MD, PhD, FMedSci, FRSB, FRCP, FRCPEd.

“This utter hokum is symptomatic of the crass stupidity of the vacuous classes before the lumpen mob rebelled and chopped off their useless heads. Where, oh where, is our mob?”

No, I am not calling for a British re-run of the French revolution. This is a comment that made me chuckle. I found it under an article in the SUNDAY TIMES. As it is about acupuncture, I thought I mention it here and show you a few experts:

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… Prince Harry and Meghan Markle had regular appointments with an acupuncturist in the lead-up to their wedding. They were treated by Ross Barr, acupuncturist to the stars, who has been described as “divertingly handsome” by many of his enthusiastic fans and whose treatments have been lauded as “better than Botox”. Beauty experts say his appointments “go faster than Glastonbury tickets”.

Barr, whose treatments deal with anything from infertility to hair loss and relationship problems, is understood to have been regularly treating the couple since Meghan moved to London last year. The treatments are said to have been so successful that Barr and his wife, the actress Eva Birthistle, were invited to the wedding alongside celebrities including Oprah Winfrey, who had acupuncture live on her television show…

Harry, 33, has spoken of his struggles with anxiety and depression after the death of his mother, Diana, Princess of Wales in 1997. In an interview with The Sunday Times in 2016 he also admitted “my body . . . has basically been ruined over the last 10 years of army service”. His father, the Prince of Wales, is renowned for championing alternative and complementary therapies such as homeopathy and acupuncture…

It is thought Harry was keen to try acupuncture as part of a recent health drive to prepare for his wedding. He is reported to have reduced his alcohol consumption and is now regularly seen exercising at the exclusive KX gym in Chelsea, west London. Meghan, 36, is likely to be a fan of Barr’s “anti-wrinkle acupressure facial”, which aims to smooth fine lines and may have contributed to the American former actress’s radiant complexion on her wedding day…

Both Kensington Palace and Barr declined to comment yesterday.

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Well, let me offer a few comments then:

  1. The article is recklessly promotional and, in my view, very poor journalism.
  2. It does not even include the usual attempt at ‘balance’ where an expert warns at the end of the article that acupuncture is unscientific rubbish.
  3. There is no good evidence that acupuncture works for any of the conditions mentioned in the article.
  4. Critical thinking, journalistic ethics, or objective analysis do not seem to be the forte of the author of this regrettable drivel.

Yes, I know … this is not very important. It is merely a little innocent story about some VIPs for gullible consumers.

Innocent?

Perhaps!

But misleading the public about healthcare can also be seen as short-sighted, counter-productive, unethical, and stupid.

11 Responses to The SUNDAY TIMES just broke my BS-meter

  • Rather guilty, I’d say.

    But in the best company, namely that of the German Medical Society for Acupuncture, which has removed “Evidence” from its vocabulary and lists it on its website in a patient brochure as indications for acupuncture recommended by doctors (!) among others (!):

    Stroke, paralysis, cerebral seizures, depression, bipolar disorders, addictions, bulimia, obesity, asthma, functional heart disease, cardiac arrhythmia, angina pectoris, coronal heart disease, nausea and vomiting even during pregnancy, gastric ulcers, Gall bladder inflammation, hepatitis, urinary tract infections, prostatitis, fertility disorders, induction of childbirth, hearing loss, conjunctivitis, visual impairment, glaucoma, retinitis, neurodermatitis, inflammatory skin diseases, promoting wound healing, collapse, shock, teeth grinding…

    Like that of homeopaths, the website there is an extensive mixture of euphemisms, omissions, misinterpreted studies and fantasy. It’d be good for the Sunday Times and the Royal Family.

    https://www.daegfa.de/AerztePortal/Upload/Documents/Service_Literatur/PAT_Broschuere_2017.pdf

  • There is no evidence whatsoever that ‘the Royal Couple’ had acupuncture from Mr Barr or anyone else.
    Neither Barr nor KP commented, so whence cometh the story?
    This story is total fiction and it is a disgrace that the editor allowed this piece to be published.

    Of course we can imagine that both Harry and Meghan need much emotional and psychological support, but that is a private matter. And should stay private.

    We can only hope the couple are not so gullible as to have been taken in by quacks.
    And it is of legitimate public concern if the activities of a ‘celebrity couple’ encourage vulnerable members of the public to set aside critical thinking and be duped.

  • Sadly, I think the royals are rather committed to these ‘alternative’ ideas, especially Charlie. My problem with this article is that while it tells a story which is really of no interest, it seems to have been promoting Barr and his nonsense acupuncture.

    For example there must be quite a lot of people for whom cures for the conditions they claim would only be ro anxious to find a cure for which doctors have no treatment. After all, if they could treat paralysis how wonderful would that be? People like me could chuck away our wheelchairs for ever, just by sticking in needles. It would be marvelous. Sadly, it is for too marvelous to be true as there is no mechanism for acupuncture to work so promoting it like this is pretty bad, I would say.

  • He is reported to have reduced his alcohol consumption and is now regularly seen exercising at the exclusive KX gym in Chelsea,

    Gee, acupuncture, less booze and more exercise. Pick any two out of three.

  • A nation which will swallow monarchy probably has no problem with “alternatives” either.

  • My father talked my grandmother out of her scheduled surgery for malignant skin cancer. He read the Brandt grape cure diet and convinced my grandmother to try it. She came to live with us while on the grape diet and also did colonic irrigation’s as well. The evidence was after approximately 3 months she was cancer free. This was back in the early 70 s so don’t ask me come up with my grandmothers medical records to prove it.

    • you seem to be unaware of the difference between anecdote and evidence

    • Lucky for your grandmother that her supposed case of skin cancer had been misdiagnosed.

      This happens. Unlike cancer being verifiably cured by eating grapes and sticking stuff up your arse. Which doesn’t happen.

    • Ms Gould?

      How was the skin cancer diagnosed?

      If it was a mole that was suspected to be malignant then the standard proceedure is an excision biopsy (i.e. a small operation to remove it and see what it is); many suspected cancers turn out to be benign, and not cancerous at all.

      If it had already proven to be a malignant melanoma (following an excision biopsy) then the standard procedure in the 1970’s was to go back and do a second, much large operation, to remove a full-thickness circle of the surrounding skin (the size depending on the thickness of the melanoma, but usually several centimetres), which usually required a skin graft afterwards to cover the defect. This was to reduce the risk of the melanoma coming back, though the original excision biopsy would be enough in some cases to remove it entirely.

      If it were suspected to be another type of skin cancer (squamous carcinoma, basal cell carcinoma), then for small tumours an excision biopsy is enough but might be followed with other treatment; many benign lesions can look similar to either of them, however.

      Malignant melanoma is very variable in its behaviour, and spontaneous remissions are an uncommon but regular event.

      How do know that her apparent cure was due to the Brant grape diet and not one of the above scenarios?

      Have you considered that, by promoting this diet, you may have convinced somebody to delay seeking proper treatment for a cancer until it was past the curable stage?

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