Respectful Insolence

I detest the term “integrative medicine,” which is what promoters of “alternative medicine” pivoted to call “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM) when they decided that they needed to lose the word “alternative” altogether. After all, no longer were CAM practitioners content to have their favorite quackery be “complementary” to real medicine because “complementary” implied a subsidiary position and they wanted to be co-equals with physicians and science- and evidence-based medicine. The term “integrative medicine” (IM) served their purpose perfectly, and “integrative medicine” departments, centers, and divisions have sprouted up in academia like kudzu growing over a telephone pole. Or perhaps it’s more appropriate to say that it’s invaded and metastasized like a cancer.

The most recent bit of evidence that I see for the triumph of “integrative medicine” in academia, or, as I like to call it, quackademic medicine, comes from Thomas Jefferson University and Jefferson University Hospitals. There, it comes in the form of a post to the JUH Blog entitled Is Integrative Medicine Right for Your Kids? 5 Myths Debunked When I first saw this post, I must admit that it really disturbed me to learn that there is an actual Integrative Pediatrics Program at Jefferson, of which the author of this blog post, Dr. Christina DiNicola, is the director. This bastion of quackademic medicine appears to be part of the the Myrna Brind Center Of Integrative Medicine. As if that weren’t bad enough, it appears that Jefferson has a lot of woo embedded in it, and that makes me sad. Actually, seeing woo like this in any academic medical center makes me sad.

To counter that sadness, rather amusingly, I observed that in “debunking” these “myths” about integrative medicine Dr. DiNicola actually went a long way towards inadvertently confirming just how unscientific “integrative” medicine is. It starts out in another most amusing fashion:

Dr. DiNicola says integrative pediatrics can help parents achieve their goals of raising healthy and happy children, but recognizes that sometimes it is challenging to distinguish between the fact and fiction that swirls around these issues. One thing to keep in mind is that her practice does not replace a child’s primary pediatrician, but rather works in conjunction with that physician.

All of this makes me wonder: Isn’t Dr. DiNicola a pediatrician? Why does she need a real pediatrician to work with her? Isn’t she a real pediatrician? Apparently not anymore, since she became an “integrative” pediatrician. According to the blog post, Dr. DiNicola completed her medical training at the UMDNJ Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and completed a full residency training in pediatrics at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. After that, she worked for several years in primary care pediatrics.

And then…

Dr. DiNicola did an additional two-year integrative medicine fellowship under the direction of Dr. Andrew Weil, at the University of Arizona.

Damn. Well, that explains a lot. As we used to joke about orthopedics residents after they finished their internship in general surgery, as soon as they finished the general surgery internship they had to purge their brains of general surgery knowledge in order to make room for the orthopedics knowledge. Apparently, it must be similar in “integrative medicine.” Apparently Dr. DiNicola had to purge all the knowledge of real medicine in her head in order to make room for all the woo she learned studying at Andrew Weil’s feet. More’s the pity, because, if anything, one would hope it would go the other way. Not in Dr. DiNicola’s case, apparently.

In any case, she starts by trying to answer Myth #1: All of the integrative therapies on the market are unproven. Her answer? This:

It is true that many integrative therapies sold on the market are unproven and if used inappropriately may cause harm. But at Jefferson, Dr. DiNicola guides her patients through the maze of available treatments sold over the counter and gives them sound, reliable, evidence-based advice on how to select quality and proven therapies, if and when appropriate, alongside their necessary conventional care.

She is also clear with patients and their parents that while she has extensive training and experience in primary care pediatrics, her services are different from and not a replacement for good primary care pediatric services.

Once again, out goes the real medicine, in goes the woo. As for integrative medicine, the sad fact is that the vast majority of it is unproven. If that weren’t the case, it would have ceased to be “alternative,” “complementary and alternative,” or “integrative” and would just be medicine. Again, it’s a false dichotomy. Either medicine is supported by good science, or it isn’t, and the vast majority of what falls under the rubric of integrative medicine isn’t, which makes me wonder: Why on earth would anyone want to “integrate” unproven therapies with proven therapies? Is it just me, or doesn’t this make zero sense? But then that’s just the nasty reductionist scientist in me talking. Obviously I must not be empathetic enough and “caring” enough.

