This study aimed to evaluate whether individualized homeopathic medicines have a greater adjunctive effect than adjunctive placebos in the treatment of moderate and severe cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). It was designed as a randomized, single-blind, placebo-controlled trial set in the clinical context of standard care. Patients admitted in a tertiary care hospital, suffering from moderate or severe COVID-19 and above 18 years of age were included. In total, 150 patients were randomly divided into two groups to receive either:
- individualized homeopathic medicines
- or placebos.
Both options were administered in addition to the standard treatment of COVID-19.
The primary outcome was time taken to achieve RT-PCR-confirmed virus clearance for COVID-19. Secondary outcomes were changes in the Clinical Ordinal Outcomes Scale (COOS) of the World Health Organization, the patient-reported MYMOP2 scale, and several biochemical parameters. Parametric data were analyzed using unpaired t-test. Non-parametric data were analyzed using the Wilcoxon signed rank test. Categorical data were analyzed using Chi-square test.
In total, 72 participants of the add-on homeopathy (AoH) group showed conversion of RT-PCR status to negative, in an average time of 7.53 ± 4.76 days (mean ± SD), as compared with 11.65 ± 9.54 days in the add-on placebo (AoP) group (p = 0.001). The mean COOS score decreased from 4.26 ± 0.44 to 3.64 ± 1.50 and from 4.3 ± 0.46 to 4.07 ± 1.8 in the AoH and AoP groups respectively (p = 0.130). The mortality rate for the AoH group was 9.7% compared with 17.3% in the AoP group. The MYMOP2 scores between the two groups differed significantly (p = 0.001), in favor of AoH. Inter-group differences in the pre- and post- mean values of C-reactive protein, fibrinogen, total leukocyte count, platelet count and alkaline phosphatase were each found to be statistically significant (p <0.05), favoring AoH; six other biochemical parameters showed no statistically significant differences.
The authors concluded that the study suggests homeopathy may be an effective adjunct to standard care for treating moderate and severe COVID-19 patients. More rigorous, including double-blinded, studies should be performed to confirm or refute these initial findings.
I do agree with the authors that more rigorous studies are needed before we can accept these findings. As it stands, this study seems to have multiple flaws:
- I fail to understand why they did not design their trial as a double-blind study. The reason given by the authors makes little sense to me.
- I also have my doubts that the study was even single-blind. If I understand it correctly, the placebo group was did not benefit from the detailed homeopathic history taking that is necessary to find the optimal homeopathic remedy. If that is so, unblinding of patients is inevitable.
- The authors themselves point out that the relevance of many outcome measures is questionable
Generally speaking, I find the results suspicious, implausible, and frankly too good to be true. I might also point out that the authors’ afilitation do not inspire much trust in their objectivity:
- 1Central Council for Research in Homoeopathy, New Delhi, India.
- 2Central Council for Research in Homoeopathy, Ministry of AYUSH, Govt. of India, New Delhi, India.
- 3Rejoice Health Foundation, New Delhi, India.
- 4Department of Onco-Anaesthesia and Palliative Medicine, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Institute Rotary Cancer Hospital and National Cancer Institute, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, New Delhi, India.
- 5Department of Onco-Anaesthesia and Palliative Medicine, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, New Delhi, India.
Neither do these statements:
The study was funded by the Central Council for Research in Homoeopathy, Ministry of AYUSH, Government of India. The funder approved the study through its review committees, delegated/recruited staff for conducting the study, and facilitated all collaborative procedures.
Conflict of Interest
Lastly, I do wonder why the authors published their study in the 3rd class journal ‘Homeopathy’. Surely, such findings – if true – deserve to be published in a journal of a decent reputation!
