DC's Improbable Science

Truth, falsehood and evidence: investigations of dubious and dishonest science

DC's Improbable Science header image 2

Buckinghamgate: the new “College of Medicine” arising from the ashes of the Prince’s Foundation for Integrated Health

July 25th, 2010 · 39 Comments

Jump to follow-up

Suggested twitter tag: #buckgate

Number 19 Buckingham Street, London WC2N 6EF.is to be the home of the proposed "College of Medicine" that has arisen from the ashes of the late unlamented Prince’s Foundation for Integrated Health (their last accounts can be seen at Quackometer).

Naturally one must ask if the "College of Medicine" will propagate the same sort of barmy ideas as the Prince’s Foundation used to do,  A visit to Companies House shows the auguries are not good

!9 buck St
19 Buckingham Street

For one thing, the name College of Medicine has existed only since May 2010.  The company was registered originally 19th November 2009 as The College of Integrated Health, but after a teleconference on 5th May 2010 it changed its name, presumably to make itself sound more like real medicine.  This happened immediately after the closure of the Prince’s Foundation on April 30th.

There is no doubt that the "College of Medicine" is the direct descendent of the Prince of Wales’ Foundation. In a powerpoint show dated 9th November 2009 (before the name change) this slide is to be found.

slide 4

The author of the slide show is specified as "Linda". That, it is a fair bet, must be Linda Leung, who was Operations Director of the Prince’s Foundation until it closed, and is now Company Secretary for the "College of Medicine".

The final form of the "College" is still being argued about, but guess who will open it?

slide 20

When ask about how Charles’ relationship with the College, The Office of TRH The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall declined to make any comment, but simply referred me to Michael Dixon, who, in turn referred me to Pat Goodall.

Recently a statement from Clarence House to the Guardian said that "the Prince of Wales was aware of the college, but “has not been involved with setting-up the college, is not launching it and has no official role with it". That’s the official line anyway.

It is, of course, almost impossible to find out exactly what the relationship is between Prince Charles himself and the new "College". He operates largely out of sight, and the Freedom of Information Act, disgracefully, excludes his interference in the democratic process from public scrutiny.

Who is paying? 

Flat 5 at 19 Buckingham Street was recently valued at half a million pounds.  There is some serious money behind this venture. The rumour is that it’s from a ‘private donor’.  Small prize for anyone who finds out who it is.

Aims of the College

The stated object of the College is "to advance health for the public benefit".  Sounds good, but what does it mean?  It doesn’t take long to find out. It is laid out in the document from Companies House.

To further its objects the Charity may:
7.1 engage with and develop communities of health professionals, health care providers and patients;
7.2 set standards and promote excellence in the fields of health and care;
7.3 lead, represent, train and support stakeholders so that they are better equipped to serve the public in improving the health ofthe public;
7.4 establish an evidence base for integrated health and for individual complementary modalities;
7.5 promote, foster and advance an integrated approach to health and care;
7.6 raise public, professional and political awareness and cultivate a sentiment in favour of an integrated approach to health and care by publishing and distributing books, pamphlets, reports, leaflets, journals, films, tapes and instructional matter on any media;

and so on, for 36 paragraphs. Already in paragraph 4 to 6 we see their interest is to promote “integrated health” and “complementary modalities. These of course are just what most of the rest of the world calls quackery. The objects don’t differ greatly from the Prince’s Foundation from which this outfit sprang.

What will be taught at the College?

Some information about the preliminary plans can be gleaned from a letter that describes the new College (download the letter). The letter says

“The College is developing two groups of courses. The first is aimed at registered professionals such as doctors, nurses and physiotherapists. It will familiarise them with different aspects of CAM and develop skills they can use in their day to day practice – not least techniques they can pass on to patients to help them manage their own conditions.”

In other words, the only course for doctors will be to teach them about quackery. Final judgement on that must await information about who will teach it.

“The second group of courses is aimed at non-registered practitioners and will focus on developing their understanding of conventional medicine, including ‘red flag’ symptoms, familiarisation with conventional therapeutics and increased awareness of critical appraisal.”

The other course, it seems, will be for quacks, to try to teach them enough real medicine to prevent them from killing too many people. The bit about teaching them about “critical appraisal” is hard to believe. If that were really done the clients would mostly be out of business.

If you were in any doubt at all about the aims of the College, it is necessary only to look at the four directors of the Company

Directors of the College of Medicine.

The directors are listed as

  • Dr Michael Dixon, general practitioner. Michael Dixon was Medical Director of the Prince’s Foundation until it closed down.
  • Professor George Lewith, is Professor of Health Research in the Complementary Medicine Research Unit, University of Southampton. He was a Foundation Fellow of the Prince’s Foundation until it closed down.
  • Professor David Peters. is Professor of Integrated Healthcare and Clinical Director at the University of Westminster’s School of Integrated Health.
    He was a Foundation Fellow of the Prince’s Foundation until it closed down.

