Tag Archives: chiropractic

New therapy reversing autistic symptoms in just nine hours

Second to cancer, autism is probably the greatest focus of pseudomedical nonsense right now. Projects such as “Age of Autism”, the notorious “Autism One” conference, the execrable Jenny McCarthyW and homeopath Tinus Smits’ “CEASE therapy” are only a tiny handful of the dozens – hundreds – of examples of autism woo.

WDDTY is trumpeting a new “study” which fits not only their autism woo agenda but also Lynne McTaggart’s nonsensical beliefs in the power of “intention”.

A new therapy is having a remarkable success with children with autism. NeuroModulation Technique (NMT)—also known as the Feinberg Method—is transforming behaviour and mood in just nine hours, a new study has discovered.

Given its foundations, it would indeed be remarkable if it worked. More parsimonious explanations may be available.

NMT tries to re-establish healthy neural communication between the mind and body by using tiny electrical charges and positive statements.

Positive statements. It sounds a lot like Neuro-Linguistic ProgrammingW (NLP), a notorious pseudoscience with a long history of abuse and one of the top ten most discredited interventions in mental health, according to Norcross.

How is this NMT defined? From the source:

NeuroModulation Technique (NMT) is based on the proposition that psychophysiological processes occurring in the patient are a reflection of the perceptual/informational state of regulatory processing systems of the mind–body. NMT postulates that the ground on which consciousness manifests itself is within a universal information field that continuously informs the mind–body, orienting it toward wellness. As an intelligent self-correcting system that seeks homeostasis, when pathophysiology occurs, it may be interpreted as some combination of diminished self-awareness and/or corruption of its informational status.

This is psychobabble worthy of the master himself. You could describe it as working by reversing the neutron flux, thus causing the neutrinos to mutate, and it would make no less sense.

It has been tested on 18 children with autism, who received two sessions of NMT a week for six weeks, which amounted to nine hours of therapy. In that time, all of the children displayed improved behaviour, mood, speech, language skills and social awareness, said lead researcher Robert Weinberg, a clinical psychologist based in Dallas, Texas.

In other words, Robert Weinberg took 18 children, subjected them to the “Feinberg Method”, with the collaboration of Feinberg himself, and decided it worked. Feinberg, incidentally, is not a doctor. He’s a “DC” – “Doctor” of ChiropracticW.

Those nine hours compared to just two to three days of Applied Behaviour Analysis, the current ‘gold standard’ therapy for autism.

In an n=18 unblinded trial with minimal objective testing, conducted by proponents of the therapy.

Who could have predicted that?

The mother of one child who took part in the study commented: “My son had an extremely difficult time keeping a calm body for any length of time. Now he can sit still for 40 minutes, and he is doing better sitting properly at the dinner table.”

Here the authors have missed a trick. As Orac knows, in quackery anecdotes, the Rule of Three applies.

The tragedy of this kind of nonsense is that it cynically exploits the need of desperate parents to believe that something can be done for their troubled children. This is the sort of thing that led Andrew Wakefield to conduct unapproved tests on autistic children, presumably with the tacit approval of parents. Autism is destructive and horrible for families, and the cynical way that quacks exploit them is especially morally repugnant.

(Source: Explore, 2014; 10: 13-23)

Reference: Explore, 2014; 10: 13-23, Robert H. Weiner, Roger L. Greene,  Intention-Based Therapy for Autism Spectrum Disorder: Promising Results of a Wait-List Control Study in Children

Explore is a crank journal. It’s edited by Dean RadinW, a parapsychologist, and it has previously published stories supportive of numerous kinds of pseudoscience. As a rule of thumb, Explore is where you go if your paper is rejected by reputable journals (or you know they will reject it), if your hypothesis is tentative, and if your conclusions are based as much on belief as on the results of the experiment. In fact, RationalWiki describe it as a “pseudojournal”.

The study is junk, in a junk journal, but it mentions the magic word “intention”, so is ideological gold-dust for Lynne McTaggart. We confidently expect to see this rubbish in print in WDDTY soon.

100 ways to live to 100: 10 situations that don’t usually require a doctor

Part of a series on WDDTY’s “free” advertorial report “100 ways to live to 100

10 situations that don’t usually require a doctor

If there’s one thing you can rely on doctors telling you, it’s when you don’t need a doctor. They are about as keen to see people with the common cold as WDDTY is to see evidence that vaccines are safe and effective. And in both cases, that doesn’t stop it happening, all the time.

61 Backache

Some 80 per cent of us suffer from back pain, but medicine doesn’t offer much besides potentially dangerous surgery (which leaves only a quarter of patients free of pain) and drugs. In most cases, an osteopath, chiropractor or Alexander Technique practitioner can sort you, as can exercise.

Let’s unpick that. If medicine cures back pain by surgery, that’s evil. If medicine gives drugs to manage the pain, that’s evil. If medicine recommends exercise and physiotherapy, that’s ignored because it would undermine WDDTY’s pretence that these are “alternative” and thus the sole preserve of quacks like their advertisers.

Why don’t doctors tell you that Alexander Technique works for low back pain? They do. They also recommend osteopathy and chiropractic, but there are severe problems with both these fields, due to the prevalence of crank ideas. Osteopaths need to discipline and exclude charlatans who practice “cranial osteopathy”, and chiropractors need to recognise that there is no evidence that chiropractic works better than evidence-based manipulation therapy, and substantial evidence of actively dangerous practices such as cervical spinal manipulation, potentially leading to stroke, bullshit claims to treat ear infections, asthma and other things unrelated to the musculoskeletal system, anti-vaccination propaganda, and of course the big scam: never discharging a cured patient, but instead trying to sell them an indefinite course of worthless “maintenance”.

If you have back pain, see your doctor, they will recommend the most appropriate treatment. Which might be surgery, drugs, exercise or some form of physiotherapy. Unlike WDDTY’s advice, this won’t be based on dogma or pleasing the advertisers, it’ll be based on the best currently available evidence.

62 Earache

Shout it loud: antibiotics just don’t work for earache. Nor does removing adenoids fix glue ear.39 Instead, try time, mullein oil, a woolly hat, a hot-water bottle, homeopathic Pulsatilla,40 osteopathy or auricular therapy (acupuncture of the ear). Before having grommets inserted in your child’s ear, cut down his fat and sugar, and investigate food or airborne allergies as the potential cause.

Reference 39a: JAMA, 2006; 296: 1235–41 Wait-and-see prescription for the treatment of acute otitis media: a randomized controlled trial. Spiro DM, Tay KY, Arnold DH, Dziura JD, Baker MD, Shapiro ED.

Reference 39b: BMJ, 2004; 328: 487 Adenoidectomy versus chemoprophylaxis and placebo for recurrent acute otitis media in children aged under 2 years: randomised controlled trial. Koivunen P, Uhari M, Luotonen J, Kristo A, Raski R, Pokka T, Alho OP.

Reference 40: Ullman D. Discovering Homeopathy: Medicine for the 21st Century. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books, 1991; AHZ, 1985; 230: 89–94

If you follow this advice, a repeat of a recent and particularly dreadful article,  you’ll have to “shout it loud” because your child may be deaf.

The standard of care is watchful waiting, but adenoidectomy may be indicated in the presence of both glue ear and persistent nasal symptoms. Antibiotics work as a primary treatment for bacterial ear infections. Most children will grow out of them in time, but leaving the infection untreated when treatment is indicated, on ideological grounds as WDDTY propose, is perverse.

HomeopathyW has three problems: first, there’s no reason to think it should work; second, there’s no way it can work; and third, there’s no proof it does work. Of all alternatives to medicine, it is the most thoroughly debunked. Its doctrines were refuted over a century ago and its only real value now is as a litmus test for lack of critical thinking. A test WDDTY fails on a truly epic scale.

Dana Ullman, the cited source, is a high priest of the cult of homeopathy, he is a proven liar who claims Darwin and Nightingale for homeopathy despite their well documented contempt for it, and is responsible for propagating the lies that Montagnier’s work proves homeopathy and that the Swiss Government found it safe and effective. His propagandising for homeopathy knows no bounds. Each new publication by a True Believer is presented as the final clinching proof of homeopathy, and when it’s shown to be flawed or fraudulent he merely moves on to the next, occasionally repeating the old ones if he thinks nobody will notice. His self-promotion and steadfast denial of reality got him banned from Wikipedia.  There’s even an eponymous law: the Dull-Man Law. In any discussion of homoeopathy, being Dana Ullman loses you the argument – and gets you laughed out of the room.

AcupunctureW is also nonsense, though it is only recently proven to be completely useless. Auricular acupuncture has absolutely no basis in fact and lacks even the marginal credibility of acupuncture. The ear looks a bit like a baby, therefore the bits of the ear correspond to the organs that would be there if it was a baby. No, not even vaguely sensible.

63 Infection

For common and non-serious infections, try Echinacea, essential oils like clove, lavender, lemon, marjoram, mint, niaouli (Melaleuca), pine, rosemary and thyme oils, and goldenseal, manuka honey, tea tree oil, good old garlic and cranberry, all of which are powerful alternatives to antibiotics.

Alternatives they may be. Effective? Not so much. There’s some evidence of manuka honey as a topical antibiotic but why on earth would you not use antibiotics? They work very well, are generally well tolerated, and they have saved countless millions of lives.

This references a May 2013 article, we’ve added it to the work list.

64 Just-in-case checkups, particularly if you’re aged over 50

If you have nothing particularly wrong with you, going to the doctor won’t necessarily protect but is likely to unleash the entire arsenal testing apparatus have you leaving prescription (or three) in your hands.

So let’s get this straight: it’s wrong to see your doctor in case he finds something wrong with you.

