MD, PhD, FMedSci, FRSB, FRCP, FRCPEd.

Reflexology is one of the most popular of all alternative therapies. Anyone who has ever had a session knows why: it is a strangely pleasant and oddly agreeable experience. Reflexologists massage your feet which can be mildly painful but usually is quite relaxing. They look for and subsequently focus on areas of tenderness believing they correspond to specific organs or whole organ systems. Even though few reflexologists would admit to it, they tend to make vague and unreliable diagnoses: if they feel something unusual at a certain point of the sole of your foot, they assume that a certain inner organ is in trouble. Reflexologists even have maps where the sole of a foot is depicted showing which area corresponds to which organ.

The treatment might be enjoyable but the assumptions that underpin it are nonsensical for at least two reasons: firstly, there are no nerve or other connections between a specific area on the sole of a foot and a certain organ. Secondly, the maps which reflexologists employ differ and fail to agree which area corresponds to which organ. Thus there are inconsistencies within the realm of reflexology and there are inconsistencies in relation to the known facts regarding physiology, anatomy etc.

Proponents of reflexology are quite undisturbed by these problems and seem to believe that not their assumptions but science must be wrong. After all, reflexology does work! That is to say that patients perceive benefit from it, pay out of their own pocket for the experience and tend to come back for more.

Several years ago, we asked 8 UK professional organisations of reflexology which conditions they thought could be treated effectively with reflexology. We gave them a list of 25 conditions to chose from, many of which were serious, e.g. cancer and AIDS. Collectively, the organisations felt that 22 of these illnesses would respond to reflexology.

But this is opinion, not evidence! What do the trial data tell us? Is reflexology more than a placebo?

As with many other areas of alternative medicine, controlled clinical trials are scarce; but this is not to say that none at all are available. Our own trial of reflexology for menopausal symptoms failed to show that this therapy has any effects beyond placebo. More recently, we published a systematic review to evaluate all of the 23 studies that had been published at that stage. They related to a wide range of medical conditions and their methodological quality was often poor. Nine high quality randomised clinical trials (RCTs) generated negative findings. Eight RCTs suggested that reflexology is effective for the following conditions: diabetes, premenstrual syndrome, cancer patients, multiple sclerosis, symptomatic idiopathic detrusor over-activity and dementia. These studies, however, were wide open to bias. Therefore, our conclusions had to be cautious: the best clinical evidence does not demonstrate convincingly reflexology to be an effective treatment for any medical condition.

For you and me, this simply means that there is currently no good evidence to suggest that reflexology works. But the story does not end here. There will be more studies and enthusiasts are most likely to concede that our conclusions were incorrect. In fact, a further trial has just become available.

This new single-blind, randomized and placebo controlled study included 20 moderately to severely affected multiple sclerosis patients. Each participant received for 8 weeks, 1 hour per week of either reflexology or sham reflexology. The primary outcome measure was the Multiple Sclerosis Impact Scale at baseline, 8 weeks and 16 weeks. The results revealed improvements in both groups but no statistically significant differences between the two groups at either 8 or 16 weeks. The conclusions of the investigators were clear: The results do not support the use of reflexology for symptom relief in a more disabled multiple sclerosis population and are strongly suggestive of a placebo response.

There is, of course, nothing wrong with a relaxing foot-massage; it is agreeable, no doubt, and if someone wants to pay for the luxury, why not? By contrast, there is a lot wrong with reflexology, I think. A foot-massage is not administered under the pretence of generating any specific therapeutic effects. Reflexologists, however, claim they can exert highly specific effects on inner organs, influence the natural history of a wide range of diseases, and provide reliable diagnoses. They thus mislead their clients. This is not just wrong, it also has the potential to do serious harm. I believe it is time to end this nonsense.

150 Responses to Reflexology is pleasant enough, but does it work?

  • I’ve been for some reflexology, as it was available for free from a centre near me. I found it more enjoyable than foot massage, and think that this was partly because of the ritualised and medicalised nature of it. Because the therapist was acting as if there was some purpose to the therapy beyond my pleasure, which they could be getting on with, it was easier for my to just focus on enjoying it. Also, to be fair to the therapist, they didn’t really make any claims about the ‘treatment’ – they’d just ask me how I was feeling and then if there was anything wrong would mutter something like “Okay, I’ll see if I can help that” as they went about their work.

