Thursday, November 13, 2008

Be aware of who you believe and what advice you swallow ...


... so ends a pretty good section from BBC's Inside Out SouthWest program, which on 12th Nov ran a piece on The College of Natural Nutrition.

For those of you in the UK, the BBC iPlayer has the program here, it runs from about 1min 7secs to 11 mins 38 secs. (Unless some kind bod pops it onto YouTube, I'm afraid non-Brits will have access issues).

(As an aside, it was also BBCs Inside Out Southwest program that confronted Neal's Yard about selling homeopathic products for malaria and, along with a complaint from this site, managed to get the products withdrawn.)

The main villain in the piece is Barbara Wren, who runs the College of Natural Nutrition. A quick hunt on Google shows that she is anti-vaccines:
Barbara Wren, Principal of The College of Natural Nutrition, regards the customary procedure of vaccination as having a considerable damaging effect on the health of the growing and adult individual. Throughout her twenty five years of practicing, Barbara was able to observe the unequivocable results that vaccinations have on long-term disease patterns, affecting the physical, mental and emotional being.

and the College of Natural Nutrition happily plays along with the 'WiFi causes cancer' hoax that pops up every so often. Luckily, Nicola Summers at The College of Natural Nutrition is on-hand to explain how:
In natural nutrition terms, the pulsing electromagnetic signal enters the body, disrupts the electron cloud that surrounds our cells, which impacts the way the cell behaves, alters the charge of the cell and ultimately influences how the cell reproduces. This will of course have an extremely stressful impact on the body leading to dehydration, mineral misplacement, congestion, lack of ability to break nutrients down fully and so on.

If I meet her, I must ask her more about the electron cloud that surrounds her cells - one can only assume that the phrase "In natural nutrition terms" means the same as "in made-up lala land". She also kindly provides a link to EmFields, which is the new incarnation of Alasdair Phillips of PowerWatch.

So, all in all, The College of Natural Nutrition is shaping up to be proper little microcosm of nonsense. Like so many areas of woo, water seems to be key. Keeping rehydrated will of course keep most diseases as bay, but not any old water.... oh no, you need special, fetishist water - allow Barbara to explain:

Some Helpful Hints on Drinking Water:

Nothing, no substitute liquid, replaces pure water.

I usually recommend using bottled water, in glass if possible. Look for 'empty water' i.e. for a low content of minerals, especially sodium (Na) and calcium (Ca). Of the bottled waters, Volvic is one of the best, as it has the lowest surface tension and is one of the "emptiest"; unfortunately it has the disadvantage of being in plastic bottles.

If you can distill [sic] water, and thus "empty" it, that is ideal. Reverse osmosis with the addition of an activated filter is quite a good alternative. In many areas it is possible to have distilled water delivered, quite inexpensively. The best solution is in fact to have a still, which I consider to be a good investment, and to distill into glass. Any other sources are a compromise to a degree, and we have to select what we can from among the options. I use a little still which does a gallon every 8 hours and there is no message in distilled water. If you use distilled water, you need to pour it from a height of about 15 ins, in order to oxygenate it (and "enliven" it). Also you may wish to use a crystal, for example placed in a water jug, to energize water.
My bold, purely through lack of comprehension what it means.

Crystal therapy box ticked. Not a surprise if you take a look at the company she keeps on MySpiritRadio.

One of the students of Wren's is Barbara Nash, whose insurance company paid out £800,000 without accepting liability for giving advice to a patient (interviewed in the InsideOut program) which when allegedly followed left the patient brain damaged. Ben Goldacre, who was also interviewed for the program, wrote about the Nash case in his Guardian column at the time.

Anyway, you can imagine that BBC Inside Out SouthWest didn't have to delve to far into the lectures of Barbara Wren before the alarm bells rang.

Firstly, Barbara Wren's claim to cure thyroid cancer by using a dressing of castor oil and urine was met with understandable incredulity by Catherine Collins from the British Dietetic Association. Obviously, given Barbara's distrust of WiFi, it shouldn't come as a surprise that she reckoned the cancer was caused by a computer under the person's bed - a 'huge electromagnetic disturbance'.