I don’t usually find reading medical papers scary. An article in the prestigious journal ‘Nature’ is the exception. Here is its abstract:
Long COVID is the patient-coined term for the disease entity whereby persistent symptoms ensue in a significant proportion of those who have had COVID-19, whether asymptomatic, mild or severe. Estimated numbers vary but the assumption is that, of all those who had COVID-19 globally, at least 10% have long COVID. The disease burden spans from mild symptoms to profound disability, the scale making this a huge, new health-care challenge. Long COVID will likely be stratified into several more or less discrete entities with potentially distinct pathogenic pathways. The evolving symptom list is extensive, multi-organ, multisystem and relapsing–remitting, including fatigue, breathlessness, neurocognitive effects and dysautonomia. A range of radiological abnormalities in the olfactory bulb, brain, heart, lung and other sites have been observed in individuals with long COVID. Some body sites indicate the presence of microclots; these and other blood markers of hypercoagulation implicate a likely role of endothelial activation and clotting abnormalities. Diverse auto-antibody (AAB) specificities have been found, as yet without a clear consensus or correlation with symptom clusters. There is support for a role of persistent SARS-CoV-2 reservoirs and/or an effect of Epstein–Barr virus reactivation, and evidence from immune subset changes for broad immune perturbation. Thus, the current picture is one of convergence towards a map of an immunopathogenic aetiology of long COVID, though as yet with insufficient data for a mechanistic synthesis or to fully inform therapeutic pathways.
The paper ends with this gloomy statement: “The oncoming burden of long COVID faced by patients, health-care providers, governments and economies is so large as to be unfathomable, which is possibly why minimal high-level planning is currently allocated to it. If 10% of acute infections lead to persistent symptoms, it could be predicted that ~400 million individuals globally are in need of support for long COVID. The biggest unknowns remain the joined-up scheme of its pathogenesis and thus the best candidate therapeutics to be trialled in randomized controlled trials, along with a better understanding of the kinetics of recovery and the factors influencing this. Some countries have invested in first-round funding for the pilot investigations. From the above, far more will be needed.”
In the context of this blog, we must, of course, ask: HAS SO-CALLED ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE (SCAM) SOMETHING TO OFFER?
I’m afraid that the short answer to this question is No!
However, one does not need to be a clairvoyant to predict that lots of therapeutic claims followed by plenty of methodologically weak (to put it politely) research will emerge from SCAM. Already some time ago, this homeopath indicated, that SCAM providers should see COVID as an opportunity: For homeopathy, shunned during its 200 years of existence by conventional medicine, this outbreak is a key opportunity to show potentially the contribution it can make in treating COVID-19 patients.
We should not hold our breath to see the emergence of convincing evidence, but we must be prepared to warn the public from getting exploited by charlatans.
This survey evaluated the attitude of healthcare professionals toward the use of so-called alternative medicine (SCAM) to improve current care. A questionnaire on the current practice and opinions about SCAM use was sent to healthcare professionals in Amsterdam UMC, who work for the department of hematology or oncology. Oncologists, hematologists, residents, (specialized) nurses, dieticians, (hospital)pharmacists, and pharmacy technicians were asked to participate.
Among eligible healthcare professionals, 77 responded to the questionnaire (34%). Overall, 87% of healthcare
professionals indicated it is important to be aware of their patient’s SCAM use, and all find the potential of drug–herb interactions important. However, more than half of the healthcare professionals inquire about the patient’s SCAM use infrequently. In addition, only 15% of the healthcare professionals stated they had sufficient knowledge of SCAM to advise patients on their use of SCAM.
The authors concluded that healthcare professionals are aware of the potential risks of SCAM use in combination with anti-cancer treatment. However, SCAM use is not yet discussed with every patient. This may be due to healthcare professionals’ lack of knowledge about SCAM.
This survey would in itself be fairly irrelevant; it employed only a tiny convenience sample and its findings cannot be generalized. Yet, it produced results that have been shown dozens of times before, and it might therefore be a good idea to remind ourselves of their relevance and implications.
- Patients use SCAM whether we want it or not.
- Contrary to what is often said, SCAM is not harmless.