Er, right.

65 Menopause In most cases, holistic measures

In most cases holistic measures (diet, homeopathy, herbs) will help you through the change in a safer way than using hormone replacement therapy (HRT), which continues to be discredited, despite protestations by doctors, because of a link with breast cancer.41 Our medical detective Dr Harald Gaier has had greater success with Phytoestrol N (which contains rhubarb root) than most of the popular herbals for menopause.

Reference 41:  Am J Public Health, 2010; 100 [Suppl 1]: S132–9 Decline in US Breast Cancer Rates After the Women’s Health Initiative: Socioeconomic and Racial/Ethnic Differentials Nancy Krieger, PhD,corresponding author Jarvis T. Chen, ScD, and Pamela D. Waterman, MPH.

HRT was discredited years ago, when it was shown not to protect against coronary heart disease but instead to promote it. Well-informed doctors don’t push it unless the symptoms of menopause are extremely bad, or for very early menopause or occasionally hysterectomy.

Homeopathy doesn’t work. Herbs may or may not (remember that a herbal remedy is basically an unknown dose of a potentially pharmacologically active compound with unknown impurities). The source for Harald Gaier’s success stories is Harald Gaier – WDDTY seem to think that blatant conflict of interest is fine as long as the message is ideologically acceptable.

66 Chronic but non-life-threatening conditions

Eczema, psoriasis, non-life-threatening asthma, arthritis and the like generally respond better to alternative measures than drugs, which only suppress symptoms. Check out the alternatives before resorting to lifelong drug use.

Few things are more infuriating than the claim that medicine “only suppresses symptoms” so alternatives are better.

Alternatives do one of two things: suppress the symptoms less effectively and less predictably, or nothing.

There are no alternatives which cure chronic conditions. If there were, they would no longer be alternative (Minchin’s Law).

The easiest way to demonstrate how wrong this advice is, is with a simple case study of one of the “non-life-threatening conditions” listed: eczema.

A couple whose baby daughter died after they treated her with homeopathic remedies instead of conventional medicine have been found guilty of manslaughter.

Gloria Thomas died aged nine months after spending more than half her life with eczema.

The skin condition wore down her natural defences and left her completely vulnerable when she developed an eye infection that killed her within days of developing.

And it’s not the only case. It’s extremely clear that the very last thing you should do when faced with a chronic condition is to consult an “alternative” practitioner, who will follow an ideologically-determined path with no provable value to you, for profit.

67 Slimming

All doctors usually have to offer are drugs and calorie counting, which aren’t long term solutions, and numerous slimming drugs have potentially fatal side-effects. Look first for potential food intolerances, get your thyroid checked out, clean up your diet, and opt for low-GI foods and lots of fruit and veg.

The GI diet was developed by doctors. It’s recommended by doctors, who also recommend exercise and weight management clinics. Oh, and they can also refer you for lap band or other surgical interventions which have a reasonable success rate in the chronically obese who are not compliant with diet regimes. Doctors are also pretty good at spotting thyroid problems.

In the end, though, there is only one diet that is proven to work 100% of the time: the ELEM diet. Eat less, exercise more. Every reputable doctor in the UK, and probably the world, will tell you the same. WDDTY seem to prefer nutritionists who generally have no recognised qualifications whatsoever but nevertheless often sell miracle or fad diets.

68 Colds and flu

Unless you’re elderly and your immune system is compromised in some way, there’s nothing your doctor can give you (or your children) to end a cold or flu, which is usually caused by a viral infection (against which antibiotics mostly don’t work). Bed rest and plenty of fluids, plus zinc, Echinacea, Pelargonium sidoides, Andrographis paniculata, vitamin C and probiotics can all shorten the life of a cold (see WDDTY December 2013).

We’ve critiqued these claims recently. No reputable doctor prescribes antibiotics for uncomplicated viral illness. WDDTY’s view of current medical advice seems to be 20 years out of date and from another continent.

69 Fever

Heat is the body’s extremely clever method of killing foreign invaders of all varieties, and taking anti-inflammatories and other drugs to lower your temperature just hampers that process. Allow your body to self-help by not interfering with a fever unless it’s so high that it may cause permanent damage. Fevers for ordinary viral and bacterial infections won’t exceed 105 degrees F (40.5 degrees C), which generally isn’t dangerous. But see a doctor immediately if you suspect a serious problem like meningitis.

WDDTY don’t seem to know the difference between anti-inflammatories and antipyretic|antipyreticsW. As it happens, Clay Jones at Science Based Medicine recently wrote a much more nuanced piece on fever, in the context of acute cases in hospital, which seems to be the situation WDDTY are considering.

As it happens, Clare Gerada, chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners, recently tweeted a much more pragmatic piece by an actual doctor. Why would you allow your child to suffer the symptoms of fever, if a cheap and safe drug can bring them relief and let them at least get to sleep?

70 Acne

All your doctor can offer are drugs with horrendous side-effects; isotretinoin, marketed as Accutane and Roaccutane, can cause permanent damage to the cornea, impaired hearing, fatal pancreatitis, depression and even suicide.42 Try changing your diet, balancing your blood sugar and identifying any food intolerances first, then look to acupuncture, shown to help in 80 per cent of cases, or herbs like the Ayurvedic herb guggul (Commiphora wightii).43

Reference 42a: Arch Dermatol, 2012; 148: 803–8 Ocular Adverse Effects of Systemic Treatment With Isotretinoin Meira Neudorfer, MD; Inbal Goldshtein, MSc; Orna Shamai-Lubovitz, MD; Gabriel Chodick, PhD; Yuval Dadon; Varda Shalev, MD

Reference 42b: Am J Ther, 2004; 11: 507–16 Polar hysteria: an expression of hypervitaminosis A. O’Donnell J.

Reference 43a: J Tradit Chin Med, 1993; 13: 187–8 Treatment of 86 cases of local neurodermatitis by electro-acupuncture (with needles inserted around diseased areas). Liu JX.

Reference 43b: J Dermatol, 1994; 21: 729–31 Nodulocystic acne: oral gugulipid versus tetracycline. Thappa DM, Dogra J.

The first source says that “Isotretinoin use may be associated with short-term ocular events, especially conjunctivitis, underscoring the importance of educating patients and caregivers about these potentially important AEs of the therapy.” In other words: always read the label and be mindful of the balance of risks and benefits. To spin “may be associated with short-term ocular events” as “can cause permanent damage to the cornea” is typical of WDDTY.

The second source discusses accutane’s similarity to vitamin A, and thus the possibility that it may lead to hypervitaminosis A (but of course no actual vitamin is bad, as because natural). It’s an interesting paper that specifically note that accutane is indicated only for severe recalcitrant nodular acne but is being prescribed for less serious cases. However, this applies almost exclusively in the US, where drug manufacturers can advertise direct to consumers. In the UK, doctors are much closer to following the actual indications, because parents and patients are much less likely to pester the doctor for the drug they just saw advertised on TV. The increase in suicide with accutane should also be weighed against the fact that acne itself may induce suicidal thoughts. Bottom line: ask your doctor. This is the kind of thing GPs are trained for.

The third source is in a journal dedicated to promoting “traditional” Chinese medicine – in fact largely an invention of Mao. Such journals have serious issues with publication bias. The combined weight of evidence is pretty clear: needling results in only placebo effects. Electroacupuncture may have similar effects to TENS, but traditional it is not. Chinese acupuncture uses bamboo needles – bamboo is a notoriously poor conductor of electricity,

The fourth source, from 1994, promotes gugulipid (guggul). There’s decent evidence this works, but (as with every effective treatment) it has side-effects, which WDDTY either haven’t seen or don’t care about because natural.

It can cause side effects such as stomach upset, headaches, nausea, vomiting, loose stools, diarrhea, belching, and hiccups. Guggul can also cause allergic reactions such as rash and itching. Guggul can also cause skin rash and itching that is not related to allergy […].

Hormone-sensitive condition such as breast cancer, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, endometriosis, or uterine fibroids: Guggul might act like estrogen in the body. If you have any condition that might be made worse by exposure to estrogen, don’t use guggul.

Underactive or overactive thyroid (hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism): Guggul might interfere with treatment for these conditions. If you have a thyroid condition, don’t use guggul without your healthcare provider’s supervision.

So, quite a lot of problems there. And guess what? Thanks to assiduous lobbying by the supplement industry, you might well never find out about these.

Acne is a bugger. See your doctor for good evidence-based advice, and see a counsellor if you find the bullying of your peers to be distressing.

100 ways to live to 100: Think twice about these tests

Part of a series on WDDTY’s “free” advertorial report “100 ways to live to 100

Think twice about these tests

This is an area where WDDTY is more likely to be right, simply because there is a reasonable consensus that screening leads to overdiagnosis and false positives. However, WDDTY’s advice is based on prejudice and dogma. It is less complete and less well argued than the numerous evidence-based discussions of the pros and cons of various tests.

Our advice on avoiding unnecessary tests is this: read Dr. Margaret McCartney’s The Patient Paradox. This will help you to understand false positives and false negatives, and to ask intelligent and informed questions that will lead you to make a pragmatic choice over a particular test, rather than hysterical anti-medicine rejection of all tests however appropriate.

51 The PSA (prostatespecific antigen) blood test for prostate cancer

It produces false negatives a third of the time and has overdiagnosed more than one million men since its introduction in 1987.29 Unless you have an aggressive cancer, consider watchful waiting. Ditch statin drugs, which increase your risk of this cancer by one-and-a-half times, and reduce carbs, avoid red meat and eat a Mediterranean diet.

