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Last night Dr. Andrew Weil was on the CNN's The Larry King Show. Dr. Weil, reacted to a question about blood types and diet with the response that he thought of the BTD had "no scientific basis". He verified this by saying that if people tested the blood of dogs they would say they should be vegetarian rather than carnivores. I have already addressed this mistaken assertion of Dr. Weil's (humans and other species glycosylate their tissues differently, and linkages of certain physiologic functions to the blood group genes also vary by species), but it seems that he needs to keep re-asserting this incredibly naive argument.
In a series of rotating criticisms Dr. Weil other venues asserted that the problem with the BTD was that he "sees no convincing link between lectins and the molecules which determine blood type." (AARP Magazine) After being subsequently challenged by numerous editorial letters, he eventually responded that "he did not agree with restrictive diets." I've previously responded to Dr. Weil's assertions in this blog, but wanted to resurrect my most recent response and make it a bit more current.
Finally I'd like to challenge Dr. Weil to an open forum discussion of the scientific merits of the theories and associations developed, observed or reported by myself and my father. This can occur at any time or place of his choosing. If he is as committed to investigating the truth of his assertions as one would suspect, I have no doubt that he will be as anxious as I for this to occur. I can be contacted through this blog, or at my clinic.
[Now on to the previous blog entry]
The more I read of Andrew Weil's efforts to debunk the work of my father and myself, the more I'm convinced I can't simply turn the other cheek and let these so-called skeptics just get away with disingenuous portrayals of the science behind this diet. His recent slag-job in AARP Magazine is just more proof that I will need to react in a timely and concise manner going forward.
"D'Adamo theorizes that the basis for such differences is our reactions to certain food proteins called lectins. Lectins are common in plant foods, especially grains and beans, and may be involved in food allergies and some immune disorders. But there is no convincing evidence for any interactions between lectins and the molecules that determine blood type."
"Yet some people swear the blood type diet has worked for them. There's a reason for that. Making changes in how we eat is not easy. To follow any prescribed dietary program with rules and restrictions represents a significant commitment of mental energy toward self-improvement. That alone can lead to a greater sense of well-being and better health. But if you want to eat a better diet, I recommend you rely on information grounded in nutritional science."
I think I got on Dr. Weil's bad side a few years ago when I replied to a question posed to me about my recommendation that blood type As eat peanuts, while Dr. Weil was saying that peanuts were dangerous because of the aflatoxin. My response was that this was a silly piece of advice since the only place you can get aflatoxin is in health food stores when you grind your own peanut butter; all the commercial forms must be assayed for it before they can be sold.
Over the next few years Dr. Weil kept up a consistent attack on me and the theory, usually basing his case on the rather odd observation that animals have blood types and yet don't follow the Blood Type Diet.
However with the AARP column Dr. Weil instead shifted to what he considers the lack of proven association between dietary lectins and blood groups.
It's a bad place to pick an argument, since at that point the argument moves up the academic ladder to areas he would be wise to not tread. There are numerous and well-documented links between lectins and blood groups. Searching MEDLINE for the terms ABO Blood Groups and Lectins yields 687 published studies In fact the term ‘lectin’ was derived in 1954 from the Latin for legere, to pick or choose, it having been coined thus to call attention to their blood type specificity.
Dr. Weil's claim appears to have not been researched to any great degree since it appears to me to have been taken from an incorrect assertion that often finds its way onto the Wikipedia entry on the Blood Type Diet.
In fact, blood group specificity is listed as one of the nine major factors influencing glycosylation in the gut (glycosylation is the process of manufacturing the sugar molecules that lectins bind with). Other factors include diet, age, animal species, disease and bacterial population.
Independent of the lectin hypothesis, in my opinion the secretory differences (digestive enzymes, etc.) between the blood groups are an even more significant reason behind the need for the tailoring nutritional needs to these genetic markers. But Dr. Weil doesn't know about these links or chooses to ignore them altogether. Then again, every critic seems to have their own favorite aspect of the theory.
Given his harsh take on my work, it was surprising to read some of his statements about the need for keeping an open mind about alternative medicine. Kinda wish he would practice what he preaches. In a reply to one of his own critics (Arnold S. Relman, editor-in-chief emeritus of the New England Journal of Medicine), he writes:
"As a researcher, you have the luxury of insisting on rigorous scientific testing, and you have the leisure to wait for results to come in. As a practitioner, you are in the trenches, working with patients who have medical needs. And you often have to guess, and you have to make use of your best medical judgment in the absence of definitive evidence."
No argument there.
"In my experience-- I consider experience to be one valuable source of data--many patients use alternative methods because they find that they work. And if a patient has tried a method and found that it works, that patient needs no further proof, does not need to read the reports of a randomized, double-blind, controlled trial in a medical journal to be convinced of the efficacy of treatment."
