Last Monday night (March 5th), Media Watch critiqued a segment I gave on the Channel 10 program, Studio 10. Typical of Media Watch, there was a blatant criticism of a commercial television station presenting commercial television.

This segment on Studio 10 ran for about ten minutes and was basically about heart health. I was asked by the company Nutralife to present this segment, and they requested that I mention their product, which is a Kyolic garlic preparation.

I have used this product in my practice for a number of years with significant benefits in blood pressure reduction for my patients. There are also two very well-performed studies published in peer-reviewed literature showing a reduction in the progression of coronary artery disease, using coronary calcium scoring and a regression of coronary artery disease after 12 months of high-dose Kyolic garlic (four capsules daily) using CT coronary angiography.

Media Watch cited a Dr Ken Harvey, an Associate Professor at Monash University. He had previously labelled a Nutralife ad featuring Lisa Wilkinson that stated that Kyolic garlic preparation supported the reduction of blood pressure as “unconscionable”. I strangely did not receive his memo that I should be agreeing with this opinion.

I have never suggested that any form of complementary medicine is a replacement for the stronger, well studied and well-funded orthodox medicine. But I argue that some forms of evidenced base complementary medicine are excellent adjuncts to lifestyle principles in healthy people, and orthodox medicine for people with established disease.

Just because one so-called “expert” cannot interpret the medical literature correctly, doesn’t make him right. And therefore I have no interest in reading “his memo,” to quote Mr Barry from Media Watch.

Mr Barry also stated that the study of the 88 patients with high blood pressure (that showed a similar reduction in BP to a standard pharmaceutical regimen) was paid for by the company. Almost all scientific studies receive some funding by the manufacturers of the therapies, whether they be pharmaceutical, devices or complementary medicines. The researchers publish the data independent of the companies, regardless of whom was offering the funding. Thus, to suggest that the information is of no value is blatantly ridiculous.

Mr Barry suggested that the segment was purely a giant commercial for Nutralife. Firstly, there was no mention on the Media Watch segment that for nine minutes out of the ten minutes I discussed heart health, and during the final minute discussed Kyolic garlic with no mention of the company or the specific product. I had no idea that any mention of Nutralife would be made after the segment. I also had no idea that the company had actually paid Channel 10 for the segment.

The only part of the Media Watch segment that was accurate was that I was paid nothing to appear on Studio 10, and purely did so because I believe in complementary medicine and feel is important to promote the message of good health.

As I said to good friend of mine, I will be out to dinner when Media Watch is next shown on the ABC and will miss the segment along with millions of other Australians.

Watch the full Media Watch segment here