The Sunday Times reported yesterday reported that five NHS trusts currently offer moxibustion to women in childbirth for breech babies, i.e. babies presenting upside down. Moxibustion is a form of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) where mugwort is burned close to acupuncture points. The idea is that this procedure would stimulate the acupuncture point similar to the more common way using needle insertion. The fifth toe is viewed as the best traditional acupuncture point for breech presentation, and the treatment is said to turn the baby in the uterus so that it can be delivered more easily.
At least four NHS trusts are offering acupuncture and reflexology with aromatherapy to help women with delayed pregnancies, while 15 NHS trusts offer hypnobirthing classes. Some women are asked to pay fees of up to £140 for it. These treatments are supposed to relax the mother in the hope that this will speed up the process of childbirth.
The Nice guidelines on maternity care say the NHS should not offer acupuncture, acupressure, or hypnosis unless specifically requested by women. The reason for the Nice warning is simple: there is no convincing evidence that these therapies are effective.
Campaigner Catherine Roy who compiled the list of treatments said: “To one degree or another, the Royal College of Midwives, the Care Quality Commission and parts of the NHS support these pseudoscientific treatments.
“They are seen as innocuous but they carry risks, can delay medical help and participate in an anti-medicalisation stance specific to ‘normal birth’ ideology and maternity care. Nice guidelines are clear that they should not be offered by clinicians for treatment. NHS England must ensure that pseudoscience and non-evidence based treatments are removed from NHS maternity care.”
Birte Harlev-Lam, executive director of the Royal College of Midwives (RCM), said: “We want every woman to have as positive an experience during pregnancy, labour, birth and the postnatal period as possible — and, most importantly, we want that experience to be safe. That is why we recommend all maternity services to follow Nice guidance and for midwives to practise in line with the code set out by the Nursing and Midwifery Council.”
A spokeswoman for Nice said it was reviewing its maternity guidelines. NHS national clinical director for maternity and women’s health, Dr Matthew Jolly, said: “All NHS services are expected to offer safe and personalised clinical care and local NHS areas should commission core maternity services using the latest NICE and clinical guidance. NHS trusts are under no obligation to provide complementary or alternative therapies on top of evidence-based clinical care, but where they do in response to the wishes of mothers it is vital that the highest standards of safety are maintained.”
On this blog, we have repeatedly discussed the strange love affair of midwives with so-called alternative medicine (SCAM), for instance, here. In 2012, we published a summary of 19 surveys on the subject. It showed that the prevalence of SCAM use varied but was often close to 100%. Much of it did not seem to be supported by strong evidence for efficacy. We concluded that most midwives seem to use SCAM. As not all SCAMs are without risks, the issue should be debated openly. Today, there is plenty more evidence to show that the advice of midwives regarding SCAM is not just not evidence-based but also often dangerous. This, of course, begs the question: when will the professional organizations of midwifery do something about it?
This double-blind, randomized study assessed the effectiveness of physiotherapy instrument mobilization (PIM) in patients with low back pain (LBP) and compared it with the effectiveness of manual mobilization.
Thirty-two participants with LBP were randomly assigned to one of two groups:
- The PIM group received lumbar mobilization using an activator instrument, stabilization exercises, and education.
- The manual group received lumbar mobilization using a pisiform grip, stabilization exercises, and education.
- Numeric Pain Rating Scale (NPRS),
- Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) scale,
- Pressure pain threshold (PPT),
- lumbar spine range of motion (ROM),
- lumbar multifidus muscle activation.
There were no differences between the PIM and manual groups in any outcome measures. However, over the period of study, there were improvements in both groups in NPRS (PIM: 3.23, Manual: 3.64 points), ODI (PIM: 17.34%, Manual: 14.23%), PPT (PIM: ⩽ 1.25, Manual: ⩽ 0.85 kg.cm2), lumbar spine ROM (PIM: ⩽ 9.49∘, Manual: ⩽ 0.88∘), and/or lumbar multifidus muscle activation (percentage thickness change: PIM: ⩽ 4.71, Manual: ⩽ 4.74 cm; activation ratio: PIM: ⩽ 1.17, Manual: ⩽ 1.15 cm).
