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Trick or Treatment: Alternative Medicine on Trial

Available August 18th
in the U.S.

Available May 27th
in Canada

Trick or Treatment:
by Simon Singh and Edzard Ernst

The ultimate verdict on alternative medicine.

Welcome to the world of alternative medicine. Prince Charles is a staunch defender and millions of people swear by it; most UK doctors consider it to be little more than superstition and a waste of money. But how do you know which treatments really heal and which are potentially harmful? Now at last you can find out, thanks to the formidable partnership of Professor Edzard Ernst and Simon Singh. Edzard Ernst is the world's first professor of complementary medicine, based at Exeter University, where he has spent over a decade analysing meticulously the evidence for and against alternative therapies.He is supported in his findings by Simon Singh, the well-known and highly respected science writer of several international bestsellers. Together they have written the definitive book on the subject. It is honest, impartial but hard-hitting, and provides a thorough examination and judgement of more than thirty of the most popular treatments, such as acupuncture, homeopathy, aromatherapy, reflexology, chiropractic and herbal medicine.

In "Trick or Treatment?" the ultimate verdict on alternative medicine is delivered for the first time with clarity, scientific rigour and absolute authority.

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  • Suckers:
    How Alternative Medicine Makes Fools of Us All

    by Rose Shapiro

    Reserve your copy now
    It will be available in late February 2008

    Suckers reveals how alternative medicine can jeopardize the health of those it claims to treat, leaches resources from treatments of proven efficacy and is largely unaccountable and unregulated. In short, it is an industry that preys on human vulnerability and makes fools of us all.

  • Review by Steven Poole in The Guardian

  • BioEnergetic Intolerance Elimination - BIE™

    Fake Allergy Testing marketed by chiropractors and unregulated quacks

    Institute of Natural Health Technologies (INHT)

    Here a few of their bogus claims: "Welcome to the The Institute of Natural Health Technologies located in Oakville, Ontario, Canada. We specialize in the relief of allergy symptoms of all kinds and have developed a new, noninvasive, drug free approach to dealing with allergies. We have had tremendous success to date and invite you to check out our testimonials page and hear what countless others are saying about our breakthrough methods for dealing with allergies."

    They claim to eliminate 80% of allergies after the first visit.

    I believe that this is one of the worst scams that involved a potentially deadly testing procedure that appears to be the brainchild of a group of quacks from Ontario and promoted by two chiropractors from New York State.

    In 2005 I corresponded with someone named Sanra Nobrega, who was an administrator with a company named the Institute of Natural Health Technologies (INHT). She said that for $50 a pop I could be screened and cleared of up to 5 allergies at a time. She said that I could also enroll in one of their courses where I could become certified in this technique. She offered to send me a package where they would explain the marketing and a financial forcast and average income of what their "certified holistic allergists" would make.

    What amazed me further was her claim that BIE™ approved for payment by several insurance companies. She didn't say which ones they were. But she did mention that those who they certify can get malpractic insurance from a company called NACORA. This international company will insure almost anyone in the holistic health field for as little as $1,000 per year.

    A list of covered treatment modalities is also provided. Among those things that they cover are some illegal ones, like ear candling. Why would an insurance company cover an illegal act is beyond!!! In addition, they will insure people for modalities that are only approved by those who are actually registered as health professionals in Ontario. The entire list is full of quack procedures that run the gamut from A to Z.

    As usual, I filed a complaint with consumer agencies and the government, but they were too busy to do anything about it. Over the years the INHT has remained viable, and trained several dozen people across Canada and U.S.

    In recent years, INHT has put together a slick video with superbly orchestrated testimonials from such notables as world champion figure skater Elvis Stojko. Two Rochester, NY area chiropractors Erich and Dawn Menge have also jumped onto the bandwagon to help promote BIE™. The NYS Board of chiropractic doesn't specifically state that BIE™ falls within scope of practice established by law. But, their scope of practice has to do with the spinal column, and it says nothing about curing allergies anywhere.

    I reviewed the faculty members that are listed the INHT.CA web site. One claims to have degrees from a "university" in Sri Lanka, which is basically a mailorder diploma mill. Another individual is described as a naturopath who graduated from the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine in Toronto. They couldn't even spell her name right on their web site.

    One recent addition to the faculty is no longer licensed in New Jersey as an MD, and is in Ontario doing something called wholistic psychotherapy. Unfortunately there is no such thing recognized by law here in Ontario. Promoters of wholistic psychotherapy have established a web site in Ontario with the purpose of recruiting students and practitioners into their unapproved programs.

    INHT also has a list of practitioners who are using the BIE™ techniques across Canada. Despite the fact that the device that they used has not gone through any legitimate clinical trials, and has never been approved for use in Canada by Health Canada for allergies, these scamsters continue to "sell" them and train people to use them.


