Gillian McKeith, round 2

August 19th, 2004 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, channel 4, gillian mckeith, nutritionists, PhDs, doctors, and qualifications, very basic science | 9 Comments »

Ben Goldacre
Thursday August 19, 2004
The Guardian

· Where were we? Oh yes. “Dr Gillian McKeith (PhD)”, who has a peaktime Channel 4 series on “clinical nutrition”, got her PhD from a non-accredited correspondence school in America and has never published any properly evaluated scientific research.

· Several of you are fans of Ms McKeith, and wrote to express how upset you were that I had childishly attacked her reputation, and not her theories. Well. Let’s pick a quote at random. Chlorophyll is “high in oxygen”. And the darker leaves on plants are good for you, she explains, because they contain “chlorophyll – the ‘blood’ of the plant – which will really oxygenate your blood.” Here we run into a classic Bad Science problem. It may be immediately obvious to you that this is pseudoscientific, made up nonsense (and from the TV personality the Radio Times described as “no nonsense”, no less). If it’s not obvious nonsense to you, then, OK, just this once: the real science. Chlorophyll is a small green molecule that uses the energy from light to convert carbon dioxide and water into sugar and oxygen. Plants then use this sugar energy to make everything else they need, like protein, and you breathe in the oxygen, and maybe you even eat the plants. You also breathe out carbon dioxide. It’s all so beautiful, so gracefully simple, yet so rewardingly complex, so neatly connected, not to mention true, that I can’t imagine why you’d want to invent nonsense to believe instead. But there you go. That’s alternative therapists all over.

· It’s very dark in your bowels. There is no light there. Nor are there gills in your bowels. Even fish do not have gills in their bowels. Consequently the chlorophyll will not create oxygen, and even if it did, even if Dr Gillian McKeith PhD stuck a searchlight up your bum to prove a point, you would not absorb any even slightly significant amount of oxygen with your bowel. And in case you think I’m being selective, and only quoting her most ridiculous moments, there’s more: the tongue is “a window to the organs – the right side shows what the gallbladder is up to, and the left side the liver.” Raised capillaries on your face are a sign of “digestive enzyme insufficiency – your body is screaming for food enzymes.” Thankfully, Gillian can sell you some food enzymes from her website. “Skid mark stools” (she is obsessed with faeces and colonic irrigation) are “a sign of dampness inside the body – a very common condition in Britain.” If your stools are foul smelling you are “sorely in need of digestive enzymes”. Again. Her treatment for pimples on the forehead – not pimples anywhere else, mind you, only on the forehead – is a regular enema. Cloudy urine is “a sign that your body is damp and acidic, due to eating the wrong foods.” The spleen is “your energy battery”.

· Now will somebody please explain to me how this woman can be on television, every week, wearing a white coat, talking authoritatively about “treating patients”, sticking irrigation equipment into people’s rectums, and coming out with sentences like “each sprouting seed is packed with the nutritional energy needed to create a full grown healthy plant” which are just simply wrong (the plant gets the energy from sunlight, using chlorophyll, like we said earlier). She is a menace to the public understanding of science, and anyone who gives her a platform should be ashamed of themselves.


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9 Responses



  1. pv said,

    April 5, 2006 at 11:08 pm

    And I always thought oxygen was absorbed through my lungs. Obviously got it wrong there because, every time I try to swallow some green, chlorophyll leaves into my lungs I automatically choke and they get rerouted into my stomach, I now understand from where they can dispense their oxygen to my blood. But that leaves the question, Gillian McFaeces, what are my lungs for then?
    Honestly, I think the only reason this woman is so obsessed with examining other people’s excrement is because she’s looking for someone like herself; someone with shit for brains.

  2. Gillian McKeith is pure evil « The Unemployed Blog said,

    December 14, 2008 at 10:20 pm

    [...] really short-changing yourself). Remember, this is the woman who seemingly expects us all to have a flashlight stuck up our arse. The stink of pseudoscience also permeates the show. In one episode I watched as “Dr” [...]

  3. zenoagnew said,

    July 10, 2009 at 11:00 am

    I may be wrong, with only basic GCSE biology support, but would enzymes she’s selling that had miraculously survived being digested by protease not be irreversibly denatured by the pH2 acid in your stomach anyway? The only enzyme that I could think of that could survive that is pepsin.

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  6. Bad Science « Animation Seven said,

    July 27, 2010 at 2:12 pm

    [...] against us on a daily basis – such as the wild claims of various nutritionists, including by one well-known personality into the benefits of chlorophyll, or the studies into the educational performance benefits of fish oil that were promptly buried as [...]

  7. The Fall of the Lifestyle Nutritionists? « Stuff And Nonsense said,

    August 15, 2010 at 3:21 pm

    [...] scholarship that it is now widely recognised for what it is. Maybe Holford’s howlers and McKeith’s misunderstandings have now penetrated the public [...]

  8. oxygenated food for the brain? | BioBlog said,

    August 18, 2010 at 9:10 am

    [...] & so do all your other bits & pieces, & they don’t get the oxygen from food. As Ben Goldacre once said, even if chlorophyll were to survive the digestive process & make it through to the intestine, [...]

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