MD, PhD, FMedSci, FRSB, FRCP, FRCPEd

With well over 800 articles, this blog has become somewhat of a reference library for subjects related to alternative medicine (I know that some journalists already employ it in this way [if you want to use it in this way, try the search box on the right top of the page]). To review the year 2016 in alternative medicine, I will now use it for exactly this purpose. In other words, I will highlight those posts from 2016 which, in my view, have taught us something potentially valuable or are otherwise remarkable.

Here we go!

19 January 2016: What are the competencies of a paediatric chiropractor? Chiropractors disagree, of course, but I think they should be foremost to realise that chiropractors must not treat children.

29 January 2016: Is the Internet a good source of information for cancer patients? No, in the realm of alternative medicine, the Internet can be very dangerous indeed.

15 February 2016: Alternative practitioners employ a multitude of diagnostic techniques. These methods are not validated and run an unacceptably high risk of false-positive or false-negative results.

22 March 2016: The career-path to becoming a convinced homeopath … may be less far puzzling than you think.

24 March 2016: Even the most respected medical journals are now beginning to publish very weak, borderline fraudulent studies of alternative medicine.

26 March 2016: Alternative practitioners seem to never protest even against the most outrageous quackery within their ranks.

28 March 2016: NICE might finally start being a little more critical about the value of alternative therapies.

02 April 2016: The ability to think critically seems extremely rare amongst alternative practitioners.

13 April 2016: Many, if not most, of the ‘research’ papers published in alternative medicine seem to have little to do with science but turn out to be exercises in promotion.

16 April 2016: There is no epidemic that does not bring some dangerously delusional homeopaths to the fore.

29 April 2016: Most alternative practitioners have little idea about medical ethics (see also here).

01 May 2016: Some, one could even say most CAM journals are not worth the paper they are printed on (see also here).

23 May 2016: Integrative medicine is one of the most colossal deceptions in healthcare today.

24 May 2016: Some CAM researcher are too good to be true.

10 June 2016: Pharmacists who sell quackery are probably quacks.

22 July 2016: Far too many TCM products are of lamentably poor quality.

19 August 2016: The German ‘HEILPRAKTIKER’ is a relic from the Nazis that continues to endanger public health.

03 September 2016: Homeoprophylaxis is a criminally bad idea; it has the potential to endanger public health.

04 September 2016: Quackery can kill people – and sadly, it does so with depressing regularity.

06 September 2016: Research into alternative medicine is scarce and usually of deplorably poor quality.

26 September 2016: Holistic dentistry is a con – just like holistic medicine; the term ‘holistic’ has degenerated into an advertising gimmick.

04 October 2016: Data fabrication in China is rife and further undermines the trustworthiness of TCM studies.

21 October 2016: Most (if not all) of the money spent on chiropractic is wasted.

10 December 2016: When sceptics criticise homeopathy, they are often wrong.

19 December 2016: Charlatans‘ income crucially relies on advertising lies.

22 December 2016: Homeopathy is not just useless for humans, it also does not work in animals.

HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!

7 Responses to Alternative medicine 2016: what have we learnt?

  • The word of 2016, according to Oxford Dictionaries, is ‘post-truth’. “Post-truth politics (also called post-factual politics) is a political culture in which debate is framed largely by appeals to emotion disconnected from the details of policy, and by the repeated assertion of talking points to which factual rebuttals are ignored.”

    BMA Chairman Dr Mark Porter suggests, “Whatever your political views, it’s not difficult to see the dangers of a world in which – as the dictionary puts it – ‘objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief’.”

    Wake up OD!
    The world of CAM (camistry as I term it) has been awash with ‘post-truth politics’ since medical men and women became differentiated from shamans, magicians and priests.

    But perhaps now, with stimulus from OD; the media in general (which is beginning to take notice); current internet trending on the issue of ‘fake facts’; and Professor Edzard’s excellent blog, we will see a wider debate and consensus about the harm PTP, and CAM can do to the body politic. A body which is so susceptible to irrational mind sets, and all too often minded to reject critical thinking and the dictates of plausible evidence.