- Therefore conventional healthcare professionals need to know about their patients’ SCAM use.
- To find out, healthcare professionals need to ask specific questions about SCAM.
- Next, they must advise their patients responsibly (this is an ethical obligation, not a choice).
- In order to do that they need to learn the essentials about SCAM.
- Failing to do this means failing their patients.
Massages are experienced as agreeable by most patients. But that does not necessarily mean that it improves our quality of life. This study tests whether it does.
This study compared three massage dosing strategies among inpatients receiving palliative care consultation. It was designed as a three-armed randomized trial examining three different doses of therapist-applied massage to test change in overall quality of life (QoL) and symptoms among hospitalized adult patients receiving palliative care consultation for any indication:
- Arm I: 10-min massage daily × 3 days;
- Arm II: 20-min massage daily × 3 days;
- Arm III: single 20-min massage.
The primary outcome measure was the single-item McGill QoL question. Secondary outcomes measured pain/symptoms, rating of peacefulness, and satisfaction with the intervention. Data were collected at baseline, pre-and post-treatment, and one-day post-last treatment (follow-up). Repeated measure analysis of variance and paired t-test were used to determine significant differences.
A total of 387 patients participated (55.7 (±15.49) years old, mostly women (61.2%) and African-American (65.6%)). All three arms demonstrated within-group improvement at follow-up for McGill QoL (all P < 0.05). No significant between-group differences were found. Finally, repeated measure analyses demonstrated time to predict immediate improvement in distress (P ≤ 0.003) and pain (P ≤ 0.02) for all study arms; however, only improvement in distress was sustained at follow-up measurement in arms with three consecutive daily massages of 10 or 20 minutes.
The authors concluded that massage therapy in complex patients with advanced illness was beneficial beyond dosage. Findings support session length (10 or 20 minutes) was predictive of short-term improvements while treatment frequency (once or three consecutive days) predicted sustained improvement at follow-up.
I like this study because it teaches us an important lesson:
IF ONE DESIGNS A SILLY STUDY, ONE IS LIKELY TO ARRIVE AT A SILLY CONCLUSION.
This study does not have a proper control group. Therefore, we cannot know whether the observed outcomes were due to the different interventions or to non-specific effects such as expectation, the passing of time, etc.
The devil’s advocate conclusion of the findings is thus dramatically different from that of the authors: the results of this trial are consistent with the notion that massage has no effect on QoL, no matter how it is dosed.
At first, I thought this was an ‘April fools’ joke. Then I looked at it a bit closer and realized that it seemed for real: Amazon is selling a placebo tablet. Here is how it is advertised:
- Honest Placebo Tablets by Zeebo Effect, inert ingredients, halal & kosher
- Focus on symptom relief, concentration, clarity, energy, calm, sleep
- Ze logo on each tablet, the original honest placebo brand trusted since 2014
- Randomized Controlled Trials with Zeebo Published in Journal for Pain, Nature, American Family Physician
- Each bottle is sealed with a transparent, tamper-proof neckband
Zeebo Tablets – Honest placebo tablets (white, round, 250mg each) are designed to help you create a safe placebo experience. Zeebo comes with the Ze logo on each tablet. Zeebo is made from an inert, natural fiber. Vegan, free of sugar or dyes. When it comes to Zeebo, You are the active ingredient. Users of Zeebo Tablets know they are taking a placebo containing only inert ingredients. Zeebo Tablets are taken intentionally obtain stress and pain relief, to release tension, irritability and nervousness, to help with calm and sleep serving as a sleep aid. Some of our customers take Zeebo Tablets to solicit placebo effects for increased mental focus, clarity, concentration, test performance and to sustain higher energy levels during physical exercise. Zeebo tablets are pure placebo, they are non-drowsy, non-homeopathic. There are no known interactions between Zeebo Placebo Tablets and other medications or supplements. Do not use Zeebo to delay or replace medical treatment. Visit zeeboeffect.com to learn about Zeebo. Look for the ebook The Placebo Cure to find out more about how to create your own Honest Placebo experience.
