/ 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?

Ellie says:
2 March 2012

Selina – yes we do want you to live to a ripe old age. I do anyway. For a start you are more sweet-natured than I am – so deserve to!

Selina Import says:
2 March 2012

Thank you Ellie. You make sure you keep your good work.

Selina Import says:
2 March 2012

“The medical pendulum seems to have swung radically from a focus on the clinical aspects of practice to scientific investigation. An extreme position of hyperanalysis has been adopted. We need now to return to synthesizing ALL of what we know in order to apply it in clinical terms rather than continuing on our march in the direction of analytical methods alone. Certainly medicine has contributed some significant answers in the past half centuary, particularly in areas of infectious diseases and infant mortality, but the price paid has been forgetfulness of the patient as a whole person.” Abram Hoffer “Orthomolecular Nutrition” 1978.

Let us always put first enabling people to find the best ways for them to be well and stay well.

Selina Import says:
2 March 2012

Sorry Ellie “Make sure you keep up your good work”

Thank you Chris. You have done well, I wish you all the very best


Stuart said…………….
An article on teeth which is only relevant if you are Vit D DEFICIENT in the first place. Laughable.

You are missing the point here Stuart by a long chalk.
The whole point is about what is meant by deficiency, and where the RDI for Vitamin D has been set too low for too long; so what has been recommended as an RDI, or the normal requirements for health for Vitamin D has been woefully inadequate.
RDI’s for Vitamin D have been set by many experts on the Vitamin as being at least 4000 to 6000 ius per day and to enable body markers to be above 30 to 50 ng/l. This is not achievable on a paltry 600ius per day when for example 20,000 ius are obtained from all-over body exposure within 30 minutes of sunlight exposure.
It is the absence of sunlight exposure for many of us, and for various reasons (climate, occupation, sedentary indoor lifestyle and so on) that supplementation is seen as necessary for health, and the avoidance of disease.
Recent studies have found that that their is a strong correlation between real Vitamin D deficiency and diseases such as MS and some cancers, and the recommendation of Vitamin D supplementation as as prophylaxis for the general populous.

PollyB says:
3 March 2012

Chris – you are advocating supplementation at very high levels here. There haven’t been enough long-term studies to determine if this level is safe and furthermore there is some evidence (epidemiological) that those people with high serum levels of vitamin D (> 50 ng/l) have higher mortality than people with more moderate levels. One study did show a link between pancreatic cancer and vitamin D levels (but a later study did not prove this link). Most intervention studies have been in groups with underlying medical conditions so it is not possible to use the data to recommend general supplementation for the general public. I am aware of studies that recommend up to 4,000 IU (100 mcg) per day but these studies were not long-term enough to find potential risks. For example, if a study is carried out for 6 months, it does not predict anything about risks to health several years down the line (think asbestos – it takes time for an exposure to lead to a disease). It used to be thought that antioxidant supplementation was desirable but it is now thought that antioxidant supplementation can lead to higher mortality levels.
For sensible advice on vitamin D supplementation – try the consensus statement from several leading UK groups (including Cancer Research UK and the National Osteoporosis Society). http://www.sunsmart.org.uk/prod_consump/groups/cr_common/@nre/@sun/documents/generalcontent/cr_052628.pdf
I don’t think this will change your mind! but I hope that others reading this will realise that high levels of supplementation are not risk-free.

Chloe says:
3 March 2012

Polly Bs blog should have said ‘
for sensible but soon to be out of date advice with regards to vitamin D’
UK consensus statements on nutrition are often behind those of US or Canada. Anyone who is interested should attend the vitamin D convention at Stanmore orthapedic hospital.

I wish everyone on the conventional side would come off their high horses and stop protecting their territory. Equally some of the arguments put forward by others have been far too eager and unsubstantiated

I think it is time to accept that things change and that there is room (I didnt say at the detriment of other professionals) for a middle ground in terms of nutrition professionals, NTs who practice evidence based nutrition and who use the functional medicine model.

