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

case report

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Lots of people have commented on King Charles’ swollen hands which can be seen in many pictures, not least the one on the cover of my biography of Charles. The king himself repeatedly referred to his ‘sausage fingers’ and has made light of the issue as far back as 1982. When William was born. At that time, he wrote to a friend: “I can’t tell you how excited and proud I am. He really does look surprisingly appetising and has sausage fingers just like mine.”

Now that he is King, we might need to worry; are his ‘sausage fingers’ a sign of a serious underlying disease?

Swollen fingers are normally due to fluid retention which can have many causes, e.g.:

Charles, The Alternative Prince: An Unauthorised Biography

  • allergy,
  • arthritis,
  • bursitis,
  • carpal tunnel syndrome,
  • diabetes,
  • gout,
  • heart failure,
  • injury,
  • infection,
  • kidney failure,
  • lymphoedema,
  • scleroderma,
  • sickle cell disease,
  • syphilis,
  • tendinitis,
  • tuberculosis.

The list is long and it contains some worrying diseases. Luckily, we can exclude many of them simply because Charles has had ‘sausage fingers’ for so many years. Thus, plausible options could be diabetes and scleroderma. The former can probably be excluded mainly because we would have long known about it.

But what about scleroderma?

Scleroderma (or systemic sclerosis, as it is also called) is a serious autoimmune condition that may be localized or generalized. The latter form is more serious. In 2020, it was noted that Charles’s feet also seemed to be swollen. In addition, his face often looks flushed (see also the cover of my book).

I know far too little about Charles’s health to make even a tentative diagnosis. Some features of scleroderma fit quite well, while others do not. In any case, I do hope Charles’s swellings have a more benign explanation. But, if scleroderma is the cause, the question obviously arises: is there a so-called alternative medicine (SCAM) for it?

A recent review stated that some study results have shown that vitamins D and E, probiotics, turmeric, l-arginine, essential fatty acids, broccoli, biofeedback, and acupuncture may be beneficial in systemic sclerosis care. However, large randomized clinical trials have not been conducted. In other words, SCAM has no proven benefit for the condition, and I would not recommend it.

Charles does know that, of course. In the past, he regularly made grand proclamations in favor of SCAM but, as soon as he was really ill, he always employed the best conventional healthcare can offer.

When I first heard about it, I thought it was a hoax – nobody can be that daft, I felt. Then I did a bit of research and found that I had been wrong: some people evidently can be that daft and are trying to promote a new SCAM.

Yes, I am speaking of SPERM SMOOTHIES.

And it’s not even a new thing. One sperm smoothie fan boasted 2 years ago: “My immune system is far stronger than it’s ever been. I no longer catch colds or the flu — even when my children get sick from school! I have such high energy levels, feel positive and enthusiastic and have focus and clarity throughout my day whilst most parents feel tired, crave junk food and struggle with forgetfulness.”

In 2021, THE SUN reported this :

Tracy Kiss, 33, from Buckinghamshire, previously told how she put a spoonful of her best friend’s donated semen into her drink every morning in a bid to boost her immunity.

The personal trainer, who is mum to Millie and Gabrille,  has previously advocated using sperm as a facial ointment.

She spoke as celebrity facialist Chelsee Lewis claimed it actually worked to reduce wrinkles.

On her bizarre beverage concoction, Tracy said: “I’d been feeling run down and had no energy, but now I’m full of beans and my mood has improved.

“It can taste really good – depending on what my friend has been eating. My other mates think I’m strange, but I don’t give a toss.”

Tracy, who is a vegan, roped her single pal into giving her his semen. She previously told how he pops round with a fresh tub three times a week.

“I know he’s healthy, doesn’t smoke, drink or do drugs and I made him have an STI check,” she said.

“When I first approached him, he was concerned I’d use it to impregnate myself.

“But once I’d convinced him it was for my beauty regime he agreed – after all, he has a regular supply at hand!”

Tracy, a qualified nutritional adviser and personal trainer, told how she kept it in her fridge.

She mixes the semen with fruit, seeds, coconut or almond milk – but is also happy to drink it on its own.

“Every batch tastes different, depending on what he’s been eating,” she said.

“If he’s been drinking alcohol or eaten something particularly pungent like asparagus, I ask him to give me a heads up so I know not to drink it neat.

“Things like pineapple and peppermint make it taste better, but I’ll happily take it straight off a spoon usually.”

Tracy has filmed a YouTube video where she talks through her unusual remedy and explains what it tastes like.

