I’ve been writing about this topic so long—ever since the very beginning of this blog—that it seems as though I’ve always been doing it even though this blog has been in existence only 11 years and I didn’t really come to appreciate the problem until after I had started this blog. No, I’m not referring to the antivaccine movement, which is another longstanding concern of mine. This time, I’m referring to what I like to refer to as “quackademic medicine,” defined as the infiltration of unscientific and pseudoscientific medicine into medical academia. Indeed, there was a time when I tried to keep track of all the once proud bastions of medical science that had descended into “integrating” the rankest quackery with their real medicine. At the time, I referred to my list as my “Academic Woo Aggregator.” Unfortunately, the number of academic institutions became too large and the variety of quackery too unwieldy for me to keep up with. The Academic Woo Aggregator rapidly fell hopelessly out of date. I gave up.

Still, I haven’t given up so much that I don’t take notice when major new members forsake science and adopt quackery, and unfortunately that’s exactly what’s happened at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). (Yes, CHOP is the home institution of Paul Offit, and I suspect he didn’t take this lying down.) I learned of the shame of two institutions through two articles, one about Dana Farber (Easing a patient’s pain — even without proof it works) and one about CHOP (After rejecting alternative medicine, CHOP gives acupuncture a shot). Even the titles are annoying.

Let’s start with CHOP, because CHOP teaches a lesson. “Integrative medicine” is relentless. In a way, it’s like naturopaths seeking licensure. Every time their lobbying efforts fail, they come back again. And again. And again. They do not give up until they get what they want. So it is with quackademic medicine. CHOP was hostile to unscientific medicine:

In the past, alternative options were not welcome at Children’s Hospital. The institution removed most dietary supplements from its list of approved medications in 2013 because it could not guarantee their safety and effectiveness.

Paul Offit, chief of infectious diseases, said the hospital’s stance on supplements would remain unchanged.

Unfortunately:

Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia will offer acupuncture to all of its patients beginning in July, joining a growing number of pediatric medical centers providing alternative therapies.

The hospital plans to add other unconventional options, including therapeutic massage and aromatherapy, in the next year, said Maria R. Mascarenhas, medical director of the new Integrative Health Program.

“Our patients and families have been asking for it and seeking these therapies outside of CHOP,” said Mascarenhas. “It’s important for us to offer those services by providers who are up to CHOP’s standards.”

This is the same excuse quackademic programs always use, that they’ll somehow elevate the quackery, use it in an “evidence-based” manner, bring science to bear on it. The other claim is that they offer it because patients want it. My response to that is that patients often want a lot of things, but we’re under no obligation to give it to them if it’s unproven and not science-based. Unfortunately, the leaders of academic medicine don’t seem to see it that way any more. They’ll offer anything now: Acupuncture, traditional Chinese medicine, supplements, and worse. This program at CHOP is very modest at the moment. However, once pseudoscience gains a foothold in a medical institution, once an academic medical center gives itself over to quackademic medicine in the form of “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM) or, the preferred term now, “integrative medicine,” it never goes back. Integrative medicine is like the Dark Side of the Force that way.

Meanwhile, Dr. Mascarenhas spews the same old nonsense about acupuncture as she justifies using it on children:

There is evidence that acupuncture works – specifically for pain. A 2012 analysis of dozens of randomized controlled trials concluded it effectively relieves some types of chronic pain.

“We don’t fully understand how it works,” said Mascarenhas, “but it’s therapy that lets the body naturally reduce pain and improve functioning.”

Children will have to be old enough to understand what the acupuncturist is doing.

“You need a cooperative patient,” Mascarenhas said. “You don’t want them moving during the therapy session.”

Dr. Mascarenhas is, without a doubt, referring to the 2012 meta-analysis by Andrew Vickers, which did not actually show that acupuncture has any clinically meaningful effect on chronic pain. None of this stops her from parroting the same old meaningless tropes about how acupuncture is “natural” and just works.

One wonders if she’s even considered the ethics of using acupuncture on children. The ethics of offering unproven treatments—and most integrative medicine practitioners will admit that a lot of their treatments are unproven—to adults outside of the context of a clinical trial. However, administering unproven treatments to children is definitely problematic from an ethical standpoint, if not downright unethical. None of this seems to stop “integrative medicine” practitioners like Dr. Mascarenhas from forging boldly forward integrating quackery with real medicine without concern for such niceties. It’s also depressing that this could happen at the institution where Dr. Offit is faculty. I’d be shocked if he didn’t fight this tooth and nail; indeed, you can tell from his quotes in this story that he’s probably holding back because it’s never a good idea to outright badmouth your employer in a news story.

If acupuncture and a little woo are where CHOP is now, take a look at Dana Farber to see where CHOP could be in a few years:

Massage therapist Maria Barbara “Bambi’’ Mathay roamed the pediatric clinic at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, looking for takers. It wasn’t long before she spotted Carlie Gonzalez, 15, wrapped in a yellow blanket and weary from seven months of chemotherapy.

Carlie was playing freshman volleyball at Milford High School last fall when an ache in her collarbone became intolerable. A CT scan revealed an aggressive bone cancer that required surgery and potent anticancer drugs that make Carlie nauseated.

As the liquid dripped into her arm, Carlie rolled up a pant leg for a session of foot reflexology. “It kind of takes your mind off your stomach,’’ she said. While Mathay gently pressed on her toes, Carlie sleepily closed her eyes.