"I don't think you can have it both ways; you can't demand evidence, and then when evidence comes in that contradicts your preconceptions, say you aren't going to look at it."
Words to live by.
Now if Dr. Weil were to keep an open mind, I'd recommend that he read up on the work of William Boyd, who first wrote of the blood type specificity of lectins more than a half centry ago  or review the research of Martin Nachbar from the 1980's. Lots of interesting stuff there. A trip to MEDLINE would also be helpful.,,
In an article critical of Dr. Weil written for the New Republic Relman touched on many of Weil's factual inconsistencies and concluded that:
Weil considers himself an authority on almost every field of medicine. 
Finally, it could be argued that the possible reason Dr. Weil supplies for why some people swear that the blood type diet has worked for them ("a significant commitment of mental energy toward self-improvement") may well be the exact same reason some people derive benefits from his own books, tapes and recommendations!
But let's at least end on a somewhat positive note, with a quote from someone who does have experience with lectins. Gerhard Uhlenbruck is one of about three or four top lectinologists of the last century and renowned for discovering the structure of the Thomsen-Friedenreich antigens and the structure and specificity of (aflatoxin-free, I'm sure) peanut lectin. This is what he recently said:
When I first heard of Peter D'Adamo's blood group diet, of course I was very skeptical: Should we have missed in our book (Prokop/ Uhlenbruck: Human Blood and Serum Groups) such an important aspect? But years later, my interest switched to the nutritional field while working on the so-called Metabolic Syndrome, my interest increased in studying the role of genes in metabolic processes. I found out, that Peter D'Adamo's blood group orientated diet could probably be a first step in the right direction..
Back soon with a more positive, happy and helpful blog.
The solution is to change to a different game. Force the challenger to verify his credentials in the area he critiques. Criticism without the attendant understanding and logic must be shown to be empty to be silenced. The best way to acheive this is to educate the critic. Usually the best one can do is educate the critic's audience.
Webster's defines "libel" as, amongst its definitions, "a written or oral defamatory statement or representation that conveys an unjustly unfavorable impression; a statement or representation published without just cause and tending to expose another to public contempt."
Notice the repeated use of the root word "just" in these definitions. He leaves himself open to a libel suit when he claims, fraudulently, that there is "no evidence" for the role of lectins in diet or disease, when you yourself have already just presented us with multiple hundreds of such studies.
He's proclaiming himself an "expert"... and the minute he does that, he sets a standard of things he should know, ESPECIALLY when he makes such absolute and catastrophic claims BASED on his scaffold of "expertise".
I would totally sue him for libel. Hit him where he won't soon forget, and where will serve as an example to other priestly snipers: the wallet.
You go, Dr. D! There're lots of healthier people running around alive because of your efforts.
The problem I have is that it's one thing for some willfully ignorant, loudmouth drunkard at a bar at 3 a.m. to have an "opinion" on something, and another thing entirely for someone like Andrew Weil, M.D., to do so... especially when he so widely and effectively casts his opinion on things of such great importance within his own self-appointed field of expertise, AND which have been exhaustively laid at his very feet by Peter D'Adamo, through the use of great numbers of meticulously-cited research studies to support his cause of genetically-compatible, lectin-based dietary and lifestyle protocol.
When someone like Weil casts his "opinion" on matters of alternative health -- which he himself has declared as his cause -- then, whether or not he wishes to acknowledge it, he must be held to the reasonable expectation of his giving a damn to actually study up on the subject before casting anything more than what he should qualify as only a TENTATIVE opinion.
But he doesn't do that. He holds high his banner of crusade, sounds the trumpets and rallies his legions of supporters to "attack the enemy", all based on his own willful ignorance and, not surprisingly, pan-galactic M.D. ego.
I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Allopathic medicine tried to play dirty, but the naturopaths and the naturopathic approach won the hearts and minds of the public. So, now, allopathy's goal is still of the dirty variety: it is nothing more than to absorb the very practices of natural medicine for itself, while all the while doing everything in its power to attempt to smear, slander and libel the right and proper practitioners of natural medicine, the naturopaths who bear the suffix "N.D." (such as Peter D'Adamo) right out of existence.
The allopaths have achieved an exclusive club of exclusive dominance, and they're madly determined to keep it that way... forever.
Perhaps when Dr. Weil loses about 70 pounds, he can make better comments about Natural Medicine.
I'm sticking with Dr. D.
I would never take advice on health from someone who is obviously obese.
He needs to go on the GTD plan immediately.
I am a subscriber and was shocked to note that the good doc has called himself "Dr. Debunker."
Somewhere along the line he sold himself out.
Comments to AARP Magazine can be addressed to: email@example.com.
Be assured that as a subscriber, they will hear from me.
