Warning Signs of Quackery and Fraud – Part 4

Alternative Medicine, Bioethics, General Health, Nutritional Health
Here's Part 4 from an excerpt from my and Donal O'Mathuna's book, Alternative Medicine: The options, claims, evidence, how to choose wisely. You find the book here. 16. Is a therapy encouraged simply because it’s been used for centuries by people in some remote place? This might simply mean that those people had nothing else to use. If the best texts on the subject are decades or centuries old, you’ll probably find that many of the old ideas were discredited long ago. Medicine evolves—just think about all we have discovered about nutrition in the last few decades. Continued use adds to our knowledge, uncovers side effects, fine-tunes dosage, and brings change. (more…)
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Warning Signs of Quackery and Fraud – Part 3

Alternative Medicine, Bioethics
Here's Part 3 of an excerpt from my and Donal O'Mathuna's book, Alternative Medicine: The options, claims, evidence, how to choose wisely. You’ll find out more about the book here. Next week, I’ll post another five warning signs. 11. Does the proponent of the therapy claim to be criticized unfairly? Some proponents of CAM portray themselves as martyrs, persecuted by the government, the medical establishment, or some other organization with a stake in keeping you unaware of their breakthrough. (more…)
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Warning Signs of Quackery and Fraud – Part 1

Alternative Medicine, General Health
Here's an excerpt from my and Donal O'Mathuna's book, Alternative Medicine: The options, claims, evidence, how to choose wisely. You find the book here. Each week, for the next 4 weeks, I'll post another five warning signs. So, when you suspect quackery or fraud, how do you know if your suspicions are right? What are some of the warning signs? When evaluating a medical claim, here's what to look for: (more…)
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Alternative Medicine and Children – Part 6 – Vaccination and Alternative Medicine

Alternative Medicine, Children's Health, Infectious Disease, Parenting
The anti-vaccination movement has no better friends than in the alternative medicine world. In the Massachusetts study mentioned in my last blog, less than one-third of the homeopaths recommended immunization, and almost 10 percent actively opposed immunization. In England, the most common reason given for not having children immunized is the recommendation parents receive from a homeopath. (more…)
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Alternative Medicine and Children – Part 2 – Chiropractic for Children

Alternative Medicine, Children's Health, Parenting
The most common pediatric complimentary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapy requiring a therapist is chiropractic. One estimate claims that the number of children being treated by chiropractors increased 50 percent between 1997 and 2000. This same study found that while many adults seek chiropractic care for musculoskeletal problems, children are commonly treated by chiropractors for ear infections, allergies, asthma, colic, and bedwetting. Yet virtually no randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of chiropractic exist for AN Y pediatric condition. So, is chiropractic for children either safe or effective? (more…)
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CoQ10 test results show high quality, but wide differences in dosages, formulations, and cost

Alternative Medicine, General Health, Heart Health
CoQ10 is among the most popular supplements in the U.S. and is used for cardiovascular disease and a range of other conditions. However, it is easy, however, for a consumer to be confused about CoQ10 due to mixed clinical findings, absorption issues, two chemical forms (CoQ10 and its activated from, ubiquinol), and a variety of suggested dosing across products. (more…)
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Report highlights potential dangers of complementary and alternative medicines for children

Alternative Medicine, Children's Health, Parenting
In my evidence-based book on alternative medicine, Alternative Medicine: The options, the claims, the evidence, how to choose wisely, I wrote a cautionary chapter on the risks and dangers of many alternative therapies and natural medications in children in which we concluded, "In general, we believe that alternative medicine isinappropriate for children. The potential risks are too high. Until high-quality studies show clearlythat a particular alternative therapy is safe and effectivefor children, that therapy should be avoided." Now a new report highlights the many potential dangers of complementary and alternative medicines for children. (more…)
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Antioxidant supplements boost male fertility

Alternative Medicine, Mental Health, Nutritional Health, Woman's Health
In my book, Alternative Medicine: The options, the claims, the evidence, how to choose wisely, in my chapter on antioxidants, I conclude, "The best advice is to meet most of your antioxidant needs through a healthy diet supplemented by a single multivitamin." However, there are some cases where taking antioxidant supplements may be helpful. For example, a new report has found that men who take antioxidants while trying to get their partner pregnant are four times more likely to succeed than men who do not. And, the type doesn't matter -- vitamin E, zinc, magnesium all work. The researchers say they "just don't understand why." MedPage Today reported that "antioxidant supplements may boost fertility for men," according to the study published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. After pooling "the results from…
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U.S. spending millions to see if herbs truly work

Alternative Medicine, Medical Economics
People have been using herbal supplements for centuries to cure all manner of ills and improve their health. But for all the folk wisdom promoting the use of such plants as St. John's wort and black cohosh, much about their effect on human health remains unknown. Therefore, I'm delighted that the federal government is spending millions of dollars to support research dedicated to separating the wheat from the chaff when it comes to herbal supplements. Here are the details from USA Today: "A lot of these products are widely used by the consumer, and we don't have evidence one way or the other whether they are safe and effective," said Marguerite Klein, director of the Botanical Research Centers Program at the U.S. National Institutes of Health. "We have a long way…
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FDA announces crackdown on chelation therapy — finally!