Dana-Farber is embarking on its largest expansion yet of unconventional therapies. Over the past year, it has taken the unusual step of offering reiki, an ancient Asian technique, and foot reflexology free of charge to adults and children — as well as acupuncture to adults — in its outpatient infusion clinics during chemotherapy treatments.

I hate this “bait and switch.” Notice how it’s a massage therapist mentioned first. As I’ve said before many times, I don’t mind massage being offered to patients because in general it just feels good and is highly unlikely to cause harm. What I don’t like is how it’s gone from being “massage” to “massage therapy,” with claims of efficacy for various conditions that are often not well supported by science. What’s even worse, though, is how reflexology is represented as being just massage therapy. Yes, reflexology is a foot and hand massage, but the idea behind it is pure pseudoscientific quackery. Basically, in reflexology, the idea is that various organs map to various areas on the soles of the feet and palms of the hands. Through these “pathways,” reflexologists claim to be able to diagnose and treat disease through feeling the hands and feet. It’s pure rubbish.

And it’s being offered at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, one of the most respected cancer centers in the US, if not the world. Quackademic medicine reigns supreme.

It’s worse than that, though:

The hospital soon will start a nearly $2 million project to convert the first floor of one of its buildings into a new center for “integrative therapies,’’ which eventually could double the number of patients it can accommodate. More than 3,000 patients scheduled appointments for acupuncture and massage last year, a 25 percent jump over 2014.

A growing body of research supports acupuncture as a treatment for pain and nausea in oncology patients, but few high-quality studies exist on the effectiveness of reflexology and reiki.

The investment by Dana-Farber, a leading cancer treatment center, underscores a growing willingness among mainstream medical institutions nationally to offer complementary therapies that appear to help patients — even without definitive proof.

Yes, Dana Farber is wasting $2 million to offer fairy dust to its patients. Reflexology relies on “pathways” between organs and the soles of the feet and palms of the hands that don’t exist, but reiki takes that one step beyond. (Apologies to Madness.) Basically, reiki masters claim the existence of a “universal source” of energy that they can channel through themselves into patients for healing effect. I know I make this analogy fairly frequently, but I don’t think it can be emphasized enough. Consider what we would call reiki if you substitute the word “God” for “universal source”—which you might as well do because what else do you call a blob of energy with a life of its own? You’d call it faith healing. Just as faith healers claim to be able to channel the healing power of God through themselves and into patients, reiki practitioners claim to be able to channel the healing power from the universal source into patients. The only difference, conceptually, between reiki and faith healing is that the former invokes Eastern mystical religious beliefs and the latter invokes Judeo-Christian religious beliefs. Reiki goes faith healing one step beyond, though. (Apologies to Madness again.) It provides healing over a distance and even healing backward and forward in time. It’s not “ancient,” either. Reiki was invented in the 1920s in Japan.

Unfortunately, reiki is everywhere in hospitals.

I like how the article describes reiki and other “energy therapies” as “controversial”:

The technique is controversial, however. MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston decided against providing reiki or other so-called “energy therapies’’ because of lack of convincing evidence. In one small study published five years ago in the journal Cancer, researchers found little overall difference in depression and anxiety levels for men with prostate cancer who underwent either reiki, “relaxation response therapy,’’ or were put on a wait list — though reiki seemed to have some benefit for men who were anxious to begin with.

“We can’t say it’s any more than placebo at this stage,’’ said Lorenzo Cohen, director of integrative medicine at MD Anderson. “Patients report feeling better after a session of reiki. Would they feel better just sitting and speaking with an empathic person? They probably would.’’

Ligibel said more research is needed to sort this out. “I struggle with the mechanism of a lot of these therapies, but I’ve seen them work for people,’’ she said.

Dr. Jennifer Ligibel, by the way, is the director of the Leonard P. Zakim Center for Integrative Therapies and a breast oncologist, in other words, one of my people who turned to the Dark Side. Seriously, though. Even M.D. Anderson has stopped offering reiki because it’s too ridiculous. I learned this after I published an article on integrative oncology that mentioned M.D. Anderson as having a reiki program, which it actually did. However, my information was old. So I got an indignant letter pointing out how M.D. Anderson doesn’t offer reiki any more, to which my response was basically, “Great. Glad to hear it. But what about all that other pseudoscientific ‘integrative’ medicine you offer?”

As for Cohen’s remark about how patients would probably feel better just sitting and speaking with an empathetic person, I can’t help but suggest to Dr. Ligibel that perhaps she should can the reiki and hire some counselors. Of course, that would cost money, and Dana-Farber is training volunteers to administer reiki. One wonders why its administration won’t pony up some green to hire some actual professionals.

I kid, I kid.

I do find it interesting that this article, too, mentions a study, this time describing it thusly:

There is broader agreement on the benefits of acupuncture, which involves inserting thin needles into the skin at strategic points on the body. Traditional Chinese medicine holds that it balances energy flow, while Western practitioners believe it stimulates nerves, perhaps releasing natural painkillers. Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center researchers reviewed results of clinical trials involving 17,922 patients and found, on average, that acupuncture reduced chronic pain by more than 50 percent. That compared to 42 percent for “sham acupuncture’’ and 30 percent for no acupuncture.

Yep, it’s the Vickers meta-analysis again. And I say again, the Vickers meta-analysis is not good evidence supporting the efficacy of acupuncture. It is rather interesting how this is the go-to article quackademics always seem to refer to to argue that acupuncture works. It just goes to show how thin the evidence for acupuncture is.

