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Naturopath who advised bicarbonate of soda as a cancer cure banned by health watchdog

An Australian naturopath who advised clients that their cancer was a fungal infection and could be cured using bicarbonate of soda has been banned from practicing for life by the New South Wales Health Care Complaints Commission. 

Barbara O’Neill, who ran a health retreat in New South Wales and charged up to $3100 (£1700) a week for treatments, was judged by the HCCC to be “misleading vulnerable people” with the “selective information” she gave. 

The investigation was launched after the HCCC received a slew of complaints between October 2018 and January about the advice O’Neill was promoting. 

This included encouraging clients to remove food groups like fruit and carbohydrates from their diet and eschew traditional medical treatment for cancer, while instead using probiotics and bicarbonate wraps to treat their illness.

O’Neill also claimed that vaccines are responsible for an ‘epidemic’ of “ADHD, autism, epilepsy and cot death” and that antibiotics cause cancer. 

The HCCC investigation unearthed that O’Neill had never possessed membership with an accredited health organisation, and had “limited” health-related academic qualifications. 

One complaint about her conduct listed in the HCCC judgement said that dietary advice for babies published on O’Neill’s personal website could potentially lead to fatalities. In response, O’Neill told the HCCC that the directives were not based on any official guidance or evidence but instead “her own experiences”. 

O’Neill also argued she didn’t give clients advice but instead provided them with “information” – which included telling pregnant women not to take antibiotics for streptococcus B on the grounds that “no baby has ever died from Strep B catching out of birth”. Yet statistics show that early-onset Strep B has a 14% fatality rate in infants under four weeks old, a risk reduced by 80% if antibiotics are taken.

A petition started by ‘Friends of Barbara O’Neill’ and calling for the HCCC to repeal the ruling has now reached 36,000 signatures at the time of writing.

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