I like “myth #2″: Myth #2: If my pediatrician doesn’t mention or recommend integrative medicine, then I shouldn’t consider it. Well, actually, I’d say that that’s probably a pretty good indication that it’s not something you need or want. I could be wrong, but I doubt it. Of course, Dr. DiNicola tries to paint such a lack of recommendation as being due to lack of education or familiarity with integrative medicine:

Parents are sometimes already familiar with integrative therapies such as yoga and acupuncture for their children but may not mention these therapies to their child’s primary pediatrician for fear of criticism and judgment. In addition, their primary pediatrician may not yet be aware of the ongoing research that supports the use of some of these therapies alongside state-of-the-art conventional therapy.

Or their primary pediatrician might be well aware of such “research” and consider it to be the quackademic medicine that it usually is.

So what’s Myth #3? It’s a horrible, horrible myth: Myth #3: Integrative medicine is not considered safe. Actually, it’s hard to say whether integrative medicine is safe or not. What’s not hard to say is that the vast majority of it is probably not efficacious, and that’s what matters. Who cares if it’s safe if it doesn’t work?

Perhaps the most amusing of the five “myths” is this: Myth #5: Integrative medicine only benefits certain diseases and conditions. I bet you know the answer to this particular “myth.” That’s right, according to Dr. DiNicola, it’s total B.S.! In actuality, integrative medicine can be used for anything! Here is but a sample:

  • General/preventive health
  • Obesity /nutrition
  • ADD/ADHD
  • Allergies (environmental, animal, food)
  • Asthma
  • Dermatologic conditions (eczema, hives)
  • Sleep dysfunction
  • Recurrent sinusitis
  • Gastrointestinal distress (inflammatory bowel disease – Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis, GERD, dyspepsia, irritable bowel syndrome)
  • Pre- and post-surgery stress management

Pre- and post-surgery stress management? Let me tell you, if somehow I were forced to put up with one of these “integrative medicine” docs dealing with my patients before or after surgery I’d watch her like a hawk, and looking at that list leads me to ask: Is there any disease for which “integrative medicine” is not appropriate? Apparently not.

It’s also hard not to notice that Dr. DiNicola is pretty darned vague, as is the description of what therapies are included under the rubric of “integrative pediatrics” other than a mention of yoga and acupuncture. However, poking around the website for the integrative pediatrics program at Jefferson, I’m hard-pressed to know exactly what it is that integrative pediatrics does at Jefferson, much less what value it adds to conventional pediatric care. One wonders if that’s because even proponents and practitioners of integrative pediatrics have a hard time defining what value they add, other than gauzy and meaningless platitudes about “holistic” care. Even though the program lists, for instance, “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM) therapies for cancer, nowhere on the site is it made obvious which of these the practitioners at the Brind Center consider to be worthwhile and why, much less the scientific basis behind each therapy. There is, however, plenty of brain dead CAM apologia, including brain-meltingly dumb analogies like:

Some people believe external forces (energies) from objects or other sources directly affect a person’s health. An example of external energy therapy is electromagnetic therapy.

Uh, no. Magical, mystical life “energy fields,” such as those that reiki masters claim to be able to direct from the “universal source” into patients are not the same thing as electromagnetic energy, which can be quantified and whose effects can easily be measured.

After reading all this nonsense about quackademic medicine, I just had to go to find the wellspring from which Dr. DiNicola’s propaganda flows, the Myrna Brind Center Of Integrative Medicine. Poking around its website, I find clinical trials of high dose intravenous vitamin C in pancreatic cancer, lots of acupuncture, bioidentical hormones, and, perhaps scariest of all, the integrative mental health program.