  • Mrs Christine Glover is a pharmacist who sells homeopathic pills. She was a Foundation Fellow of the Prince’s Foundation until it closed down.

The company secretary is named as Linda Leung, who was Operations Director of the Prince’s Foundation until it closed.

A request to Michael Dixon for information was deflected to Mrs Pat Goodall She is yet another connection with PFIH. Mrs Goodall acted as a spokesperson for the Prince’s Foundation until it closed down. Now she is scheduled to become Director of Policy and Communications for the "College of Medicine". Mrs Goodall declined to say where the money came from. But she did say that the College was not the "equivalent of a further education college,. . . or higher education college", That being the case, it seems very odd to use the name "College of Medicine". It is a downright misleading name.

These people are all well know advocates of alternative medicine, It is very obvious that the "College of Medicine", despite its misleadingly innocuous name, is simply a reincarnation of the Prince’s Foundation for Integrated Health.

The term "integrated" is, of course, simply a euphemism for alternative medicine. That means those forms of medicine for which there is little or no evidence that they work. When evidence that something works is found, it is called simply medicine.

It may be useful to give a bit more information about the Directors.

Dr Michael Dixon OBE

Michael Dixon is devoted to just about every form of alternative medicine. As well as being medical director of the Prince’s Foundation he also runs the NHS Alliance. Despite its name, the NHS Alliance is nothing to do with the NHS and acts, among other things, as an advocate of alternative medicine on the NHS, about which it has published a lot.

Dr Dixon is also a GP at College Surgery, Cullompton, Devon, where his “integrated practice” includes dozens of alternative practitioners. They include not only disproven things like homeopathy and acupuncture, but also even more bizarre practitioners in ‘Thought Field Therapy‘ and ‘Frequencies of Brilliance‘.

To take only one of these, ‘Frequencies of Brilliance’ is bizarre beyond belief. One need only quote its founder and chief salesperson.

“Frequencies of Brilliance is a unique energy healing technique that involves the activation of energetic doorways on both the front and back of the body.”

“These doorways are opened through a series of light touches. This activation introduces high-level Frequencies into the emotional and physical bodies.  It works within all the cells and with the entire nervous system which activates new areas of the brain.”

Or here one reads

“Frequencies of Brilliance is a 4th /5th dimensional work.   The process is that of activating doorways by lightly touching the body or working just above the body.”

“Each doorway holds the highest aspect of the human being and is complete in itself. This means that there is a perfect potential to be accessed and activated throughout the doorways in the body.”

Best of all, it can all be done at a distance (that must help sales a lot). One is reminded of the Skills for Health “competence” in distant healing (inserted on a government web site at the behest (you guessed it) of the Prince’s Foundation, as related here)

“The intent of a long distance Frequencies of Brilliance (FOB) session is to enable a practitioner to facilitate a session in one geographical location while the client is in another.

A practitioner of FOB that has successfully completed a Stage 5 Frequency workshop has the ability to create and hold a stable energetic space in order to work with a person that is not physically present in the same room.

The space that is consciously created in the Frequencies of Brilliance work is known as the “Gap”. It is a space of nonlinear time. It contains ”no time and no space” or  respectively “all time and all space”. Within this “Gap” a clear transfer of the energies takes place and is transmitted to an individual at a time and location consciously intended. Since this dimensional space is in non-linear time the work can be performed and sent backward or forward in time as well as to any location.

The Frequencies of Brilliance work cuts through the limitations of our physical existence and allows us to experience ourselves in other dimensional spaces. Therefore people living in other geographic locations than a practitioner have an opportunity to receive and experience the work.

The awareness of this dimensional space is spoken about in many indigenous traditions, meditation practices, and in the world of quantum physics. It is referred to by other names such as the void, or vacuum space, etc.”

This is, of course, preposterous gobbledygook.  It, and other things in Dr Dixon’s treatment guide, seem to be very curious things to impose on patients in the 21st century.

You can read more about Michael Dixon at Dr Aust’s blog (Dr Michael Dixon is annoyed), and, from the USA, Steven Novella’s analysis in Dr. Michael Dixon – “A Pyromaniac In a Field of (Integrative) Straw Men”

Professor George Lewith,

George Lewith has appeared quite often in this blog. He first came to my attention when I discovered in 2006 that his private clinic was offering a well-known form of fraudulent allergy diagnosis, the Vega test, despite the fact that Lewith himself had written a paper that said it didn’t work.

Lewith is particularly keen on acupuncture and that most discredited form of quackery, homeopathy. On More 4 News, he actually claimed that there was no good sham form of acupuncture. That is simply not true: great ingenuity has gone into devising controls for acupuncture trials and ‘real’ acupuncture always comes out the same as sham.

Professor David Peters

David Peters comes from the University of Westminster, which is famous for offering more degrees than any other in anti-scientific nonsense.

Westminster is home of the quite remarkable teaching that "Amethysts emit high Yin energy". dowsing, aura photography and other such fairground frauds.

