Brian Clement

Brian Clement

American charlatan Brian Clement made another trip to Canada recently and was caught on audiotape claiming multiple sclerosis could be “reversed” at the Hippocrates Health Institute (HHI), where he serves as Director. This is yet another in a series of his misrepresentations about the effectiveness of the quack treatments offered at HHI. Indeed, Clement calls to mind the old joke about inveterate liars:

Q: Know how can you tell this guy is lying?

A: His lips are moving.

Once again, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), which has done an outstanding job exposing Clement and his mendacity, caught him in this particular fabrication. (The American media, by contrast, has largely ignored the story, even to the point of printing credulous puff pieces about Clement.) According to the CBC, it:

obtained a recording of a lecture Clement gave in September in Montreal where he said, “Last week, we had somebody at the institute that reversed multiple sclerosis.”

He went on to claim that many other people who visited his Florida spa, the Hippocrates Health Institute, saw similar results.

“A nurse that came to us two years ago was crippled, had braces on. By the time she left Hippocrates, she reversed the multiple sclerosis.

“And mainstream medicine, they think it’s remarkable. I’ve seen lots and lots of people over the years did that.”

True to form, when asked by a British Columbian newspaper:

. . . to speak to claims he can reverse MS or cure cancer — widely reported by Canadian media, most notably the CBC [which has a videotape of him making the cancer claims]— Clement said “they fabricated the whole thing.”

And:

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.”

Outlandish claims that cancer could be “reversed” by following HHI’s protocols and that people can “heal themselves,” as well as his later denials, were originally reported by the CBC and other news organizations when Clement stepped into the media spotlight following a court’s ruling that the parents of two Aboriginal Canadian girls suffering from an entirely treatable childhood cancer, lymphoblastic leukemia, could pursue traditional remedies in lieu of conventional treatment. After listening to Clement’s sales pitch, the parents took the girls to HHI, in West Palm Beach, Florida, where it operates under a state license as a massage establishment.

Sadly, thousands of dollars later, one of the girls died. Although the other remained under HHI’s “care” for a while, her cancer recurred. Fortunately, she is now back on conventional treatment and has no contact with HHI. The court’s original decision has been amended to state that, while the rights of Aboriginal Canadians must be respected, the well-being of the child is paramount. Considering the fact that Clement is white and HHI’s cancer treatments are nothing but pure American pseudoscience, it is not clear why the court’s original ruling used Aboriginal tradition as a rationale in the first place.

HHI offers a cornucopia of quack treatments, a favorite being wheatgrass. As our good friend Orac noted over on Respectful Insolence:

if you believe the hype on the HHI website, there’s nothing that wheatgrass can’t do. If the HHI is to be believed, wheatgrass can increase red blood cell count, decrease blood pressure, cleanse the blood, organs and GI tract of “debris,” stimulate the thyroid gland, “restore alkalinity” to the blood, “detoxify” the blood, fight tumors and neutralize toxins, and many other fantastically beneficial alleged effects. Basically, combine a raw vegan diet with a veritable cornucopia of other kinds of quackery, and you have the HHI.

For all his supposed expertise, Clement is laughably ignorant about science, although plenty full of the sort of babble you’d expect from someone with such a tenuous hold on facts. Orac’s post links to a couple of excruciating videos in which Clement discusses “quantum biology” and other nonsense, nicely demonstrating that “Clement understands neither physics, chemistry, nor biology.” Just for fun, here’s Clement describing, well, something:

All abnormalities that have been labeled as diseases stem from the negative energies that are endured from the poor lifestyle choices and unsustainable environment that we have created on planet earth today.

Our core vulnerability stems from the reduction of bio-frequency that occurs in the cell, which heightens its fragility to make it ineffective in communication and contribution. When these disturbances are critical, they can even cause a cell to mutate.

Odd for someone who claims he has a degree in biochemistry, don’t you think?

Unfortunately, the Canadian girls are not the only victims of HHI and Clement. Others are Stephanie O’Halloran, a young Irish woman, Anael L’Esperance-Nascimentol, a three-year old Canadian boy who went for treatment there, Laurie Ann Prince, Kathyrn Tachell and Kim Curry, also Canadians and all fairly young, and Lajos Tringer. (Lajos also considered treatment by another cancer quack, Stanislaw Burzynski.) Most of these either drained their own resources or raised funds, or both, to pay the considerable expense of going to HHI, as treatments there are not covered by insurance; it is a cash-only operation. Unfortunately, we know that Stephanie, Kathryn, and Kim have died. I have heard that Lajos died in 2014, but I could not confirm that independently.

Yet, Clement was so well greased with his own snake oil that he slithered through the Florida regulatory system, despite three complaints filed with the Board of Medicine and the Agency for Health Care Administration. Although Clement was originally ordered to cease and desist from the practice of medicine, the state backed down, leaving Clement free to pursue the international lecture circuit and continue as HHI’s Director, albeit shedding a few educational degrees of questionable provenance along with way.

Clement has described himself variously as having a PhD and an NMD (Naturopathic Medical Doctor) and has used the honorific “Dr.” These degrees are from schools widely regarded as diploma mills. He is still referred to as an NMD in at least one place on the HHI website, although his bio claims only that he has a degree in biochemistry, without saying where he earned it. His wife and Co-Director of HHI, Anna Maria Gahns-Clement, made similar claims about her education, including that she graduated from the non-existent “Denmark University.” That information has been removed from her bio as well but she, too, is referred to as an NMD elsewhere on HHI’s website.

Fortunately, the bad publicity seems to be catching up with Clement, thanks to skeptical groups who protest his public appearances, the CBC’s and other Canadian media’s extensive coverage, and a growing number of blog posts detailing his nefarious activities. (A list of blog posts can be found here.) In September, he had the dubious, but well-deserved, honor of becoming entry # 1467 in the Encyclopedia of American Loons.

Over this past summer, Clement was scheduled to appear in several European cities, but his events were cancelled in Ireland when his venues discovered his sordid history, thanks to protests by the Cork Skeptics, who were warned of his coming by the UK’s Good Thinking Society. The Society also protested appearances in London and Birmingham. [Tickets for the UK events cost over $100 (US).] According to the Daily Mail:

ticket buyers are promised that diseases including cancer, cardiovascular disease, MS and diabetes can be “altered, prevented and at times conquered”.

On his most recent Canadian tour, he was supposedly scheduled to speak at a Qualicum Beach, B.C., school, although school officials denied his talk had ever been approved. In any event, he was not allowed to speak there. He did give a talk in another B.C. town titled: “The truth they don’t want you to know about vitamins, minerals, and their effects on your health.” Yes, it’s that famous “they” who are constantly working to keep people from learning this or that particular truth.

Right now, HHI’s off-campus events schedule looks a bit thin. Maybe “they” are getting the word out.

Posted by Jann Bellamy

Jann J. Bellamy is a Florida attorney and lives in Tallahassee. She is one of the founders and Board members of the Society for Science-Based Medicine (SfSBM) dedicated to providing accurate information about CAM and advocating for state and federal laws that incorporate a science-based standard for all health care practitioners. She tracks state and federal bills that would allow pseudoscience in health care for the SfSBM website.  Her posts are archived here.