Complementary and alternative medicine

Category archives for Complementary and alternative medicine

Ever since late June, I’ve been intermittently taking note of a new conspiracy theory in the alternative medicine world. It began when notorious autism quack Jeff Bradstreet, one of the longest practicing, most prominent purveyors of the scientifically discredited notion that vaccines cause autism, was found dead in a North Carolina river on June 19.…

Homeopathy is a frequent topic on this blog, for reasons that regular readers no doubt understand all too well by now. Homeopathy is, as I like to call it, again borrowing from Tolkien, The One Quackery To Rule Them All. When it comes to quackery, few can even come close to homeopathy for the sheer…

It just occurred to me that Breast Cancer Awareness Month is fast approaching, not the least of which because I did a Komen event last night as one of the breast cancer experts. I sometimes wonder if I suffer from a bit of the imposter syndrome, because sixteen years on I still sometimes can’t believe…

Regular readers of this blog will find it no surprise that I don’t think much of Dr. Mehmet Oz. The reason, of course, is that his daily television show, The Dr. Oz Show, has been a font of misinformation about medicine almost since it began airing six years ago. It’s not for nothing that I…

Note added 9/17/2015: I knew it. The vaccine issue came up during the second debate and Donald Trump repeated basically the same nonsensical antivaccine tropes that he’s been repeating for at least eight years. It rather puts the lie to his claim that he listens to experts and changes his opinion based on what they…

The Central Dogma of Alternative Medicine

[Note: My flight home from London was delayed until quite late; so unfortunately another “rerun” is in order. This one’s from three years ago, and I actually consider it one of my “classics.” It was also originally published at my not-so-super-secret other blog and represents the first time I tried to put together my concept…

NOTE: Orac is on vacation recharging his Tarial cells and interacting with ion channel scientists, as a good computer should. In the meantime, he is rerunning oldies but goodies, classics, even. (OK, let’s not get carried away.) Here’s one from all the way back in 2007. Notice how, the more things change, the more they…

Framing vaccines

NOTE: Orac is on vacation recharging his Tarial cells and interacting with ion channel scientists, as a good computer should. In the meantime, he is rerunning oldies but goodies, classics, even. (OK, let’s not get carried away. Here’s one from all the way back in 2008 in response to Dr. Offit’s excellent book Autism’s False…

In which the NCCIH is questioned…

Orac’s vacation continues apace. Well, not quite. The main reason I’m in London right now is because I was invited to give an actual scientific (as opposed to skeptical) talk at a conference about—of all things—ion channels in cancer. That’s where I am right now, at the Sir Alexander Fleming Building at Imperial College London,…

Dr. Bob lets his antivaccine freak flag fly

It’s not a secret to anyone who reads this blog that I have an incredibly low opinion of celebrity pediatricians who are, if not outright antivaccine, antivaccine-sympathetic or leaning antivaccine and use their authority as physicians to sow fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD) about vaccines. Without a doubt, chief among these pediatricians in this country…

Cancer quackery going the distance

You’d think that after all these years combatting quackery and blogging about science in medicine (and, unfortunately, pseudoscience in medicine) it would take a lot to shock me. You’d be right. On the other hand, Even now, 15 years after I discovered quackery in a big way on Usenet and ten years after the inception…

I didn’t think I’d be writing about acupuncture again so soon after deconstructing another “bait and switch” acupuncture study less than a week ago. True, the quackery that is acupuncture and the seemingly unending varieties of low quality studies published to make it seem as though there is anything more than nonspecific placebo effects invoked…

If there’s one thing that is true of the antivaccine movement, it’s that its members are rarely willing to admit that they are, in fact, antivaccine. Sure, there are uncommon exceptions who say it loud that they are antivaccine and proud and through their refreshing honesty and lack of self-delusion cause no end of problems…

I must admit that I’m surprised. Pleasantly surprised, but quite surprised. The reason is that yesterday the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs Director Mike Zimmer rejected the recommendation of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Review Panel to add autism to the list of qualifying conditions for which cannabis can be prescribed in the state of…

It’s always disappointing to see a good journal fall for bad medicine, particularly when it’s in your field. For example, the Journal of Clinical Oncology (affectionately referred to by its abbreviation JCO) is the official journal of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) and probably the most read clinical journal by those involved in…

I don’t review books that often. The reason is simple. My posts for this blog sometimes take as much as a several hours to write (particularly my more “epic” ones that surpass 5,000 words), and I usually don’t have the time to add several more hours to the task by reading an entire book. Also,…

As hard as it is to believe after over ten years of existence and over 5,000 posts on SBM, every so often, something reminds me that I’ve missed paper that cries out for some not-so-Respectful Insolence. So it was a couple of weeks ago, when I saw a familiar name in a news story that…

Acupuncture is a theatrical placebo, but it’s hard not to grudgingly admire just how—shall we say?—malleable or adaptable a placebo it is. What I mean by this is that, if you believe its practitioners and adherents, acupuncture can treat almost literally any disease or health problem. Any! Pain? Acupuncture. Allergies? Acupuncture. Biliary colic? Acupuncture. Infertility?…

A recurring topic on this blog involves my discussion of stories about children with cancer whose parents refuse chemotherapy, thus endangering the children’s lives. These stories usually take this general form: The child is diagnosed with a deadly, but treatable cancer that has a high probability of cure with proper chemotherapy. The child receives the…

The Woo Boat

File this one under the category: You can’t make stuff like this up. (At least, I can’t.) Let’s say you’re a die hard all-conspiracy conspiracy theorist and alternative medicine believer (a not uncommon combination). You love Alex Jones and Mike Adams and agree with their rants that there is a New World Order trying to…

There’s a delightful meme going around Facebook right now, featured above, that portrays five African women, fists raised, all wearing aprons proclaiming “Kick out polio!” Accompanying the meme is a message from the American Academy of Pediatrics celebrating that yesterday marked one full year since the last case of polio was recorded on the continent…

Alright, alright already! I get the message. Over the course of the day yesterday I was bombarded by e-mails with a link to a New York Times article that shows a rather shocking lack of understanding of the science—more specifically, the lack of science—behind alternative medicine. Whenever something like this happens and I get so…

Listicles. I hate Listicles. I don’t do them. Yet, as much as I hate them, I can’t deny that in this brave new world of click bait, listicles bring the clicks, which is why so many blogs and websites post them. Indeed, there’s a website, Thrillist, that is dedicated to pretty much nothing but listicles.…

When I first started writing about the claims made for medical marijuana and the cannabis oil derived from it, it didn’t take long for me to characterize medical claims for cannabis as the “new herbalism,” as opposed to pharmacognosy, the branch of pharmacology devoted to the study of natural products. The reason is simple. Although…

Here we go yet again. I’m half tempted to use a YouTube clip of Al Pacino as Michael Corleone in The Godfather, Part 3, where he says, “Just when I thought I was out…they pull me back in.” I’ll restrain myself this time. Instead, I’ll just tell you what I’m talking about, which is the…