2019-11-26 by MHI
In Danmark Radio’s program “Kontant” you broadcasted an episode regarding the case of a gentleman with terminal brain cancer who was undergoing standardised academic medical treatment. At the family’s request, as an adjunct to the conventional cancer treatment this gentleman was receiving, a META-Health practitioner applied Thought Field Therapy – a technique created to quickly relieve various forms of emotional distress.
Beside the episode you published two related blogposts, featuring the META-Health practitioner and some medical doctors to compare their opinions about cancer and the efficiency of its treatment using conventional and alternative methods.
We really appreciate DR’s goal to provide high quality content:
It should be characterized by high reliability, clear prioritization and effective communication. It should be well researched and well told. It must be fair and balanced.
Unfortunately, we are of the opinion that the content referenced above falls below the standard DR has set itself.
Who are we?
META-Health International CIC is a non profit organisation, representing a global, interdisciplinary network of Holistic Health professionals including medically trained doctors, naturopaths and nutritionists. MHI safeguards the quality of content and practice by ensuring that only trained and registered practitioners can use the trademarks META-Health and META-Medicine.
What is META-Health?
META-Health (in Danish: METAsundhed) is the science, practice and art of Body-Mind-Social Health with a focus on how specific stress triggers, emotions and beliefs affect specific organ symptoms. META-Health is a holistic methodology based on Integrative Medicine and Prevention. Rather than being a therapeutic intervention, META-Health is an entire bio-psycho-social framework. The model contains biological data and indicative timeframes that support when any form of therapeutic intervention may be applied to benefit the whole person. This is, of course, always explored and agreed in consultation with the client. All kinds of therapy can be integrated and find their place from this position of overview.
Healthy lifestyle, but yet cancer?
This short videoclip shows a lady with very healthy habits. But she was diagnosed with cancer:
Evidence-based medicine has a focus on risk factors. Much research is made on the cellular level. But there is a missing link to reach efficiency in prevention and therapy: The human psyche!
Is this pseudo-science?
In 2015, the respected Royal College of Psychiatrists, the UK based professional body responsible for setting and raising standards within psychiatry, as well as supporting psychiatrists, published a lay person’s guide, “Medically unexplained symptoms”. In it, Drs Bolton and Attard, discussed “Ways of thinking about the mind and the Body” and cited credible references in the British Medical Journal (2008) and the International Journal of Epidemiology (2006). These are not pseudoscientific journals and organisations. In fact, the RCP, in various forms has been in existence since 1841.
Quotation from “Medically unexplained symptoms”:
Like a computer – hardware and software
You can think of the brain and nerves as like the computer that sits on a desk. But the electrical messages that run through the nervous system are like computer programmes or “software”.
Let’s look at what can happen when someone loses the use of an arm or a leg. It can be a problem with the hardware. The brain or nerves can be damaged by a stroke or an injury, so the messages can’t get to or from the arms and legs.
However, you can get the same symptoms without any damage to the brain and the nerves.
There seems to be a software problem. The brain and the nerves are intact but, because the software is not running properly, they are not controlling the limbs properly.
These “software” problems can happen when you are under a lot of stress. Stress seems to interfere with messaging (or “software”) of the brain and nerves. A simple example is when someone collapses or faints when they are under stress, like a computer “crashing”.
Chronic pain can be like this. There doesn’t seem to be physical damage that would cause pain, but something has gone wrong with the “software” so that the brain is still getting pain messages.
Distress and cancer – is there a link?
While the RCP’s focus is on psychiatry, not cancer, epidemiologists, Batty, Russ et al, researched psychological distress in relation to site specific cancer mortality. Their meta study, which pooled unpublished data from 16 prospective cohort studies found:
In the 16 studies in aggregate, after adjustment for age and sex, higher levels of distress were associated with a 32% greater risk of total cancer mortality.
DR selected two medical doctors as their main experts: Drs Lars Henrik Jensen, oncology, and Jan Lindebjerg, pathology.
In searching Jensen & Lindebjerg’s scientific output – while it is undisputed that they are experts in their fields – there is little documented evidence of research into psychosomatic medicine.
In fact, Lindebjerg positions himself clearly against alternative treatments with articles like:
- “Research in alternative treatments is waste of money”
- “No, DR! The Danish don’t want alternative treatment by medical doctors”
- “Pseudoscientifically founded health politic”
If DR’s published aim is that “It must be fair and balanced.” surely selecting a medical expert who is also an advocate of alternative approaches to complement conventional treatments would be fair in presenting a balanced argument? Otherwise, what you offer is a perspective biased towards conventional treatments and, in the absence of an expert in psychosomatic medicine, one which offers no opportunity to explore any potential links between stress and cancer.
What do these “experts” have to say about META-Health?
Jan Lindebjerg has a skeptical blog about alternative treatments. On his blog there is only one newly published book recension which is remotely related to META-Health. Another article written by Lindebjerg can be found in a significantly modified version on the Danish Skepticals blog:
But it’s even worse
Where hypnotherapy has some justification, it is quite different with meta health (which also has followers among holistic doctors). Meta health was invented by a former German physician named Ryke Geerd Hamer. He even calls it Germanische Neue Medizin, but for easy to understand reasons it is not right to translate it directly.
Given that the author is a researcher and prolific writer with 150 mostly scientific articles to his credit, one can safely assume that Lindebjerg is more than au fait with the rigorous standards demanded by scientific, academic and medical publications to ensure the data disseminated is not only of high quality, but also accurate. However, in lieu of references to reliable, accurate sources, the only source cited that appears to underpin the author’s assertions and “knowledge” about META-Health is the English wikipedia post about Dr Hamer – who is neither the founder of META-Health nor METAsundhed!
