Hamer’s House of Horror

— Celebrity doctors Dean Ornish, David Katz, and Caldwell Esselstyn to headline “cult-like” pseudoscience event next month

They are set to speak at the upcoming Lifestyle Medicine Summit alongside prominent anti-vaxxers and other proponents of “natural medicine.”

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The event is organised by the Lifestyle Prescriptions Foundation, whose website promotes anti-vax conspiracies, and states that cancer sufferers “are solely responsible for their own illness.” The website also lists outspoken flat earth conspiracy theorist David “Avocado” Wolfe as one of its “partner affiliates.”

The Lifestyle Prescriptions Foundation was founded in 2016 by Munich native Johannes Fisslinger, inventor of the “Aura Video Station.”

Johannes Fisslinger (source)

Fisslinger previously ran the “cult-like” International Meta-Medicine Association (IMMA).

A 2009 report by a Norwegian television station said that three cancer sufferers died after being advised by members of IMMA’s Advisory Council to stop conventional treatments.

TV 2, April 17, 2009 (source)

Both IMMA and the Lifestyle Prescriptions Foundation teach “the art and science of self-healing,” a highly speculative model of disease based on the discredited theories of criminal ex-doctor and virulent anti-Semite Ryke Geerd Hamer, who lost his medical licence in 1986 after a number of patients in his care died.

Ryke Geerd Hamer (source)

According to Hamer, specific traumatic experiences cause specific physical symptoms. For example, a child raised by conservative, or “inflexible,” parents might develop rigid joints.

Medical authorities have widely denounced Hamer for his theories and illegal treatment of cancer patients, most famously in the case of six-year-old Olivia Pilhar.

Headline: A Dangerous Saviour – Once again, the judiciary has to deal with the controversial “cancer healer” Ryke Geerd Hamer, who is no longer allowed to work as a doctor or a naturopath. Nevertheless his followers trust him blindly.

Der Spiegel, August 9, 1997 (source)

The Lifestyle Prescriptions Foundation itself recently attracted criticism when it held an event at Regent’s University London, a prestigious British university.

BuzzFeed, March 15, 2017 (source)

Speaking to BuzzFeed UK, British MP Matt Warman (of the UK parliament’s Science and Technology Select Committee), said that the Lifestyle Prescriptions Foundation promotes “unproven quack cures.”

In a separate comment, British pharmacologist David Colquhoun was even less sparing, calling Fisslinger’s ideas about disease “utter bollocks.”

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I asked Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn, the famed American physician and one of 14 “visionary speakers” set to speak at the Lifestyle Medicine Summit, for his opinion.

In his reply to me, Dr. Esselstyn dismissed the criticism.

“A number of highly respected colleagues of mine have been on this program and like myself are eager that people should become acquainted with the hard science of proven research and evidence based scientific strategies,” said Dr. Esselstyn, adding: “I am simply not familiar with the observations you have sited [sic].”

Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn (source)

Someone who ought to be familiar with the macabre origins of the Lifestyle Prescriptions Foundation is Dr. Dean Ornish, best-selling author and White House policy adviser during the Clinton and Obama administrations.

In 2007, Dr. Ornish was awarded the distinction of “Excellence in Integrative Medicine” from IMMA’s defunct breast cancer research charity, the Heal Breast Cancer FoundationHe later appeared in Fisslinger’s 2010 film, Titans of Yoga, and was at one time slated to host the 2013 “Be Meta-Healthy Online World Summit.”

Last year I informed Dr. Ornish about IMMA’s association with Hamer, and asked him about his own decade-long association with Fisslinger, which he denied.

Dr. Ornish said his appearance at the Lifestyle Medicine Summit is not an endorsement of the views expressed by Fisslinger or the notorious Hamer.

Dr. Dean Ornish (source)

“I often speak at conferences – including prestigious scientific meetings – where I do not always agree with what other speakers, organizers, or affiliates may be presenting or with their views on other subjects,” said Dr. Ornish.

“I am not endorsing the conference or other speakers; I’m just presenting a summary of 40 years of research that I’ve directed, published in the leading peer-reviewed medical journals, in hopes that this may be helpful. I am responsible only for my own comments.”

Co-headlining the event is Dr. David L. Katz, founding director of the CDC-funded Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Centre and a vocal critic of the anti-vax movement.