“We look at its smoothness and texture, discuss its benefits and then I show people who I use a teaspoon to eat the sperm,” she said.

“Sperm is an awesome product and we should stop being so ridiculous about it – the health benefits have been well researched and more women and men should take advantage of it particularly as its made by our own bodies and doesn’t contain e-numbers and chemicals.”

________________________________

The question I ask myself is this: are sperm smoothies really a new SCAM or are they just a way for some strange people to get their 5 minutes of fame? I sincerely hope it is the latter.

As numerous of my posts have demonstrated, chiropractic manipulations can cause severe adverse effects, including deaths. Several hundred have been documented in the medical literature. When discussing this fact with chiropractors, we either see denial or we hear the argument that such events are but extreme rarities. To the latter, I usually respond that, in the absence of a monitoring system, nobody can tell how often serious adverse events happen. The resply often is this:

You are mistaken because the Royal College of Chiropractors’ UK-based Chiropractic Patient Incident Reporting and Learning System (CPiRLS) monitors such events adequately. 

I have heard this so often that it is time, I feel, to have a look at CPiRLS. Here is what it says on the website:

CPiRLS is a secure website which allows chiropractors to view, submit and comment on patient safety incidents.

Access to CPiRLS

CPiRLS is currently open to all UK-based chiropractors, all ECU members and members of the Chiropractic and Osteopathic College of Australasia. To access the secure area of the CPiRLS website, please click the icon below and insert the relevant CPiRLS username and password when prompted.

In the UK, these can normally be found on your Royal College of Chiropractors’ membership card unless the details are changed mid-year. Alternatively, email admin@rcc-uk.org from your usual email address and we will forward the details.

Alternatively, in the UK and overseas, secure access details can be obtained from your professional association.

National associations and organisations wishing to use CPiRLS, or obtain trial access to the full site for evaluation purposes, should contact The Royal College of Chiropractors at chiefexec@rcc-uk.org

Please click the icon below to visit the CPiRLS site.

Yes, you understood correctly. The public cannot access CPiRLS! When I click on the icon, I get this:

Welcome to CPiRLS

CPiRLS, The Chiropractic Patient Incident Reporting and Learning System – is an online reporting and learning forum that enables chiropractors to share and comment on patient safety incidents.

The essential details of submitted reports are published on this website for all chiropractors to view and add comments. A CPiRLS team identifies trends among submitted reports in order to provide feedback for the profession. Sharing information in this way helps to ensure the whole profession learns from the collective experience in the interests of patients.

All chiropractors are encouraged to adopt incident reporting as part of a blame-free culture of safety, and a routine risk management tool.

CPiRLS is secure and anonymous. There is no known way that anyone reporting can be identified, nor do those running the system seek to identify you. For this security to be effective, you require a password to participate.

Please note that reporting to CPiRLS is NOT a substitute for the reporting of patient safety incidents to your professional association and/or indemnity insurers.

So, how useful is CPiRLS?

Can we get any information from CPiRLS about the incidence of adverse effects?

No!

Do we know how many strokes or deaths have been reported?

No!

Can chiropractors get reliable information from CPiRLS about the incidence of adverse effects?

No, because reporting is not mandatory and the number of reports cannot relate to incidence.

Are chiropractors likely to report adverse effects?

No, because they have no incentive and might even feel that it would give their profession a bad name.

Is CPiRLS transparent?

No!

Is CPiRLS akin to postmarketing surveillance as it exists in conventional medicine?

No!

How useful is CPiRLS?

I think I let my readers answer this question.

 

In a previous post, I explained that anthroposophic education was founded by Steiner in 1919 to serve the children of employees of the Waldorf-Astoria cigarette factory in Stuttgart, Germany. Pupils of Waldorf or Steiner schools, as they are also frequently called, are encouraged to develop independent thinking and creativity, social responsibility, respect, and compassion.

Waldorf schools implicitly infuse spiritual and mystic concepts into their curriculum. Like some other alternative healthcare practitioners – for instance, doctors promoting integrative medicine, chiropractors, homeopaths, and naturopaths – doctors of anthroposophic medicine tend to advise against childhood immunizations. For this and other reasons, Waldorf schools have long attracted criticism.

Now it has been reported that the district government of Münster has withdrawn the school permit of a Waldorf school in Rheine, Germany, because of “serious deficiencies in the teaching operation”. For the 71 children, school operation ends with the start of the fall vacations at the beginning of October, as the district government announced on Tuesday. Already since the end of 2020 there had been numerous complaints. The school board had not succeeded in eliminating the deficiencies, a proper operation is currently and prospectively not guaranteed.