The authors concluded that both methods of lumbar spine mobilization demonstrated comparable improvements in pain and disability in patients with LBP, with neither method exhibiting superiority over the other.
If this conclusion is meant to tell us that both treatments were equally effective, I beg to differ. The improvements documented here are consistent with improvements caused by the natural history of the condition, regression towards the mean, and placebo effects. The data do not prove that they are due to the treatments. On the contrary, they seem to imply that patients get better no matter what therapy is used. Thus, I feel that the results are entirely in keeping with the hypothesis that spinal mobilization is a placebo treatment.
So, allow me to re-phrase the authors’ conclusion as follows:
Lumbar mobilizations do not seem to have specific therapeutic effects and might therefore be considered to be ineffective for LBP.
It’s increasingly common for patients to encounter nonphysician practitioners as members of their health care teams. Meanwhile, ever more nonphysician practitioners have received advanced training resulting in a doctorate degree, such as the doctor of nursing practice.
To help patients keep pace with these changes, physicians should make new strides to clarify their roles and credentials vis-a-vis other members of the health care team and also promote collaboration among all health professionals, according to an AMA Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs report that was adopted at the 2022 AMA Interim Meeting.
The core issue is that “the skill sets and experience of nonphysician practitioners are not the same as those of physicians.” Thus, when nonphysician practitioners identify themselves as “doctors”—consistent with the doctoral-level degrees they earned—“it may create confusion and be misleading to patients and other practitioners,” says the report.
In fact, surveys (PDF) performed as part of the AMA Truth in Advertising Campaign have found that while patients strongly support physician-led health care teams, many are confused about the level of education and training of health professionals—and the confusion isn’t limited to nonphysician practitioners who hold doctorates. For example, roughly one-fifth of respondents think psychiatrists are not physicians, while a similar number think nurse practitioners are physicians.
The AMA Code of Medical Ethics touches on this issue in an opinion on collaborative care, which provides guidance on the roles of physicians in team-based settings where a mix of health professionals provide care.
In SCAM, we have the problem that practitioners often call themselves doctors or physicians without having a medical degree. This confuses patients who might consult and trust these practitioners assuming they have studied medicine. We recently discussed the case of a naturopath who called himself a doctor and failed to diagnose a rectal tumor of his patient. Much more dramatic was the case of a UK-based chiropractor who called herself a doctor, thus attracting a patient suffering from complex health issues contraindicating spinal manipulations. She nonetheless manipulated his neck and promptly killed him.
I know that patients are being misled every day by SCAM practitioners (ab)using the ‘Dr.’ title. Therefore, the AMA reminder is an important, timely, and necessary lesson for SCAM. I feel that the professional organizations of SCAM providers should issue similar reminders to their members and make sure they behave appropriately.
Acupuncture is emerging as a potential therapy for relieving pain, but the effectiveness of acupuncture for relieving low back and/or pelvic pain (LBPP) during pregnancy remains controversial. This meta-analysis aimed to investigate the effects of acupuncture on pain, functional status, and quality of life for women with LBPP pain during pregnancy.
The authors included all RCTs evaluating the effects of acupuncture on LBPP during pregnancy. Data extraction and study quality assessments were independently performed by three reviewers. The mean differences (MDs) with 95% CIs for pooled data were calculated. The primary outcomes were pain, functional status, and quality of life. The secondary outcomes were overall effects (a questionnaire at a post-treatment visit within a week after the last treatment to determine the number of people who received good or excellent help), analgesic consumption, Apgar scores >7 at 5 min, adverse events, gestational age at birth, induction of labor and mode of birth.
Ten studies, reporting on a total of 1040 women, were included. Overall, acupuncture
- relieved pain during pregnancy (MD=1.70, 95% CI: (0.95 to 2.45), p<0.00001, I2=90%),
- improved functional status (MD=12.44, 95% CI: (3.32 to 21.55), p=0.007, I2=94%),
- improved quality of life (MD=−8.89, 95% CI: (−11.90 to –5.88), p<0.00001, I2 = 57%).