    However, there is something that potential "buyers" really ought to know. If you sign up for the INHT courses on your way to becoming a "Registered Holisitic Allergist" you never really own the device. Here are the up-front costs:
    • $10,000 for the course and use of the device
    • $2,000 for supplies
    • Quarterly charges for the privilege of using the device

    In other words - YOU NEVER OWN THE BIE™ DEVICE!!!


    I met someone who was referred to one of their practitioners in Ontario on the advice of someone who knew Elvis Stojko. She went to the office a few times to be tested for allergies because she had heard that Elvis had gone there. When she was tested and told that she was NOT ALLERGIC to many of the foods that she had thought she was allergic to she decided to try them out. Unfortunately for her, those allergies she was told by the "Registered Holistic Allergist" had been eliminated had NOT BEEN ELIMINATED, and she had a severe reaction. But, she never filed a complaint, or called a lawyer.

    The Cure Within
    A History of Mind-Body Medicine

    by Anne Harrington

    Reviewed by Dr. Jerome Groopman

    In “The Cure Within,” her splendid history of mind-body medicine, Anne Harrington tries to explain why we draw connections between emotions and illness, and helps trace how today’s myriad alternative and complementary treatments came to be. A professor and chairman of the history of science department at Harvard, Harrington has produced a book that desperately needed to be written.


    Despite complaints made to Health Canada and others, Lori Bowman continues to work in an office in Guelph, Ontario. Apparently she shares an office with a naturopath, and they are affiliated with a group of chiropractors who are upstairs. The methods that she uses and the devices that she claims cure people of allergies are not proved. In fact the use of such a device to assure someone that they are NOT ALLERGIC to something could be catastrophic.

    She has been invited to make a presentation to the Guelph South Rotary club. Her right to educate the Rotarians have been vigorously defended by Kevin Cahill, the club's president. Despite a reasoned objection to the presentation, it will go on as scheduled. If you are a Rotary member in the area, you can attend the meeting.

    Meeting Date: July 26
    Meeting Time: Thursday at 7:30 AM
    Meeting Place: Springfield Golf & Country Club
    		  2054 Gordon Street
                   Guelph, On, N1L 1G6
    Incidentally, Rotary is a marvelous organization that supports all sorts of agencies and causes, both locally and around the world. The Four Objects of Rotary include this statement: "High ethical standards in business and professions, the recognition of the worthiness of all useful occupations, and the dignifying of each Rotarian's occupation as an opportunity to serve society"

    So, one could interpret this to mean that all "professions" are worthy and useful, even though the foundations of those professions are not based on credible evidence. It makes me want to go back to school and earn another diploma so that I can use those techniques and methods to add to my income at the end of the day. After all, as a medical doctor, I have the right to choose the type of medicine that I practice. And if I screw up, I have the CPSO to come after me to make me get back on the straight and narrow path of allopathic medicine.

    Lori Bowman's ads

    All of the typos or grammatical errors that are in the original articles have been retained.

    Inside Out Natural Health Clinic's Old Address
    7 Marsh Crescent
    Guelph, ON
    N1L 1M9

    New Address for Lori Bowman's Inside Out Natural Health Clinic

    Norfolk Wellness Centre
    86 Norfolk St., Unit 1B

    The new office houses several chiropractors, a naturopath, and massage therapists. Does Lori Bowman see their patients? Do they endorse what she is doing inside their office suite?

    Cured of allergies permanently?

    You might expect that our government has the power to oversee unlicensed and unregulated natural health practitioners. Unfortunately, they don't care at all. Even the colleges that regulate our health professions don't care to address these problems.

    Our government watchdogs who are tasked with regulating the importation, trade, or resale of hundreds of unapproved and ineffective quack medical devices, or software programs that utilize those devices to defraud the public have not done their job.

    Month after month our mainstream newspapers, and magazines are filled with ads for quack clinics that recommend bogus methods of testing and useless or dangerous therapy. Most of the time they use these methods to then sell people products that they don't really need. Fortunately, these clinics rarely cause their clients serious injury. Their clients, or as I like to refer to them as "victims", don't know what they could be getting themselves into. If they get better, or "cured" it in all likelihood is nothing more than the "placebo effect".

    However, some natural health clinics have stepped across the line. They have promised their clients that they can cure cancer, or arthritis, or even MS with their remedies and hocus-pocus.

    A new natural health clinic that is owned and operated by Lori Bowman, who lives in Guelph, recently placed at least one advertisement in a supplement called Healthy Living that is included in many community newspapers in our Province. I was amazed at the wild claims made and decided to add this one to my growing list of quack clinics.

