Reserve Your Copy Now

Trick or Treatment: The Undeniable Facts about Alternative Medicine

Trick or Treatment:
The Undeniable Facts about Alternative Medicine

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.

Suckers: How Alternative Medicine Makes Fools of Us ALL
How Alternative Medicine Makes Fools of Us All
How Alternative Medicine Makes Fools of Us All

by Rose Shapiro

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

  • The Cure Within: A History of Mind-Body Medicine
    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.

    Snake Oil Science:
    The Truth about Complementary
    and Alternative Medicine
    by R. Barker Bausell

    Millions of people worldwide swear by such therapies as acupuncture, herbal cures, and homeopathic remedies. Indeed, complementary and alternative medicine is embraced by a broad spectrum of society, from ordinary people, to scientists and physicians, to celebrities such as Prince Charles and Oprah Winfrey.

    In the tradition of Michael Shermer's Why People Believe Weird Things and Robert Parks's Voodoo Science, Barker Bausell provides an engaging look at the scientific evidence for complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) and at the logical, psychological, and physiological pitfalls that lead otherwise intelligent people--including researchers, physicians, and therapists--to endorse these cures.

    The book's ultimate goal is to reveal not whether these therapies work--as Bausell explains, most do work, although weakly and temporarily--but whether they work for the reasons their proponents believe. Indeed, as Bausell reveals, it is the placebo effect that accounts for most of the positive results.

    He explores this remarkable phenomenon--the biological and chemical evidence for the placebo effect, how it works in the body, and why research on any therapy that does not factor in the placebo effect will inevitably produce false results. By contrast, as Bausell shows in an impressive survey of research from high-quality scientific journals and systematic reviews, studies employing credible placebo controls do not indicate positive effects for CAM therapies over and above those attributable to random chance.

    Here is not only an entertaining critique of the strangely zealous world of CAM belief and practice, but it also a first-rate introduction to how to correctly interpret scientific research of any sort. Readers will come away with a solid understanding of good vs. bad research practice and a healthy skepticism of claims about the latest miracle cure, be it St. John's Wort for depression or acupuncture for chronic pain.

    Support HealthWatcher.net

    If you would like to support our efforts to combat quackery, health and diet fraud we make it easy for you to donate to the cause.

    Canadian Quackery Watch - Hot Topics

    Click below to restrict search

    Terry Polevoy on TV

  • About us
  • Contact us

  • Empowerplus
  • Hulda Clark
  • Cancer quacks
  • Coral Calcium
  • Colloidal minerals
  • Diet fraud
  • Herbal dangers
  • Strauss Herbal
  • Pig Pills, Inc.
  • Chiropractic
  • Alternative Medicine
  • Naturopathy
  • Chelation therapy
  • Magnetic scams
  • Sunbed hazards

  • EPFX / QXCI and other scams
    Devices that don't work
    Promises they can't keep

    CBC Marketplace

    Broadcast January 31, 2009

    When you're sick, you'll do anything to get better. For those suffering with a serious illness, they are desperate for a miracle cure.

    Ailing Canadians are spending up to $200 a session in clinics and even buying the $20,000 "miracle" machine called the EPFX for home use. It's name is as intriguing as its health claims.

    The EPFX -- which stands for Electro Physiological Feedback Xrroid -- claims to help everything from stress to Alzheimer's. The device is hooked up to a patient with straps that wrap around the ankles, wrists, and forehead. The device supposedly reads the body’s reactivity to various frequencies, and then sends back other frequencies to make changes in the body.

    Even though the device is only licenced for use in Canada by Health Canada as a biofeedback device for stress reduction, people are turning to the EPFX for help with AIDS and even cancer.

    EPFX profiled on Texas TV station

    • The Miracle Machine - KXAN-TV Austin - Feb 25, 2006 As a miracle device that claims to treat autism, Parkinson's and just about everything else, the quantum biofeedback machine borders the fine line of healing with the help of electronic frequencies. The Electro-Physio-Frequency Xrroid, or EPFX, claims to help your body heal itself by sending electric signals to cells that carry negative energy. The Food and Drug Administration, however, said the machine can no longer be imported into the United States. The agency is investigating the developer, who is a federal fugitive.