The list of problems described by the district government is long: there were repeated violations in the health protection of children. A spokesman for the district government said that there had been massive and repeated violations of Corona’s protective measures. In addition, there was a risk of accidents in the playground. The school board had also been unable to stop the misconduct of individual teachers, the district government criticized. “In addition, there is an insufficient supply of teachers, school organizational deficits and a massively disturbed school peace,” it said.

In the end, the basis of trust required for continued operation of the school was no longer given, so the school permit had to be revoked for the sake of the children. “This is an absolutely exceptional case,” the spokesman said. It is presumably the first case under the jurisdiction of the Münster district government, he added.

 

 

Israel’s Health Ministry announced the revocation of Dr. Aryeh Avni’s medical license, after he called to violate the ministry’s COVID guidelines during the pandemic and published defamatory articles against the medical community. The Jerusalem District Court rejected Avni’s appeal following the decision to revoke his medical license. Avni, who was a specialist in general surgery, engaged for years in so-called alternative medicine (SCAM) and had previously been caught forging vaccination certificates. He claimed in court that he operates in the context of freedom of expression and that his objective is to help the public and to rescue patients from the harm caused by medications and vaccines.

About a year and a half ago, the Health Ministry’s disciplinary committee recommended that Avni’s license be suspended for two years, but former Judge Amnon Shtrashnov, who was granted authority by the health minister, rejected the recommendation and ordered the permanent revocation of Avni’s license. In his decision, Shtrashnov called Avni “a charlatan, a clear coronavirus denier and a dangerous trickster, who behaves that way under the aegis of a licensed doctor.” “There must be a distinction between expressing an opinion and incitement, while conducting a smear campaign against medical authorities in order to dissuade the public from acting in accordance with their directive,” District Court Judge Nimrod Flax said in his decision. “A doctor who chooses to conduct a delegitimization campaign of this kind excludes himself, and is behaving in a manner unbefitting a licensed doctor. “And we will say once again – expressing an opinion, absolutely; conducting a campaign of incitement and defamation against his fellow doctors, while attempting to bias public opinion and to prevent the public from acting in accordance with the recommendations of the medical authorities, absolutely not,” added Judge Flax. “In general, criticism of the directives and decisions of the health care system and those who head it is legitimate, but that’s when these things are said in polite language and are based on true facts,” added the judge. “Granting approval to the appellant to continue to possess a medical license, while he continues with his previous practices, and in particular preaches to violate medical directives given by the authorized bodies, cannot accord with the public interest,” added the judge.

__________________________

Dr. Avni has a website where he writes about himself: “During his work in the hospital but also in his private life, Dr. Avni was exposed to the dismal results of conventional cancer treatments, he lost his wife and sister. The difficult events made him think that allopathic medicine is not the only option and he started looking for other solutions. Better, and less dangerous in terms of “do no harm”.
This is how Dr. Avni came in his decades of journey to many methods and treatments that have in common that they treat problems from the root and not only the symptom, they are not harmful, in repairing one disease they do not increase the risk of new disease, they treat the person and do not see only the “disease” And their natural origin.
The more he delved into his research, the more Dr. Avni discovered to his amazement that there were powerful forces trying to silence and obscure vital information about these treatments. In the United States, for example, several dozen doctors died prematurely and for “strange” reasons, these were doctors who opposed vaccines or conventional cancer treatments. In recent years, Dr. Avni has also faced constant persecution by the media and the Ministry of Health, and once his license was suspended. But Dr. Avni did not flinch or fold, this is his life mission and for that we appreciate him and thank him! And we are not the only ones.

____________________________

Personally, I feel that the world is a safer place without anti-vax doctors in clinical practice. Other countries should perhaps follow the example of Israel and be more ready to revoke the licenses of anti-vax charlatans.

England’s record goalscorer Ellen White has revealed she suffered a punctured lung while receiving acupuncture treatment. The injury accelerated her decision to retire. White, 33, said she was still coming to terms with the “traumatic” injury.

Manchester City had sourced a “specialist” – evidently not such an excellent acupuncturist because the complication is avoidable with proper knowledge of anatomy – outside the club to provide her with acupuncture to treat her back problem because of a high number of injuries in the squad at the time. “If you’d said to me two or three years ago that you’re going to retire, I would have said ‘absolutely not’, but I’ve got to a time in my career,” she said. “I had a challenging time last year – coming back from the Olympics, I basically punctured my lung, and it was a lot for me to have to go through and a big reason that accelerated my want to retire.”