    It wouldn’t surprise me at all if something like this was as, or more, helpful to people than ‘befriending therapy’ – which itself seems to be as valuable as things like CBT for many conditions. When it comes to treatments whose positive effect seems to largely stem from the practitioner seeming nice to the patient, there could well be room for more ritualised foot massage. I’m not sure how keen therapists will be on that though.

  • Randal has pre-empted much of what I was going to write about my experience with reflexologists. I will add that some of them had me so preoccupied by their ‘diagnosis of my faulty organs and glands’ that I developed short-term OCD, which was an almost pleasant distraction from my actual health problems! All joking aside, what they did was deplorable.

    What I’m learning is to think outside the box… The initial consultation with a qualified medical practitioner is to enable the practitioner to make informed decisions. Firstly, and of paramount importance, the practitioner must consider the question “Am I suitably qualified to treat the patient’s presenting condition?” The answer to this question determines what follows for the best care of the patient.

    Now, let’s consider the initial consultation with a CAM practitioner. I would be very interested to see a study of their ‘accurately documented reasons’ for either offering treatment to the client or referral to an alternative practitioner. (Apologies for not being able to resist that word play.) A reflexologist who has been taught that they can diagnose and treat a plethora of health problems is, I suggest, much less likely to refer a client than would a physician.

    One may be strongly tempted to assume that the initial consultation with a CAM practitioner is for the purpose of gathering enough client information to enable the practitioner to provide the best course of treatment. However, I ask the reader to consider this: the practitioner was gullible enough to pay for their accreditation course provided by an issuing institution that thrives on having students who do not insist on having even the basic level of robust evidence required by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and Trading Standards.

    On reflection, it seems to me that the primary purpose of an initial CAM consultation is to establish the gullibility of the potential client. To put it another way, if during the initial consultation the client asks searching questions about UK Advertising Codes, ASA adjudications, and evidence for efficacy then a sensible practitioner would refer the client elsewhere (and destroy any notes taken during the interview).

    • Pete 628 wrote: “On reflection, it seems to me that the primary purpose of an initial CAM consultation is to establish the gullibility of the potential client. To put it another way, if during the initial consultation the client asks searching questions about UK Advertising Codes, ASA adjudications, and evidence for efficacy then a sensible practitioner would refer the client elsewhere (and destroy any notes taken during the interview).”

      That’s a very perceptive point. Most CAM practitioners have to be good sales people and rely on their trade bodies to show them the necessary parlour tricks for locking patients into a lucrative care schedule. For example, many chiropractors are taught how to persuade patients into signing up for ‘lifetime care’ by exploiting the initial phase of patient contact:

      Quote
      “The examination procedures are not diagnostic, they are to emphasise to the patient that weakness exists in his body and that they have been caused by spinal fixations. By fortifying the patient’s knowledge of the ‘spinal cause’ by the use of test instruments and graphs, the patient is able to see beyond any doubt that he is actually physically sick, that a spinal condition caused it, and that something needs to be done chiropractically to correct it…the history and consultation period is like a courtship. This is the time when your patients develop, in the back of their minds, the depth of commitment to you, the doctor. The examination can be compared to the engagement, and the report of findings to the wedding or final ceremonial.”

      Ref: Magner, G. Chiropractic: The Victim’s Perspective, pp.72-73. Prometheus Books (1995)

      IOW, it’s crucial for CAM practitioners to be skilful at cold reading their new patients in order for the ensuing indoctrination process to run smoothly. Unfortunately for the unwitting patient, there will be a wealth of personal information (especially with regard to chronicity) for the CAM practitioner to take advantage of once the patient history has been taken.

      • Thanks, Blue Wode, for giving me three missing pieces of the jigsaw puzzle that I need to carry on with forming my overall picture (my understanding).

        One of the essential pieces: I had been totally underestimating the influence of instrumentation. The lay person is unable to distinguish between scientific measuring instruments and pseudoscientific measuring instruments therefore each type (when used as part of client diagnosis) adds the same persuasive force to the practitioner’s credibility.

        Reflexology somewhat cleverly bypasses the need for actual pseudoscientific measuring instruments by claiming that the reflexologist is the measuring instrument. The ‘evidence’ for this claim is provided by charts of the feet and hands. I can think of some other branches of CAM that rely on this folly, but I refrain from mentioning them here because I have no wish add a list pseudoscientific keywords to Edzard’s post about reflexology.