Secondly, Barbara Wren suggests (insists?) on her students taking 25 times the maximum recommended dose of Iodine in supplement form, which is only available from the petshop as a water treatment chemical for fishies.

The presenter makes a valiant effort to take Wren to task over these suggestions, but to no avail.

This leads her to finish up with the line "Be aware of who you believe and what advice you swallow", but that isn't easy when most of the Main Stream Media is uncritically pumping this kind of rubbish out, giving people like Barbara Wren a platform from which to spout this type of nutritionist bullshit.

BPSDB

35 comments:

  1. Blimey Dr*T you're on a roll just now.

    Great post.

    Also you may wish to use a crystal, for example placed in a water jug, to energize water.

    Do you think demineralising water then plonking a crystal in it might put some of the minerals back?

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  2. The "there is no message in distilled water" statement sounds a bit like something homoeopaths say, in that they claim that using distilled water to prepare remedies means that it can't remember any previous solute. In fact I remember one repeatedly insisting that homoeopaths always use double distilled water to prepare their remedies. None of this impure single distilled water for them!

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  3. Goodness me. What a bunch of nutters.

    “Dr Crippen” over at NHS Blog Doctor did a pretty comprehensive ridicule job on the astonishingly deluded College of Natural Nutrition back in July, which you can find here.

    I had browsed their site (which made my head hurt) but missed the "Super-concentrated water Woo". It almost deserves some sort of prize for reciting the most different Alt.Reality idiocies about water in the shortest number of words. Personally I like the bit about "pouring the water from a height to oxygenate it".

    I did think I had written all I could possibly write on water delusions, but perhaps I ought to have another go.

    Yours in Alternate Reality

    Dr Aust

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  4. Gimpy/Mojo - it is one of the funny things about water fetishists - they will put extreme effort to getting the 'purest' possible water, but be totally lackadaisical about the container or additives.

    DrAust - Cheers for the link - it was the one I used for Barbara Nash in the post as I thought Crippen gave a very good resume of the Nash case, while at the same time pointing out some of the really bananas woo in the 'college'.

    I still find it hard to believe that anyone can believe this stuff.

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  5. Meh - as per WHO and other sources there are some concerns about drinking distilled, demineralised water. Not only does it taste 'flat' but, if people were to drink it in the sort of quantities suggested on the 'hydration diet', there is some concern that it might lead to adverse health effects. Now, presumably, the sort of people who drink reverse-osmosis, distilled water, also tend to be the sorts who take supplements, but, it may be particularly unwise for children.

    The following is quoted from the draft WHO report.

    The possible health consequences of low mineral content water consumption are discussed in the following categories:
    • Direct effects on the intestinal mucous membrane, metabolism and mineral homeostasis or other body functions.
    • Practically zero calcium and magnesium intake.
    • Low intake of other essential elements and microelements.
    • Loss of calcium, magnesium and other essential elements in prepared food.
    ...
    • Possible bacterial re-growth. [This is a substantial nuisance unless you are also prepared to treat the water with UV light - I don't know what some Naturopaths or nutritionists what feel about that.]

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  6. Ah. Sorry, hadn't spotted the link to Dr Crippen.

    This "College" is definitely at the far-barking end of what is a pretty barking business all round.

    Perhaps we should start compiling a list of the quick-pick ways to spot a barking nutri-site:

    - any mention of crystals
    - any use of the word "energy" or "energize" (come back Star Trek)
    - any mention of the word "balance"
    - any suggestion that you have to "alkalinize" or "de-ionize" water


    etc etc ad nauseam

    - of course, I guess the Quackometer engine, soon to return I hear, does this sort of thing already.

    PS "Water fetishists" - like it. I often wonder how often these multi-litre Hydrationista folk have to visit the toilet. I would have thought it would be rather trying having to wee out that much on a daily basis.

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  7. well,what can I say? It makes very entertaining reading indeed to see all these really 'enlightened' comments here. Witch hunt anyone?
    Your smugness is indeed palpable.
    Please ponder the following:
    'first they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you. Then, we win!'
    Bet you still believe that the earth is flat!
    Peace and light to you all.

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  8. Thanks for stopping by PeaceWatch.