There was a significant difference in overall effects (OR=0.13, 95% CI: (0.07 to 0.23), p<0.00001, I2 = 7%). However, there was no significant difference in analgesic consumption during the study period (OR=2.49, 95% CI: (0.08 to 80.25), p=0.61, I2=61%) and Apgar scores of newborns (OR=1.02, 95% CI: (0.37 to 2.83), p=0.97, I2 = 0%). Preterm birth from acupuncture during the study period was reported in two studies. Although preterm contractions were reported in two studies, all infants were in good health at birth. In terms of gestational age at birth, induction of labor, and mode of birth, only one study reported the gestational age at birth (mean gestation 40 weeks).
The authors concluded that acupuncture significantly improved pain, functional status and quality of life in women with LBPP during the pregnancy. Additionally, acupuncture had no observable severe adverse influences on the newborns. More large-scale and well-designed RCTs are still needed to further confirm these results.
In case you are in a hurry: NOT A LOT!
In case you need more, here are a few points:
- many trials were of poor quality;
- there was evidence of publication bias;
- there was considerable heterogeneity within the studies.
The most important issue is one studiously avoided in the paper: the treatment of the control groups. One has to dig deep into this paper to find that the control groups could be treated with “other treatments, no intervention, and placebo acupuncture”. Trials comparing acupuncture combined plus other treatments with other treatments were also considered to be eligible. In other words, the analyses included studies that compared acupuncture to no treatment at all as well as studies that followed the infamous ‘A+Bversus B’ design. Seven studies used no intervention or standard of care in the control group thus not controlling for placebo effects.
Nobody can thus be in the slightest surprised that the overall result of the meta-analysis was positive – false positive, that is! And the worst is that this glaring limitation was not discussed as a feature that prevents firm conclusions.
In consideration of these points, let me rephrase the conclusions:
The well-documented placebo (and other non-specific) effects of aacupuncture improved pain, functional status and quality of life in women with LBPP during the pregnancy. Unsurprisingly, acupuncture had no observable severe adverse influences on the newborns. More large-scale and well-designed RCTs are not needed to further confirm these results.
I find it exasperating to see that more and more (formerly) reputable journals are misleading us with such rubbish!!!
It has been reported that a Vancouver naturopath has been fined and temporarily suspended after a patient complained he failed to notice a rectal tumor during four months of treatment for hemorrhoids.
Jordan Atkinson will have to pay $5,000 and lose his license for 16 days after signing a consent agreement with the College of Naturopathic Physicians of B.C., according to a public notice posted by the COLLEGE OF NATUROPATHIC PHYSICIANS OF BRITISH COLUMBIA.
A former patient had filed the complaint when another medical professional diagnosed a tumor on the rectum following “several appointments” with Atkinson for hemorrhoid treatment. “The patient complained that Dr. Atkinson failed to detect the tumor because he did not perform a competent examination,” the college notice says. ‘Doctor’ Atkinson disagreed with that allegation but admitted that he didn’t fully document his appointments with the patient.
The college’s inquiry committee, which investigates complaints, found that “Dr. Atkinson’s treatment of the patient fell short of the standard of practice required of a naturopathic doctor in these circumstances.” Atkinson who is also the subject of a lawsuit from a patient who alleges he seriously injured her while injecting Botox into her face at the base of her nose, has also agreed to a reprimand and “to make reasonable efforts when a language barrier exists to ensure that his patients understand the treatment plan and provide informed consent.”
Personally, I find it hard to believe that any health professional can administer a prolonged treatment for hemorrhoids, while the patient is actually suffering from a rectal tumor which might well be malign. I find it even harder to believe that, after a complaint had been filed by a victim, the professional body of this professional suspends his license for just 16 days.
In my view, this suggests that this professional body (like so many in the realm of so-called alternative medicine (SCAM)) is not fit for purpose. That is to say, it does clearly not fulfill its main task adequately which is to protect the public from the malpractice of its members. Rather it seems to prioritize the interests of the member over those of the public. Yet, on its website the COLLEGE OF NATUROPATHIC PHYSICIANS OF BRITISH COLUMBIA state that “the College protects the public interest by ensuring that naturopathic physicians in British Columbia practice safely, ethically, and competently.” As so often in SCAM, what is being stated and what is being done differs dramatically.
