/ Health

Had dodgy advice from a nutritional therapist? We have!

Have you ever visited a nutritional therapist? In this month’s Which? magazine we investigated the profession and found some worrying practices, such as therapists advising against going to your GP.

One therapist advised our researcher, who was posing as a cancer sufferer, against having conventional treatment (a lumpectomy and radiotherapy), saying that she should try for three to six months to rid herself of the cancer through diet (by cutting out sugar).

Nutritional therapy can be big business; therapists charge up to £80 for a consultation and often prescribe expensive supplements on top. So we wanted to investigate whether it was worth the money.

How our investigation worked

We asked five undercover researchers to each visit three therapists. Each researcher was provided with a scenario.

One researcher (in her early 30s) had been trying to conceive unsuccessfully for over a year. Two (in their 50s) had been suffering from severe tiredness for the past three months. And two women (in their 40s) had recently been diagnosed with DCIS (Ductal Carcinoma in Situ), the most common type of non-invasive breast cancer.

A panel of experts (a dietitian, a GP and a Professor of Pharmacology) then assessed recordings of the visits and any other information the therapists provided to the researchers, including prescriptions for supplements.

Are nutritional therapists worth the money?

Our expert panel concluded that visiting a nutritional therapist wasn’t worth the money – and in some cases could have actually endangered the health of the researcher. Six of the fifteen consultations were rated as ‘dangerous fails’.

This could have been down to a number of reasons:

  • The advice given by the therapist could have potentially harmed the researcher.
  • Therapists were diagnosing conditions without relevant testing (even though their Code of Practice says they shouldn’t diagnose).
  • Researchers were advised not to visit their GPs about the problem, recommending unproven testing such as hair mineral analysis, and the case above, advising against cancer treatment.

Of the remaining visits, eight were rated as ‘fails’ and only one was graded as a ‘borderline pass’. Our experts were disappointed by the advice given by therapists and concerned at their poor knowledge of the body and how it works.

The experts were also worried by some therapists using non-evidence-based testing to diagnose symptoms. These tests included iridology (studying the patterns, colour and other characteristics of the iris), hair mineral analysis and a researcher being given several liquids to hold in his mouth before being told he had a chromium deficiency.

Are the recommendations right?

Twelve of the therapists prescribed supplements to the researchers, costing up to £70 a month. Researchers were told not to buy them from Boots or other high street chemists as they weren’t ‘pure enough’ and you were effectively ‘flushing your money down the loo’. Instead, they were asked to buy them from the retailers recommended by the therapist.

Of course, there is benefit in following healthy dietary advice, but most of what was provided by the nutritional therapists is freely available on websites such as the NHS site.

Plus, most of the therapists in our investigation recommended quite restrictive diets that excluded several foods (predominantly dairy and wheat) and taking expensive supplements.

If you do have a medical condition that you are concerned about, your first port of call should be your GP. If necessary they can then refer you to a dietitian. We have contacted the British Association of Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy (BANT) with our findings and concerns.

People who have visited nutritional therapists emailed us to say that they found the diets recommended to them difficult to maintain over a long time and eventually gave up.

Have you visited a nutritional therapist? What was your experience like – do any of these findings ring true or did you have a more positive experience?

Comments
Guest
RICHARD says:
21 January 2012

Hello Maria: I’m not qualified myself to answer that, though there should be well qualified experts who have studied and practiced in this field. I’m sure the the Council for Nutritional Therapy would be a good place to start.

Guest
Maria says:
21 January 2012

@Richard

Thank you for your response. I’m surprised you feel your own lack of qualification should preclude you from saying what you consider to be appropriate qualifications for the task of assessing advice given by NTs, especially when this hasn’t stopped you saying what qualifications you think are not appropriate.

I hadn’t heard of the Nutritional Therapy Council before so thanks for the heads up. Having perused their website, I respectfully suggest that, if an objective assessment is what’s required, the Nutritional Therapy Council would be a very bad place to start.

In Which? magazine I expect to see topics approached from the perspective of the potential consumer, not from the perspective of the industry being investigated. It’s a consumers’ magazine and any panel selected to assess the results of such investigations must have the confidence of the potential consumer. I think a panel that includes people who have a vested interest in the public image and the reputation of the industry being investigated, is unlikely to have the confidence of the potential consumer.

