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Alternatives Gone Wild: Wacky Medical Cult Under Investigation

A man whose followers claim he's the reincarnation of Leonardo da Vinci is under investigation by Australia's Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) for selling unapproved supplements in his clinics.

The Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) is reporting that Serge Benhayon, 48, a former tennis coach with no medical background, is said to have up to 1,000 mostly female followers who adhere to his alternative medical practice, known as Universal Medicine, which is based in the hills outside Lismore on the north coast of New South Wales. 

Among other problems, Benhayon is selling supplements that have not been properly tested by the TGA. Although he is said to be cooperating with authorities, Benhayon them that they will need time to understand the "very, very unconventional" products he sells.

"You're going to hear things that you know, don't make sense on one level, if it's based on the convention that you're trained to hear," he told ABC North Coast NSW. "But if you listen, and you put things together it starts to make sense, slowly and slowly."

Or maybe not. Among Benhayon's wacky theories is "esoteric breast massage" which he claims can prevent cancer. He also offers "chakra puncture" and his 22 year-old daughter Natalie claims she can talk to a woman's ovaries - for just $70 an hour.

Anyone who falls for this nonsense should be nominated as the eighth wonder of the world.

But fall for it they do. Benhayon is described as a "soft spoken" man who is apparently able to convince gullible adherents that he knows what he's talking about. Here's a sample of his sales pitch:

"The essence of the work that flows through me is in line with that which can be called sacred and esoteric by nature. It is non-traditional, following no allegiance to any cult, form or belief other than that which is found intuitively at the inner-heart centre in accordance with the impress of the Hierarchy. No claims are made other than the stance that the work like all other before us should always be ascertained by the individual to be the work of truth or not." ~ Serge Benhayon

Say what? I have a cat that makes more sense than this.

According to one former participant in his program, who goes by the pseudonym "Jenny," she originally walked out on Benhayon after hearing him trash conventional medicine and call nurses "the worst people." He banned not just alcohol and caffeine but dairy, wheat and root vegetables, which he claimed "grounded" earthly beings that are humans.

“They say doctors will make you sicker than you already are,” she told the Medical Observer. “At the point where he said [nurses were the worst people], I got up and walked out.”

But she went back because her husband was so involved in the cult. When expressing her desire to be a better parent, a Universal counselor told her to stop preparing all food for her five year-old son "because she was passing him bad energy." She had to let him feed himself.

She also received a breast massage, administered by women, which was supposed to clear her of "all of men's negative energy."

Other therapies offered at Benhayon's clinics include ''esoteric connective tissue therapy'', a technique he created which he claims will improve energy flow by ''allowing the pulse of the lymphatic system to symbiotically correspond with the body's own ensheathing web."

John Dwyer, the former head of medicine at University of NSW, told the SMH that there is no such thing as a "lymphatic pulse," calling it "'utter nonsense."

It would be three years before Jenny broke away from the group and filed a formal complaint with the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission. She wasn't alone. Two other men who were adversely affected by the group also filed complaints earlier this month calling it a "cult" that pressured members to avoid most food and exercise out of the preposterous belief that these things would infect their "spiritual alignment" (whatever that means) and contribute to poor health.

Raphael Aron, director of Cult Counseling Australia, told the SMH that the organization seemed to be “exercising a level of mind control to the point where people submit to whatever this fellow seems to be offering, to their detriment. . .  What he’s doing is potentially very dangerous. It’s not an unfamiliar pattern in terms of people’s subjugation to the authority of a charismatic leader.”

Benhayon claims he's being smeared by detractors, such as American cult expert/researcher Rick Ross, but anyone who is selling such a radical and completely unfounded view of physical health should expect to be subjected to some serious questions.

Apparently, the Australian health care system agrees and has now become involved in the investigation of this cult.

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