At the heart of this and many similar cases, I fear, is that consumers find it difficult to differentiate between well-educated healthcare professionals and poorly trained charlatans. And who could blame them? Calling naturopaths ‘doctors’ cannot be helpful, particularly if the ‘Dr.-title’ is used without a clear qualification that the person who carries it has never seen the inside of a medical school; instead he has learned an abundance of nonsense taught by a quack institution.
In summary one is tempted to conclude that this case yet again confirms that naturopaths are medically incompetent graduates of schools of incompetence protected by organizations of incompetence.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued warning letters to seven companies for illegally selling dietary supplements that claim to cure, treat, mitigate or prevent cardiovascular disease or related conditions, such as atherosclerosis, stroke or heart failure, in violation of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act). The FDA is urging consumers not to use these or similar products because they have not been evaluated by the FDA to be safe or effective for their intended use and may be harmful.
The warning letters were issued to:
- Essential Elements (Scale Media Inc.);
- Calroy Health Sciences LLC;
- BergaMet North America LLC;
- Healthy Trends Worldwide LLC (Golden After 50);
- Chambers’ Apothecary;
- Anabolic Laboratories, LLC.
“Given that cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S., it’s important that the FDA protect the public from products and companies that make unlawful claims to treat it. Dietary supplements that claim to cure, treat, mitigate or prevent cardiovascular disease and related conditions could potentially harm consumers who use these products instead of seeking safe and effective FDA-approved treatments from qualified health care providers,” said Cara Welch, Ph.D., director of the Office of Dietary Supplement Programs in the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. “We encourage consumers to remain vigilant when shopping online or in stores to avoid purchasing products that could put their health at risk.”
Under the FD&C Act, products intended to diagnose, cure, treat, mitigate or prevent disease are drugs and are subject to the requirements that apply to drugs, even if they are labeled as dietary supplements. Unlike drugs approved by the FDA, the agency has not evaluated whether the unapproved products subject to the warning letters announced today are effective for their intended use, what the proper dosage might be, how they could interact with FDA-approved drugs or other substances, or whether they have dangerous side effects or other safety concerns.
The FDA advises consumers to talk to their doctor, pharmacist or other health care provider before deciding to purchase or use any dietary supplement or drug. Some supplements might interact with medicines or other supplements. Health care providers will work with patients to determine which treatment is the best option for their condition.
If a consumer thinks that a product might have caused a reaction or an illness, they should immediately stop using the product and contact their health care provider. The FDA encourages health care providers and consumers to report any adverse reactions associated with FDA-regulated products to the agency using MedWatch or the Safety Reporting Portal.
The FDA has requested responses from the companies within 15 working days stating how they will address the issues described in the warning letters or provide their reasoning and supporting information as to why they think the products are not in violation of the law. Failure to correct violations promptly may result in legal action, including product seizure and/or injunction.
Recently, I received an email with this ‘special offer’ for purchasing a book and was impressed – but not in a positive sense:
Dr Farokh’s commendable work at upto 22% off – Healing Cancer. For Limited time period only.
Healing Cancer: A Homoeopathic Approach
As a homeopath one should not deter oneself in dealing with any type of cases, be it cancer. But for executing that an ultimate guidance is needed. Cancer is so much prevalent and challenging medical problem of today that a trustworthy source of accurate information becomes pertinent and this work of Dr. Farokh Master immediately propels at the top of quality books for cancer. Based on Master’s 40 years of experience this book was written for students to understand the basis of oncology and for practitioners for brushing-up of their knowledge in this growing discipline.Author says that to get a grasp on cancer cases we should believe in the potential of the homeopathic treatment, that healing from cancer refers to internal process of becoming whole and feeling harmonious with yourself and your environment. To even start with handling the cases of cancer one should be aware of understanding of cancer, its cause, pathophysiology, different types, conventional treatment and their side effects, integrative medicines, social problems in the treatment, such topics are well casted by Volume 1 of the book.
