s Alternative diagnostics – the dodgy, the dopey & the downright dangerous | I2P: Information to Pharmacists - Archive
Publication Date 01/07/2014         Volume. 6 No. 6   
Information to Pharmacists

Editorial

From the desk of the editor

Welcome to the July 2014 homepage edition of i2P (Information to Pharmacists) E-Magazine.
At the commencement of 2014 i2P focused on the need for the entire profession of pharmacy and its associated industry supports to undergo a renewal and regeneration.
We are now half-way through this year and it is quite apparent that pharmacy leaders do not yet have a cohesive and clear sense of direction.
Maybe the new initiative by Woolworths to deliver clinical service through young pharmacists and nurses may sharpen their focus.
If not, community pharmacy can look forward to losing a substantial and profitable market share of the clinical services market.
Who would you blame when that happens?
But I have to admit there is some effort, even though the results are but meagre.
In this edition of i2P we focus on the need for research about community pharmacy, the lack of activity from practicing pharmacists and when some research is delivered, a disconnect appears in its interpretation and implementation.

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Recent Comments

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News Flash

Newsflash Updates for July 2014

Newsflash Updates

Regular weekly updates that supplement the regular monthly homepage edition of i2P. 
Access and click on the title links that are illustrated

Comments: 1

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Feature Contribution

Woolworths Pharmacy - Getting One Stage Closer

Neil Johnston

It started with “tablet” computers deployed on shelves inside the retailer Coles, specifically to provide information to consumers relating to pain management and the sale of strong analgesics.
This development was reported in i2P under the title Coles Pharmacy Expansion and the Arid PGA Landscape”
In that article we reported that qualified information was a missing link that had come out of Coles market research as the reason to why it had not succeeded in dominating the pain market.
Of course, Woolworths was working on the same problem at the same time and had come up with a better solution - real people with good information.

Comments: 5

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Intensive Exposition without crossing over with a supermarket

Fiona Sartoretto Verna AIAPP

Editor's Note: The understanding of a pharmacy's presentation through the research that goes into the design of fixtures and fittings that highlight displays, is a never-ending component of pharmacy marketing.
Over the past decade, Australian pharmacy shop presentations have fallen behind in standards of excellence.
It does not take rocket science - you just have to open your eyes.
Recently, our two major supermarkets, Woolworths and Coles, have entered into the field of drug and condition information provision - right into the heartland of Australian Pharmacy.

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The sure way to drive business away

Gerald Quigley

I attended the Pregnancy, Baby and Children’s Expo in Brisbane recently.
What an eye and ear opening event that was!
Young Mums, mature Mums, partners of all ages, grandparents and friends……...many asking about health issues and seeking reassurances that they were doing the right thing.

Comments: 1

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‘Marketing Based Medicine’ – how bad is it?

Baz Bardoe

It should be the scandal of the century.
It potentially affects the health of almost everyone.
Healthcare providers and consumers alike should be up in arms. But apart from coverage in a few credible news sources the problem of ‘Marketing Based Medicine,’ as psychiatrist Dr Peter Parry terms it, hasn’t as yet generated the kind of universal outrage one might expect.

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Community Pharmacy Research - Are You Involved?

Mark Coleman

Government funding is always scarce and restricted.
If you are ever going to be a recipient of government funds you will need to fortify any application with evidence.
From a government perspective, this minimises risk.
I must admit that while I see evidence of research projects being managed by the PGA, I rarely see community pharmacists individually and actively engaged in the type of research that would further their own aims and objectives (and survival).

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Organisational Amnesia and the Lack of a Curator Inhibits Cultural Progress

Neil Johnston

Most of us leave a tremendous impact on pharmacies we work for (as proprietors, managers, contractors or employees)—in ways we’re not even aware of.
But organisational memories are often all too short, and without a central way to record that impact and capture the knowledge and individual contributions, they become lost to time.
It is ironic that technology has provided us with phenomenal tools for communication and connection, but much of it has also sped up our work lives and made knowledge and memory at work much more ephemeral.