The injury happened when she returned to her club with a back spasm last summer. “It punctured my lung which isn’t something that happens normally, obviously,” she said. “It was a really traumatic time for me and something that I’m still figuring out now, still working through. I had to wait for the lung to basically inflate again. I had a needle put into my chest to drag all the air out then hopefully the lung would inflate again – which it has. At the time, I think for me, I just got into a zone of: ‘I need to get back playing. We’ve got these games – I want to be back playing for my club; I want to be back playing for England. I went very tunnel vision,” she said. “It wasn’t until a good two or three months later, it just hit me like a train, what actually happened and how traumatic it was.”

Despite her quick return to goalscoring form, which included becoming the Lionesses record goalscorer in November, the striker says she is still affected by the injury and suffers “phantom pain” where it feels like it is happening again. “It’s important for me now to tell my story, and say it was a big factor in my year and leading up to the decision of wanting to retire. Obviously, there are other factors that come into that as well. I don’t want it to happen to anybody else again is my main thing. I don’t want to walk away from the sport having not told it and not say that I want things in place for it not to happen to anyone else.”

______________________________

Pneumothorax is by far the most common of all the serious, potentially fatal complications caused by acupuncture. In thin individuals, several acupuncture points over the upper thorax are just a few centimeters away from the lung. Therefore, it is easily possible to puncture a lung by inserting an acupuncture needle. This is from my 2010 review of the subject:

About 90 deaths after acupuncture have been anecdotally documented in the medical literature. Thus, acupuncture has been associated with more deaths than most other ‘alternative’ therapies except herbal medicine … The fatalities are usually due to an acupuncture needle penetrating a vital organ. This, in turn, can cause pneumothorax, cardiac tamponade, or major haemorrhage. Most instances of this nature are reported in the Asian literature which, for most of us, is not easily accessible.

A 2013 review of ours located 1104 cases that had been reported in the Korean literature alone. However, the truth of the matter is that nobody can be sure of the exact incidence figures. Why? Because there is no monitoring system that would reliably record such incidences.

I would argue that every single case of acupuncture-induced pneumothorax tells us that the acupuncturist was not adequately trained. With proper knowledge of anatomy, such complications should not happen. Therefore, such instances are a rude reminder that so-called alternative medicine (SCAM) is far too often in the hands of “specialists” who are a danger to the public.

An article in THE TIMES seems worth mentioning. Here are some excerpts:

… Maternity care at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust (NUH) is the subject of an inquiry, prompted by dozens of baby deaths. More than 450 families have now come forward to take part in the review, led by the expert midwife Donna Ockenden. The trust now faces further scrutiny over its use of aromatherapy, after experts branded guidelines at the trust “shocking” and not backed by evidence. Several bereaved families have said they recall aromatherapy being heavily promoted at the trust’s maternity units.

It is being prosecuted over the death of baby Wynter Andrews just 23 minutes after she was born in September 2019. Her mother Sarah Andrews wrote on Twitter that she remembered aromatherapy being seen as “the answer to everything”. Internal guidelines, first highlighted by the maternity commentator Catherine Roy, suggest using essential oils if the placenta does not follow the baby out of the womb quickly enough…  the NUH guidelines say aromatherapy can help expel the placenta, and suggest midwives ask women to inhale oils such as clary sage, jasmine, lavender or basil, while applying others as an abdominal compress. They also describe the oils as “extremely effective for the prevention of and, in some cases, the treatment of infection”. The guidelines also suggest essential oils to help women suffering from cystitis, or as a compress on a caesarean section wound. Nice guidelines for those situations do not recommend aromatherapy…

The NUH adds frankincense “may calm hysteria” and is “recommended in situations of maternal panic”. Roy said: “It is shocking that dangerous advice seemed to have been approved by a team of healthcare professionals at NUH. There is a high tolerance for pseudoscience in NHS maternity care … and it needs to stop. Women deserve high quality care, not dangerous quackery.” …

________________________________

The journalist who wrote the article also asked me for a comment, and I emailed her this quote: “Aromatherapy is little more than a bit of pampering; no doubt it is enjoyable but it is not an effective therapy for anything. To use it in medical emergencies seems irresponsible to say the least.” The Times evidently decided not to include my thoughts.