Reference 29: J Natl Cancer Inst, 2009; 101: 1325–9 Prostate cancer diagnosis and treatment after the introduction of prostate-specific antigen screening: 1986-2005. Welch HG, Albertsen PC.

PSA is a marker, it is useful in monitoring progression as part of “watchful waiting” (the standard of care for indolent prostate cancers) but its use as a screening test is controversial, not least because the “normal” level of PSA varies widely. From the Wall Street Journal:

Richard Ablin, a professor of pathology at University of Arizona College of Medicine, discovered the prostate-specific antigen in 1970, and for nearly as long, he has argued that it should not be used for routine screening.

So the fact that PSA screening is problematic is not only not something “doctors don’t tell you”, it’s something that the inventor of the test itself has been saying for decades, and which medical journals are confirming.

PSA screening has been discouraged in the UK since the 1990s.

WDDTY can never resist a dig at statins (we’ll review that later), or an opportunity to plug the mediterranean diet (presumably in a modified version that does not include pasta, breads or tomatoes, since these are all fingered as causing problems within this article as well as elsewhere).

52 Routine mammograms (unless cancer is suspected)

This blunderbuss approach, which uses X-rays to detect breast cancer, doesn’t see cancer at its earliest stages and fails to pick up aggressive tumours. For every woman whose cancer is correctly detected, 10 healthy women will go through unnecessary worry, further testing and even treatment before doctors realize they’ve been misled by a false-positive. Consider thermography instead.

So close! This was almost a correct piece of advice, and then they went and ruined it by promoting a quack diagnostic technique instead.

Breast thermography is, to put it bluntly, useless as a diagnostic tool. It’s dissected here by David Gorski, a surgical oncologist specialising in breast cancer. To quote the American Cancer Society:

Thermography has been around for many years, but studies have shown that it’s not an effective screening tool for finding breast cancer early. Although it has been promoted as helping detect breast cancer early, a 2012 research review found that thermography detected only a quarter of the breast cancers found by mammography. Thermography should not be used as a substitute for mammograms.

Oh, and mammograms do detect cancer, just not perfectly. As with any area of medicine, breast cancer staging and screening is a work in progress. There is a debate about what to do with DCIS, for example. There is certainly a debate about routine mammography and the ages at which it should be considered. Above all, our understanding of the nature of indolent disease is developing rapidly. It seems likely that as the population ages many more people are likely to die with cancer than die of cancer.

53 Blood pressure readings

Many factors can distort a BP reading by as much as 5 mmHg: acute exposure to cold, recent alcohol intake, incorrect arm position, an incorrect cuff size—and even the presence of the doctor, now so common that it’s called ‘white-coat’ hypertension. Blood pressure falls at night, and night-time blood pressure is considered the most accurate predictor of heart attack.30 Consider 24-hour blood-pressure monitoring, not the old-fashioned cuff.

Reference 30: Lancet. 2007 Oct 6;370(9594):1219-29. Prognostic accuracy of day versus night ambulatory blood pressure: a cohort study. Boggia J et. al.

Why don’t doctors tell you this? Oh, they do. A single high reading in the doctor’s surgery is never the trigger for intervention unless it’s very high. Normal range is 120/80 to 140/90, so the uncertainty of 5 mmHg is clinically insignificant – if your pressure is 200/100 this is not going to be down to the white coat effect.

Compare and contrast WDDTY’s advice with that from the National Institutes for Health.

54 Routine smear tests

Many doctors still offer women an annual smear test for cervical cancer—even though they’ve been told the test can do more harm than good. The test throws up many false positives—incorrectly ‘seeing’ abnormal tissue that triggers a series of further and more invasive tests, plus needless worry. Even the advises a smear test once every three for those aged over and once every five years for those between 30 and 65.31

Reference 31: Am J Prev Med, 2013; 45: 248–9 The times they (may) be a-changin’: too much screening is a health problem. Harris R, Sheridan S.

Routine smear tests are a curate’s egg. In women at high risk, they are likely to be warranted. In women at low risk, not so much. If your GP is not up on the current state of knowledge (and they should be), ask for a referral to a specialist gynaecological clinic.

The take-home message that must be reinforced here is not that screening is evil, but that a borderline positive smear is not a cause for worry, it is a prompt for further investigation only.

55 Routine dental X-rays

Your dentist keeps telling you it’s safer than an airplane flight, but dental X-rays could triple the risk of meningioma, a kind of brain tumour. Children who have a Panorex or full-mouth X-ray before the age of 10 run the greatest risk, and even bitewing X-rays increase risk. Regular exposure may also cause heart disease. Annual checkups should be urgently reconsidered, say Yale University researchers.32

Reference 32: Cancer, 2012; 118: 4530–7 Dental x-rays and risk of meningioma. Claus EB, Calvocoressi L, Bondy ML, Schildkraut JM, Wiemels JL, Wrensch M.

Actually we agree that you should avoid unnecessary X-rays, because unlike WDDTY we understand the difference between ionising and non-ionising radiation. X-rays are ionising radiation. 

But good dentists don’t do routine X-rays. They use them to diagnose and guide treatment. If your dentist recommends routine X-rays then consider changing your dentist.

If you want an example of gratuitous exposure to unnecessary X-rays, look to your local chiropractor.

56 CT (computed tomography) scans

This whole-body, three dimensional imaging system is one of the most sensitive early-warning detectors of cancer, internal bleeding, heart problems, stroke and neurological disorders, but the standard course of two or three CT scans is equivalent to the radiation levels of Hiroshima or Nagasaki atomic bombs;33 just one scan is equivalent to around 500 standard chest X-rays, reckons the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh. Children who are scanned run a far higher risk of developing cancer.34 Ask for any other kind of imaging exam first.

Reference 33: N Engl J Med, 2007; 357: 2277–84 Computed Tomography — An Increasing  Source of Radiation Exposure David J. Brenner, Ph.D., D.Sc., and Eric J. Hall, D.Phil., D.Sc

Reference 34: Radiat Res, 2010; 174: 753–62 Thyroid cancer risk 40+ years after irradiation for an enlarged thymus: an update of the Hempelmann cohort. Adams MJ, et. al.

This is a rehash of a story in the December 2013 issue, “CT scans increase children’s cancer risk“. The second reference is puzzling as it refers to patients who had radiotherapy, not CT scans. The evidence for increased risk of cancers in children following CT scans is epidemiologically sound and does not rely on making inferences from unrelated research.

CT scans are used to rule out potentially life-threatening conditions, especially in children. Brain haemorrhage, for example. The sources are unanimous in supporting their diagnostic use and the fact that the benefits outweigh the risks, but equally unanimous in urging caution and ruling out other diagnostic tests first.

It should be pointed out that radiation increases risk, but does not inevitably produce cancer. Tsutomu YamaguchiW was exposed to radiation equivalent to the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs, having been caught in not one but both blasts. He died in 2010 aged 93. The Wikipedia article on hibakushaW (survivors of the atomic bombs) is interesting; the fact that the memorials are still being updated annually does indicate that being exposed to radiation is not a death sentence, however undesirable it might be.

The take-away message here is that it’s fine to challenge the diagnostic necessity of any test, but don’t rule out scans that reveal potentially fatal conditions just because of fear of some uncertain future consequence.

57 Routine prenatal ultrasound

The prenatal ‘miracle’, which uses high-frequency pulsed sound waves to image the fetus in the womb, gets it wrong so often that up to one in 23 women told by doctors they’ve miscarried may end up terminating a pregnancy. Scans see’ a miscarriage the pregnancy is viable, say researchers London and Belgium.35 Reserve this when something really wrong, and consider waiting before ‘completing’ termination if the test concludes you’ve miscarried.

Reference 35: Ultrasound Obstet Gynecol, 2011; 38: 503–9 Gestational sac and embryonic growth are not useful as criteria to define miscarriage: a multicenter observational study. Abdallah Y, et. al.

A second bite at the cherry for ultrasound (should we dock one from the tally of 100 things and make it 99 things?). Does the source support WDDTY’s conclusion? Only partly:

There is an overlap in MSD growth rates between viable and non-viable IPUV. No cut-off exists for MSD growth below which a viable pregnancy could be safely excluded. A cut-off value for CRL growth of 0.2 mm/day was always associated with miscarriage. These data suggest that criteria to diagnose miscarriage based on growth in MSD and CRL are potentially unsafe. However, finding an empty gestational sac on two scans more than 7 days apart is highly likely to indicate miscarriage, irrespective of growth.

In other words, there is a level at which ultrasound can detect a definitely non-viable pregnancy, but the margins are more blurred than was thought. This is in first trimester pregnancies, where only a few generations ago many women would not even know they were pregnant. Spontaneous abortionW is common in the early stages, often before the woman is even aware that she’s pregnant.

The source absolutely does not support a blanket rejection of obstetric ultrasonographyW, or even of early ultrasound where bleeding is present. However, the mandatory use of ultrasound introduced by anti-abortionists in some US states is unquestionably abusive and morally repugnant.

58 Peripheral bone densitometry

It’s the most commonly diagnostic tool for osteoporosis, and it measures usually the hip and spine, but bone mineral density (BMD) is not uniform throughout the skeleton. Although the WHO criteria for a healthy BMD apply only to the hip and spine, a wide range of ‘normal’ BMDs elsewhere in the body may be misdiagnosed as abnormal by these criteria. Diagnosing osteoporosis is still not an exact science, say researchers; you have a strong chance of being misclassified, especially when the test is done in those under 65.36

Reference 36: BMJ, 2000; 321: 396–8 The increasing use of peripheral bone densitometry (Editorial)

Differential diagnosis of osteoporosisW versus osteopeniaW is indeed a grey area, but it’s a distinction without a difference as both indicate a loss of bone density. DEXA scans can be perofrmed on central or peripheral bones, peripheral scans are easier and the machinery is smaller (and often portable).

