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ME/CFS debacle proves modern medicine IS the problem

The dead hand of the orthodox medical establishment has struck again, this time blocking new NHS guidelines that would have helped transform the treatment of ME and chronic fatigue syndrome.

NICE, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, has been forced to “pause” publication of guidelines that would have led GPs to abandon their reliance on CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) and graded exercise therapy (GET) as treatments for ME/CFS.

NICE was taking that step because the evidence – remember that? – suggests that CBT and GET don’t work. While the Institute for “excellence” appeared to have done a great job “to bring together the available evidence and the real, lived experience and testimony of people with ME/CF” and opening up a menu of complementary approaches that DO work, a lobby group of medics decided to stop NICE in its tracks.

Ignorance, arrogance or scientific fraud?

If that sounds harsh, just register the comment of one of the objecting experts. Dr Alastair Miller said that “The three NHS clinicians who resigned from the guidelines group all lead or have led major NHS CFS services and if they were not prepared to sign up to the new proposed guidelines it is difficult to imagine that any NHS clinician would be.

“Importantly, without CBT and GET, there is nothing. No new therapies or approaches have emerged since 2007, so in practice one needs to question whether there was ever a requirement to have a new guideline”.

This is typical of someone who is first, not looking at the evidence, and second, not listening to ME/CFS patients. 

In our report on page 6, we reference two published reports – 2011 in The Journal of Integral Theory and Practice, 2012 in British Medical Journal Open, by IHCAN award winners The Optimum Health Clinic. On page 52, The Chrysalis Effect’s Elaine Wilkins shares how the NHS has been so impressed with the results from an integrative approach to ME/CFS that it has backed formal pilot studies.

Writing in the BMJ, Michiel Tack – a CFS/ME patient – shows he has a better grasp of the issue than Dr Miller and the blockers, saying: “It should be clarified that NICE is far from the only healthcare institution that downgraded the quality of evidence for GET or CBT. The Health Council of both Belgium and the Netherlands recently came to similar conclusions. In the US, the website of the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) no longer recommends GET or CBT for patients with ME/CFS. Cochrane is currently updating its review on GET for ME/CFS after an internal review clarified that the evidence has multiple limitations”.

Meanwhile, from the patients’ perspective, the charities Forward ME, Action for ME, the ME Association, Doctors for ME and ME Research UK said in a joint statement:

“The document removes support for therapies driven by outdated views regarding treatment for ME which are no longer supported by the science. We understand these new guidelines may take time to become accepted by elements of the medical community, but they should not be delayed”.

So is it ignorance, arrogance, or something else that drives these “elements of the medical community”? Clearly, it is not the evidence. 

Former editor of the medical journal the BMJ Dr Richard Smith has asked whether it’s “time to assume that health research is fraudulent until proven otherwise”. So our special report (page 42) on his recent editorial may offer some clues as to what modern medicine’s fact-deniers are up to with ME/CFS. 

And just to make sure I belabour the point, I’ll finish with a quote from Dr Robert Lustig’s new book Metabolical: “Modern medicine is not the solution to the problem, modern medicine IS the problem”.

Simon Martin

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