Having now read the article, I checked again and failed to find good evidence for aromatherapy for any of the mentioned conditions. However, I did find an article and an announcement both of which are quite worrying, in my view:

Aromatherapy is often misunderstood and consequently somewhat marginalized. Because of a basic misinterpretation, the integration of aromatherapy into UK hospitals is not moving forward as quickly as it might. Aromatherapy in UK is primarily aimed at enhancing patient care or improving patient satisfaction, and it is frequently mixed with massage. Little focus is given to the real clinical potential, except for a few pockets such as the Micap/South Manchester University initiative which led to a Phase 1 clinical trial into the effects of aromatherapy on infection carried out in the Burns Unit of Wythenshawe Hospital. This article discusses the expansion of aromatherapy within the US and follows 10 years of developing protocols and policies that led to pilot studies on radiation burns, chemo-induced nausea, slow-healing wounds, Alzheimers and end-of-life agitation. The article poses two questions: should nursing take aromatherapy more seriously and do nurses really need 60 hours of massage to use aromatherapy as part of nursing practice?

My own views on aromatherapy are expressed in our now not entirely up-to-date review:

Aromatherapy is the therapeutic use of essential oil from herbs, flowers, and other plants. The aim of this overview was to provide an overview of systematic reviews evaluating the effectiveness of aromatherapy. We searched 12 electronic databases and our departmental files without restrictions of time or language. The methodological quality of all systematic reviews was evaluated independently by two authors. Of 201 potentially relevant publications, 10 met our inclusion criteria. Most of the systematic reviews were of poor methodological quality. The clinical subject areas were hypertension, depression, anxiety, pain relief, and dementia. For none of the conditions was the evidence convincing. Several SRs of aromatherapy have recently been published. Due to a number of caveats, the evidence is not sufficiently convincing that aromatherapy is an effective therapy for any condition.

In this context, it might also be worth mentioning that we warned about the frequent usage of quackery in midwifery years ago. Here is our systematic review of 2012 published in a leading midwifery journal:

Background: in recent years, several surveys have suggested that many midwives use some form of complementary/alternative therapy (CAT), often without the knowledge of obstetricians.

Objective: to systematically review all surveys of CAT use by midwives.

Search strategy: six electronic databases were searched using text terms and MeSH for CAT and midwifery.

Selection criteria: surveys were included if they reported quantitative data on the prevalence of CAT use by midwives.

Data collection and analysis: full-text articles of all relevant surveys were obtained. Data were extracted according to pre-defined criteria.

Main results: 19 surveys met the inclusion criteria. Most were recent and from the USA. Prevalence data varied but were usually high, often close to 100%. Much use of CATs does not seem to be supported by strong evidence for efficacy.

Conclusion: most midwives seem to use CATs. As not all CATs are without risks, the issue should be debated openly.

I am tired of saying ‘I TOLD YOU SO!’ but nevertheless find it a pity that our warning remained (yet again) unheeded!

Reports of serious complications of chiropractic manipulation keep on coming. Take this one, for instance:

My daughter went for a routine chiropractor appointment. Now she’s paralysed – 1:20 000 chiropractic neck manipulations result in stroke from vertebral artery dissection.

Or take a recent article by US neurosurgeons:

Cranio-cervical artery dissection (CeAD) is a common cause of cerebrovascular events in young subjects with no clear treatment strategy established. This study evaluated the incidence of major adverse cardiovascular events (MACE) in CeAD patients treated with and without stent placement. COMParative effectiveness of treatment options in cervical Artery diSSection (COMPASS) is a single high-volume center observational, retrospective longitudinal registry that enrolled consecutive CeAD patients over a 2-year period. Patients were ≥ 18 years of age with confirmed extra- or intracranial CeAD on imaging. Enrolled participants were followed for 1 year evaluating MACE as the primary endpoint.

One-hundred ten patients were enrolled (age 53 ± 15.9, 56% Caucasian, and 50% male, BMI 28.9 ± 9.2). Grade I, II, III, and IV blunt vascular injury was noted in 16%, 33%, 19%, and 32%, respectively. Predisposing factors were noted in the majority (78%), including

  • sneezing,
  • carrying a heavy load,
  • chiropractic manipulation.

Stent was placed in 10 (10%) subjects (extracranial carotid n = 9; intracranial carotid n = 1; extracranial vertebral n = 1) at the physician’s discretion along with medical management. Reasons for stent placement were early development of high-grade stenosis or expanding pseudoaneurysm. Stented patients experienced no procedural or in-hospital complications and no MACE between discharge and 1 year follow up. CeAD patients treated with medical management only had 14% MACE at 1 year.