Peak points of Volume 1-• A full chapter is dealing with Iscador, a relatively old method, very effective but unfortunately underemployed. • Published papers about Homeopathy in the treatment of cancer are presented before the last chapter which is on some of most used allopathic drugs in cancer with a focus on their side-effects. After the coverage of basic information on oncology in Volume 1 comes the Volume 2 which explores topics like understanding cancer from homoeopathic point of view, constitutional remedies, therapeutics of individual cancers, nutrition, general management.
Peak points of Volume 2-• A whole chapter on Cadmium salts and cancer. • 51 “lesser known remedies” are briefly quoted and their usefulness in different situations and types of cancer exposed. • A long chapter deals with the “Indian drugs”, it is important that these remedies are used mostly in tincture or low potencies, as herbal or Ayurvedic remedies or food supplements relieving the patients. • The choice and differentiation between the remedies is then helped by the “Repertory of Cancer”, very well compiled and a highly useful section. “Clinical tips from my practice” given as a sub-chapter. • It ends with recommendations on how to deal with radiation illness and the side-effects of conventional treatment, as well as the treatment of pain and help with palliative care.
For fighting and curing cancer and improving the quality and quantity of life of people, knowledge of Homeopathy, both philosophically and scientifically is needed which this work of art portrays delightfully.
About Book Author:
Dr. Farokh J. Master’s birth into homeopathy was in the year 1976, when he joined Bombay homeopathic medical college, after giving up his studies at the orthodox school of medicine. Dr Master was instrumental in starting homeopathic out-patient dept in many allopathic hospitals viz. Bombay Hospital, KEM Hospital & Ruby Hall, Pune. Besides his work as a senior Homeopath of the HHC, Dr. Farokh Master is teaching homeopathy (advanced level) at the Mumbai Homeopathic Medical College, part of Mumbai university. He is also teaching at other homeopathic colleges in India and abroad. He has given seminars in various countries like Austria, Australia, India, Japan etc. Dr Master has written more than 50 books like -The Homeopathic Dream Dictionary, Cross References of the Mind, Perceiving Rubrics of the Mind, The State of Mind affecting the Foetus, Tumors and Homeopathy, The Bedside Organon of Medicine, The proving of Mocassin Snake, Bungarus, etc. Dr. Master is the originator of many recent new approaches and insights in homoeopathy.
Some people claim that homeopaths are not dangerous and argue that their placebos cannot harm patients. I have long disagreed with this position. As homeopathy is not an effective therapy (it has no effects beyond placebo), its use simply means allowing diseases to remain untreated.
- If we are dealing with a common cold, this might be little more than a costly nuisance.
- If we are dealing with a chronic condition such as arthritis, it means causing unnecessary suffering.
- If we are dealing with life-threatening diseases like cancer, it means shortening the life of patients.
This is the politest way I can put it. There are of course other, less polite terms for ‘shortening a life’! Most of us shy away from using them in the context of homeopathy. In the case of the author of this book, we might make an exception. In my view, he is someone who is deluded to the point where he is ready to kill his patients with homeopathy.
Iscador is not even a homeopathic remedy.
The aim of this evaluator-blinded randomized clinical trial was to determine if manual therapy added to a therapeutic exercise program produced greater improvements than a sham manual therapy added to the same exercise program in patients with non-specific shoulder pain.
Forty-five subjects were randomly allocated into one of three groups:
- manual therapy (glenohumeral mobilization technique and rib-cage technique);
- thoracic sham manual therapy (glenohumeral mobilization technique and rib-cage sham technique);
- sham manual therapy (sham glenohumeral mobilization technique and rib-cage sham technique).
All groups also received a therapeutic exercise program. Pain intensity, disability, and pain-free active shoulder range of motion were measured post-treatment and at 4-week and 12-week follow-ups. Mixed-model analyses of variance and post hoc pairwise comparisons with Bonferroni corrections were constructed for the analysis of the outcome measures.
All groups reported improved pain intensity, disability, and pain-free active shoulder range of motion. However, there were no between-group differences in these outcome measures.
The authors concluded that the addition of the manual therapy techniques applied in the present study to a therapeutic exercise protocol did not seem to add benefits to the management of subjects with non-specific shoulder pain.
What does that mean?
