The Scent of a Quack…

At last, what appears to be some reasonable criticism of high street quackery in the Daily Mail…

Well, it sort of starts out OK with a report as follows:

… according to a report in Psychiatric Bulletin, health shops give out bad advice on depression and they offer a range of useless stuff, including the cruel-sounding cat’s claw, when only one of their products, St John’s Wort, is scientifically proved to have any antidepressant effect.

Great – an expose of the nonsense dished out in heath food shops. Our intrepid investigative journalist, Jill Parkin, then sets out to do her own research and pops into her own local health food shop with the following hilarious observation…

Inside, what an aroma! It’s licorice stick, ageing raspberry leaf tea and, most distinctive of all, people who use natural deodorants. They’re about as effective on sweat as cat’s claw on depression.

Unfortunately, whilst amusing, this is about as far as the article goes in criticising the herb dealers. The overall impression from this article is that what is wrong with these shops is not that they are bordering on the fraudulent and dangerous with unsupported and dubious claims for all sorts of shit, but that these shops are not commercial enough with smart staff, good lighting and proper consumer-orientated goods. The article implies that all staff in places like Holland and Barrett are miserable, unwashed, butch lesbians and so have little to offer good-old Middle-England Daily Hate readers.

By trying to be funny and mocking the cardboard-eating hippy end of the health fraud industry, a really important story slips by – that going to these shops to treat depression is likely to end with the customer being ripped-off and with a potentially dangerous illness left untreated. The good old Daily Mail readers’ comments at the end show how the story has gone down, and it is not as intended…

I’ve been a regular at health food shops for years, and have never come across anything like the above. These shops serve a purpose while the supermarkets slowly catch up. Long may they thrive.- Loveday , Oxford

The story is more of a call to make quackery more commercialised than an expose on the utter lack of credibility that these ‘tofu-pushers’ have. By providing and ‘alternative’ for people with depression and by not being honest about the efficacy of what they offer, the Health Food scammers are causing misery. Still, I must remember the ‘people who use natural deodorants’ gag.

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