Science: Figuring things out is better than making things up.

A tee shirt I recently saw.


In a recent post Mayo Clinic Promotes Reiki, Steve seemed surprised that the Mayo was offering Reiki. I don’t know. Maybe he was channeling Louie. I know the Mayo is a top hospital, but I trained in Minneapolis at Hennepin County and we would have the occasional patient go to Rochester for a second opinion*, only to return with a repeat of our evaluation and no change in the diagnosis or treatment plan, but a few dollars poorer for the experience. As a result, our motto was always Hold the Mayo.

I remain skeptical about the whole concept of top hospitals and doctors. While there are certainly lousy doctors and hospitals, in my career most doctors and hospitals, at least in the Portland metropolitan area, were pretty much the same. Surgeons? Well, some do have better motor skills/hand eye coordination, but that’s about it. Dr. Oz is always called a great surgeon, but I have never been able to discover the criteria used to determine that greatness. A lower death rate? Fewer infections? Shorter length of stay? The use of reiki in the OR? No idea. I have been a US News top doctor, so you know the methodology is suspect.

I thought it would be entertaining to go through the US News and World Reports BEST HOSPITALS HONOR ROLL 2023-2024 and see what SCAMs they had to offer. I went to each website and searched for various SCAMs using search terms like ‘integrative’, ‘complementary’, ‘acupuncture’, ‘reiki’ and the like. Many of these honor roll hospitals are part of health care system, so I often had search results return for the system and the relationship between the honor roll hospital and the SCAM offer by the hospital system is not always clear. As my father used to say, you can judge a person by the company they keep. All the hospitals on the honor roll trumpeted the designation on the website, so let us see what kind of honor roll for SCAMs they have, shall we.

Barnes-Jewish Hospital

“Where you deserve extraordinary care.”

Part of a 6 hospital system.

The offer acupuncture as part of their Physical Medicine and Physical Therapy and as part of their Living Well Center as well as Tai Chi and Lifestyle medicine. You may or may not want to include the last two in the SCAM category. But otherwise, not much on SCAM and their information sites on SCAM have a bit of a skeptical tinge.

Brigham and Women’s Hospital

“There’s no better place to be.”

They have the Osher Clinical Center for Integrative Medicine which offers acupuncture, both Chinese and Japanese as well as moxibustion, acupressure, and laser acupuncture. What, no electro-acupuncture? Posers. They suggest

Clinical studies show that acupuncture –by itself, or in combination with conventional therapies – may be an effective treatment for nausea caused by surgical anesthesia and cancer chemotherapy, pain syndromes such as: dental and postoperative pain, headache and facial pain, myofascial pain, osteoarthritis, low back pain, joint pain, TMJ, carpal tunnel syndrome and tennis elbow; primary dysmenorrhea and problems associated with pregnancy such as morning sickness, late term and possibly correction of breech position; allergic rhinitis, including hay fever; and assistance in stroke rehabilitation.

Note the may be effective. Charge for worthless quackery based on a may. I wonder if patients can say the may pay for the acu-whatever.

They also offer chiropractic care, craniosacral therapy, and therapeutic Tai Chi/Yoga. In the race to the bottom for being goofy, craniosacral therapy could very well win. See my Alas poor Craniosacral. A SCAM of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy for details.

They note that

Contemporary chiropractors blend the art of hands-on therapy with the science and technology of modern medicine and physical rehabilitation.

News to me.

And in discussing potential risks mention

The risk of serious, irreversible complication from spinal adjustments is rare.

Without specifically mentioning the risk of catastrophic vertebral artery dissection, what I call the chiropractic hanging, from an intervention with no basis in reality.

They also discuss fiction like it is reality:

The ultimate goal of tai chi, like acupuncture, is the free flow of qi – energy flow that sustains living beings – throughout the body, thereby healing the systems that have become imbalanced and further strengthening the systems that are already robust.

They do not offer i.e. charge for reiki, but they do support it:

At BWH, any nurse, volunteer, or other approved hospital staff member who is trained, certified, and competent in Second Degree Reiki or above thus meets our hospital’s minimum policy requirement to perform Reiki on patients.

How does one become trained, certified and competent in fiction? I, in case you should be stabbed by a Black Breath, am trained, certified and competent in the use of Athelas.

And reiki as part of their colorectal treatment options

the Center provides counseling, physical therapy, pain management, integrative therapies like massage as well as integrative therapies like reiki and acupuncture for pneumonectomy.

