A Royal Mishap?
His Royal Highness Prince Charles of England has been catching a lot of flack lately, and it has nothing to do with his family life. The crowned prince is a proponent of homeopathy (the house of Windsor has used homeopathic medicine for generations), and has put his name behind a natural detoxification tincture. The controversy happened when the prominent Dr. Edzard Ernst of Britain's alternative and complementary medical community accused Prince Charles of contributing to the poor health and miseducation of the English people. Ernst claims that the prince "promotes a 'quick fix' and outright quackery. Prince Charles and his advisers seem to deliberately ignore science and prefer to rely on make-believe and superstition." The makers of the detox tincture stand behind their products, and retaliated with a statement.
"There is no 'quackery,' no 'make-believe,' and no 'superstition' in any of the... herbal tinctures. We find it unfortunate that Professor Ernst should chase sensationalist headlines in this way rather than concentrating on accuracy and objectivity," declared CEO Andrew Baker.
Out of curiosity, we took a look at the web site of the product in question. While most of the site is devoted to organic and healthy food products, there are also homeopathic medicines. The detox tincture product page offers information about the formula's ingredients (dandelion and artichoke), and mentions Prince Charles' support of the product. It is also worth noting that some research on each main ingredient showed both to be accepted by natural medicine as helpful in the digestive process.
What's really important here is how the detox is presented, and what claims are made about its abilities. In reading the provided information, we never saw any references to the detox solution as a cure, medicine, or remedy for a condition or disease. It is only said to help and support the body's natural processes. The site is also clear that the product is not a substitute for a healthy diet. There is no language on the page suggesting that the detox is capable of anything other than health support. The pages for other homeopathic products read in a similar fashion. So, neither the detox merchants nor the prince of England have really made any outlandish claims at all. Perhaps detoxification products just have a bad name. In the wake of trendy cleanses and detox diets, the basic concept of detoxifying the body has become associated with weight loss, drug testing, and unnecessary inner washes. But what of the natural desire to clean out the digestive system after the holidays or a weekend of heavy eating and drinking? Generally, if the body is craving something, there is a reason for it. Rather than clearing the system with grueling fasts and cleansing rituals, why not try a basic diet of fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and water? Cutting back on heavy and satiating foods will help bring back a feeling of light cleanliness. "Detox is about changing the diet, eating good food," explains Dr. Roberta Lee, of New York City's Beth Israel Medical Center. "It's a matter of how we frame it." Lee also feels that Dr. Ernst's outburst serves to widen the gap between experts and the public. "I think that we all have to agree that being an open-minded skeptic is a reasonable thing for every scientist. But I think that housing [criticisms] in a language that does not allow room for discussion is not helpful."