Brian Clement, controversial nutritionist, claims institute helps patients 'reverse' MS

Brian Clement, a Florida nutritionist whose controversial treatment of two Canadian First Nations girls with leukemia made headlines last year, is back giving lectures in Canada and making more contentious health claims.

B.C. school cancels talk by head of Hippocrates Health spa, where aboriginal girls were treated

Controversial nutritionist claims institute helps patients 'reverse' MS

8 years ago
Duration 2:41
Brian Clement, head of Hippocrates Health spa, is back giving lectures in Canada and making more contentious health claims

Brian Clement, a Florida nutritionist whose controversial treatment of two Canadian First Nations girls with leukemia made headlines last year, is back giving lectures in Canada and making more contentious health claims.

CBC obtained a recording of a lecture Clement gave in September in Montreal where he said, "Last week, we had somebody at the institute that reversed multiple sclerosis."

He went on to claim that many other people who visited his Florida spa, the Hippocrates Health Institute, saw similar results.

"A nurse that came to us two years ago was crippled, had braces on. By the time she left Hippocrates, she reversed the multiple sclerosis.

"And mainstream medicine, they think it's remarkable. I've seen lots and lots of people over the years did that."

CBC News first investigated Clement after his clinic provided alternative therapy to two First Nations girls from Ontario battling leukemia. Makayla Sault attended Hippocrates after quitting chemotherapy at an Ontario hospital. She died in January.

I think he's giving false hope to people.- Marcia Mundell, MS patient who attended Hippocrates

The mother of the other girl, who cannot be identified, told CBC News that Clement told her leukemia is "not difficult for them to deal with" before she withdrew her daughter from chemo treatment at McMaster Children's Hospital to attend the Florida centre. Clement denied those claims

The case resulted in a landmark court decision about aboriginal rights when a judge ruled it was the mother's aboriginal right to choose traditional medicine. The controversial decision was later amended. According to the family's lawyer, the girl is no longer being treated by Hippocrates and is back in chemotherapy. 

In February, Clement was ordered to stop using the title doctor and fined for practising medicine without a licence by the Florida Department of Health. In March, the state dropped their investigation and fine, citing "insufficient evidence."

Clement 'selling false hope': MS patient

Jonathan Jarry, a scientist and blogger who attended the lecture in Montreal, said Clement spoke for an hour about the benefits of a raw, vegan diet, then did a Q&A with the audience about various medical conditions, including MS. 

"I have no respect for people who are selling false hopes to vulnerable individuals who are looking for magical cures, who are looking for any intervention that will help them," Jarry said.

In 2008, Marcia Mundell was diagnosed with a form of MS known as relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis. In 2011, she heard Clement speak at a lecture in Florida. 
Marcia Mundell spent over $10,000 at Hippocrates but is still suffering from MS. (CBC)

"I asked him if his plan could help me cure my MS, and he said, 'Absolutely.' "

"He just said if I went to the institution and stayed on the raw food diet and followed their plan, that his program could cure my MS."

Mundell spent over $10,000 at the Hippocrates Health Institute and stayed on the raw, vegan diet Clement recommended for a year, but in 2013, her neurologist said her MS had gotten worse.

Mundell said that while she believes healthy nutrition is beneficial, she would not recommend Hippocrates.

"I think he's giving false hope to people."

'It's not science'

Dr. Mark Freedman, a professor of neurology at the University of Ottawa and director of the multiple sclerosis research unit at the Ottawa Hospital, said he's skeptical of Clement's claims.

"To say that they can reverse deficits that lead to crippling disease — very unbelievable. It's not science."

"Anytime somebody makes a claim you have to ask, where is the evidence? Testimonials, gosh, you could pay a guy on the street to give you a testimonial. You need to have some kind of scientific rigour behind it. Let him do a trial. Let him prove what he is saying." 

Clement did not respond to CBC News requests for an interview. 

Lecture cancelled

Clement is scheduled to speak this week in B.C. One of those talks was cancelled after CBC made inquiries about it. (Hippocrates Health Institute website)

He was scheduled to speak to children and parents today at an elementary school in Qualicum Beach, B.C. However, after CBC News called to confirm the lecture, school officials said it was cancelled. 

"The school was not aware of the controversy surrounding this individual," said Corleen McKinnon-Sanderson, vice-principal of Qualicum Beach Elementary School. 

Clement is also scheduled to speak in Parksville, B.C., today and in Courtenay, B.C., tomorrow.