Yes, it would appear that quackademic medicine is deeply ensconced at Jefferson, so much so that there’s now even an “ask the experts” program in integrative medicine. I also find it disturbing that, given the existing largely negative evidence for the efficacy of intravenous vitamin C as a treatment for cancer, an issue I’ve written about on multiple occasions first in 2006, then again a couple of times in 2008, and finally in 2009 when I asked whether Linus Pauling had been vindicated (hint: he hadn’t) patients at Jefferson are being recruited for this dubious (at best) trial. Such is the deleterious effect of quackademic medicine on clinical trial ethics at major universities.

Jefferson has apparently become a hotbed of quackademic medicine, trying hard to “integrate” quackery with the practice of medicine. Dr. DiNicola is but a symptom of the deeper problem in the institution. Unfortunately, Jefferson is not alone. Thanks to the Bravewell Consortium, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), and many other forces, quackademic medicine is washing over our medical schools and academic medical centers like the rainfall from Hurricane Irene over low lying lands in its path.

Comments

  1. #1 Delurked lurker
    August 30, 2011

    I am wondering why this is happening now? Is it a case of if you can’t beat them join them?

    I’m sorry I just don’t understand what is happening, it doesn’t make any sense at all. Can anyone proffer a theory to explain why magical thinking is creeping into mainstream medicine?

  2. #2 In Vitro Infidelium
    August 30, 2011

    #1 – follow the money ! (s)CAM is a huge industry, symbiotically promoted by media interests (women’s magazines, TV ‘health guru’ shows etc. The limit to growth of this industry is medical approval and scientific and regulatory validity – like any other industry facing growth limitation it is investing in breaching activities. Healthcare, with its inherent social care aspect and very necessary high regulatory burden will always struggle to operate as a universially competitive industry – particularly where it has an adjunct educational function, IM offers not only money, but also a lower regulatory burden for high profit add on treatments. As ORAC points out – IM/CAM doesn’t work, but then it doesn’t in most cases do harm as long it doesn’t inhibit proper medical intervention. The net result is patients pay for stuff they don’t need but so long as they also get properly treated, they’ve got no grounds for complaint at being sold fuzzy feeling quackery, because they can’t demonstrate that the quackery didn’t help them in some way. As I’ve suggested previously, the first, or at the very least one of the earliest IM ‘breaching operations’, started with the Bristol Approach http://www.pennybrohncancercare.org/page15.asp which effectively introduced private add on care into the UK’s NHS.

  3. #3 qetzal
    August 30, 2011

    Some people believe external forces (energies) from objects or other sources directly affect a person’s health. An example of external energy therapy is electromagnetic therapy.

    Some peope believe their thoughts are being controlled by secret government transmitters. Some people believe they’ve been kidnapped by aliens and probed in uncomfortable places. Hurrah! More CAM “therapies!”

    Actually, I bet those aliens are just trying to help a few people out by giving them cleansing Antarean coffee colonics. So much better than Earth coffee, you know.

  4. #4 Autistic Lurker
    August 30, 2011

    Integrative mental health?

    I can picture it now, (hypothetically) involuntarily committed because I’m having too much fun; playing peek-a-boo with the reiki master…

    A.L.

  5. #5 MikeMa
    August 30, 2011

    @Delurked,
    I have to agree with In Vitro. The money is what drives the woo. I remember some years ago when chiropractic was added to the covered expenses in many insurance plans. Champagne corks popped in wooville then for sure. Also, chiropractic universities popped up as well to train more wooists.

    This is the same. Get lots of credulous folk to lobby insurance companies (and legislators with ties to insurance companies) to get more woo paid for.

  6. #6 Reuben
    August 30, 2011

    Integrative mental health? I thought that was comedy with its claim that “laughter is the best medicine”. I tried laughing my way out of a norovirus infection once…

    …There was vomit everywhere.

  7. #7 Dangerous Bacon
    August 30, 2011

    “I am wondering why this is happening now? Is it a case of if you can’t beat them join them?”