Dr. David Katz (source)

In 2013, Dr. Katz gave a talk via Skype at the “Be Meta-Healthy Online World Summit,” videos of which later appeared on the Lifestyle Prescriptions Foundation website.

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Last year I asked Dr. Katz about his relationship with Fisslinger, IMMA, and the Lifestyle Prescriptions Foundation. Dr. Katz said he had “no relationship with any of these people,” insisting that he’d “never endorsed any program or product of theirs.”

This time when I asked him about Fisslinger, he said he “didn’t know this was the same person” I’d asked about previously.

“A Skype interview sets a pretty low bar- I do not conduct a background check,” said Dr. Katz. “I can only ever take responsibility for what I say – and that I do.”

He continued: “I have heard questionable commentary at almost every conference I’ve ever attended- but I have never felt that speaking at the same conference implied my endorsement of commentary by others. That said, I do tend to know far better those with whom I interact in person. This was merely an interview, and I do several a week. Sometimes I know the interviewers fairly well, but more often I do not.”

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In my follow-up questions to Dr. Katz, I asked if he’d ever refused to speak at an event because of a disagreement with the scientific views of the organiser; and for his response to the argument that by speaking at a pseudoscience event he lends credibility to the organisers they wouldn’t otherwise have.

Here is Dr. Katz’s reply:

My only additional response to you at this point, Sterling, is that I have no better idea who you are, than who Johannes is. For all I know, you are his personal stalker.

He has only ever asked me about things in which I have a genuine interest, and invited me to discuss them unimpeded- whereas you have only ever asked me about him. Of the two of you, your behavior has been the more concerning to me.

I’ve asked Dr. Katz if he intends to ask Fisslinger about the issues raised in this post, but haven’t received a reply.

The Lifestyle Medicine Summit will take place between June 1–7, 2017. Speakers include retired surgeon and Quackwatch regular Dr. Bernie Siegel, prominent anti-vaxxer Sayer Ji, and Dr. Stephane Provencer, who practices “holistic child health care.”

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Hate Mail Volume 1: Alt-Med Madness

Homeopaths are mad at BuzzFeed for article about “pseudo-scientific events” being held at a prestigious London university + Read the angry e-mails I received from a proponent of criminal doctor Ryke Geerd Hamer’s discredited theory of disease

Last week, BuzzFeed UK published a superb article based partly on my investigation of the International Meta-Medicine Association (IMMA), a US integrative medicine organisation that has been blamed for the death of three cancer sufferers.

Science journalist Tom Chivers (formerly a writer for The Telegraph) reported that Regent’s University London – a prestigious private university and registered charity – had allowed its premises to be used for a series of events and programmes which promote pseudo-scientific treatments.

Earlier this month, Regent’s leased space for a conference by the Lifestyle Prescriptions Foundation, whose founder Johannes Fisslinger – a student of ghoulish German ex-doctor Ryke Geerd Hamer, originator of the discredited Germanic New Medicine – previously ran the disreputable IMMA.

Via “This London University Keeps Holding Pseudoscientific Events” by Tom Chivers, BuzzFeed UK, March 15, 2017:

Lifestyle Prescriptions was founded by Johannes Fisslinger in 2016; on its website, practitioners of the “lifestyle medicine” it promotes claim to be able to teach how to “prevent and heal diabetes, heart disease, obesity, autoimmune disease, cancer and many other health issues”, and a practitioner claims to be able to “heal cancer”.

The blogger Dean Sterling Jones, who has investigated Fisslinger, claims that “lifestyle medicine” is based on “meta-medicine”, a scientifically unfounded practice that says there are links between psychological traumas and specific illnesses – for instance, a woman seeing her child in danger might get breast cancer.

Previously, Fisslinger ran the International Meta-Medicine Association (IMMA). A 2009 report by a Norwegian TV station said three cancer sufferers died after being advised by IMMA practitioners to stop taking conventional treatment.

Chivers also reported that Regent’s was scheduled to host a talk by Samir Chaukkar – an Indian homeopath who believes vaccines cause autism and that autism can be treated with homeopathy – and that last month the university held a screening of Vaxxed, a controversial anti-vaccination film by the disgraced, struck-off doctor Andrew Wakefield.