Stories like this always depress the hell out of me. Here are two bastions of science-based medicine; yet there are faculty who work there who are so eagerly throw away science in order to embrace magic, mysticism, and faith healing in order to exchange the scientific for the pre-scientific or pseudoscientific. Unfortunately, they are a microcosm of what is happening all over medical academia, from medical schools to academic medical centers. Quackademia marches on, relentlessly apparently. I fear that if I were to try to recreate the Academic Woo Aggregator in 2016 it would be a book—and not a thin one.

Comments

  1. #1 Daniel Corcos
    June 28, 2016

    Quackademia is just the tip of the iceberg. Academic success is a question of power and money. What we need is scholarly societies independent of the current competition model, because competition has nothing to do with science.

  2. #2 MI Dawn
    June 28, 2016

    Hey, a “reflexology” massage of my hands and feet would probably make me relaxed and sleepy,too. I have no belief that it would do anything for my organs or my health, but hey, I am always up for a good massage. On the other hand, one of my friends hates to have her feet touched. So “reflexology” wouldn’t make her feel better at all.

    It’s very sad to see hospitals go over to quack medicine. I’m glad that CHOP is at least keeping its stand (for now!) agains supplements. But I’m sure, in these days of financial issues, hospitals are looking for ways to make money from their suckers patients that insurance won’t cover.

  3. #3 Frequent Lurker
    June 28, 2016

    My hospital is starting to go this way too, at least small potatoes, and beginning with exercise, yoga, meditation, and nutrition, so essentially just moving our PT, nutritionists, and pastoral care under one new umbrella name of “integrative care,” which is infuriating.

    Someone mentioned acupuncture, and my only hope is that as Infection Control, we can put a stop to that. I can see several ways we can work it, the simplest being the “practitioners” will have to comply with our flu plan (and NY’s), but this isn’t something we should have to do. Stroke-inducing rage.

  4. #4 The Smith of Lie
    June 28, 2016

    I could sort of tolerate it if I knew the only reason is money and could believe that it will stay this way. Sure, it’d still be morally disgusting but in a way that conforms to reason. However it seems that using those modalities, even as a con at first, leads to a slippery slope of believing in them…

  5. #5 Mrs Woo
    June 28, 2016

    A more cynical person has to wonder if acupuncture is offered because of changing attitudes towards narcotic pain management, and a hope that the patient will be susceptible to the placebo effect.

  6. #6 Irène Delse
    Under a cloud of rain
    June 28, 2016

    It’s all so depressing. The hospitals seem to re-discover that a few moments of quiet, low-stakes human interaction do wonders for the patient’s mood and outlook. But instead of hiring more staff and training them in the art of the supportive chat, they spend money on mysticism. I’d be livid too.

  7. #7 Anonymous Pseudonym
    June 28, 2016

    I wonder if the rise of this pseudo-scientific BS is due to the internet making it more obvious and easier to find, or if the lack of a serious epidemic is causing people to forget what medicine has done for civilization. Either way I sorta approve of the Hollywood old west method of dealing with snake-oil peddlers (See the Outlaw Jose Wales for a fine fictitious example).

    If I really want to depress myself, I consider that the administrators who are approving this know it’s BS medically, but a great revenue stream with minimal expense. After all, how much does distilled water or a volunteer cost compared to what they can charge.

  8. #8 Terrie
    June 28, 2016

    When I first heard the term “Integrative care” I thought they meant integrating care of emotional aspects of illness into care. For instance, I use meditation as part of my management of my OCD and anxiety. I wouldn’t call it medical care, but it certainly is theraputic for me. And, after all, massage feels good and is relazing and I can see how aromatherpy could help with nausea or help eliminate the stress induced by “hospital smell.”

    When I found what what they really meant by “Integrative care” I was disappointed. Alt. fans compain about how “traditional” medicine is overly focused on illness, and noth the “whole” person, yet their insistance that they do all these impossible things, rather than just admiting “We can make you more comfortable and less anxious” tells me they are just as fixated on the idea of illness as they claim they are not.

  9. #9 Helianthus
    June 28, 2016

    @ Daniel

    warning – derailing tangent

    What we need is scholarly societies independent of the current competition model, because competition has nothing to do with science.

    In a ideal world, maybe (well, maybe yes).
    But in a world with (more and more) limited resources for scientific endeavors, how do you select the happy fews who get these resources to keep working on their chosen projects?
    It’s not like we are lacking of people with things to explore and study. There is going to be competition, no matter how you cut it.

  10. #10 Daniel Corcos
    June 28, 2016

    @ Helianthus
    There is a confusion between selecting good individuals and organizing a science competition. It would be very easy to raise the requirements for being a scientist, as many of them are ignorant even in their field, and a PhD does not mean much. Science competition forces scientists to work in domains chosen by politicians, and it is an obvious consequence that woo medicine will be favored, as well as the machine that goes ping . In addition, productivism is the other consequence of this competition, and then again it has nothing to do with science, as it is easier to produce papers than to answer relevant questions.

  11. #11 darwinslapdog
    The Beagle
    June 28, 2016

    I’d be okay with all this as long as these centers are located in a room next to, and the same size as, the Chapel. This would remind people that they are dealing with a matter of faith.

    And—what’s up with medical schools producing people who say things like, “I’ve seen it work”? What a waste of an education.

