Wellington professor of medicine, Shaun Holt, recently spoke to Radio Live about the Health and Disability’s Commissioner’s report into iridologist Ruth Nelson’s treatment of cancer patient Yvonne Maine:

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One of the topic he raises is what might be done to avoid these cases from arising. Dr. Swee Tan, the surgeon who treated Mrs Main, suggested a registration scheme. I had mixed feelings at that:

My own thoughts, as a non-medical person-on-the-street, are that in one sense registration might legitimise the more moderate use of ’remedies’ like iridology, which grates given that many, if not most, of these remedies are nonsense under any use, but on the other hand registration offers some control over the worst extremes of misuse by obligating practitioners to adhere to guidelines.

Shaun felt there was no sense in registering practices that don’t work, comparing it to registering psychics. Instead he felt that the law should be used where practitioners make fraudulent claims or harm someone, including contributing to someone’s death.

Update: I have corrected the patient’s name from Main to Maine. My error stems from taking her name from the on-line copy of an article by the NZ Herald, whose first instances of her name (twice; once in body text and once in a illustration legend) are, it seems, incorrect. My apologies for the error.


I’ve lifted this from Shaun’s comment in my previous post on this topic to to give it a little more attention. (Also, partly to buy some time while I try prepare a post with some thoughts on the ENCODE genome analysis work that has been published over the last day – this is, apparently, 30 research papers published at once; there’s a lot to take in!)

Other article in Code for life:

Homeopathy in NZ pharmacies revisited: Wartoff and more

Time for disclaimers on remedies?, “alternative” or not

Genetic tests and personalised medicine

Genetic tests and personalised medicine, some science communication issues

Deleting a gene can turn an ovary into a testis in adult mammals