    • And how many treatments did you have before you came to these conclusions?

  • I disagree with your reasoning on the 2 underlying assumptions being nonsensical. There is an indirect connection between the foot and a corresponding internal organ through the brain. And while two maps may differ, it’s possible that both are correct since there may be more than one solution to a problem. I believe most of the maps are at least similar.
    In my personal experience, the maps are strangely accurate to my health problems. Massaging the sore areas made my feet feel better, which may have some relaxation benefit for the corresponding organs. When my health problems cleared, these areas were no longer sore.
    However my health likely improved due to other measures I was taking. I don’t believe reflexology cured my health problems, since the only noticeable benefit was to my feet and it would only last a few days. If there was relief to a corresponding organ then it was probably also temporary. I suspect sore spots on my feet were symptoms, and massaging them didn’t affect the underlying cause. But there is a relationship, so I wouldn’t consider the notion nonsensical..

    • In this case, reflexologists would be able to accurately diagnose disease. However, the evidence shows that this is not so. Either your impression is erroneous or the science is wrong. Which do you think applies?

      • That’s quite a big jump in the logic. Having a cough and feeling soreness in the lung reflex point, or alternatively a reflexologist feeling tension in the lung reflex of the foot of someone with a cough means just that, a correspondence. It’s not possible to determine a pathology from a correspondence alone. At best it could be said “there’s a problem” but in no way diagnose the cause of the problem. That’s where medicine and GP/MD comes in.

  • I am a qualified reflexologist and would never in a million years diagnose anybody with anything! I have no idea where that information has come from, we would all be struck off under the code of ethics/practice of our professional body memberships. Reflexology, or zone therapy, is a holistic complimentary therapy, as is any form of body massage, , hot stone massage…..any other therapy which treats the body as a ‘whole’. You are quite right that we refer to maps of the foot and that they also differ……but not greatly and are generally in the same ‘area’…all of which will get massaged as part of the treatment routine. During the treatment we find little crystalline deposits, known as ‘inbalances’. You could have a client whose feet are riddled with them….that absolutely does mean their body is going to shut down and they are going to die…they could simply be run down, depressed, stressed. You could have a client who has very few, if any, inbalances. I had one lady recently whose only one was in her hip…..could mean nothing at all, although she is pregnant. ..could be that. The aim of reflexology is to disperse these inbalances by massaging & applying a rotating motion repeatedly over the area. You could return to it and it may be gone never to be felt again, or it may take a few treatments to disperse, or it may always remain. My husband had a very persistant one on his elbow, I would try to disperse it but it never went away. A while later he randomly discovered he has chipped a bone in his elbow. My mum had a few inbalances over the bladder area…turned out she needed a wee!! A client suffering with sinus problems may well have inbalances over the area that correlates with the sinuses. Even if I found them I certainly wouldn’t say ‘you have sinusitis’, I would continue to try and disperse them at each treatment. If the client was concerned he/she can consult their doctor. Someone with a toothe ache may have inbalances in the area of the teeth/face/head. I would never diagnose, nor claim to cure. And any reflexologist who says otherwise should not be practising. By dispersing the inbalance we find on the foot, we may help an ailment. There is evidence, my clients for me, that this is so. And be that purely because they feel less stressed, more relaxed, happier…..then how can anyone write that off as not working? The happier and more stress free a person is, the healthier they are. Is regular reflexology a pure coincidence? There have not been enough studies to prove or disprove, but I have yet to meet anyone who has had a reflexology say they wont have it again 🙂

    • I am a qualified reflexologist

      How is that determined?

      and would never in a million years diagnose anybody with anything!

      Glad to hear it.

      I have no idea where that information has come from, we would all be struck off under the code of ethics/practice of our professional body memberships.

      Not sure what information you’re referring to…but what would anyone be struck off for? And how many have?

      Reflexology, or zone therapy, is a holistic complimentary [sic] therapy, as is any form of body massage, , hot stone massage…..any other therapy which treats the body as a ‘whole’.

      What does treat the body as a whole mean?

      You are quite right that we refer to maps of the foot and that they also differ……but not greatly and are generally in the same ‘area’

      You’ve missed the point. What call it a map when there is no connection with any other part of the body?