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Academics on the payroll: the advertising you don't see

Staff Writer

This article was first published in The Conversation and was written by Wendy Lipworth, University of Sydney and Ian Kerridge, University of Sydney
In the endless drive to get people’s attention, advertising is going ‘native’, creeping in to places formerly reserved for editorial content. In this Native Advertising series we find out what it looks like, if readers can tell the difference, and more importantly, whether they care.
i2P has republished the article as it supports our own independent and ongoing investigations on how drug companies are involved in marketing-based medicine rather than evidence-based medicine.

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I’ve been thinking about admitting wrong.

Mark Neuenschwander

Editor's Note: This is an early article by Mark Neuenschwander we have republished after the soul-searching surrounding a recent Australian dispensing error involving methotrexate.
Hmm. There’s more than one way you could take that, huh? Like Someday when I get around to it (I’m not sure) I may admit that I was wrong about something. Actually, I’ve been thinking about the concept of admitting wrong. So don’t get your hopes up. No juicy confessions this month except that I wish it were easier for me to admit when I have been wrong or made a mistake.
Brian Goldman, an ER physician from Toronto, is host of the award-winning White Coat, Black Art on CBC Radio and slated to deliver the keynote at The unSUMMIT for Bedside Barcoding in Anaheim this May. His TED lecture, entitled, “Doctors make mistakes. Can we talk about it?” had already been viewed by 386,072 others before I watched it last week.

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Dispensing errors – a ripple effect of damage

Kay Dunkley - BPharm, Grad Dip Hosp Pharm, Grad Dip Health Admin, MPS, MSHPA

Most readers will be aware of recent publicity relating to dispensing errors and in particular to deaths caused by methotrexate being incorrectly packed in dose administration aids.
The Pharmacy Board of Australia (PBA), in its Communique of 13 June 2014, described a methotrexate packing error leading to the death of a patient and noted “extra vigilance is required to be exercised by pharmacists with these drugs”.
This same case was reported by A Current Affair (ACA) in its program on Friday 20 June
http://aca.ninemsn.com.au/article/8863098/prescription-drug-warning

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Take a vacation from your vocation

Harvey Mackay

Have you ever had one of those days when all you could think was, “Gosh, do I need a vacation.”
Of course you have – because all work and no play aren’t good for anyone.
A vacation doesn’t have to be two weeks on a tropical island, or even a long weekend at the beach. 
A vacation just means taking a break from your everyday activities. 
A change of pace. 
It doesn’t matter where.
Everyone needs a vacation to rejuvenate mentally and physically. 
But did you also know that you can help boost our economy by taking some days off? 
Call it your personal stimulus package.

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Explainer: what is peer review?

Staff Writer

This article was first published in the Conversation. It caught our eye because "peer review" it is one of the standards for evidence-based medicines that has also been corrupted by global pharma.
The article is republished by i2P as part of its ongoing investigation into scientific fraud and was writtenby Andre Spicer, City University London and Thomas Roulet, University of Oxford
We’ve all heard the phrase “peer review” as giving credence to research and scholarly papers, but what does it actually mean?
How does it work?
Peer review is one of the gold standards of science. It’s a process where scientists (“peers”) evaluate the quality of other scientists' work. By doing this, they aim to ensure the work is rigorous, coherent, uses past research and adds to what we already knew.
Most scientific journals, conferences and grant applications have some sort of peer review system. In most cases it is “double blind” peer review. This means evaluators do not know the author(s), and the author(s) do not know the identity of the evaluators.
The intention behind this system is to ensure evaluation is not biased.
The more prestigious the journal, conference, or grant, the more demanding will be the review process, and the more likely the rejection. This prestige is why these papers tend to be more read and more cited.

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Dentists from the dark side?

Loretta Marron OAM BSc

While dining out with an elderly friend, I noticed that he kept his false tooth plate in his shirt pocket. He had recently had seven amalgam-filled teeth removed, because he believed that their toxins were making him sick; but his new plate was uncomfortable. He had been treated by an 'holistic dentist'. Claiming to offer a "safe and healthier alternative" to conventional dentistry, are they committed to our overall health and wellbeing or are they promoting unjustified fear, unnecessarily extracting teeth and wasting our money?