    It’s partly about money, partly about appearing to demonstrate a “caring”, “non-mechanistic” attitude, and additionally because it’s easier than practicing real medicine.

    Pediatrics is a relatively low-paid field with long hours and the stress of not only dealing with patients but their demanding parents. It doesn’t surprise me that after several years of traditional primary care work, a pediatrician would find the idea of practicing “integrative medicine” appealing. It sounds a lot less challenging to advise parents on yoga and supplements than to diagnose and treat serious diseases in children.

  8. #8 Denice Walter
    August 30, 2011

    They offer “integrative mental health”- counselling and therapy- where :

    “Utilizing our approach, self-defeating beliefs and behavior can be replaced with self-enhancing ones”.

    Seriously. If this statement were even remotely feasible wouldn’t those newly acquired “self-enhancing beliefs” invoke self-criticism like, “Why am I blowing all of this money here? Am I gullible or what?” I have this quaint notion that counselling should allow people to function at a higher level in the real world -*realistically*- where what they believe has its basis in reality and translates into *what* they actually *do* and has a chance of being *effective*- achieving what they want. How utilitarian of me!

    Perhaps “self-enhancing” means something else like: ” I’m special, I’m an individual, and I think for myself.” Right.

    …While we’re on the topic of mental health: I had an errant thought while contemplating the recent infestation of multiple trolls @ RI- perhaps we should tell them about that *other site* – the *really* popular one which is *secret*- where we sceptics, liberals, and atheists gather regularly to shoot the breeze, luxuriating in the heady atmosphere of *really* free speech. Where *interesting* theories ( and other stuff) are discussed in lively fashion, where all questions- and answers- are *moot*, and civility reigns (Anonymously). What a *fortunate* discovery for us!

    You know which site I mean- the one we’re not supposed to talk about ( “The first rule of you-know-what is that we don’t talk about you-know-what”). I think that our /b/rothers there would welcome them with open arms, etc…

  9. #9 Mutant Dragon
    August 30, 2011

    Unfortunately this has already gone quite far. A simple Google search will turn up some amazing stuff. See for example this page from the University of Minnesota: http://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/explore-healing-practices/reflexology — part of their “Center for Spirituality and Healing and the Life Science Foundation”. For whatever reason, an increasing number of academic medical centers are foisting this junk on their patients. I agree with 2 — undoubtedly the big draw here is the money

  10. #10 palindrom
    August 30, 2011

    #1 — “why is this happening now?”

    If I remember the UCSF cased (discussed in these pages some months ago), the story there was that a wealthy donor really liked “IM”, so they gave a big chunk of change to found a center. The speculation, as I remember it, was that larger amounts might be forthcoming (or had been contributed in the past) for more legitimate purposes.

    I’d think any med school would find this very tempting — it would take quite a bit of backbone to say that you turned down a few tens of millions because your school’s reputation would suffer if you took it, especially when UCSF and the like still enjoy well-earned good reputations for their legitimate medicine — the immediate consequences for the schools seem to be pretty minor.

    In other words, take the money and run … !

  11. #11 Dianne
    August 30, 2011

    Drat it, Orac, why couldn’t you have posted this last week? I just gave a lecture to the residents at TJU and would have come down harder on “CAM” if I’d known it was lurking here…I had a few minutes to spare, could have spent it lecturing about the dangers or CAM.

  12. #12 Mu
    August 30, 2011

    I guess the only chance to get rid of these institutions is electing a governor that uses his line item veto pen to defund them.

  13. #13 Old Rockin' Dave
    August 30, 2011

    If “integrative medicine” is good for every disease, then people should be able to go without basic hygiene. We could all drink swamp water and raw sewage – our alternative medicine will cure us. We could consume dioxins, PCBs and other industrial waste – our traditional medicine will detoxify us.
    When the woomeisters throw away their soap and toothbrushes and mosquito nets and antiseptics, when they shut down their local water purification plants, and they continue to flourish, then, maybe, I will start to believe their claims.

