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 upcoming appearance at this year’s 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.”

 

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.

Alt-Med Death in India

— India’s leading Meta-Medicine practitioner Anu Mehta says her patient committed suicide after she treated him for depression

Earlier this year, I blogged a series of investigative reports about the International Meta-Medicine Association (IMMA), a popular LA-based integrative medicine organisation founded in 2004 by Johannes Fisslinger, inventor of the “Aura Video Station.

For the uninitiated, IMMA – via its online university, Meta-Health University (MHU) – claims to have trained over 1,000 practitioners in the “art and science of self-healing,” an elaborate philosophy of preventive health based on the discredited theories of Ryke Geerd Hamer, a ghoulish German doctor who lost his medical licence in 1986 after a number of patients in his care died.

Notorious former doctor Ryke Geerd Hamer (source)

IMMA teaches that specific physical symptoms correspond with specific, sudden or prolonged traumatic experiences, and that the body can naturally heal itself of illness and disease, claims originating in Hamer’s highly speculative model of disease, the “Germanic New Medicine” (GNM).

According to a series of 2009 reports by Norwegian television station TV 2, at least three people died after they were advised by members of IMMA’s Advisory Council to abandon conventional cancer treatments – conduct Fisslinger later called “absolutely unacceptable.”

Now comes a report of another IMMA-related death.

According to Anu Mehta, India’s leading IMMA practitioner whose work has featured in The Bombay Times (owned by the Times Group), a 58-year-old man who was in the late stages of cancer has committed suicide after she treated him for depression.

IMMA practitioner Anu Mehta (source)

In her December 7, 2016 article, “How META Health can use artwork and colours to identify a person’s state of mind and suicidal tendencies” (via The Health Site), Mehta chronicles her patient’s mental deterioration in lurid detail through crayon drawings he made over the four month period leading up to his death.

An excerpt from Mehta’s article:

This is a case of a 58-year-old man, suffering from stomach, umbilical and rectal cancer with severe ascites. As per the medical fraternity, he did not have many days to live. He was married, with two sons. During his counselling, he confessed about his infidelity, obsession for watching porn and chatting on dating sites. He had huge difficulty in keeping his jobs. He had undergone chemotherapy after which he started feeling unattractive due to his bald head and pregnant looking belly.  I used crayon drawing analysis to get an insight of his suffering, stresses, attitude, beliefs, needs, desires, values, conflicts and healing ability at the subconscious level.

Mehta goes on to give her “Meta-Health” analysis of the patient’s drawings, including his last before committing suicide – the word “cancer,” with each of the letters scored out:

9th-drawing

This was the last crayon drawing sent by him before his death.

The colours show that he wanted magic to happen, in the absence of which he was feeling self – disparagement, unstable, needing peace and tranquility, wanting to abandon everything.

According to Mehta’s article, the patient threatened to kill himself less than a week before jumping in front of a train:

He sent me a message on 25 August, that he had a weird feeling in the middle of the night. He felt he had become absolutely normal and was feeling ‘Over positive’. He kept saying this positive feeling is too difficult to deal with, and continued saying, “Do something or I will die.”

…On 1 September 2016, I woke to the news that he had committed suicide by jumping in front of a running train at 9.00 AM, 7 minutes. This shocked me beyond words because his previous drawing had showed the time of his death.

Signing-off, Mehta states that the patient’s “unresolved fears” led him to commit suicide:

His death has prompted me to write this article and tell you all to take drawing more seriously. By understanding these drawings I got an insight into the cause of his death, which was not cancer but his unresolved fears, which made him take painful and tragic action.

Via my August 12, 2016 blog post re: IMMA’s treatment methods, practitioners guide patients through the so-called “self-healing process using techniques derived from other popular complementary and alternative therapies, including: Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), Time Line Therapy (TLT), Matrix Reimprinting (MP), Advanced Clearing Energetics (ACE), Dianetics (Scientology) and, of course, Hamer’s GNM.

Despite GNM having been thoroughly discredited and denounced by experts, IMMA has attracted several world-famous American doctors and Hollywood celebrities, including Dr. Dean Ornish, best-selling author and White House policy/public health advisor during the Clinton and Obama administrations, and A-list actor Ben Stiller.

You can read more about IMMA by clicking here, here and here.

Lifting the Lid on the Meta-Medicine Movement

— “Advising against a potentially life-saving procedure is absolutely irresponsible”: International Meta-Medicine Association founder Johannes Fisslinger talks about patient deaths in Norway

Earlier this month, I blogged about the lurid origins of the International Meta-Medicine Association (IMMA), an integrative medicine organisation based in Los Angeles, CA.

IMMA promotes an elaborate philosophy of preventive health based on the discredited theories of Ryke Geerd Hamer, a notorious German doctor and virulent anti-Semite who lost his medical licence in 1986 as a result of extreme misconduct.

Hamer’s illegal treatment of cancer patients using his so-called “Germanic New Medicine” (GNM) – a speculative model of disease exploring the “interconnections and relationships” between “the psyche, the brain and the organ” – has reportedly claimed dozens of lives.

There are few references to Hamer to be found on IMMA’s official websites, and none of the company’s high-profile supporters I’ve spoken with knew about its ties to him.