PollyB says:
3 March 2012

The guest speaker at this event is Professor Susan Whiting (Canadian professor with special interest in nutritional supplementation and bone health). The last paper I have read from her was the Canadian consensus on osteoporosis and vitamin D supplementation in which the recommended supplement was the same as the that in the consensus statement I posted (i.e. 10 mcg per day but 25 mcg is probably safe for adults with no risk factors). People with risk factors for osteoporosis will (even in the UK) be taking higher doses than this but will also require monitoring of their serum status.
The main difference in the Canadian consensus compared to the UK is the assertation that for adults over 50, it may be advisable to supplement with 20 – 50 mcg (800 – 2000 IU still far lower than the dose Chris recommended). The UK would still recommend 10-25 mcg (400 – 1000 IU) for this group unless recommended otherwise by a health professional.
I personally would love to attend this event – are you going Chloe? Perhaps you could feedback some of the research presented.


I am very happy for recommendations for vitamins to be reviewed, making use of all the better quality studies and rejecting any that are questionable or flawed. In some cases this should have been done some time ago.

When I am reminded that the Chair of BANT practises iridology I am rather more comfortable with orthodox medicine and I feel genuinely sorry for NTs who are trying to do a good job.


Thank you for your input PollyB.

It depends on what you really mean by “supplementation at very high levels”, when I am only advocating this at between 4000 ius and 6000 ius per day, and then only in the absence of adequate sunlight exposure, and the preferred method of receiving cholecalciferol via the conversion of cholesterol.
However, the further you live from the equator, the longer exposure you need to the sun in order to generate vitamin D. Canada, the UK and most U.S. states are far from the equator.
People with dark skin pigmentation may need 20 – 30 times as much exposure to sunlight as fair-skinned people to generate the same amount of vitamin D. That’s why prostate cancer is epidemic among black men — it’s a simple, but widespread, sunlight deficiency.

A single exposure to summer sun in a bathing suit for 20 minutes produces the equivalent of 15,000 to 20,000 IU of vitamin D3″ in Hawaiian surfers and in response to physiological needs, and thereafter production will shut down before any excess is produced………………
Human serum 25-hydroxycholecalciferol response to extended oral dosing with cholecalciferol.
Heaney RP, Davies KM, Chen TC,…
Am J Clin Nutr. 2003 Jan;77(1):204-10. Erratum in: Am J Clin Nutr. 2003 Nov;78(5):1047.
PMID: 12499343

……………………but in the absence of sunlight, most Vitamin D experts will recommend at least 4000 ius per day or more depending on a Vitamin D test: a 25-hydroxyvitamin D, or 25(OH)D, test.
Studies indicate that for proper health, serum vitamin D levels should be a minimum of 50 ng/mL (125 nmol/L), with optimal levels falling between 50-80 ng/mL (125-200 nmol/L).

Regarding the risk of higher mortality rates amongst those with high serum levels of Vitamin D, I think you will find the bulk of the evidence is to the contrary, in that it is low levels of Vitamin D that are responsible, with this being just one example……………..

You commented PollyB that……………….

“Most intervention studies have been in groups with underlying medical conditions so it is not possible to use the data to recommend general supplementation for the general public. I am aware of studies that recommend up to 4,000 IU (100 mcg) per day but these studies were not long-term enough to find potential risks. For example, if a study is carried out for 6 months, it does not predict anything about risks to health several years down the line (think asbestos – it takes time for an exposure to lead to a disease)”.

In what is considered the first scientific trial that meets the most stringent criteria for “evidence-based inquiry,” US researchers Drs. Hollis and Wagner divulged their findings at a recent international vitamin D research conference in Bruge, Belgium.
Their findings included………………………..
Mothers who took 4,000 IU’s (ten times the RDA of 400 IU) of vitamin D during pregnancy had their risk of premature birth reduced by half.
Premature babies born to women taking high doses of vitamin D were reduced by half at both 32 and 37 weeks, and there were also fewer babies who were born “small for dates”
Women taking high doses of vitamin D had a 25 per cent reduction in infections, particularly respiratory infections such as colds and flu as well as fewer infections of the v****a and the gums.
The “core morbidities of pregnancy” were reduced by 30 per cent in the women who took the high-dose vitamin D. (Including diabetes, high blood pressure, and pre-eclampsia – a potentially deadly increase in blood pressure and fluid)
Babies getting the highest amounts of vitamin D after birth had fewer colds and less eczema.