    FDA shuts the door to
    EPFX / QXCI imports to U.S.

    FDA bans import of unproven machine

    Unfortunately, Health Canada has known about these devices for years, and has never taken one step to stop their import, or their use. Why is that?

    By Christine Willmsen and Michael J. Berens
    Seattle Times staff reporters

    Trying to shut down a federal fugitive's medical-device empire, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is blocking the import of the machine he claims can cure diseases such as cancer and AIDS.

    The desktop device, called the EPFX, is manufactured in Hungary by William Nelson, who fled the U.S. in 1996 after he was indicted on felony fraud charges related to his invention.

    FDA compliance director Timothy Ulatowski, who oversees medical-device regulation, said the action is the first step in a sweeping investigation of Nelson, his distributors and EPFX operators.

    "This is pure, blatant fraud. The claims are baloney," Ulatowski said. "These people prey in many cases on consumers who are desperate in seeking cures for very serious diseases."

    The FDA said it took action as a result of a recent Seattle Times investigation that uncovered a global network of manufacturers who sell unproven devices and practitioners who exploit unsuspecting patients.

    Also in response, a congressional subcommittee is investigating how these manufacturers have taken advantage of federal loopholes to profit from the machines. And last week, the Washington State Chiropractic Association asked a state board that governs chiropractors to ban the EPFX.

    The Times series revealed how manufacturers and operators used unproven devices — some illegal, some dangerous — to misdiagnose diseases, divert critically ill people from life-saving care, and drain their bank accounts.

    Many operators dupe patients by posing as highly trained health-care professionals through the use of deceptive credentials and degrees from unaccredited institutions.

    These victims are casualties in the growing field called "energy medicine" — alternative therapies based on the belief that the body has energy fields that can be manipulated to improve health.

    Thousands of these unproven medical devices were found in venues across the country from health-care clinics in Florida to an 866-bed hospital in Missouri.

    The FDA and state regulators failed to confiscate or warn the public about a dangerous device, the PAP-IMI, a 260-pound electromagnetic pulsing machine linked to patient injuries and death.

    The devices, made in Greece by math professor Panos Pappas, were smuggled into the U.S. as seed germinators. They remain in use today in at least five states, including Washington.

    The FDA will take action against the PAP-IMI, Ulatowski said, but he wouldn't give details.

    "I don't want to tip my hand to those who might benefit," he said. "They may evade action."

    Under indictment

    The EPFX is one of the most prevalent energy devices in the U.S., with an estimated 10,000 machines in clinics, offices and homes. More have been sold in the Northwest than in any other region.

    Nelson, a native of Ohio, registered his company, Eclosion, with the FDA in 1989 as a maker of biofeedback machines, meaning he could sell his invention but only as a stress-relieving tool.

    In 1992, the FDA warned him to stop making fraudulent claims that his device could diagnose and heal. In 1996 he fled the U.S. after he was indicted on nine counts of felony fraud.

    Despite his indictment, the FDA never revoked his registration. Nelson re-established himself in Budapest and and began to sell the EPFX once again.

    Today, the flamboyant Nelson, 56, rakes in millions of dollars monthly from the sales of devices, accessories and training materials.

    Physicians, nurses and chiropractors across the country market and use the device, which now costs $19,900. One of the EPFX's celebrity pitchmen was Jeffrey Spencer, a chiropractor for champion cyclist Lance Armstrong.

    Spencer said he used the device to treat some members of the U.S. cycling team during the 2003 and 2007 Tour de France, but never used it on Armstrong. When questioned for the Times series, he said he wouldn't use the machine again.

    Ulatowski said Friday the FDA recently revoked Nelson's registration as a manufacturer, which will allow the agency to seize the machines at U.S borders. This first step will not affect those machines already in the country.

