Hippocrates Health Institution: An Inquiry into Questionable Health Services
When Candace Wu, a reporter from The Parksville Qualicum Beach News contacted CFI Canada about a local event that was planned to feature Hippocrates Health Institute’s Brian Clement, CFIC joined BC Humanist Association’s Ian Bushfield in speaking out. Hippocrates Health Institute has made claims of being able to reverse Multiple Sclerosis and has been notoriously associated with two children, Makayla Sault and J.J., as reported by CBC News,
In documents obtained by CBC News, Florida’s Department of Health says it has probable cause to believe the director of the Hippocrates Health Institute treated two children battling leukemia “with unproven and possibly dangerous therapies.”
Following is a reproduction of Candace Wu’s article.
A rainbow-coloured lollypop sets the backdrop of a poster saying nutritionist Brian Clement will be the featured speaker at Qualicum Beach Elementary School (QBES).
Clement is a Florida-based nutritionist, and co-director of Hippocrates Health Institution, known for allegedly making controversial claims about healthcare, including that he helps patients reverse multiple sclerosis (MS). Clement denied making those claims when he spoke to The NEWS on Tuesday night.
Clement’s presentation at QBES was slated to take place Tuesday from 1:50 p.m. to 2:50 p.m., according to the poster found under the events section of the Hippocrates Health Institution website.
However, QBES principal John Williams said there was “a misunderstanding.”
School District 69 assistant superintendent Gillian Wilson told The NEWS Tuesday morning Clement was not scheduled to speak at the elementary school — ever.
“Our presentations that we have in our school buildings support curriculum,” said Wilson. “We have all types of guest speakers but they go through our school offices… I’d like to reaffirm this individual was not scheduled (to speak at QBES). He was never scheduled.”
Asked how this miscommunication started, Wilson, seemingly baffled said “I have no idea. I just caught wind of it.”
Wilson said the school’s administrator had been approached by “a parent or a community member” about the presentation a few weeks ago, but confirmed “this presenter had not been scheduled to be in our school.”
But Amy Hadikin, a QBES mother who helped organize Clement’s presentation, said “it got cancelled last night because the CBC News called the school and said ‘do you know you have a controversial man coming to speak at the school?’ and they didn’t want to stand up and they didn’t have enough time and they Googled him and said ‘oh yeah, controversial, we don’t want to deal with parents’.”
Hadikin said Clement’s talk at the elementary school was going to be about sugar and how it affects your health.
Responding to the cancellation, or schedule misunderstanding, Clement said he’s “sad for the children.”
On Tuesday night, Clement spoke to a crowd of about 50 people at the Quality Inn Bayside in Parksville for a presentation titled: “The truth they don’t want you to know about vitamins, minerals, and their effects on your health.”
Asked to speak to claims he can reverse MS or cure cancer — widely reported by Canadian media, most notably the CBC — Clement said “they fabricated the whole thing.”
But CBC video clips on YouTube show Clement speaking at previous presentations making claims such as: “Last week, we had somebody at the institute that reversed multiple sclerosis,” and, “We’ve had more people reverse cancer than any institute in the history of healthcare.”
Tuesday night in Parksville Clement said “I don’t believe we heal diseases… That’s weird.”
He said the institution facilitates a lifestyle, educates people and people report their successes.
Asked to confirm if he’s ever claimed he can reverse MS or cure cancer, Clement reiterated, “Never, never have I… All we do is support the body and the body has magic in it, the body can do some amazing things.”
B.C. Humanists executive director Ian Bushfield said he was concerned to hear Clement might be speaking at QBES, saying public schools should not be promoting pseudoscience.
“Our concern is that any time public funds go to support unproven claims, especially ones related to medical health issues — including the reversal of MS — it’s not just giving people false hope, but it’s essentially scamming people out of money and taking advantage of people,” Bushfield told The NEWS Tuesday afternoon.
Executive director of the Centre for Inquiry Canada (CFIC) Eric Adriaans said when purveyors of pseudoscience are given a platform by schools or other authorities, it lends credibility to the speaker and that can lead to confusion about who really can be trusted to provide valid health information.
“Pseudo-science preys upon the most vulnerable people in our society — the ill, injured, frail, elderly and even parents of very ill children who so desperately seek relief from serious illness, injuries or pain.”
“These vulnerable people are also the people often least prepared to recognize a sales-pitch that isn’t backed up by science,” Adriaans said.
He said CFIC, whose mission is to promote science and secularism, recommends people demand science-based evidence from anybody making a health claim.
“People who choose the kinds of treatments offered by Brian’s institute are usually choosing not to use conventional medicine that could effectively treat their condition,” said CFI director Aaron Bayes, based in Vancouver. “It is also quite expensive, and some people will spend their life savings on it.”
However, Bayes said he wouldn’t call Clement a scammer or fraudster.
“He might actually believe what he claims and if that is the case then he is no criminal mastermind — just woefully wrong.”
Canadians, particularly the vulnerable ill, injured, elderly and children must be in a position to receive trustworthy health information from the sources they trust.