Westminster offers also a "BSc degree" in that quite remarkable branch of make-believe known as naturopathy, This teaches students about a totally insane form of psycho-babble called Emo-trance and they are taught (no. seriously) about diagnosis with dowsing and pendulums

Westminster also teaches about kinesiology.  Sounds sort of sciencey, but Applied Kinesiology is actually a fraudulent and totally ineffective diagnostic method invented by (you guessed) a chiropractor.   It has been widely used by alternative medicine to misdiagnose food allergies. It does not work (Garrow, 1988: download reprint).

Westminster offers “BSc degrees” in Chinese Medicine that are a menace to public health. Their unfortunate students are told "Legally, you cannot claim to cure cancer. This is not a problem because we treat people not diseases". It is hard to imagine anything more irresponsible,

David Peters, as Clinical Director at Westminster must bear responsibility for this load of irresponsible make-believe,  I have no doubt that he is well-intentioned but some of the stuff on these courses is a serious danger to public health.

Mrs Christine Glover

Mrs Glover is an Edinburgh pharmacist. She claims

She believes symptoms rarely occur in isolation but are usually linked to a persons circumstancs [sic].

Illness occurs when there are imbalances in any of the physical, emotional and spiritual aspects of their life.

Well, yes and no, Would you really go to her if you had cancer, or tuberculosis, or even atrial flutter? Judging by her website, what you’d get is a bottle of her Liquid Iron & Vitamin Formula (for £16.25 !). Or any one of a range of homeopathic pills.

There is no branch of alternative medicine that is more totally discredited than homeopathy. Yet now it i being proposed to form a College of Medicine with four directors who are all part of the dwindling band that insists you can do magic with pills that contain no medicine.

Who else supports the College?

There are some pretty surprising people who are listed in the letter as supporting the College of Medicine, though it remains to be seen how many are left once the true nature of the College is known.

Some of the supporters were already Foundation Fellows of the Prince’s Foundation, despite having no obvious sympathy with quackery. These include Professor Sir Cyril Chantler, Professor Adrian Eddleston and Professor Simon Gibbons. They also include the notorious Karol Sikora, and the geochemist Professor Jane Plant.

Professor Jane Plant is, apparently, a distinguished geochemist, but she developed an obsession with dairy-free diets, after her own experiences with breast cancer. She has written a lot of books and, no doubt, made a lot of money from the desperate. An extracr from one of her books is titled “Why I believe that giving up milk is the key to beating breast cancer”. If you want to see the ‘evidence’ for some of her wild claims, her web site invites to join -at a cost of £30. To get a bit closer to the truth it is only necessary to quote the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) Report on diet and cancer, ‘Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and the Prevention of Cancer: a Global Perspective‘. The WCRF is inclined, in my view, to exaggerate the strength of the evidence for a causal link between diet and cancer (see Diet and health. What can you believe: or does bacon kill you?) but nevertheless their assessment of dairy products is very different from Plant’s.

"The strongest evidence, corresponding to judgements of ‘convincing’ and ‘probable’, shows that milk probably protects against colorectal cancer, and that diets high in calcium are a probable cause of prostate cancer."

It seems that Jane Plant’s claims are thoroughly irresponsible.

I’m told that two people who were also Foundation Fellows, and who were originally listed as supporters of the College seem to have already jumped ship, namely Professor Stephen Holgate and Baroness Finlay.

Professor Sir Graeme Catto is to be president, and I’m told, Professor Sir Ian Kennedy has agreed to be vice president.

It is incomprehensible to me why people like this should be willing to lend their names to the Prince’s Foundation in the first place, or to its replacement now..

Other people listed as supporters include Sir Donald Irvine, Professor John Cox, and, on the "scientific advisory committee, Professor Mustafa Djamgoz and Professor Ajit Lalvani.

None of these people has an obvious belief in quackery. sp what are they doing mixed up with a venture like this?

Graeme Catto tells me he “knows very little about CAM”, and Cyril Chantler says the College should deal with evidence-based integrated medicine “but not alternative medicine or homeopathy”. Since, during his time as a Foundation Fellow of the Prince’s Foundation, Cyril Chantler failed totally to shake the advocacy of homeopathy by them, it seems unlikely yhat he’ll be any more successful with the College.

The only member of the "scientific advisory committee" who has answered by invitation to comment on a draft of this post is Professor Mustafa Djamgoz. It seems that he is more gullible that meets the eye He said, for example,

“There are many ‘eastern’ remedies (such as acupuncture that we witnessed dismissed 25 year ago) that work.”

“We ourselves have already shown that natural substances like omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, reseveratrol [sic] etc can produce anti-cancer effects by blocking ion channels.”

Clearly Professor Djamgoz has not been keeping up with research in these areas. Has he never read Barker Bausell’s book on acupuncture, Snake Oil Science.? Apparently not. And there is, of course, not the slightest reason to think that omega-3 or resveratrol help cancer in humans.