The Which? article reports that some therapists are giving potentially dangerous medical advice and recommending unnecessary supplements. As a potential consumer – rather than a promoter – I have to say that I have more confidence in the judgement of a physician, a dietician and a pharmacologist than in people who have completed the courses accredited by the NTC and worked as NTs. How could we know they’re not giving equally bad advice themselves?

Guest
jamesy says:
21 January 2012

To Wavelength

With respect I picked vitamin D to make a point as it actually has low toxicity in relation to normal recommended dose – it is necessary to multiply dose many times before it becomes toxic. It is harmful to generalise and throw together all supplements vitamins and drugs (you give aspirin as an example). Vitamin D is a classic example of how new research is demonstrating the positive benefit/risk ratio even at higher doses. People need to know this. If you or anyone is in doubt please look at the work of Dr Veith at University of Toronto

Guest

Vitamin D is more difficult than others because exposure to sunlight can produce more than what we consume in our diet, though obviously this will depend on the individual. You are absolutely right that vitamins, drugs and other supplements differ. With drugs the difference between an effective dose and a harmful one is expressed in terms of the therapeutic range (or ratio, or index).

If we take prescribed drugs, the GP, consultant or hospital doctor will prescribe a safe dose, and sometimes (e.g. warfarin) it is necessary to take samples and adjust the dose for a patient. Many non-prescription supplements are unlikely to cause problems but it is well known that St John’s Wort deserves to be used with great care.

It worries me that so many people use supplements without any evidence that they need them. They may be harmless but on the other hand they may not. When I studied chemistry at university, benzene was widely used in teaching labs and I can still remember the smell after nearly 40 years. At the time, no-one knew that it was a rather dangerous chemical. What might we learn about supplements in the next decade?

Guest
George Barker says:
21 January 2012

I had indigestion and a feeling of general weakness. I went to Sarah Burt, who said I belonged to a group for whom certain foods caused stomach acidity and this acid found its way all over the body and caused weakness in the muscles. Sarah gave me some horrible potion to start putting thngs right and gave me this guide:

ACID FORMING FOOD

Alcohol, chickpeas, eggs, lentils, noodles, pepper, shellfish ,
asparagus, cocoa, fish, meat, oatmeal, plums, soft drinks,
beans, coffee, flour, milk, olives, poultry sugar, brussels sprouts,
cranberries, legumes, mustard, pasta ,
prunes, tea .

LOW LEVEL ACID-FORMING FOODS

Butter, grains, canned fruit, cheeses ,
ice cream, nuts (most), sulphured fruit

ALKALINE FORMING FOODS

Avocados, corn, dates, fresh fruit (most), fresh vegetables (most), honey, maple syrup, molasses, raisins, soy products, almonds, brazil nuts, buckwheat, chestnuts, Lima beans, millet, soured dairy products potatoes

*ESPECIALLY ALKALINE

apples* garlic *strawberries * spinach *cucumbers *watercress *parsley *
*figs *carrots *celery
,

ADVICE

Try to eat a good percentage of fresh raw foods daily, such as apples, avocados, bananas, grapefruit, grapes, lemons, pears, all fruit and veg reduce acid. Start with small amounts of citrus and add them in slowly. A freshly juiced combination of celery, apple, carrot and parsley would be beneficial.

One has to eat some protein food which is acid forming but this is balanced by following the general recommendations I have been fit ever since. So don’t condemn all complementary nutritionists.

My NHS nurse granddaughter, of course told me it was a load of nonsense – the NHS has a one-size-fits-all nutrition system.

See http://www.sarahburtnd.co.uk/

Guest

Are you aware that your stomach is intended to contain acid, George?

Some people have problems with acid reflux into the oesophagus (and that can be exacerbated by certain foods and other factors) but I don’t think acid will find its way all round the body as you claim to have been told. The acidity (pH) of the blood is closely controlled.

Your granddaughter may have a point.

Guest
jamesy says:
21 January 2012

I do apologise for getting your name wrong – though its true we are not all on the same wavelength!!!

Guest

No problem. I nearly chose wavelength as my user name, but had already used wavechange on a vintage radio forum.

Guest
George Barker says:
21 January 2012

Iridology is geting a ot of stick! I don’t think it is supposed to be more than an additional diagnostic technique with limitations and there is a regulatory international guild. I saw a clear change in the colour of my iris after being cured of acidity problems.