  14. #14 Adão
    August 30, 2011

    I wonder where some people find time to work so hard on things like this.

  15. #15 rob
    August 30, 2011

    i think PT Barnum said a few things that apply to CAM:

    “There’s a sucker born every minute.”

    “Never give a sucker an even break.”

    “Nobody ever lost a dollar by underestimating the taste of the American public.”

  16. #16 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    August 30, 2011

    Ummm… I think “Never give a sucker an even break.” was W. C. Fields.

  17. #17 BKsea
    August 30, 2011

    What is disgusting to me about this is the targeting of children. It is one thing to peddle woo to consenting adults. The kids do not have personal choice in refusing unnecessary, ineffective, and possibly dangerous procedures. Furthermore, it indoctrinates them against critical thinking so that they can be easy marks in the future too. It’s like teachning creationism in schools. Dr. DiNicola should be ashamed.

  18. #18 A
    August 30, 2011

    Well, Jefferson management must have thought that this woo sells well.
    http://www.jeffersonhealth.org/financial/2011/FY_2010_990_form.pdf says (sorry for Caps, p.28):
    ALL OFFICERS, EXCEPT THE SECRETARY, AND THE FIVE HIGHEST COMPENSATED EMPLOYEES (OTHER THAN THE OFFICERS) PARTICIPATED IN AN INCENTIVE COMPENSATION PLAN. EACH PLAN INCLUDED ONE OR MORE PERFORMANCE MEASURES
    (QUALITY, FINANCIAL AND INDIVIDUAL) AND WAS DEVELOPED PRIOR TO THE START OF THE FISCAL YEAR.
    Their CEO made ~ 1.3 million that year (p. 27), of which ~$340,000 were a bonus (for bigger sales?) (That is probably not much for a 900+ bed hospital). It is obvious, if it sells, do it, no matter if it cures or not.

  19. #19 A
    August 30, 2011

    Their Daily Dose Web site, e.g.
    http://www.jeffersonhospital.org/The-Daily-Dose/2011/August/ask-the-jefferson-experts-about-integrative-cancer-care.aspx
    allows for submitting questions.
    Perhaps someone living near Philadelphia can ask about double-blind studies of efficacy of ‘integrative’ methods?
    And report any answers, or lack thereof, back here?
    (“Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.” So be polite.)

  20. #20 Yojimbo
    August 30, 2011

    @16 Mephistopheles O’Brien

    Actually, I’m not even sure the line was Fields’ – the story was told that he thought it was too long for a movie title and he was worried that theater marquees would shorten it to “WC Fields… Sucker”

  21. #21 Yojimbo
    August 30, 2011

    Oops! Sorry for the double!

  22. #22 JLI
    August 30, 2011

    Apparantly this phenomenon is becoming more and more widespread. I recenetly learned, that we have one of those university departments in Denmark too. http://www.cceSCAM.dk is their website (I am not joking). They cooperate with among others Ted Kapchuk who will be known by regular readers of this blog and SBM.

    They have set their minds on focusing on cancer. Right now they are accruing patients for a “pragmatic clincial trial with personal outcomes” aiming to test “effectiveness of energy healing as a rehabilitative intervention after completed conventional cancer treatment”. Apparantly it is not “pragmatic” to include a placebo group.

  23. #23 lilady
    August 30, 2011

    Energy healing, Reiki and Pre-and post-surgery stress management?

    Just how does a CAM practitioner teach a two year old who is scared about a hospital experience and impending surgery to heal through “energy”, draw upon “Reiki” and manage their pre and post surgery stress? I thought that was a parent’s job. I’d love to see how a two year old could employ these techniques in lieu of or in addition to, the comforting arms of mom or dad. And, older pediatric “cases” always revert to a two-year-old stage of development in need of the comforts and attention from loving parents.