Take as needed. You may or may not respond to placebo. Do not use Zeebo to replace or delay medical treatment. Use Zeebo without deceit.*
* These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, cure, treat, or prevent any disease.
Statements regarding dietary supplements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or health condition.
Zeebo Tablets are an ethical placebo. People take it knowing it is a placebo. Take it without self-deceit. Zeebo is not made to look like any other ingestible. In fact, we think that the Zeebo branding can help enhance the experience. Have a look into ethical placebo or honest placebo studies. You will find a lot of research there, published in the journals Nature, Pain, for example. No need to trick yourself.
After reading all this, I am again not entirely sure whether this is a hoax. If it is, I failed to get the fun of it. If it isn’t, there might be reasons for concern. When a placebo was marketed, a few years ago, THE GUARDIAN published opinions about the idea:
Jennifer Buettner, whose company Efficacy is marketing the placebo, says it can stimulate “the body’s ability to repair itself and the miracle power of the brain”. She said the company planned to distribute the pills, which cost £3 for 50, in the UK. “When drugs are not needed and the patient still thinks that medicine would help, we believe that the placebo effect can work,” she said.
But Dr Clare Gerada, vice-chair of the Royal College of GPs, described the pill as “medicalising love”, adding: “This placebo disempowers parents. It is telling them that unless you give your children this pill there’s nothing else.” Douglas Kamerow, associate editor of the British Medical Journal, said giving placebos to children was a “deeply bad idea”. Writing in the latest edition of the journal, he said: “The problems are numerous. Firstly, whom are we treating here, children or their parents?” He added that if parents used placebos to comfort their children they were teaching them that tablets are the answer for all life’s aches and pains.
As we have seen previously, the evidence on ‘open placebos’ is less impressive than many think. It makes me wonder whether the sale of placebo tablets is a good idea.
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
Guest post by Norbert Aust and Viktor Weisshäupl
Readers of this blog may remember the recent study of Frass et al. about the adjunct homeopathic treatment of patients suffering from non-small cell lung cancer (here). It was published in 2020 by the ‘Oncologist’, a respectable journal, and came to stunning results about to the effectiveness of homeopathy.
In our analysis, however, we found strong indications for duplicity: important study parameters like exclusion criteria or observation time were modified post hoc, and data showed characteristics that occur when unwanted data sets get removed.
We, that is the German Informationsnetzwerk Homöopathie and the Austrian ‘Initiative für wissenschaftliche Medizin’, had informed the Medical University Vienna about our findings – and the research director then asked the Austrian Agency for Scientific Integrity (OeAWI) to review the paper. The analysis took some time and included not only the paper and publicly available information but also the original data. In the end, OeAWI corroborated our findings: The results are not based on sound research but on modified or falsified data.
Here is their conclusion in full:
The committee concludes that there are numerous breaches of scientific integrity in the Study, as reported in the Publication. Several of the results can only be explained by data manipulation or falsification. The Publication is not a fair representation of the Study. The committee cannot for all the findings attribute the wrongdoings and incorrect representation to a single individual. However following our experience it is highly unlikely that the principal investigator and lead author, but also the co-authors were unaware of the discrepancies between the protocols and the Publication, for which they bear responsibility. (original English wording)
Profil, the leading news magazine of Austria reported in its issue of October 24, 2022, pp 58-61 (in German). There the lead author, Prof. M. Frass, a member of Edzard’s alternative medicine hall of fame, was asked for his comments. Here is his concluding statement:
All the allegations are known to us and completely incomprehensible, we can refute all of them. Our work was performed observing all scientific standards. The allegation of breaching scientific integrity is completely unwarranted. To us, it is evident that not all documents were included in the analysis of our study. Therefore we requested insight into the records to learn about the basis for the final statement.
