Anthony William Coviello
Anthony William Coviello, known professionally as Anthony William or the Medical Medium, is a medium who offers pseudoscientific medical and health advice based on alleged communication with a spirit. He authors books as well as offers advice online on such forums as Gwyneth Paltrow's Goop column and his own website. William claims that the Epstein-Barr virus is responsible for multiple ailments, including cancer. He is the self-proclaimed originator of the lemon juice in water morning detox as well as the celery juice fad, which he claims can offer many health benefits that are not scientifically proven. Critics allege that he is practising medicine without a license and that he has, at times, improperly solicited positive Amazon reviews for his books.
Anthony William Coviello claims that he first received his expertise through a connection to "Spirit" when he was four years old. He claims that he correctly diagnosed his grandmother with lung cancer, and often "healed" family and friends throughout his childhood.
William is best known as the "Medical Medium". He is a New York Times bestselling author who has published 6 books. Anthony William's company is based in Sarasota, Florida. He is a writer for Gwyneth Paltrow's Goop, for which he is considered a "trusted expert". He had over 1.6 million followers on Instagram as of 2019 and had 3.3 million followers on Facebook as of 2019.
His website also contains at least 177 revenue-generating affiliate links to Amazon products, such as nutritional supplements. According to the legal disclaimers on his site as well as on his Goop articles, William has no certifications of scientific or medical training. His disclaimers also advise that his suggestions should not be a substitute for medical advice, and that you should seek advice from a medical doctor before following his advice. He has frequently been solicited by the traditional press for comments, but appears to infrequently engage with journalists.
Claims and practice
Psychic connection and angels
William asserts that his abilities come from a psychic connection with Spirit, which allows him to diagnose other people of various illnesses as well as offering treatment. William claims that Spirit gives him the ability to scan bodies in a way that can diagnose all blockages, infections, trouble areas, past problems, and even soul fractures with knowledge that comes from Spirit. He believes this information will eventually be recognized by the scientific community.
The final chapter of his book, Life-Changing Foods, is called Life-Changing Angels. In this chapter he explains that he believes in the existence of twelve different angels, with names such as the Angel of Abundance and the Angel of Addiction. He encourages his followers to invoke the names of specific angels to ask for help in various circumstances.
Cancer and Epstein-Barr virus
One of the health issues that William most frequently diagnoses is chronic disease that is created by the Epstein–Barr virus, for which he prescribes a treatment of B12 vitamins that Spirit recommends, along with high doses of celery juice. He asserts that the virus can be transmitted in utero. Current scientific evidence suggests that it is most often transmitted via saliva.
William says, in his Goop column, that "ninety-eight percent of the time, cancer is caused by a virus and at least one type of toxin". He attributes many cancers to the Epstein-Barr virus, and that this virus is "responsible for breast cancer, liver cancer, almost all lung cancer, pancreatic cancer, colon cancer, prostate cancer, women's reproductive cancers, leukemia, and many more.” William feels strongly that the cancers we face today are something that has advanced rapidly recently, specifically since the Industrial Revolution. He also contends that cancer as a whole has no genetic component, despite scientific evidence to the contrary. William also suggests that the Epstein-Barr virus causes over 95% of thyroid issues, which needs more research as there is no current scientific evidence supporting this view.
According to the CDC, there is no current peer-reviewed scientific evidence to support the claim that the Epstein-Barr virus causes lung cancer. The American Cancer Society has noted that the Epstein-Barr virus might possibly be linked to Hodgkin's lymphoma or certain stomach cancers, but this is still undetermined.
Food and diet
In his book, Life Changing Foods, he considers "fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices, and wild foods" to be the Holy Four. Of them he claims:
Because they grow from the earth and are showered by the sun and sky, enduring out in the elements day after day as they form, they are intimately connected to the holy forces of nature. They don't just contain the building-block nutrients we need to function. They contain intelligence from the Earthly Mother and the heavens that we desperately need about how to adapt.
Against these Holy Four he positions the Unforgiving Four, which are radiation, toxic heavy metals, the viral explosion, and DDT. Of these, he claims that they "ravage our bodies, make us question our own sanity, and push us to the breaking point as a society."
William also claims that there are two kinds of Living Water. "Hydrobioactive water" is found in all of the Holy Four foods. This, he states, can hydrate a person more than tap water. He also claims there is a, yet undiscovered, cofactor in water which "contains information to help restore your soul and spirit and to support your emotions."