    I checked into Dr. Di Nicola’s credentials and she is a fellow at the AAP. She is also a new member of the AAP SOCIM (Section on Complementary & Integrative Medicine) and was welcomed into the SOCIM according to their Fall, 2010
    newsletter.

    If you can’t trust a board-certified pediatrician when you are a new parent…who can you trust?

  24. #24 Meiji
    August 30, 2011

    If its real you can prove it with scientific tests else its a load of rubbish and should be debunked.

  25. #25 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    August 30, 2011

    Yojimbo,

    Could be. However, it WAS the name of a 1941 film, and he said it in “Poppy” and “You Can’t Cheat an Honest Man”, according to Wikipedia.

  26. #26 Healthy
    August 30, 2011

    As long as alternative medicine passes double-blind placebo tests and clinical trials I don’t mind if it is pretty much unknown the active principle or the mechanism of action. The problem is alternative-medicine 99% of the times doesn’t attach to this imperatives.

    To find funding and research lines please check the non-profit Aging Portfolio.

  27. #27 herr doktor bimler
    August 30, 2011

    Who ordered all the spam?

  28. #28 GlaxoPharma Com Orbital
    August 30, 2011

    MESSAGE BEGINS————————-

    Quetzal my feathered friend . . .

    Antarean Coffee? What a horror! It tastes like aluminum shavings and temporal manifold silt. Now, the Kthraaxxx make Slemoth, a lively brew made from Rovian mihlt blended with a touch of their dried carapace wax that rivals a good shade grown Columbian any day. There are some brewing instruction and lovely recipes in the May, 2011 issue of Distinctive Shill Monthly. You do get Distinctive Shill Monthly I hope . . .

    Lord Draconis Zeneca, VC, iH7L

    Forward Mavoon of the Great Fleet, Suzerain of V’tar and Pharmaca Magna of Terra

    PharmaCOM Orbital HQ

    0010101101001

    —————————————— MESSAGE ENDS

  29. #29 mikmik
    August 31, 2011

    @8 Denice Walter
    They offer “integrative mental health”- counselling and therapy- where :

    “Utilizing our approach, self-defeating beliefs and behavior can be replaced with self-enhancing ones”

    Isn’t that what cognitive behavioral therapy already is? They aren’t offering alternative therapy, they’re offering therapy with alternative(not qualified) therapists.

    Seriously. If this statement were even remotely feasible wouldn’t those newly acquired “self-enhancing beliefs” invoke self-criticism like, “Why am I blowing all of this money here? Am I gullible or what?”

    They teach *alternative* self enhancing beliefs, “Why am I not spending more money on this? Does it work, or what! Being such a good person, I want to tell everyone how good this therapy is! Oh, goody!!”
    And they all died happily ever after.
    The end.

  30. #30 Todd W.
    August 31, 2011

    @Lord Draconis

    that rivals a good shade grown Columbian any day

    Depends on how you brew the Columbian.

  31. #31 MikeMa
    August 31, 2011

    @Todd,
    Don’t you mean how you ‘roast’ the Columbian?

  32. #32 Todd W.
    August 31, 2011

    @MikeMa

    Don’t you mean how you ‘roast’ the Columbian?

    Nah, cause it’ll most likely be on Comedy Central, and that’s seldom funny.

  33. #33 Reuben
    August 31, 2011

    @Todd

    I LOL’d, as the petulant children text.

  34. #34 DW
    August 31, 2011

    My dearest Lord Draconis,

    As much as I adore DSM magazine, my darling ( especially when they have photos of me- 3 so far this year! One with Karl, one with Uncle Rupert, one at the Bilderberg Ball ), as I flip through the pages, I am astonished by the lack of diversity. Each article features some WASP’s townhouse or some Brit’s boat or some Scottish person’s farm or some Anglo-Canadian minion’s wedding: even the hyphenated Americans are mostly Northern Europeans ( except for Rene, of course)!Tsk tsk!