(Die Vorwürfe sind uns alle bekannt und absolut unverständlich, alle können wir entkräften. Unsere Arbeit wurde unter Einhaltung aller wissenschaftlichen Standards durchgeführt. Der Vorhalt von Verstößen gegen die wissenschaftliche Intergrität enbehrt jeder Grundlage. Für uns zeigt sich offenkundig, dass bei der Begutachtung unserer Studie nicht alle Unterlagen miteinbezogen wurden. Aus diesem Grunde haben wir um Akteneinsicht gebeten, um die Grundlagen für das Final Statment kennenzulernen.)
The OeAWI together with the Medical University Vienna asked the ‘Oncologist’ for a retraction of this paper – which has not occurred as yet.
Bioenergy (or energy healing) therapies are among the popular alternative treatment options for many diseases, including cancer. Many studies deal with the advantages and disadvantages of bioenergy therapies as an addition to established treatments such as chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation in the treatment of cancer. However, a systematic overview of this evidence is thus far lacking. For this reason, German authors reviewed and critically examined the evidence to determine what benefits the treatments have for patients.
In June 2022, a systematic search was conducted searching five electronic databases (Embase, Cochrane, PsychInfo, CINAHL and Medline) to find studies concerning the use, effectiveness, and potential harm of bioenergy therapies including the following modalities:
- Therapeutic Touch,
- Healing Touch,
- Polarity Therapy.
From all 2477 search results, 21 publications with a total of 1375 patients were included in this systematic review. The patients treated with bioenergy therapies were mainly diagnosed with breast cancer. The main outcomes measured were:
- quality of life (QoL),
The studies were predominantly of moderate quality and, for the most part, found no effect. In terms of QoL, pain, and nausea, there were some positive short-term effects of the interventions, but no long-term differences were detectable. The risk of side effects from bioenergy therapies appears to be relatively small.
The authors concluded that considering the methodical limitations of the included studies, studies with high study quality could not find any difference between bioenergy therapies and active (placebo, massage, RRT, yoga, meditation, relaxation training, companionship, friendly visit) and passive control groups (usual care, resting, education). Only studies with a low study quality were able to show significant effects.
Energy healing is as popular as it is implausible. What these ‘healers’ call ‘energy’ is not how it is defined in physics. It is an undefined, imagined entity that exists only in the imagination of its proponents. So why should it have an effect on cancer or any other condition?
Energy healing is an umbrella term for a range of paranormal healing practices. Their common denominator is the belief in a mystical ‘energy’ that can be used for therapeutic purposes.
- Forms of energy healing have existed in many ancient cultures. The ‘New Age’ movement has brought about a revival of these ideas, and today energy healing systems are amongst the most popular alternative therapies in the US as well as in many other countries. Popular forms of energy healing include those listed above. Each of these are discussed and referenced in separate chapters of this book.
- Energy healing relies on the esoteric belief in some form of ‘energy’ which is distinct from the concept of energy understood in physics and refers to some life force such as chi in Traditional Chinese Medicine, or prana in Ayurvedic medicine.
- Some proponents employ terminology from quantum physics and other ‘cutting-edge’ science to give their treatments a scientific flair which, upon closer scrutiny, turns out to be but a veneer of pseudo-science.
- The ‘energy’ that energy healers refer to is not measurable and lacks biological plausibility.
- Considering its implausibility, energy healing has attracted a surprisingly high level of research activity. Its findings are discussed in the respective chapters of each of the specific forms of energy healing.
- Generally speaking, the methodologically best trials of energy healing fail to demonstrate that it generates effects beyond placebo.
- Even though energy healing is per se harmless, it can do untold damage, not least because it significantly undermines rational thought in our societies.
As you can see, I do not entirely agree with my German friends on the issue of harm. I think energy healing is potentially dangerous and should be discouraged.