The authors concluded that in this single high-volume center cohort of CeAD patients, stenting was found to be beneficial, particularly with development of high-grade stenosis or expanding pseudoaneurysm. These results warrant confirmation by a randomized clinical trial.

Yes, I know: this study was not meant to investigate the link between chiropractic manipulations and CeAD. The finding that chiropractic manipulation is a predisposing factor for CeAD is entirely incidental. But it is an important finding nevertheless.

Chiropractors will laugh about the notion that manipulation is a risk factor akin to sneezing and thus try to trivialize the danger of their treatments. I would then point out that sneezing is unavoidable and fulfills a purpose. Chiropractic manipulations do neither.

It has been reported by several outlets that a young woman is fighting for her life after a chiropractic adjustment went horribly wrong. Caitlin Jensen had only recently graduated from University. When she went for what was meant to be a simple chiropractic adjustment on June 16, she suffered four dissected arteries in her neck, this damage led to cardiac arrest, stroke and her being without a pulse for over 10 minutes, requiring resuscitation.

She was rushed to the Memorial Hospital in Savannah, Georgia, where she was operated on. She was then taken to the neuro ICU in a critical condition with a traumatic brain injury. Every day since she’s been fighting. Currently, she is conscious and able to respond to verbal commands by blinking her eyes, as well as wiggling the toes of her left foot. However, most of her body remains paralyzed.

Her mother Darlene has been posting updates about her daughter’s condition on Facebook. On Saturday Darlene shared the latest news on the condition of her daughter. “She gave her best effort to smile today, and it was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen,” Darlene said. “She is progressing with her movements on the left side – wiggling and flexing. She can’t lift her arm yet, or turn her head. Her right side is unchanged – still no movement. Her face doesn’t move very much yet, but she can open her eyes widely to show surprise, and the left corner of her mouth tries to smile. Adorable. Still working on the pneumonia. The antiplatelet therapy seems to be going OK. We don’t see any signs of internal bleeding and are praying that it stays that way.”

And the day before, Darlene posted: “Two weeks ago tonight we didn’t know if Caitlin would make it through the night,” Darlene said. “Dire and catastrophic are two of the words that we heard from our ICU team. We knew they didn’t casually throw around words like that. But – she is alive, and every day is a little better. The accomplishments are both small and monumental at the same time. Today, she gave us a thumbs up. We have been working on this, and she got it! She also nodded again today. It helps to see these things because it reassures us that she is working hard to stay with us and recover. Caitlin is strong, disciplined, and well practised in exercising her brain, and I truly believe that her science background and all of her time studying is going to help her in this long journey. “

Studies have found that traumatic cervical artery dissection is one of the leading causes of stroke in patients under the age of 45, and recent chiropractic neck manipulation is among factors that can be associated with risk of vertebral artery dissection.

Following the tragedy, Caitlin’s mother, Darlene, launched a GoFundMe and has raised more than US$20,000 (AU $29,334 or £16,512) for her ongoing medical expenses.

It is clear that these news reports lack important medical details. What is equally clear is the fact that most such cases are never reported in the medical literature and are thus available only in this fragmented form. The reason for this lamentable situation is obvious: there is no post-marketing surveillance system for chiropractic (such a safeguard would be bad for business, of course).

Consequently, chiropractors across the globe continue to be able to say that such reports are unreliable. The medical literature, they are keen to point out, holds only very few case studies of serious risks of chiropractic spinal manipulation. Hence they falsely claim on every possible occasion that their adjustments are safe. The end effect is that many consumers continue to wrongly assume that chiropractic manipulations might be worth a try.

Guest post by Ken McLeod

Believe it or not, there are practitioners of a health system with little or no evidence of efficacy and safety who are registered with the Australian Health Practitioner Registration Agency. That is, so-called Traditional Chinese Medicine, whose practitioners are registered alongside evidence-based practitioners such as doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and dentists.

Governments who framed the relevant legislation evidently hoped that registration would enable the public to have confidence that they would be treated with evidence-based medicine. Such confidence is misplaced, as has been shown in The Skeptic and elsewhere many times.

Here’s another example of the failure of the health practitioner registration system.

Jamie Lloyd Allan is registered with AHPRA with the Chinese Medical Registration Number CMR0002096457, with no endorsements. He practices at his clinic in eastern Sydney. He advertises at his website meridianremedies.com.au.