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Planning for Profit in 2015 – Your key to Business Success

Chris Foster

We are now entering a new financial year and it’s a great time to reflect on last year and highlight those things that went well and those that may have impacted negatively in the pursuit of your goals.
It's also a great to spend some time re-evaluating your personal and business short, medium and long term goals in the light of events over the last year.
The achievement of your goals will in many cases be dependent on setting and aspiring to specific financial targets. It's important that recognise that many of your personal goals will require you to generate sufficient business profits to fund those aspirations

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ReWalk™ Personal Exoskeleton System Cleared by FDA for Home Use

Staff Writer

Exoskeleton leader ReWalk Robotics announced today that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has cleared the company’s ReWalk Personal System for use at home and in the community.
ReWalk is a wearable robotic exoskeleton that provides powered hip and knee motion to enable individuals with Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) to stand upright and walk.
ReWalk, the only exoskeleton with FDA clearance via clinical studies and extensive performance testing for personal use, is now available throughout the United States.

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Attracting and Retaining Great People

Barry Urquhart

Welcome to the new financial year in Australia.
For many in business the past year has been described as a challenging period.
Adjectives are a key feature of the English language.  In the business lexicon their use can be, and often is evocative and stimulate creative images.  But they can also contribute to inexact, emotional perceptions.
Throughout the financial pages of newspapers and business magazines adjectives abound.
References to “hot” money draw attention and comment.  The recent wave of funds from Chinese investors, keen to remove their wealth from the jurisdiction and control of government regulations is creating a potential property bubble in Australia.

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Updating Your Values - Extending Your Culture

Neil Johnston

Pharmacy culture is dormant.
Being comprised of values, unless each value is continually addressed, updated or deleted, entire organisations can stagnate (or entire professions such as the pharmacy profession).
Good values offer a strong sense of security, knowing that if you operate within the boundaries of your values, you will succeed in your endeavours.

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Evidence-based medicine is broken. Why we need data and technology to fix it

Staff Writer

The following article is reprinted from The Conversation and forms up part of our library collection on evidence-based medicines.
At i2P we also believe that the current model of evidence is so fractured it will never be able to be repaired.
All that can happen is that health professionals should independently test and verify through their own investigations what evidence exists to prescribe a medicine of any potency.
Health professionals that have patients (such as pharmacists) are ideally placed to observe and record the efficacy for medicines.
All else should confine their criticisms to their evidence of the actual evidence published.
If there are holes in it then share that evidence with the rest of the world.
Otherwise, do not be in such a hurry to criticise professions that have good experience and judgement to make a good choice on behalf of their patients, simply because good evidence has not caught up with reality.

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Laropiprant is the Bad One; Niacin is/was/will always be the Good One

Staff Writer

Orthomolecular Medicine News Service, July 25, 2014
Laropiprant is the Bad One; Niacin is/was/will always be the Good One
by W. Todd Penberthy, PhD

(OMNS July 25, 2014) Niacin has been used for over 60 years in tens of thousands of patients with tremendously favorable therapeutic benefit (Carlson 2005).
In the first-person NY Times best seller, "8 Weeks to a Cure for Cholesterol," the author describes his journey from being a walking heart attack time bomb to a becoming a healthy individual.
He hails high-dose niacin as the one treatment that did more to correct his poor lipid profile than any other (Kowalski 2001).

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Culture Drive & Pharmacy Renewal

Neil Johnston

Deep within all of us we have a core set of values and beliefs that create the standards of behaviour that we align with when we set a particular direction in life.
Directions may change many times over a lifetime, but with life experiences and maturity values may increase in number or gain greater depth.
All of this is embraced under one word – “culture”.
When a business is born it will only develop if it has a sound culture, and the values that comprise that culture are initially inherent in the business founder.
A sound business culture equates to a successful business and that success is often expressed in the term “goodwill” which can be eventually translated to a dollar value.

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ReWalk™ Personal Exoskeleton System Cleared by FDA for Home Use

Staff Writer

Exoskeleton leader ReWalk Robotics announced today that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has cleared the company’s ReWalk Personal System for use at home and in the community.
ReWalk is a wearable robotic exoskeleton that provides powered hip and knee motion to enable individuals with Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) to stand upright and walk.
ReWalk, the only exoskeleton with FDA clearance via clinical studies and extensive performance testing for personal use, is now available throughout the United States.