Another 2009 study on vitamin D deficiency in newborns with acute lower respiratory infection confirmed a strong, positive correlation between newborns’ and mothers’ vitamin D levels.
This study found that over 87 percent of all newborns and over 67 percent of all mothers had vitamin D levels lower than 20 ng/ml, which is a severe deficiency state. As a result, the researchers recommended that all mothers optimize their vitamin D levels during pregnancy, especially in the winter months, to safeguard their babies’ health.
In addition, numerous other studies have found that vitamin D may protect against a number of birth defects.
Researcher Dr. Bruce Hollis of the Medical University of South Carolina also said:
“I’m telling every pregnant mother I see to take 4,000 IUs and every nursing mother to take 6,400 IUs of vitamin D a day and I think it is medical malpractice for obstetricians not to know what the vitamin D level of their patients is. This study will put them on notice.”

Not too sure as to your reasoning in comparing Asbestos with Vitamin D supplementation, as any exposure to the former is extremely hazardous to health, and where the latter is a nutrient actually required for health. Please bear in mind, that the RDI’s for Vitamin D have been set at much too low a dose for far too long, and unless you live near the Equator and receive all the sunlight exposure you need, then the rest of us at placed at a severe disadvantage in terms of adverse health consequences.

You also commented……………….

“I don’t think this will change your mind! but I hope that others reading this will realize that high levels of supplementation are not risk-free”………….

Dr MICHAEL F. HOLICK, MD, PhD and arguably the Worlds leading authority on Vitamin D in an interview with DY News……………….
HOLICK: One man took 1,000,000 IU of vitamin D per day, orally, for six months. Of course, he had the symptoms of severe vitamin D intoxication.
DY NEWS: But he lived to tell the tale?
HOLICK: Yes. His treatment was hydration (lots of water), and no more vitamin D or sunshine for a while. He’s perfectly happy and healthy. This was published in the New England Journal of Medicine. (Koutkia P, Chen TC, Holick MF. Vitamin D intoxication associated with an over-the-counter supplement. N Engl J Med. 2001 Jul 5;345(1):66-7.)
DY NEWS: How many people have died from vitamin D or other vitamins?
HOLICK: I have no experience of anyone dying from vitamin exposure. In thirty years, I’ve never seen it.

So the dangers of Vitamin D supplementation are negligible, but no one is advocating Vitamin D at such high doses as those described above.

I don’t have the time to argue the case for antioxidant supplementation.
I would argue the last place to take advice on Vitamin D supplementation is Cancer Research UK and the National Osteoporosis for sure.


For proper functioning, a healthy human body utilizes around 3,000-5,000 IU of vitamin D per day – indicating the current recommended intakes are not high enough to raise and/or maintain the vitamin D levels necessary for proper health…………………..
Heaney R.P., Davies K.M., Chen T.C., Holick M.F., Barger-Lux M.J. Human serum 25-hydroxycholecalciferol response to extended oral dosing with cholecalciferol. Am J Clin Nutr. 2003 Jan; 77 (1): 204-10.

Now as dietary sources of Vitamin D are minimal, how do we obtain these recommended requirements of Vitamin D in the absence of sunlight exposure?
Supplements of course.
Is there any other way?

Selina Import says:
3 March 2012

It is refreshing to note discussion rather than confrontation. Well done Chloe, PolyB and Chrisb



I recall that (many pages ago!) you said that you would not automatically recommend that a client should take supplements, and I respected you for this. I hope this is still the case because we are fast becoming a nation whose answer to treating illness and avoiding poor health is to take pills, whether these are drugs or supplements.


PollyB you said…………
“But Chris – this article doesn’t say that you CAN’T get your nutrients from a healthy diet. What it says is that most Americans DON’T get their recommended amounts from their diet – mainly because they are not eating a healthy diet (or they have a health problem, or they are taking medication or they are restricting their diet to lose weight)”.

Which is my point exactly. So it appears we need to re-educate people on how to eat healthily, while at the same time prevent the Corporate food industry in playing such a major role in decision making, and influencing the way we live, plus how they are allowed to advertise foods that promote instead of avoiding disease. I think you will find that money is the name of the game here.
Also bear in mind that soils generally have been depleted of much of their nutrition, and for one reason or another, therefore the crops that grow within them are also deficient. I provided some scientific links/studies to this in an earlier post; so if crops are deficient, then it should come as no real surprise that we are also nutrient-deficient in eating them and regardless of how “balanced” it may be.
I have also highlighted in a previous post, that many nutrients (either singly or in combination) can be used very successfully against disease, and where the RCT on Infant Heart Failure, using Vitamin D at higher than RDI’s, have illustrated this quite emphatically.

