Brian Clement and the Hippocrates Health Institute: Cancer quackery on steroids


I think we’ve spent enough time on Bill Maher’s antivaccine posturing for now. There really isn’t much more to say for now. I’m sure he’ll probably dump some pseudoscientific nonsense about medicine on his show to provide me with more blogging material. Today, I’m moved to revisit a certain cancer quack whose offenses are threatening to suck me into devoting as much attention to him in the coming days as I have over the last three years to Stanislaw Burzynski. I’m referring, of couse, to Brian Clement, the proprietor of the Hippocrates Health Institute in Florida.

I first encountered Clement and his wheatgrass enema treatments for cancer a little over a year ago in the context of discussing the story of Stephanie O’Halloran, a young woman with metastatic breast cancer who was deceived by Clement into thinking he could save her life. He didn’t. He’s been featured most recently in my discussions of the death of one aboriginal girl (Makayla Sault) in Canada and the almost certainly impending death of another due to their parents’ having trusted Clement to treat their daughters’ lymphoblastic leukemia. My main point of discussion was primarily how the Canadian government and the the girls’ nations have failed them. Now I want to turn around and concentrate on the quack who led Makayla Sault to her death and is in the process of leading another aboriginal girl to her death.

The reasons are twofold. First, local NBC affiliate WPTV West Palm Beach just did a story about Brian Clement and his Hippocrates Health Institute. Second, I know there is another story in the pipeline, to be published later this week. (Shameless bit of self-promotion: I was interviewed for it.) I’ll start with the WPTV story. When the other story comes out I’ll discuss it, either here or (more likely) on my not-so-super-secret other blog, where I can go into detail about specific patient anecdotes in much the same way I did about Stanislaw Burzynski’s patient claims.

Here is the story:

Overall, it’s not a bad start to uncovering the quack that is Clement. First, we learn that the HHI is posh. Very posh:

Eat raw, eat vegan and help your body fight disease.

That’s one of the claims that, each year, attracts thousands of people from around the globe to the Hippocrates Health Institute in West Palm Beach.

But what the Contact 5 Investigators discovered about its director raises question if he’s giving the terminally ill false hope.

From the air in Chopper 5 the Hippocrates Health Institute is an impressive sight. Nestled on 50 acres of lush tropical South Florida landscape, for 30 years people from around the world have congregated at the West Palm Beach institute paying thousands of dollars to indulge in the zenful secrets of healthy living, nutritional counseling and natural healing. But the Contact 5 Investigators found its director pitching claims modern medicine has yet to discover.

That’s putting it mildly! Let’s take a look again at the sorts of treatments offered by Brian Clement as part of HHI’s “Life Transformation Program“. They include:

  • Superior nutrition through a diet of organically-grown, enzyme-rich, raw, life-giving foods
  • Detoxification
  • Wheatgrass therapies, green juice, juice fasting
  • Colonics, enemas, implants
  • Exercise, including cardio, strength training and stretching
  • Far infrared saunas, steam room
  • Ozone pools, including: dead sea salt, swimming, jacuzzi and cold plunge
  • Weekly massages
  • Bio-energy treatments
  • Med-spa & therapy services

For those of you who don’t remember what “implants” are. It turns out that wheatgrass “implants” are, in actuality, wheatgrass juice enemas:

When used as a rectal implant, reverses damage from inside the lower bowel. An implant is a small amount of juice held in the lower bowel for about 20 minutes. In the case of illness, wheatgrass implants stimulate a rapid cleansing of the lower bowel and draw out accumulations of debris.

Indeed, if you believe the hype on the HHI website, there’s nothing that wheatgrass can’t do. If the HHI is to be believed, wheatgrass can increase red blood cell count, decrease blood pressure, cleanse the blood, organs and GI tract of “debris,” stimulate the thyroid gland, “restore alkalinity” to the blood, “detoxify” the blood, fight tumors and neutralize toxins, and many other fantastically beneficial alleged effects. Basically, combine a raw vegan diet with a veritable cornucopia of other kinds of quackery, and you have the HHI.

Lately, it seems, Clement is getting into “vibration” and “quantum.” For instance, get a load of this video on Quantum Biology:

I admit that I didn’t watch the whole thing. Not even close. It was just plain too painful, given how much pseudoscience is packed into nearly two hours. Nor do I expect you to watch the whole thing; that is, unless you’re a total glutton for punishment. (Seriously, physicists and chemists viewing this video will feel a near-irresistible urge to claw their eyes out.) One brief example occurs at 1:11:30 or so, when he shows a highly simplified version of the cell followed by pure vitalism, where he talks about the “life force” gathered through nutrients. The cell is surrounded by words representing vitamins, protein, water, minerals, essential fatty acids, and oxygen (to which he verbally adds “electromagnetic frequencies.” After this, there is this text:

These elements with their varied frequencies are attracted to the magnetic energy of the cell. This allows building and life maintaining processes. It also expels exhausted and used matter from the cell.