      …all of which will get massaged as part of the treatment routine.

      So, are you saying you don’t concentrate on just parts of the foot, but give the whole thing a massage? What happens if you over-massage one area? Do reflexologists believe that can cause over-stimulation somewhere and perhaps even some harm? If you don’t believe it can cause harm, how do you know?

      During the treatment we find little crystalline deposits

      Any clinical evidence for those?

      known as ‘inbalances’.

      Do you mean ‘imbalances’ or is this a made-up term?

      You could have a client whose feet are riddled with them….

      Riddled?

      that absolutely does mean their body is going to shut down and they are going to die…

      I sincerely hope you tell them to see a medical professional immediately? Or do you call an ambulance? But you said you “would never in a million years diagnose anybody with anything”, but don’t you think that death is a diagnosis?

      they could simply be run down, depressed, stressed.

      Diagnosing again?

      You could have a client who has very few, if any, inbalances.

      That word again?

      I had one lady recently whose only one was in her hip…..could mean nothing at all, although she is pregnant. ..could be that.

      I’m confused: was the ‘inbalance’/’little crystalline deposit’ in her hip or in her foot?

      The aim of reflexology is to disperse these inbalances by massaging & applying a rotating motion repeatedly over the area.

      Why rotating motion and not just a lateral motion?

      You could return to it and it may be gone never to be felt again, or it may take a few treatments to disperse, or it may always remain.

      Convenient, that…

      My husband had a very persistant one on his elbow, I would try to disperse it but it never went away. A while later he randomly discovered he has chipped a bone in his elbow.

      Ah, the mandatory anecdote. But, seriously? In a chipped bone in his elbow?

      My mum had a few inbalances over the bladder area…turned out she needed a wee!!

      Are you saying these ‘inbalances’ appear and disappear every time we need to pee and relieve ourselves?

      A client suffering with sinus problems may well have inbalances over the area that correlates with the sinuses. Even if I found them I certainly wouldn’t say ‘you have sinusitis’, I would continue to try and disperse them at each treatment. If the client was concerned he/she can consult their doctor. Someone with a toothe [sic] ache may have inbalances in the area of the teeth/face/head. I would never diagnose, nor claim to cure.

      Sorry, I’m dismissing your unverified and unverifiable anecdotes as easily as you have asserted them.

      And any reflexologist who says otherwise should not be practising.

      Perhaps, but can you saw if this drastic action has ever happened?

      By dispersing the inbalance we find on the foot, we may help an ailment.

      Apart from the fact you claim never to diagnose, what good evidence do you have that you can help an ailment?

      There is evidence, my clients for me, that this is so.

      Ah. you mean you have no evidence that is verifiable.

      And be that purely because they feel less stressed, more relaxed, happier…..

      No doubt a nice foot massage could be relaxing – and there may even be some good evidence for that – but what good evidence is there for any more than that?

      then how can anyone write that off as not working?

      If reflexologists only ever made claims that their foot massage was only ever relaxing, then there would be little problem. However, many go a lot further than that – as you do here – and that’s when it gets problematic. That’s when we can say it doesn’t work.

      The happier and more stress free a person is, the healthier they are.

      Possibly, but not guaranteed.

      Is regular reflexology a pure coincidence?

      Yes. Unless you have good evidence to the contrary?

      There have not been enough studies to prove or disprove

      Then why are you taking money from customers?

      but I have yet to meet anyone who has had a reflexology say they wont have it again

      As I said, I’m sure the massage and attention is relaxing, but you’ve not provided any good evidence it is any more than that.

      • Oh Alan, your patronizing/condescending replies are so refreshing. Especially the “inbalances” part. I hope you don’t mind some creative criticism, but your little art piece rant falls apart a bit when you say:

        “What call it a map when there is no connection with any other part of the body?”

        and my favorite: “Perhaps, but can you saw if this drastic action has ever happened?”

        But overall, I’d rate you an 8 out of 10 on the stick up the ass scale – you get extra points for your usual inclusion of some sideways logic, and the always fun “What does treat the body as a whole mean?”. If I hadn’t read some of your other posts…I would have thought you were being sarcastic.

        Good grief, sigh, etc. blah blah blah.