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Pharmacy 2014 - Pharmacy Management Conference

Neil Johnston

The brave new world of health and wellness is not the enemy of Pharmacy, it is its champion.
Australian futurist, Morris Miselowski, one of the world's leading business visionaries, will present the Opening Keynote address on Pharmacy's Future in the new Health and Wellness Landscape at 2.00pm on Wednesday July 30.
Morris believes the key to better health care could already be in your pocket, with doctors soon set to prescribe iPhone apps, instead of pills.
Technology will revolutionise the health industry - a paradigm shift from healthcare to personal wellness.
Health and wellness applications on smartphones are already big news, and are dramatically changing the way we manage our personal health and everyday wellness.

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Generation and Application of Community Pharmacy Research

Neil Johnston

Editor’s Note: We have had a number of articles in this issue relating to pharmacy research.
The PGA has conducted a number of research initiatives over the years, including one recently reported in Pharmacy News that resulted from an analysis of the QCPP Patient Questionnaire.
Pharmacy Guild president, George Tambassis, appears to have authored the article following, and there also appears to be a disconnect between the survey report and its target audience illustrated by one of the respondent comments published.
I have asked Mark Coleman to follow through, elaborate and comment:

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Alternative diagnostics – the dodgy, the dopey & the downright dangerous

Loretta Marron OAM BSc

articles by this author...

From a Skeptics Perspective: Loretta Marron, a science graduate with a business background, was Australian Skeptic of the Year for 2007 and in 2011. She is the Chief Executive Officer of the Friends of Science in Medicine and that organisation won Australian Skeptic of the Year for 2012. On Australia Day 2014 she was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM ) for "service to community health"  Loretta edits the websites www.healthinformation.com.au & www.scienceinmedicine.org.au

I love looking at my local Naturopaths website.  Her clinic is situated in a popular retirement destination; a beautiful beachside suburb in sunny Queensland.  With the locals well advanced in age, she offers a range of questionable “non-invasive, natural and new-age therapies”, so she is assured of a steady stream of hurting, hobbling, hopeful and financially well-off oldies knocking on her door.  We all know about the power of placebo, so does it really matter that natural therapists are selling hope without proof?

A quick look at her website shows that she offers procedures with amazingly creative brand names such as ‘Acugraph™ Miridiacheck’, ‘EQ4 Listen System™’, ‘Hemaview™’, ‘Thyroflex™ Testing’ and ‘Bioptron™ Light Therapy’, to name just a few of them.  These may relate to “organ disorders, vitamin/mineral deficiencies, allergies, food sensitivities, psychological stress, fungi/parasites, viral/bacterial infections, pesticide/insecticide contamination and heavy metal intoxication”.

The Hemaview™ ‘live blood analysis’ device appears to be little more than a fancy microscope attached to a monitor.  It is sold with a brochure that practitioners hand to their patients that proclaim that this device can diagnose “high fat diets, poor nutrition, smoking, alcohol, stress, immune system health, oxidative stress and free radical damage, inflammation and liver health”. 

Thyroflex™ testing is touted as a “reliable, non-invasive thyroid testing and treatment”.  The device incorporates an odd looking problem that the uses on your arm, that presumably mimics a miniature “diagnostic patella hammer”.  The resulting measurement is relayed to yet another computer and it too comes up with a list of health problems.

All these devices seem to translate these health conditions into a list of herbal and homeopathic remedies you need to treat your hormone, vitamin or other deficiencies.

The Bioptron™ is a ‘treatment’ device that is just a gloried handheld infra-red lamp which has been approved by the US Food & Drugs Administration (FDA) “to relieve minor pain by means of heat therapy”.  The website states that it can also be used for eczema, acne, psoriasis, wound healing, chest infections, sinusitis, fungal infections, cataracts, conjunctivitis, blocked tear ducts, cellulite and facial wrinkles”.

The clinic looks very impressive with all this quasi-high-tech and expensive equipment and complex charting that cover every available desktop, table and wall space.  These treatments consequently come at a considerable cost. The initial consultation ranges from $125-$200 are extra tests are at least $75 each.  Then there are the follow-up appointments from $60 and on top of that are the truck-load of recommended pills and potions that you stagger out the door with.  

A search of the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA)’s product register failed to identify any of these devices as being approved for any usage.  A medical literature search didn’t find anything to support them either.  So at best this clinic may offer procedures that are just expensive placebos, at worse they may delay diagnosis of real health problems, while offering testing that “may lead to inappropriate treatment and expense to the patient and community.”