Just what I need when they remove my lung, reiki.

Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

They have acupuncturists on staff and the Spiritual Care Division offers reiki. That’s it. No programs or institutes that focus on SCAMs. I rotated at Cedars-Sinai as a fellow. It is in Beverly Hills and I would have expected far more woo.

Cleveland Clinic

“Every Life Deserves World Class Care”

They have a Center for Functional Medicine, which has been discussed over at Respectful Insolence.

Functional medicine aims to find the root cause of illness and treat in a holistic way.

Someone’s been reading the naturopathic websites. Which, given that they have a naturopath who promotes homeopathy as one of their acupuncturists comes as no surprise.

And the Center for Integrative and Lifestyle Medicine , which offers acupuncture, traditional Chinese pseudo-medicine/Chinese herbal medicine, chiropractic, osteopathic manipulation (I wonder how the two groups get along), holistic psychotherapy, reiki, craniosacral therapy and, if you want to include them as SCAMs, yoga and culinary medicine. Reiki is also available through Cancer Care, where they will lighten the load of your wallet while you receive your chemotherapy infusions.

They are pushing craniosacral therapy for epilepsy, MS, autism, stroke and traumatic brain injury among other indications, all, they warn, not covered by insurance. I have to wonder. Is it greed? cynical? gullible? to offer such rank nonsense to ill people.The discussions on the website of these SCAMs are less than critical, presenting the fictional basis of these SCAMs as if they were facts.

Hospitals of the University of Pennsylvania-Penn Presbyterian

As is often the case, SCAM is offered through the Integrative Oncology Services.

Always offer your cow pie to the most vulnerable.

They have acupuncture, aromatherapy, guided meditation and a mindfulness program, massage therapy, reiki therapy, and yoga.

Acupuncture offers many benefits to cancer patients. When added to your treatment plan, acupuncture can enhance general quality of life by reducing the side effects of cancer treatments and help promote an overall sense of balance and well-being.

Acupuncture is actively promoted without weasel words like ‘may’. The also promote acupuncture and herbs use another emotionally vulnerable population, those with fertility issues.

Reiki is available while undergoing chemotherapy or radiation therapy and

Reiki sessions are natural and holistic; there is no physical manipulation, nothing is ingested and nothing is applied to the skin.

In other words, they are doing absolutely nothing. And charging you for it.

Houston Methodist Hospital

Part of an 8-hospital system. As best I can determine, they have no specific program that focuses on SCAM. They do offer acupuncture for variety of pain conditions and were involved in one electroacupuncture trial. But that is it. I searched for all the usual suspects and nothing. Even the Cancer Center is SCAM free. Not even reeky (The Game of Thrones Alt Med?) er, I mean reiki. Two big thumbs up for Houston Methodist.

Johns Hopkins Hospital

“Community Care. Worldwide Healing.”

Part of a 6 hospital system

Acupuncture of course, described as

Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese practice involving the use of tiny needles to stimulate the nervous and immune systems. During the procedure, a licensed acupuncturist inserts hair-thin needles into the skin at specific points on the body. Acupuncture is painless, and research shows it helps support conventional treatment for a range of problems that include stress, chronic pain and digestive disorders. Experts note that it may be particularly effective for insomnia.

Supports conventional treatment. The weasel words that mean nothing; the intervention as a sling.

Acupuncture is offered for a huge number of medical problems as well as Chinese herbal therapies at the Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Clinic , which is just one guy.

There is bit of reiki and a single chiropractor.

So Johns Hopkins is more of a SCAM dabbler.

Massachusetts General Hospital

“Our Strength Is Yours”

They have the Katherine A. Gallagher Integrative Therapies Program that offers qigong and acupuncture as part of their cancer care:

Acupuncture uses fine, sterile needles applied to specific areas of the body to stimulate energy flow. It can help reduce stress and relieve symptoms and side effects related to cancer treatment such as anxiety, nausea, dry mouth and fatigue. Acupressure involves applying gentle pressure to these same points with the hands.

What is this energy of which they all speak? Rank pseudo-science.

Remember: Complementary therapies have a cumulative effect. This means it may take several treatments for you to notice any changes. Be patient with the process.

Translations: If you wait long enough you will get better on your own.

As far as I can tell, they do not offer reiki to patients, but they do to staff.