  12. #12 Mike
    June 28, 2016

    Dana Farber recently posted a propaganda video for their integrative medicine center.

  13. #13 Helianthus
    June 28, 2016

    @ Daniel

    There is a confusion between selecting good individuals and organizing a science competition. It would be very easy to raise the requirements for being a scientist

    I see your point, but that’s not what I was talking about.
    To put it simply, i was not talking about which student get a PhD, but about which lab director get the resources to train a PhD, hire a lab tech, buy a PCR or whatever else he wants to do.

    Science competition forces scientists to work in domains chosen by politicians

    Yes, I got this part. And I fully agree a system based on entregent rather than scientific facts is going to favor the more charismatic/vocal advocates, and favor alt-med.

    But my point was, how do you get these domains chosen, if not by competition, when resources are limited?
    You can set your own lab, but unless you are a fermier général à la Lavoisier and hence filthy rich, you are still depending on the outside world to provide you the means to your research. That put you on direct competition with all the others, and again the one using the more buzzwords/pretending to be the more productive win.

    (note that I am not saying it’s impossible to improve/reform the current system; I’m just wondering what solutions you have in mind to reduce competition/politics)

  14. #14 Orac
    June 28, 2016

    I’d be okay with all this as long as these centers are located in a room next to, and the same size as, the Chapel. This would remind people that they are dealing with a matter of faith.

    I’ve often said that I wouldn’t mind reiki practitioners being allowed in hospitals if they were treated the same way as chaplains—just there for spiritual support with no claim that what they are doing is in any way legitimate medicine, and imprimatur of the hospital placed on them. Unfortunately, that’s not what’s happening.

  15. #15 Orac
    June 28, 2016

    warning – derailing tangent

    Then just say no. Daniel is unfortunately all too proficient at derailing comment threads.

  16. #16 Helianthus
    June 28, 2016

    @ Orac

    OK, and my apologies.
    Curiosity got the better of me.

  17. #17 Fiamma
    United States
    June 28, 2016

    As always you keep us aware of what is going on out there. This can be frustrating.
    I was trained as an oncology massage therapist. We learned Swedish massage and lymphatic drainage, as well as reflexology, aromatherapy and reiki. (The reiki always left me sort of Meh.) Funny thing is, not once were we taught that we could cure cancer. We learned about illnesses, contraindications and got to clinic at a major hospital. What did massage actually do? It relaxed the patients, some even napped while getting chemo and others said their stomach settled down and they could finally eat. Some patients liked to chat during their sessions, others not at all. I met lovely people battling horrible diseases, recovering from car accidents, drug addiction, while others were close to dying and in hospice. The nurses appreciated our presence and we were very welcome in the ICU, CCU and infusion room.
    I do not like to see massage grouped in with other therapies as quackery. It isn’t. Unfortunately some of the people who practice it wield it like some magic cure all which does not help its cause. No one should sell massage as a way of beating or removing an illness. They should pitch it as gentle touch for a body that has been poked and prodded to no end. You cannot do a vigorous spa massage on these patients. We learned how to read charts and be very aware if all we could do was rub a hand or feet. I hope to God these “integrative centers” are screening therapists wisely or there can be serious complications.

  18. #18 Eric Lund
    June 28, 2016

    I’ve often said that I wouldn’t mind reiki practitioners being allowed in hospitals if they were treated the same way as chaplains—just there for spiritual support with no claim that what they are doing is in any way legitimate medicine

    The key difference is that chaplains are actually trained to provide such support, and therefore provide a useful if non-medical service to patients. I have seen no evidence that reiki practitioners are similarly trained.

    The chaplains also understand, for the most part, that they’re not there to proselytize. I fear that a reiki practitioner is all too likely to do so.

  19. #19 A in Ca
    California
    June 28, 2016

    The underlying reason for the spread of woo in the US is that even academic medical centers consider themselves profit-oriented businesses. They have to compete for patients, so if the patients are superstitious, the medical businesses will offer them superstition-based treatments, no matter how (in)effective, and hope to get bigger market share and reimbursement for legitimate procedures on the same patient.–
    It is a cynical exploitation of people’s ignorance, just when they are most vulnerable.
    (Slightly off-topic: Another example I recently witnessed was from a family where the mother, in her 40ies, had terminal stomach cancer. After diagnosis, in addition to regular chemo, the family spent some $1000 on some ‘Fuocidan,’ a miracle supplement which was supposed to have helped someone somewhere. Of course, sadly, it didn’t, the patient died. But it seemed heartless to tell the family that they had a false hope and very victims of a scam. Hope that anybody googling Fuocidan will see SCAM come up with it, rather than ads for it.)

  20. #20 Rich Woods
    Mostly wet
    June 28, 2016

    The hospital soon will start a nearly $2 million project to convert the first floor of one of its buildings into a new center for “integrative therapies,’’ which eventually could double the number of patients it can accommodate.

    But not double the number of patients it will treat.

  21. #21 Daniel Corcos
    June 28, 2016

    @ Helianthus
    “you are still depending on the outside world to provide you the means to your research.”
    I agree with you, but the means have become the ends. For most research, we would not need so much money if journals were not asking for more and more technics. Did Einstein need money for his papers? Or Watson and Crick? All these works would be rated by academic institutions as “Review Articles” and not as important as Big Data.
    It’s economics that drives most of the scientific activity, and the economy of research has drastically changed in the last decades. It does not surprise me that the changes benefit to quackademia.

