Month: July 2016

Mass spectrometer

Deconstructing the Conspiracy of Deliberate Poisoning of US Municipal Water

Heavy metals here, there, everywhere… One of the key narratives among the supporters and practitioners of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), particularly those with a conspiratorial world-view, is the claim that vast portions of the US general populous is being deliberately poisoned by certain corporations, special-interest groups, invested individuals, and the US government. Some of these supporters and practitioners go as far...

/ July 31, 2016

Separating Fact from Fiction in Pediatric Medicine: Facial Nerve Palsy

There are numerous medical conditions that are seemingly designed to allow proponents of “irregular medicine” to proclaim their treatments to be effective. These conditions tend to be chronic and subjective in nature, or to have waxing and waning courses such that a parent or patient might easily be fooled into assigning a causal relationship between a bogus intervention and a clinical improvement....

/ July 29, 2016

CARA: Integrating even more pseudoscience into veterans’ healthcare

The pixels were barely dry on David Gorski’s lament over the expansive integration of pseudoscience into the care of veterans when President Obama signed legislation that will exacerbate this very problem. The “Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016” (“CARA”) contains provisions that will undoubtedly keep Tracy Gaudet, MD, and her merry band of integrative medicine aficionados at the VA busy for...

/ July 28, 2016

The Public’s Love-Hate Relationship with Technology

There are many complex factors driving up the cost of healthcare, but one major factor is increasing medical technology. Often new expensive technologies provide incremental, or even questionable, additional benefits but can dramatically increase the cost of health care. This is especially true of in-hospital treatments. There are also, of course, medical technologies that provide significant benefits, and others that improve our...

/ July 27, 2016

Past Life Regression Therapy: Encouraging Fantasy

I recently got an e-mail from a PR firm about an “internationally certified regression therapist,” Ann Barham, who has written a book and who claims to help patients to “heal enduring challenges, release unhealthy patterns and beliefs, and find their way to more happiness and success.” They offered me the opportunity to review her book and/or interview her; I declined, but I...

/ July 26, 2016
"This patient's qi isn't flowing the way it should. Consult Acupuncture, STAT!!"

On the pointlessness of acupuncture in the emergency room…or anywhere else

As incredible as it seems, advocates of "integrative medicine" are on the verge of creating a new specialty, emergency acupuncture. I wish I were joking, but I'm not.

/ July 25, 2016

Acupuncture and Endorphins: Not all that Impressive

I was reading, and deconstructing, a particularly awful bit of advice for acupuncture by Consumer Reports. It was the same old same old, but it was the source that made it particularly awful. I expect more from Consumer Reports than the uncritical regurgitation of the standard mythical acupuncture narrative. The report included the quote One possible reason for the benefits of acupuncture:...

/ July 22, 2016

Legislative Alchemy 2016 Update: Acupuncturists win; naturopaths and chiropractors don’t (so far)

Legislative Alchemy is the process by which state legislatures transform pseudoscience and quackery into licensed health care practices. By legislative fiat, chiropractors can detect and correct non-existent subluxations, naturopaths can diagnose (with bogus tests) and treat (with useless dietary supplements and homeopathy) fabricated diseases like “adrenal fatigue” and “chronic yeast overgrowth,” and acupuncturists can unblock mythical impediments to the equally mythical “qi”...

/ July 21, 2016

Pharmacists Selling Snakeoil

Edzard Ernst published an excellent editorial today addressing the question of why pharmacists sell bogus products. Our own resident pharmacist, Scott Gavura, expressed similar points here on SBM a year ago. Their points are worth emphasizing and expanding upon. Professional ethics The explicit premise of both editorials is that pharmacists, like physicians, are health care professionals. Being a professional means adhering to...

/ July 20, 2016

The Gene: An Intimate History

Six years ago I reviewed Siddhartha Mukherjee’s book The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer. It was hands-down one of the best books I have ever read on a medical topic. Now he’s done it again. His new book is titled The Gene: An Intimate History. Mukherjee is a superb writer. Much of what I said about his first book...

/ July 19, 2016