Ex naturopath being sued

January 21, 2018

Categories: Skepticism , Tags: Pseudoscience, Naturopathy, CAM

Britt Hermes used to be a naturopath. She graduated and treated patients in the US, before realising that naturopathy was all bluster and no substance, and she wasn't helping anyone with their medical issues.

Britt is now studying for a proper medical science degree, and has become a vocal critic of naturopathy. A while ago she wrote about a naturopath called Colleen Huber. Colleen offers "alternatives" to real therapies for cancer patients, including a no sugar diet (cancer cells need sugar, therefore not eating sugar starves cancer), baking soda (some tumours prefer an acidic environment, so eating something alkaline kills them) and vitamin C, and then mangles her results from using these treatments on her patients to make it look like they're more effective than chemotherapy and radiotherapy. There are lots of issues with her number crunching, but the main one is that her spectacularly positive results, over 90% remission, are based on only counting people who stick to the regime, and not those who drop out. People tend to drop out of studies like this when they don't seem to be working and the patient gets worse, so it's likely that the patients who were going to get better anyway stuck around, and the ones whose cancer got worse left, totally skewing the results.

Colleen Huber, as well as offering nonsense therapies, also purchased several domain names recently based on Britt's name. In Britt's article she wrote about both the sham treatments Colleen offers, and this cybersquatting (opens new window). She said:

"Colleen Huber may be one of the most vile naturopaths I have come across"

Colleen is now suing Britt (opens new window) in Germany for defamation, even though both of them are American. Britt is currently studying in Germany, and presumably Germany's defamation laws favour Colleen more than America's laws would.

This kind of legal action (opens new window) is known as SLAPP - Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation. The aim of the lawsuit is to shut Britt up.

Britt is currently raising money for her legal defence fund. It's great to see her standing up to this form of bullying, rather than giving in at the threat of a lawsuit. Britt is obviously confident of her position, and having read everything she's said about Colleen it looks like she'll be fine. The hope is that, if this ends up in court, Colleen's "research" into sugar free diets will be pulled apart and shown to be the shoddy piece of work several professionals have already concluded it to be.