  22. #22 MI Dawn
    June 28, 2016

    @Eric Lund: The chaplains also understand, for the most part, that they’re not there to proselytize. I fear that a reiki practitioner is all too likely to do so.

    My most recent hospitalization, the chaplain dropped by. Asked if I needed anything. I said no, I’m an atheist, and he smiled and said OK, is there anything I can get you? I answered no, we exchanged a few more pleasantries, and he left. I imagine that a reiki believer would be much harder to get rid of.

    “You just had surgery! Let me wave my hands over you and smooth out your aura!”

    No, thanks, I don’t believe in it.

    “Oh, that’s OK. You don’t have to believe. – commences hand waving”

    Please leave me alone.

    “Don’t you feel the warmth?”

    No. Go away.

    Note: I had a massage therapist claim he was doing reiki at the end of a session. He kept asking me if I felt the warmth of his hands – 5 inches above my back. He was extremely upset that I kept answering no, I didn’t feel anything. Last time I went to him (it was also the first.)

  23. #23 Mark Thorson
    June 28, 2016

    Fucoidan might promote tumor cell metastasis, as indicated by this study.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9521847

  24. #24 Eric Lund
    June 28, 2016

    He kept asking me if I felt the warmth of his hands – 5 inches above my back. He was extremely upset that I kept answering no, I didn’t feel anything.

    So his Jedi mind trick didn’t work. Good.

    Incidentally, in physics “handwaving” refers to a different form of Jedi mind trick, namely the common practice, whether in the classroom or in a research paper/presentation, of asserting something without going through a mathematically rigorous definition. But at least in physics the thing being asserted is plausible, and more often than not turns out to be true if you actually do the derivation. The assertions of reiki practitioners that their handwaving is beneficial to the patient are not even remotely plausible. Reiki is just a fancied-up version of theraputic touch, which was thoroughly debunked in then nine-year-old Emily Rosa’s science fair project.

  25. #25 Denice Walter
    June 28, 2016

    As a participant in a recent** experiment, I can attest that acupuncture doesn’t help as much as gin or wine.

    ** self managed N=1

  26. #26 Denice Walter
    June 28, 2016

    In other news…

    it seems that Mikey’s contributions** to the victims of Dr Fata group were not appreciated at all-
    so he’ll send them to an Indian/ Native American reservation since he TOO is now claiming native heritage.
    ( -btw- he looks like a regular old whitey to me. I think that Null also claims this )

    ** of supplements, what else?

  27. #27 mho
    June 28, 2016

    When I was being introduced to my nurse the last time I was in the hospital, Mr. STFU (we have different last names) cribbed the plot from a story and asked if the nurse did any of that therapeutic touch. She beamed and said yes, I’ve been trained. Mr. STFU said, well, don’t do any of that on my wife, if she wakes up and sees you waving your hands over her, she might think you’re a ghost and get frightened. The nurse pouted.
    In the story, (supposedly true) the elderly patient was so frightened when he woke up, he tried to get out of bed but fell and injured himself. He then insisted on being discharged, but had to be readmitted to a different hospital later in the week. His son was very unhappy about the whole thing.

    FYI Perhaps things have changed, but when I received reiki treatments it wasn’t hand waving. I was lying on a bed, and the 3-4 practitioners would slide their hands just under you, as if they were going to lift and transfer you, and then stand there silently and “channel the loving, healing energy.” Therapeutic touch was the non-touch handwaving. Not that the distinction between the two makes any difference whatsoever. [in my defense, the reiki was free, I didn’t know what it was exactly, thought what the heck, and concluded it was really stupid]
    What gripes me, is even if that nurse only spent five minutes practicing therapeutic touch, that was five minutes that another patient was not getting real nursing care.
    RE aromatherapy, and creating an feeling of pleasantness associated with hospital care, isn’t it just as likely to create a dislike of whatever scent their using and then ruin a good day when the scent later makes the patient think about illness or surgery? A friend of mine spent so much time in doctor’s office waiting rooms with soothing aquariums, that she avoids Chinese restaurants that have goldfish tanks because they trigger emotions about her husband’s cancer death.

  28. #28 mho
    June 28, 2016

    edit; whatever scent they are…

  29. #29 Meredith
    June 28, 2016

    This infuriates me. My 6 year old daughter has a very treatable form of cancer (thank god), but the treatment has included major surgery, chemo, radiation, a broviac, etc… She handles it all pretty well, but we explain that is it necessary. I’ve had acupuncture as an adult (before I knew better) and it’s kinda scary. Kids are afraid enough of needles as it is, subjecting them to a therapy that doesn’t work is absolutely unethical, especially when they are poked and prodded enough. Want to give them a foot massage? Fine, just don’t call it reflexology. But acupuncture? Are they out of their minds? Kids don’t know better. If an adult tells them it works, they believe them. It’s just mean.

  30. #30 Derek Freyberg
    June 28, 2016

    mho (#27):
    That’s an interesting point about the aquariums. The clinic where I go, at the moment fortunately just to see the oncologist for check-ups, has a fair size aquarium in the patient waiting area (and they show nature-ish videos, like beaches and water, on a big-screen TV). But Chinese restaurants don’t seem to have them as much any more. For me, smell rather than sight or sound is a more potent emotional trigger – and I think that’s the case for most people, because of the very “hard-wired” connection between the brain and the olfactory bulb. Proust and madeleines.

