Saturday, 12 October 2013

The Elusive "Registered Chinese Doctors" of Hitchin


Hitchin - the sleepy Hertfordshire town so amiable, that even the ducks walk around with smiles on their faces - is suffering from a miniature plague of quacks who think they're real doctors.

Tucked into one corner of the town's attractive market square can be found the Chinese medicine shop pictured below. 

(Image credit - own photo)

The shop window rashly claims that Traditional Chinese Medicine - a practice invented as recently as the 1950s to stop the peasants asking for real medicines - can "treat" all manner of health problems. 

Shop displays like this aren't covered by the UK's advertising codes but, luckily, the clinic has placed some handy leaflets just beside the front door.

(Image credit- scan of the leaflet)

According to the clinic, these are just "some of the problems and illnesses for which acupuncture and Chinese herbs have proven their effectiveness":

"Can Chinese medicine help you? Listed below are some of the problems and illnesses for which acupuncture and Chinese herbs have proven their effectiveness: Dermatological conditions: Eczema - Vitiligo - Psoriasis - Acne - Herpes (shingles) - Lupus - Pruritus - Hives (urticaria) - Athlete's foot - Dermatitis - Fungal infection - Hair loss... Internal disorders: Asthma - Bronchitis - Headache - Migraine - Dizziness - M.E. - Gastritis - Colitis - I.B.S. - Diarrhoea - Constipation - Cystitis - Indigestion - Ulcers - Colds and flu - Haemorrhoids - High blood pressure - M.S. ... Musculoskeletal and neurological conditions: Arthritis - Facial pain - Neuralgia - Stroke - Carpal tunnel syndrome - Lumbargo - Sciatica - Back pain - Sports injuries - Rheumatism - Tennis elbow - Stiff neck - Frozen shoulder... Genito-urinary and reproductive disorders: Menopause - P.M.S. - Period pain - Leucorrhoea - Irregular periods - Fibroids - Morning sickness - Endometriosis - Infertility - Prostate conditions - Impotence - Premature ejaculation... Mental and emotional conditions: Anxiety - Depression - Stress - Panic attacks - Insomnia - Fatigue... Ear, nose & throat conditions: Hay fever - Sinusitis - Sore throat - Bad breath - Tinnitus - Ear infections... Others: Alcoholism - Smoking - Drug addiction - Weight problems - Allergic disorders - Coping with cancer..."

(Image credit - scan of the leaflet)

Unusually, the clinic doesn't mention the names of the "doctors" it employs, but we're left in no doubts that they must be genuine, the real deal, and not at all bogus.

"The skill of the Chinese doctor lies in identifying the underlying pattern of the illness and selecting and appropriate cure..."

"After carrying out a thorough diagnosis, the doctor will prescribe a combination of herbs..."

"As treatment continues, the doctor will closely monitor your progress through regular consultations, altering the prescription and regulating the dosage accordingly."

The General Medical Council's register doesn't seem to know anything about the "Registered Chinese Doctor" employed at this "clinic". As always, it'll be interesting to see what the advertisers have to say for themselves.

ASA complaint follows!

"I'm writing to complain about a leaflet I picked up outside the "Chinese Medicine Clinic" in Hitchin. (The leaflet was in a box, attached to the clinic's front window, facing a main pedestrian thoroughfare - see enclosed photo.)

The leaflet promotes Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) treatments.

1. The leaflet claims:

"Can Chinese medicine help you? Listed below are some of the problems and illnesses for which acupuncture and Chinese herbs have proven their effectiveness: Dermatological conditions: Eczema - Vitiligo - Psoriasis - Acne - Herpes (shingles) - Lupus - Pruritus - Hives (urticaria) - Athlete's foot - Dermatitis - Fungal infection - Hair loss... Internal disorders: Asthma - Bronchitis - Headache - Migraine - Dizziness - M.E. - Gastritis - Colitis - I.B.S. - Diarrhoea - Constipation - Cystitis - Indigestion - Ulcers - Colds and flu - Haemorrhoids - High blood pressure - M.S. ... Musculoskeletal and neurological conditions: Arthritis - Facial pain - Neuralgia - Stroke - Carpal tunnel syndrome - Lumbargo - Sciatica - Back pain - Sports injuries - Rheumatism - Tennis elbow - Stiff neck - Frozen shoulder... Genito-urinary and reproductive disorders: Menopause - P.M.S. - Period pain - Leucorrhoea - Irregular periods - Fibroids - Morning sickness - Endometriosis - Infertility - Prostate conditions - Impotence - Premature ejaculation... Mental and emotional conditions: Anxiety - Depression - Stress - Panic attacks - Insomnia - Fatigue... Ear, nose & throat conditions: Hay fever - Sinusitis - Sore throat - Bad breath - Tinnitus - Ear infections... Others: Alcoholism - Smoking - Drug addiction - Weight problems - Allergic disorders - Coping with cancer..."

2. I'd like to challenge whether the advertiser can substantiate any of these health claims, and I'd also like to challenge whether the claims might discourage essential treatment.

3. The leaflet makes a number of claims for the efficacy of Chinese medicine:

(i) "Chinese medicine emphasises a holistic approach to the curing of disease..."
(ii) "The skill of the Chinese doctor lies in... selecting an appropriate cure..."
(iii) "Both these treatment methods can be used to... correct disharmony between the organs to remove the root cause of the disease..."
(iv) "Some patients will experience the benefits of acupuncture treatment immediately; others, especially those suffering from chronic diseases, may need a longer course of treatment..."
(v) "PAIN CLINIC: INSTANT PAIN RELIEF. - All types of pain treated..."

4. I'd like to challenge whether these efficacy claims can be substantiated.

5. The leaflet makes a number of references to "doctors":

(i) "The skill of the Chinese doctor lies in identifying the underlying pattern of the illness and selecting and appropriate cure..."
(ii) "The [acupuncture] points chosen depend on the doctor's diagnosis of the patient's condition..."
(iii) "After carrying out a thorough diagnosis, the doctor will prescribe a combination of herbs..."
(iv) "As treatment continues, the doctor will closely monitor your progress through regular consultations, altering the prescription and regulating the dosage accordingly."
(v) "Our practitioners have worked for many years at leading teaching and research hospitals in China. Trained in both Western and Chinese medicine and with degrees from major TCM universities, they are also registered with recognised professional Chinese Medicine associations in the UK. With a wide range of clinical experience to draw on, they... have gained the trust and gratitude of their patients by achieving and maintaining satisfactory results in treating a wide variety of illnesses."

6. I have checked the General Medical Council's register, but found no matches; so I'd like to challenge whether these references to "doctors" are misleading."

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