I think that a good practitioner at iridology, herbalism and nutrition can use iridology to help to diagnose and cure diseases that have slipped through the cracks of the NHS at the moment.

Guest

George Barker
No, it is not true that “an additional diagnostic technique with limitations”. It has been shown clearly that it has no diagnostic ability whatsoever. The result are random and the method is simply fraudulent.

Guest
George Barker says:
22 January 2012

To David Colquhoun,

I am just an ignorant mechanical engineer airing my theories. The origin of the technique by a vet (some say) and then the Austrian doctor who thought he found correlations in humans as well and now there being an international guild http://www.gni-international.org/ makes it look romantic and attractive! But it doesn’t make it true.

I wonder whether it is the practitioners who claim too much for it who are being shown as deluded. A more believable description ot its limitations is:
“Iridology does not reveal specific diseases because many diseases create similar changes in body tissues.
The iris reflects the condition of the tissues (eg. inflammation, acidity, toxicity, congested lymph, hardened arteries, etc.) Iridology is therefore not concerned with named diseases but with restoration and maintenance of health through building up the patient’s immunity and life force”. A. Jackson Read his book “Eye Signs”

The nutritionist who gave me a successful regime claimed what we saw in my eyes was a condition of acidity in my tissues, not a specific disease. As far as I can remember the blue of the iris was very pale on the inside and coloured up again when the acidity went down.

Quite often people put up an effigy they have created themselves to rubbish.

However you are probably right and what I saw was by coincidence.

all the best,

George Barker 93 and still going strong

Guest
RICHARD says:
21 January 2012

Hi Maria
I quote from Wikipedia: “In academia peer review is often used to determine an academic paper’s suitability for publication.” “Professional peer review activity is widespread in the field of health care” and “Peer review requires a community of experts in a given (and often narrowly defined) field, who are qualified and able to perform impartial review.” If it is widespread and considered essential in the medical profession, why would one not include at least one Nutritional Therapist in a panel of experts – especially when clearly the other 3 are NOT experts in the field being reviewed?
If Which? chose to do a survey of patients’ thoughts on the care received and level of accurate diagnosis given by their GP and other medics, would it be unreasonable to include a qualified GP in such a panel?

Guest

The reason for not including a nutritional therapist on the panel has been explained several times already. They are the group under investigation. It would make as much sense as having a washing machine manufacturer on the panel judging washing machines.

In fact it’s much worse than that because so many nutritional therapists use methods (like iridilogy) that are well known to be nonsense. Such people disqualify themselves from assessing evidence.

In any case, the panel included one of the country’s foremost experts in nutrition, Catherine Collins.

And, on top of that, you don’t need a great deal of expertise to know that it’s very foolish to suggest to a patient with breast cancer that they should postpone treatment for 3 to 6 months. Any sensible member of the public can see that, and it’s a tragedy the BANT can not.

Guest
Maria says:
21 January 2012

Richard

It is indeed the case that peer review is employed in academia to determine the validity, originality and importance of a paper before deciding whether to publish it. It is also the case that peer review – with a somewhat different meaning – is widespread in many occupations that provide a service to the public, as a means of staff development and maintaining standards.

However, as I said before, Which? is a consumer magazine whose purpose above all else is to protect the consumer. It doesn’t publish academic studies or peer reviews. It publishes articles that alert consumers to pitfalls when choosing products and services and, if it is to be taken seriously by its target market, it needs to be sure that the information it provides has been evaluated by experts who have no competing interests. In this case, NTs do have competing interests.

I am happy to agree to differ on the matter of whether a dietician is enough of an expert in nutrition, whether a GP is enough of an expert in how the body works and disease processes and whether David Colquhoun is enough of an expert in the statistical assessment of evidence. I am satisfied by my own investigations that they are and, as a result of what I have read over the past few days, I’m sorry I can’t say the same of NTs as a group.

I’m happy for all those who feel they’ve benefitted from seeing an NT and I’m sure some of them are very good. But as a profession, they have a long way to go before they can hope to achieve the status they seem to think they are entitled to.

Guest
Monika says:
21 January 2012

I’m going to have to sign off this forum now but would like to say thank you to all who posted it has been a really interesting discussion.
Cheers.

Guest
jamesy says:
22 January 2012

Please can we now have an article by the press about several nutritional therapists describing how they work in an evidence based fashion. I know that the practice of some NTs is highly professional and the results that they have are noticeable. This deserves to be highlighted.