Those who receive reiki treatments do so to relieve stress and pain, induce relaxation, accelerate natural healing and support other medical modalities. During a session, the practitioner sends healing energy towards an individual, group, event or a situation in the past, present or future.

Wow. Time travel. I knew the Mass General was at the forefront of innovation, but sending healing energy into the past AND the future? I hope we can use that energy to power hover boards.

Mayo Clinic-Rochester

“Hold the Mayo” Sorry. Wrong motto. It’s “Transforming your care”.

I never did like the Transformer movies, which I saw when my boys were young. Incoherent. Not unlike much of SCAM.

We know that the Mayo offers reiki, as mentioned at the start of the blog entry. What else?

Mayo Clinic’s integrative medicine specialists are focused on your needs. They work with you and your other members of your care team to provide a holistic approach to encourage healing and wellness.


The treatments used by Mayo Clinic’s integrative medicine experts have been tested for safety and effectiveness.

And they offer a variety of interventions that offer no effectiveness over transferring money from the patient to the Mayo. Besides the worthless reiki, there is acupuncture, herbal medicine, acupressure, reflexology, and the always risible craniosacral therapy. They have a chiropractor on staff so they can have an intervention that is neither safe nor effective.

Of course, the SCAMs are integrated with cancer care..

But by integrating cow pie with apple pie, they can say

There have been many claims for herbal supplements and other alternative therapies. Many of them have more to do with marketing than science, but well-designed research studies, including many conducted by Mayo Clinic, have shown the real value of integrative therapies.

And these studies at the Mayo? There is the profoundly embarrassing A Study to Determine the Effect of Distance Reiki on Patient Reported Quality of Life and Immunity Among Multiple Myeloma Patients

This study aims to demonstrate acceptability and feasibility of the use of Distance Reiki therapy versus sham Reiki therapy among multiple myeloma patients.It also aims to determine if there is a minimal clinically meaningful improvement in various QOL domains (Physical, Social, Emotional), overall QOL with use of Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (PROMIS-29) and Single Item Linear Analogue Scale (LASA) after Distance Reik. Lastly, it aims to analyze the effect of Distance Reiki on expansion of the immune repertoire by comparing immune repertoires at baseline and at the end of the study by using Mass spectrometry by CyTOF® and multiplex polymerase chain reaction (PCR) sequencing of the T-cell receptors (TCRs) for assessment of immune repertoire diversity by iRepertoire®.

Given the ludicrous nature of the study, I wonder how it got approved.

They have evidently evaluated acupuncture for autonomic dysfunction, arrhythmias(?!?), and loss of smell post COVID, among others. I can’t see where these studies have been published to demonstrate the effectiveness of acupuncture based on Mayo Clinic studies. I am sure that supportive data is out there somewhere, I mean, the Mayo would never have more to do with marketing than science, am I right?

Mount Sinai Hospital

They offer acupuncture for pain of many types. Treating pain, by the way, not inflicting pain. The note that

Mount Sinai’s Integrative Medicine practice treats your pain as well as its underlying cause.

But is the cause of your pain your qi being “out of sync”? Color me skeptical.

The Institute for ‘Advanced’ Medicine unironically offers as advanced

Integrative Medicine: We provide massage, yoga, acupuncture, meditation, and other stress reduction therapies

The division of Integrative Medicine also offer ‘medical’ acupuncture, cupping, Gua sha (scraping), all to balance your chi, as well as yoga, all for pain. Decrease it, not add to it I suppose.

And what it medical acupuncture?

When Western-trained doctors perform acupuncture, we call it “medical acupuncture.”

That explains it. Not. When Western-trained doctors perform acupuncture, I call it wrong.

The breast center offers foot reflexology, relaxation techniques (guided meditation and breathing exercises), and reiki for cancer patients.

And for cancer and reproductive medicine, the whole panoply of SCAM:

Physical and traditional medicine approaches such as acupuncture, cupping and gua sha, yoga, tai chi, qigong, therapeutic massage, osteopathic manipulation, craniosacral therapy, movement and exercise.

Relaxation/stress reduction, mind-body and spiritual approaches such as meditation, mindfulness, hypnotherapy, behavioral therapies, biofeedback, journaling, breathing exercises, reiki, therapeutic touch, pet therapy and guided imagery.

Nutritional, herb and supplement consultations

The reproductive medicine department is evidently ready to forgo science-based medicine entirely (emphasis added):

A comprehensive selection of integrative therapies is available that can be used either in combination with or in lieu of traditional Western medicine in order to provide a holistic approach to care.