Alternative Medicine, General Health
I’ve written about chelation for many years. In my book, Alternative Medicine: The Christian Handbook, I conclude, “Evidence against (chelation’s) effectiveness in heart disease is so clear, its continued use raises serious ethical questions. The therapy is very expensive and can be very lucrative for providers. But, it's virtually worthless for consumers." Some of my past blogs on chelation have included: Chelation therapy for autism not only potentially harmful, it’s based on faulty premise and Federal investigators uncover major problems with chelation study. Now, finally, comes news that the FDA is going to crack down on these quacks. The Washington Post reports that officials from the Food and Drug Administration have "announced a crackdown on" chelation, "a controversial therapy widely hawked on the Internet and elsewhere as an alternative treatment for conditions such as autism,…
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Homeopathic Cobra Venom for Pain? Watch out!

General Health
According to the experts at the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, Cobroxin and Nyloxin are new homeopathic products used for chronic pain. They come as an oral spray and topical gel. The bad news is that these products contain a "5X homeopathic dilution" of cobra venom. This means that they contain a concentration of about 0.001% cobra venom. As I discuss in my chapter on "Homeopathy," in my best-selling book, Alternative Medicine: The Christian Handbook, although virtually all homeopathic products contain no detectable active ingredient (no even a single molecule), these two chronic pain products contain a small amount that could potentially have some effect. Preliminary research has evaluated cobra toxin given as an injection. But there is no reliable evidence about this homeopathic dose when taken orally or applied topically.…
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Acupuncture found lacking for fibromyalgia

Alternative Medicine
Reuters Health is reporting on a new study examining the treatment of fibromyalgia with acupuncture. Indeed, acupuncture may provide some temporary pain relief for people with fibromyalgia, but does not help with fatigue, sleep problems, or physical function, according to a new research review. However, the results are too inconsistent to recommend acupuncture as a treatment fibromyalgia, the reviewers conclude. Fibromyalgia, a debilitating pain syndrome that affects an estimated 2 to 4 percent of the population, is characterized by chronic pain, fatigue and difficulty sleeping. It's a somewhat mysterious condition with no clear-cut cause. Winfried Hauser of the Klinikum Saarbrucken in Germany and colleagues reviewed seven randomized controlled trials of acupuncture that included a total of 385 people with fibromyalgia. The study subjects were mostly white middle-aged women. All of…
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Gingko biloba may not be effective in preventing cognitive decline or improving memory

Alternative Medicine, Nutritional Health
In my best-selling book, co-written with Donal O'Mathuna, PhD, Alternative Medicine: The Christian Handbook, I wrote a chapter on Gingko biloba and said this: While ginkgo looks promising as a means of delaying the memory loss related to a variety of diseases, some studies have found no benefit. Studies have found memory benefits only for about six months. Ginkgo may prove helpful for retarding age-related memory loss, dementia, and peripheral arterial disease. However, studies have not examined the benefits or safety of taking ginkgo long-term. Now we may have the answer. I was first informed of it by watching the CBS Evening News where it was reported, "Americans spend a quarter billion dollars a year on" gingko biloba supplements, "hoping to improve their memory and slow cognitive decline." NBC Nightly…
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Many autism therapies are unproven and risky

Alternative Medicine, Children's Health, Parenting
In a gripping series exploring autism and its treatments, the Los Angeles Times reports that "after reviewing thousands of pages of court documents and scientific studies and interviewing top researchers in the field, an investigation by the Chicago Tribune found that many of these treatments amount to uncontrolled experiments on vulnerable children." According to results of the investigation, "the therapies often go beyond harmless New Age folly," with many being "unproven and risky, based on flawed, preliminary or misconstrued scientific research." Moreover, "lab tests used to justify therapies are often misleading and misinterpreted," and "the few clinical trials conducted to evaluate the treatments objectively" have yielded "disappointing results." The  Times reports that "up to three-quarters of families with children who have autism try at least some alternative therapies." While some…
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No Science to Back Actress Somers’ Potentially Harmful Menopause Advice

Alternative Medicine, Woman's Health
Miserable in menopause, Elizabeth Alsgaard pondered an awful choice: Drenching hot flashes or hormone therapies that might raise the risk of cancer. What former actress Suzanne Somers raved about held much more appeal — custom-mixed "bioidentical" hormones, just like ones the body makes. "Anything I can put into my body that's natural has to be better," said Alsgaard, a California audiologist who admitted having "no knowledge base to go on other than fear" when she took Somers' advice. Millions of women have tried custom-compounded hormones or herbal supplements like black cohosh and red clover since 2002, when a big federal study found risks from traditional hormone replacement therapy, or HRT. Alternative remedies are especially popular with upscale, educated women who like to research and find their own solutions to medical…
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Physician calls for increased FDA regulation of dietary supplements

Alternative Medicine, Nutritional Health
In my book, Alternative Medicine: The Christian Handbook, I lament the lack of regulation of dietary supplements in the U.S. Because of this lack, it's very difficult for consumers to know, when it comes to herbs, vitamins, and supplements, if what they purchase actually contains what the label says. It's almost impossible to know if the natural medication is contaminated or not. As a result, there are now other voices beginning to call out for at least some regulation of these substances. (more…)
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The Ten Commandments of Preventive Medicine – Part 8 – Alternative Medicine

Children's Health, Men's Health, Nutritional Health, Parenting, Woman's Health
In my latest book, 10 Essentials of Happy, Healthy People, I teach people how to utilize these ten essentials that are necessary to live a happy and highly healthy life. Under The Essential of Self-Care, teach what I call “The 10 Commandments of Preventive Medicine. Here’s the eighth installment of this ten-part series. (more…)
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