What happens about therapists (and other professionals eg GPs) who do not meet minimum standards is a separate issue

Guest
Rose says:
22 January 2012

Dear Maria and David

As a consumer, I am not taking anything you have put forward here as serious.. You say peer reviews do determine validity, but in the case of Which, and this article it does not. That’s what I read as a consumer. I don’t think you ate looking after consumer rights here, you are clearly against an emerging approach to health and, from what I can see a successful one from the comments made by the “consumer. There is clear statement by David that he is prejudiced because he has admitted it and is make very rude comments about a fellow profession, so in my opinion as a consumer he should not have been part of the panel.. Maria you too have made a remark that I find very offensive, that suggest you feel these profession have an ego trip.. As a consumer that what it sounds like to me…so I don’t think you have Consumers interests at heart here, just your own..
I have no idea who you are, but iyou too do come across as prejudice, so as a consumer it’s a one sided opinion.. Now in my opinion you both are part of the problem since it seems to
Me as a consumer, you want This profession to go away. If that is not the case what is your solution

It is clear that all professions need to
Be regulated, and what I see as a consumer That they are in the process of this. As regards to cost, David and Maria would you like to share what you earn…

Guest
Maria says:
22 January 2012

Rose

I am happy to engage with you about the issues raised in the Which? article and to do so in a civil manner and without casting aspersions on your character and motives. Is it too much to hope that you might do the same?

You wrote,

“Maria you too have made a remark that I find very offensive, that suggest you feel these profession have an ego trip..”

I love to know which particular remark of mine you managed to infer this from as I have suggested nothing of the sort.

Guest
nobbyuk says:
22 January 2012

rose as a consumer myself i find it hard to believe that you would say that Which has produced an article that is not in the consumers interest just becasue you do not agree with the outcome.

As a consumer myself i do not find any fault with the panel as it was independant of the nutritional therapist industry they were looking at. Which has done what it does best and produced a report for the consumer to use as a guideline. if nutritionists feel let down by this then it is up to them to increase consumer confidence not Which.

Do you think anyone no matter what their background would have ignored the part when the therapist when they said they should postpone cancer treatment for example?

Guest

I agree with you Rose; I haven’t taken anything that has been said here seriously for the most part because my last post made this morning in this thread was censored without trace. It addressed a few sweeping and inaccurate generalizations.
There is a Mainstream agenda here that I no longer wish to be part of. I recall a book which this thread brings to mind from certain posters called: Open Skies–Closed Minds.

Guest

Hello chris, sorry but your comment was in our moderation queue due to the included links. Any comment with links to external websites need to be checked manually to make sure they don’t take readers to inappropriate or irrelevant content. I have approved your comment now. Also, just because others disagree with you does not mean there is an agenda. Everyone is free to express their opinions here on Which? Convo. Thanks.

Guest

Thanks for explaining about moderation of messages. The software detects these messages so it might be possible to warn contributors that a message containing a link or email address has been queued for moderation, which would avoid anyone assuming that their message has been censored or that they have not submitted it correctly. If this not possible, a note in the instructions might be useful, so that everyone is aware of the process.

Guest

Hi Wavechange, that’s a good idea. Our latest addition to Which? Convo is an FAQ with all the questions and answers you can think of.

I’ve just added new questions to reflect our moderation of comments, so if you’d like to find out more, please go to this link: https://conversation.which.co.uk/frequently-asked-questions/

We’ve also added a Tags A-Z, which we know was requested by many readers; https://conversation.which.co.uk/tags/

Thanks.

Guest

Thanks Patrick.

… an FAQ with all the questions and answers you can think of.
That sounds like a challenge. 🙂

Guest
Rose says:
22 January 2012

Hello Maria

The last remark, as a consumer this is how I view it.. I say a consumer, because that’s what I am. I have no idea who you are… but you seem to have put your views across in a similar manner by saying this.. I am sure you don’t see it that way, but I did… I do not understand why you all cannot now take this forward and work with the profession..

Guest
Maria says:
22 January 2012

Rose

I’m not finding it easy to follow your last post but, if I understand you correctly, you are saying it was the last remark I made in my response to Richard that you are “very offended by” because you think it suggests “these profession (sic) have an ego trip..”

