I have to hand it to the snake oil peddlers over at NES Health – they have managed to squeeze just about every energy-based pseudoscience into one scam. What does “NES” stand for, you wonder? “Nutrition Energy System.
The NES site itself is beyond parody, so let me just quote them:
“Through its pioneering work with medical doctors and acupuncture therapists over the last decade, NES Health has not only discovered - and mapped - the human body field but it has also managed to integrate this ground-breaking knowledge with the principles of energy information.”
So, in the last decade they “discovered” the non-existent “human body field” that has been part of cutting edge pseudoscience for decades. Devices that measure the body’s “energy field” go back at least to the 1970s. A simple search on the term will indicate that this is nothing new, nor unique to NES.
The NES site continues:
“The link between biology and traditional Chinese medicine has been formally established by NES Health - and the organization’s researchers have identified that the human body field is a highly structured network of energy and information fields, which act as a master control system for the physical body.
As a consequence, it is now evident that to be healthy, the body's energy fields must be functioning harmoniously - if their natural balance is disturbed, health consequently suffers.”
New technology meets ancient wisdom. I knew it had to be in there somewhere.
In their promotional video they inform us that NES is ushering in the “quantum age” of healthcare. Skeptics have been joking for some time that you could simply put the words: “quantum,” “energy,” “vibrations,” “balance,” “harmony,” “information,” “healing,” “toxin,” “nutrition,” and other commonly used vague terms into a bag, or into a computer program that will spit them out at random, and you can generate endless alternative health products, with claims that are just as coherent and science-based as anything on the market. They did coin the term, as far as I know, “infoceutical.” Nice one – supplements imprinted with information. Personally I would have gone for the trifecta – how about, quantum-infoceutical?
Their products and claims are supported, of course, by testimonials. They even managed to land an endorsement by psi researcher, Dean Radin.
They do have a tab for “research,” which is always entertaining. On it you will find a few terrible studies that do nothing to support the grandiose claims of NES health. For example, one study compares an imprinted version (think homeopathy) of their “Flamese” supplement with an unimprinted version. They tout it as a double-blind study. The results:
“This is clearly a very effective product, so effective in fact - it is difficult to separate the imprinted vs the unimprinted versions, as most subjects were symptom free before the end of the trial regardless of which supplement they were receiving.”
Let me translate for you – the study was negative. There was no statistical difference between treatment and control, so “imprinting” is useless. There wasn’t a no-treatment or placebo group, so we have no idea if the supplement did anything.
Study number two:
“This informal observation study was carried out in the U.S by Jason Siczkowycz a naturopath and Certified NES Health Practitioner. The study suggests that NES Health Infoceuticals have a positive effect on autonomic function as measured by Heart Rate Variability (HRV) scores.”
“Informal observational study” means “anecdotal evidence.” Heart rate variability is one of those worthless physiological parameters that exist only for data mining and confirmation bias. It’s informational pareidolia.
The third trial is also touted as double blind, and this time placebo controlled. The study only included 54 subjects. There is no link to a published study, just a slide show. Based on the information given, it seems they are making a classic statistical mistake – they claim that results are statistically significant, but they are comparing pre and post treatment for their stress reducing “infoceutical” – they are not comparing placebo response vs treatment response. Sorry, fail.
The other few studies are hardly worth mentioning. They are performed by “experts in energy medicine” using their energy measuring devices and finding stuff, but there does not appear to be any rigorous methodology or statistical analysis.
Most snake oil companies don’t even bother with actual research, but those that do offer similar results – studies that have nothing to do with the actual claims, horrendously methodologically flawed studies, or negative studies they try to present as positive.
What you don’t find is a trail of published peer-reviewed quality research establishing any of the core alleged mechanisms or the clinical claims of the products. Of course, if they had that they wouldn’t be hawking snake oil on the Internet, they would be part of mainstream science-based medicine.
What is well documented on their website is that NES Health is pure pseudoscience. All the red flags are there – overhyped claims of “revolutionizing” medicine, cutting edge technology meets ancient wisdom, vague use of sciencey terms and slick jargon, reliance on testimonials and worthless research that does not actual establish their claims, references to other pseudosciences like acupuncture and homeopathy, and ranks filled with dubious practitioners with fake expertise.
Unfortunately this is just one of countless variations on this pseudoscientific theme.
Steven Novella, M.D. is the JREF's Senior Fellow and Director of the JREF’s Science-Based Medicine project.