It is often said that the reason that eminent people support quackery is that they live in hopes of a peerage. That is, perhaps, a bit uncharitable. I think it more likely that they don’t bother to investigate closely what it is they are signing up to, and that they are fooled by the weasel words of “integrated medicine”.

People like Catto and Chantler seem to think they are supporting caring, human centred, medicine. I fear they have been fooled, They are supporting sheer quackery.

Patient centred medicine

One of the most infuriating characteristics of quacks is their attempt to hi-jack the ‘human side of medicine’. I suppose they have little else to offer, so it’s understandable. But there is nothing human about deceiving desperate patients and the human side of medicine is something that is emphasised in the education of every real doctor.

If you want to know more about it, there is no better exposition than Michael Baum’s Samuel Gee lecture. Baum has been at the forefront of thinking about supportive or spiritual care of cancer patients. His 2009 Samuel Gee lecture is available in video, Concepts of Holism in Orthodox and Alternative Medicine. It is a masterpiece. He ends the lecture thus.

“Alternative versions of “holistic medicine” that offer claims of miracle cures for cancer by impossible dietary regimens, homeopathy or metaphysical manipulation of non-existent energy fields, are cruel and fraudulent acts that deserve to be criminalized.”

A similar distinction has been made with beautiful clarity by Dr James May

“The use of the term ‘integrative medicine’ in your editorial seems to confuse more than clarify the problem of ‘holism’ in medicine. Complementary therapists for example often use the term ‘holistic’ to blur the boundaries between the therapies used and the practitioner’s interpersonal skills. It would be better, however, to keep these distinctions clear. Caring is different from curing.”

“‘Holism’ is not a multifaceted approach to curing, it is a multifaceted approach to caring”

“Effective medicine is best measured with RCTs. Caring is not. ‘Integrative medicine’ therefore risks both damaging how we measure effective medicines (RCTs), as well as reducing caring to measurables. A better term for this might be ‘disintegrative medicine’.Effective medicine is best measured with RCTs. Caring is not. ‘Integrative medicine’ therefore risks both damaging how we measure effective medicines (RCTs), as well as reducing caring to measurables. A better term for this might be ‘disintegrative medicine’.”

I hope that the various eminent people who have lent their name to this mis-named ‘College of Medicine’ will look very carefully at what it actually does. And that will probably mean withdrawing their support.

Follow-up

The Guardian, 2nd August 2010, carried this story, written by their science correspondent, Ian Sample: College of Medicine born from ashes of Prince Charles’s holistic health charity. He quotes Tracey Brown of the Sense about Science charity as saying that the college’s emphasis on merging conventional medicine with unproven complementary therapies “would take society back a century”.

“Despite its mission to promote the integration of alternatives to medicine, this new body has chosen to call itself very grandly the College of Medicine. Perhaps someone thinks this will sound good with Royal in front of it? This wouldn’t be a surprise given the institution’s origins in the Prince of Wales’s efforts to integrate his favoured traditional remedies into medicine.”

Guardian 2 Aug 2010

Guardian 2 Aug 2010
Quotation from DC

Print Friendly

Tags: Graeme Catto · Uncategorized

39 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Tweets that mention Buckinghamgate: the new “College of Medicine” arising from the ashes of the Prince’s Foundation for Integrated Health -- Topsy.com // Aug 1, 2010 at 22:53

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by David Colquhoun, Martin Robbins, alicia h., Adam Shulman, Natalie and others. Natalie said: A must read post! RT @david_colquhoun: New post: "College of Medicine" rises from ashes of Prince of Wales Foundation http://bit.ly/cOz8yf [...]

  • 2 lecanardnoir // Aug 1, 2010 at 23:16

    It seems incredible to me that anyone would want to put their names to such discredited ventures again. They must surely know they will be under the most intense public scrutiny. Is a gong worth that much?

  • 3 Blue Wode // Aug 2, 2010 at 08:09

    Thank you for such an informative post.

    It might interest those attempting to find out the identity of the alleged ‘private donor’ behind the new project at 19 Buckingham Street that the Prince’s Foundation for Integrated Health (FIH) was poised to move to that address before it closed down. Details of the move seem to have been erased from the FIH’s site, but the intention was captured in this tweet on 30th March 2010:

    http://twitter.com/Blue_Wode/status/11314811864

  • 4 Neuroskeptic // Aug 2, 2010 at 09:11

    Excellent work. No surprise that Sikora is involved. In fact I am led to propose a general rule, I call it Sikora’s Law.

    Sikora’s Law: any stupid quasi-medical organization in Britain is associated in some way with Karol Sikora. And conversely, anything Karol Sikora is associated with is stupid quasi-medicine.

    Counterexamples? Of course Sikora isn’t involved in all CAM, but by quasi-medicine I mean stuff which has aspirations to medical respectability (“integrated” etc.) and he does seem to crop up time and again in that context.

  • 5 Mojo // Aug 2, 2010 at 10:13

    The move is mentioned as having been completed in the FIH’s March 2010 newsletter, although they give the address as “19 Buckingham Gate“.