    The FDA action is expected to cripple his sales network. Five of his six largest distributors are in the U.S. His largest distributor, The Quantum Alliance, is in Calgary, Alberta.

    Ulatowski said federal officials are working with foreign regulators to see what actions can be taken.

    "I'd like to invite Mr. Nelson back into the country. I'm sure we'd have a good welcome for him here," Ulatowski said.

    Neither Nelson nor Quantum officials responded to requests for comment.

    No warning

    For years, the FDA did not warn the public about the dangers of the PAP-IMI nor address Nelson's outrageous claims and the rapid spread of the EPFX.

    Ulatowski said the FDA thought it had tackled those problems when it helped to bring the fraud charges against Nelson and shut down a Los Angeles PAP-IMI clinic.

    "These products in general are like weeds," Ulatowski said. "You stamp them out and you take action and they well may pop up again. Here we are again. We have to address it, and the agency will."

    The Times found that unscrupulous device makers and operators took advantage of federal regulations that let them operate on an honor system in clinical studies.

    The FDA routinely cedes its oversight of such studies to committees of medical professionals called institutional review boards, or IRBs. Review boards are required to oversee the design and safety of clinical studies.

    Scores of private companies sell IRB services, which offer the promise of quick study approval and oversight for as little as a few thousand dollars.

    The medical devices involved in clinical studies will be included in the investigation being conducted by a U.S. House Energy and Commerce subcommittee, which oversees the FDA.

    Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Bainbridge Island, requested the expanded investigation. He wants to eliminate "IRB shopping," in which a device maker can hire a private overseer for a study. The FDA does not track most of the studies.

    Rep. Bart Stupak, subcommittee chairman, and Rep. John Dingell, chairman of the full committee and a subcommittee member, said in a statement that FDA regulations may not adequately protect the public. Both are Michigan Democrats.

    "We share your concern that Americans are being duped by dangerous, unproven devices that illegally claim to diagnose, treat and even cure their illnesses," they wrote to Inslee.

    Christine Willmsen: 206-464-3261 or cwillmsen@seattletimes.com
    Michael J. Berens: 206-464-2288 or mberens@seattletimes.com

    More related stories from Seattle Times

    Our position was clear - It's BUNK and always has been!

    Fall 2005 - Some licensed medical doctors are obviously deluded enough to believe that QXCI machines can help their patients. It doesn't take much of an imagination to jump to the alternative medical camp to see what they think. Are they true-believers, or are they just plain and simply out for a buck.

    Jumbled together with a myriad of burned-out social workers, housewives, garage mechanics, vitamin pedlars, and their ilk some of these people are actually licensed health professionals. They can in some cases actually bill their publicly funded insurance programs for this quackery. In some jurisdictions, when they are not covered by your tax dollars, they bill private insurance companies to complete the fraud.

    In some electronic design circles it has now become a game to design machines that are classified as biofeedback devices in order to escape government regulations. I've been hooked up to one of these wacky machines and listened to their pitch about how I could make tens of thousands of dollars if I had one of them in my practice. These sophisticated (sometimes valued at tens of thousands of dollars), devices, sometimes almost Startrekkian, enables the quacks to pinpoint and test for various non-existant illnesses or allergies.

    It's frightening enough when a medical doctor uses one of these, but even more frightening when they teach others to do the same thing to make a buck. Of course the main idea is to pump you up with a skillfully contrived sales-pitch. They convince you with totally false information that this device will be able to get to the root of your problems, even of course if they are only buried deep inside your worried brain. Then, based on this useless information you now have to make a decision that might effect you for the rest of your life. In some cases, this advice could be deadly.

    The majority of the more sophisticated machines are still being made by foreign electronics manufacturers, and marketed through catalogs and sales reps who serve the medical, chiropractic, homeopathic, and naturopathic professionals.