Munich native Johannes Fisslinger founded IMMA in 2004 to, quote, “inspire millions of people around the world to become aware of their body’s self-healing intelligence.” 

According to IMMA Master Trainer Richard Flook, Fisslinger is a former student of Hamer. GNM proponent Ilsedora Laker has even accused Fisslinger of plagiarising Hamer’s work.

IMMA founder Johannes Fisslinger (source)

I asked Fisslinger about his organisation’s relationship to Hamer, and his opinion of Hamer’s theories.

Fisslinger credited Hamer with providing the basic framework for IMMA’s philosophy of preventive health, but made clear he does not endorse Hamer’s racial views or his “do-nothing” approach to treating patients.

“I agree that Dr. Hamer’s method and therapy is ineffective or dangerous,” said Fisslinger, alluding to a 2001 Swiss study of Hamer’s cancer theories.

“[Hamer] basically did not use any therapy at all, telling people to just allow the body to heal without doing anything. This is 100% opposite to what we are doing.”

Fisslinger insists IMMA closely monitors its practitioners to ensure that they adhere to the company’s lengthy code of practice.

Meta-Medicine Code of Practice

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However, according to a series of 2009 reports by Norwegian television station TV 2, three or more people died after they were advised by IMMA practitioners Dagfrid Kolås and Bent Madsen to abandon conventional cancer treatments.

Via TV 2:*

Cancer sufferers said no to treatment [17/04/2009]

Three people are dead after refusing to get cancer treatment in Bergen. All had been in contact with the theories of the convicted ex-doctor Ryke Geerd Hamer.

There is still a lot of snow in the cemetery in Kongsberg. But Terje Fjeldheim would like there to be some fresh flowers on her sister’s grave.

Elsemarit Fjeldheim got cancer in 2006, but refused to receive treatment.

“We knew that when the cancer was discovered early, the prospects for recovery were very good,” says Terje Fjeldheim.

After she got cancer, Elsemarit came into contact with the theories of the German ex-doctor Ryke Geerd Hamer. Hamer has hundreds of followers in Europe and now the cult-like movement is also trying to gain a foothold on the West Coast.

Bent Madsen is central to the Meta-Medicine movement in Bergen, together with Dagfrid Kolås, author of a book named “Hope.”

It was these two people Terje’s sister came in contact with in 2006.

“The worst thing was that they went so hard against using medicine and warned against it, that it only made matters worse,” says Terje Fjeldheim.

It’s murder [18/04/2009]

Gunnvor Vossgård believes her cancer-stricken daughter died as a result of blind faith in alternative therapists.

When Agnete developed cancer, she was offered chemotherapy. But she chose instead to rely on alternative therapists to get her well. Seven years ago, she died of cancer.

“I begged and begged and cried. And so did her friends too. But it was no use,” says Agnete’s mother Gunnvor Vossgård.

One of those whom she listened to was Dagfrid Kolås and her book “Hope,” which is built on the theories of the German doctor Ryke Geerd Hamer.

46-year-old died after refusing cancer treatment [22/04/2009]

Was advised by alternative practitioners to stop cancer treatment. At least five Norwegian cancer patients have suffered the same fate.

The father of Malin Birkeland is one of them. He was diagnosed with cancer in 2006.

“My father was diagnosed in December, but the prognosis was poor. He would have lived two good years extra if the chemo worked,” said Birkeland to TV2 News.

But Tore Birkeland came into contact with Dagfrid Kolås and Bent Madsen, and stopped cancer treatment. Kolås and Madsen head the so-called Meta-Medicine movement in Bergen.

“My father got advice to stop treatment because it would not work and that chemo contained mustard gas,” says Malin Birkeland.

I asked Fisslinger if he was aware of these reports; if he had spoken with and/or reprimanded Kolås and Madsen; and if he had carried out an investigation to ensure that other practitioners aren’t advising patients to refuse potentially life-saving treatment.

“Our code of ethics and policy is very clear about this,” said Fisslinger. “A client needs to make the decision together with their doctor and the Meta-Health professional. [Advising] not to use a potentially life-saving procedure is absolutely irresponsible.”

Fisslinger said Kolås and Madsen’s conduct was “absolutely unacceptable” and confirmed there had been an investigation into the deaths in Norway.

IMMA practitioners Dagfrid Kolås and Bent Madsen (source)

He also denied that Kolås and Madsen were ever on IMMA’s Advisory Council.

However, this screenshot from the official IMMA website lists Kolås and Madsen as members of IMMA’s Advisory Council.

Meta-Medicine Advisory Council

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Furthermore, Kolås – who according to Fisslinger retired “several years ago” – gave a talk (on the subject of “healing breast cancer naturally”¹) at the 2014 International Meta-Health Conference.

I’ve asked Fisslinger to clarify, but haven’t received a response.

Click here to read part three.

¹In her 2014 autobiography about her struggle with breast cancer, How I Healed My Life: From Crisis and Cancer to Self-Empowerment, Kolås claimed she healed herself via natural methods. However, in 2013 she reportedly admitted having undergone conventional medical treatments. Incidentally, Kolås’ personal credo is: “I believe in therapy, not chemistry.”

*For continuity, English translations of news reports have been edited and condensed.