Needless to say the BMJ article does not undermine the use of bone densitometry, but does question the use of a pragmatic epidemiological definition of osteoporosis, as the threshold for intervention. In other words, it may be valid to treat low-end osteoporosis as osteopenia – essentially using calcium and vitamin D as a first line of treatment before launching right in with bisphosphonatesW. This is what any good doctor would do anyway. But how will the doctor make the diagnostic call without a DEXA scan? Would you prefer a core DEXA, involving a trip to the radiology department of your nearest big hospital and a longer procedure with greater X-ray exposure, or a possibly clinic-based scan that will give a less accurate but probably still clinically useful answer?

As usual, WDDTY takes an absolutist stance that doesn’t help.

59 Biopsy

In a biopsy, a small bit of tissue is removed under local anaesthetic to diagnose a serious illness like cancer. Besides infection, puncturing nearby organs, and causing tears and bleeding, the greatest danger is that biopsies can inadvertently ‘seed’ or spread cancer. With breast biopsies, the risk of recurrent cancer from a ‘needle metastasis’ is about one in 15.37 Request PET (positron emission tomography) or MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) instead.

Reference 37: Acta Radiol Suppl. 2001 Dec;42(424):1-22. Aspects in mammographic screening. Detection, prediction, recurrence and prognosis. Thurfjell MG.

The relevant section of the abstract is:

Local recurrences in 303 nonpalpable breast cancers with preoperative localizations and breast conservation therapy were evaluated for needle-caused implant metastasis. A total of 214 percutaneous biopsies were performed. There were 33 local recurrences. Needle-caused seeding or implantation as based on the location of the recurrence in comparison to the needle path in the mammograms was suspected in 3/44 (7%) invasive cancers without radiotherapy.

This absolutely does not support the idea of rejecting biopsy. These instances of needle-caused seeding are primarily in women who had breast-conserving surgery (“lumpectomy”) for active cancers, and note that it’s more likely to happen when women opt not to have radiotherapy. In the absence of cancer, there are no seed cells.

The overall thrust of the article is actually a vindication of diagnostic mammography:

Screening mammograms comprising of 32 first round, 10 interval and 32 second round detected cancers and 46 normal were examined by an expert screener, a screening radiologist, a clinical radiologist and a computer-assisted diagnosis (CAD) system. The expert screener, screening radiologist, clinical radiologist and the CAD detected 44, 41, 34 and 37 cancers, respectively, while their respective specificities were 80%, 83%, 100% and 22%. Later, with CAD prompting, the screening and the clinical radiologist detected 1 and 3 additional cancers each with unchanged specificities. Screening mammograms comprising 35 first round, 12 interval and 14 second round detected cancers and 89 normal findings were examined without and with previous mammograms by experienced screeners. Without previous mammograms, the screeners detected 40.3 cancers with a specificity of 87%. With previous mammograms, 37.7 cancers were detected with a 96% specificity.

Neither PET nor MRI can accurately diagnose whether a tumour is malignant or not. If your doctors recommend a biopsy, it’s because they think you are likely to have cancer. The utility of baseline mammograms is demonstrated, as is the importance of having a properly trained clinical radiologist review the films.

As to the issue of seeding, Prof. Bill Heald CBE, pioneer of the total mesorectal excisionW procedure for colorectal cancer, is a firm advocate of lavage to minimise seeding – he routinely flushed the abdominal cavity and port sites with copious amounts of dilute antiseptic.

Discouraging people from having a truly accurate differential diagnostic pathological test to differentiate the presence, type and possibly aggression of a cancer? I’d question the medical credentials of anyone giving such advice. If indeed they had any.

60 Computed tomography (CT) angiography

The use of intravenous dye and CT technology to provide an ‘inside view’ of the coronary arteries is fast replacing the exercise stress test done in doctors’ surgeries. It’s also doubling the rate of invasive cardiac procedures, including surgery, say Stanford University School of Medicine researchers.38 Ask to have the standard gym bike or treadmill stress test instead.

Reference 38: JAMA. 2011 Nov 16;306(19):2128-36. Association of coronary CT angiography or stress testing with subsequent utilization and spending among Medicare beneficiaries. Shreibati JB, Baker LC, Hlatky MA.

WDDTY advocate an older test because it finds fewer cases. Remind me again why that would be a valid criticism? Computed tomography angiographyW is a relatively new technique. As with any CT scan, there is exposure to ionising radiation. As with any CT scan, it will only be appropriate when the risks are outweighed by benefits. Rejecting a test on ideological grounds, as WDDTY do, is foolish.

 

Natural pain relief

From WDDTY e-news 3 April 2007 No.347

Natural pain relief

A reader is eager for advice on how he can replace prescription pain medication with a natural alternative.  He suffers from multiple herniated discs and degenerative disc disease and without medication the pain is unbearable.  He has chronic pain in his lower back, buttocks and sciatic nerve.  He currently takes oxycodone, fetanyl (skin patch) and methadone in high doses, but doctors say his medication can be reduced if he opts for surgery.  He has had surgery for his condition in the past and is not keen to have any more operations.  Is there a natural remedy out there that may be able to help?

If you seriously believe that a magnetic bracelet can replace high dose methadone, then you have absolutely no business offering health advice.

Let’s be really clear here: as @LennyLaw pointed out on Twitter, this man is in agony due to serious structural problems. He is unlikely to get relief without some form of surgical intervention. The pain killers he is using are among the strongest available, and go way beyond the “ooh my dodgy knee felt a bit better” kinds of effects that the quack treatments proposed could provide, even if they worked as advertised.

But what counts as “natural”? What “works”? Let’s review the responses one by one:

Bioflow wristbands

According to Nick, you should try a Bioflow wristband, which uses a patented magnetic module to treat the blood and assist the body to heal itself, providing natural pain relief.  “My arthritic thumbs and knees no longer give me any pain and I am sleeping better and have more energy,” he reports.  Another reader points out that the wristbands have been proven to reduce pain in a clinical trial of nearly 200 men and women with osteoarthritis of the hip or knee (BMJ, 2004; 329: 1450-4).

Apparently, Bioflow comes with a 90-day money back guarantee, so there is nothing to lose – but the pain!  See www.usefulmagnets.co.uk for more information.

Does it work?

Bioflow have a sciencey-looking study and are apparently classified as a class 1 medical device. So how do they work?

ernst-bioflowEr, apparently they don’t. The website makes no claims for therapeutic effect other than to cite the study. To see the problem with this approach, check this crank website making all kinds of inflated claims for the product – note the weasel words. Intriguingly the study is from Peninsula, and was overseen by Edzard ErnstW. I asked @EdzardErnst whether the result was reliable. His reply was unequivocal (right).

The consensus of systematic reviews is that magnets do not objectively improve symptoms of arthritis or any other condition (Complement Ther Med. 2009 Oct-Dec;17(5-6):249-56, FACT Volume 13, Issue 1, pages 5–6, March 2008).

Is it plausible?

No. There is no reason to suppose that these permanent magnets should have any effect whatsoever. They are, after all, quite small magnets, much stronger fields are used in medical imaging with no evidence of clinical effect (CSI, BBC). Some of the authors of the study Bioflow cite, have since published a rather different view.

 

Is it natural?

No. There is nothing remotely natural about wearing chunks of rare-earth magnets. These are an industrially manufactured product. And a profitable one: the magnet therapy industry was estimated at $1bn by CSI five years ago.

Should WDDTY have known this?

Probably. They promoted Bioflow in vol 16 no. 9 (Dec 2005), vol 17 no. 4 (Jul 2006) and vol 18 no. 3 (Jun 2007), as well as in this article from their e-news. Claims for magnets date back a long way, with sciencey-looking studies in the late 90s being prominently promoted (CSI). They have been busted for at least as long (e.g. Ann Intern Med. 1993;118(5):376-383).

Icewave

Another recommended product for natural pain relief is IceWave.  According to the manufacturer’s website, IceWave is “a non-invasive nanotechnology product that works within minutes to provide a cooling effect and soothing relief to inflamed and injured areas.”  See www.lifewave.com for more information.

Does it work?

You have to be kidding. LifeWave is a vendor of devices to “protect” you from non-ionising (i.e. essentially harmless) radiation, it is a predator on the vulnerable (people with chronic pain).

Our exclusive non-transdermal patch system utilizes new technology to gently stimulate acupuncture points – literally improving the flow of energy in the body for improvement of pain and discomfort – within minutes of use!

Needless to say, there is no good evidence that acupuncture points are of any physiological significance (J Intern Med. 2006 Feb;259(2):125-37). There’s no uniform definition of where they are or what they do; the apparent uniformity within parts of TCM is largely an artifact of the Maoist refactoring f TCM in the 1950s – Japanese analogues exist but are different, and needling does not seem to have any different effect whether the “correct” points are used or not.

The sales pitch relies on the usual anecdotes. Oh, and the packaging says they are homeopathic, hence the nanobollocks, presumably. And note the quack Miranda warningW.

Is it plausible?

Not remotely. And to be fair they don’t even try to make it look plausible, other than using sciencey-sounding language.

Is it natural?

No. It’s an entirely synthetic product with completely made up claims.

Should WDDTY have known this?

Almost certainly. The community that promotes LifeWave’s numerous bogus products is well aware of the fact that skeptics know it to be bogus. Oh, and it seems to be sold via multi-level marketingW, which is another red flag.