While the laws that protect us from misguided or opportunistic unregistered practitioners are weak, there are a few complaints mechanisms that offer some consumer protection. 

 

If the practitioners are selling the devices, the TGA’s Complaints Resolution Panel can request the website claims be removed.  If they are members of the Australian Traditional Medicine Society (ATMS), their advertising standards are consistent with the TGA’s, in that therapists must not make claims that are “false, misleading or deceptive”.  The ATMS Code of Conduct, states that “all therapeutic goods and devices used by their members must be either listed or registered on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods” so consumers can submit complaints to them.  If the practitioners are not registered, complaints against them are handled by state government departments, which varies from state to state and range from consumer protection (WA) to health commissions (NSW & QLD). 

 

It’s not just natural therapist who promote these procedures, some pharmacists, dentist and doctors are also including them in their practices; so when it comes to using alternative ‘diagnostics and treatments’, do your own homework or enter at your own risk.

Return to home

Submitted by Johnothan Baxter on Thu, 18/10/2012 - 19:20.

Have you, Loretta, actually tried any of these natural therapies? Western scientific thought is based on the concept of empirical discovery, as you should know. How then, can you make a rationalist determination about something with which you have no precise experience? Your arrogance befits your age; with genuine experience, you will be humbled. There is nothing more dangerous to our democracy than rationalists like you. Whether you will admit it here or not, in your cold heart is this queer notion - no, steadfast conviction - that you speak for all of us, that you are protecting us, the little people, the stupid sheople, from ourselves. Sorry, you don't have the wit to represent me.

Submitted by Alice on Mon, 12/03/2012 - 14:50.

I find it interesting that Loretta refers to the lady as "my naturopath". This is generally a possessive pronoun reserved for a practitioner who treats us and for whom we have respect. "My" doctor, "my" dentist as opposed to "your" doctor or "your dentist." Is "my" naturopath a Freudian slip on Loretta's part? Why would she lay claim to someone into whose life she is constantly shooting toxic arrows. Fair is fair, Loretta. Either claim the naturopath as your own, admit that you go there, or stop this dreadfully vicious campaign completely and declare why you have this personal set against natural therapies. Like all the rest of your writing you seem to have one foot in one camp and one in the other i.e. science at whatever basic level you operate, and business, whatever basic level you reached there too. Your arguments are so fundamental and preschool in the world of science they are boring. Not a hint of wisdom of the past nor promise of the future in any of your limited writings. I feel for your restricted views and hope that you can remove yourself from this negativity which pervades everything you say, write and do. This must affect your health.
Cheer up. Be happy. And enjoy life. I know it's placebo, but laughter and joy are such nice placebos. Much better than writing poison pen letters.

Submitted by Trevor on Mon, 12/03/2012 - 13:26.

In Loretta we find an unhappy old lady who missed out on the pleasures of life, so now she just sits around and makes hundreds of complains to the TGACRP "ANONYMOUSLY". Little does she know that hundreds of thousands now know that she along with her partner Gavin Mutton are really the main Natural Therapy trouble makers in Australia, A skeptic is someone who can only access their logic brain unfortunately and thinks that ONE SIZE FITS ALL. There is no such thing as EVIDENCE BASED MEDICINE because we all have biochemical individuality! Ask a REAL SCIENTIST who is really qualified!!!

Submitted by jfalken on Fri, 30/12/2011 - 17:31.

Eric Bakker ND - "The only lessons a patient is likely to learn at the hands of an average GP is the recommendation of a toxic drug after a four minute consultation."
What a crock of bull. Putting 'ND' after your name... I bet you couldn't even suture a cut, that's how 'good' a healer you are.

Charlatan! You'd sell snake oil if the government didn't stop you!

Submitted by Jenny on Thu, 15/03/2012 - 09:02.

