The last time I looked at anything under a microscope was at school, identifying the nucleus of a plant cell. So seeing my own blood — fresh out of my fingertip — is a novelty.
I think it is safe to assume that reporter Jasmine Gardner is not a specialist in science or medicine. Although she went as far as actually undergoing the test (for which she had to fast for five hours), she stopped short of questioning anything she was told by the practitioner.
The piece repeated Hempel’s bold and unsubstantiated claims to identify
bacteria, yeasts, fungi, vitamin deficiencies, organ stress and many other potential imbalances in your body
Following the test, it was suggested to Gardner that she may have a lack of omega-3 fatty acids and perhaps a slight iron deficiency. Although as a vegetarian, this did not surprise her, she seems to have forgotten that she had already given Hempel detailed information about her diet. It didn’t occur to Gardner that perhaps Hempel had somehow – consciously or otherwise – been influenced by the questionnaire completed prior to the session.
Somewhat alarmingly, Hempel also claimed that clumps of white strands around the blood were due to liver and bowel toxicity. If Jasmine is reading this, I’d like to reassure her by saying it’s quite possible that the white strands were artefacts on the slide. Nonetheless, if someone has genuine health concerns about their liver or bowel then they need to consult a suitably qualified medical professional.
Predictably, Hempel recommended a whole new diet in addition to a cocktail of supplements.
The article even concluded by
advertising mentioning a special offer currently running at Hempel’s clinic:
Live blood analysis, £150 until the end of June, £250 thereafter (07952 865430, londonnaturaltherapies.co.uk).
I believe that lazy and irresponsible health journalism misleads readers and even has the potential to cause harm to the very people it seems to be aimed at – those who may consider undergoing such a test. In all likelihood, such customers would also fail to question unsubstantiated claims made by practitioners.
False reassurance may cause people with genuine health concerns to delay consulting their doctor. Practitioners could also make incorrect diagnoses, causing unnecessary stress and inconvenience. Since I started writing about live blood analysis, I have had several unhappy customers contact me, one of whom was led to believe she had mould and markers for cancer and diabetes in her blood.
To put it bluntly, live blood analysis is pure quackery and advice given by practitioners is unreliable and best ignored.
I have written to the London Evening Standard expressing my concerns and will report back on any response I get.
A new era of scientific discovery? Edzard Ernst, The Guardian, 12/07/05
Making Sense of Testing Sense about Science, March 2008
Live Blood Analysis: The Modern Auguries Mark Crislip, Science-Based Medicine, 13/02/09
My third ASA adjudication: Groupon’s Live Blood Test claims exaggerated, misleading and unsubstantiated Josephine Jones, 07/09/11
Another bloody disgrace from Groupon! Josephine Jones, 12/10/11
Radio 4 You & Yours investigate unregulated ‘live’ blood tests Josephine Jones, 17/03/12