Cannabis use is a frequently-discussed subject, not just in the realm of so-called alternative medicine (SCAM). In general, SCAM advocates view it as an herbal medicine and recommend it for all sorts of conditions. They also often downplay the risks associated with cannabis use. Yet, these risks might be substantial.
Cannabis potency, defined as the concentration of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), has increased internationally, which could increase the risk of adverse health outcomes for cannabis users. The first systematic review of the association of cannabis potency with mental health and addiction was recently published in ‘The Lancet Psychiatry’.
The authors searched Embase, PsycINFO, and MEDLINE (from database inception to Jan 14, 2021). Included studies were observational studies of human participants comparing the association of high-potency cannabis (products with a higher concentration of THC) and low-potency cannabis (products with a lower concentration of THC), as defined by the studies included, with depression, anxiety, psychosis, or cannabis use disorder (CUD).
Of 4171 articles screened, 20 met the eligibility criteria:
- eight studies focused on psychosis,
- eight on anxiety,
- seven on depression,
- and six on CUD.
Overall, higher potency cannabis, relative to lower potency cannabis, was associated with an increased risk of psychosis and CUD. Evidence varied for depression and anxiety. The association of cannabis potency with CUD and psychosis highlights its relevance in healthcare settings, and for public health guidelines and policies on cannabis sales.
The authors concluded that standardisation of exposure measures and longitudinal designs are needed to strengthen the evidence of this association.
The fact that cannabis use increases the risk of psychosis has long been general knowledge. The notion that the risk increases with increased potency of cannabis seems entirely logical and is further supported by this systematic review. Perhaps it is time to educate the public and make cannabis users more aware of these risks, and perhaps it is time that SCAM proponents negate the harm cannabis can do.
It has been reported by several sources that the NHS is advertising for a Reiki healer.
The NHS stated that “the responsibilities of a reiki healer include treating clients using energy principles … and activating the healing process.” The post is paid for by the Sam Buxton Sunflower Healing Trust (SBSHT) which states on its website:
The SBSHT healing therapists, who work within the NHS and other health areas, are proud to be part of a multi-disciplinary team of professionals to provide vital support cancer patients, their relatives and staff. Since 2006, the SBSHT has funded healers to work in NHS, and other health related areas to support cancer patients and their families. A key role of the SBSHT is to increase awareness within the UK of the importance of providing healing support to cancer patients and families. Another vital role is to generate the crucial funds needed to place more healers in NHS, and other health related areas, throughout the country. Complementary therapy (CT) is increasingly demanded and expected by patients undergoing cancer treatments. An increasing amount of research clearly demonstrates that CT is important to support patients through their conventional treatments. SBSHT is committed to providing funds to NHS hospitals and cancer centers to engage the services of a Reiki practitioner or Healer for cancer patients and their families
As a charity we are or have funded healer posts within the centres below.
- University College Hospital, London
- Addenbrookes Hospital, Cambridge
- Princess Alexandra Hospital, Epping
- Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Welwyn Garden City
- Derriford Hospital, Plymouth
- Wigan NHS Trust, Wigan
- St Josephs Hospice, London
- Eden Valley Hospice and Jigsaw Children’s Hospice, Carlisle
- St Mary’s Hospice, Ulverston and Barrow in Furness NHS Trust
- St Johns Hospice, Lancaster
- Kent and Canterbury Hospital, Canterbury
- Bristol Haematology and Oncology Centre, Bristol
- Rowcroft Hospice, Torquay
- The Lister Hospital, Stevenage
- Barnstaple NHS Trust
- Treliske Hospital, Cornwall
- Poole NHS Trust
- St Michaels Hospice, Herefordshire
The SBSHT was co-founded by Angie Buxton-King in memory of her son Sam, who died of Acute Myeloid Leukaemia in 1998 aged 10. She is a member of the ‘College of Psychic Studies’ which is “committed to serving the evolution of consciousness”. The College website states this:
We were founded in 1884 to support and encourage empirical research into the esoteric. Our programme has since broadened and diversified to meet rising demand and increasingly global interests.
