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Anthony William calls himself the Medical Medium. He claims to have helped tens of thousands of patients heal from ailments that have been misdiagnosed or ineffectively treated. He says he can see into the body like a supercharged MRI scan to diagnose “all blockages, infections, trouble areas, past problems, and even soul fractures.” He hears voices: the Spirit of the Most High (second only to God) talks to him and gives him information that is decades ahead of current scientific knowledge. William disregards science, because science sometimes contradicts itself and is confusing. The information he gets from Spirit is not confusing; it is the truth and the voice of compassion. He has written several best-selling books to share the information that Spirit has given him. And he asks us to believe all this simply because he says so. He has never been tested.

This is all clearly outside the universe of discourse of science-based medicine. We have no reason to take him seriously. I skimmed and dismissed an earlier book of his as not worth my time, but I decided to take a closer look at his book Life-Changing Foods: Save Yourself and the Ones You Love with the Hidden Healing Powers of Fruits and Vegetables. I thought it would make specific claims that would be easy to fact-check. I expected it would be bad, but I was positively gobsmacked by how phenomenally bad it was. I was outraged that he could get away with spreading such egregious nonsense, that a publisher would agree to publish it, and that many readers apparently accept his fairy tales as legitimate health advice (89% 5-star customer reviews on Amazon). It’s a sad demonstration of the fact that common sense is not common, and that critical thinking skills are sorely lacking in our society.

The Holy 4

His Holy 4 are fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices, and wild foods. They are:

the sacred assistance granted to us to make it through life here. These are the answers for humanity. These are what will save us.

Fruits and vegetables are mainstream advice. He makes unsubstantiated health claims for spices. He says wild foods are valuable because they “have survived extremes” and “carry critical survival information in their cells.”

The Holy 4 don’t just contain nutrients:

Because they grow from the earth and are showered by the sun and sky, enduring out in the elements day after day as they form, they are intimately connected to the holy forces of nature. They don’t just contain the building-block nutrients we need to function. They contain intelligence from the Earthly Mother and the heavens that we desperately need about how to adapt.

He provides extensive lists of foods from these four groups. For each, he provides

  • An introduction with unsubstantiated health claims supposedly based on current scientific knowledge (i.e., “Cat’s claw can aid in alleviating almost any symptom, from neurological to digestive.”)
  • A list of conditions that would benefit from bringing the food into your life (for cat’s claw: every type of cancer, Lyme disease, ALS, laryngitis, strep throat, MS, viruses that “are undiscovered,” and many, many more).
  • A list of symptoms that are reasons to bring the food into your life. (For cat’s claw: 36 symptoms ranging from ringing in the ears to Bell’s palsy, from rashes to slurred speech.)
  • Emotional support provided by the food. (Cat’s claw reduces a sense of urgency so you can take time to think rather than automatically reacting to a situation.)
  • Spiritual lesson taught by the food (For instance, “sometimes what we think we seek is within reach.”)
  • Tips on how to use the food (Keep kiwis in a bowl on your nightstand; sleeping beside them will connect them with your being for the greatest life-changing effects. When eating a fig, imagine the fig tree it came from standing in front of you, to amplify its healing, grounding power.)
  • And to top it all off, he offers a recipe featuring each food.

The Unforgiving Four

Radiation, toxic heavy metals, the viral explosion, and DDT are the major culprits. They “ravage our bodies, make us question our own sanity, and push us to the breaking point as a society.”

Life-challenging foods

He makes some false and incoherent claims about these six “life-challenging” foods:

  • Dairy “bogs down the liver.”
  • Eggs feed the viral explosion
  • Corn’s nutritious value has been destroyed by genetic engineering
  • Wheat feeds pathogens
  • Canola oil eats away at all linings in the body: stomach, veins, heart, etc.
  • Food additives labelled as “natural flavors” are really MSG, a neurotoxin that builds up in the brain and destroys nerve cells.

Whaaat?!