  • 6 michaelgrayer // Aug 2, 2010 at 11:08

    Excellent investigative work, as ever! I also liked particularly the commentary on the hijacking of the term “holistic”.

    Just to add to that commentary, another reason why the term “holistic” is such a prized label for quacks is that it allows them to circumvent that dreadful inconvenience: causality. One of the more shocking aspects of a TCM textbook I thumbed through a few times was in a chapter about diagnosis where it explained pretty plainly that in the Chinese Medicine philosophy you only needed to look at associations of symptoms with diseases (cf the “Western Medicine” philosophy of finding causal relationships). I mean, hey, why need to establish whether one thing causes another? It’s all holistic, man, everything’s interconnected, so causality doesn’t matter.

    Calling yourself “holistic” apparently absolves you of any responsibility for accounting for chance or confounding, and the bizarre corollary of this is that adopting an “holistic approach” in your philosophy entitles you to adopt an entirely un-holistic approach in your practice. I’m reminded of Dirk Gently’s take on the issue: http://u.nu/9k79e

    Incidentally, David, you may be interested to know that this textbook to which I refer (a 1200-page tome of half-truth conflated with superstitious nonsense written very authoritatively) is available in the UCL library (catalogue record: http://u.nu/7779e). I wasn’t aware the Cruciform library had a fiction section. I’d recommend it if you ever want to raise your blood pressure. Sadly, as fiction goes, it’s not as entertaining as, say, Dirk Gently…

  • 7 michaelgrayer // Aug 2, 2010 at 11:16

    Oh dear. Not only did the URL to the UCL library record pick up a spurious closing bracket, it turns out that the UCL library webmasters don’t believe in permalinks.

    The book in question is:
    Maciocia, G., The foundations of Chinese medicine: a comprehensive text for acupuncturists and herbalists. [Edinburgh]: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone, 2005.

  • 8 Majikthyse // Aug 2, 2010 at 12:28

    I fell off my chair over `Freqencies of Brilliance’. At last that pesky problem of causality has been solved by the quacks, as their remedies can move backwards as well as forwards in time. “So you got better before you came to see me? Well that was because of the energy I am about to send you. Wait a minute – why are you here at all?”

  • 9 Dudeistan // Aug 2, 2010 at 20:35

    This is big business at work. Period.

    My seven year old daughter reminded me the other night of my recent pontification that it is rare for someone to be wealthy unless they are (i) highly skilled and genuinely dedicated with an immensely patient spouse and family, or (ii) prepared to take advantage over someone, either financially or emotionally.

    Of course, I couched it in simple language, but she counter-argued that anyone can become immensely wealthy and still be an honest person (my first criteria excepted).

    I wonder? Big business, banks, GM crops, arms industry and health charlatans. There’s big money to be made out of vulnerable naive populations.

    How do they sleep at night?

  • 10 Ronanthebarbarian // Aug 3, 2010 at 10:05

    Dudeistan ‘How do they sleep at night?’

    – as they said in the Simpsons ”on top of a large pile of money with many beautiful ladies”

    As a member of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain (RPSGB – the current regulatory body for pharmacists, retention fee 422 pounds in 2010), it’s a matter of great shame that Ms. Glover (an ex-president of RPSGB) flogs this non-science.

    What’s interesting to note on her profile page
    http://www.glovers-health.co.uk/profile.html
    she states she is a ”Member of an Advisory Board for the Academy of Pharmaceutical Sciences”

    APS is an academic/industrial body largely concerned with pharmaceutics (the science of formulation of medicines). I’ve been to some of their meetings. They do not list on their website (as far as I can see) ANY advisory boards.

  • 11 Dudeistan // Aug 3, 2010 at 11:23

    @Ronanthebarbarian
    That’s interesting. And what’s with Professor Sir Ian Kennedy getting involved. I am assuming it is the same Kennedy that lectures on bioethics. Surely someone with his stature should know better?

  • 12 Ronanthebarbarian // Aug 3, 2010 at 11:55

    In case I’m wrong and anyone wishes to check, APS’s website is :

    http://www.apsgb.org/

  • 13 Blue Wode // Aug 3, 2010 at 14:52

    @Ronanthebarbarian

    The original website of ex-RPSGB president, Ms Glover, is also worth a browse. This was how it appeared in February 2008:
    http://tinyurl.com/327smrh

    Read it and weep.

  • 14 The resurrection of the Woo-Woo Wibblers « The Witch Doctor // Aug 3, 2010 at 18:05

    [...] there is another Woo-Woo Wibbler outfit being born at this very [...]

  • 15 Dangerous Conventional // Aug 3, 2010 at 19:32

    I’m afraid there are some movers and shakers in the pharmacy profession such as Steven Kane and Christine Glover that are into homoeopathetic medicine.I think you’ll find many pharmacists have strong views about homoeopathy and the RPSGB.
    I did agree with one thing on her website
    Conventional medicine treats a set of symptoms
    Then again, discussing the effectiveness and dangers of conventional medicines isn’t allowed on this website.Still, keep taking the calcium tablets and the magic beans.