Responding to J Falken’s comments – ND’s and Snake Oil. Krill oil (our whale’s main food source) is heavily marketed for its amazing results for arthritis and hyperlipidema. While whales are on the endangered species list, trawlers continue to harvest their food supply in the name of profit. In your ignorance you refer to snake oil as quackery. Despite the reference to snake oil as charlatanism it may offer some legitimate health benefits. According to a report published in the Western Journal of Medicine, the oil of the Chinese water snake is an excellent source of the omega-3 fatty acid eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). This compound shows promise as a nutritional supplement and holistic treatment for several conditions. I'm not sure if it is on the endangered species list but would be nice to spare the whales of their food if the Chinese Govt would allow greedy trawlers into their waterways. As for your comments re suturing, this little ND used to stitch people up all the time during my remote nursing days. Now aged 70, I try to avoid bush emergencies and spend my week days sharing my secrets on preventative health and longevity and recovering from my weekends of hard yakka in my herb garden. Having carted 30 barrow loads of mulch uphill last weekend I enjoy my week days as a lounge lizard doing acupuncture and massage and assessing client’s symptoms that their physicians failed to diagnose through blood tests and scans in a ten minute consult. Why don't we look at lizard oil's health benefits? However I'm not yet ready for the recycle bin as I love life and am thankful for great energy and fitness of body, mind and soul.

Submitted by Jenny on Tue, 13/03/2012 - 10:29.

Eric, I am responding to your comments about Snake Oil. Krill oil (our whale’s main food source) is heavily marketed for its amazing results for arthritis and hyperlipidema. While whales are on the endangered species list, trawlers continue to harvest their food ssupply in the name of profit. In your ignorance you refer to snake oil as quackery. Despite the reference to snake oil as charlatanism it may offer some legitimate health benefits. According to a report published in the Western Journal of Medicine, the oil of the Chinese water snake is an excellent source of the omega-3 fatty acid eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). This compound shows promise as a nutritional supplement and holistic treatment for several conditions. I'm not sure if it is on the endangered species list but would be nice to spare the whales of their food if the Chinese Govt would allow greedy trawlers into their waterways. As for your comments re suturing, this little ND used to stitch people up all the time during my remote nursing days. Now aged 70, I try to avoid bush emergencies and spend my week days sharing my secrets on preventative health and longevity and recovering from my weekends of hard yakka in my herb garden. Having carted 30 barrowloads of mulch uphill last weekend I enjoy my week days as a lounge lizard doing acupuncture and massage and assessing client’s symptoms that their physicians failed to diagnose through blood tests and scans in a ten minute consult. Why don't we look at lizard oil's health benefits? However I'm not yet ready for the recycle bin as I love life and am thankful for great energy and fitness of body, mind and soul.
As for the arrogance of Skeptics, Australia is a Christian society that recognises Xmas. I’ll bet the skeptics don’t work over Easter or Xmas. I believe a few good old fashioned values need to come back into play. Instead of buying kids mobile phones and digital games, send them off to sunday school and teach them manners and respect as well as to read, write and think. Encourage family values and some discipline and stop wasting energy on subjects you haven't got a clue about just to gain notoriety. I’m not suggesting we go berserk with religion, however it is better than all this atheist skepticism that has historically proven to lead to genecide such as happened in Russia and Germany. No-one really cares about your TGA complaints or any of the boring crap you carry on about. Focus your attention on protecting our youth from corruption and saving the environment and with your determination you could actually gain the recognition you so desperately crave.

Submitted by Eric Bakker ND on Fri, 30/09/2011 - 21:00.

I love posts such as this, they only prove how misguided and gullible some poor writers really are. Loretta obviously has not spent any time in a clinic cleaning up patients suffering from the toxic effects of "evidence" based medicine. I have seen patients for over 20yrs, and most chronic cases I see show plenty of evidence alright, and are far worse off after medical "science" than before. Thank GOD I had the foresight to study and apply the laws of nature when it comes to healing. Interesting to note Loretta that the term "doctor" in Latin means "teacher". The only lessons a patient is likely to learn at the hands of an average GP is the recommendation of a toxic drug after a four minute consultation. My website naturopath.co.nz may be quite an education for you. Be sure to see Western Medicine under the Articles tab.

Submitted by David on Fri, 23/12/2011 - 17:58.

What are the 'laws of nature' generally and/or specifically when it comes to healing?

Submitted by Julie on Wed, 28/09/2011 - 15:09.

I too was once skeptical about natural therapies, that is until I was misdiagnosed numerous times & found no real relief from medical practicioners. However my health has never been better than now, and I've had no GP input for years. In fact had I listened to the doctors I would be on a pension now instead of employed full time.

