All posts by Harriet Hall

Harriet Hall, MD also known as The SkepDoc, is a retired family physician who writes about pseudoscience and questionable medical practices. She received her BA and MD from the University of Washington, did her internship in the Air Force (the second female ever to do so),  and was the first female graduate of the Air Force family practice residency at Eglin Air Force Base. During a long career as an Air Force physician, she held various positions from flight surgeon to DBMS (Director of Base Medical Services) and did everything from delivering babies to taking the controls of a B-52. She retired with the rank of Colonel.  In 2008 she published her memoirs, Women Aren't Supposed to Fly.

“Hands On Learning Solutions”: Untested Solutions for Problems That May Not Even Exist

Hands On Learning Solutions, a business in Gig Harbor, Washington, evaluates and treats children for learning disabilities and claims to identify the underlying causes and help eliminate the symptoms. Much of what they do is questionable, and at least one of their methods is clearly bogus. Their program is reminiscent of the Brain Balance program that I wrote about in 2010. I’ll...

/ July 21, 2015

How To Listen to Chi

You will need flat shoes and a bottle of vitamins, herbal formula, or prescription medicine. Step 1: Hold the bottle with both hands, touching your chest Step 2: Stand up straight and get your balance Step 3: Close your eyes and feel what is happening to your body. Results: If your body moves forward or stays neutral – going side to side...

/ July 14, 2015

Cryotherapy: A Layman’s Attempt to Understand the Science

NOTE: I get a lot of emails asking me whether treatment X is evidence-based or a scam. This one was different. Zachary Hoffman had done his homework and had already answered the question for himself (at least, as well as it could be answered with the existing published evidence). I asked him to write up his findings as a guest post for...

/ July 11, 2015
The statin hypothesis is that statins reduce crdic risk more than can be explained by the reduction in LDL cholesterol. That hypothesis has been overturned y a new study.

Update on Cholesterol and Statins

The consensus of mainstream medicine is that a high blood level of LDL cholesterol is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease and that lowering high levels can help with prevention and treatment. Statins have been proven effective for lowering cholesterol levels and for decreasing cardiovascular and all-cause mortality. I recently wrote about the new guidelines for statin therapy. Currently half of...

/ July 7, 2015

Answering Cancer Quackery: The Sophisticated Approach to True Believers

I got an e-mail with a link to a video featuring “Dr.” Leonard Coldwell, a naturopath who has been characterized on RationalWiki as a scammer and all-round mountebank. Here are just a few examples of his claims in that video: Every cancer can be cured in 2-16 weeks. The second you are alkaline, the cancer already stops. A pH of 7.36 is...

/ June 30, 2015

Functional Disc Rehydration for Chronic Back Pain

A chiropractor in Illinois named Jeff Winternheimer claims to have discovered an effective way to heal herniated discs by rehydrating them. He calls it Functional Disc Rehydration and he offers it through a network of four offices in the Chicago area called the Illinois Back Clinic. He has lots of testimonials and one sorry amateurish attempt at a scientific study that claimed...

/ June 23, 2015
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Aging and Longevity: Science for Spring Chickens

We’re all going to die, but we don’t like to think about it. I’ll reach the proverbial threescore years and ten next month, so I’ve been thinking more about it, wishing I knew some reliable way to ensure that I would live many more years and remain fully functional until I suddenly collapsed like the Deacon’s wonderful one-hoss shay. There are myriad...

/ June 16, 2015

Green Tea: Panacea or Poison?

In the news: a woman in Fort Wayne, Indiana is suing the Arbonne International company in Allen Superior Court, claiming that its product contained toxic levels of green tea extracts, causing her to develop acute liver failure. Green tea accounts for 20% of tea consumption worldwide. It has become more and more popular because of its many reported health benefits; the consumption...

/ June 9, 2015

The Rosedale Diet: Here We Go Again

Ron Rosedale, MD has devised a “powerful program based on the new science of leptin.” “Finally — the ultimate diet for fast, safe weight loss, lifelong health, and longer life…” He suggests it will prevent or improve high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, arthritis, and a host of other ills. He repeats the CAM canard that “doctors only treat symptoms” and...

/ June 2, 2015

Escharotic Treatment for Cervical Dysplasia: A New Incarnation of Black Salve?

Cervical dysplasia is a precancerous condition picked up by Pap smears. It is most often caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. Mild cases may resolve spontaneously and can be followed by observation with frequent Pap smears, but cervical dysplasia can progress to cancer. The standard treatment is to remove the abnormal cells with a cone biopsy (using a knife) or a Loop...

/ May 26, 2015