Urology adds Tui na, a form of Chinese massage, to their SCAM repertoire:

The name comes from two of the actions: tui means “to push” and na means “to lift and squeeze.” Other strokes include shaking and tapotement (A French term, it refers to a rhythmic percussion, most frequently administered with the edge of the hand, a cupped hand, or the tips of the fingers.)

I am not certain I would want any of that applied to my prostate, even with holistic prostate care. And they suggest that

Acupuncture and mind-body approaches are effective for chronic prostatitis, chronic pelvic pain, flank and groin pain, lower back pain, and male and female lower urinary tract symptoms such as urinary urgency and frequency (commonly related to conditions such as BPH, interstitial cystitis, painful bladder, and pelvic floor dysfunction).

News to me.

They have a chiropractor as part of their Spine Center, but at least no naturopaths, probably as they are not able to be licensed in New York.

New York-Presbyterian Hospital-Columbia and Cornell

“Stay Amazing”

Part of a 10 hospital system.

They have an Integrative Health and Wellbeing Program that offers acupuncture, guided imagery, herbal therapy, hypnotherapy, massage therapy, meditation, nutritional counseling, progressive relaxation, qigong, reiki/healing touch, tai chi and yoga. They say

Integrative health approaches are backed up by the findings of medical research.

Just not positive findings that demonstrate benefit. I can see, at some level, how the average HCW could be bamboozled into thinking there was something to acupuncture. The literature is a Gish Gallop that takes more time and care than most people have to wade through. But reiki and therapeutic touch? Absolute nonsense.

Manna Lu-Wong says she needs only one minute to convince skeptics of the therapeutic effects of Reiki.

Hm. Tell that to a 9-year-old like Emily Rosa.

Acupuncture and therapeutic touch are offered at Cornell-Weil where they offer the idea that

Each point provides a specific function to regulate a free flow of blood and vital energy, or “chi.”

Free flow of blood. What is that? So I put free flow of blood and acupuncture into Pubmed.

Your search was processed without automatic term mapping because it retrieved zero results.

I should know better than to think there was actual studies to support their advertising. Silly me. Maybe they mean bleeding at the needling site? Probably not.

They also have a urologist who is an acupuncturist as well. Don’t worry. The male genitals is one of the few places, along with the eye and under the nails, that have no acupoints. Or so I hope.

And, of course, these services are targeted at cancer patients.

North Shore University Hospital at Northwell Health

“Reimagining what health care can be—together”

Part of New Yorks largest health care system.

The North Shore University hospital has a chronic pain service that

offers many complementary therapies including reiki therapy, aromatherapy, pet therapy, meditation and guided imagery

They are part of a system that is awash in SCAMS such as reflexology, acupuncture and reiki through their Center for Wellness and Integrative Medicine and other sites. The system looks favorably on the concept of detoxification

And one of the cancer centers in the system offers

Integrative medicine therapies with a registered nurse who specializes in aromatherapy, reiki/energy healing, guided imagery, gentle touch, reflexology, and acupuncture provided by a licensed acupuncturist.

Otherwise SCAM offerings at the University Hospital appear to be minimal. Or my Search is off. They do offer reiki to the staff one way of granting legitimacy to nonsense.

Northwestern Medicine-Northwestern Memorial Hospital

They have the Osher Center for Integrative Health which offers traditional Chinese pseudomedicine including acupuncture, herbs, cupping, tua na, and gua sha. “Energy” medicine that includes reiki and therapeutic touch. They have reflexology, chiropractic, and cranio-sacral therapy. While search for homeopathy yields no results, they say

Our highly-qualified team of providers provides acupuncture, massage, counseling, mind-body therapy, chiropractic, naturopathy, nutrition and supplement advice, and fitness/wellness education.

And where there is a naturopath, homeopathy is not far behind.

They are also the first to mention

Meridians have been shown in recent research to be more than energetic pathways, but rather real, anatomical structures potentially involved in tissue restoration and repair.

Really? I can find the study on Pubmed to confirm that statement; I sure wish they had references. But I did come across a better understanding of meridians

We present here a model of meridians in the formalism of the gauge theory paradigm of quantum field theory with spontaneous breakdown of symmetry. We discuss the origin and dynamic self-focusing propagation of the electromagnetic field in coherent states and the role it plays in our meridian modeling. Within this frame, we consider the formation of solitary waves on proteins and anatomical filamentary structures and discuss nondissipative energy transport. Finally, we analyze the relation of meridians with anatomical filamentary structures, the reciprocal actions between meridians, and biochemical activity and the key role played by free energy, internal energy, and entropy.