        • Perhaps you think I should have said to kate that I was totally convinced by her sound, rational argument and thank her for presenting a cogent, evidence-based, scientific analysis of reflexology?

          As I said, ‘inbalances’ appears to be a made-up word. It may well have been a typo, but then kate used the same word seven times. Do reflexologists confer some special meaning to their made-up word that ‘imbalance’ cannot do? Or is it yet another example of quacks trying to sound all sciency and use mystical words?

          But of course, I note that you have not tried to help kate by providing any evidence of what she claimed nor actually answered any on my (many) criticisms. Perhaps you can tell us about the good evidence for reflexology?

          • Alan:

            – Those aren’t your only two options.

            – So you sincerely believe that ‘inbalances’ is a technical reflexology term? My apologies for doubting you. In my defense, you seem to be able to comb the web for whack job websites for “proof” of the dangers of this that or the other…I figured you could do the same for ‘inbalances’.

            – Answer your ‘criticisms’? I am curious about your statement “Why rotating motion and not just a lateral motion?”. I didn’t think you were serious. But after your ‘inbalances’ explanation, maybe you are. I’d love to hear your analysis of lateral vs rotational manipulation.

          • jm said:

            Those aren’t your only two options.

            I never said they were. But if you have some other alternatives, please do say.

            So you sincerely believe that ‘inbalances’ is a technical reflexology term?

            No.

            My apologies for doubting you.

            Thanks.

            In my defense, you seem to be able to comb the web for whack job websites for “proof” of the dangers of this that or the other…I figured you could do the same for ‘inbalances’.

            Before this turns into a meta-discussion about etymology, perhaps you’d like to say what you believe the word means? So far, since kate hasn’t said, all we have to go on are standard dictionary definitions and Google searches. I’ve not found the word in online dictionaries and it only seems to appear on reflexology websites, but I’ve not found a meaning for it. perhaps you know what it means, jm?

            Answer your ‘criticisms’? I am curious about your statement “Why rotating motion and not just a lateral motion?”. I didn’t think you were serious. But after your ‘inbalances’ explanation, maybe you are. I’d love to hear your analysis of lateral vs rotational manipulation.

            All it takes is some curiosity, jm. kate said “applying a rotating motion” and that made me wonder why rotational and not some other kind of movement/massage? I found it curious why rotational might be preferred – or even necessary – over some other type of movement. I wondered if there might be some evidence that suggests rotational motion is better. That might have been fascinating, don’t you think?

          • “perhaps you’d like to say what you believe the word means?” hmmm…cant’ say for sure, but I’ll bet it’s an autocorrect issue. You could always google it.

            “I never said they were. But if you have some other alternatives, please do say.” Common decency would be a good one. You could disagree with Kate without being an arse.

            “I found it curious why rotational might be preferred – or even necessary – over some other type of movement. I wondered if there might be some evidence that suggests rotational motion is better.” Really? You’re sincerity is just dripping all over the place.

          • jm said:

            “perhaps you’d like to say what you believe the word means?” hmmm…cant’ say for sure, but I’ll bet it’s an autocorrect issue. You could always google it.

            I did. perhaps you didn’t read my last comment?

            “I never said they were. But if you have some other alternatives, please do say.” Common decency would be a good one. You could disagree with Kate without being an arse.

            LOL!

            “I found it curious why rotational might be preferred – or even necessary – over some other type of movement. I wondered if there might be some evidence that suggests rotational motion is better.” Really? You’re sincerity is just dripping all over the place.

            That gets you another LOL! You don’t seem to get this curiosity thing, do you?

            Now, do you actually have any answers to any questions raised about reflexology, or are you intent on simply pursuing your meta argument?

          • I meant you could google “inbalance autocorrect”. Or is that what you did?

            No reflexology answers for you here. The only thing I know about it is that the maps are quite interesting looking. But since you bring up the whole curiosity thing…rather than lateral or rotational manipulation, I’d suggest starting with your question “What call it a map when there is no connection with any other part of the body?”. I think all anatomy/physiology models would agree that feet are connected to the rest of the body.

            And, a discussion on lateral vs rotational manipulation actually is quite fascinating, but you would consider it in the realm of fantasy, or antiquated, or whatever. If you can’t understand that there are different ways to look at a human body…that discussion would be meaningless to you.