This is the remark you are offended by:

“But as a profession, they have a long way to go before they can hope to achieve the status they seem to think they are entitled to.”

That NTs have a long way to go as a profession is evidenced by the fact that, “Which? investigated nutritional therapists in 2000 and the findings then were cause for concern, but the results of this recent investigation are even more alarming.” That they think they are entitled to the same status as dietitians is evidenced by the information offered on the websites of their professional body and their professional standards council as well as by the numerous websites of individual practitioners and the posts of some NTs who have contributed to this discussion.

There is no suggestion of any ego trip. Please try to concentrate on the arguments being presented here. Don’t misrepresent what others write and stop reading things into what people write that simply aren’t there.

Guest
natasha says:
22 January 2012

Of course BANT must now realise that a few of its members are acting unprofessionally and take action but that does not condemn nutritional therapists as a whole. Its like saying the GP who advised about 10 times I had nothing wrong with my thyroid and refused to refer me when I actually had a thyroid cancer represents the actions of all GPs

Guest
Katie says:
22 January 2012

To George Barker

Re the ‘potential’ strengths and weaknesses of Iridology. Some extremely thoughtful and well informed comments. We will probably never understand scientifically how useful it is or not. As long as people don’t place too much reliance on it why shouldnt it have a place.

Guest
nobbyuk says:
22 January 2012

i thought the wiki page explained how incredibly unreliable it was and how scientific testing showed it was useless. why not ask car makers to change the fuel gauge with something that is not reliably measuring how much fuel you have to the point where it is not better than chance and see how long it is before you think that still has a place as well.

Guest
John Lyons says:
22 January 2012

Katie, you wrote…

“We will probably never understand scientifically how useful it is or not. As long as people don’t place too much reliance on it why shouldn’t it have a place.”

Because everything known about modern health care rests on knowing how useful something is. That’s what the scientific method tries to do – to establish in a reliable and repeatable way that if x happens, y follows. So if we don’t at least have an idea of how useful something is, then it has no use.

But we don’t have that problem with iridology. If one believes David Colquhoun – and I do – then it has never been shown to have any use as a diagnostic tool. Problem solved.

Guest
Rose says:
22 January 2012

To all that have commented to me. First of all I still don’t know who Maria is, I am only forming my view as I see it and that’s how I see it.. Perhaps Maria you could a) say who you are and B) explain why they shouldn’t… Then perhaps I could understand you better…

I am not sure I said I don’t agree with the outcome, just not sure I believe all of what is being written…

Guest
Maria says:
22 January 2012

Rose

This is getting wearisome. This is not about who I am or who you are. There is nothing about me you need to “understand”. In all my posts here I have focussed entirely on the issues; please do the same and stop trying to make it personal.

Guest

I’m rather taken by the article by excellent Glasgow GP, Des Spence, in the current BMJ: Bad Medicine: Medical Nutrition. The article ends thus.

“We are being force fed the medicalisation of food and have been distracted from the real problem—that most fundamental of nursing duties—feeding. The huge costs and the rapid increase in the use of supplements should raise concerns about their appropriateness. Cost savings could pay for additional
carers and improve budgets for catering throughout the care community. Tasty whole food is the best medicine.”

That could make a fitting epitaph for this discussion.

Guest
chazza says:
22 January 2012

@ David
Yes I would agree that tasty whole food is the best medicine, however the fact remains that a large proportion of the population is not achieving this. Hospital food has has a notoriously poor nutritional content. In becoming a nutritional therapist I hope, working alongside the medical profession, to attempt to reverse this. It would be a shame if we cannot find a way to do this.

Guest
Katie says:
22 January 2012

John

Did you read George Barkers comments about what iridology is about and his experience??? My reply was in support of his comments. Please read his reply again if you can.

I truly believe in the modern scientific method but ask a different question and you get a different answer. Studies have always asked the wrong question and tried to determine if a disease can be diagnosed using iridology and thats not what iridology is about – again I refer to Barkers piece above – any future research would need to ask a different question. I doubt that there will be future research so I go back to my comment in my last response – if people know its just an adjunct and they shouldnt place too much reliance on it – (they can choose to see a practitioner who doesnt offer it) it might prove useful. I have to add I have had iris diagnosis and didnt find it particularly useful or potentially relevant like Barker – but I still stand by these comments. There is room in this world for the scientific method and things that so far have eluded it!!!!!

