After the scandals involving TV Nutritionist, “Doctor” Gillian McKeith, who it turns out gained her so-called ‘qualification’ “by correspondence course from a non-accredited American college” and TV Psychologist Raj Persaud, who has admitted plagiarising other people’s work for his best selling books, you’d think the media would be more careful about which health professionals it hires to fill airtime or column inches.
You’d be wrong. The Metro – the free morning commuter’s newspaper produced by Associated Newspapers Limited – runs a health column edited by one Lisa Scott. What Ms Scott’s qualifications are – besides being able to use Google – to dispense health advice are unclear.
I was shocked to read in this morning’s edition the following piece of dangerous nonsense in an article about coconut oil (which apparently contains medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs):
On top of metabolism-boosting qualities, the MCTs also have powerful anti-microbial properties that can kill bacteria and viruses such as herpes and even HIV.
Of course, one of Ms Scott’s sources for her article is another celebrity quack, Suzi Grant, who has some qualifications in the field of immunology, having gained – according to her website– a “certificate of attendance” for a course on “Psycho-neuro-immunology” from the Bristol Cancer Help Centre.
Another was nutritionist Cheryl Wilson who considers herself “a ‘general practitioner’ of nutrition” after having gained an honours degree from the University of Westminster.
I’m sure you’d agree that these people are more than qualified to pronounce on a subject as simple and straightforward as the cure for HIV/AIDS.
Now, South African AIDS-denying president Thabo Mbeki’s lunatic Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimanghas famously claimed that beetroot juice has magic curative properties. But dear old Manto is, after all, quite mad. And she’s a politician who has to well, ‘say things’.
But we’re dealing with a journalist here. For Associated Newspapers. With sources.
It doesn’t take long to trace the source of this stupidity. The article is actually to promote a company “Essence of Eden” who – surprise, surprise – are importers and wholesalers of coconut oil. It is their URL given at the end of the story. They back up their claims with a link to the “Coconut Research Center“. The first claim by the CRC for coconut’s applications in modern medicine is:
Kills viruses that cause influenza, herpes, measles, hepatitis C, SARS, AIDS, and other illnesses.
So this is the path our Lisa Scott took to “research” her article. Even so, do Associated Newspapers hire journalists with IQs so low that they can’t work out what information on the Internet is sound and what isn’t – and crucially, what information is so unsound and potentially dangerous that an expert medical opinion might be called for before publishing as fact?
Let me put this another way. Is The Metro fucking insane publishing a claim which will be interpreted as “coconut oil cures AIDS”?
But I’ll hand over to a Dr Robert Frascino – who actually does have a medical degree and who works in the HIV/AIDS field who writes (in correspondence with a quack promoting this treatment):
I’m not discounting the “thousands of years and current research on the ‘componants’ found in coconut”. Rather, I’m merely relating that claims of drinking coconut milk having shown scientific benefit for the treatment of HIV/AIDS are pure poppycock! Coconut milk is fine in Thai soup and Piña Coladas, but there is no credible evidence that it belongs in anyone’s HAART regimen!
Now before you start getting indignant all over again, I should advise you that I would not be at all surprised to learn that coconut extract can indeed inhibit HIV in the test tube. So can loads of other stuff such as bleach, nail polish remover and laundry detergent. That does not mean we should start using these agents as HIV therapies! My job here is to promote scientific fact and common sense. Your coconut therapy for HIV is neither. It appears you were not pleased that I called coconut therapy poppycock. Perhaps if I called it balderdash you’d better understand point?
But hey, if the medical establishment gives you the cold shoulder, there’s always a career in journalism. Or, if like one lone coconut campaigner, for 15 years you’ve “tried, and tried, and tried – hence this web site – to get this information across to the scientific experts and institutions, but so far, without any success whatsoever,” you could try a badly designed website.
Or you could get a job with Associated Newspapers.