They also suggest these interventions for everything from cancer to fertility to arthritis, so as best I can tell they offer every SCAM for every disease, perhaps the most comprehensive collection of SCAMs of all the hospitals in the list.

For women’s health they offer all the usual SCAMs for a variety of medical problems including infertility except, oddly, birth control based on integrative medicine. Funny, that.

For energy therapy they note

Energy treatments are aimed at healing imbalances in the energy fields purported to be in and around the human body.

I love they way they use weasel words like purported to justify the application of worthless interventions with no basis in reality outside of linking to a credit card. That is typical in all these SCAM offerings and you have to wonder if in their heart of hearts they know what they are doing is pure BS?

NYU Langone Hospitals

They offer acupuncture, reiki, therapeutic touch to not only cancer and pain patients, but they offer integrative medicine to children, emphasizing

The Importance of Integrative Medicine

At least the reiki and theraputic touch for children is free. If you are going to do nothing, you should charge nothing.

One of their reiki ‘masters’ is a reflexologist, so I assume that bit of nonsense is being fobbed off on the vulnerable as well. And they offer yoga and guided therapy as well, if you want to consider those part of SCAM.

They do have a sense of humor in their ironic use of the term evidence-based:

Therapeutic Touch® is an evidenced-based energy therapy that is used to promote balance and wellbeing. Direct touch is not necessary for the treatment but may be used.

Given all the evidence is negative. Love that registered trademark.

For fertility issues

Acupuncture aims to calm the nervous system and improve blood flow to the pelvic region. It may improve pregnancy rates when used in conjunction with fertility treatment.

Ah, that weasel word may, used to justify the

Initial 90-minute visit, $160; follow-up 60-minute visits, $120.

And it often takes multiple visits to see the effect.

Although the rehab service has a different mechanism of action

stimulate the nervous system to release important chemicals in the brain, such as pain-relieving endorphins. An improved energy balance also stimulates the body’s natural healing abilities.

For cancer acupuncture has a different mechanism:

the release of proteins, hormones, and brain chemicals that control a number of body functions.

that is nice and specific.

Acupuncture has been shown to affect blood pressure and body temperature, boost immune system activity, and release endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers. Acupuncture complements cancer treatments, helping to improve the body’s energy balance.

Why you would to want to alter body temperature with acupuncture is not mentioned and I can’t think of a reason why a cancer pateint would want to do that. There is an extensive literature on changes in skin temperature at acupoints, what I read was less than impressive.

None of these sites, however, explain just what this energy is and how it is balanced by so many different interventions. I wish the electric grid was so amenable.

Massage and acupuncture treatments must be paid for at the time of service, before the session. We accept cash, checks, major credit cards, and flexible spending account (FSA) cards.

Rush University Medical Center

“Among the nation’s best” and part of a multi-hospital system.

At first I was optimistic. I searched the site for ‘complementary’ and ‘alternative’. Nothing of note. Did I finally find a SCAM free hospital? Of course not.

There is acupuncture offered for everything from pain to hypertension to infertility to cancer.

Researchers think acupuncture works by stimulating your nervous system in a way that promotes health and well-being and reduces pain.

Really? In what way? And I suppose these researchers are quite gullible.

Rush Excellence in Acupuncture

Acupuncturists at Rush regularly conduct research designed to increase knowledge of how acupuncture works and what it most effectively treats. Their acupuncture approaches are based on the latest research about what works best to ease which symptoms and conditions.

Although if that were really true, the practice of acupuncture would have been abandoned.

But that’s it. Searching the site finds no reiki or energy medicine or any of the TCPM derivatives. No fly by night SCAMs for Rush.

Stanford Health Care-Stanford Hospital

They have their Center for Integrative Medicine which

combines the best of mental (meditation, hypnosis), nutritional, acupuncture, and lifestyle treatments with mainstream modern medicine and psychotherapy to provide care for the whole person: mind and body. Started in 1998, the Stanford Center for Integrative Medicine (SCIM) is committed to evidence-based practices.

Which begs the usual question, how do these Centers say open if the are committed to evidence-based practice. Oh, I see. Just ignore the quality of the evidence. Got it.