Via Chivers’ article:

Homeopathy is a pseudoscientific treatment that claims diseases can be treated by enormously diluted preparations of substances that cause the symptoms of those diseases – so onion juice, which causes runny eyes and sniffles, might treat the common cold.

The preparations are usually so diluted that no molecules of the original substance remain. A 2010 House of Commons investigation found that homeopathy was not effective for any diseases and described its purported mechanism as “scientifically implausible”.

…Chaukkar’s talk, “Kingdoms in Homeopathy”, was cancelled by Regent’s after an autism rights activist, Fiona Pettit O’Leary, rang to ask the university about it. He also spoke at the university last year, in a two-day, £140-a-ticket seminar on how to treat addiction and skin diseases with homeopathy.

In the comments section, proponents of homeopathy criticised Chivers’ article, claiming it was “very biased” and that homeopathy “is effective medicine used by MD’s and hospitals around the world.”

Denis MacEoin, a prominent analyst/writer from Belfast, Northern Ireland (coincidentally where I’m from), claimed that research into homeopathy had yielded positive results – a claim refuted by Quackometer blogger Andy Lewis:

Homeopathy proponent Rosyln Ross wrote that “pseudo-science” is a derogatory label used by evidence-based science “for things which it cannot explain, cannot exploit and so wishes to discredit” – a claim rebutted by chemistry student/author Dr. Elliot Mabeuse:

The Canadian homeopath Fernando Gigliotti simply wrote, “Buzzfeed=FakeNews”:

Earlier this month, I received more angry comments by a proponent of the Germanic New Medicine, Ryke Geerd Hamer’s widely discredited theory which posits that specific traumas correlate with specific physical illnesses – for instance, a woman seeing her child in danger might get breast cancer.

The anonymous commenter claimed that my September 14, 2016 item, “The Death of Itziar Orube,” contained “false information”; that Hamer didn’t have his medical licence revoked after his patients died; and that ninety percent of Hamer’s patients actually survived.

Here are the unedited e-mails:

You have a lot of false information in your note. Hamer did€t loss their medical license for cancer patients death. There are youtube interviews with the “dead patients who say that are alive thanks to their medica practice. In fact 90% of their patients lived 6 years after their treatments when the Dr. Hamer case was in the Germany courts.

You also ignore the causes of the Itziar Urebe´s death, that can be explained with the 5 laws discovered by Dr. Hamer.

You and all of the people who make false claims about the new germanic medicine should apply the science principle of: You cannot deny a scientific knowledge “a priori” but “a posteriori”.

If you did´t evaluate this knowledge, you can´t make any assumption about it.

This commenter didn’t provide evidence for their claims, and I was unable to find the video interviews with Hamer’s surviving patients, but here’s a scan of a long-lost November 1983 Der Stern article about Hamer titled “Corpses Pave His Way,” which I grabbed before it disappeared from the Internet.

The translated report reads:

The table is laid, but the female patient has no appetite. Pork roast is served in “Haus Dammersmoor” and pineapple for dessert. She has been yellow for weeks, the female patient with liver, lung, and colon cancer. But that does not matter, says the tall, wiry doctor with the pleasant voice, this will go away. “Today we already feel much better.” The patient tries to laugh. The pineapple slice on the plate is not quite as yellow as she is.

“This is completely normal,” says Dr. Ryke Geerd Hamer, “even if the cancer is stopped, the injured liver must now work hard.” Her hands are so cozily warm, an unmistakable sign for her being out of the woods.

Liver, lung, and colon cancer. The others at the lunch table nod. Believing. Or devoted. Or just merely mechanically. All are dying of cancer.

A year ago we witnessed the same scene. Only the house at that time was not called “Dammersmoor” but “Rosenhof.” And it was in the German south, in Bad Krozingen, and not in the village Gyhum near Bremen. The same people sat around the table of Dr. Hamer: yellow in the face, emaciated or with swollen body.

The same deathly sick. Only, it is not the same. Because of those in Rosenhof nearly no one is alive anymore. And not a single one is cured by the man, who calls his colleagues Medi-Cynics and for his method of healing, the “iron rule of cancer,” without batting an eye lid, [claims] a success rate of 80 percent.