  • 16 David Colquhoun // Aug 3, 2010 at 21:10

    @dangerous
    I’m glad to hear that there was only one thing on Glover’s web site that you agreed with. But tell me one thing. Do you really think that treating Vibrio cholerae or mycobacterium tuberculosis is just “treating a set of symptoms”? No of course you don’t.

    It is true, of course, that in many other cases, the best you can do is treat symptoms. Any pharmacology textbook will tell you that. That is all anything, convential or alternative can do, because in only too many cases, the underlying cause is not known yet. The difference is that we are trying, bit by bit, to identify causes and so find better treatments. The alternative business, in contrast, seems quite happy with its magic beans and does nothing whatsoever to improve things.

    as for conventionak drugs, you might be interested in two recent itens from my miniblog.

    Alzheimer’s -sadly nothing works
    NIH review cuts through the hype

    and many others like that.

  • 17 Mojo // Aug 4, 2010 at 11:19

    @Dangerous: “I did agree with one thing on her website
    Conventional medicine treats a set of symptoms”

    No, that is precisely what homoeopathy does. It treats patients as nothing but sets of symptoms, to be matched as closely as possible to the symptoms that they imagine their remedies cause. It does not treat, or even consider, the causes of those symptoms.

  • 18 Dangerous Conventional // Aug 4, 2010 at 19:24

    @DC
    I agree with most of the points you have made.RPSGB is about to split into two eg. a regulatory body and a professional organisation. I would say that Christine et al. might see a few thousand pharmacists leaving the RPSGB.A homeopathic membership?
    Alzheimer’s is an interesting example of the problems facing both forms of medicine. I review the conventional medicines of numerous patients with dementia. About 15% of those I review are on an antimuscarinic drugs(usually for incontinence) which reduces cognitive function and negates the “benefits” of anticholinesterase inhibitors.Why are they incontinent? See anticholinesterase inhibitors and/or other drugs they are on.
    The situation isn’t helped by NICE guidance (some would say, never involves clinical evidence). Hopefully the coalition will assign NICE to the quango cull along with the NPSA. Why did NICE allow anticholinesterase inhibitors to be prescribed when as you rightly state “nothing works”? This money should be spent on decent research. One area could be the use of turmeric.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15974909
    At the moment we only have animal models to show some benefit and the fact that Alzheimer’s is rare in populations that use this herb in cooking rather than saffron. Perhaps some of the money spent on pointless prescribing could fund an RCT, or I am I becoming deluded and
    need medication?

  • 19 Teige // Aug 5, 2010 at 12:45

    Great article, it is a shame for so many titled persons to get involved (unknowingly?) in health fraud.. What a waste of resources.
    Also, I think the resident heretic’s comments ought to be valued as group-think ‘prophylaxis’.
    I worry that curcumin has already been pounced on by the supplements industry, so that any RCT, whatever the outcome, is likely to become ammunition for Holland&Barrets etc. rather than leading to an effective high-dose drug for Alzheimer’s.
    Maybe I’m being too cynical, or perhaps the expected EU regs on supplements would sort that out somewhat.

    Is anyone else worried about the coalition’s quango-cutting is irresponsible in that groups seem to be judged by their “quango-ness” rather than any usual measure of usefulness. When I hear the word quango on newsnight I cringe the same way I would at racial stereotypes. Also this whole ‘putting hard decisions in the hands of GPs’ thing…

  • 20 Teige // Aug 5, 2010 at 12:52

    Isn’t it just a quick way to put a lot of statisticians and managers out of their jobs, and have funding driven by intuition/”clinical experience” experience-shmerience, any psychologist will tell you that unless humans keep extensive records somewhere other than in their brain, they’ll make the wrong decision about what works and what needs funding.

  • 21 Dr Andrew Sikorski // Aug 5, 2010 at 18:27

    Hi Dave!
    You’ve rather missed the point . There would be no need for a College such as this if there were no patients dissatisfied with current scientific medical practice, no PHYSICIANS finding current scientific medical practice leaves them unable to address a plethora of complex and less complex CLINICAL CONDITIONS and if everyone thought like you. In truth few people think like you and the other 2 conditions are not satisfied either. Isn’t it wonderful to be able to celebrate the rich diversity of life and opinion on this planet- latest news of all these amazing craters and super-saline rivers in the depths of the deepest oceans makes the scientist in me slaver at the prospect of the new species we are likely to discover! Please also cover your subjects in greater detail in future- you seem to have missed some rather important points out of this posting?
    Kind regards
    Andrew

  • 22 David Colquhoun // Aug 5, 2010 at 22:21

    @Dr Andrew Sikorski

    You say “there would be no need”. i would prefer to say “there IS no need”.