    We were able to track down Lori's clinic in one city, and it is operated inside a chiropractor's office. This places the chiropractor at risk should they refer any of their patients to see Lori's wizardry in removing allergies.

    In fact she told one person that she could permanently cure 80% of allergies in just one session. Of course, this could take a bit longer if you were under stress, or had problems with your immune system.

    "Once the allergy is removed, it is permanent."

    Believe it or not, some of these bogus and dangerous treatments are picked up by some insurers who cover practitioners who use the dubious initials that she uses after her name - R.N.C.P. If what she says is really true, and I doubt it, our community's allergists will have to hang up their sheep skins, and join the rest of the flock and become part of the alternative health community. At least then, they could bill outside our Provincial health plan.

    False advertising for alternative medical practitioner puts us all in danger.

    Complaint filed with Health Canada, the Competition Bureau, Advertising Standards Canada, 
    and the newspaper chain that accepted the follwing ad:
    Advertiser: Inside Out Natural Health Clinic, Inc. locations in Guelph, Cambridge and Waterloo Practitioner: Lori Bowman Publication: Healthy Living supplement of the Waterloo Chronicle - page 4 Date: January 25, 2006 Full text of display advertisement: ALLERGIES? GREAT NEWS! Now available to anyone... A powerful new approach that uses a scientific and effective method to radically eliminate all symptoms of allergies permanently! 100% Guaranteed Results No Drugs! For more information contact: Inside Out Natural Health Clinic 519.821.7755 Guelph Cambridge Waterloo Column 2 text: Allergy Sufferers Rejoice! Lori Bowman R.N.C.P., RhA of Inside Out Natural Health Clinic uses a powerful new approach to eliminate all symptoms of allergy or intolerance permanently without the use of drugs. When this non-invasive and painless procedure is complete, the body no longer sees the allergen as a threat when exposed to it. This results in an increased tolerance to foods and environmental substances, and an increase in energy. If you experience any of the following: headaches, fatigue, digestive disorders, arthritis, acne or weight gain, it is likely that a food or environmental allergy or intolerance is involved. If you have or think you have an allergy or intolerance, or for a personal evaluation, contact Inside Out Natural Health Clinic. Lori is a Registered Nutritional Consultant Practitioner and a Holistic Allergist who also specializes in nutritional programs to address specific health concerns.

    Millenium Families Web site newsletter - Spring 2006


    All typos are from the original article. None of he claims of course can be backed up with real data. It is all subjective.

    As a long-time allergy sufferer, I have attempted various healing modalities throughout my life to eliminate several environmental and food sensitivities, with varying degrees of success.

    Recently I completed an allergy removal using the BIE® (Bioenergetic Intolerance Elimination) technique, with amazing results. I eliminated my decades-old intolerance to ragweed, pollen, dust, dog and cat hair, whole grains, fish, flax, and soy in one session.

    My son, who has been breastfed for the last two and a half years, had sensitivities to many of the same foods I had (even though he has never been vaccinated and has been on a primarily dairy, wheat, and sugar-free diet, supplemented by breastmilk). In twenty minutes, his sensitivities were also eliminated.

    My partner eliminated his extreme sensitivities to ragweed, pollen, grass, trees, eggs, garlic, and meat in one session.

    Even my yellow lab Brandy, who has been enjoying a natural food diet since we discovered a severe corn allergy in her body five years ago, is now completely free of sensitivities to corn and to ragweed.

    All of this was done inexpensively, without the use of drugs, in ONE session. Here's how:

    The BIE® technique is based on an ancient Chinese belief that energy runs through the body in pathways called "meridians." It is through these meridians that the brain and nervous system receive information about the body's state and function.

    For those who have allergies (and the numbers and are increasing with alarming frequency, as is the severity of these allergies), the body views seemingly normal foods and environmental allergens as "invaders" and creates a heightened immune response to protect the body from their presence. Allergy sufferers experience stuffy noses, scratchy throats, itching, watering eyes, bloating, gastro-intestinal upsets, and in extreme cases, anaphylactic reactions to these seemingly natural things, thus limiting one's experiences and compromising one's enjoyment of life.

    The allergens create blockages in the natural functions of the human body, so that the allergic person continues to experience symptoms even when external support (allergy shots, allergy medications, etc.) is given. Unfortunately, many of the interventions that "treat" allergies remove the symptoms....and temporarily....not the cause of the allergies.

    The BIE® technique eliminates the cause, which then eliminates the symptoms. A lightweight, hand held electronic device (emitting a low frequency of 10 Hz biphasic, 5 microamp) is applied directly to common acupuncture points located on the meridians, which stimulates the body to release any blockages in energy that have created the allergy state in the body. Once these points have been stimulated, the body will no longer have averse reactions to the allergen...thereby increasing the quality of life for former allergy sufferers!