    Yesterday I attended the US Open with the “boys” ( who got drunk as usual) and enjoyed how truly international and multi-cultural this once rigidly tighty-whitey event has become – unlike us!. We can learn from them. Pharma-Com should recruit internationally. We shall grow and expand- why should selling out your planet be restricted to one ethnic group ! That is out-dated thinking and boring! We need an infusion of hot young talent! *Vive la difference!*

    Oh, before I forget, thank you so very much for the thoughtful gift: although I’m not exactly sure what it is, I’ll bet it cost a pretty penny and has significant historical value amongst inter-galactic antique collectors. It shall be displayed between the Turner and the Reynolds. Love you! Kiss kiss.

    Most sincerely and devotedly yours,

    DW, DL, VII, et al

  35. #35 G.Shelley
    August 31, 2011

    It seems Integrative Medicine can benefit any condition or disease other than those that it is illegal to make such claims about.

  36. #36 Derek
    August 31, 2011

    I struggle with some of this.
    As an I’d like to think well-educated sceptic (self-certified heathen, PhD in chemistry, JD, worked in the pharma industry for many years, now being treated for – but not “battling with”, save the military metaphors for another day – LPL), my instincts all tell me the drugs will work whether I believe in them or not – in fact I’d have grave trouble with medicine in general if I were told that faith was a part of/requirement for efficacy.
    And today I read (SF Chronicle) that California Pacific Medical Center is offering aromatherapy.
    Now if I were feeling nauseous from chemo and someone said “try a sniff of lavender” and it made me feel better, I’d be happy – hasn’t happened, but I’d try it, and I would appreciate it if it worked.
    On the other hand, if my daughter, when young, had needed chemo and were feeling nauseous, I’d be pretty cautious if they said “try a sniff of lavender”.
    But if a sniff of lavender makes chemo nausea decrease, that’s fine. Possible benefit, no risk that I can see.
    It strikes me there’s a decided gray area between “you’ve got to be joking” (where I see the homeland of the total woo-practitioners) and “this may make you feel better” (which I haven’t experienced, or personally felt necessary, but am prepared to give some credence to).
    Comments from the truly knowledgeable would be appreciated (comments from Augustine and the other trolls would not be welcome).

  37. #37 Denice Walter
    September 1, 2011

    @ Derek:

    About that grey area: despite our educations and scepticism, we all have a layer of poetry and magic, a dream-like realm of infinite possibilty where the phrase “what if” rules. Emotions can have their way with hypothetical thought and push us toward unreality. The good thing is that we can understand this and discount it.

    If some of this woo-ful stuff makes you feel better- why not use it for *just* that purpose alone?( I used to counsel people who had a serious illness and because most of them weren’t well-educated in science as you are, had to go to great pains to explain the difference between what “makes you feel better” and what “makes you ‘better’”- and sometimes makes you feel sicker) I put this in the category with massage and doing every-day actvities that you enjoy ( e.g. seeing a good movie) harmless stuff that doesn’t interfere with SB treatment.

    About lavender: I actually have organic dried lavender in a handmade lace bag that I purchased from a 40-ish hippy woman artist in Boonville, CA ( where they used to have their own language- you can’t make this stuff up!) “It’ll make you mellow”, she said ( and I thought it was pot that did that! Mendocino, you know). It’s *nice*; it smells nice. Why not? As long as you don’t attribute magical powers to it.

    Best wishes with your treatment. You know you might think “odd things” while you are in such a situation: fearful thoughts, magical thoughts, superstitious thoughts: but remember this- they’re just thoughts. Thinking so doesn’t make it happen. Or prevent it. In fact, you can observe your own reactions along these lines. Sometimes you have to trust to probabilities: if research has shown that X works N%, so you do X or better. We can none of us get to the “ultimate reality” ( whatever that is) at least research can point us in the right direction even though emotion and memory might lead us on other paths. We live between two worlds- that of reason and that of emotion. We *can* calm ourselves down or rev ourselves up- through our thinking.

    Take care of yourself. Talk to people.