Homeopathy

If these suggestions don’t appeal to you, why not try readers’ favourite, homeopathy. According to Sue, the homeopathic remedy Mag Phos in a 200C potency (available from homepathic pharmacies such as Helios and Ainsworth’s) is known to be very effective for pain relief, especially if dissolved in a little warm water and sipped at regular intervals.  Norene also swears by homeopathy for the treatment of pain – although she uses arnica:  “Start with a very high dose of arnica (for myself I used 10M).  After a couple of days, reduce the dose and continue taking the remedy for a while, according to personal needs.  To maximise effectiveness, take homeopathic Symphytum (comfrey) in addition to arnica.”

Does it work?

No. There is not one case where homeopathy has been unambiguously and objectively proven to have cured anything, ever. All observations are consistent with the null hypothesis (see homeopathyW at Wikipedia, which goes into great detail).

Is it plausible?

No remotely plausible mechanism has ever been advanced, and the doctrines of homeopathy conflict at a fundamental level with basic principles of physics such as the Heisenberg uncertainty principle and the laws of thermodynamics and conservation of energy. Unless you believe in “future-information medicine“, in which case you may be interested in buying this rather fine bridge I have for sale.

Is it natural?

No. Not only is the entire system of preparation by dilution and twerking entirely man-made, most over the counter remedies are manufactured by industrial scale pharmaceutical companies.

Should WDDTY have known this?

Yes. Homeopathy has been known to be wrong since at least 1840, and the doctrines were refuted by the early years of the 20th Century.

Bowen therapy

Other suggestions for this problem are Bowen therapy and osteopathy.  Says Lorraine of osteopathy, “I cannot sing its praises enough…I suffered terrible back problems but have not felt a twinge in the past six years since my treatment.”  As for Bowen, Angela reckons it can bring amazing relief to many pain sufferers.

Does it work?

It depends who you believe. SCAM believers claim it is “useful” (source),  but when challenged, practitioners were unable to provide any credible evidence.

So that’s a no.

Is it plausible?

Bowen was an unregistered osteopath. There’s no reason to suppose that Bowen technique  has any effect beyond that of massage, which is basically what it is, when the bullshit is stripped away. Claims to allow the body to “reset” itself are fanciful. You’re probably better off with a warm bath.

Is it natural?

Massage is sort of natural, Bowen technique is completely made up.

Should WDDTY have known this?

If you look for any credible evidence, you find none. If on the other hand you routinely believe the claims of commercial providers of services at face value without looking for evidence or applying any critical judgment then you’ll probably not spot that it’s quackery.

So, if WDDTY pretends to be in any way scientific or evidence based, it absolutely should have spotted this.

Osteopathy 

Finally, we have an encouraging story from Diane:

“I have suffered from bulging discs, sciatica, oedema and a host of related problems for the past three years.  But recently I have started several therapies which have helped me immensely.  First of all I started going to acupuncture once a week, then I began drinking Green’s Plus – adding powdered calcium, magnesium, and powdered MSM (Methyl-sulfonyl-methane) to the drink – everyday for nutrition.  MSM is a great natural pain reliever, along with magnesium.  I also use magnesium oil – either in the bath or applied directly to the site of pain.  It works wonders!

Does it work?

Osteopathy is a grey area. There is evidence of effects for musculoskeletal pain, as for any manipulative therapy, but the claims of the fringes of osteopathy (and especially cranial osteopathy aka cranio-sacral therapy) are unambiguously bogus. The writer also adds acupuncture (bogus), magnesium (plausible to a degree) and MSM (bogus) to the mix.

Is it plausible?

As invented by Andrew Taylor Still the practice is completely speculative – he surmised that the bone (osteon) was the root of all disease, and this is unambiguously nonsense, but subsequent changes have resulted in a variety of manipulative therapy which is plausible for some conditions, but wildly implausible for others. Note that this varies around the world, the Wikipedia article on osteopathyW is essential reading.

Is it natural?

The practice was invented from whole cloth in 1874. It’s a manual therapy so you could defend it as natural, but the practice is largely a set of man-made rituals.

Should WDDTY have known this?

Yes. The consensus around osteopathy has been settled for a long time.

Chiropractic

In addition to this, last year I started seeing a chiropractor, who uses a ‘Pro Adjuster’ on me.  I have now been free of pain for the last month.  I was told that I was going to have to have back surgery, but now I am feeling so wonderful that I am considering not having the surgery at all.  I can go all day without my pain medication and can sit and stand longer than I ever thought I would again!”

Does it work?

No. OK, technically, it is as effective as other forms of manipulation therapy for musculo-skeletal pain, but so many chiropractors exceed the bounds of evidential supportability that it is safer t avoid them altogether, especially given their history of antivaccinationism and the fact that one of their signature moves is potentially deadly.

The chiropractic profession includes some of the most cynical charlatans on the planet. Their training is big on “practice building” (i.e. maximising revenue) and chiropractors’ aim is to get you in, and keep you coming back, not to discharge a healthy patient. They use all manner of superstitious nonsense about “maintenance adjustments” and maintaining optimum wellness, but basically they are the canonical manipulative quacks.

Is it plausible?

As Wikipedia says:

A critical evaluation found that collectively, spinal manipulation failed to show it is effective for any condition. The scientific consensus is that chiropractic may be on a par with other manual therapies for some musculoskeletal conditions such as lower back pain, but that there is no credible evidence or mechanism for effects on other conditions, and some evidence of severe adverse effects from cervical vertebral manipulation. The ideas of innate intelligence and the chiropractic subluxation are regarded as pseudoscience.

So as with osteopathy, it’s plausible up to a point, but the profession as a whole is deeply untrustworthy due to widespread belief in completely bogus ideas, and a tendency to duplicate the action of hanging.

Is it natural?

No. It was invented from whole cloth by D. D. Palmer in 1895

Should WDDTY have known this?

The facts about chiropractic have been known for a long time. Yes, WDDTY should know that this is a dangerous woo-riddled field that no responsible person could possibly recommend without serious caveats around the likely harms and the costs of endless unnecessary treatments.

Summary

WDDTY’s ideas of what constitutes a “natural” remedy are absurd and seem to be founded more on the absence of credible evidence (i.e. being “alternative”) than on any actual natural origin. They try to have their cake and eat it, simultaneously claiming that something is “natural” and that it’s “nanotechnology”.

Their approach to the therapies is entirely credulous. Homeopathy was refuted over a century ago, they still promote it. There is no evidence that their enthusiasm for a product or treatment is conditional on plausibility or evidence of effect.

The article acts primarily as a propaganda piece for disproven or unproven therapies, often at significant potential cost.

Legal, decent, honest and truthful

asaIn the UK, advertisements must be legal, decent, honest and truthful. WDDTY’s advertisements have a bit of a problem here.

Fortunately, the Advertising Standards Authority have produced a series of handy guides for advertisers of SCAM, while Jo Brodie has helpfully posted the following useful information:

It [is] the Committee of Advertising Practice who set the guidelines that the Advertising Standards Authority uses in determining if marketing and advertising material are OK, or not. Since a large number of complaints are made about misleading websites promoting alternative or complementary health treatments the section on ‘Therapies’ is now quite extensive, reproduced below.

I like to think of this as a handy list of itemised nonsense. It is not illegal to sell any of these treatments, as far as I’m aware, but it is not fair to make claims for them that cannot be defended.

In each there are two aspects to consider (1) health-condition-specific concerns and (2) treatment-specific evidence.

(1) Health-condition-specific concerns
If an advertiser is making claims about treating really serious health conditions (asthma, cancer, diabetes, depression, high blood pressure etc) but isn’t medically trained themselves or doesn’t have access to a doctor in their clinic then the ASA is more immediately concerned about the customer not having appropriate medical care. The evidence for the actual therapy becomes a secondary concern in this situation. The ASA has also expressed concern if it thinks that customers may be discouraged from seeking appropriate medical care.

(2) Treatment-specific evidence
This covers all the claims that are made for the treatment and the ASA appear to want ‘robust evidence’ – generally the sort of thing that’s published in peer-reviewed journals, ideally a meta-analysis of smaller trials. Evidence from individual small trials is more of a compass bearing than an agreement that you’re in a particular place and not generally seen as robust, it depends on the study of course. Testimonials don’t count.

Full alphabetic index: AdviceOnline index
Searchable index: AdviceOnline database

The relevant T section including all therapies currently listed, I added Testimonials as a bonus.

Thanks, Jo! So now WDDTY’s advertisers will have a quick reference to check what they may and may not claim. And of course this is doubly important now that Trading Standards have become ASA’s legal backstop, making it dramatically easier for ASA to take enforcement action against non-compliant advertisers.

Can chiropractic treatment help with undescended testicles

WDDTY contains many advice columns and letters. A responsible publication will of course keep the obvious green-ink types at bay. How well does WDDTY do?

Your questioner asked (WDDTY, vol. 3 no. 6) whether chiropractic treatment could help the condition of undescended testicle. I cannot speak for chiropractors, but as an osteopath, I feel it would certainly be worth giving this method of treatment a trial or at least, obtaining the opinion of an osteopath working in paediatrics. I suggest that your questioner contact the Osteopathic Centre for Children, Honeysuckle Cottage, Inkpen Lane, Forest Row, East Sussex (Tel: 034 282 4466). L C, Victoria, Australia……

Not so well, then.

ChiropracticW has an evidence base equivalent to other manual manipulation therapies for musculoskeletal pain, no credible evidence whatsoever for the treatment of any other condition, and a history of causing stroke. There is no reason to recommend chiropractic over evidence-based physiotherapy, and every good reason not to: chiropractors never discharge a patient, their goal is to keep you going back for ever for treatments for non-existent “subluxations”.

The best advice is “never let those buggers touch you above the shoulders“, and keep them well clear of children.