          • jm said:

            I meant you could google “inbalance autocorrect”. Or is that what you did?

            TBH, I can’t say I care whether some algorithm or other might produce ‘inbalance’ instead if ‘imbalance’, but I’ve tended to notice that autocorrect usually produce words that are in a dictionary, not ones that are made up – that’s the whole point of them, isn’t it?

            The real point is whether ‘inbalance’ does actually have a specific, identifiable meaning but it seems we are no further forward on that.

            No reflexology answers for you here. The only thing I know about it is that the maps are quite interesting looking. But since you bring up the whole curiosity thing…rather than lateral or rotational manipulation, I’d suggest starting with your question “What call it a map when there is no connection with any other part of the body?”. I think all anatomy/physiology models would agree that feet are connected to the rest of the body.

            Yep. You’re right. Everything in the body is (trivially) connected to everything else the body. That tells us nothing about reflexology or maps.

            And, a discussion on lateral vs rotational manipulation actually is quite fascinating, but you would consider it in the realm of fantasy, or antiquated, or whatever.

            Well, we’ll need to wait to see if someone manages to produce some evidence one way or the other so we can discuss it.

            If you can’t understand that there are different ways to look at a human body…that discussion would be meaningless to you.

            Ah…’different ways’…

          • nice but fictitious dialogue; to pick up your last point: THE SAFETY OF A TREATMENT ON ITS OWN IS IRRELEVANT, IT’S THE RISK/BENEFIT BALANCE THAT COUNTS.

          • “Everything in the body is (trivially) connected to everything else the body.”

            That’s awesome. Thanks for the laugh!

          • How does one “try to sound all sciency” by using mystical words?

        • How old are you “jm”?

      • Okay, I am reading your rude little comments and all I can say is……maybe you should get your Bars run.

        • @ Lisa H on Monday 21 March 2016 at 03:38,

          “Okay, I am reading your rude little comments and all I can say is”

          If you are offended, I suggest you watch the Stephen Fry video.

          “……maybe you should get your Bars run.”

          Is that the same as colonic irrigation?

    • well said.. where do critics get their information from, a match box? No professional reflexologist is allowed to diagnose!

      • gail said:

        well said.. where do critics get their information from, a match box? No professional reflexologist is allowed to diagnose!

        We are all not allowed to steal and murder, but that doesn’t stop some.

        But perhaps you could say who it is that prevents reflexologists from diagnosing? And if they don’t diagnose, why do some claim to treat so many medical conditions?

        Perhaps you could also say what you think about the best evidence for it?

  • jm, there are also different ways to look at celestial bodies: astronomy and astrology — one is science, the other is quackery.

    • You couldn’t be more right, Pete. Different ways of looking at celestial bodies is a quite similar to different ways of looking at the body. This is from Wikipedia:

      “Chinese constellations (Chinese: 星官, xīngguān) are the groupings used in traditional Chinese culture to organize the stars. They are very different from the modern IAU-recognized constellations based on Greco-Roman astronomy: the only major similarities are clusters similar to the Big Dipper and Orion”.

      Someone should explain to China the proper way way to organize the night sky.

  • The make-believe basis of reflexology states that the internal organs/body parts are represented by a “zone” on the hands and feet.

    It may elevate our spirits in these heartbreaking times, to refresh the memory of John McLachlan’s brilliant parody of a similarly fabulous fantasy involving a n homunculus-like mapping of the different distant parts on our distinguished derriere. : D

  • which tags are used to get those nifty quotes?

    Dr. E. Ernst
    Reflexology is one of the most popular of all alternative therapies.

    Me:
    It’s not an alternative therapy. It often works as an adjunct to allopathic medicine, and acupuncture, and massage, and chiropractic, any mode you may or may not like…. Complementary is a preferred term. “Alternative” implies a false dichotomy. I wish my peers would ditch the term. Furthermore, as a trained, registered, insured professional, it’s not a therapy either, not in the traditional sense.

    Dr. E. Ernst
    Anyone who has ever had a session knows why: it is a strangely pleasant and oddly agreeable experience.

    Me:
    Yes, it is indeed. I hope you try it for yourself, minus your preconceived notions. Be as selective about choosing a reflexologist as you would a neurosurgeon removing a tumor from your brain. People pay money for “pleasant and oddly agreeable”. When patients see you, they don’t know what to expect. When they see me, they get a feeling of well being and that is what they pay for.

