Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Monday, February 23, 2015

Beware Health Charlatans Vultures

This is a screenshot from the website of the Hippocrates Health Institute, showing its grounds.
Screenshot from the website of the Hippocrates Health Institute
"The program is designed to sell high-priced, controversial medical treatments and holistic spa services to a captive audience of sick (often terminally) individuals who believe they have come to a world renowned medical spa."
Virginia resident complaint

"We have ... the longest history on the planet Earth, the highest success rate on the planet Earth of people healing cancer."
"We have dealt with mostly stage-three, stage-four catastrophic cancers -- a big percentage of them, probably 25 percent, have been told they're going to die. We have seen thousands and thousands of those people recover."
Brian Clement, co-director, Hippocrates Health Institute, Florida
Video grab of Brian Clement, of the Hippocrates Health Institute.
Hippocrates Health InstituteVideo grab of Brian Clement, of the Hippocrates Health Institute
"Patients told me directly of selling everything they had to come there as a last-hope treatment."
"I would get emails occasionally from a family member saying a patient had succumbed to cancer."
Steven Pugh, former director of nursing, Hippocrates Health Institute

"At the end of the three weeks, she started to really blossom, she looked healthy."
"I recommend everybody to go to Hippocrates."
Jane Schweitzer, wellness advocate, Hamilton, Ontario
Mass hysteria of belief by the health-compromised, vulnerable to promises of a cure?

Two First Nations girls from Canada, both diagnosed with childhood leukemia, both eleven years old, from different reserves in Ontario, refused conventional chemotherapy with its 80% to 90% success rate in hospital, administered and overseen by pediatric oncologists, to pursue alternative and aboriginal therapies. One little girl has since died. The mother of the second has declared her daughter 'cured'.

Their loving parents took these children out of conventional treatment; instead to be treated at the Hippocrates Health Institute, a Florida business that is state-licensed as a massage treatment centre. Their reserve had been visited by Mr. Clement who often travels widely in North America to spread the good news that his institute is a godsend to those suffering from incurable maladies; capable of curing diseases that medical science cannot.

Of course this is also a business. And the families of the two little girls were charged a fee of $18,000 to have a special diet prescribed for their children afflicted with leukemia along with the holistic spa services. The girls were put on a raw-food, vegan diet with an especial emphasis on wheat grass. "Their anti-cancer treatments are totally bogus and not backed by any evidence", according to Dr. Stephen Sagar, radiation oncologist at McMaster University.

Mr. Clement and his wife Anna Maria, co-directors of the institute, earn a fairly hefty salary each from their enterprise. Filings to the Internal Revenue Service reveal together they earned close to a million dollars in 2013, from their resort-clinic in West Palm Beach, classified by the IRS as a non-profit, exempt from tax. As many as one in three of the average number of 100 "guests" that assemble at the facility weekly arrive from Canada.

Many of these guests are cancer patients who sacrifice financially to attend the institute having given up on conventional medical treatment. Others are faithful clients who gather there to experience and learn about the raw-food vegan lifestyle. Jane Schweitzer from Hamilton, a wellness advocate, claims to know personally of many Canadians with cancer, and among them she includes doctors, who have been clients of the institute, who have moved on to life rather than succumbing to death.

She had taken her fifteen-year-old daughter there in 2012 to help with the girl's depression. At first her daughter shunned the special diet, but since then she has cleaved to the vegan lifestyle, and according to her mother has become much improved psychologically. In an interview that took place in 2011, Mr. Clement was asked "What ailments have you cured by putting your patients on a vegan diet?"

He responded with confidence by saying: "Every known disease." Cardiovascular disease, type-2 diabetes, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson's, according to Mr. Clement, all respond to the treatments his institute recommends, because they are all "correctable". Clearly, the public is responsive to the public relations that spin out of the Florida establishment. It earned $17.5 million in revenue in 2013. The two principals are registered by the state as nutrition counsellors.

Samantha Young, a Canadian, claims she was given mere months to live once she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. After treatment at the Hippocrates Health Institute, she said, the disease simply disappeared. The power of suggestion? Who knows? There can be nothing bad about teaching people a healthy lifestyle, how to look after themselves, to eat nutritiously, eschewing convenience foods, exercising, respecting their bodies.

There is something egregiously awry when people believe, because they have been convinced by the promises of a smooth talker, to shun conventional medicine for the allure of alternative, holistic treatments with no foundation for their claims that they can produce health outcomes far superior to that of conventional medical science whose rigour of empirical evidence leaves no doubt that one is a sham, the other a trusted intervention.

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