    The BIE® technique is inexpensive, non-invasive, drug-free, and completely painless. If you want more information about the BIE® technique, please visit our practitioner's website at As an RHN and RNCP, Lori Bowman will be happy to assist you with any questions you have.


    The display advertisement and the accompanying text in column two are not truthful in respect to any known facts about allergies or food intolerance. To tell people that you are going to cure them permanently is just not true. The 100% guarantee is a fraudulent ploy to try to convince people that the owner of the clinic is professional. Not even the best trained medical professional makes guarantees for any condition. That is just preposterous. To promise that your treatment could block the body's reaction to allergens is a very dangerous thing. There is no such thing as a Holistic Allergist. The use of the term Allergist is confusing, and as far as I am concerned should be a protected professional designation for those who are qualified and are registered to practice medicine in the Province of Ontario. The company's WEB SITE makes the following completely bogus claims:

    1. Registered Nutritional Consultant Practitioners are not regulated and are not recognized as a health profession in Ontario.

    2. Holistic Allergists are NOT licensed in Ontario.

    3. The Canadian School of Natural Nutrition is not a recognized school in Ontario for post-secondary education. The courses offered and the programs that they grant are not recognized in Ontario by any legitimate health profession or regulatory agency.

    4. Iridology is not based in any known medical science. In other words it is plainly and simply quackery.

    The school known as The Institute of Natural Health Technologies, where she obtained her bogus certification is also not recognized by any legitimate regulatory agency in Ontario. The faculty and almost all of their qualifications are dubious at best. One of their faculty claims to be a naturopath, but as far as I can tell, they are not qualified to practice naturopathy in Canada.

    5. BIE Allergy Removal is entirely bogus, and in some cases could even lead to fatalities or serious consequences if the client believes that their allergies are cleared and then they are challenged with an allergen. In my opinion, this is the most risky think that one can do. But, alas, she says that her treatments are 100% guaranteed. I wonder if she has the power to raise the dead after she tells someone with a seafood or peanut allergy that they are cured of their allergy.

    The theoretical basis for the use of any electrodermal device to diagnose allergies is totally and completely false, and anyone who makes those claims is either deluded into believing in it, or is scamming their clients.

    6. Applied Kinesiology is also bogus.


    Practitioners who work in clinics like this, the bogus schools that train them, and the dubious and unregulated bodies that claim to support some kind of certification and hand out diplomas and initials to place after their "graduate's" names, are a clear danger to Canadians. The fact that some insurance companies offer to pay for this nonsense is also questionable. The Minister of Health for the Province of Ontario, George Smitherman, has stated that he is interested in regulating alternative medicine, i.e. acupuncture. However, he has totally and completely passed on any regulation of quacks and bogus training centres that produce those quacks. When are we going to have some action on the part of anyone in the government, or law enforcement to set things straight. The regulation of alternative health care practitioners in this Province has failed, and it has failed despite numerous complaints made over the years. It is getting worse, and people's lives are being placed at risk. The numerous regulated health professions and the Board of Drugless Practitioners Naturopathy have a vested interest in maintaining high standards. However, they will not help to stop bogus clinics from springing up because nobody cares to get involved. Why does the Minister of Education not step in to stop the unregulated schools, and why is there no legislation to protect those who are being defrauded by the owners of those schools?


    Links to organizations and position papers of recognized professional organizations and watchdogs who are involved in regulation and the exposure of quackery.

    More Quack BIE Clinics

    • Search Google for more quacks using BIE

    • Living Wellness Centre - .pdf brochure - This is from Carol Cook, BSc, RhA, RNCP - Holistic Allergist and Nutritional Consultant - Food and Environmental Sensitivity Testing and Elimination Kincardine, ON.

      Some of the ridiculous claims made by Ms. Cook

      • When we hear the term allergy testing we most often think of the traditional medical approach using a "scratch test" or needles in order to determine allergens or sensitivities. However, food and environmental sensitivity testing is now easier than ever.
      • Using an accurate, non invasive and painless method of analysis, even children feel comfortable with it! Yes children!!!! - Can you imagine anyone bringing their child to someone without the proper medical credentials and have them tested for allergies? What if they told the mother that their precious toddler was no longer allergic to peanuts, and they were challenged later on with peanut butter? Who would the parents sue?

    • Healing Nutrition

    • Newsletter from the IONC (International Organization of Nutritional Consultants - See just what the quacks have been up to, and don't forget to look at the sales of used equipment. You too, can become a quack with all sorts of fancy initials after your name. Just hope that you don't kill anyone.

    • Institute of Natural Health Technologies - run by Ron Tomilson who invented BIE. Check out their faculty and see how many of them actually have legitimate, recognized degrees in health sciences.

    More links on

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