life is a ‘top research scientist’.

Dr Robert O Young believes in an out of date and disproven theory called ‘pleomorphism’. According to pleomorphism, the body’s own cells change into bacteria and fungi (‘yeasts’ and ‘molds’) as a result of an acidic environment. This view is not in line with modern science and medicine.

To quote this theory in this context is inaccurate and misleading. To call Young a ‘top research scientist’ is also inaccurate and misleading. To imply the diet can prevent and cure any number of conditions including cancer and diabetes is irresponsible and wrong.

Misinformation such as that appearing on the website could dissuade people suffering from a wide range of conditions (including cancer and diabetes) from consulting a suitably qualified medical professional. In some cases, vulnerable people (such as cancer patients) could be persuaded to listen to nutritionists such as the people running this website instead of taking the advice of medical professionals. It is possible that some clients could go against the advice of qualified doctors, with potentially tragic consequences.”

And last but not least the Food for Life website, run by nutrition consultant and blood microscopist Gareth Edwards BSc. DipION. mBANT.

My complaint went as follows:

“I believe Gareth Edwards gives the impression that he has medical qualifications – he uses the letters ‘BSc. DipION mBANT’ after his name on the contact details and also refers to himself as a ‘nutritional blood microscopist’ and ‘nutrition adviser’.

He states that he ‘has helped people with health challenges as diverse as wanting to lose a few pounds to potentially life threatening disease diagnoses’. I feel this implies he is an expert in health and diet.

His website states that he uses the ‘cutting edge technique of live blood analysis to help patients see the state and shape of their red blood cells’. I do not agree that live blood analysis is a ‘cutting edge’ technique and feel this claim should be substantiated. In fact, it is based on ‘pleomorphism’, which is an out of date and disproven theory (with regard to the body’s own cells transforming into yeasts and other fungi).

He states that the ‘test provides information and insights that are unlikely to be apparent from tests more widely used in conventional medical practice’. This implies that the test is superior to any available from conventional medicine. I feel this is misleading and could lead potential clients to rely more on this test than on those recommended by a medical professional.

In the section on microscopy it is claimed that among the phenomena observed by live and dried blood analysis are:

• The level of activity or lack of activity of the immune system
• The condition of the red blood cells Liver, kidney, pancreatic, heart, lung, prostate, ovarian, breast and other organ stress
• Detection of the presence of parasites, yeast, fungus, mould, and the degree of pleomorphic activity
• Observation of features associated with blood sugar imbalance
• Observation of features associated with mal-absorption of fats
• Observation of features associated with protein mal-absorption
• Observation of phenomena associated with nutrient mal-absorption / vitamin deficiency
• Observation of crystalline forms such as protoplasts, fibrous thallus, uric acid, cholesterol and mycotoxins
• Observation of phenomena associated with gastro-intestinal tract dysfunction
• Observation of phenomena associated with degenerative conditions

I do not believe that these phenomena are possible to detect by this type of test and therefore ask that these claims be substantiated. Furthermore, I believe in making these claims, the site may discourage potential clients from consulting a qualified medical professional.

In some cases, the clients could be suffering from a potentially life threatening condition such as cancer (he mentions the words ‘liver, kidney, pancreatic, heart, lung, prostate, ovarian’) or diabetes (‘features associated with blood sugar imbalance’).

The website also states:

“The Health Care Professional and Client can see the characteristics of the Client’s blood live on a video screen which can give current information as it pertains to the biological terrain of that Client. (Abnormalities appear in the blood sometimes years before they manifest themselves as illness.) This information can assist the Health Care Professional and Client by:

• Giving early warning of possible oncoming problems
• Specifying conditions quickly and unambiguously
• Alerting them to the advisability of specific medical referral
• Monitoring the condition before and after regimes
• Determining the effectiveness of various regimes”

I do not believe Gareth Edwards is qualified to make these kinds of assessments (nor do I believe the testing itself is suitable). I believe in making these claims, he is encouraging potential clients to trust his judgment over that of a medical professional such as their own GP.”

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