According to numerous German news sources, Hamer was stripped of his medical licence in 1986, and in 1989 a Koblenz court ruled that Hamer did not possess the mental capacity to grasp the ethical ramifications of treating patients using an unproven therapy.

In 2001, a Swiss study found “no evidence” to support Hamer’s New Medicine, describing it as “dangerous, especially as it lulls the patients into a false sense of security so that they are deprived of other effective treatments.”

In 2004, The German Cancer Society offered its “expert opinion”: Hamer’s hypothesis lacked “any scientific or empirical justification.”

The final nail came from Dr. Michael Reusch, president of the German Medical Association, who in a 2006 interview called it “a tragedy” that vulnerable cancer patients had been taken in by Hamer’s “charlatanism.”

If anyone else feels the need to explain why they think Hamer is a misunderstood genius, or why conventional medicine is a Jewish conspiracy, there’s a great website called WordPress where you can start your own blog. Good luck!

Creating a Buzz

— “There’s no excuse for blurring the boundaries between rigorously researched scientific work and pseudoscientific claims about unproven quack cures.” Read BuzzFeed UK’s superb article based partly on my investigation of freaky US alt-med organisation

For the past year I’ve written extensively about the International Meta-Medicine Association (IMMA), a US integrative medicine organisation that teaches the widely discredited theories of Ryke Geerd Hamer, a notorious German ex-doctor who lost his medical licence in 1986 after a number of patients in his care died.

IMMA was founded in 2004 by Johannes Fisslinger, inventor of the “Aura Video Station.” According to IMMA Master Trainer Richard Flook, Fisslinger is a former student of Hamer. Hamer’s Canadian representative Ilsedora Laker has even accused Fisslinger of plagiarising Hamer’s work.

IMMA founder Johannes Fisslinger (source)

Last year, I interviewed Fisslinger about reports that three or more cancer sufferers died after being advised by IMMA practitioners to abandon conventional treatments. Fisslinger said the conduct of practitioners Dagfrid Kolås and Bent Madsen, both former members of IMMA’s Advisory Council, was “absolutely irresponsible” and “absolutely unacceptable.”

Fisslinger recently started the Lifestyle Prescriptions Foundation, an integrative medicine organisation which, like IMMA, teaches the discredited theories of the notorious Hamer.

Last week, the foundation held its inaugural meeting at Regent’s University London, a prestigious private university.

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Via “This London University Keeps Holding Pseudoscientific Events” by Tom Chivers, BuzzFeed UK, March 15, 2017:

Regent’s University London, an independent university and registered charity, has allowed its premises to be used to host a series of events and programmes which promote “pseudoscientific” treatments.

A member of the House of Commons science and technology committee told BuzzFeed News that any universities “lending their good name” to such events risked giving credibility to “unproven quack cures”.

On Saturday, Regent’s leased space for a conference by Lifestyle Prescriptions (LP). Proponents of “lifestyle medicine” claim on the LP website to teach people how to “stop or reverse” cancer and other illnesses. Practitioners of another health programme linked to LP’s founder have been blamed for the deaths of three cancer patients in Norway who stopped taking conventional treatments.

Lifestyle Prescriptions was founded by Johannes Fisslinger in 2016; on its website, practitioners of the “lifestyle medicine” it promotes claim to be able to teach how to “prevent and heal diabetes, heart disease, obesity, autoimmune disease, cancer and many other health issues”, and a practitioner claims to be able to “heal cancer”.

The blogger Dean Sterling Jones, who has investigated Fisslinger, claims that “lifestyle medicine” is based on “meta-medicine”, a scientifically unfounded practice that says there are links between psychological traumas and specific illnesses – for instance, a woman seeing her child in danger might get breast cancer.

Previously, Fisslinger ran the International Meta-Medicine Association (IMMA). A 2009 report by a Norwegian TV station said three cancer sufferers died after being advised by IMMA practitioners to stop taking conventional treatment.

Science reporter Tom Chivers (previously the Assistant Comment Editor for British broadsheet newspaper The Telegraph) did a fantastic job reporting about the foundation’s weird but not-so-wonderful background, including getting some revealing comments from Fisslinger.

Fisslinger denies that LP promotes any treatments, says LP is not based on meta-medicine, and says it is “totally irresponsible” to tell patients to stop any conventional treatment. He said “it’s a scientific fact that traumatic life events and negative emotions affect our health – nobody would deny that”. He also says he has not been involved with IMMA for several years.