  31. #31 Narad
    June 28, 2016

    it seems that Mikey’s contributions** to the victims of Dr Fata group were not appreciated at all

    This has to be seen to be believed, as it were. It is hilariously devoid of documentation, and ends with this:

    ACTION ITEM: Shame the idiotic leaders of the Dr. Farid Fata victims group [sic]”

    Gee, Mike, maybe they could smell you from a mile away. (The FB group is closed.) L-rd knows that your response when you’re spurned is a pretty serious tell.

    The even dumber part is that he doesn’t seem to understand the timing (Fata was shut down nearly three years ago) or what the group is for (hint: Geraldine Parkin wasn’t a patient).

  32. #32 JustaTech
    June 28, 2016

    Acupuncture on children sounds like “as long as you say or show that you are in pain we will stick you with needles,” so some kids will be conditioned to hide their pain so they don’t get stuck with more needles.

    (Yes, I have heard that acupuncture needles don’t hurt, but you can still see them sticking out of you. And they must hurt on some level.)

  33. #33 Narad
    June 28, 2016

    ^ Second link should’ve closed after “FB group,” but it works.

  34. #34 Mrs Woo
    just outside Wooville
    June 28, 2016

    @mho:

    Scent is supposed to be great for triggering memories. Perhaps aromatherapy would work best if they used “grandma’s homemade cookies” instead of lavender, chamomile, lemon, etc…

  35. #35 Richard
    June 28, 2016

    The stuff about reflexology and massage therapy kind of tempts me to go get ‘certified’ and see just how ridiculous I could be before somebody objects to the nonsense. Like, could I get to “Baba the Cosmic Barber” levels? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=geLtFCxDs40

  36. #36 Ellie
    Still on the green side of the grass
    June 28, 2016

    Mrs Woo, I can tell you that on this day, when I’m having both pain and breathing problems, the smell of my Grandma’s molasses cookies would make me feel better – or at least take my mind off my back, hip, and lungs. Maybe someone should go into the Cookie Aroma Therapy Business? I do kid. Honestly.

  37. #37 Dangerous Bacon
    June 28, 2016

    (note: please shield your irony meters)

    The outrage with which a certain woo-ster is reacting to his refused donation of vitamin C supplements is especially amusing, considering that his website has previously denounced the practice of drug companies handing out free samples. Their article quoted a PLOS One study:

    “”It is difficult to escape the conclusion,” Dr. Chimonas and Dr. Kassirer wrote, “that the prime motivation behind the provision of free samples is marketing.”

    One might cynically speculate that the exact same motive is behind a supplement marketer “donating” his product (which is much costlier than what’s readily available from other vitamin suppliers).

  38. #38 Eric Lund
    June 28, 2016

    he TOO is now claiming native heritage.
    ( -btw- he looks like a regular old whitey to me. I think that Null also claims this )

    Some tribes consider 1/32 ancestry sufficient for membership. The Cherokee are among them, as has been in the news recently regarding Sen. Warren (who does not claim membership in the tribe but would qualify if she did). Others require at least 50% ancestry.

    Most people with 1/32 ancestry from any minority group would probably be taken for white. Many could pass with as much as 1/8 ancestry. I know a professor who is originally from New Zealand and looks completely white, but one of his great-grandfathers was Chinese. The only clue is his surname–it happens to have been his father’s father’s father.

  39. #39 Robert L Bell
    June 28, 2016

    test

  40. #40 Amethyst
    The Crystal Gem
    June 29, 2016

    Children will have to be old enough to understand what the acupuncturist is doing.

    To me that sounds like an admission that it “works” through theatrical placebo, no? Sticking needles into someone will only “work” if the patient thinks it will – a young child would not have any idea why you’re sticking them with needles.

  41. #41 dingo199
    June 29, 2016

    Children will have to be old enough to understand what the acupuncturist is doing.

    @Amethyst #40
    My assumption when reading that was that the kids should be old enough to know that the procedure would be part of their “treatment” and what it entailed, so as not to trigger panic/anxiety (rather than the idea they’d be old enough to understand how the acupuncture was supposed to work).

  42. #42 Ellie
    Still on the green side of the grass
    June 29, 2016

    Seems to me that requiring the children be old enough to “understand,” is a good CYA, because the normal reaction of tiny children having needles stuck into them is to squirm, wiggle, and try to get away. Therefore, the requirement would avoid injury and accompanying lawsuits, IMO.

  43. #43 Denice Walter
    June 29, 2016

    @ JustaTech:

    They actually don’t hurt but at least one ( in my very limited experience) caused quite a blood stain on the practitioner’s clean white paper cot cover ( I tend to bleed like mad ).

    HOWEVER the prelude to the needles involves much concerted poking and prodding of sensitive ‘points’ with bony fingers and a true belief in the existence of meridians and said points.

  44. #44 Denice Walter
    June 29, 2016

    @ Eric Lund:

    I know I know but I can’t resist the urge to insult Mikey.
    And he does look like a fine example of whitey-ness.

  45. #45 Denice Walter
    June 29, 2016

    AND I nearly forgot how absolutely atrocious the cupping nonsense was- which left octopus-dalliance type bruises.

  46. #46 Denice Walter
    June 29, 2016

    @ Ellie:

    Don’t laugh but I think that they do sell a cookie / cupcake scent these days.