They offer their SCAMs for a wide variety of problems, from pain to infertility.

We help patients to combine “alternative” techniques, including acupuncture, hypnosis, mindfulness, and information regarding dietary supplements, with traditional medical care.

I love that alternative is in quotes, implying it is legit? Or a sly dig that it isn’t, like “fresh” fish. Probably the former.

Our evaluation and counseling staff includes a physician-naturopath

Now there are two words that really don’t belong together. But if there is a naturopath, then all sorts of wackadoodle options are on the table.

They note

Traditional Chinese Medicine theorizes that there are more than 2,000 acupuncture points on the human body

so with the average human being 3000 square inches, excluding the eyes, nails and genitals, that is about one point per square inch. Hope they are precise in their needling.

They offer whole body detox, but at least no reiki, therapeutic touch or chiropractic that I could find.

UCLA Medical Center

“Your best care is closer than you think.”

Unless it is Integrative medicine, which they offer for many programs for digestive health, cancer, menopause, and more, as well as a Center for East-West Medicine. Also aromatherapy, yoga, tai chi, and meditation if you want to count those as SCAMs. Whether you do is very dependent of the message offered.

You’ll receive exceptional care from board-certified doctors who pioneer research in integrative health, nutrition, traditional Chinese medicine and more.

How one gets “exceptional care” from the rank quackery that is acupuncture, acupressure, traditional Chinese pseudo-medicine, and reiki is uncertain.

A Japanese vibrational energy therapy facilitated by light touch, on or slightly off the body, that balances the human biofield—the field of energy and information that surrounds and permeates the human body.

Not even a weasel word, reiki and its underlying fictional premise is presented as fact.

UC San Diego Health-La Jolla and Hillcrest Hospitals

“World Class Care- Here for You”

Part of a 15 hospital system.

They do not have a Center or a web page for SCAMs. They do offer acupuncture for pain and endometriosis, but low key with no push or advertisements for the intervention. Searching the site for all the usual suspects yields nothing. As best I can tell, it is one of the least SCAMy hospitals on the list.

UCSF Health-UCSF Medical Center

One of several metastases of the Osher Center for Integrative Health. Of course they offer acupuncture for a wide variety of processes, from pain to infertility, although the photograph of the ungloved hands was the most cringe-inducing of all the acupuncture photos I saw during the preparation of the post. They also offer Chinese herbs and supplements.

They offer Ayurveda, which along with TCPM, propose to reinstate balance. Is it the same balance as acupuncture? Or reiki? Or are they different? Does one imbalance need TCPM and another imbalance need Ayurveda? While yet another imbalance needs ‘energy’ medicine? They never clarify which balance might be required and why for a given imbalance.

Cancer patients are, of course, a focus. All predators know to go for the weakest in a herd. They note

Integrative Medicine is an approach that looks at each person as a complete, unique person, rather than just someone with a set of “symptoms” that need to be corrected.

I think it is kind of sad that symptoms are in quotes. Makes you wonder what kind of diagnosticians are in integrative medicine center. The pattern of the signs and symptoms are what is key for reaching a diagnosis. I suppose I should say they are integrative “doctors”.

They offer reiki and have provided it free to the homeless. For those that have nothing, they offer more of the same.

They aspire to

Advancing the science of integrative health by conducting and disseminating rigorous research.

But looking over that research? Meh. Not a lot of rigor I can see. The one acupuncture study was pilot and not randomized. Why bother? But SCAM researchers love their small, poorly designed, placebo-free studies as quality studies will only demonstrate the worthlessness of their intervention.

Included are

The styles of massage offered are deep tissue, Swedish, acupressure techniques, healing and therapeutic touch.

They describe massage as

Depending on the style of massage, techniques may include stroking, kneading, rocking, tapping or holding steady pressure.

Somehow, therapeutic touch, and sometimes reiki, is included as a form of massage but in both interventions the patient is not touched, so that is a massage just how? There is the nothing burger and the nothing massage.

University of Michigan Health-Ann Arbor

The have Integrative Family Medicine of all things. Yet another that “is informed by evidence” but then proceeds to ignore that evidence by offering acupuncture.

They are very non-specific with their options, almost as if they are embarrassed to wade in the pool of SCAM.