Some of his claims are demonstrably false; some are just bizarre. He says 98% of cancers are caused by viruses. He says infertility can be treated by creative visualizations, walking meditations, and breathing exercises to draw white light into the reproductive organs.

He says there are two kinds of living water. Hydrobioactive water is inside all the Holy Four foods. It holds life-giving nutrients and hydrates better than any drink of plain water can. Then there’s the undiscovered cofactor water that contains information to help restore your soul and spirit and to support your emotions.

Angels!?

Just when I thought it couldn’t possibly get any worse, it did. The last chapter is titled “Life-Changing Angels.” He really believes that angels exist. Twelve of them, and he lists their names, like the Angel of Abundance and the Angel of Addiction. He instructs his readers to call on the appropriate angel out loud, by name. For instance, “Angel of Provision, please help me.”

Celebrities praise him

Gwyneth Paltrow (ugh):

While there is most definitely an element of otherworldly mystery to the work he does, much of what Anthony William shines a spotlight on—particularly around autoimmune disease—feels inherently right and true. What’s better is that the protocols he recommends are natural, accessible, and easy to do.

In the Foreword to the book, Christiane Northrup, MD (ugh!), says William has “a gift that has made him a conduit for information that is light-years ahead of where science is today.” She says wild blueberries have survived in harsh environments against all odds, so eating them brings that tenacity into your body. They are a power food, a “food of resurrection.” She agrees that each fruit or vegetable is imbued with the specific emotional and spiritual support it provides when you eat it. She believes life-changing angels fortify our food supply; they “encourage every apple and lettuce leaf and everything else to grow, help bring food to the hungry, work to disarm GMO food production, assist with and support the organic food movement, and even influence weather patterns.”

Scientists don’t

Skeptical Raptor is not impressed. His extensive and well-reasoned critique concludes:

The Medical Medium uses the pseudoscience of spiritual readings plus the pseudoscience of alternative medicine to diagnose and treat patients. Be aware. Be very aware.

Few of William’s ideas are original. He regurgitates alternative medicine claims for dietary supplements, and recommends “detoxification” and even homeopathy. Vitalism and magical thinking permeate his writing.

Who wants health advice guided by fantasy?

I am appalled by the sheer volume of claims in this book, especially the long lists of conditions and symptoms associated with each food. William’s belief system has no grounding in reality or science. Vitalism? Magical thinking? Talking to angels? Getting advanced knowledge from Spirit? Two kinds of water? How can any reasonably intelligent, educated person believe this nonsense? Accepting the Medical Medium’s assertions requires a degree of gullibility I can’t even begin to imagine. Especially for an MD who has studied medicine and science. Christiane, what happened to you?

Anthony William is a throwback to a primitive, prescientific age. Our ancestors listened to shamans and witch doctors; we should know better today. There is no reason to think the voices William hears are divine guidance; they are hallucinations until proven otherwise. His advice is not science-based, evidence-based, or reality-based; it is fantasy-based. He does emphasize eating more fruits and vegetables, which is a good thing – which is why doctors recommend it. He may get a few things right by chance, but it’s impossible to tease out those few things from the masses of chaff that engulf them; and much of what he says is demonstrably wrong.

Either Anthony William is a deliberate charlatan cynically making stuff up for profit, or he is a self-deluded believer who interprets his inner voices as real communications from the spirit world and is reinforced by cold reading and confirmation bias. Either way, it would be foolish to rely on him for health advice.

Posted by Harriet Hall

Harriet Hall, MD also known as The SkepDoc, is a retired family physician who writes about pseudoscience and questionable medical practices. She received her BA and MD from the University of Washington, did her internship in the Air Force (the second female ever to do so),  and was the first female graduate of the Air Force family practice residency at Eglin Air Force Base. During a long career as an Air Force physician, she held various positions from flight surgeon to DBMS (Director of Base Medical Services) and did everything from delivering babies to taking the controls of a B-52. She retired with the rank of Colonel.  In 2008 she published her memoirs, Women Aren't Supposed to Fly.