He also describes six foods which he considers to be life-challenging. He contends that dairy bogs down the liver; eggs feed the viral explosion; corn is no longer nutritious due to overuse of genetic modification; wheat feeds pathogens; canola oil destroys the lining of the stomach, veins, and heart, and finally that food additives described or labeled as "natural flavors" are actually a neurotoxin called MSG which, he feels, destroy brain and nerve cells over time.
Anthony William is the self proclaimed originator of the celery juice diet, and journalistic research has led others to conclude that he is the primary source. William claims that "the science behind the healing powers of celery juice is just yet to be discovered" because it is from the future. Currently none of his claims can be proven.
William claims that celery juice has medicinal uses. He suggests that it can "improve energy levels", reduce bloating, increase "clarity of mind", and even improve such conditions as headaches and anxiety. The juice is supposed to be extra hydrating, "inflammation-reducing and microbiome-sustaining". He also calls it "a miracle juice" and "one of the greatest healing tonics of all time." None of these claims is supported by scientific evidence, thus no dietitians or other members of the medical community are supportive of these claims.
In an interview with UK's Evening Standard William describes how to make celery juice. He claims it has "healing powers" and explains that it is difficult to make.
You have to extract it like an herb. It's just like tea, you don't take the teabags and throw them in the Nutribullet – there is big confusion about this... This is an herbal extraction. When you juice the celery, you're creating a tonic, it's just like green tea.
William explains that the juice must be pure, so not even a squeeze of lemon juice or a mixture of other vegetables is permitted. The juice should be consumed on an empty stomach, first thing in the morning. He recommends doing exactly 16 ounces of juice to start, and working up to 32 ounces, twice a day. He says that it should be ingested at least 15–20 minutes before consuming other food.
Amanda Mull, of The Atlantic interviewed two registered dietitians on the benefits of celery juice. They agreed that celery is a healthy snack, and that there is some evidence that celery may have benefits for managing blood pressure, but these benefits were observed when patients ate full stalks. One dietitian remarked, "there is no one food that will cure your cancer, inflammatory disease, or other ailment, so don't believe the hype you see and hear on Instagram."
Dietitian and Nutritionist, Marika Day, says of William's celery juice claims:
There's no scientific or research-based evidence to support this. There's no scientific research behind [the movement], and no evidence to support that it does the things it claims to do. In my opinion, it's making people believe that they need to or should be doing something, that their diseases are their fault and if they don't do something about it (i.e. drink celery juice), then they're failing.
Nutritionist Rhiannon Lambert of Harley Street also weighed in to point out that fiber is an important part of diet, and this is lost in the juicing process. She states that there is no current evidence for these more "magical claims" of celery juice, only anecdotal evidence. Australian dietitian Stefanie Valakas, interviewed by a reporter with news.com.au, also states that there is no evidence for these health claims and that any fiber benefits of celery are lost in the juicing process. Both remark that one is likely to get the same nutritional benefit from drinking a glass of water and eating a balanced diet.
Although most medical professionals agree that the potential harm in adding celery juice to one's diet is likely minimal, there is the possibility of a negative reaction with certain medications. Celery contains Vitamin K, which can potentially affect medications, such as Warfarin, if intake suddenly increases. There is also a potential risk of bloating and diarrhea for those suffering from IBS.
Ginger Hultin, a dietitian and spokesperson Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, commenting on the celery juice phenomena, warns it is dangerous to attempt to fight diseases, such as cancer with food alone, as many proponents of celery juice claim to do.
Dietitian Carrie Dennett has commented that William has no medical training and that although research has confirmed anti-inflammatory benefits from isolated phytochemicals found in celery, no research supports William's popular claims about celery.
William also claims that even infertility is treatable with such practices as "creative visualizations, walking meditations, and breathing exercises", which he claims will "draw white light into the reproductive organs."
Controversy and criticism
...is one of the most unconventional and surprisingly insightful healers today: As he explains, the voice of a divine force called Spirit guides him to identify the roots of his patients' hard-to-diagnose illnesses and find the best solutions to restore their health... Now, William is sharing four of his wonder foods—apples, celery, ginger, and honey—with us. Below, he breaks down what makes them so powerful... which ailments (from anxiety to Lyme disease, adrenal fatigue, and brain fog) to target with each food...
Soliciting Amazon reviews
Jonathan Jarry, of the McGill Office for Science and Society, argues that some of William's accolades are not naturally achieved. For example, he notes that William offered entry into a contest where participants could win autographed books, private consultations, and live show tickets in exchange for positive book reviews on Amazon.