However, our core values remain the same. We continue to shine a light on key themes including consciousness, intuition, self-development and meditation. Our courses, workshops, talks and special events provide a safe and inclusive space in which to explore the full spectrum of human potential under the careful guidance of our expert tutors.
The College offers all sorts of courses; I was particularly fascinated by this one: “Alchemise Your Energy Through Dowsing“.
Now, one could easily claim that there is nothing wrong with reiki healers invading the NHS; after all, they are funded by a charitable trust at no cost to the taxpayer.
Yet, I disagree!
Reiki healing is implausible and ineffective nonsense. As such it is by no means harmless. Employing such healers in the NHS sends out a strong signal that undermines the principles of rational thinking and evidence-based medicine. If the NHS truly does not value these principles, I suggest they also fill the chronic gaps in ambulance services by flying carpets.
Olivia Newton-John, actress, singer, and advocate of so-called alternative medicine (SCAM) has died following a lengthy battle with breast cancer. Her husband announced her death yesterday: “Dame Olivia Newton-John (73) passed away peacefully at her Ranch in Southern California this morning, surrounded by family and friends,” the post read. “We ask that everyone please respect the family’s privacy during this very difficult time. Olivia has been a symbol of triumphs and hope for over 30 years sharing her journey with breast cancer. Her healing inspiration and pioneering experience with plant medicine continues with the Olivia Newton-John Foundation Fund, dedicated to researching plant medicine and cancer.”
Olivia was born on 26 September 1948 in Cambridge, UK. She came from a remarkable family. Her maternal grandfather was the Nobel Prize-winning physicist Max Born. She was thus the niece of my late friend Gustav Born. Newton-John’s father was an MI5 officer on the Enigma project at Bletchley Park who took Rudolf Hess into custody during World War II. After the war, he became the headmaster of the Cambridgeshire High School for Boys. He then took up a post in Australia, and young Olivia grew up down under. After starting out as a singer, she had her breakthrough with the film ‘Grease’ which brought her world fame.
Olivia was first diagnosed with breast cancer over 30 years ago and became an outspoken advocate of SCAM. Her cancer came back twice, and in 2017, she was diagnosed to have bone metastases. Meanwhile, she had married John Easterling, the boss of a natural remedy company, in an Incan spiritual ceremony in Peru.
In 2017, she said, “I decided on my direction of therapies after consultation with my doctors and natural therapists and the medical team at my Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness and Research Centre in Melbourne”. The Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness & Research Centre is a treatment centre of Austin Health, an Australian public hospital. They say that “anyone with a referral from their doctor can be treated here, regardless of the stage of their treatment or insurance status. At the ONJ Centre your care is built around your individual needs. This includes your physical, psychological and emotional health. Every patient is surrounded by a multidisciplinary team of cancer specialists, allied health and wellbeing therapists. Your dedicated treatment team work together to guide you through your optimal treatment pathway. Learn more about the cancer treatments we deliver at the ONJ Centre, how we support you through your care, and find answers to commonly asked questions.”
Their therapies include acupuncture and several other alternatives used for palliation, but the site seems refreshingly free of false claims and quackery. On their website, they say that “palliative care assists patients who have a life limiting illness to be as symptom free as possible. We work with you to meet your emotional, spiritual and practical needs in a holistic way. Our support is also extended to your family and carers.”
Olivia Newton-John’s history with SCAM is revealing. It seems that, by initially using SCAM instead of conventional treatments for her breast cancer in 1992, she worsened her prognosis. When the cancer returned, she opted for the best conventional oncology on offer. Yet, her liking for SCAM had not disappeared. Since 2017, she seems to have used cannabis and other SCAMs as add-ons to conventional medicine. Sadly, she had learned her lesson too late: alternative cancer treatments are a dangerous myth.