Selina Import says:
3 March 2012

Yes, Wavechange, it is a essential to make sure that a person knows how to get themselves is on the best possible diet first.


I wish more NTs would come forward and say the same. Thanks.


Just to clarify my position on supplements.
I would not recommend supplements as a fist choice, and where both Wavechange and Selina are correct that changes in diet and other lifestyle choices should be a first option in improving health and to help combat/avoid disease. The evidence for this is fairly clear.

However, with soil depletion and food transportation being a primary cause for the relatively poor quality of our food supply, supplements can play a vital role in restoring and even maintaining health.
What I object to, and most strongly, is the notion that pharmaceuticals and only pharmaceuticals, which play a major part in Orthodox Medicine, are the answer as therapeutic agents in the treatment of disease, and where many of them treat only the symptoms of disease, rather than address the true causes. Side effects of these can be horrendous, even life-threatening, if not life destroying, as has been recorded in the case of properly-prescribed drugs taken as prescribed.

On the other hand, many supplements generally have enormous therapeutic value in many disease states, and without these mostly serious side-effects that accompany pharmaceuticals.
It should also be a matter of health-freedom as to which of these two modalities we choose to undergo, but has so far been denied to the majority, for the sake of financial gain and vested interests that determine which of these dominate our society.

Ellie says:
3 March 2012

I can’t help feeling that Vitamin D has become something of a special case. Please correct me (anyone) if I have my facts wrong on this, – but the last time there was an outbreak of rickets after the war, – lots of foodstuffs were fortified, including milk. So in the end, children, especially, were getting quite high doses of Vitamin D ( all children got free school milk then). Later, – scares about toxicity – started to emerge. Some of these scares, however, could not be sustantiated because there wasn’t the same facility to test blood levels properly then, – or screen children for heridary problems that might lead to toxicity.

My point is: If medics do not engage with the Vitamin D topic, – then there is a danger that history will repeat itself and food manufacturers will fortify more and more foods anyway. This will mean that the very thing they claim to be worried about, – will happen anyway. Everyone needs to sit down and discuss things properly rather than being anti-supplement or pro supplement.

There needs to be discussion on who the ‘at risk’ groups for deficiency might be i.e. ethnic groups with darker skins, those on steroids etc. What advice should be given to pregnant mothers and breast-feeding mothers (without this ‘one cap fits all’ approach which is so common place now).

Next they need to discuss which groups (if any) should be especially careful about taking too much vitamin D (for example those with kidney disease) or heridary conditions.

Testing should also (in my opinion) be more readily available. Cholesterol levels are regularly checked, so why not Vitamin D levels?

However, perhaps this is getting a bit off topic again. I suppose this comes back to the issue that if NT’s had a better report with GP’s – then they could talk this sort of thing through and get the best deal for the patient.


Thank you Ellie.
A very reasoned response.



Vitamin D is a special case. Unlike other vitamins, it can be made by the body and that generated as a result of sunlight on the skin is the main source for many people. There is the effect of age, effect of skin colour, variable exposure to sunlight and variable diet. We were never designed to be vegetarians or vegans, but many are, and consequently have a diet that is nutritionally poor in some respects. A fairly recent factor is that some people are careful about exposure to the sun and we have an increasing elderly population that may not see sunshine. Those who eat a low fat diet may avoid butter and margarine, which are sources of vitamin D. Many are avoiding vitamin-enriched breakfast cereals are full of fat and sugar.

I am in favour of vitamin D testing. As I have said earlier, I believe that the recommended intake of vitamin D should be revised on the basis of the best information available, and I would go for science rather than opinions. Most studies look at the minimum amount of vitamins needed, but with some throwing vitamin pills down their throats as if they are Smarties, it’s time to make people aware of the dangers of having ‘too much of a good thing’. One of the biggest dangers is that we have little knowledge of taking more vitamins, etc than we need.

As you say it would be good if NTs had a better rapport with GPs. The best way is to avoid getting involved with pseudoscience or profiting from sale of supplements without evidence that they are needed. NTs can deliver individual support that is not available from the NHS, and it is in their hands to win the respect of the medical profession. I hope they do.

Your comparison of vitamin D testing with cholesterol testing is one I have been thinking about since the start of these discussions.


Hello wavechange,
I am in general agreement with you in that Vitamin D is a special case.

