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Never say diet

MagazineSeptember 1994 (Vol. 5 Issue 6)Never say diet

The role of nutrition in causing or preventing disease is no longer the stuff of crackpot fringe nutritionists and health food propagandists, but of copious scientific research

The role of nutrition in causing or preventing disease is no longer the stuff of crackpot fringe nutritionists and health food propagandists, but of copious scientific research. Mainstream trials conclusively demonstrating that supplements or particu

This work presents us with some of the most exciting possibilities at our disposal today to tackle many of the worst diseases of the 20th century in a safer and more effective fashion. Nevertheless, many in medicine steadfastly refuse to consider that anything but a typical British or American diet is necessary to keep a person away from the doctor's office.

Groups like Healthwatch (formerly The Campaign against Health Fraud colloquially known as Quackbusters), a self appointed group of doctors committed to routing out fraud in medicine, have vilified many clinical ecologists working in this area.

They have recently been successfully sued for libel by Larkhall, a UK vitamin company, over the role of vitamins in improving a child's IQ. Larkhall had been taken to court, under the Trades Descriptions Act, over its claims for its vitamin supplement Tandem IQ. However, magistrates agreed that a child's IQ could be improved by vitamins, after hearing the evidence from seven clinical trials. Nonetheless, Larkhall was found guilty and given a minimal fine for not specifying that its benefits were not universal, and could help only those children with a deficient diet (which the court agreed could be between one and three million children in Britain).

This was interpreted by Healthwatch as proof that Larkhall had been found guilty of misrepresentation and "health fraud". Larkhall sued for libel, and a substantial, undisclosed, sum has been paid by Healthwatch.

The self appointed guardians of honesty in medicine were bludgeoned into acknowledging widely publicized scientific evidence about the benefits of vitamins. The disturbing truth is that the constant exposure of medicine to the pharmaceutical industry, and the reliance of future medical research on these companies, has bred a climate in which much of mainstream medicine refuses to consider any other treatment options besides drugs and surgery, even when copious scientific evidence exists to support those options.

This has bred a "flat earther" climate, as nutritional specialist Dr Stephen Davies puts it, into which healers are polarized into "alternative" and "conventional" camps, rather than into one common camp of approving of anything that has a solid basis in science.

If doctors are preoccupied with defending the status quo, they are less likely to reject practices that science clearly shows don't work, and more likely to be close minded about unorthodox methods of treatment with promise.

It's wise to remember that every form of medicine is "alternative" unless it is proven to be safe and effective. At the moment, this includes about 80 per cent of orthodox medicine.

!ALynne McTaggart


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