    But what is really frightening, some of these companies sell to anyone with the money. At the world-famous Perimeter Institute in Waterloo, Ontario one of the companies that happened to be located right across the street placed their glossy brochures inside their building without permission. He is a member of our Chamber of Commerce. He operates out of an apartment building.

    Can the QXCI brigade justify their claims. In my opinion - they can't. So why haven't regulators stepped in? My feeling is that the government is sick and tired of investigating them. The charges rarely shut the manufacturers down. They just change their brochures, or modify their presentations to please them. But that does nothing to stop their use as a medical device that is promoted with the express purpose of scamming people, including those who buy them.

    Once the machines are in the hands of the quacks and licensed doctors, the government throws their hands up in most cases. It's then up to courts or the consumer fraud departments to step in. And that, my friends has almost never happened.

    So, as the QXCI lobby gets ready to take aim at me, it may be wise to discuss the situation with your insurance carrier. If you find that your health insurance carrier pays for QXCI, then ask them why? Tell them that it is health fraud, and file complaints when you see advertisments for any of these devices. Good luck and beware.

    Terry Polevoy, MD

    QXCI complaints on HealthWatcher.net

    Complaint for promotion of unproved device

    • Promotion of this device for medical reasons in violation of Health Canada
    • regulations
    • False advertising under the Competition Bureau
    • False advertising under Advertising Standards Canada
    Date: May 10, 2006
    Page: 36
    Type of ad: Display
    Earn $100/hour
    STRESS Reduction
    Stress is the #1 cause of disease
    Certification and training provided with a Stress
    Reduction Device that scans the body and has the
    ability to assess and deliver therapies. You help a
    wide variety of clients because this technology
    has the capability of working with almost any
    health condition including:
    * Anti-Aging  * Weight Control
    * Stop Smoking  * Depression
    * Allergies and much more
    Qualifications: strong desire to make a difference,
    health background helpful, basic computer skills
    is an asset, strong client relationship/counselling
    Please send resume to:
    or fax to: 519-885-5907

    Quantum Power Centre - Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

    A previous complaint has been filed in the Fall against the company involved in this scam. I discovered that they had placed their glossy brochures at the Perimeter Institute during the EinsteinFest in Waterloo, Ontario. The company operates out of an apartment building in the converted Seagrams Lofts, right across the street from them. The brochures were removed immediately when they were reported to the Institute's management.

    Quantum Power Brochures placed without permission at the Perimeter Institute:

    Claims Made in Brochures and Promotional Web Sites

    In less than five minutes, this non-invasive scanning process can screen for:
    • Allergies and Food Sensitivies
    • Nutritional Deficiences
    • Adrenal Function
    • Hormone Levels
    • Organ Function
    • Hydration/Oxygenation
    • Acid/Alkaline Balance
    • Toxicities - exposure to excess chemicals, heavy metals/mercury
    • Trauma (damage) - physical, psychological, emotional
    • Pathogens - bacteria, fungi, viruses, parasites
    • Electrodermal Screening
    • Physical Body - Organs, Muscles, Glands, Blood, Brain Wave Patterns and more

    Therapies include:

    • Electrodermal
    • Acupuncture
    • Reflexology
    • Cranial Sacral
    • Allergy Desensitization
    • Detoxification
    • Spinal
    • Dental TMJ
    • NLP (Neurolinguistic Programming)
    • Nutritional Balancing
    • Beauty
    • Anti-Aging
    • Stress Reduction
    • Homeopathic
    • Meridian Therapy/Electordermal-Acupuncture
    • Weight Loss Therapy
    • Risk Profile Analysis and much more

    The company's web site is full of untruths about health, medicine and of course this device.

    Quantum Power Center of Canada
    Boyd Anderson
    5 Father David Bauer Dr.
    Seagrams Suite #111
    Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
    N2L 6M2
    Local: (519) 885-5553
    Toll-free: 1-866-693-5553
    Email: info@quantumpowercentre.com

    How they operate:

    These scamsters sell machines to others for a commission from their marketing organization.