The criteria for selecting an osteopath are relatively simple: if they advertise as specialists in joint and muscle pain, and make no reference at all to cranial osteopathyW (also known as cranio-sacral therapy, you’re probably OK.

Neither osteopathy nor chiropractic has a snowball’s chance of fixing an undescended testicleW, though no doubt they will be happy to claim credit if it spontaneously resolves, as it often does.

For trustworthy advice on undescended testicles (cryptorchidism) see NHS Choices.

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When science is a dirty word

An anti-science commentary by Lynne McTaggart makes some bold and controversial claims about science. Do they stand up to scrutiny?

One of the most misused terms being hurled at us as a rebuttal to What Doctors Don’t Tell You is the term ‘science’.

One of the terms most misused by WDDTY is science.

The main contribution of science to medicine has been objectivity: the ability to minimise the well-known cognitive biases that affect all human observations, to turn the practice of medicine from an essentially religious field to an essentially scientific one.

WDDTY prefer to view mainstream science as a sinister activity pursued by a technocrat minority, an elite that is simultaneously brilliantly manipulative and ideologically hide-bound, lacking in vision, intelligence and the ability to grasp the unfamiliar.

Like proponents of every religion whose precepts are at odds with objective science, they seek ways to portray science as lacking objectivity.

In reality most people now have at least the rudiments of a scientific education and scientific methods of inquiry are a part of everyday life. The room is dark: how do you work out if it is the fuse, the switch or the lamp? The tests are essentially scientific. You do not use intuition, you isolate the components one by one, look for common points of failure (one lamp on,another not, probably the lamp) and thus arrive at the correct answer.

WDDTY’s approach to the darkened room is to basically to advocate a return to candles. And oil lamps. And remote viewingW. Anything other than electricity, because what do scientists know about visual perception?

We have been accused of being unscientific, of pedaling (sic) unproven and harmful alternatives, as opposed to the real thing, true ‘scientific’ medicine.

The evidence supports the accusation that you peddle unproven and harmful alternatives, also that you distort and misrepresent the science you do quote.

That is not to say that evidence-based medicine is perfect, only that the solution to its imperfection is not to jettison all attempts at objectivity in favour of a credulous acceptance of any claim based primarily on its ideological appeal.

Science is pursued by humans, humans are fallible. The scientific method is, fallible humans or not, the most reliable means ever devised to tell truth from fiction. Without it, you would be printing WDDTY with wooden blocks on coarse paper and distributing it at street corners. The process that delivered the knowledge that makes computers and the internet work is fundamentally indistinguishable from the process of medical science delivering knowledge to be used (or abused) by medicine.

There are three points to be made here, adding up to one indisputable truth: there is nothing remotely scientific about conventional medicine.

That statement is neither true nor indisputable.

1.Most of the science behind standard treatments is fiction. As leading members of the medical establishment have made clear in recent books, the so-called ‘proof’ of most so-called ‘proven remedies’ is data that has been invented or manipulated by drug company marketing teams.

Some of it is, some of it isn’t. Cochrane reviews are usually pretty objective, and they are the highest tier of evidence. There’s good reason to suspect systematic manipulation of scientific results by any party with a vested interest in the outcome of the trial – this is a big problem for medicine and a huge problem for alternative medicine, where virtually nobody other than True Believers does any research at all.

But the issue of manipulation of studies is not the us-and-them situation that Lynne presents here. In the case of homeopathy, for example, proponents routinely bring up known issues with individual treatments but miss the point that the entire field of homeopathy is based on refuted doctrines, lacks a coherent framework, is inconsistent with robustly established scientific principles and so on. All clinical trials are prone to bias, therefore they are necessarily less compelling when the treatment is completely implausible.

There is no informed dissent from the view that measurable quantities of pharmacologically active compounds can have an objective effect on the body; there is no credible evidence that giving unmeasurable amounts of substances whose connection to disease is arbitrary and based on a refuted doctrine, can cause any effect other than placebo.

The therapeutic systems of Hoxsey, Gerson and their ilk are not “whole medical systems” existing in a parallel bubble universe apart from science, like homeopathy, acupuncture, chiropractic and the like, but they are still entire classes of unproven therapy, rather than unproven members of a proven class.

This is an important distinction, because the issues with individual medicines are often exposed by diligent scientific comparison of effect between treatments.

2.Most treatments haven’t been proven to work. The British Medical Journal has concluded that only about 12 per cent of all medical treatments have adequate evidence demonstrating that they work.

This is a zombie statistic. The BMJ article did not say that at all, and indeed specifically counsels against interpreting the figures as Lynne interprets them.

What the source says is that of the treatments currently on the books, 11% are well established to be beneficial, 24% are likely to be beneficial, 7% have a trade-off between benefit and harm, 5% are unlikely to be beneficial, 3% are likely to be ineffective or harmful, and 50% have unknown effectiveness, established from RCTs. These will include older treatments, those for which an RCT would be unethical.

This is not a reflection of the evidence base for individual prescribing decisions. Further:

‘Unknown effectiveness’ is perhaps a hard categorisation to explain. Included within it are many treatments that come under the description of complementary medicine (e.g., acupuncture for low back pain and echinacea for the common cold), but also many psychological, surgical, and medical interventions, such as CBT for depression in children, thermal balloon ablation for fibroids, and corticosteroids for wheezing in infants.

‘Unknown effectiveness’ may also simply reflect difficulties in conducting RCTs of an intervention, or be applied to treatments for which the evidence base is still evolving. As such, these data reflect how treatments stand up in the light of evidence-based medicine, and are not an audit of the extent to which treatments are used in practice.

We make use of what is ‘unknown’ in Clinical Evidence by feeding back to the UK NHS Health Technology Assessment Programme (HTA) with a view to helping inform the commissioning of primary research. Every 6 months we assess CE interventions categorised as Unknown effectiveness and submit those fitting the appropriate criteria to the HTA via their website: http://www.nets.nihr.ac.uk/programmes/hta.

So it turns out that the large number of “unproven” interventions include most SCAM interventions (the balance are unlikely to be beneficial or are known to be harmful; this is Minchin’s Law in action).

How would you conduct an RCT for emergency surgery for ruptured aortic aneurysm?

3.Most treatments cause harm. Modern medicine is the third leading cause of death in the western world. Fact. Prescribed drugs and medical error kills 204,000 people every year in America alone, with only cancer and heart disease claiming more

This claim has already been debunked. It is based on taking an invented figure, taking a second invented figure which would be part of the same figure, adding the two together and arising at a figure that is wronger than wrongW.

In fact, medical misadventure does not figure anywhere close to the top ten causes of death in the USA, and the real figure is nearly two orders of magnitude smaller according tot he very source McTaggart claims to have used for this figure.

Your greatest risks

According to data assembled by the Alliance for Natural Health, which examined the statistics of all the most and least likely things that could kill you, the greatest risk of death any of us face is going to the hospital. If you add the risk of reactions to correctly prescribed drugs, any interaction with modern medicine has to be the greatest risk to your life and limb.

Amazing. A SCAM trade body comes up with a figure that shows you should use SCAM instead of going to the hospital. Who predicted that? Presumably they remembered to exclude people rushed to hospital with acute surgical emergencies, as Gary Null… didn’t?

Feel free to come back with a reliable source.

Let’s look at so-called ‘unscientific’ natural health care, which supposedly causes so much harm. The risk of dying from taking any herbal remedy or food supplement is around 0.01 per one million people. In other words, 100 million people would have to take a supplement or herb before there is a risk of one person dying because of it.

Presumably according to the same source? Not that they have a dog in the fight or anything?

A repeatable feature of WDDTY is accepting the most optimistic claims of the SCAM industry and the SCAM industries worst (and often entirely false) claims about medicine, entirely uncritically.

Why would a manufacturer of supplements be any less likely to misrepresent the science than a manufacturer of a drug?

Why would a university biochemist working on disease biochemistry be any more likely to misrepresent a claim than a SCAM believer looking for proof of his pet theory?

This is never explained.

Compare that to the risk of pharmaceutical drugs, which kill 1000 people for every million people taking them.

According to?….

Leaving aside the tautology, yes, drugs can have adverse effects. So can supplements. There’s a list of recalls. Ayurvedic herbs with heavy metal contaminants, aristolchic acid, OxyElite Pro. And what about the harms due to untreated or incorrectly diagnosed disease?

The biggest difference between medicine and SCAM in this regard is that medicine acknowledges the potential for harm and has proactive and reactive monitoring in place. The reaction of SCAM to problems is best characterised as denial.

So that risk is: 0.01/1 million for natural substances vs 1000/1 million for drugs. In other words, the risk of lethal harm from modern medicine is 100,000 higher than that of herbal or nutritional medicine.

Source? Risk v benefit figures? The risk in a homeopathic remedy is close to zero (it will almost certainly be inert). The benefit is also zero. There is an attendant risk due to failure to treat disease. A homeopath weighs this equation, adds belief in the unverifiable on the positive side of the scale, and asserts that homeopathy is superior to medicine. That is not a rational, consistent or appropriate view.

This beggars the basic question: which form of medicine is the least scientific?

Lynne appears not to understand the language of formal logic, understandable since the entirety of SCAM is founded on logical fallacies. It does not even beg the question. It invites it, but the answer will not be found by listening to a biased argument based on several provably incorrect numbers.

Biochemical individuals

There’s a good reason why medicine is not a science. Drugs constitute a one-size-fits-all model, whereas every human being is unique. Drugs that work on me may not work on you and vice versa; most drugs can’t be made smart enough to, say, slot only tab A into slot B without affecting slot C, D and E, because humans are holistic.