Submitted by jake on Wed, 21/09/2011 - 17:15.

So my seeing for myself that my RBCs were undersized ie Microcytes, was not proof that I had an iron problem. I had so few normal RBCs that when we saw a normacyte, we got out the gauge to check. This made me go to the doctor and get bloods done. Sure enough, iron deficiency anaemia!

This was just a chance visit to a friend with one of these Hemaview microscopes, a free test just to have a look and I did not have any real symptoms to be looking for anything.

Tell me it was dodgy, dopey or even dangerous, tell me it was quackery or even a placebo and sorry, I'll laugh in your face. It was every bit as useful as a MCV, no it was better than an MCV because I saw it instantly, I didn't need to wait for the results to come back.

Please use your brain, take a quick look yourself at what can be learned instantly with one of these and take it off your list of suspect therapies.

If Doctors would use them as a matter of course in their surgeries, this would have been spotted months, maybe years ago.

Look I agree many things in this field can be suspect but this, in my opinion, is solid science.

Submitted by Josephine Jones on Mon, 03/10/2011 - 22:23.

I am a biologist from the UK who has become concerned recently about vulnerable members of the public being misled by advertising claims being made by alternative health practitioners – particularly with respect to Live Blood Analysis.

It is simply not possible to observe the vast majority of the phenomena which practitioners claim may be seen using this technique. I personally have made several complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority in the UK about companies who have made misleading and unsubstantiated claims about what may be observed using LBA and what health conditions it can ‘help’. The companies have then either agreed to remove these claims, or in the case of the adjudication against MyCityDeal (t/a Groupon), my complaint has been upheld in full (I have written about this in more detail on my Josephine Jones blog).

The Hemaview leaflet (linked in the article above) claims that Hemaview can assess clients for high fat diets, poor nutrition, smoking & alcohol, stress, immune system health, oxidative stress & free radical damage, inflammation and liver health. I believe this is all misleading and unsubstantiated. It also states that live blood analysis can give ‘an accurate and immediate indication of the state of your general health’. This is simply not true.

In reply to Jake’s comment, however, it *is* possible to see blood cells clearly using the Hemaview microscope (as he experienced). It is therefore possible to ascertain if you have microcytic anaemia in this way. However, conventional blood testing is far more sophisticated than simply looking at the cells under a microscope. As I say time and time again, if anyone has concerns about their health, they really should go to see a (real) doctor. Doctors not only have reliable diagnostic tests at their disposal, but also have the necessary medical background to interpret the results correctly and give sensible advice.

Practitioners of live blood analysis do not tend to have had any conventional medical training whatsoever. Indeed, those I have encountered in the UK have a fundamental misunderstanding about human biology – they believe in ‘Dr’ Robert O Young’s ‘New Biology’ and the ludicrous theory of ‘pleomorphism’. According to this, all illness is caused by acidity and the body’s own cells transform into yeasts and bacteria. Some of them claim that they can help serious conditions such as cancer and diabetes – some of them even advising sufferers to cease their conventional treatment. This is quackery at its most dangerous.

Submitted by jake on Mon, 16/04/2012 - 15:01.

Ah yes, but what do you say when 2 subsequent conventional blood tests show "normal" iron levels. Iron supplementation has given me more energy than I've ever had. I thought reduced energy was just a normal part of the aging process. It wasn't severe. I figure something is wrong with the tests I had done.

Submitted by James on Fri, 03/12/2010 - 08:19.

Great work. Honesty and accountability is not common in snake oil sales people. My rule of thumb is if the person making miracle claims cannot work in any hospital in Australia then it is more a religion than a medical service. As you say the placebo effect is extraordinary so as long as the snake oil is not killing people we can assume "A fool and his/her money are soon parted" is still as valid as ever! People are still legally able to choose to smoke or use snake oil treatments.

Submitted by Linda on Mon, 13/09/2010 - 09:33.

Skeptics must be such unhappy people when their very nature pushes them to disparage so much and leave them with so little to believe in.

Submitted by katie Thompson on Wed, 02/11/2011 - 05:38.