    Do I detect a bit of whistling in the wind? You know as well as I do that homeopathy and chiropractic (among others) are now comprehensively discredited and no longer taken seriously by anyone in medicine apart from a few people who make their living from them. Even the Daily Mail has spotted the problems. The game is up.

    Of course they will hang on in the High Street, and that’s fine with me as long as they obey the law about making false health claims (often they don’t of course).

    Of course you are right that everyone is dissatisfied by the current state of medicine, because there are vast numbers of conditions that can’t be treated at all, or can be treated in a less than satisfactory way. Think of low back pain, cancer, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s. The list is long. That’s a very sad, but one has to remember that real medicine has been going for little more than 100 years. That is a tiny length of time. One really can’t be surprised that there are still a lot of unsolved problems

    No doubt that is why many desperate people turn to quacks, who take their money but do no better than real medicine.

    It’s a good reason for continuing to try hard to find better ways of curing thing. But it is not a good reason for making up solutions that don’t work, which is what alternative medicine does mostly. Neither is it a good reason for confusing caring for curing. If there is nothing better that can be done, I’m as much for caring as anyone, but please don’t mistake it for the real aim which is to cure things.

    We don’t know what yet what exactly what the College will do. But we can say with some certainty that if it reflects the track record of its directors, it will be pushing the fantasies. the wishful thinking, that characterises most alternative medicine. I suppose what upsets me is the astonishing arrogance of people like homeopaths who claim that the ‘just know’ that something works while being quite unwilling to test their claims properly. Worse, they refuse to accept the results of tests when they are done properly. It’s all a bit like a religion really (and it is well established that praying for people doesn’t cure them or prolong their life). Both are really just frauds, albeit frauds that keep some people happy.

  • 23 Dudeistan // Aug 6, 2010 at 10:22

    @Dr Andrew Sikorski

    I have never understood the argument that conventional medicine’s significant limitations justifies alternative medicine.

    There are many conventional treatments that have been abandoned over the last half century because they do not work any better than placebo. There are many more to go from the orthodox stable.

    So why replace useless conventional treatments – or add to those still existing – with useless alternative treatments? How can that make any sense?

    Homeopathy, acupuncture and chiropractic do not exist in a deep ocean trench. They are readily available to be scrutinised by simple research methods and have been found wanting.

  • 24 Neuroskeptic // Aug 6, 2010 at 12:02

    “You’ve rather missed the point . There would be no need for a College such as this if there were no patients dissatisfied with current scientific medical practice”

    Sadly there will be patients dissatisfied with medicine for as long as there are stupid patients.

    That’s not to say that all dissatisfied patients are stupid of course, there are some good reasons to be dissatisfied, but a growing proportion of it is silliness.

  • 25 Dudeistan // Aug 6, 2010 at 13:07

    @Neuroskeptic

    Stupid is a strong word. Misguided maybe.

    Newt Gringich, a former US Senator, was once asked who was the better president: Reagan or Carter.

    Reagan, he replied, because Reagan recognised that he did not know everything. This view was supported by Gorbachev during the ICBM missile meeting in Iceland in the 1980’s. Gorby was surprised at Reagan’s ability to accept what he didn’t know, even if his overall ideology was different to his own.

    President Carter on the other hand, well meaning as he was, didn’t know what he didn’t know.

    I think many people are like this. They are taken in by media rubbish without knowing all the nuances and facts. They are impressed with alternative medicine because it is seen as anti-establishment, without realising it’s a big money making industry just like Big Pharma.

  • 26 Dr Andrew Sikorski // Aug 6, 2010 at 13:50

    Nobel laureate’s research may explain homeopathic medicines’ action.

    On 28 June 2010 during the prestigious 60 anniversary conference of Nobel Laureates held in Germany, Prof. Luc Montagnier, postulated a mechanism that he considers may explain how homeopathic medicines’ informational content is created and maintained. Montagnier, awarded the Nobel Prize in 2008 for his discovery of the link between HIV and AIDS, gave a lecture entitled ‘DNA between physics and biology’ based on his own research. He reported findings from his research that some DNA sequences belonging to pathogenic bacteria and viruses are able to induce specific structures of nanometric size in water. When sufficiently diluted in water, these structures emit a spectrum of electromagnetic waves of low frequencies. During the conference he astonished his colleagues by postulating that his results may suggest the long sought after explanation for the mechanism of action of homeopathic medicines.

    References: Conference Abstract: http://www.lindau-nobel.org/AbstractDetails.AxCMS?AbstractID=1102 Related journal article: Electromagnetic signals are produced by aqueous nanostructures derived from bacterial DNA sequences http://www.springerlink.com/content/0557v31188m3766x/

    HOPE RANDI’S GOT HIS MILLION HANDY

  • 27 Teige // Aug 6, 2010 at 16:29

    LOL is the good doctor for real? These are the same archetypal arguments which have been discredited time and time again: “Medicine isn’t perfect, therefore we need elaborate placebos + antiscience to plug the gap” (misguided waste of resources, with a high social cost)
    Then, “Authoritative scientist postulates theoretical mechanism of action for something that fails to show any action in every good RCT”
    Prof. Montagnier would need to then go on to postulate how these frequencies might be good for one’s health. The whole system of diagnosis etc. in homeopathy is so barmy that you do yourself no favours by defending it so far on into its popular demise.