Clement “translates” this to mean that if you have the life force in the cell and the life force in the nutrients, they’re attracted to each other.

Elsewhere, he describes quantum biology thusly:

Painting a picture to describe this fruitful exploration begins with yourself. Beyond the protein that holds your body together, the vitamin and mineral sheathing that covers it, the essential fats that fuel it and the water and oxygen that shape it, the underlying purpose for your body?s existence is the electricity that it takes in and creates. There is a continual and perfect communication from cell to cell and from gathering of cells (organs and / or skeletal) to gathering of cells. This communication also reaches beyond your body to all other life outside.

This rhythmic and energetic process is strong, yet fragile. It can be thrown off by a weakening of the anatomical integrity of the cells or their central electrical frequencies. This weakening can occur via poor nutrition, dehydration and / or polluted hydration, lack of oxygen, intake of heavy metals or chemicals or renegade electromagnetic fields such as cell phones, Wi-Fi, etc.

All abnormalities that have been labeled as diseases stem from the negative energies that are endured from the poor lifestyle choices and unsustainable environment that we have created on planet earth today.

Our core vulnerability stems from the reduction of bio-frequency that occurs in the cell, which heightens its fragility to make it ineffective in communication and contribution. When these disturbances are critical, they can even cause a cell to mutate.

When you ingest ionized, rich, raw plant-based foods, it provides foundational energy. You then have to consider avoiding negative energy fields or at least protecting yourself from them with electromagnetic field interrupting devices or tools.

What is more difficult to avoid and personally restrain from is the negative energy that we absorb or spew from discontented emotional states. Most of you have seen this and experienced it. Certain people, places or environments can make you feel uncomfortable, on edge and literally drained.

Arrrrgh! I can’t take any more! Not only is Clement spewing total and utter BS about quantum theory and science a la Deepak Chopra, but he explicitly embraces a “Secret”-like concept that “negative energy” from people’s “discontented emotional states” causes disease. Oh, and let’s not forget “toxins” needing “detoxification.” You get the idea. Clement understands neither physics, chemistry, nor biology. He thinks wheatgrass, either eaten or administered as enemas, is a cure-all. He treats cancer with a raw vegan diet plus a wide variety of quackery, even detox foot baths. He blathers spiritual nonsense about god, “energy” and consciousness.

And people with cancer believe it when he says he can cure them. Indeed, at the very beginning of the WPTV story, Clement is shown saying that stage IV cancer can be reversed and that the HHI has “had more people reverse cancer than any institute in the history of health care.” (Later in the report he says that the “only place we get oxygen naturally is from living food.” Oh, really? What about the air?) We also learn that Clement travels the world promoting the HHI, which explains how Makayla Sault, for example, heard about him. He’s given talks in Canada in areas where First Nations people live.

Yes, the report finds things that we mostly already know, such as the finding that Clement is not a physician, that he claims to be a “doctor of nutrition,” and that he got his doctorate from a diploma mill, the University of Science, Arts, and Technology. There is also an interview with the former director of nursing at the HHI, Steven Pugh, who reported that he told Clement that he was not a medical doctors and therefore, as a nurse, he couldn’t take medical orders from him. Hilariously (and simultaneously sadly) Clement flatly denies practicing medicine without a license and claims that his statement about reversing cancer was “taken out of context.” One wonders what “context” there could be that would make saying that acceptable.

Like so many quacks, Clement denies that he is running a “medical institute,” claiming instead that he runs a “natural healing” center and that he has a doctor on staff not to treat people but in case people get ill:

Talk about disingenuous dodges! Clement says he is not offering “medical treatments” but says that his medical team offers “alternative treatments,” including vitamins and hyperbaric treatments. The reporter (Katie LaGrone) asks about the vitamin treatments, which are administered intravenously and asks if that isn’t a medical treatment. Clement does some more dancing with terminology and says it’s an “alternative treatment” that he couldn’t get from his general practitioner. No kidding.

It’s equally depressing, albeit amusing, to watch Clement dance around questions about his educational background:

Particularly amusing, I must admit, is the part where the reporter points out that the University of Science, Arts, and Technology is widely considered a diploma mill and Clement replies that he worked three and a half or four years for 30 hours a week. Even if he’s telling the truth (which I must question), that’s a pretty darned easy PhD program. it would have been awesome if I could have gotten my PhD working only 30 hours a week.

The more I learn about Brian Clement, the more I wonder: How on earth has this guy been operating for three decades in Florida. Clearly, the State of Florida has utterly failed to protect its citizens from quackery. In fact, given how many people, such as Makayla Sault, come from all over the world, Florida has failed to protect everyone.

At the end of the report, the reporter asks Clement about accusations that he gives cancer patients false hope. He immediately replies, “There is no such thing as false hope.” Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong. Hope is important, but cancer patients need that hope to be tempered with a realistic assessment of their prognosis. Clement takes that away from them.