There’s lots to debunk here, starting with Fisslinger’s claim that his foundation does not promote any treatments.

Via my August 12, 2016 blog post re: IMMA’s treatment methods, students at Fisslinger’s Meta-Health University – which provides “the world’s only lifestyle prescriptions training” – guide patients through the so-called “self-healing process using techniques derived from other popular complementary therapies, including: Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), Time Line Therapy (TLT), Matrix Reimprinting (MP), Advanced Clearing Energetics (ACE), Dianetics (Scientology), and Hamer’s discredited Germanic New Medicine.

Per the below excerpt from the university’s lengthy three-part “Meta-Health Therapy Plan,” students give advice intended to benefit patients’ mental, physical (including their “organ & energy” health) and social well-being. Recommendations range from benign platitudes such as follow your heart, to advice regarding emergency medical treatment.

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Fisslinger’s claim that Lifestyle Prescriptions is not based on meta-medicine is easily debunked via the university’s website, which clearly states that students “will be accredited by the Intl. META-Medicine Association, which is the worldwide standards and certification organization for META-Health [ie. Lifestyle Prescriptions] Professionals and Trainers.”

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The claim that traumatic experiences can negatively affect health isn’t controversial. However, Fisslinger’s foundation goes much further, asserting that specific emotionally traumatic experiences correspond with specific physical symptoms. For instance, Lifestyle Prescriptions practitioner Annie Gedye claims she treated a woman who developed swollen lymph nodes upon discovering her boyfriend had cheated on her. Gedye’s interpretation is that the woman had experienced psychological trauma and literally became unable to swallow the information.

As for Fisslinger’s claim that he has not been involved with IMMA “for several years, not only does his foundation’s university website state a clear connection to IMMA, Fisslinger himself is listed as being IMMA’s designated Agent for Process on the organisation’s December 2016 Statement of Information declaration to the State of California.

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Via Chivers’ article, Fisslinger says he will “personally distance” himself from “anyone claiming to heal any diseases, especially cancer,” and said “lifestyle medicine is helping people to be healthier”:

“We don’t make any of these claims,” he said. “These are statements from leading lifestyle medicines featured in the lifestyle medicine summit.

“We make it very clear to anyone using Lifestyle Prescriptions to follow the legal requirements for their profession, and especially always work with their local doctor and never tell or even suggest clients stop any form of treatment or making any claims to heal anything.”

He added: “It’s not about treating something, but rather prevention and healthy living.”

Chivers’ article also includes incisive comments from Matt Warman, MP for Boston and Skegness and a member of the House of Commons science and technology committee:

[Warman] told BuzzFeed News: “Universities, private or otherwise, should take care when promoting or lending their good name to events which promote scientifically unfounded claims, as the use of their premises can add legitimacy to such claims and may serve to mislead attendees or observers.

“There’s no excuse for blurring the boundaries between rigorously researched scientific work and pseudoscientific claims about unproven quack cures.”

On June 1, 2017, Lifestyle Prescriptions will host a week-long online “lifestyle medicine” summit. Speakers include: Sayer Ji, founder of the highly dubious natural medicine website GreenMedInfo; Christa Krahnert, a “natural Medicine Doctor specialized in cancer, micro-biome and enhancing the body’s natural self-healing mechanism”; and prominent EFT proponents Dawson Church and Karl Dawson, among others.

Headlining the summit is nutritionist/Forbes columnist Dr. David Katz, alongside his True Health Initiative colleague Dr. Rob Lawson – who also spoke at the Regent’s conference.

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Last year, I asked Dr. Katz about his years-long association with Fisslinger/meta-medicine, and the damaging claim made by German blogger Aribert Deckers that by speaking at the 2013 Meta-Health Summit he was supporting “a lethal cancer fraud.”

Dr. Katz insisted that outside of his 2013 talk, he “has no relationship with any of these people and have never endorsed any program or product of theirs.”

When I asked Dr. Katz if he profited from the sale of videos of his 2013 talk, which were being sold via the Lifestyle Prescriptions TV website at a price of ninety-seven dollars per year, he called me a “cartoon character” and accused me of harassing him.

Click here to read more about IMMA and Lifestyle Prescriptions.