Consumer Health Digest #18-46

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
November 18, 2018

Consumer Health Digest is a free weekly e-mail newsletter edited by William M. London, Ed.D., M.P.H., with help from Stephen Barrett, M.D. It summarizes scientific reports; legislative developments; enforcement actions; news reports; Web site evaluations; recommended and nonrecommended books; and other information relevant to consumer protection and consumer decision-making. Its primary focus is on health, but occasionally it includes non-health scams and practical tips.

Fifty British Columbia chiropractors still making prohibited claims. After warning chiropractors in British Columbia that they have until November 1st  to remove all prohibited  efficacy claims for treatments of diseases and conditions or face possible disciplinary action, the College of Chiropractors of B.C. is investigating 250 possible violations by 50 B.C. chiropractors who are still discouraging vaccinations and claiming to be able to treat conditions like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), ear infections, flu, and infertility. [Lindsay B. 50 B.C. chiropractors refuse to remove misleading claims from websites, face possible discipline. CBC News. Nov 15, 2018]

Spain proposes "alternative medicine" ban in health centers. Science and health ministers of Spain have announced a proposal to: (a) remove "alternative medicine" such as acupuncture and homeopathy from health centers where all treatment must be given by recognized professionals, and (b) develop alliances with deans, chancellors or Spanish regional authorities to end the awarding of diplomas by Spanish universities linked to these practices. Health and science advocates pressured the health ministry to act following several high-profile deaths, including that of 21-year-old Mario Rodriguez, who died after stopping his hospital treatment for leukemia based on the advice of a supposed naturopath who claimed to be able to cure cancer with vitamins. [Spain plans to ban alternative medicine in health centres. The Guardian. Nov 14, 2018]

Ex-naturopath awarded Maddox prize for courage. Britt Hermes, who is now a PhD student in evolutionary biology at Kiel University, Germany, and Terry Hughes, the director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies in Australia, have been jointly awarded the 2018 John Maddox Prize for their courage in promoting science. Hermes, who abandoned naturopathy when she realized it was ineffective and dangerous, was recognized for her exposure of false claims made by the naturopathic community. The judges noted her willingness to question her own views, the discomfort involved in communicating about the practices of former colleagues, and her continued commitment in the face of lawsuits and personal harassment. Her Naturopathic Diaries site is an illuminating resource for patients, students, lawmakers, and journalists. Professor Hughes was recognized for his tireless efforts in communicating research evidence on coral reef bleaching to the public and for tackling the misrepresentation of coral reef science despite efforts from politicians, public figures, and the Australian tourist industry to discredit his work. The Maddox Prize, now in its seventh year, is a joint initiative of the charity Sense about Science and the leading international scientific journal Nature. The late Sir John Maddox edited Nature for 22 years and was a passionate defender of science.

Anti-vaccination naturopath surrenders license. According to the College of Naturopathic Physicians of B.C., Anke Zimmerman, a Victoria, British Columbia naturopath, has voluntarily given up her license because she is unwilling to: (a) comply with the college's policy which forbids naturopaths from including anti-immunization materials in their advertising and from counseling patients against vaccination without a properly documented medical rationale and (b) stop administering CEASE therapy to autistic children. CEASE ("complete elimination of autism spectrum expression") is based on the disproven theory that vaccines cause autism. A homeopathic treatment combined with supplements and diets, it has been banned by the college. Zimmerman plans to practice as an unregulated homeopath and continue to offer CEASE therapy without referring to it by name. [Lindsay B. Controversial naturopath gives up licence, says work 'not going to change'. CBC News. Nov 8, 2018]

Zimmerman has also promoted the use of a homeopathic remedy called lyssinum (also known as lyssin or hydrophobium) made from a rabid dog's saliva, which she used to treat a four-year-old with behavioral problems. Although Health Canada has approved homeopathic lyssinum for general health, the product Zimmerman used came from a British manufacturer and was not licensed for Canadian use. [Lindsay B. Health Canada investigating use of unlicensed homeopathic remedy made from rabid dog saliva. CBC News. Apr 20, 2018] Pharmacist Scott Gavura has noted that under Health Canada's Natural Health Products regulatory scheme scientific evidence  of effectiveness is not required to gain approval. [Gavura S. How rabid dog saliva became an approved and endorsed remedy in Canada. Science-Based Medicine. Apr 19, 2018]

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This page was posted on November 19, 2018.