Stephen Barrett, M.D.
October 11, 2001

WholeHealthMD is the Internet division of American WholeHealth, Inc., which offers “integrative medicine” services for consumers, practitioners, and health plans [1]. The WholeHealthMD Web site offers advice on “complementary and alternative therapies” from practitioners with a variety of backgrounds. The site includes news; advice for managing many conditions; a reference library on vitamins, supplements, foods, herbs, and drugs; a practitioner directory; and recipes for reducing fat, cholesterol and sodium in favorite dishes. As often occurs on sites where “alternatives” are concerned, product recommendations are conveniently linked to the site of a strategic partner” (Familymeds.com) that will sell them to you. But the advice is a mixture of sense and nonsense that only experts can sort out.

As for specifics (to name just a few), don’t believe the advice that everyone should take a multivitamin; vitamins C and E are good for angina; chitosan will produce weight loss; pressing on the bones of the skull (craniosacral therapy) can “enhance the functioning of all the body’s organs”; or that homeopathic remedies are good for anything.

The article on chelation therapy is especially bad and appears to me to have been deliberately written to mislead the reader by describing the views of advocates and critics as though they are equally valid. It states that chelation therapy is FDA-approved for treating heavy metal poisoning but fails to note that the product approved for this purpose differs from that of “chelation therapists” who claim to treat heart disease and other serious diseases. It states that the American College of Advancement in Medicine (ACAM) trains practitioners, but fails to reveal that the Federal Trade Commission charged ACAM with false advertising and obtained a cease-and-desist order baring it from advertising that chelation therapy is effective against heart disease. It states that “critics . . . note that most studies showing its effectiveness have been done by physicians with a financial interest in the therapy.” The fact is, however, that no studies show effectiveness and the allegedly positive studies have been criticized for their poor design, not on the basis of who reported them [2].

The discussion of applied kinesiology (AK) is equally dishonest. AK is a pseudoscientific system of muscle-testing and therapy based on the notion that every organ dysfunction is accompanied by a specific muscle weakness, which enables diseases to be diagnosed through muscle-testing procedures. Its theories clash with what is known about the body and it has been debunked by several published studies [3]. But WholeHealthMD merely states that “Within the standards of conventional physicians, there has been no rigorous scientific testing that has shown applied kinesiology to be an effective diagnostic tool.”

  1. About the company. American WholeHealth Web site, accessed Oct 11, 2001.
  2. Green S. Chelation Therapy: Unproven Claims and Unsound Theories. Quackwatch, revised Sept 14, 2000.
  3. Barrett S. Applied Kinesiology: Muscle-Testing for “Allergies” and “Nutrient Deficiencies.” Quackwatch, revised Nov 15, 2000.

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This article was posted on October 11, 2001