Further, it is quite a bold statement to mention that we were never designed to be vegans or vegetarians, which I wouldn’t agree with, but let’s not go down that road!! Please bear in mind that all nutrition comes from the plant kingdom, either directly from plants, or indirectly from animals that eat those plants.

When you mention that some people are careful about exposure to the sun, and that we have an increasing elderly population that may not see sunshine, I think we can throw quite a lot of that blame squarely at dermatologists, who for decades recommended avoiding sun-exposure because of cancer-risks, coupled with the ever increasing use of sunscreens which (like glass) block the UVB rays of sunlight responsible for Vitamin D production within the skin.

I agree with vitamin D testing as well, and as Selina has mentioned, could be and probably should be as routine and as necessary as cholesterol testing so a very good point.
I also believe that the recommended intake of vitamin D should be revised on the basis of the best information available, and rely on the science rather than opinions, but unfortunately much of the science has been ignored or discarded.

However, when you state…………
“but with some throwing vitamin pills down their throats as if they are Smarties, it’s time to make people aware of the dangers of having ‘too much of a good thing’.

Is rather a flippant way of looking at how people consume their vitamins. BTW I only consume liquid supplements, as they tend to be absorbed and utilized more easily by the body.

“One of the biggest dangers is that we have little knowledge of taking more vitamins, etc than we need”…………………………

I don’t think anyone is advocating overdosing, but more in the way of current RDI’s, which tend to increase with the passing of time……………………………

Absolutely: “As you say it would be good if NTs had a better rapport with GPs”.

Yes again below, but much depends on who and what you are referring to as “pseudoscience”, and NT’s are probably sufficiently qualified to recommend certain supplements targeted at certain disease/ill-health states, much in the same way a GP would prescribe a pharmaceutical for a recognized set of symptoms. …………….
“The best way is to avoid getting involved with pseudoscience or profiting from sale of supplements without evidence that they are needed. NTs can deliver individual support that is not available from the NHS, and it is in their hands to win the respect of the medical profession. I hope they do”.



I have stopped posting comments in response to your comments and I would be grateful if you would stop responding to mine, because it is very obvious that we have a very different point of view and dialogue is not useful. You are not going to change my view and it is fairly evident that I am unlikely to change your.

Some examples of pseudoscience have been mentioned earlier in these discussions and to the best of my knowledge these examples are commonly branded in this way.

Ellie says:
4 March 2012

Thankyou wavechange – I appreciate your response.

The problem with public health policies is that they cater for the masses and it seems to me (from the depths of these discussions) that in the case of Vitamin D a more individualised approach may be required. It would be far too complicated to start telling people that they need to get so many hours of sunlight per day etc. The only scientific way would be to make Vitamin D testing (especially for those at higher risk) more readily available.


I agree about testing, Ellie. I do not know how much it would cost the NHS to make tests available. I expect that it would cost rather less than the home test kits available.

Selina Import says:
4 March 2012

Chris you will have meant Ellie regarding Vitamin D testing not me, though I agree with her


[This comment has been removed for being off-topic. Thanks, mods.]


[This comment has been removed for being off-topic. Thanks, mods.]


Hello everyone, you may have noticed that the moderators have taken down a number of comments – their content was purely made up of accusing each other of being bigots. This is against our commenting guidelines, which we have politely made you aware of on a number of occasions. I am extremely disappointed that some commenters have not been able to take these warnings on board.

Our guidelines are here for a reason – not only do they promote a friendly atmosphere for all readers, they encourage a more productive debate. Respecting each other is the key to a healthy debate where everyone can learn from each other – confidence in your own argument creates a strong position, but a healthy amount of doubt encourages a certain humility that makes others more likely to warm to your opinions.

I can see that this debate may be beyond such a point. And due to our continuing warnings not only may this become the very first Conversation we have closed, I am seriously considering banning a number of you from contributing on Which? Conversation in the future. This would be a big shame as we’re working on a new nutritional therapists Conversation which will go over some of the issues that have been talked about in the comments and I’d like you to be a part of it. Unless you stick to our commenting guidelines we will be forced to take the action mentioned in this paragraph. Thanks, Patrick.


I will admit that it was I who originally mentioned the term “bigot” in relation to some posters here, and thought at the time that this was an accurate description of their approach to the whole debate. I also mentioned that this was not to be construed by them as a personal insult, but as a reflection of the overwhelming and combined bias and prejudice that I have encountered throughout.