    • #47 Ellie
      Still on the green side of the grass
      June 29, 2016

      @ Denice Walter – I understand. I have “creme brulee” candles, but I don’t look at them as any kind of therapy. I don’t pay enough for them for that – but the thought does make me smile.

      @ Brook – Very interesting.

  47. #48 Brook
    off the trail
    June 29, 2016

    @Ellie – check out Alice and the Magician. He makes a chocolate cake mist that’s amazing.

  48. #49 prn
    June 29, 2016

    The simplest answer to underperforming hospitals ?
    Patients should pull the plug and vote with their feet.

    We can do many things better or more cost effectively at home or at a clinic. So hospitals are a bid situation or a last resort instead of the automatic std option. We use hospitals very selectively, mostly for scans and hard to get labs, without overnights.

    So we have largely gotten rid of the hospital and kept the supplements.

  49. #50 Chris
    June 29, 2016

    prn: “Patients should pull the plug and vote with their feet. ”

    Even with a procedure that is done in only two hospitals in the entire USA?

    “So we have largely gotten rid of the hospital and kept the supplements.”

    Oh, do please tell me what supplement would remove the extra heart muscle almost blocking the aortic valve due to obstructive hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

    Do you ever think before typing? One of the medical centers under discussion is the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. Do you really think some supplement is going remove a cancerous tumor or cure leukemia? Wait, did you even read the article? Where was the “underperforming” even mentioned?

  50. #51 Sarah
    La Crosse, WI
    June 30, 2016

    Since I started reading this blog I have come to understand what a travesty it is that where I work is offering alternative medicine. The founder of where I work was the first real doctor in the area because of his skill when the new hospital opened they put him in charge. He got so sick of his patients dying there because of a quack doctors (it was actually a scalpel through the eye incident that sent him over the edge) that he pursued legal means to bar the quack doctors from practicing at his hospital. He fought hundreds of court cases with quacks, and won every single one. When I first started they used to have a big book with all the original court documents in it sitting in the main lobby. Since they started offering alternative that book has been removed.

  51. #52 prn
    June 30, 2016

    prn: “Patients should pull the plug and vote with their feet.
    chris: Even with a procedure that is done in only two hospitals in the entire USA?
    Clearly voting with ones feet on the other 99.9+% (H-2) of US hospitals is the way to go, right? We are more fortunate in that home based chemo and supplements have been cheaper, safer and more effective than any hospitals.
    ———-
    Oh, do please tell me what supplement would…
    Of course I don’t have a solution for you. Sorry. However, I would wonder what (nutrtional) chemical or biological treatments could have aborted the underlying processes of its formation, and would still investigate while working on other pathways.

    One of the thrills of being alive today is how many times there are such answers for supposedly irreversible problems.
    ———
    One of the medical centers under discussion is the Dana Farber Cancer Institute.
    A center is an agglomeration of many varied skills and equipment. One skill does not mean skill in another. It is common that unavailable modalities are downplayed or bad mouthed. I mentioned this several years ago to you, when I cited this on proton therapy.
    ———-
    Do you really think some supplement is going remove a cancerous tumor or cure leukemia?
    Yes, I certainly do think some combinations of cheap off label drugs and specific supplements help kill intractable cancers. Furthermore, some of our consulting MSM PhD and MDs do too. Some here might be behind on the state of the art, or even the predecessors. By decades.

    As one example, there are very interesting papers on menaquinone-4, the primary human version of vitamin K2, for several cancers including leukemias. Most the papers available concern early monotherapy experiments and trials. The art is at multiple items in a cocktail.
    ——–
    Chris:Wait, did you even read the article? Where was the “underperforming” even mentioned?

    Orac/CHOPS: …[CHOPS] removed most dietary supplements from its list of approved medications in 2013 …
    That’s a clear sign of systemic bias and underperformance to me…. :>

  52. #53 MI Dawn
    June 30, 2016

    Oh joy. prn has found his way over from SBM to bloviate about better living through supplements. He does, of course, just happen to sell JUST the right supplement to cure whatever ails you.

    prn: The place is CHOP. Not CHOPS. CHOP stands for Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. And good for them that they’ve managed to keep untested and uncontrolled supplements out, even though they have bent to increased income by fake treatments and quackery.

  53. #54 Helianthus
    June 30, 2016

    @ prn

    However, I would wonder what (nutrtional) chemical or biological treatments could have aborted the underlying processes

    prn, when talking about using chemicals to treat health issues starting in the fetus, you may want to avoid using words like “aborted”.
    Just saying.

  54. #55 Chris
    June 30, 2016

    prn: “However, I would wonder what (nutrtional) chemical or biological treatments could have aborted the underlying processes of its formation, and would still investigate while working on other pathways.”

    Really? Obstructive hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is a genetic heart anomaly. Do you understand what the word “genetic” means? Do you even know how to use a search engine to get a definition of “obstructive” and “hypertrophic cardiomyopathy”

    “Yes, I certainly do think some combinations of cheap off label drugs and specific supplements help kill intractable cancers”

    Citation needed. Something more that what you “think.”

  55. #56 JustaTech
    June 30, 2016

    prn, I am so glad that you “So we have largely gotten rid of the hospital and kept the supplements.”

    Now, how does that work for someone who just got hit by a truck and needs extensive orthopedic surgery? Or for the woman who needs an emergency c-section? Or the baby with meningitis who needs a breathing tube?

    It’s nice that you don’t need hospitals. But for the rest of us, when life goes completely pear shaped, we’d like to have hospitals available.