Lindebjerg continues his post with some medically irrelevant conspiracy theories about Hamer, referring to another site “blogging against alternative cancer treatments”.
If DR is a reputable journalism outfit, why is it engaging in sensationalism, employing covert methods of “reporting” in some supposed exposé of a pseudoscientific “cult”?
Go straight to the source
If you were to write an article about the Labour Party in UK, what would the primary source of your inquiries be: The Labour Party or the Brexit Party?
It’s obvious that DR did not refer to the extensive public material of our global umbrella organisation META-Health International. Otherwise the editors would have learned about models, findings and practices that inspired or influenced META-Health’s comprehensive understanding of health and of disease patterns:
META-Health is a systematic, open-minded and constructive approach to understanding mental and physical health and disease and to foster resilience. It aims to establish generic, bio-logical principles of functioning in organisms, as well as adaptations and translations in different groups and societies.
META-Health is based on the salutogenesis model coined by Aaron Antonovsky, finding that a sense of coherence with the components Comprehensibility, Manageability and Meaningfulness fosters health and resilience in human beings.
META-Health searches to promote understanding of the circumstances under which a symptom appears, thereby finding meaning in bio-logical and psycho-logical responses, which give us cues as to how both the symptom and its cause can be addressed to re-gain the feeling of well-being and resourcefulness.
The META-Health methodology consists of:
- META-Analytics: the collecting of information relevant for assessing the background and development of sensitivities and non-resilient states in individuals and in ecosystems.
- META-Awareness: the consequences of understanding and analysing the level of (self)responsibility, acceptance and potential within the individual.
- META-Coaching: helping individuals towards META-Awareness, self-regulation, healing and resilience
- META-Therapy: use of effective methods based on META-Analytics for
- Emotional processing of trauma and significant experiences
- Cognitive processing and transformation of stress
- Pain management and release
- Self-regulation through self-care
- Orientation towards health and resilience
- Motivation and perseverance
- Lifestyle choices to support the individual’s goal and sustainability of results on the physical, mental and social systemic levels.
Effective methods distinguish themselves by navigating cerebral and neurological functions and states; their effect also implies hormone modulation and energy distribution. The means of these methods can be conscious or unconscious.
Is it just a placebo?
This question implies that it would make a significant difference for the patient whether a method is scientifically standardized or not. Fortunately for the benefit of the patients, a more pragmatic approach has been established, e.g. by Norway’s National Research Center in Complementary and Alternative Medicine:
Most experts believe that things like a clinician’s expectation, enthusiasm, empathy, time and dedication can affect a patient’s outcome. There is also good evidence to demonstrate that this is, in fact, the case. Good clinicians use these and other factors wisely in order to help their patients. This means that, in many therapeutic situations, there is a more or less deliberate attempt to maximize the effects of these non-specific (or context) interventions, which often are called placebo effects. Most, if not all, medical interventions can therefore correctly be labelled complex interventions. If a treatment is prescribed or given as a complex system of several treatment components simultaneously or as a comprehensive package with sequential treatment delivery, the documentation of efficacy thus becomes more challenging. In these situations the treatment package often includes some of the non-specific treatments that in drug therapy research should be “controlled for”. Theoretically it might be possible to develop a truly inert complex treatment system that would appear identical to the intervention treatment, but this has not been demonstrated in practice.
In this situation we can only provide evidence of effectiveness, that is documentation of whether a package works as well, worse, or better than another package or different system of care. This ”control” system of care can either be usual care, best currently available evidence care, a specifically designed control system of care, or no care. It is important to remember that all complex interventions, whether they are conventional (e.g. consultation and conventional drug treatment) or alternative (e.g. consultation and homeopathic treatment) should be assessed in the same way.
Nevertheless, the Thought Field Therapy used by the META-Health Practitioner in the documented case as complementary therapy has also a scientific background.
Summary: The core of the story
DR presents the tragic history of a gentleman with terminal brain cancer dying despite of a combination of conventional and complementary therapies. The latter obviously helped to increase his quality of life.
The bereaved family requested the testimonial of the late client to be deleted from the META-Health Practitioner’s website, but the Practitioner unfortunately failed.
Around this banality DR has knitted a thriller with all the stylistic elements to make “the good guys” look good and to make “the bad guy” look bad. It seems like a hidden agenda, that this inflated story is mixed with another episode regarding the impostor Heino Frederiksen (aka the fake cancer doctor) – who is neither related to this specific case nor to META-Health in general.
Danmarks Radio, what’s the real goal with this story? Do you want to protect customers against the freedom of science and research? Do you want to protect future patients against the freedom of therapy?
For DR’s reputation as producer of high quality content, we would strongly recommend to revoke this episode of “Kontant” if your mission is more than empty words.
The Board of Directors
META-Health International CIC
Remarks for our non Danish readers and sources (all accessed 2019-11-25):
 Danmarks Radio is a public service TV and radio provider owned by the Danish state
 “Kontant” is the name of a Danish TV-magazine for consumer protection. Kontant means cash.
 Bolton, Dr J. and Attard, Dr D. (2015). Medically unexplained symptoms. [online] RC PSYCH ROYAL COLLEGE OF PSYCHIATRISTS. https://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/mental-health/problems-disorders/medically-unexplained-symptoms
 Batty, Russ et al (2016) https://www.bmj.com/content/bmj/356/bmj.j108.full.pdf