  38. #38 dave
    September 4, 2011

    There is a doctors rating service that her patients have used to rate her performance. They gave her a very low rating – 1 star our of 4 possible.

    Who says the American people are gullible?

    http://www.vitals.com/ratings/Dr_Christina_Dinicola.html

  39. #39 Bonnie Harris
    September 9, 2011

    I do Reiki at a large hospital in Minnesota – they call it ‘complementary care’ and it’s part of massage, music therapy etc. I like that name as what we do is definitely not medicine…I’m the daughter of a pathologist who regularly called chiropracters quacks so I know where you’re coming from. Bottom line, the patients seem to love it. We are now required to give total joint patients daily treatments because the orthopedic surgeons noticed a difference in pain levels and healing time when we work on them.

    I have no idea why it works and I don’t like the “magical mystery tour” explanations either. But outcome studies at major hospitals are showing it makes some kind of a difference in pain, nausea and anxiety levels even though no one really knows why. I would go work with some no nonsense, non “woo woo” folks before I’d make a judgement on its efficacy. We’ve had some dramatic results at our hospital.

  40. #40 Beamup
    September 9, 2011

    Gee, having a nice person come in and spend time with patients makes them feel better? What a shocker.

    You can be absolutely certain that the perceived benefits have absolutely nothing to do with the actual reiki. Which does nothing.

  41. #41 Bonnie Harris
    September 9, 2011

    @beamup You’re obviously not educated on the outcome studies of major hospitals in the US and Europe on these treatments. I’d be happy to send you links to the research if you’d like. Who was it that said “the greatest ignorance is to reject something you know nothing about.”

  42. #42 Todd W.
    September 9, 2011

    @Bonnie Harris

    You seem like a nice person who means well. But, what Beamup said is more than likely spot on. The effects of human interaction can be pretty powerful. It reduces stress, lifts spirits. Reiki, sad to say, is just mystical hand-waving tacked onto that human interaction.

    I encourage you to look up the study on Therapeutic Touch done by Emily Rosa. While TT is not exactly the same as reiki, they are, for all intents and purposes, close enough in philosophy and technique as to be the same.

  43. #43 Todd W.
    September 9, 2011

    @Bonnie Harris

    I have a comment in moderation, but in the meantime, please do share one or two of those studies. I’d be very curious to see what they used as their control condition to rule out simple placebo effects.

  44. #44 John Coleman
    September 9, 2011

    Thank you to all who have blasted CAM and Integrative medicine. Through your animosity and fear based statements you have confirmed for me that there must be something good and positive in these complementary therapies.
    Money based arguments to this topic indicate that anything that takes away from pharmaceutical companies is bad, wrong and evil..hmmmm
    I have personally experienced the benefits of Reiki treatments that go well beyond human companionship or touch and so just as beauty is in the eye of the beholder, my acceptance of complementary therapies that work alongside all other therapies and medicines is beauty.
    Here in Australia we have major cancer hospitals accepting and using Complementary therapy programmes for the simple reason that (in one hospital) eight years of research has shown among many other benefits that these programmes improve quality of life for those with the terminal illness.

    Anything that can do this should be encouraged not degraded through ignorance and fear (false evidence appearing real)

    As I said at the begining of my piece Thank you to all who have blasted CAM and Integrative medicine. Through your animosity and fear based statements you have confirmed for me that there must be something good and positive in these complementary therapies.
    John

  45. #45 herr doktor bimler
    September 9, 2011

    John Coleman, isn’t it slightly foolish to be choosing therapies purely because they are rejected by people whose opinions you don’t care about?

  46. #46 Chris
    September 9, 2011

    John Coleman:

    Here in Australia we have major cancer hospitals accepting and using Complementary therapy programmes for the simple reason that (in one hospital) eight years of research has shown among many other benefits that these programmes improve quality of life for those with the terminal illness.

    Citations please on those eight years of research. Do any of them deal with Penelope Dingle?