Guest

Katie
What question should be asked then?
The idea of iridology was never more than a rather silly myth, but the important thing is that, despite it’s implausibility, it has been tested.

“Well controlled scientific evaluation of iridology has shown entirely negative results, with all rigorous double blind tests failing to find any statistical significance to its claims.

In a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, three iridologists incorrectly identified kidney disease in photographs of irises and often disagreed with each other. The researchers concluded: “iridology was neither selective nor specific, and the likelihood of correct detection was statistically no better than chance.”

One can argue about the merits of expensive supplements, but there is no argument for iridology at all. Anyone who tries to see it to you can be immediately labelled as a snake oil salesman.

Guest
John Lyons says:
22 January 2012

Katie,

I re-read George’s post as you asked. I presume I’m meant to take from his account that this one, isolated episode means there’s something in iridology?

It’s good that you believe in the modern scientific method, but a cornerstone of science is that anecdotes are a thoroughly unreliable basis for framing treatments.

Guest
jamesy says:
22 January 2012

To David

I have not read this article but will get hold of it. In my opinion, nutrition is not bad medicine at all. Look how many nutritional interventions have made their way into conventional medicine . eg NAC for paracetemol poisoning etc. What about the widespread study and use of milk thistle in Germany?
Where we definitely do agree is that we are not feeding the nation properly and whose fault is that – it is deep rooted. It is not the fault of NTs prescribing supplements or doctors and their lack of reference to food or anyone else.
It is time to do something about the diet of this nation.

Guest

You say that we need to do something about the diet of this nation and most might agree, if only in principle. There is not an easy way to achieve this and any attempt is likely to be met with complaints about the nanny state.

What could be achieved is to get over the message that most people do not need any form of vitamin, mineral or other supplement if they eat a balanced diet. If tests show that supplements are needed I have no problem with people getting individual advice if poor diet is the reason for a health problem.

Guest

jamesy
I’ll be happy to send you a copy of Des Spence’s column if you email me.

You say
” Look how many nutritional interventions have made their way into conventional medicine . eg NAC for paracetemol poisoning etc”
I don’t see your point. NAC, or N-acetyl-L-cysteine, is a chemical compound that has been found (by doctors and scientists, not by nutritional therapists) to be a useful treatment for paracetamol overdose. It is not a “nutritional intervention”. I think you’ll have to find better examples that this one.

You ask “what about the widespread study and use of milk thistle in Germany?”
I don’t think that has anything to do with the present discussion, but you can find a summary of what’s known about it on the web site of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) http://nccam.nih.gov/health/milkthistle/ataglance.htm
Despite the fact that this organisation has a strong bias towards alternative medicine, you see that they don’t claim that it’s effective for anything.

Guest
jamesy says:
22 January 2012

David

The BMJ article you refer to is not without criticism from specialist gastroenterologists within the medical/hopsital community who completely disagree with you and the author of that article about the lack of importance of medical nutrition

Guest

jamesy
Have you read the article yet? It doesn’t say that nutrition is unimportant. It says that too much is spent on unnecessary supplements when what’s needed is good food.

Guest

The article referred to by David states that the NHS spends £210,000,000 on food supplements in the community alone, and ends by saying that tasty food is the best medicine. Obviously there are many who are too ill to eat properly and use of supplements is justified, but food supplements should not be used as a convenient alternative to proper food.

My only criticism, David, is that you have cited an article that is not available to the general public. That is probably best avoided on a public forum, though I confess to having done the same myself.

Guest
jamesy says:
22 January 2012

I will read it. Probably not today
I see from the abstract that we are talking more about in patients/eldery so perhaps the article is not so relevant for the general population and these discussions todaay

Guest
Maria says:
22 January 2012

wavechange said

“What could be achieved is to get over the message that most people do not need any form of vitamin, mineral or other supplement if they eat a balanced diet.”

The BBC did a very good job of this on their Food Hospital programme recently when they showed a nutritional physician, Dr Alan Stewart, saying:

“A lot of people aren’t eating that well and they’d be better off to not waste money on supplements but to eat a healthier diet…There’s a real mismatch between who buys supplements and who needs them. The people with the worst diets are not the people taking supplements; it’s actually the people with the best diets who are taking supplements. So the use of supplements currently in the UK only lowers the risk of deficiency by about 1 per cent according to national diet and nutritition survey data.”