    Consultants' Agreement & Fees


    • The Broker shall pay a Referral Fee to The Consultant for any sale of The System; A QXCI or SCIO to The End User as a direct result of the involvement of The Consultant.
    • The Broker shall pay The Consultant in accordance with standard referral fees. To a total of; as listed below.
    • The Consultant shall receive his/her Referral Fees in a timely manner after payment in full for The System is confirmed by the bankers or banking agents of The Broker.

    The Consultant shall receive the following Referral Fees* (All amounts in US Dollars) according to the number of net sales of The System sold in a calendar month to The End User as a direct result - The Consultant performing the QXCI / SCIO Presentation.


    • One System $2,000. Per System $2,500. Per System
    • Two Systems $2,500. " $3,000. "
    • Three to Five Systems $3,000. " $3,500. "
    • Six to Nine Systems $3,500. " $4,000. "
    • Ten Plus Systems $4,000. " $4,500. "

    * If The Consultant only refers a prospect to The Broker, the Fees may be less than the above listed amounts; such as a demonstration fee (see below). The suggested Fee to a non owner of the System for a referral that nets a sale is $500.

    • In the case where The Broker refers a prospect to The Consultant for a QXCI / SCIO Presentation, The Consultant will receive a $500. Fee upon the net sale of The System to the prospect.
    • The Consultant shall receive a $500. Finders Fee on each sale of The System by The End User (Sold by the Consultant) and upon the first sale of The End User, he/she will be deemed as The Client Consultant of The Consultant.
    • Upon The Client Consultant(s) of The Consultant collectively achieving 10 net sales of The System, The Consultant under the condition that The Consultant is still active with The Broker may be promoted to the status of The Executive Consultant.
    • The Executive Consultant shall receive the following Referral Fees on their personal net sales of The System counting the net sales of The System by The Lead Consultant and collectively the net sales of The System by The Client Consultant(s) sold in a calendar month.

    Report QXCI

    I just don't understand how Health Canada can just allow this kind of device into Canada to begin with and how they allow the marketing of this bogus device to others.

    When are we going to see some action on the part of Health Canada, or the Competition Bureau to clamp down on these scam artists?

    If any health professional in Canada uses QXCI devices to diagnose or treat patients, they can be investigated by their regulatory bodies. If any lay person uses these devices to treat people and claim to cure medical conditions, they should be reported to the Competition Bureau, Health Canada, and to the police.

    More EPFX / QXCI links

  • Quantum Energy Health Centres of Canada - This site wants to help medical doctors and they claim that they "...can supply informative reports that can assist your diagnosis and direct you to effective testing and more positive results" [What rubbish!!].
    Not to be outdone, here's what they can offer naturopaths: "Allow us to assist you in balancing your client’s body, and assist their immune system, thereby creating an improved system to more readily accept and benefit from your recommended therapies and remedies. We can evaluate and report the resonance of vitamins and mineral substances for your individual clients." -
    [It's bad enought that naturopaths already make those claims. Now it's the unlicensed quacks who get a piece of the action!!!]

    And, they want to partner with anyone who believes this junk science. IF you want a piece of the New Medicine scamsters, this must be the place for you! "At Quantum Energy Health Centres we believe that everyone should be entitled to simple, non-invasive health solutions. If you are suffering from chronic pain, illness, or side effects from doctor prescribed care, we can help you alleviate that. If you are unhappy with your appearance, diet, and/or stress levels, you don’t need to ‘live with it’ any longer."

    "Our mission is educating the public about New Medicine, providing people with a place to get balanced, relaxed, and stress free. In order to provide these solutions to the mass public there needs to be Quantum Energy Health Centres in every town, (no matter how small), in every city (no matter how big) and on every corner! We want to change the landscape of today’s healthcare with positive alternatives."