I for one, and many with the same viewpoints, have stated that we are in admiration of much of what Mainstream Medicine has to offer, but quite a number of posters have not offered one word of sympathy or empathy with anything to do with Alternative Medicines, and where some of them (Acupuncture) are even accepted within their own ranks, and available on the NHS.

The tide of opinion in this debate has been one of fixed and unshakeable dogma in its opposition to nutritional therapy, and in particular to nutritional medicine as a whole, and this is in spite of the overwhelming scientific evidence published in mainstream journals, and the substantial support derived from empirical evidence of alternatives, whose efficacy has stood the test of time.

This has not been so much of a debate, but more of a “defence” of the subject matter, which has its origins within functional medicine, and in itself is not accepted by mainstream and despite the efficacy of the same.

If I am banned then so be it, but I believe I have played my part, and will continue to do so in the future, either here or elsewhere in the next topic involving Nutritional Therapy, if allowed to do so.

Maria says:
4 March 2012

Thank you, Chris, for admitting that it was you who used the term ‘bigotry’; there was no “accusing eachother” as Patrick Stein claims – I certainly wouldn’t dream of resorting to that kind of abuse of another poster and I am incredulous that you could see this as anything other than a personal insult.

I’m sorry that you see the legitimate and mostly civil challenges to your arguments as “bias and prejudice” but I’m not sure why you feel the compulsion to keep repeating this.

A couple of hours ago wavechange posted:

“I will comply with the T&Cs published by Which? I suggest you keep your rude allegations to yourself.”

For some unexplained reason, this comment seems to have disappeared, while your rude allegations remain. This has a last straw quality for me. I have no intention of taking part in any future Which? conversations after this experience.

Helen Osbourne says:
4 March 2012

Dear Patrick,

I wholeheartedly agree with what chrisb has said. This has not been much of a conversation, but an assault on nutritional therapy and nutritional therapists. The bottom line is that you have run this check on the profession, which has enabled the public to know about some irregularities in the practice of nutritional therapy. Well done and thank you. However, if you were to run a check along the same line on medical doctors or indeed dieticians, you would be likely to find irregularities also.

I am also intrigued by your next line of enquiry on nutritional therapy. Which? seem determined to give this profession a bit of a hard time…



I would like to defend Which? If you read their magazine you will see that various service providers have been investigated periodically, especially where serious problems have been found. I imagine that car service agents must feel that they have received a lot of attention too.

Some issues have been revisited on Which? Conversations too, usually with a slightly different theme.

This topic has generated a lot of interest, but some of the comments have not been very nice. It must take a lot of staff time checking each message and all the links included in the messages, but hopefully the discussions have been useful to contributors and readers.


Maria, you commented……………..
“I certainly wouldn’t dream of resorting to that kind of abuse of another poster and I am incredulous that you could see this as anything other than a personal insult”.

Well, by definition a bigot can be described as……………..
“a person who is intolerant of any ideas other than his or her own, esp on religion, politics, or race”.

Is this really a term of abuse or personal insult? I beg to differ, as I used the term as what I believe to have been an accurate description of what has taken place here.
I am sorry if you feel otherwise, and apologise if you feel that this was the case.


I would like to know if WHICH has run a check on other health professionals before now, and/or if they have any plans to do so, such as those mentioned by Helen ie: Dieticians or Medical Doctors; because if not, then this should help to balance the equation of any suspect impartiality, and look forward to a response from WHICH if they care to respond.

I also think that this investigation/observational study has far more serious implications than just investigating “car service agents” or “best-buy washing machines” etc.

Chloe says:
5 March 2012

I believe you have made a very important point here Chris. Everyone, professionals and patients should be allowed to have their say about any medical/health care they have received or have an opinion/knowledge about. It would help to balance the equation

Selina Import says:
5 March 2012

I agree in part Chloe and Chris that it would balance the equation, however, I like Dr Patch Adams way.

“I am asking for a white flag of peace and an atmosphere in which we can all work together. Competition among healers is not healthy. This is no sport or game, The AMA is not an enemy and other kinds of healers are not quacks.” With closed-mindedness uncharacteristic of true scientists, many physicans condemn unconventional therapies without ever taking a closer look at them. Yet if they were to get to know a sincere practitioner of an alternative therapy and speak with his or her patients, I believe many skeptical physicians would aee the value of that therapy and perhaps would even refer their own patients.

