Saturday, February 4, 2012

What Chris Kilham, The Medicine Hunter, Doesn't Want You To Hear

On February 3, 2012 I read this article,, on the Fox News site written by Chris Kilham who bills himself as the “Medicine Hunter”, and an ethnobotanist who researches “natural remedies all over the world” and teaches at the University of Massachusetts. 

Mr. Kilham opened his article with:

“If you’re a doctor, pharmacist or other health care practitioner, you know that many people who walk into your office are using supplements, such as herbs. But school did not teach you about these remedies, and unless you have studied the topic of herbal medicine on your own, you have more questions than answers. 
So where do you go to learn more?
The American Botanical Council of Austin Texas is your answer."

I posted this comment right after reading the article:

ABC is a trade organization that promotes the sale of botanical "dietary supplements" and, I suspect, also makes a fortune selling "information" about its products. Suggesting that one go there for accurate information about medicinal herbs is like suggesting that one go to the Tobacco Institute for information about cigarettes although I suspect that due to changes in cultural attitudes that the pitch you get from ABC is far subtler, more sophisticated and discreet than the propaganda put out by the now defunct Tobacco Institute.

My comment appeared on the site under one other in which the author said something like, “Kilham didn’t go to med school or pharmacy school. So how does he know what is taught there?” What the commenter did not point out, perhaps he didn’t know, was that there is a special branch of pharmacy called pharmacognosy that specializes in the study of pharmacologically active ingredients found in natural products including those in plants. Without checking, I believe that there are still pharmacy schools offering degrees in Pharmacognosy and suspect that many more cover it in courses on the history of pharmacy.

But later in the day when I went back to check to see if more comments had been added, I was surprised to find that both my comment and the other one had disappeared and that there no longer was a spot to post a comment. 

When I had originally posted mine there were two photos of Kilham. Under the small one you saw: Print; Email; Share; Comments (1); Like... When I returned, “Comments (1)” had been deleted. I looked and couldn’t find any place to add one much less find the one that I had previously posted. 

I don’t know a lot about computers and I’m not aging well. If I missed the comments, please let me know. (I have saved the piece twice, once showing the comment link and once without it.)

Fox News has a logo above Kilham’s article that says, “ Fair & Balanced”, and since I believe that the article as well as the failure to post my comment shows that the piece is exactly the opposite of that, I think this is something Fox would want to know about. I will try contacting them and report the results, if any, here on my blog.

Chris Kilham, Fox News, American Botanical Council, ABC; University of Massachusetts; ethnobotany; The Medicine Hunter; dietary supplements; botanical drugs


  1. I've been reading your blog and I want to thank you very much for sharing your thoughts and experiences. With all the media buzz around naturopathic "medicine", sometimes I wonder if the whole world has gone mad and I'm the only one still sane.

    About the article removing your comment, I'm afraid it's very likely they did it on purpose. If you check out any other health articles on the site, you'll see that they all allow comments. For example:

    This one has 7 comments on it so far.

  2. Thank you for taking the time to comment.

    I think the the buzz about naturopathic "medicine" is actually a well funded publicity campaign run by the dietary supplement industry although I don't have the evidence to prove it.

    I think most NDs are "chemophobic" and don't want to practice scientific medicine like MDs do. I think that the supplement industry wants NDs licensed and accepted as "primary care 'physicians" because NDs promote, sell and use dietary supplements. I also think that the supplement industry hopes that by getting them licensed that they will be able to force third party payers to cover their services and maybe someday soon cover the cost of the sups that the NDs prescribe which is where the real money is. And of course if the industry can convince the public that NDs are real doctors then the public is very likely to believe that their "remedies" are real drugs meaning that they are safe and effective and worth spending hard-earned money on.

    The ND marketing campaign is aimed at convincing the public and politicians that NDs practice scientific or evidence-based medicine when nothing could be farther from the truth. The problem is that the public doesn't know that and that the promotional campaign convinces them that it must be true with the result that they are given more and more privileges by governments even though they don't have the training or ability required to safely and effectively use those privileges.

    Since so many places promoting NDs and supplements refuse to post my negative comments, I have to believe that most if not all do so deliberately. While I expect that of sites that are obviously purely promotional in nature, I don't think there is any excuse for sites that bill themselves as a news sites. When news sites do it, I think it is outright deceptive and wrong. To me it means that they are intentionally publishing promotional material which they erroneously present as news.

    If anyone has any ideas on how to alert the public, please let me know.

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