I think it means that the improvements observed in this study were due to 1) exercise and 2) a range of non-specific effects, and that they were not due to the manual techniques tested.
I cannot say that I find this enormously surprising. But I would also find it unsurprising if fans of these methods would claim that the results show that the physios applied the techniques not correctly.
In any case, I feel this is an interesting study, not least because of its use of sham therapy. But I somehow doubt that the patients were unable to distinguish sham from verum. If so, the study was not patient-blind which obviously is difficult to achieve with manual treatments.
The orgone accumulator (ORAC) is an invention of the psychiatrist Wilhelm Reich which he developed along with his ‘orgone hypothesis’ while residing in the US from 1939 on. It is a device that is used to collect the hypothetical ‘orgone energy’ from the environment and to concentrate it.
One provider of the ORAC claims he had received the exact building instructions in interviews with Wilhelm Reich. The conversation with the deceased Reich was allegedly realized with the assistance of a medium and in close cooperation with angels. Since his death, Reich allegedly has been able to vastly improve the ORAC. The correct arrangement of eight rose quartzes in every corner is said to be essential. The book “Der Engel-Energie-Akkumulator nach Wilhelm Reich” (The Angel-Energy-Accumulator by Wilhelm Reich) does not only quote the late Reich, but also Archangel Raphael and Jesus Christ have their say.
Wilhelm Reich developed the ORAC believing that the box trapped orgone energy that he could harness in groundbreaking approaches towards psychiatry, medicine, the social sciences, biology, and weather research. His discovery of orgone began with his research of a physical bio-energy basis for Sigmund Freud’s theories of neurosis in humans. Wilhelm Reich believed that traumatic experiences blocked the natural flow of life energy in the body, leading to physical and mental disease. Reich concluded that the Freudian libidinal energy was the primordial energy of life itself, connected to more than just sexuality. Orgone was everywhere and Reich measured this energy in motion over the surface of the earth and even determined that its motion affected weather formation.
In 1940, Wilhelm Reich constructed the first ORAC: a six-sided box constructed of alternating layers of organic materials (to attract the energy) and metallic materials (to radiate the energy toward the center of the box). Patients would sit inside the ORAC and absorb the energy through their skin and lungs. The accumulator allegedly had beneficial effects on blood and body tissue by improving life-energy flow and releasing energy blocks.
But Reich’s work with cancer patients and the ORAC received negative press and the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) sent an agent to investigate Reich’s research center. In 1954, the FDA issued an injunction against Reich, claiming that he had violated the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act by delivering misbranded and adulterated devices in interstate commerce and by making false and misleading claims. The FDA called the ORAC a sham and orgone energy non-existent. A judge ordered all accumulators rented or owned by Reich and those working with him destroyed and all labeling referring to orgone energy to be destroyed. Two years later, Reich was imprisoned for contempt of the injunction. On November 3, 1957, Wilhelm Reich died in his jail cell of heart failure. In his last will and testament, he ordered that his works be sealed for fifty years, in hopes that the world would someday be a place better to accept his work.
The FBI does have a whole section on its website dedicated to Wilhelm Reich. This is what they had to say:
This German immigrant described himself as the Associate Professor of Medical Psychology, Director of the Orgone Institute, President and research physician of the Wilhelm Reich Foundation, and discoverer of biological or life energy. A 1940 security investigation was begun to determine the extent of Reich’s communist commitments. In 1947, a security investigation concluded that neither the Orgone Project nor any of its staff were engaged in subversive activities or were in violation of any statue within the jurisdiction of the FBI. In 1954 the U.S. Attorney General filed a complaint seeking permanent injunction to prevent interstate shipment of devices and literature distributed by Dr. Reich’s group. That same year, Dr. Reich was arrested for a Contempt of Court for violation of the Attorney General’s injunction.
The Wilhelm Reich Orgon Institut Deutschland currently state that they have been able to teach some Americans the proper way to build an ORAC:
Our teacher has been Dr. Walter Hoppe, the best student of Wilhelm Reich. He had lived over 40 years in Israel, and had done there very successful work with the orgone accumulator. Since 1974 he has been teaching psychiatric orgone therapy and the construction of the orgone accumulator in Germany.