Many people have overeating and food addiction issues. Maybe he has not found his bottom line yet. Hasn't hit the hard times of addiction where the fear of not being able to control your substance abuse finally brings you to your knees. Since he obviously does not give credit to the BTD, I bet you he is struggling with many body issues including fighting body weight.
I won't take his advice but not because he is overweight. I feel that is a rude comment. No we don't like Dr. Weil but when someone carries extra weight there are unseen issues.
Sugar/carb addiction is a huge disease in this country.. one that is finally beginning to be diagnosed seriously from the standpoint of brain chemistry and with Dr. D's research Blood type and Geno Type by Dr. D and many others.
I wish you a more compassionate view of people who are overweight regardless of who they are.
I can say that many of us, myself included, made drastic changes in how we ate on other programs, without the results we finally found on BTD/GTD.
Dr. D'Adamo, and those who earnestly follow his diets, are the picture of health. The same cannot be said for Dr. Weil.
I've found that many skeptics are not really skeptics at all... but, rather, secretly devout followers of some other system, their allegiance to which they conveniently forget to disclose.
Nicely said. When reading Dr. D's blog I couldn't help but think self proclaimed skeptics are misleading, because they choose not to believe before any evidence has been presented.
I was always marginally interested in Dr. Weil, even while reading up on the BTD five years ago. I picked up one of Dr. Weil's books too and found it to be fluffy and pedestrian. 8 weeks to change my health included more breathing exercises and unplugging my TV than sound nutritional advice. I am a carb addict, lol. I get in moods where I'd sell my gramma for a biscuit with butter. I want to understand and redirect, not further anesthetize myself, trading blind submission for blind mastication. Weil says Maybe eat more fish. Why, I wanted to know. Is this some peyote-inspired vision or is there a reason you want me to do XYZ? Two days into Dr. D's book and I forgot all about Dr. Weil. I like facts, and can connect the dots with faith.
On a personal note, I do have to agree with the writer who said she/he would not take health advice from someone who is overweight. I am still overweight by about 40 lbs and I am not offended in the least. I agree with the sentiment. Dr. Weil positions himself as a health expert, yet clearly is not physically healthy. Or spiritually healthy, if you want to get right down to it. He's been unyielding, close minded, ego-centric. Perhaps he should try some more breathing, and turning off the news. The stress he has from focusing negative energy on another humanitarian is cancerous not only to himself, but the world at large. Someone into "alternative" medicine should understand that.
I will not go to a marriage counselor who has never been married, has a broken marriage or dysfunctional one, I will not follow a leader, a God, a politician, any expert on anything who does not walk the walk. If you want to lead me, you have to show me how it works in science and then prove it's worked in real life. Dr. D follows his own regimen and provides more data than even a geek like myself can process.
I believe in yoga breathing when I am having an emotional response or seek a spiritual connection; I believe in the chemistry of blood types when I want to understand and manipulate the bio processes of my metabolism. The right tool for the right job. Well, if the world wanted an easily dismissable tool for the role of Dr. Debunker, they sure found the right one.
Fellow Warrior, A+
"As a staunch critic of the Blood Type Diet ("This popular eating plan ought to be sacked"), it follows that you must claim expertise in offering such a harsh commentary. I am a 10 year survivor of an aggressive breast cancer and as such my experience with doctors has taught me two very important lessons:
1) In spite of the authoritarian air exuded by many doctors, they are, of necessity, only the products of their medical educations and anecdotal practices. Doctors who are generally dismissive of new theories, especially those who cite a lack of scientific evidence, are usually ignorant of that evidence.
2) In matters of health, I put more trust in experts who appear healthy themselves. Common sense dictates that a true professional follows his own advice. Common sense also dictates that by following his own advice, his physical appearance will manifest the result.
With regards to #1 above, I suggest you visit http://www.dadamo.com/wiki/ . This portion of Dr. D'Adamo's website offers an enormous database of the scientific evidence you claim is non-existent.
With regards to #2, please forgive me if your appearance has recently changed, but judging from hundreds of your photos on Google Images, you appear to be about 30 pounds overweight and don't look terribly fit. What incentive does the image you portray give me to follow your advice?
It saddens me to think of the thousands of people you reach through your books, columns, and personal appearances who accept your unsubstantiated opinions as truths."
Tell the the truth and don't be intimidated by this guy. The doctors I trust are those with sturdy egos who are willing to LISTEN to people and consider possibilities, who in other words, humbly embrace their humanity and yours.
When I first subscribed to his "news"letter I naively wrote a note extolling the advantages of the Blood Type way of eating, and someone on his team wrote back a scaling response and said I should not be so all-trusting of the quackery that abounds, (my words). That's when I saw him for what he is, a "Corporate" Medical Advisor. It seemed that he resented the competition for HIS products. With Weil it's all about the Benjamins.