    Because no supplement in the universe is going to be able to negate the basic laws of physics, like F=ma.

  56. #57 LW
    June 30, 2016

    prn, why are you here? You and your “consulting MSM PhD and MDs” have some kind of cure for diabetes:

    If you were diabetic or borderline before, and now you are running HgbA1C 4.5 – 5 without medication, maybe you’re doing something right.

    You and your “consulting MSM PhD and MDs” have cures for numerous forms of cancer (“I certainly do think some combinations of cheap off label drugs and specific supplements help kill intractable cancers”, #52 above). Why are you here? Why aren’t you out helping your “consulting MSM PhD and MDs” to set up clinical trials of all these fabulous cures?

    Before you say, “oh, woe, no Big Pharma funding”, I will remind you that, as I have described before, once upon a time I did data entry for an MD in private practice who believed he had a cure for a disease, set up his own clinical trial, and proved it.

    I get really annoyed with CAM fans who whine that they have a cure but they can’t prove because of wicked Big Pharma. Do what he did. Set up a trial, do it right, and report the results honestly. If you really have a cure for anything that’s better than the standard of care, prove it!

  57. #58 Renate
    The Netherlands
    July 1, 2016

    And again a potential victim of mr. Burzinsky. This time a crowdfunding action in my country. Luckily there are some critical reactions, but of course also someone, who links to the movie that our respected host and others have torn apart.
    http://www.omroepwest.nl/nieuws/3186048/Sabine-14-heeft-zeldzame-hersentumor-crowdfundingactie-om-behandeling-in-VS-mogelijk-te-maken
    Alas just in Dutch, but perhaps Google translate can help a bit.

  58. #59 Renate
    The Netherlands
    July 5, 2016

    The Dutch girl from my last post has an English site, which wasn’t up a few days ago.
    http://sabii.nu/en/

  59. #60 Amethyst
    The Crystal Gem
    July 5, 2016

    Should we follow the traditional Western treatment of chemotherapy my chance of survival is estimated at 2 to 5%. The treatment which I will be receiving at Dr. Burzynski’s clinic will hopefully succeed in stopping the growth of the tumor.

    So torn. I’m sitting here looking at the Contact-page. Far be it for me to tell this poor girl, her family and friends, that she will most likely die. To tell her the truth about about what a scamming huckster Burzynski truly is, and how his snakeoil has no track record of success.

    But on the other hand, if nobody changes their minds, she will just become another of his victims…

  60. #61 Amethyst
    July 5, 2016

    Oh and Renate, could you have a look at this?

    http://kanker-actueel.nl/NL/resultaten-van-burzynski-bij-hersentumoren-vertaald-in-het-nederlands.html

    She links to it as “results of his treatments”. Curious as to what it might be.

  61. #62 Renate
    July 5, 2016

    Well, I’ve looked at the site, but it’s just someone who comes with a positive story about Burzynski’s results. I suppose our host have torn it apart. It’s translation of some English stuff. It has one critical reaction.
    The people behind the website are very much into defending all kinds of quacks.

    I’ve reacted on the article mentioned in my post on July 1 and placed some links to critical articles as well and some others have reacted as well. Of course there were also reactions of someone defending Burzynski and linking to the movie, that our host has torn apart as well.
    Another person tells her to go to a Dutch quack, who offers Gerson therapy.

    You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink. In this case, you can warn someone for the quacks, but it’s no use if they don’t want to listen. Writing her personally, through her site, is not really something I would want to do. Some of her sponsors are quacks as well.

  62. #63 Francois Theberge
    San Diego, CA
    July 8, 2016

    Ask the Comptroller at CHOP how much money they were not capturing every time a family was seeking alt-therapies outside of CHOP.

    Deep Throat admonition still hold true. Cleveland Clinic can tell you that (Mark Hyman anyone?)

  63. #64 emelia
    washington
    July 10, 2016

    There is just as much success as there is failures in Alternative OR Traditional Western Medicine!! This whole website is based on ignorance! I didnt know such a stupid website existed until I accidently stumbled upon it. I guess that should tell you something. Do some research for God’s sake!!! Know what you are talking about before running your mouth and save yourself the embarrassment of looking like total idiots. There is alot more to Natural Medicine then what any of you who bash it obviously know! The quacks are the ones that suck you dry financially before they let you die a painful death (oh.. or a real comfortable one with more poison that helps the process along) from a disease that could be cured thru Natural Medicine!! This website is a joke and probably put up by the quacks in traditonal western medicine!!

  64. #65 squirrelelite
    July 10, 2016

    @Emelia.
    Since there is just as much success in alternative medicine as standard of care medicine, I’m sure you can provide 3 Pubmed citations for alternative therapies (no diet or exercise) discussed in this article that have been shown to be effective for non-self-limiting conditions.

    NCCAM or whatever they renamed themselves have been doing lots of research for Congress’s sake and haven’t found any.

    What is the best natural medicine therapy for ideopathic seizures? Or Type 1 diabetes? Or Parkinson’s disease? Or how about an acute adenoidal renal cell carcinoma?

    Please tell us more about Natural Medicine.

    And can you list any doctors practicing standard of care treatments who encourage their patients to open GoFundMe sites to help pay to be experimented on?

  65. […] (ASCO). Even institutions with champions of science-based medicine have fallen, such as when acupuncture was adopted by Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, which is where Dr. Paul Offit is […]

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