Rae Paoletta, of Inverse, found that Anthony William's publisher, Hay House, ran a lottery to give prizes to whoever wrote the "most inspiring" Amazon review for his 2015 book titled "Medical Medium". According to Paoletta, "when Inverse asked Amazon about the accusations of positive book reviews for compensation, a spokesperson confirmed the e-commerce site would be investigating the claims."
Practicing medicine without a license
Jarry also argues that Anthony William is practicing medicine without a license. In William's operating state of Florida, the definition of practicing medicine is as follows:
'Practice of medicine' means the diagnosis, treatment, operation, or prescription for any human disease, pain, injury, deformity, or other physical or mental condition.
On William's radio shows he allows fans to call in and describe their symptoms. He performs "scans" with his angel guide, and then offers advice to the caller, suggesting things like eliminating certain food groups, taking vitamin B12, or doing a celery juice cleanse. Jarry argues that this does constitute "practicing medicine" based on the aforementioned definition.
Jarry also describes the case of a woman who, six months after being "scanned" by Anthony William on a TV program and found to be completely healthy by "Spirit", was diagnosed with a serious blood disease that William and Spirit were not able to detect.
Jennifer Gunter, an OB/GYN from San Francisco who has criticized Goop in the past, made the following statement regarding Anthony William:
Promoting the Medical Medium is no different than promoting anti-vaccine views or cleanses or coffee enemas. The minimum is that people waste money, but there is great potential for harm with many of the therapies that are recommended and delays in diagnosis.
- Jarry, Jonathan (16 January 2019). "Is the Medical Medium Practicing Medicine? (CS25)" (25). McGill Office for Science and Society. Cracked Science. Retrieved 3 February 2019.
- Gavura, Scott (4 May 2017). "The Medical Medium's Thyroid Pseudoscience". sciencebasedmedicine.org. Science Based Medicine. Archived from the original on 18 March 2019. Retrieved 18 March 2019.
- Paoletta, Rae (10 January 2018). "Goop's "Trusted Expert" Anthony William Dispenses Junk Science, Say Critics". Inverse.com. Inverse. Archived from the original on 3 February 2019. Retrieved 3 February 2019.
- Mull, Amanda (4 November 2018). "Actually, You Can Just Drink Some Water". theatlantic.com. The Atlantic. Archived from the original on 28 February 2019. Retrieved 28 February 2019.
- Dennett, Carrie (4 March 2019). "Claim that celery juice will work miracles is not backed by research". thespec.com. The Washington Post. Archived from the original on 20 March 2019. Retrieved 20 March 2019.
- Austen, Ashleigh (12 January 2019). "Everyone from Kim Kardashian West to your next-door neighbour is going crazy for the latest juice trend, celery juice. But is it actually as beneficial as everyone claims?". news.com/au. news.com.au. Archived from the original on 20 March 2019. Retrieved 20 March 2019.
- Clark, Amy (27 November 2018). "Why people are drinking 'celery juice' every morning, and whether you should do it too". mamamia.com/au. MamaMia. Archived from the original on 20 March 2019. Retrieved 20 March 2019.
- Fitzmaurice, Rosie (17 February 2019). "We speak to the man behind the celery juice craze that's all over the 'gram". standard.co.uk. Standard. Archived from the original on 16 March 2019. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
- Hall, Harriet (1 August 2017). "The Antithesis of Science-Based Medicine: The Medical Medium's Fantasy-Based Health Advice". sciencebasedmedicine.org. Science Based Medicine. Archived from the original on 3 February 2019. Retrieved 3 February 2019.
- William, Anthony. "The Medical Medium's Opinion on the Origins of Thyroid Cancer". Goop.
- Zimmerman, Edith (5 November 2018). "Are We Really Still Juicing?". thecut.com. The Cut. Archived from the original on 16 March 2019. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
- "Popular Diet Trends: Today’s Fad Diets By Carrie Dennett, MPH, RDN, CD Today’s Dietitian Vol. 21, No. 5, P. 12". Today's Dietitian. Retrieved 7 November 2020.
- Paoletta, Rae (10 January 2018). "Goop's "Trusted Expert" Anthony William Dispenses Junk Science, Say Critics". Inverse.com. Inverse. Retrieved 30 April 2018.
- "Spirit Says: Healing Foods". goop.com/. Goop. 2016-10-27. Archived from the original on 30 April 2018. Retrieved 30 April 2018.