Betting on Quackery

On the eve of the Cheltenham Festival, the race organisers are battling to repair the storm damage after ferocious winds have been bashing the West of England. Cheltenham is one of the biggest events in the racing calendar and for one of the most famous jockeys, Tony McCoy, a little storm damage has been the least of his problems.

McCoy fractured two vertebrae in a fall two months ago and things were not looking good. But last week, the British Horseracing Authority gave him the green light to race at the festival.

A miracle?

Well maybe. The newspapers have been full of reports that McCoy has been undergoing a healing technique called kriotherapy where the customer is placed in a chamber at -130 C for a few minutes. It has been fantastic news for the owners of the Kriotherapy Clinic as the story has hardly been off the racing pages for weeks now.

Sky News tells us,

It has previously been used by international rugby players, footballers and jockeys and its reputation is growing. Kriotherapy, popular in Japan and Poland, works by stimulating the hormone system and enhancing blood circulation, leaving the patient feeling extremely alert. In addition to helping recovering athletes it has been used to help people suffering from depression.

McCoy has been enjoying this freezing treatment twice a day for a while now. We are also told that,

Kriotherapy expert Dr Anthony Soyer believes that the treatment effectively shocks the body into getting better.

Dr Anthony Soyer is also an expert in a “holistic and an integrated approach to Cancer treatment” and works at a clinic that specialises in,

treatments in Acupuncture, Chinese Herbal Medicine, Electro-Acupuncture Diagnosis, Homotoxicology (Complex Homeopathy), Integrated Medicine and Shiatsu – specialising in the treatment of low-grade bacterial, fungal, parasitical and viral infections.


Well, good luck to you Tony. I hope my money is safe with kriotherapy. Hot Tip on Cold Cure?

8 Comments on Betting on Quackery

  1. “the treatment effectively shocks the body into getting better.”

    Indeed, and that is why I can’t understand why would-be doctors need to go on a 5 year university course to learn how to be doctors.

    All that nonsense about “T-cells” and “lymphocytes” is all a bit pie in the sky.

    What I really can’t understand is why he is only person who has “got better” (another deeply technical term).


  2. May I be the first to say that Krio (obviously much stronger than mere cryo) therapy leaves me cold. But there may be a small element of method in this madness; Vijay Kakkar, who founded the Thrombosis Research Instititute, published a few papers a while back on cold exposure / acclimatisation on hematological and a few metabolic parameters, the almost equally eminent Pirkko Huttunen at Oulu U. has published on hypothermia-induced upregulation of BAT, and there are quite a few others working in this chilly but interesting field. Whether Anthony Soyer is aware of this, I have no idea.

    I don’t like the blanket claims made by many in the CAM field, but nor should we be uncritically sceptical; especially when, unlike homeopathy, there is a potentially plausible and certainly testable mechanism of action.

  3. Dr Soyer’s bio here does not exactly inspire confidence, mentioning as it does the Bristol Cancer Help Centre (who I’m pretty sure are faves of Prince Charles). One CAM website lists Soyer as having been “resident doctor” there. He does have a proper medical degree (MBBS Sydney 1981, according to the medical register), though he is not a registered specialist or GP.

    Anyway, Dr Soyer is clearly a CAM “lifer”.

    To quote from his Garden Clinic bio:

    “Dr Soyer is now primarily involved in research and fund raising for a TV documentary series on ancient knowledge and traditional healing methods. His ongoing research examines healers, meditation, nutritional patterns, food supplements and intensive exercise methods for an upcoming book and documentary on Preventative Medicine”

    None of which inspires much confidence in the medical bona fides of kriotherapy.

    By the way, an initial 2-hr consultation with Doc Soyer will set you back £ 300.

    The bio is worth a read, and would set my alarm bells ringing. I would predict a score of several canards.

  4. That must be almost as cold as liquid nitrogen!
    Not quite, it´s twice as warm as liquid nitrogen…

    As nice as this cryo-thingy sounds, I think the main factor here is the amazing level surgery has reached nowadays. I fractured a vertebrae myself last summer, it looked as if somebody stepped on a cookie in the MRT and 24 hrs after the fall I could have walked around if not for the thorax drain. I am not an athlete like McCoy, but I still left hospital after 14 d and have felt fine ever since. So McCoy should thank his surgeon like I did.
    BTW, I suppose McCoy has quite some Titanium upgrades, so I wonder how those screws will like going for a ride…

  5. Private Eye mentioned this story briefly in the 7-20 March edition (No 1205).

    According to the Eye, McCoy was apparently given his kriotherapy at Champneys at the kriotherapy centre there which is run by Charlie Brooks, ex racehourse trainer, racing journalist and current paramour of Sun editrix Rebekah Wade.

    One might therefore regard disguised plugs for kriotherapy from the News International empire (like Sky), or in columns penned by Brooks (like this one in the Telegraph) with a certain degree of, erm, cynicism.

  6. The Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration has banned this quackery, and the federal government has announced that it will provide the real meningococcal vaccine free to one-year-old children and 15- to 17-year-olds, the most vulnerable age groups. It appears that there is a worldwide shortage of the real vaccine, though the fake stuff is of course widely available to the unwary. There are only 100,000 doses of the real vaccine presently in Australia, so the scammers seized a wonderful opportunity, again, to victimize desperate people. And they’ve been defeated!
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  7. I would like to say as a carer for my son who has Elhers Danlos Syndrome and is severely affected by pain, that I tried kriotherapy with him . we had at least 15 sessions and I was surprised at how much it lessened his pain and it lasted for at lest 5-6 months.. If i had the money i would certainly do it again. It was the first time he actually could manage his condition. I only wish they would do this on the N.H.S

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