    A happy, and rational, new year to all.
    May the Wu be with you.

    Richard Rawlins

    • Sadly, our President elect in the US won based on non factual politics and his ego maniacal, narcissistic ability to con so many and appeal to the bottom of morality and ethics. He could be considered the king of Alternative governing who thrives on his ego and fake tweets/fake news as long as it benefits his favorite idol, himself. Thanks to Dr. Ernst and others who expose frauds and con artists. It is just too bad that many who need factual truth the most do not hear it or refuse to believe it.

      • Happily, Americans recognized the corrupt Democrat nominee as countenancing “more of the same” inept policies/politics as those endorsed by the community organizer who currently occupies the WH. Just as the left asked that we give Obama a chance(I did), so should we give Trump a chance. Certainly his cabinet appointments put him on a good track to affect positive change for America. I hope he pleasantly surprises EVERYONE and strengthens America in most important ways beginning in 2017.

  • Edzard’s 12-19 post certainly warrants re-examination as Charlatans’ incomes are often based on advertising lies.

    It seems that a profit motive exists throughout healthcare(including “modern medicine”) to the point that exaggerations and misinformation are promulgated to entice customers to a particular product. According to J Lexchin, such malignant acitivirties are prevalent among medical drug companies. In his article published in the Int J Clin Prac in 2010, he writes: The literature reviewed here supports the contention made in the Introduction that pharmaceutical companies misuse statistics in their advertisements to present their products in a favourable light. Except in Canada, they almost never use ARRs or number need to treat, they omit confidence intervals and information about the power of studies they cite and they cite research that often has methodological problems. Magazine and television DTC advertisements also use statistics in a misleading manner although this form of advertising has not been as well studied as medical journal advertisements.

    It appears that medical quacks/charlatans advertise lies, too.

    Be well

    • There are unethical quacks in legitimate medicine but the number is minuscule as compared the the Alternative industry. This forum criticizes all fraud!!

  • Edzard’s 10/21 allegation that most(if not all) (Medicare)money in chiropractic is wasted was representative of his usual biased commentary, often proferred without a plenary understanding of the paramedical topic on which he comments.

    Medicare defines medically unnecessary care as that in which documentation does not blatantly show improvement in function. If a wheelchair-patient has significant pain which is relieved via chiropractic intervention, yet doesn’t significantly improve/increase his ADL’s, Medicare claims it is unnecessary per its audits. Most of these findings are challenged and won by chiros since auditors search for any fault in doctors’ record-keeping to take back already paid funds. When the necessity for care is explained, the take-back prosecution ceases. Medicare’s auditing practices have forced the chiros to change the way they document necessary care so that it doesn’t appear to be unnecessary; fortunately, Medicare has provided seminars which evince what its auditors deem to be appropriate documentation of medically necessary care. Medicare’s audits increased in frequency when President Obama orchestrated a raid of over 700 billion dollars from Medicare to pay for the now-imploding Obamacare. Medicare now does the same for doctors who perform angioplasties, stents, spinal fusions, etc.; the audits are initially computer-driven and it is these computer-driven findings which are reported by OIG.

    Edzard doubts the cost-effectiveness of chiro services vis a vis Medicare. Hmmmm……Medicare pays approximately $18-22 per visit for chiro care. 12 visits cost the system $264 max(about the price of two visits to a GP for costly RX’s which would add to the expenditure) and usually don’t result in costly referrals for unnecessary imaging or specialist referrals. It’s unfortunate that Edzard speaks about American chiro issues as though he actually knows much about them(hint: his risible, usually bodacious, attempts to to feign such knowledge makes me giggle every day).

  • This is a fantastic resource indeed – many thanks Prof Ernst for all the hard graft and a Happy New Year to everyone!

    Niall

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