And some of his claims are deeply worrying. Allan claims that he uses “Chinese Herbal medicine & Acupuncture in conjunction with testing and removal of accumulated toxins and heavy metals, developing comprehensive individualised herbal antimicrobial and detoxification protocols.”

He claims that “toxins and heavy metals … enter our bodies, disrupt normal healthy cell behaviour, impair our immune system, often contribute and sometimes cause many different types of illnesses and health conditions.”

His claims are designed to generate unfounded worries in people, offering a smorgasbord of claims how he can help people learn [the words and spelling are his]:

• how mercury from common amalgam fillings can be passed from mother to child to grandchild and why preconception detoxification is important;

• how to assess a dentist to know your [sic] getting the best and safest care during amalgam removal;

• about mercury/autism connection, heavy metal accumulation and neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Dementia;

• more about mercury, aluminium, cadmium and lead toxicity;

• how heavy metal accumulation acts as an antenna for electromagnetic radiation from devices such as wifi, cell phone, cordless phones, thus focusing the frequencies on the areas where the metals are stored, causing changes in the proteins and even DNA;

• the science behind electromagnetic radiation and how it affects human cells;

• Glyphosate toxicity, and how many of us have it and how it affects our health, and lots more.

Allan goes into the alleged toxicity of mercury amalgam fillings further at his blog. I should not have to say it, but his claims are baseless and have been debunked many times. The US Food and Drug Administration has said that existing evidence shows that dental amalgam is not harmful to the general population (tinyurl.com/589mbrr6). And as Scientific American said “Mercury and Autism: Enough Already! The science shows that they have nothing to do with each other and never have.” (tinyurl.com/mwwdxxak)

Allan also writes extensively on “EMF Sensitivity Wi-Fi and Cell Phone radiation – Heavy Metals and EMF Sensitivity and Autism” – he claims “Autism rates double every 5 years and the only thing that parallels that in our environment is the increase of man made Electro magnetic Radiation and fields largely in the high frequencies from cell phone Wi-Fi, smart meters and other Electro magnetic devices.’ This is unconscionable; scaring potential clients with this, while conveniently forgetting that correlation does not mean causation.

Allan also offers the following techniques as a “Detox for autism”:

• Sauna or heat therapy (far infrared is best) Cold shower straight after to close pores and wash of toxins

• Clay plasters, Clay on scars, then shower

• Ionic Foot Cleanses, Detox baths, Takara foot Pads, or raw white potato strapped on soles of feet

• Fibre + Enemas or colonics, slippery elm, keep bowls [sic] moving

• Liver gall bladder flush with lemon oil

• Exercise, dry skin brush

• Chi Machine for lymph drainage and movement to parasympathetic dominance

• Olive or other healthy oils for swish and spit

• Genetic, vitamin, mineral testing to guide your diet and supplements

• Western and Chinese Herbs to detox bowls [sic], liver, kidney, lymph

• Homeopathic drops & plenty of water orally

• Laser Energetic detox

• Ozonized bath, Epson salt bath

• Enema for detox reactions in kids

• Stronger detox agents DMPS, DMSA, EDTA can be used in case of high-level toxicity. For children, the use of the above mention techniques over DMPS, DMSA and EDTA is preferred first.

“Raw white potato strapped on soles of feet”!! Come on! This is lunacy. And enemas for children? And what qualifications does Allan hold to diagnose and administer these dangerous pharmaceuticals?

Luckily, Allan offers the perfect scanner to diagnose what’s wrong with you, the Oligoscan.

As described, “This a [sic] spectrographic-based test. Every element on the periodic table has its own unique absorption spectra, meaning that different elements absorb certain wavelengths of light, and reflect others. The spectra of lead will be different from that of mercury, or calcium, or any other element. The Oligoscan shines a laser on different points on the hand, and based off of [sic] which wavelengths of light are absorbed or reflected back, the levels of different metals and minerals in the cells of your hand can be determined. This is similar to how astronomers can analyze the wavelengths of light emitted by distant stars to determine their chemical make-up.

“The Oligoscan has the advantage of testing the levels of metals that are actually in your cells, not what you are able to excrete. It tests the heavy metal load of the tissues. This is important because heavy metals have a affinity [sic] for tissues and are often store [sic] there and not in the blood. It can also measure aluminium, which most other tests will miss. Oligoscan results tend to correlate with other accurate tests.”

A search of the TGA’s register of therapeutic goods did not find the Oligoscan listed.

