Consumer Health Digest #19-44
Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
November 3, 2019
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.
"Slapping healing" promoter convicted of manslaughter. Hong Chi Xiao has been found guilty of manslaughter over the death of a six-year-old boy attending Xiao's week-long workshop in Sydney, Australia offering "paida lajin," a method involving slapping and stretching the body. The boy's parents enrolled him in the workshop seeking to end the need to inject him with insulin four times a day. Xiao allegedly:
- claimed at a seminar the day before the workshop that his method "unlocked the body's self-healing power," which could cure diseases including type 1 and type 2 diabetes, cancer, and Parkinson's disease
- told the audience that slapping and stretching could generate insulin
- told the boy's mother that she should not give him any more insulin because "medicine is poison, Western medicine cannot cure you" and thus, the boy was given his final injection at the beginning of the workshop and was allegedly made to fast for three days
- as part of the workshop, had the boy fast for three days and was not permitted to eat until the day he died
- told the mother while the boy's health deteriorated that toxins were being released from his body and it was a positive sign
The boy eventually vomited a syrupy black substance, became too weak to stand or open his eyes, and also had a seizure. He died five days into the workshop of diabetic ketoacidosis, a build-up of acid in the body due to lack of insulin. As he was dying, participants slapped his arms. In a separate case, a court in England has issued a warrant for Xiao's arrest over the alleged gross negligence manslaughter of a 71-year-old with diabetes who attended one of Xiao's workshops. [Mitchell G. Alternative therapy practitioner guilty of manslaughter over six-year-old's death. Sydney Morning Herald, Oct 21, 2019] In April 2011, Taiwanese authorities fined Xiao NT$50,000 (£1,060, $1,600) for "promoting folk remedies as medically effective", after he claimed that diabetic patients did not need medication and could be cured with paida lajin. [Wong T. What happens at a slapping workshop? BBC News, May 1, 2015]
Multilevel marketer Neora sued. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has sued the multi-level marketer Neora, LLC (formerly known as Nerium International, LLC) and its chief executive officer, Jeffrey Olson for: (a) operating as an illegal pyramid scheme, (b) falsely promising distributors they will achieve financial independence if they join the scheme, and (c) deceptively promoting "EHT" supplements. The FTC is seeking to permanently stop the defendants' deceptive practices and return money to consumers. [FTC sues multi-level marketer Neora, formerly known as Nerium, alleging it operates as an illegal pyramid scheme. FTC press release, Nov 1, 2019] The FTC alleges that Nexium:
- pushed distributors or brand partners to focus on recruiting new distributors, rather than retail sales to customers
- incentivizes recruits to make a substantial upfront investment in Nerium products including supplements and skin creams and then commit to additional product purchases each month
- misrepresented that brand partners would earn substantial income and achieve financial independence
- promised "lifestyle-changing income" to its recruits
- social media posts and its brand partners' posts featured brand partners who were supposedly able to retire from their jobs or earn a six-figure income
- structured its compensation plan so that, at any particular time, the majority of brand partners will not make substantial income and will instead lose money
- claimed without substantiation that EHT can enhance brain health and prevent, reduce the risk of, or treat concussions or chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), as well as Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease
- in an effort to capitalize on growing awareness of concussion-related CTE among football players, recruited former professional football players such as Sidney Rice, Steve Weatherford, and Cory Redding Jr. to pitch the products to parents and coaches concerned about children's health
The FTC has reached a proposed settlement with two related companies, Signum Biosciences and Signum Nutralogix, that supply EHT supplements to Nerium and have helped to deceptively promote Nerium's products. Under the settlement, the Signum companies are barred from making baseless claims about EHT or other supplements.
Warning issued about unauthorized soft-shelled hyperbaric chambers. Health Canada is advising Canadians that:
- Soft-shelled hyperbaric chambers that are promoted online or offered as a service to treat a medical conditions such as autism, cerebral palsy and migraines are unauthorized medical devices and may pose serious health risks, including death.
- Manufacturers have not demonstrated that the soft-shelled models are effective for treating any medical condition. [Unauthorized soft-shelled hyperbaric chambers may pose serious health risks. Health Canada safety alert, Oct 25, 2019]
- The potential risks of the soft-shelled chambers include:
- fire or explosion as a result of static discharge within an elevated oxygen environment with a significantly increased risk when used in combination with a concentrated oxygen device
- disease spread through cross-contamination between users
- damage to the ears, eyes, sinuses, lungs and teeth
- changes to blood sugar levels.
Health Canada has updated its hyperbaric oxygen information page for consumers.
This page was posted on November 3,, 2019.