This is complete nonsense. Most diseases have more than one treatment, different treatments are used depending on patient history and other factors. Some drugs are incredibly individual: they are based on genetic profiling.

The idea that SCAM is “holistic” because the practitioner listens to you for an hour before giving you the ideologically driven “prescription” for magic sugar pills, acupuncture, alkaline diet, dairy and wheat exclusion or whatever, is simply fatuous.

Medicine is holistic. It embraces everything from physiotherapy and diet to the latest cutting edge microsurgery or genetic therapies. You don’t become more holistic by abandoning the majority of medicine and substituting evidentially questionable practices.

Biochemical individuality creates mayhem with drug trials, which are designed to look for common results in everyone—one reason their results are so often manipulated, massaged or even made up. As the new medical explorers are discovering, the systems of the body interact as a complex, dynamic and highly individualistic whole.

The decline effect is well-known, it is an inevitable result of moving from idealised trial populations to non-idealised real populations. However, the differences between individuals are as nothing compared with the similarities.

Any two randomly selected humans will share between 99.6% and 99.9% of their genome. We share the majority of biochemical pathways (absent genetic defects), a doctor trained in surgery on Africans will have no difficulty with Europeans and vice versa.

There are differences, but not in the way that “holistic” practitioners pretend when listening to the worried well for an extended period before selling them the same witches’ brew of supplements or herbs that they sold the last person.

No humans are known to have yin and yang. The flow of qi is not evidentially established as different between individuals.. Tests for these things give the same result for everyone – namely that they don’t exist.

Basing your diagnosis and prescribing practice on provably false premises such as homeopathic similimum, subluxation complex, damp kidney or whatever, merely makes it unlikely that you will be right, other than by accident.

It’s important here to make a distinction between science—the open-minded pursuit of truth without fear or favour—and scientism, a solidified set of beliefs around which academics, industries and professions are framed.

It is indeed. Science is the process that has skepticism at its heart, scientism is a term primarily used by believers in creationism and other empirically unverifiable ideas, to attack those who accept the scientific consensus, and try to pretend that ideology is equivalent to following the evidence wherever it leads.

Science is the process that found helicobacter pylori to be the cause of ulcers, rather than stress as had been previously supposed.

Scientism would be the insistence that only the empirically proven causes of disease should be accepted, and that no credence should be given to the possibility that they are caused by miasms, qi, subluxations or whatever. This is perfectly reasonable in the absence of credible evidence that these concepts exist.

Pseudoscience, pathological science and cargo cult science are various flavours of activities giving the outward appearance of science but pursued in a way that excludes any conclusion that conflicts with the ideology of the inquirer. Homeopathic experiments are a perfect example. This is in contrast with the open-minded testing of alternative ideas by medical science, even though those tests rarely produce anything other than an equivocal or negative result. The US National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) and its predecessor have spent well over a billion dollars testing alternative therapies. They have yet to validate a single one, but it’s not for want of trying.

The resistance we’ve experienced has more to do with the latter. This seems clear from the way the scientism of medicine greets any discovery, breakthrough or possibility that questions or threatens the current medical paradigm—by dismissing such ideas out of hand as ‘quackery’, even when they are the work of eminent scientists at prestigious institutions such as Oxford, Harvard and Cambridge.

It is certainly more appealing to believe that opposition is due to an ideological bias against you, rather than the fact that you are wrong, but the facts are against you.

The advice WDDTY gives is either wrong, misleading or (conversely) perfectly normal advice that your doctor would give you. The problem is that you seem unable to distinguish the three.

True science is heresy

We tend to regard science as presenting some sort of static truth, but science is an ever evolving story, told in instalments. New chapters refine—and usually supplant—chapters that have come before.

Someone has been reading Kuhn, the crank’s favourite author.

This view is superficially true but actually wrong. For example, relativity technically supersedes Newtonian mechanics, but Newtonian mechanics is till used for the vast majority of calculations because it the results of the two systems approximate extremely closely other than under extreme conditions.

Schroedinger wave equations technically supplant the classical Bohr electron model, but the Bohr model is still close enough for many calculations and the difference only becomes significant at extremely small scales.

Every last advancement in science and healthcare begins as heresy, each important new discovery negating the prevailing views of the day.

This is simplistic to the point of being wrong. Improvements in medical treatments may be incremental or revolutionary.

What s being asserted is essentially the Galileo gambit. In truth, Galileo was following the scientific method and his opponents were the dogmatists, and the thing that SCAM proponents always forget about Galileo is that he was also right. Now, SCAM proponents always think that they are right, but there are so many “lone geniuses”, “brave maverick doctors” and so on, with so many often mutually exclusive ideas, that it is inconceivable that more than a tiny handful are right – whereas SCAM proponents tend to believe most of them, the process known as”crank magnetism”.

This idea that SCAM has the best, the brightest, the visionaries, and medical science the ideologically blinded plodders, requires that not only the process of medical science, but also the entire system of education is wrong, since the process that supposedly delivers those with the highest academic achievement is, according to this view, instead delivering venal dullards.

A Sagan quote reveals the more likely explanation:

But the fact that some geniuses were laughed at does not imply that all who are laughed at are geniuses. They laughed at Columbus, they laughed at Fulton, they laughed at the Wright Brothers. But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown.

The most telling thing is that science is full of examples of self-correction, wrong ideas being discarded. We have yet tot race a single example of a SCAM treatment that has been discarded after being found to be false by scientific inquiry.

What if stones fall from the sky? What if there is no end of the earth to sail off? True science always begins by asking outrageous questions or pursuing unpopular notions, even if the answer threatens to overturn every last one of our cherished beliefs.

The idea that stones fall has never been controversial. Empirical scientist Robert Hooke suggested that it worked by an inverse square law. Newton quantified it. This may appear revolutionary, but it was evolutionary, with moments of very rapid progress.

The idea that earth is flat was based on the existence of the horizon. It doesn’t take much sailing before you work out it’s wrong.

I struggle to think of any scientific discovery in the last couple of centuries that renders the entirety of the previous theory and practice redundant. As soon as people started measuring and recording, results converged on what was true and theories had to fit observed facts (the Baconian school). The Cartesian school allowed for theory to run ahead of evidence, but the theory had to be discarded if the predictions it made did not hold up.

Even geocentric cosmology, which persisted for longer than it should, did so primarily due to religious belief.

True science seeks to drive a stake into science, particularly scientism.

No it doesn’t. True science seeks to explain the observed facts as accurately and completely as possible, The best example is probably evolutionary theory, a complex set of interlocking ideas founded on the fossil record, observations, DNA analysis and even planetary geology.

Consilience is the term used for multiple lines of inquiry leading to the same conclusions. Most medical science is consilient. Physiology, biochemistry, anatomy, chemistry – all offer different views of the same facts.

And then the Brave Maverick Doctor asserts some other set of facts that is inconsistent, and lacks a complete or consistent framework. Occasionally the brave maverick is right: Marshall and Warren took several attempts to persuade, but they admit this was because they had left important questions unanswered (notably: how bacteria could live in the acid environment of the stomach).

SCAM proponents brush these inconvenient details under the carpet and accuse those who ask about them of “scientism”.

Nevertheless, mainstream science, particularly mainstream medicine, has grown ever more fundamentalist, dominated by a few highly vocal people who believe that our scientific story has largely been written and that the job of science is simply to confirm it.

That is one opinion, just not supported by facts. Feel free to cite prominent authorities in medical science who think our understanding is anywhere near complete.

Thankfully, an enormous body of resistance carries on in defiance of this restricted—highly unscientific—view. May they and all the true scientists like them continue to light our way.

Whatever helps you manage the cognitive dissonanceW, I suppose. Doesn’t make it any more correct, though. I close with three quotes that illustrate how real science actually works:

The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not “Eureka” but “That’s funny…” – Isaac Asimov

In science it often happens that scientists say, ‘You know that’s a really good argument; my position is mistaken,’ and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn’t happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. – Carl Sagan

The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts – Bertrand Russell

As to which party in this dispute shows the attributes of religion, of fools and charlatans, of the “Eureka!” moment versus the patient inquiry of “that’s funny….”, we leave that  as an exercise for the reader.

WDDTY on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS)

Chronic Fatigue SyndromeW is a debilitating condition which is at best poorly understood by medical science. Palliative care focuses particularly on cognitive behavioural therapyW, which some sufferers assert is the same as diagnosing it as purely psychosomatic, a characterisation they reject absolutely, insisting that it is a real physical disorder with a real physical cause. Much of the rhetoric of MorgellonsW is present in this group.

A combination of incomplete scientific understanding and a medical treatment that some people utterly reject on the grounds that they don’t like what they think it implies, makes this a fertile hunting ground for quacks and charlatans.

The following list is taken from a search of WDDTY.com and has not yet been filtered or validated. Corrections gratefully received via our contact form.