It’s strange that the Alliance of Natural Health, who one would expect to take a keen interest in natural ways of staying healthy and who I imagine number a few NTs amongst their followers, don’t mention this in the review of that particular item on their website.

Guest

It is interesting what you say about those on the best diets taking supplements. Obviously there will be exceptions, but I have seen examples of this. I know a large family with a large disposable income. The children have an excellent diet including home-grown vegetables and fruit when available and none are fussy eaters. Every one of them gets plenty of exercise. I am really impressed by their parents’ efforts in encouraging their children to have a healthy lifestyle.

At least one of the children was given some sort of designer supplement pills among their Christmas gifts. I think that could be the one wrong message the parents are giving to their children and hopefully it is just a harmless waste of money.

Guest
Rose says:
22 January 2012

Dear Maria

I am not making it personal, just asked you to two questions, I am a consumer, who is looking into this more now. You have put your views forward, which is good, and quiet rightly as most people have. We all now know who David C is, we have also, thanks to others discovered . BANT, the NTC and others. I am just asking who you are, if you don’t want to say I can only guess you are not a professional or you are and don’t want to be exposed. So I will not ask you again, rest assured…

Guest
Maria says:
22 January 2012

“I am not making it personal, just asked you to two questions”,

You asked one personal question, which has nothing to do with the Which? article or any of the issues raised by it. What was the second question? It isn’t clear from your previous post.

“I am a consumer, who is looking into this more now.”

Same here.

“You have put your views forward, which is good, and quiet rightly as most people have.”

Interesting that you should say that now, given that your first contribution to this discussion started with a declaration that you don’t take anything I say here “as serious”.

“We all now know who David C is, we have also, thanks to others discovered . BANT, the NTC and others. I am just asking who you are, if you don’t want to say I can only guess you are not a professional or you are and don’t want to be exposed.”

Sorry, I don’t follow your reasoning here. David C participated in this study so he’s hardly likely to keep his id secret. Why this obsession with who I am? If your question is whether I have any kind of financial interest in anything to do with this topic, the answer is no.

“So I will not ask you again, rest assured…”

Glad to hear it. I am beginning to find your interest in me quite sinister and your haranguing bizarre.

Guest

Hello both, just to step in here. No-one is required to give their real name on Which? Conversation. Commenters are allowed to post anonymously using a pseudonym – in fact our T&Cs recommend that you do so: https://conversation.which.co.uk/terms-conditions/

What matters here are a poster’s arguments, not their identity. A poster’s decision to provide their identity or not is their choice and theirs alone. Any further comments requesting another person’s identity will be removed. Thanks, Patrick.

Guest
Maria says:
22 January 2012

@wavechange

“It is interesting what you say about those on the best diets taking supplements. Obviously there will be exceptions, but I have seen examples of this.”

I’m embarrassed to admit that I wasted more than a few quid myself on the damn things back in the 90s, when I was more gullible. That they never made an iota of difference is not surprising given that I was perfectly healthy, active and eating a balanced diet. That’s money I could have spent a lot more wisely.

I do wonder how those who promote these things to the ‘worried well’ sleep at nights.

Guest
Rose says:
22 January 2012

Maria

I don’t take some of your comments seriously, espcially now or of others i make my own mind up,.I just asked two questions in response to some of the points you made.. End of… I had no idea who
David was, or of BANT etc. excuse me for trying to establish an understanding of the some of the points made…

I feel sorry for this new profession, hope they succeed in all they are trying to
Achieve…

Guest
Maria says:
22 January 2012

“I just asked two questions in response to some of the points you made.”

Really? Care to repeat those questions? It’s OK, I’ll do it for you. These are the questions you have directed at me:

“Maria would you like to share what you earn…”

and

“Perhaps Maria you could a) say who you are and B) explain why they shouldn’t…”

I think it’s pretty obvious to anyone that these questions were not made in response to any point that I made but arise out of your own preconceptions about me because I have defended the Which? article and criticised those it has exposed. You have not even attempted to engage with any point that I have made and you have also blatantly twisted what David C has said in order to fit your preconceptions about him.

You claim to be a consumer “who is looking into this more now”. I respectfully suggest that when you look into things, you try to do so with a more open mind than you have demonstrated so far.