This is so true I love how the so called scientists think they know every thing and flat out refuse anyone elses theories whether they come from doctors or not (funny considering most naturopathic ideas are sprung from doctors).I think this show ignorance in itself. Interesting to see also one of the sceptics says shes has a BSc and a buisness degree this is the problem with "orthodox" medicine its become about being a buisness rather than helping the people they take an oath to help.As far as NO SCIENTIFIC BACKROUND is concered I am training as a naturopath in New Zealand and we certainly have scientific training and this is regulated by a qualifications authority (mainstream education body). We have sat the same anatomy and physiology, pathophysiology and nutrition,pharmacology as well as phytopharmacology, biochemistry and also medical history and politics these are all at level 7,to get a doctorate is usualy at around level 9 or 10.We can acheive these and most naturopaths do continue to study and get masters and doctorate papers, infact ALL of my lecturers are doctors in the mainstream medical feilds eyes and chooses to practice the way they do and are very passionate about education in the feild of medicine. As for quakery we all know that this word stems from the masks the orthodox practitioners wore a long time ago and does not actualy refer to modern herbalists at all. As far as no evidence is concered the millions of successful human trials should be evidence enough that naturopaths are successful in the feild of medicine often where conventional medicine has failed patients who then turn to naturopathy.Funny also that if you read up on the pharmacological actions of a lot of the 20 most prescribed drugs you'll be suprised to find that even though approved scientists still dont know how or why a lot of theses medicines have the effects on our body that they do.To finish I'd like to say to you doctors with your eyes closed, how can you fill a cup that is already full.The answer is , you can't.Namaste =)

Submitted by Linda on Sun, 12/09/2010 - 13:03.

Professional skeptics such as Marron must lead tiny, trapped, miserable little lives if pulling everything down is the most fun they get out of the day. Imagine what it must be like to have such a mean, negative, black little mind driving your life. Ugggg... too awful to contemplate.

Submitted by Louise Milligan on Wed, 08/09/2010 - 17:54.

Thank you so much for your information concerning your naturopath. I found you on a google search because I need a trusted natural therapist to continue my ongoing lymphodema treatments using SAFE lymphatic massage.We recently moved to Hervey Bay, a seaside area that fits your naturopaths description. I have been seeing an amazing naturopath out west whom I trust totally,and she used iridology to diagnoseour family. She also uses hair analysis that she sends to America, and although the results are different from medical blood testing, my husband was amazed by his response to mineral therapy, even though he had a torn ligament. Hair analysis also picked up my thyroid imbalance along with iridology that she treated with homeopathy. To find a naturopath to fit into her shoes could mean relocating my entire family, but it could happen with the right advice. My beautiful daughter was misdiagnosed by a doctor with a pinched nerve in the viscera (whatever that is) 10 years ago and when we lost her to ovarian cancer, our family decided that we would seek alternate advice for our health problems in the future. If you could give me the name of the your naturopath at a seaside clinic, I would love to see her if it is okay.

Submitted by Loretta Marron on Sat, 12/06/2010 - 10:08.

I find am always sceptical about someone who promotes homeopathy and magnetic therapy to vulnerable patients.

Mr Quigley also runs seminars on "The Potential of "Special" Foods, Herbs and Supplements in Preventing and Fighting Cancer".
While advice on a healthy lifestyle is always important and green tea, for example, is good for you, according to cancer specialist Dr Nicholas Wilcken.
" there is no evidence at all that vitamin supplements either stop people from getting cancer or help them when they do. Large scale international studies if anything show the opposite - higher rates of cancer in those either consuming higher vitamin diets or randomised in trials to take vitamin supplements. So they might be harmful (still some debate) but they are definitely not helpful."

His opinion is backed up by Kathy Chapman of the Cancer Council who says that vitamin supplements are “not all they’re cracked up to be”.

On herbals, I get my advice and information from Prof Edzard Ernst and the NPS recommended databases.

It would be good to see an article from Mr Quickley backed by the Cancer Council that also links to evidence-based medicine sites such as COCHRANE.

Submitted by Gerald Quigley on Tue, 13/04/2010 - 17:50.

I am quite skeptical about the self-opinionated skeptics? Does anybody actually read this stuff? Does anybody care? Why are we so "down" on people who might be offering better patient care than their local medical practitioner or pharmacist?

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