“We must not make our techniques a religion that we follow even when they don’t help. We are healers: caring, empathetic, thoughtful friends to our patients.” “If a treatment helps, does it matter why?” “There are great healers in all phases of health care. If all these systems work together, a patient’s care could be entrusted to an active partnership. This would be beneficial for the allopath, the alternative healer and the patient.”

“Lets face it: a huge number of patients are out there. Even if every healer of every variety were available there would still be a tremendous amount of work to go around. Besides, our individual skills are so incomplete that we need to ask help of other kinds of healers. People are so unique and diseases so multifactorial that we need hundreds of approaches in order to find the right ones and to keep the patient’s hope alive. Since there are miracles in all the healing techniques, why can’t their proponenets work together?”

“On the other hand, surgery and pharmceuticals can be gloriously effective; in their defenceivness, alternative healers sometimes condemn them, echoing the same condemnation they have received from allopaths.”

“We need forgiveness and goodwill ambassadors to draw treaties of reconciliation between opposing camps. Anger and name-calling will only widen the gap.” Doctor Patch Adams 1993


This Conversation has now been closed. Regrettably many of these comments have stepped away from our commenting guidelines and T&Cs.

If you would like to talk about our nutritional therapists investigation we will be publishing a new Conversation in due course. I will come back and post a link once it’s live. Thanks, Patrick.


Hello everyone! I’m pleased to say that we have published a new nutritional therapists Conversation, with a round-up of some of the comments. Hopefully it provides a balanced selection, but we couldn’t include everyone!


Please come and join in, but remember to stick to our guidelines. I hope there will be no need for us to come in and moderate. Thanks.

Lynn says:
16 March 2012

In your article you said the therapists offered unnecessary and unproven advice such as avoiding margarine as it is ‘two chemical bonds away from pure plastic’. If this is true it is not unnecessary but very important as our bodies are not able to digest plastic and it must have a very negative effect and even cause fatal diseases. In this instance ‘unnecessary and untrue’ doesn’t mean it is rubbish. I would expect Which Magazine to further investigate the ‘Margarine’ and let the readers decide wether the information is unnecessary if it is proven one way or the other. Otherwise you are being biased and giving your opinions without investigating the truth. I am actually very disappointed with your biased views and would like to have seen a scientific investigation on what you call unnecessary and unprove. Not impressed as I have lost my sister to cancer and I also have biased views – lets get to the truth please.


The fact that our bodies cannot digest materials does not make them harmful. We cannot digest cellulose and some other carbohydrates, but the undigested material (which we refer to as roughage) is an important component of our diet because it helps keep our lower bowel in good working order.

I don’t have the Which? report to hand, but it may refer to trans-fats in margarine. These are generated by partial hydrogenation of vegetable oils to convert them from a liquid to a solid. Consumption of large amounts of trans-fats is believed to be harmful and these are progressively being eliminated from margarines and other spreads, and from other foods.

Comparisons of chemical structures are not very helpful, but I don’t want to embark on a chemistry lesson. 🙂


I agree with you Lynn.
The advice to avoid margarine is a sound one, because in order to make margarine, vegetable oils need to go through a process called hydrogenation. Hydrogenation is the process of forcing hydrogen atoms into the holes of unsaturated fatty acids. This is done with hydrogen gas under pressure that is bubbled through the vegetable oil with the help of a metal catalyst, such as nickel, platinum or some other metal. When the hydrogen atoms combine with the carbon atoms, the oils becomes saturated or hardened. If this process continues, you can make blocks that are so hardened, you could build houses with the end product.
When this occurs, this new product ( margarine) no longer resembles the original oil. It is now a dark and rancid mess. Nickel is also toxic heavy metal and some amount will always remain in the margarine at it‘s completion. To make this unpalatable gloop appeal to the masses ( that would be you and me) deodorants and coloring agents are added to disguise the rancid smell and to hide the disgusting grey color of the unappealing slop. Much like a magicians sleight of hand, this slick trickery of bleaching, filtering and deodorizing goes on behind the scenes, and we are none the wiser.
Jacket potato anyone?

John Lyons says:
17 March 2012

I thought this conversation had been closed?


It is, please come and join us on the new nutritional therapists Conversation: https://conversation.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/nutritional-therapists-comments-which-investigation/