    Dr. E. Ernst
    Reflexologists massage your feet which can be mildly painful but usually is quite relaxing. They look for and subsequently focus on areas of tenderness believing they correspond to specific organs or whole organ systems.

    Me:
    Believing? fMRI studies on the brain verify the corresponding reflexes. This information is not that new so it surprises me that a person with more degrees than a thermometer would write on a subject that, evidently, hasn’t got all the facts.

    http://www.reflexology-research.com/index.php/what-is-reflexology/reflexology-information/reflexology-research/new-reflexology-studies/fmri-functional-magnetic-resonance-imaging/reflexology-and-fmri-comparison-of-reflexology-and-acupressure

    http://reflexologyresearch.wordpress.com/

    Dr. E. Ernst
    Even though few reflexologists would admit to it, they tend to make vague and unreliable diagnoses: if they feel something unusual at a certain point of the sole of your foot, they assume that a certain inner organ is in trouble. Reflexologists even have maps where the sole of a foot is depicted showing which area corresponds to which organ.

    Me:
    First, a properly trained reflexologist can only diagnose a tender reflex. I don’t know what country you polled reflexologists from, I’m guessing Somalia. . Upon finding a tender reflex, there is nothing wrong with asking the client questions pertaining to the corresponding organ, joint, bone or muscle. That is not making a diagnosis.
    Second, it is not the reflexologists that says ouch. It is the client/patient. However there are some reflexologists with a higher degree of tactile sensitivity than others. (I am not one of them) The same can be said for surgeons.. That does not affect the outcome of a good session. . Notice I use the term “session” and not “treatment”. Technically, a reflexology treatment is a misnomer because nothing is being treated. That is a concept you cannot or will not wrap your head around. The body is set up to heal itself, there should be no claims of curing anything. You are force fitting a square peg into a round hole and tossing the peg because you think it doesn’t belong. Different schools of thought does not make them invalid because they are different.

    Third, say what you will about maps. Give the same criticism to acupuncture maps and ridicule meridians because you never saw one on the OR table or the morgue.

    Dr. E. Ernst
    The treatment might be enjoyable but the assumptions that underpin it are nonsensical for at least two reasons: firstly, there are no nerve or other connections between a specific area on the sole of a foot and a certain organ.

    Me:
    See the link above.

    Dr. E. Ernst
    Secondly, the maps which reflexologists employ differ and fail to agree which area corresponds to which organ. Thus there are inconsistencies within the realm of reflexology and there are inconsistencies in relation to the known facts regarding physiology, anatomy etc.

    Me:
    Maps are guidelines, not rocket plans.

    Dr. E. Ernst
    Proponents of reflexology are quite undisturbed by these problems and seem to believe that not their assumptions but science must be wrong.

    Me:
    Reflexology is an art and a science. So is medicine last I checked.

    Dr. E. Ernst
    After all, reflexology does work! That is to say that patients perceive benefit from it, pay out of their own pocket for the experience and tend to come back for more.

    Me:
    I’ll be sure to tell my 85 year old patient suffering from barometric migraines that the immediate disappearance of her headache was just a perception because Dr. Ernst said so and I am a con artist. Geez…She also had to juggle between the headache pain and the sickening side effects of her prescribed p.r.n. medication.
    But that’s anecdotal so it doesn’t count, isn’t that right?

    Many reflexologists have dozens, some hundreds, of amazing success stories. I suggest you start palpating your patients for tender reflexes, but first you have to learn how its done. If you ever find a tender reflex associated with an x-ray in your face, somehow I don’t think that will convince you.

    Dr. E. Ernst
    Several years ago, we asked 8 UK professional organisations of reflexology which conditions they thought could be treated effectively with reflexology. We gave them a list of 25 conditions to chose from, many of which were serious, e.g. cancer and AIDS. Collectively, the organisations felt that 22 of these illnesses would respond to reflexology.
    But this is opinion, not evidence! What do the trial data tell us? Is reflexology more than a placebo?

    Me:
    The aim of the survey was to determine opinion, there was no trial data. You are not being fair. I read links, but will you read mine?. Probably not. You are defending a paradigm. More and more people are increasingly dissatisfied and somehow, in the midst of collapsing health care systems, that threatens you. Reflexology is not a threat to allopathic medicine, it is a complement. We are on the same side.