  1. Cfs: A few have followed up on the vast e-mail bag last time on a link between an underactive thyroid and chronic fatigue syn… more » e-news
  2. CFS: Poor heart function could be to blame Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) may be linked to reduced heart activity – but researchers aren’t sure if heart function c… more » e-news
  3. Me/cfs: all in the mind of psychiatrists only Re ME/CFS (WDDTY vol 14 no 12), the WHO categorises ‘chronic fatigue’ states as ‘Mental Health Problems and Behavioural… more » Letters
  4. Chronic fatigue syndrome (cfs): One reader swears by the effectiveness of LDM-100 (a liquid tincture of the herb Lomatium Dissectum) for battling CFS wh… more » Family matters
  5. Chronic fatigue syndrome (cfs): Less news this time because we have been swamped by readers’ comments (especially about chronic fatigue and a possible l… more » e-news
  6. Pesticides linked to chronic fatigue One cause of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) could be exposure to organophosphate pesticides and insecticides. … more » News
  7. Chronic fatigue does exist: it’s official The government has finally issued its long-awaited paper on chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) or myalgic encephalomyelitis… more » Updates
  8. Prescribed drugs cause me immune dysfunction Congratulations to Jane Colby for drawing attention to the problems of ME sufferers (WDDTY, vol 12 no 12). Doctors are d… more » Letters
  9. Chronic Fatigue: Does this mystery disease have its roots in an unhappy childhood? Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a mysterious condition that usually baffles doctors. Nobody is sure why it starts, ho… more » e-news
  10. The best alternative treatment for . . . me or chronic fatigue What is ME? Myalgic encephalomyelitis, or chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), although treated as a 21st-century mystery, o… more » Alternative Treatments
  11. How doctors treat ME According to the UK Working Group on CFS/ME, set up to compile guidelines on the appropriate management and treatment of… more » Alternative Treatments
  12. ME: The link with thyroid problems Thyroid problems may be a culprit behind unexplained diseases such as ME/CFS and FMS. In most cases, the health problems… more » Alternative Treatments
  13. Fluoride and ME Although few researchers have looked at the role of fluoride in the development of ME, there are conspicuous similaritie… more » Alternative Treatments
  14. Me: happy drug doesn’t help The antidepressant Prozac (fluoxetine) is often prescribed to treat chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) but researchers have… more » News
  15. More than just tired It seemed unimaginable a few years ago. Despite the growing evidence indicating that ME is a distinct clinical entity, a… more » Comment
  16. Chronic fatigue: It’s real, and there are seven types Good news for sufferers of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) who have been told for years that their problem is ‘all in the… more » e-news
  17. It’s official: the me generation Huge myths about the illness now known as chronic fatigue syndrome/ME have been exploded by a new report on treatments p… more » SECOND OPINION
  18. Connections between petsicides and ME Congratulations on the consistently high standard of WDDTY. more » Family matters
  19. Chronic fatigue? we think not . . . People who’ve told their doctor that they have chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) have often been met with chronic scornful… more » e-news
  20. ME – A polio by another name Research into Post-Polio syndrome and ME has made the astounding discovery that the virus that most often triggers ME is… more » Cover Story
  21. Chronic fatigue syndrome CFS—also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) or post-viral fatigue syndrome—is a debilitating condition that affects… more » Story
  22. Recent research A study published at the beginning of the year by Federal scientists at the US National Institute of Allergy and Infecti… more » Cover Story
  23. Is there a link between Thyroid problems and ME? A scandalous lack of knowledge by doctors and an epidemic of undiagnosed thyroid problems may be behind the other growin… more » Cover Story
  24. After-jab exhaustion Thousands of UK children are now being injected with the measles/rubella vaccine, regardless of previous immunizations a… more » Comment
  25. Testing for mercury sensitivity One of the latest diagnostic tests to determine mercury sensitivity is MELISA (memory lymphocyte immunostimulation assay… more » Cover Story
  26. Fluoride – Damning new evidence Researcher Doris Jones has unearthed startling new evidence demonstrating that fluoride interferes with enzyme systems,… more » Cover Story
  27. Fibromyalgia: a painful diagnosis According to the textbooks, fibromyalgia (FM) is the name given to a collection of chronic symptoms of widespread pain f… more » Alternative Treatments
  28. ME: The first things to do Preliminary stages in tackling ME more » Alternative Treatments
  29. Mineral supplement cured our daughter’s me … more » Family matters
  30. Me: it’s in the water – ‘ ‘ more » Doctors training notes
  31. Vitamin b6 made me better I was very pleased that the government’s decision to limit vitamin B6 supplements was mentioned in WDDTY. I am very con… more » Family matters
  32. Tuning in to a cure for me Re ‘the best alternative treatment for ME or chronic fatigue’ (WDDTY vol 14 no 12), I want to advise you of a very benef… more » Doctors training notes
  33. Me could be a reaction to the polio vaccine Re your article on ME (vol 14 no 12), I contracted the illness after an afternoon spent with two children who had just h… more » Letters
  34. When ‘no’ means mental illness Samantha? Suffering from pervasive refusal syndrome? I couldn’t believe it. Pervasive refusal syndrome (PRS) means refus… more » SECOND OPINION
  35. How vaccines can cause me ME is a provocation disease. That is, a range of co-factors a virus, a viral and a bacterial infection, stress, surgery… more » Cover Story
  36. Me-the latest theories The greatest hurdle in treating ME is trying to figure out exactly what it is and how it differs from other illnesses of… more » Cover Story
  37. The latest me treatments Diet is the first area to pay attention to when ME is suspected. Cut out all simple sugars and refined foods, and concen… more » Cover Story
  38. Chronic fatigue Our story last time about chronic fatigue syndrome and the disregard many doctors show its victims sparked several inter… more » e-news
  39. The best alternative treatment for . . . me or chronic fatigue – What to do instead As ME is a collection of similarly presenting disorders, the most effective measures are those concentrating on ‘metabol… more » Alternative Treatments
  40. Mercury fillings – The missing link New evidence unearthed by Dr Jack Levenson, the dentist who has led the fight against amalgam fillings in the UK, shows… more » Cover Story
  41. Chronic fatigue: tired old response from doctors Medical studies might have proven it exists, and it’s been acknowledged by most medical authorities as a real condition,… more » e-news
  42. Miss Wanda Hawran PracticeName: Discipline: Nutrition Address1: 17 St Leonards Road Address2: West Ealing Address3: Town: London County: G… more » Practitioner
  43. Mrs MARY HALLIDAY PracticeName: Discipline: Nutritional Therapy, General Practitioner Address1: KENTRIGG Address2: ST. JOHNS PARK Address3… more » Practitioner
  44. Adrenal fatigue Q) Please tell me how to treat adrenal fatigue and whether there is a test to check the function of the adrenal glands.—… more » Q & A
  45. Dr Fi Dann (Aware Chiropractic Centre) PracticeName: Aware Chiropractic Centre Discipline: Chiropractic, Allergy Testing & Treatment, Bach Flower Remedies,… more » Practitioner
  46. Grapefood Seed Extract for H Pylori As an alternative to the triple whammy amoxycillin flagyl bismuth treatment for H pylori the bug thought to cause ulcers… more » Family matters
  47. ME: The pesticide connection One cause of chronic fatigue syndrome could be exposure to organophosphate pesticides and insecticides. The condition is… more » Alternative Treatments
  48. Low blood pressure Q:We hear an awful lot about hypertension high blood pressure but not so much about hypotension low blood pressure. My w… more » Q & A
  49. Coping with me ME is not just fatigue; neurological symptoms may be worse. Memory, mood, concentration, speech, counting, sensation, ba… more » News
  50. Chemical sensitivity – Allergic to the 20th century “Environmental illness”, a every genuine condition with a number of recognizable symptoms, is not as many doctors and ve… more » Cover Story
  51. Lyme disease Q:I would like some more information on Lyme disease. Why is it handed out so often as a diagnosis does it really exist?… more » Q & A
  52. A sweet truth If you’ve had a heart attack, a bar of chocolate is probably the last thing your doctor would recommend. Nevertheless, n… more » Cover Story
  53. Coenzyme Q10 As the use of this supplement grows in popularity, do the impressive claims stack up? more » Story
  54. Quantum SCIO Wellness Ltd PracticeName: Quantum SCIO Wellness Ltd Discipline: Allergy Testing & Treatment, Bio-energetic Testing & Therapy… more » Practitioner
  55. The best alternative treatment for . . . fibromyalgia What is fibromyalgia? Once called ‘fibrositis’, the patient has tight and tender spots in his muscles, and suffers gene… more » Alternative Treatments
  56. Some like it hot Doctors and alternative therapists are experimenting with special light rays to heat up the body and kickstart cellular… more » Cover Story
  57. Fibromyalgia- A painful diagnosis FIBROMYALGIA : A PAINFUL DIAGNOSIS According to the textbooks, fibromyalgia (FM) is the name given to a collection of ch… more » Cover Story
  58. Spinal tap What’s it for? The human brain and spinal cord are surrounded by a watery fluid called cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). It p… more » Medical Tests
  59. Herpes simplex Herpes simplex is best known for the recurrent appearance of bothersome cluster(s) of tiny fluid filled blisters around… more » Family matters
  60. How viruses “compete” with one another The advent of polio immunization in 1955 caused changes in the balance of the gut viral population, favouring the spread… more » Cover Story
  61. Glyconutrients The Internet is awash with claims that a new breed of supplements will cure everything from cancer to AIDS. The evidence… more » Story
  62. Cancer’s missing link: How bugs could be the real cause Growing evidence suggests that cancer can be caused by a microorganism—and some researchers believe it’s the only cause….more » Cover Story
  63. Lyme disease: a leaky brain Lyme disease is still barely recognized by orthodox medicine, but new, explosive evidence links this worldwide epidemic… more » Cover Story
  64. Lyme disease : A leaky brain Lyme disease is still barely recognized by orthodox medicine, but new, explosive evidence links this worldwide epidemic… more » Cover Story
  65. The real spin doctors The organizations that keep a lid on conventional medicine’s damaging secrets. more » Cover Story
  66. Waxing Lyrica on FMS There was a revelation last month. The drug company Pfizer report-ed that its drug prega-balin (Lyrica) had been approve… more » Cover Story
  67. Cold sores Q-This time of year I seem to suffer endlessly from cold sores. Using drugs like Zovirax helps, but I wonder if there is… more » Q & A