    I'm sorry you weren't able to rebuff any of the statements in the blog posting, or enter into any meaningful dialogue.

    T

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  9. "'first they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you. Then, we win!'"

    Just me who is:
    a) sick of that cliche
    b) bemused by the martial overtones of 'fighting' and 'winning' coming from one whose 'nym is peacewatch?

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  10. peacewatch : I think you need to read this.

    Dr* T : The obsession with pure water is very weird, but very common. It reminds me of the Brain Gym "processed foods contain no water" nonsense ...

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  11. Cheers NS.

    Your link has a hiccup in it for some reason - here it is:

    Galileo strikes again

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  12. Sorry, I must be missing something here... why is it crazy to assert that cells are electromagnetically charged? Any scientist can show that when an electricity-conducting body moves (such as a neurotransmitter) it creates a magnetic current; muscle cells react to each other via electrical currents… the earth carries an electromagnetic charge… there is plenty of research to show that blood cells react to wireless signals by crenellating, or folding up, therefore unable to carry oxygen efficiently round the body… mobile phone signals have been found to break DNA at even small levels (the WHO and many European governments recognise this). The delicate balance of our cell membranes (made of fats) depend on their weak repelling charges; of course these charges are affected by being exposed to a powerful frequency; what do you think happens in radiotherapy?? Electrons have been observed disassociating from fatty acid chains under a spectroscope, and these are attracted to bio-photons from light; all living cells can absorb light, and healthy cells emit a different wavelength from diseased cells, which can be measured. This is known and studied across Europe, by researchers like neurophysiologist Karl Pibram and Bruce Lipton. Just because we talk in terms to do with light and energy doesn’t mean that we are nutcases for god’s sake. We are still on the very cusp of what can be discovered at a cellular level.

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  13. Thanks for the comment, ELizabeth. The first line of your comment is just about the only accurate one in your post! I think you are missing a few key bits of information.

    why is it crazy to assert that cells are electromagnetically charged?
    Please look on Wiki and possibly some GCSE physics textbooks and then you'll see why it is crazy.

    Any scientist can show that when an electricity-conducting body moves (such as a neurotransmitter) it creates a magnetic current
    muscle cells react to each other via electrical currents…



    This has nothing to do with electromagnetic charge.

    the earth carries an electromagnetic charge…

    No it doesn't, it has a magnetic field which is a world (haha) away from an electromagnetic charge!

    there is plenty of research to show that blood cells react to wireless signals by crenellating, or folding up, therefore unable to carry oxygen efficiently round the body… mobile phone signals have been found to break DNA at even small levels (the WHO and many European governments recognise this).
    Evidence for all of this, please. Preferably in reputable research journals.


    The delicate balance of our cell membranes (made of fats) depend on their weak repelling charges;
    Not surprisingly, it's much more complicated than that.

    of course these charges are affected by being exposed to a powerful frequency;
    This doesn't make any sense. How can you be exposed to a frequency? I think you mean a 'high frequency electromagnetic wave' but your nonsense use of terminology makes it very difficult to understand your argument. Maybe I should clarify again - electromagnetic waves are long long way from electromagnetic charge.

    Electrons have been observed disassociating from fatty acid chains under a spectroscope, and these are attracted to bio-photons from light;

    Evidence please ("biophotons" remember are associated with lots of quackery and pseudoscience - "biophotons from light" makes no sense whatsoever)

    all living cells can absorb light, and healthy cells emit a different wavelength from diseased cells, which can be measured Ahm, yeah I think that's just bullshit - unless you have some evidence, of course?

    This is known and studied across Europe, by researchers like neurophysiologist Karl Pibram and Bruce Lipton.
    Heh...Bruce Lipton! This one? Well done. Crackpot score just multiplied.

    Just because we talk in terms to do with light and energy doesn’t mean that we are nutcases for god’s sake.

    I don't think you are nutcases. I think you have a very weak grasp of the science you are trying to discuss and as a result can be easily blinded into believing laughable bullshit, but that doesn't mean you're a nutcase. All you need to do is read up on the science involved, learn some self-critiquing skills, some skepticism and you'll be fine.