Clearly, Allan is engaged in a process of scaring potential clients with misinformation, then offering diagnostic and treatment processes that are deceptive, ineffective and dangerous, and not listed with the TGA; for all of which he is not qualified.

COMPLAINT PROCESS

A complaint was sent to the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission describing the above issues. (In NSW and Queensland, complaints concerning health care practitioners, registered and unregistered, are lodged with the relevant State authorities, the HCCC and OHO respectively.) We added that “This should not be treated as merely a case of misleading advertising; Allan is clearly endangering the public, so I recommend a thorough audit of his practice, and when my allegations are found to be proven, suitable disciplinary action taken and entered on the AHPRA register.”

The HCCC responded saying “Following consultation with the Chinese Medicine Council of New South Wales, it was decided to refer this matter to the Australian Health Practitioner

Regulation Agency (AHPRA) as AHPRA is the designated agency to manage concerns about advertising. We did not identify any other issues that would require further action by the Commission.” (We approached the Chinese Medicine Council of NSW – their response is quoted in the sidebar.)

The HCCC continued: “The Commission obtained a written response from Mr Allan. In his response to the Commission, Mr Allan stated that he had no record of providing any care and treatment to you.

“Mr Allan acknowledged that his website may have created a misunderstanding about what actual treatments are offered at his clinic, and what was on his website for educational purposes only.

“Mr Allan noted that he has never owned an Oligoscan or used it at his clinic, he has therefore removed that information from his website.

“Mr Allan confirmed that he does not offer the techniques under the heading ‘detox for autism’ at his clinic, the information was for educational purposes only, and he has now removed this information from his website.

“Further, Mr Allan has confirmed that he has removed the information on his website about Glyphosate Toxicity, Toxicity of Mercury Amalgam fillings, Nutrition for Autism, and all avenues of receiving mercury toxicity.

“Mr Allan also stated that he has since edited the information on EMF Sensitivity Wi-Fi and Cell Phone radiation – Heavy Metals and EMF Sensitivity Autism, as well as editing the information contained on the home and about pages of his website.

“Mr Allan stated that he has left the resources section with all the raw studies, and some information contained in other sections, as he feels that they are of use for anybody wanting to learn more about this specialised area.”

So, in spite of the detailed evidence and a call for a thorough audit of his practice, this was treated as merely a case of misleading advertising. This is standard operating procedure; the regulatory authorities cannot get over the divide between advertising and clinical practice. This has been shown in the hundreds of complaints sent to regulators; misleading advertising of dangerous practices and misinformation is simply treated as an advertising issue. The regulators cannot accept that if a practitioner advertises a therapy then they are more than likely using those therapies and, when those therapies have been found to be ineffective, they are engaging in practice in their clinics that deserves more than the dismissive response we received.

The public deserve much better than that.

Note: All of the quotes above were from Allan’s website until he removed them. The relevant pages have, nonetheless, can be accessed via the WayBack Machine, and can be supplied if required.

The Chinese Medicine Council’s position

The Chinese Medical Council were referred to the issues in the main article and were asked the following questions:

• Is the advice and those therapies [offered by Allan] of any concern to the Council?

• Should the complaint to the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission have led to an audit of his practice and when the allegations are proven, should there have been disciplinary action?

A spokesperson for the Chinese Medicine Council of NSW replied: “The Chinese Medicine Council of NSW (the Council) works in collaboration with the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC) to receive and manage complaints about registered practitioners in

NSW. Our paramount legal obligation is to protect the public. We deal with practitioners whose conduct, performance or health may represent a risk to the public or is not in the public interest.

“We do this by assessing complaints, promoting compliance with professional standards and delivering programs to ensure practitioners provide safe care to the public and their patients. We do not have the legal power to discipline a NSW practitioner or to deregister them.

“By law, the Council cannot provide information about an individual practitioner. Only information that is publicly available can be disclosed, such as information recorded on the national register of practitioners which is maintained by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA), or publication of the outcomes of NCAT [New South Wales Civil and Administrative Tribunal] proceedings.

“Changes to a registered health practitioner’s registration status, such as the imposition of conditions or suspension, are published on the AHPRA online public register.

“The Council will not be making any further public comments at this time.

So, the Chinese Medicine Council have taken no action to protect the public and made no real comment. At least they have promised “Only information that is publicly available can be disclosed”, a statement of breathless inanity.

*‘first published in the Australian Skeptic magazine of June 2022.

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