    Please tell me you’re not for real, I’m flummoxed!

  • 28 David Colquhoun // Aug 6, 2010 at 16:56

    @Dr Andrew Sikorski
    I wonder whether you actually read the paper by Montagnier? Several very competent people have. May i recommend Harriet Hall at Science-based medicine:
    http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=2081

    She concludes
    “Homeopaths who believe Montagnier’s study supports homeopathy are only demonstrating their enormous capacity for self-deception”

  • 29 David Colquhoun // Aug 6, 2010 at 17:11

    PS while you are at it, perhaos you should read also Secret Email Reveals more Homeopathic Killing in Kenya.

  • 30 phayes // Aug 6, 2010 at 20:28

    ‘“Authoritative scientist postulates theoretical mechanism of action for something that fails to show any action in every good RCT”’

    Quite, but the last bit’s not strictly true, IIRC, and one wouldn’t expect it to be anyway: it would be quite remarkable if no ‘good’ RCT of homeopathy ‘showed an effect’. Homeopathy is deluded physical, chemical and biological nonsense and I don’t think it’s either necessary or wise to appeal to the scientifically meaningless and unethically obtained RCT ‘evidence’ just because of the absurd claims of some crackpot(s).

    Anyway… Montagnier’s paper belongs on a website catalogued by crank.net rather than in the scientific literature – http://www.quackometer.net/blog/2009/10/why-i-am-nominating-luc-montagnier-for.html – and of course Montagnier would not be the first distinguished scientist to later go on to ‘astonish’ his colleagues like this. Sad, but it happens all the time.

  • 31 Farewell to the RLHH, hello to the RLHIM « gimpy’s blog // Sep 7, 2010 at 15:16

    [...] cancer, after I brought the claims to their attention. The Prince’s Foundation gave rise to the “College of Medicine“, final details of which have yet to be revealed. We do know, though, that when Daniel sought [...]

  • 32 Don’t be deceived. The new “College of Medicine” is a fraud and delusion // Oct 29, 2010 at 17:08

    [...] we heard that a new “College of Medicine” was to arise from its ashes. It seemed clear from the people involved that the name “College of Medicine” would be [...]

  • 33 Apologists for Andrew Wakefield at Southampton University: a Russell group university teaching some dangerous nonsense // Jul 3, 2011 at 18:11

    [...] is also one of the practitioners recommended by BSEM. He’s a director of the "College of Medicine". And he’s also an advisor to a charity called Yes To [...]

  • 34 The Popularity of Homeopathy « Nucella's Blog // Mar 9, 2012 at 12:14

    [...] Really? Almost half of the doctors in England refer patients to homeopaths? That doesn’t fit with my, albeit limited, experience. I sought out the source of this statistic and found it in a paper published in the British Medical Journal. The authors were R Wharton and G Lewith. George Lewith’s Wikipedia entry says he ‘is a professor of complementary medicine at the University of Southampton, where he leads the Complementary and Integrated Medicine Research Unit. He is a prominent advocate of complementary medicine in the UK.’ He was involved with the now defunct Prince of Wales’ Foundation for Integrated Medicine and is now vice chair of the inappropriately named College of Medicine. [...]

  • 35 The College of Medicine is in the pocket of Crapita Capita. Is Graeme Catto selling out? // May 3, 2012 at 16:59

    [...] College of Medicine is well known to be the reincarnation of the late unlamented Prince of Wales Foundation for Integrated Health. I labelled it as a Fraud [...]

  • 36 Dr Michael Dixon of the “College of Medicine” seems to admit that alternative medicine is a placebo // May 26, 2012 at 23:26

    [...] Foundation for Integrated Health. At the time of the foundation of the College it was stated that "The College represents a new strategy to take forward the vision of HRH Prince [...]

  • 37 Regulation of alternative medicine: why it doesn’t work, and never can // Oct 15, 2012 at 09:48

    [...] of a financial scandal, a company was formed called "The College for Integrated Health". A slide show, not meant for public consumption, said "The College represents a new strategy to take forward [...]

  • 38 Policy-based evidence. Department of Health and Prince’s Foundation censor accurate information about magic medicines // Feb 13, 2013 at 17:37

    [...] of the Prince’s Foundation for Integrated Health, and its successor (after April 2010), the College of Integrated Health, now known as the College of [...]

  • 39 The Quacktitioner Royal is a threat to constitutional government and to the health of the nation // Jul 30, 2013 at 07:15

    [...] name changed, but not the people behind it.  Initially this phoenix was to be named the “College of Integrated Health”, but by this time the prince’s views on medicine had become sufficiently discredited [...]

You must log in to post a comment.