  • Quantum Consultant Newsletter
  • Garth Riley's page:
  • Quantum Knights of Canada
  • John Sargent's page:
  • Quantum Alliance - These people are global brokers for the devices. "Our target market is extremely wide-ranging including existing practitioners in complementary medicine such as acupuncturists, homeopaths, naturopaths, and chiropractors, and also practitioners in Allopathic Medicine such as MDs, dentists, veterinarians, and psychologists. "

    Join one of their webinars where you can learn about such things as Prayer Wheel Navigation. by Dr. Faith Nelson who claims to be a PhD. Unfortunately, her degree is from a mailorder diploma mill called Greenwich University.

  • Focus on Health - Here is what they claim: "What does the EPFX actually do? · The Healing Plan will be designed according to your personal energetic health profile. The following sessions will “window in” on specific areas of concern. The general flow of treatment used by Quantum Source Practitioners is as follows: The EPFX scans the electromagnetic frequencies of the body similar to the virus-scan on a computer. The scan detects any viruses, deficiencies, weaknesses, allergies, abnormalities, and food sensitivities. In less than four minutes, nearly nine thousand parameters of health are tested. During testing the device resonates with thousands of tissues, organs, nutrients, toxins and allergens for one hundredth of a second each, and records the degree to which the body reacts. This type of rapid testing is known as the Xrroid process. These measurements indicate needs, dysfunctions, and vulnerabilities. Unlike harmful x-rays, which focus on physical alignment or blood tests, which contain chemical analysis, the information reveals the direction in which the body is focusing its energy."

    Other Programs Include:

    Brain Wave Pattern Evaluation 
    Spiritual Healing 
    Allergy Testing 
    Tens Therapy for Pain Control 
    Electro Hypnosis 
    Miasm Analysis 
    Iridology Program 
    Sarcode Therapy 
    Organ Reactivity Evaluation 
    Muscle Evaluation 
    The information may include:
    · Top 5 Health Risks: 
         Hydration and oxygen levels 
         Most stressed or weak organs 
         Mental or emotional blockages 
    · Blood Scan 
    · Toxins and PH balance
    · Vitamins Levels, Mineral Levels, Amino Acid Levels, Hormones
    · Neurotransmitters 
    · Spinal Energy blockages 
    · Causes and Aggravations 
    · Personal Affirmation 
    · Long Term Goal 
    · Others factors effecting energy flow 

  • Institute of Quantum Biofeedback Naturopathic Medicine - The institute is unaccredited, but that doesn't matter to the people who run this operation. You can become a Quantum expert anyway. One of their "teachers" is an iridologist who comes to Toronto on a regular basis to participate in the health expos. One of the "doctors" profiled claims to be a Quebec medical doctor, but he apparently moved to California to practice. Unfortunately he is not licensed in that State as either an MD or a naturopath.

    This is really where it gets to be very cloudy indeed. Someone named William C Nelson, PhD claims to actually by a Medical Doctor. Sorry, but that is not the case at all.

    "Prof Nelson's first vocational experiences were in quantum physics and electrical engineering, when he worked on the navigation system for the Apollo project. He taught mathematics, meditation, and mystic philosophy at Youngstown State University for over eight years. He became a Medical Doctor and a Licensed Clinical Counselor in Ohio to diagnose and treat the ailments of mankind. Born in the United States, Professor William Nelson who now resides in Budapest, Hungary, is a world renowned scientist, international lecturer, a respected writer and the inventor of the SCIO / EPFX- QXCI. To some people, he is an overnight success but the SCIO / EPFX- QXCI came about after 20 years of research and dedication. His areas of professional expertise include: Quantum biology, Energetic medicine, Homeopathy, Alternative medicine, Naturopathy."
    [There never has been any medical doctor registered in the State of Ohio by that name. However he was licensed as a Professional Clinical Counselor from 1990 to about 1998 when his license expired.]

  • Ontario marketers include Dr. Debbie Drake, a real MD
  • Dr. Debbie Drake's Harmonize Your Health web site - Port Perry, Ontario
  • Search for Debbie Drake Quantum on Google