alternative medicine

Without a doubt, almost all alternative medicine is junk science. That would include widespread practices like acupuncture, which the biomedical literature has shown convincingly confers no real medical benefits compared to placebo.

But the placebo effect is powerful. It is far more than the "power of positive thinking." Instead, the placebo effect has real, measurable effects on the human body. Therefore, even if a "treatment" is nothing more than a placebo, some people undoubtedly will benefit from using it.

However, that raises a serious ethical question: Should...

The Cleveland Clinic is held in extremely high regard. If there was an Ivy League of hospitals, the Cleveland Clinic would be in it. At about this time last year, however, the scientific community's faith in the Cleveland Clinic was shaken.

In an article aptly titled "The Fool at the Cleveland Clinic," Dr. Josh Bloom detailed the pseudoscientific ramblings of a doctor named Daniel Neides. Dr. Neides had written a blog post about how to avoid "toxins" and "chemicals," buzzwords used by alternative medicine practitioners and peddlers of pseudoscience. But that was hardly the worst part.

Dr. Neides also parroted anti-vaccine propaganda. As Dr. Julianna LeMieux...

Orrin Hatch, a Republican Senator from Utah, has announced his retirement. When he leaves, the Senate will lose its most ardent supporter of alternative medicine.

Previously, that title was held indisputably by Tom Harkin, a Democratic Senator from Iowa. He is largely to blame for the abomination known as the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), an organization so worthless that it had to change its name so biomedical scientists would stop mocking it.

If Ted Kennedy was the Lion of the Senate, Sen. Harkin was the Snake Oil Salesman of the Senate. Given that his pet project wasted billions investigating pure...

Open displays of bipartisanship are rare these days and, as such, should be applauded. Unfortunately, a recent example of bipartisanship promotes junk science and bogus health claims.

In a press release, Democratic Congressman Jared Polis and Republican Congressman Mike Coffman announced their intention to launch the Integrative Health and Wellness Caucus. That sounds nice, until you realize that "integrative" and "wellness" are code words for "alternative medicine."

However, as we've said multiple times, there's no such thing as alternative medicine. If alternative medicine worked, it would just be called medicine. In other words, a patient has two choices: evidence-based...

When life hands us lemons, we can make refreshing lemonade. We can squeeze them in tea to soothe colds and congestion. But we can't prevent or cure disease, especially cancer. So let's not boil lemon water and skip the specialist if you've been diagnosed with a serious ailment. 

A lot of alternative medicine sounds reasonable enough.

It is easy to see why so many people believe in traditional herbal remedies, for instance. Because they have been used for hundreds or thousands of years, people assume the traditions must be rooted in some sort of truth. Besides, scientists have isolated a lot of therapeutically useful compounds from nature, like caffeine and quinine, so it's not far-fetched to believe that all herbs have some sort of medicinal use (even if most don't).

Homeopathy, on the other hand, is just plain nuts. It completely defies logic how anyone with a halfway functional brain could buy into this. This type of alternative medicine is predicated upon three completely insane ideas.

Homeopathy's Three Insane Principles...

Elderly people are constant targets. From fearmongering politicians who want votes to scam artists who want money, unscrupulous people try to scare our parents and grandparents into giving them money. 

Perhaps there is no better way to shake people down for cash than by frightening them about their health. Peddlers of organic food and alternative medicine, both multibillion-dollar industries, have profited handsomely by undermining public confidence in the safety of our food supply and the efficacy of modern medicine. 

The dietary supplement industry benefits from this, as well, to the tune of $5.7 billion. The dirty little secret about multivitamins is...

"Natural is better." That pervasive and pernicious myth, despite being soundly refuted by things like arsenic and hemlock and rattlesnake venom, has become a mainstay in 21st Century conventional wisdom. Who needs Western medicine when the Chinese have been eating and boiling weeds for 3,000 years?

The medical and scientific communities are rightly starting to push back. In a paper published in EMBO Reports, authors Arthur Grollman of Stony Brook University and Donald Marcus of Baylor College of Medicine explain the faulty logic of herbal remedies by using Aristolochia (a.k.a. birthwort or Dutchman's pipe) as a case study....

Homeopathy is the system of using extremely dilute solutions of the disease-causing entity itself to treat the disease. This is not the same as vaccination, although it may sound similar. The system was developed (made up, really) by Samuel Hahnemann in 1796 well before the germ theory of disease was elucidated. Thus he can be forgiven for his beliefs and his misguided attempt to cure. But no such forgiveness should be extended to those in the 21st century who willfully ignore the advances and benefits of modern medicine.

OA of the kneeThe herb Huo-Luo-Xiao-Ling (HLXL) is quite popular in China, especially among older women, with arthritis of the knee. Further, there is some animal study evidence that this herbal combination has some anti-inflammatory efficacy.

Therefore, researchers from the University of Hong Kong and the University of Maryland conducted a double-blind, randomized placebo controlled phase II trial of the herbs.

The results, published in the journal Osteoarthritis and Cartilage, found that there was no measurable...