Good to see you responding to this.
When I saw that Weil hit bit in AARP ('cause I guess I'm old!) I hoped you would respond. Your refutation of his double standard is right on the mark.
Weil has presented himself to the mainstream press as a sort of founding father of CAM for far too long. Time Magazine aside, he's nothing of the sort, but has never been called out for his exaggerated sense of him self.
At least you would think he'd want to be friendly with his natural allies in a cause he claims. At best, I expect people of wisdom to give a little credit where credit is due (as you've done in your post btw). Instead, he simply arrives at a conclusion and works his way backwards, dismissing anything that comes from outside the closed loop of his own opinion. That's the UNscientific method.
I don't know him, never met him. I do know you. I think the world of you and your work. You always have my best wishes,
but what concerns me are all these so called Doctors that pop up out of no where with statements like "it has been discovered red wine and coffee are good for you" or "tests show that too much milk has its down sides". They are armed with only half the facts there guns are loaded with some blanks and ill equipped for combat.
Should there not be some sort off world standard that a diet must be rated under.
I was lucky the blood group diet was my first choice, it's not a money making racket but a genuine guide to good health, now what about all those poor people out there that are stuck on diets that don't work or ever make them sick,they all believe a doctor is a doctor and must know what he or she is doing, they are messing with these people's health, there needs be some sort of control.
I used to live in Tucson and met several doctors who either trained under Weil or had to work with him, none had flattering comments.
times and habits need to be changed, also here in Switzerland, the land all pratiotiones get confronted when not working or accepting the swiss food pyramide....:-(......
facts onto the table...no more lies!!!
all the success I've had with my clients were only about the introduction of BTD.... why should I change and adopt the swiss nutritionel models?? :-)....
Thank you for having tought me and giving a glimps about realities in life.
All my best wishes to you and your family
amicalement yours Isa
Many family members and friends have seen the progress I have made on this diet over the years. Some have tried it, with great success; some have tried it and fallen off the wagon; some refuse (so far) to try it. In my experience it is more about whether one is willing to put one's health first, even on a trial basis.
Many people are addicted to their comfort foods (not always sugar or wheat-- I know people who would be better off without red meat, but they love it.) I admit that I occasionally am tempted by foods that are not good for me; I know what the outcome will be and don't fool myself into thinking there aren't consequences.
Many people will not even consider the possibility of eating a diet that might require them to limit a food that has emotional meaning to them. I no longer eat as a part of my regular diet a number of things that I grew up with and that equal "family", "love", "comfort", "pleasure". I may eat them once or twice a year at a family gathering. But a lot of people just can't give those things up. They will give you all kinds of "logical" reasons, or cite science, but the fact is they enslaved by their emotional (and sometimes physical) connections to the foods they eat, and it is too scary, or feels too much like deprivation, to change.
I always tell anyone who complains of ill health to try the diet for 2 weeks-- a month if they are really bad off. My attitude is, that it is 2 weeks out of your life. If you don't feel better, you have only invested 2 weeks to find out it doesn't help. If you do, then you can decide if feeling better is worth it. I have found that most people do see a change in 2 weeks and if they really want to feel better they now know how to do it.
If they don't bother to try it, then they don't have a right to complain...
People that stumble around in the dark have to wait untill the light comes on!
Dr. Weil obviously does not want to do that, so he refuses to seek out the truth by examining the evidence. It's much easier to deny something when you don't have the knowledge than to learn of it and then refuse to accept it. This is very common today. That's why most ignorance is self-inflicted. It's because they like their way of life and it requires too much "emotional energy" to make the changes. It's just too bad that he's in a position to influence so many people.
The BTD has been a savior for me. Don't give up your wonderful work Dr. D'Adamo! As the old saying goes, "The proof is in the pudding!" Thank you!
Despite your best efforts to be pithy, you really could be a much better skeptic if you stuck to facts by
1.) Consulting a text book on modern immunology. That could have sufficed to alert you that the ABO system is unique in its appearance in non-hematologic tissue, such as the digestive tract.
2.) Learning some basic genetics. AB blood group is an outcome of the presence of two co-dominant alleles, not the result of any evolutionary process.
3.) Talking to a biochemist. I think you'll probably be unpleasantly surprised by the extensive biochemical basis for this theory.
4.) Learn what a word means before you use it. Pseudoscience generally proposes changes in basic scientific laws or reality in order to allow some phenomenon. My humble theory would most certainly fail that test.
5.) Work on your skeptic credentials. I looked at your blog link and -surprise- your other blog is a collection of vegan recipes from around the world. To my mind, vegans just lack street credentials when it comes to skepticism.  However, since I'm type A vegetarian I'll probably check them out.
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