    T

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  14. Sorry, but what exactly is an electromagnetic charge? Is it different from a simple electric charge? And what is a magnetic current??
    Also, the Earth actually has both a magnetic and an electric field, would have to check but I believe that the ground is negative and the atmosphere positive.

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  15. Hi PhysicsMum,

    What I found you (not you specifically!) need to do, is take all the sciency words you can think off put them in a hat. Then pick out ones at random and make a sentence. Then, develop your own theory on how your unique brand of quackery is proved by such a sentence.

    Hence, it's an easy leap to magnetic current, electromagnetic charge, bio-photons and the like.

    There's money to be made, seemingly ;)

    T

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  16. College of Natural Nutrition is a fantastic place where you are taught to open your eyes and question the validity of what is going on around you. Their studies are comprehensive and enlightening and include physiology and anatomy, nutrition, a lot of extra reading and research and homeworks, case histories and exams.

    You may argue some of it does not hold water, but personally, as a whole, I am very happy to have gained an invaluable dimension in my search for answers to health and throughly recommend it to anyone.

    In fact if you value your and your loved ones health, it is a must! You may not agree with some of her theories and the way she presents it, but the overall knowledge and techniques gained throughout the course can be very useful to say the least.

    The proof of the pudding is not in looking at from the outside but eating it!

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  17. I would recommend College of Natural Nutrition to anyone who wants to live a healthy life.

    The traditional techniques taught come in very handy when nothing else works! You also get to learn 'tailored' diets after taking detailed case histories to suit different people. All this is substantiated with physiology and anatomy and nutrition teaching and homeworks and exams. You are allowed to question your environment and how it is affecting you.

    On the whole, I had the time of my life on the course with open minded people and never been healthier since.

    Ignore the media hype, the doctors' and dieticians' rantings and enroll!!!

    Anything you have heard that you do not agree with is out of context as per usual of the media hype to sensationalise and sell papers.

    The orthodoxy are threatened because their 'one size fits all and why shouldn't it?' indoctrinated methods are ineffective and out of touch.

    I have studied for 2 years at the College of Natural Nutrition -did the advance course as well, and I am extremely happy with the results and the improvement in my health.

    The Natural Nutrition Course has opened my eyes to many worlds and gave me the tools and ability to research and understand many things in my quest to lead a healthy life.

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  18. All I can say is that I followed a nutritional program I was given,and saw an almost instant improvement in my symptoms.After following the advice for six weeks,I could have forgotten that I had been suffering at all,I felt better than I had in ten years.Unfortunately circumstances in the last month have changed,and I have not been following the rules,consequently my symptoms have crept back and I feel awful again.I would say that sometimes the fact that something works is enough, I will definitely continue with the advice I was given.

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  19. Dr T seems a tad agressive in his consideration of Barbara Wren's philosophy. Now why is that? How does he feel about Edgar Cayce? Cayce has a huge following around the world and phenomenal success with his books - with many of his health recommendations being used today. Look him up folks. :)

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    Replies
    1. If you do look up Edgar Cayce, you'll find he was a snake oil showman all of whose remedies and insights are just daft viewed through today's knowledge. You jsy can't come to any other conclusion...they were primitive times and it would be weird if we hadn't moved on...which we have!

      Delete
  20. who is dr T anyway?

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  21. Dr T - Extract from Dt T 's bio:
    "Who I am [you are] is largely irrelevant, and indeed so are most of my [your] thoughts." End quote. My brackets :) You said it boy!

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  22. Comments from anonymice are just internet background noise.

    T

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  23. I attended a fascinating session with Barbara Wren recently and my health has improved dramatically as a result. If I had gone down this route initially rather than handing responsibility for my health over to the orthodox medical establishment and their dependency on pharmaceutical drugs then I wouldn't have ended up with a near-ruptured liver. It would be very interesting to find out why you are so narrow minded Dr.T??? You obviously work for the afore-mentioned establishment and are feeling threatened that intelligent people are finally taking responsibility themselves.

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  24. Hi Sarah,

    I want to see strong evidence of any medical intervention from any source.

    Big Pharma has massive internal problems( in a much less obvious way) but that doesn't stop Barabra Wren from talking drivel.

