Oct 20, 2018

Court rules Universal Medicine founder is running a ‘harmful cult’

Jane Hansen
The Sunday Telegraph
October 20, 2018

FRESH warnings about a former tennis coach who preaches eating only foods with good “vibrational” values and recommends “treatments” such as esoteric breast massages have been issued after a court found he was running a “socially harmful cult”.

Universal Medicine (UM) was set-up by former tennis coach Serge Benhayon, who has no formal health or medical training but has invented alternative treatments such as ovarian readings and chakra puncturing, prescribes a diet to followers based on the “vibrational” values of food so as to not “hinder the flow of light of the soul”.

Mr Benhayon lost a defamation case against blogger and critic Esther Rockett last week, with the court finding UM to be a “socially harmful cult”.

Mr Benhayon also told the court he had lived over 2300 lives, one of which was as legendary Renaissance inventor Leonardo da Vinci.

Mr Benhayon has told followers they only need to eat once a day and recommends avoiding “pranic” or bad energy foods such as dairy and all grains.

In June, The Sunday Telegraph reported on several cases of children presenting at Lismore Base Hospital with diet-related illnesses from this, including a 10-month-old baby.

At the time, a Lismore paediatrician issued a general warning to parents of the consequences of putting babies and young children on restrictive diets.

Dr Chris Ingall told The Sunday Telegraph a baby was weaned onto a diet devoid of any carbohydrates and went into ketogenic crisis.

“The baby was on a diet with zero carbohydrates … and when the breastfeeding stopped, that baby fell off a cliff because suddenly the carbohydrates stopped completely, so the baby had no option but to start breaking down his own fats to get energy to the brain, Dr Ingall said.

A number of children with diet-related illnesses reported to Lismore Base Hospital in June. Picture: Luke Marsden

The Sunday Telegraph can now reveal the baby’s parents were members of the Universal Medicine cult.

Professor of Public Health at the University of Wollongong and former president of the Public Health Association of Australia Heather Yeatman reviewed the diet chart of Universal Medicine said it was “a public health issue” when children were placed on such restrictive diets.

“It’s not surprising the baby fell off the rails, if a child is not having dairy or cereals they are likely to be low in energy intake and there could be the risk of stunting if children are not getting enough energy. It is critically important there is a balanced diet, especially at the weaning stage because it can impact overall growth and cognitive development. It’s a public health issue,” Prof Yeatman said.

Lance Martin is a vocal critic of UM who blames it for breaking down his marriage in 2012. He said he had raised concerns with the diet because he did not want his then three-year-old following it.

The former tennis coach has no formal health or medical training. Picture: Supplied

“They don’t have carbs and really restrict protein and I was concerned my daughter would be dairy-free and gluten-free when she was growing and it would impact on her development,” Mr Martin said.

Another parent, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said his sons were always starving when staying with his ex-wife, a member of Universal Medicine.

The principal of the boys’ school had reported the children to Family and Community Services because of the restrictive diet, he said.

“They were put on this crazy diet and the kids couldn’t concentrate at school and the principal had been buying my son food because he was so hungry,” the father said.

Family and Community Services refused to confirm how many reports they had received about children regarding Universal Medicine.

Mr Benhayon and Universal Medicine were approached but declined to comment.


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