Guest

Sorry Maria. Sometimes the words don’t always come out right and I hit Submit before reading what I had written. I meant to say that I have seen examples of people eating good diets and taking supplements.

I confess to having eaten vitamin C tablets when I have been ill and not felt up to eating much fruit and veg, on the basis that this vitamin can be depleted more quickly than others. I have even eaten my way through a whole bottle of glucosamine and chondroitin tablets because a good friend nagged me to try them.

I can understand why so many people turn to supplements if they have chronic pain or other health problems, or are suffering from a disease that is said to be incurable.

Guest
Alan Henness says:
22 January 2012

I’ve been away from here for a few days, so…has anyone been able to post any robust evidence that iridology is a reliable and repeatable diagnostic test yet?

What about hair mineral analysis?

Guest

I would like to see a good scientific review that shows that iridology has any value, but I have found nothing. I see iridology as the modern equivalent of snake oil therapy, but who knows? It came as a bit of a surprise that ulcers could be caused by bacteria growing in the wall of the stomach.

Guest

Rose,

Have you read the Which? report? As I posted earlier, it was an objective description of a survey, with comments by appropriate experts on the advice offered by a number of nutritional therapists.
Although the sample was small, statistical analysis showed the results to be significant.

If I was trying to find out about nutritional therapy, I would consider the report to be a very useful and persuasive piece of evidence of the efficacy or otherwise of nutritional therapy. It is well known that Which? accepts no advertising and has no connection, financial or otherwise with the companies and services on which it reports. The same cannot be said about most of the alternative sources of information for consumers.

Guest
jamesy says:
22 January 2012

David

It seems that NAC is referred to in the literature as a dietary therapy in some studies and a drug in others .I dont wish to get pedantic. Both non medically qualified nutrition experts and medical professionals use it in different clinical situations. It doesn’t matter who discovered/started using it in the first place.
The supplement debate will continue. You may not believe it but I like the idea that evidence is needed before an individual takes a vitamin/mineral supplement whether they are in hospital or a member of the public.
Nutritionists/nutritional therapists who practice and give advice as was given to the DCIS patients are not practising safely. I wonder how many with degrees actually gave that advice.

Guest
Katie says:
22 January 2012

Perhaps the question about iridology should be ‘Is there anything that can be consistently detected?’ though that might be difficult/costly to research apart from anecdotes Forget diagnoses of actual conditions but perhaps if iridology were shown to for example be able to detect general inflammation – it might lead to an earlier blood test that might then lead to a medical diagnosis – If we dismiss disciplines like iridology after a few small studies we are acting too hastily. I am not saying that the public should be led to believe it is a reliable tool – I think they are intelligent enough to understand that it could be used as an adjunct that may or may not show anything.
I have to say when my mother developed a lung metastase – an iridologist spotted lung inflammation and it was because of this she went to the doctor and the cancer was discovered – the iridologist had no idea about cancer in my mother or any other condition – so I have to be a fan dont I????? though a slightly skeptical one always

Guest

It looks as if most scientists have ignored iridology because the few reviews that do exist have hardly been cited by other scientists. It would be interesting and not expensive to get patients with known medical problems examined by a number of iridologists (if that is the term) and see if there is any agreement in their findings.

I think it is safer to rely on our NHS system or private medical care, and there may well be a case for more health checks than offered currently, so that serious problems can be detected at an earlier stage.

Which? has come in for a lot of criticism over their investigations into nutritional therapists but they seem to have discovered a problem that deserves further investigation by the appropriate authorities.

Guest
Alan Hennsss says:
22 January 2012

Katie said:

“Perhaps the question about iridology should be ‘Is there anything that can be consistently detected?’ though that might be difficult/costly to research”

I don’t think that would be particularly difficult or costly to research. If iridologists claim to be able to diagnose specific medical conditions (I have no idea what ‘general inflammation’ is), then it would be very easy to get a number of them to examine people with those conditions (blinded, of course) and see what the inter- and intra-examiner results were. Doing this in a robust and unbiased manner would seem to be very straightforward.

“If we dismiss disciplines like iridology after a few small studies we are acting too hastily.”

Cart and horse here. Without that robust evidence, why is it being used to diagnose health problems?

(Unless and until there is robust evidence that it is a reliable and repeatable method, how can it be called a ‘discipline’?)

Unless I’ve missed them, I don’t think anyone has actually cited a