    You are doing your own intelligence a disservice by thinking that people who disagree with are part of "Big Pharma Gambit". *yawns*

    http://petter-haggholm.livejournal.com/160673.html

    I wish MORE people would take responsibility for themselves and learn about evidence so that they are clearheaded enough to differentiate between good interventions, and quackery (regardless of what company/person/corporation spouts it).

    T

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  25. interestingly, Barbara' Wrens model for healing has helped me feel much more alive and in control of my own life. The trouble with *science* is that it is very closed to any notion that hasn't been scientifically proved yet. Never mind, each to their own. I can't see that Barbara's advice will cause any harm whatsoever, and I will keep on with her suggested diet, as it makes me feel great.

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  26. Wow I can't believe Dr. T and so many others and still living in the stone age! Technology is now and you better keep up, Natrual Health is our future.

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  27. I have seen many Drs over the years, who have all been happy to prescribe pills to treat various illnesses. None worked, and all had side effects which left me feeling worse.

    Barbara's advice cured my illnesses and left me feeling great. Try it for yourself before you pass judgement.

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  28. HI Anonymous,

    No, I won't try it - evidence says there is no point, which is much more convincing than an anecdote!

    T

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  29. The evidence is unfortunately tweaked by the food and drug manufacturers, otherwise you would have been spot on!

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  30. Dr T,
    You are just simply arrogant and narrow minded. I got news for you, just because you use the abbreviation Dr doesn't make you an authority. I am surrounded on a daily basis by incompetent doctors who are lost unless they have step by step instructions on what to do. I know nothing about this college but I take an interest in my health after incompetent doctors and a failing medical system almost killed me at 33. I have done research and there is plenty of scientifically validated evidence published in peer reviewed journals. The problem is this information doesn't often get accessed by people unless they are exposed to research, and it is not brought into the public domain because it doesn't serve greedy pharmaceutical and food industry companies. When people like Barbara and others make public information that can help people take back control of their health, they are discredited and at times harassed and threatened by lychees working for the huge industries which have declared a war on health especially for the past 20-30 years.
    People, get your research done, and most importantly challenge your doctors, ask questions, don't believe that if a dr tells you something it is necessarily true. Look into alternative ways to medicines whenever possible and most importantly think about your nutrition!

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  31. If it works for you keep at it (unless it is hurting someone else), natural therapies including homeopathy have worked for me again and again through out my life. If I am ill which is rare, I always go straight to my diet to heal myself and it works (using raw foods, supplements, exercise, fasting, acid/alkaline balance, local medicinal foods and herbs, positive thinking, eft, flower remedies, yoga,meditation, ferments and cultures) are all curative and preventative medicine in my book.I first became involved with alternative self healing after the doctors and hospitals were unable to diagnose or treat me successfully for chronic bowel problems.I find science limited linear and reductionist in its approach to the world. It is just one way of looking at things and has given us a lot of useful things (an a lot of absolute shite too)however being openminded to all possibilities is a good thing. otherwise we could just miss the solution and as for richard dawkins (hahahaha)

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  32. http://www.alternet.org/health/147318/100,000_americans_die_each_year_from_prescription_drugs,_while_pharma_companies_get_rich/

    How many Americans is that dying each year from prescription drugs?

    How many has Barbara Wren killed so far?

    What are you a Doctor in anyway? You sound like my local vet...

    Oooh! BTW Lugol's iodine is back on the market after the FDA banned it for nefarious reasons.... seems the whole Japanese Fukushima nuclear issue has put a whole new slant on the whole iodine argument....

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  33. All this blog demonstrates is that humans will see what they want to see and believe what they want to believe, and any evidence to the contrary, on either side of the arguement will tend to be dismissed out of hand. It seems the earth is still flat for many of us.

    Thankfully new light is slowly dawning.

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    Replies
    1. Exactly!
      There is no principle difference between established science and any other belief system in the sense that it is possible to disproof its own premises from within - read up Paul Feyerabend, or Thomas Kuhn. Being "true" because it works applies even for physics.
      So if the system of beliefs of a Natural Nutritionist is successful, i.e. the therapies work, then it is also true.
      My wife studied with Barbara Wren and she's had some stunning successes as a practitioner.

      Delete

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