So the triumphal procession of this model was starting up there. Dr. Hoppe gave the construction of the accumulator in the hands of Joachim Trettin. He said: orgone therapy is for few people while the orgone accumulator is for everybody. Meanwhile the Americans orientate themselves by this model today. So this accumulator is the best you can get.
We produce this accumulator with 5, 7, 10, 15 and 20 double layers. Every accumulator has a autonomous shooter which you can take out and use separately.
We also offer the accumulator with a breast and pelvis shield. We have a special packaging and ship our accumulator to every part of the world.
The orgone accumulator with 20- double layers, inside dimensions 120 x 70 x 55 cm, is available for the price of 7,250 EUR
Prof. Harald Walach and his work have been regular topics on this blog (e.g. here, here, and here). Walach has served as the editor of Forschende Komplementärmedizin / Research in Complementary Medicine for 20 years and is now retiring from this post. On this occasion, he just published an EDITORIAL looking both back and ahead on research into so-called alternative medicine (SCAM). Here are the last paragraphs of his piece:
What lies in store? We do not know. “Hidden is the future before me, I am wondering what my destiny will bring,” sings Lensky in Tschaikowsky’s opera Eugen Onegin, and this is a good description of our current situation, not only in medicine, but also politically. If I have one wish for the future of CAM, for the future of our journal, then it is to keep the fire ablaze and uphold the hope of change that has been at the source of its founding and is still empowering many in the field. The field of medicine, but also the world, needs examples of visions and visionaries. The landscape will change. While the beginning of the field and the journal was a decidedly German-speaking, central European enterprise, we have now seen the extension of the field.
China has entered the scene with enormous manpower, a venerable tradition, and a huge amount of experience, research, and funding. Other countries, Iran for instance, are discovering the sources of traditional medical approaches. It might well be the case that those who forget that the world does not end at the rim of the Mediterranean and of the Atlantic will be left behind. It has always been a decisive element of CAM research that it bridged countries, nations, polities, and worldviews. The ISCMR, Consortium, and European Congress for Integrative Medicine (ECIM) conferences probably had as attendees more researchers from outside Europe and the US than from their host countries. Africa is only slowly beginning to enter the scene. The future will be less Euro- and Western-centric than the beginning of CAM, I am quite sure. The Western model of healthcare and economic growth through single pharmacological inventions is not sustainable worldwide and in the long run, apart from the fact that it is conceptually ill-founded. Thus, our hope very likely lies in broadening our view: thinking about other systems of medicine, other approaches, whole-systems thinking. This is actually very similar to our beginning. Every end is a beginning, every beginning is an end, Oscar Wilde used to say.
Apart from the abundant use of platitudes, there are several statements that might deserve a comment:
- The beginning of the field and the journal was a decidedly German-speaking, central European enterprise. Yes, the journal started as a predominantly German publication, yet the field was never mostly German/ central European. SCAM always included many modalities that originated from China, the US, and other non-European countries. Neither was the research into these areas ever dominated by German-speaking investigators.
- China has entered the scene with enormous manpower, a venerable tradition, and a huge amount of experience, research, and funding. This is true – but is it a good development? On this blog, I have often written about the fact that research from China is notoriously unreliable or even fabricated. As the quantity of such work is about to totally overwhelm SCAM research, this is a most concerning development, in my view.
- It has always been a decisive element of CAM research that it bridged countries, nations, polities, and worldviews. I would say that this is not something that characterizes SCAM research. It is a hallmark of any research. And considering my last point, it might soon no longer apply to SCAM. As we are being flooded with unreliable Chinese SCAM research, Chinese dominance might soon stifle criticism of SCAM.
- The Western model of healthcare and economic growth? As far as I can see, the model of economic growth is fast being adopted by non-Western counties.
So, what is the future of SCAM and SCAM research? Like Walach, I don’t know. But contrary to Walach, I hope for something entirely different. I hope that the stupidly short-sighted notion of two types of research and two types of healthcare can eventually be abandoned. In the end, there can only be one type of science – the one that understands itself as critically testing hypotheses by trying to prove them wrong – and only one type of medicine – the one that does more good than harm.