A well rounded treatment plan is then created that suits each individual’s unique needs, offering specific recommendations for mind, body, spirit and emotion that aims to optimize health. Integrative therapies such as holistic nutrition, relaxation techniques, acupuncture, massage, herbs and supplements are blended with the best of medical science and technology that is the hallmark of the Michigan Difference. This approach fosters optimal wellness and healing no matter what the health challenges.

They do, of course, offer Integrative medicine to cancer patients and even have a fellowship.

Otherwise searching the website with specific SCAM terms such as reiki yields nothing. However, with an ND as the co-director of their program, I would suspect many a fiction-based therapy may be on the table.

UT Southwestern Medical Center

99% SCAM free. I suppose in Texas they have enough other irrational belief systems that they can’t burden their health care system with another. Even the cancer center appears to be SCAM free. But searching the website for all the usual suspects finds nothing but a lone family practitioner who is interested in SCAM. And if you search outside the website, you can find a few practitioners of acupuncture, but the service is not explicitly offered. So, wow. Wonder how long that is going to last.

Vanderbilt University Medical Center

Vanderbilt is another of the metastatic sites of The Osher Center. But it appears to be relatively low key. Acupuncture, of course, and qigon, yoga and tai chi. But no reiki, therapeutic touch etc. Kind of SCAM light, as it were.


So that is what the Honor Roll of hospitals has to offer for SCAMs. Or maybe it should be the Honor Trick-Roll:

A trick-roll is when a health care worker commits a SCAM on a client or potential client irrespective of whether any medical therapy takes place.

Acupuncture and reiki are the most popular fiction based interventions, so even the alleged best and brightest succumb to the siren call of $CAM. I am less than surprised. And I debated about making the S a dollar sign, it is kind of dis-ease-y. Not certain if that will become a thing moving forward.

What I do not understand is why these interventions are not considered fraud. Computer companies seem to get sued for far less. If this were business and you lied about the size of your real estate or the accuracy of your diagnostic testing or the value of your cryptocurrency, it would be fined millions of dollars, lose their license to practice and maybe even go to jail. In medicine? You get an academic appointment and your very own Center. Perhaps businesses should say they use Integrative or Complementary or Alternative business practices along with more weasel words. Maybe it would keep them out of jail.

There was an article in The Atlantic on shrinkflation that noted

the government could more strongly enforce existing laws about deceptive selling practices and work to further prohibit misleading tactics, including with stricter labeling rules.

Why that doesn’t apply to SCAMs I will never understand.

I have little doubt that most of the HCWs in these institution lack the time and interest to care. They shrug, the medical equivalent of the banks didn’t lose any money.

I am of the old school opinion that physicians and hospitals need to strive to a higher standard of ethical responsibility. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAQHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Oh, I crack myself up. But people trust HCWs with their lives, health, time, and hope. Seems a shame to take it all away with SCAMs.

I used to think that Sisyphus was the mascot for SBM. Then maybe Hercules mucking out the Augean stables. Now? Probably a telepod-related mash up of both, as neither the work nor the horseshit will ever diminish. Sisyphus as dung beetle? Works for me.

Addendum to my last post.

Science published another article, Teach Indigenous knowledge alongside science. Note the word alongside. It is a reasonable, precise, and well thought out article, unlike the prior editorial. They note:

We do not argue that Indigenous knowledge should usurp the role of, or be called, science. But to step from “not science” to “therefore not as (or at all) valuable and worthy of learning” is a non sequitur, based on personal values and not a scientifically defensible position.

The difference between those in upstate NY and those in New Zealand.

*When asked about a second opinion, I always think of the joke. Doctor: You are crazy. Patient: I want a second opinion. Doctor: OK. You are ugly too.


  • Mark Crislip, MD has been a practicing Infectious Disease specialist in Portland, Oregon, from 1990 to 2023. He has been voted a US News and World Report best US doctor, best ID doctor in Portland Magazine multiple times, has multiple teaching awards and, most importantly,  the ‘Attending Most Likely To Tell It Like It Is’ by the medical residents at his hospital. His multi-media empire can be found at

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Posted by Mark Crislip

Mark Crislip, MD has been a practicing Infectious Disease specialist in Portland, Oregon, from 1990 to 2023. He has been voted a US News and World Report best US doctor, best ID doctor in Portland Magazine multiple times, has multiple teaching awards and, most importantly,  the ‘Attending Most Likely To Tell It Like It Is’ by the medical residents at his hospital. His multi-media empire can be found at