    Dr. E. Ernst
    As with many other areas of alternative medicine, controlled clinical trials are scarce; but this is not to say that none at all are available. Our own trial of reflexology for menopausal symptoms failed to show that this therapy has any effects beyond placebo.

    Me: Oh yea? My 3 kings beats your ace:
    http://www.reflexologyresearch.net/ReflexologyMenopauseResearch.shtml
    If it was your own trial it seems you found what you were looking for.

    Dr. E. Ernst
    More recently, we published a systematic review to evaluate all of the 23 studies that had been published at that stage. They related to a wide range of medical conditions and their methodological quality was often poor. Nine high quality randomised clinical trials (RCTs) generated negative findings. Eight RCTs suggested that reflexology is effective for the following conditions: diabetes, premenstrual syndrome, cancer patients, multiple sclerosis, symptomatic idiopathic detrusor over-activity and dementia. These studies, however, were wide open to bias. Therefore, our conclusions had to be cautious: the best clinical evidence does not demonstrate convincingly reflexology to be an effective treatment for any medical condition.

    Me:
    It looks contradictory to me, good Dr. Which side did the bias lean on which studies? Enumerating the caveats would have been nice. The eight effective RCT’s don’t count because the methodology was biased or was it the patients were biased because their improvements were subjective? This systematic review demonstrates systematic confusion, and doesn’t prove anything.

    Dr. E. Ernst
    For you and me, this simply means that there is currently no good evidence to suggest that reflexology works. But the story does not end here. There will be more studies and enthusiasts are most likely to concede that our conclusions were incorrect. In fact, a further trial has just become available.
    This new single-blind, randomized and placebo controlled study included 20 moderately to severely affected multiple sclerosis patients. Each participant received for 8 weeks, 1 hour per week of either reflexology or sham reflexology. The primary outcome measure was the Multiple Sclerosis Impact Scale at baseline, 8 weeks and 16 weeks. The results revealed improvements in both groups but no statistically significant differences between the two groups at either 8 or 16 weeks. The conclusions of the investigators were clear: The results do not support the use of reflexology for symptom relief in a more disabled multiple sclerosis population and are strongly suggestive of a placebo response.

    Me:
    I don’t know where you got the idea that reflexology is a panacea. . Cherry picking a disease that destroys the very pathways that reflexology functions on is playing dirty. Permit me to quote Kevin Kunz:

    >The little piece of propaganda today seems to be based on a pretty bad protocol by Ernst. Reflexology is no better than a foot massage. So if you are making that argument you are saying that the epiccritical nervous system is just the same as the protopathic nervous system.
    >You didn’t look at Hans Selye very closely did you? He had two types of adaptive syndrome. There is the General Adaptive Syndrome and the Local Adaptive syndrome. So stress is both generalized and very specific.
    >A foot massage is not the same as foot reflexology. At least that is what is starting to come out in the fMRI studies. And the Doppler sonograms of the kidneys and digestive system are double blinded randomized control studies. They show that specific application to areas on the feet effect blood flow to specific parts of the body. Of course you knew that from your in depth survey of research literature.< end quote

    Dr. E. Ernst
    There is, of course, nothing wrong with a relaxing foot-massage; it is agreeable, no doubt, and if someone wants to pay for the luxury, why not? By contrast, there is a lot wrong with reflexology, I think. A foot-massage is not administered under the pretence of generating any specific therapeutic effects. Reflexologists, however, claim they can exert highly specific effects on inner organs, influence the natural history of a wide range of diseases, and provide reliable diagnoses. They thus mislead their clients. This is not just wrong, it also has the potential to do serious harm. I believe it is time to end this nonsense.

    Me:
    That’s why reflexology schools have standards of practice and ethical guidelines. There has to be formed professional associations for the sake of public safety. No one has ever died from Reflexology.
    Real reflexologists have liability insurance. They can’t get that without credentials and a reflexologist cannot bill an extended health care plan unless they have both. Lots of people claim to know reflexology, and maybe they do, but that does not make them a reflexologist. “trained reflexologists” is all you have in your research papers. That doesn’t mean anything. The issue is structure of governing bodies and regulation and neither of that is addressed in your straw man arguments. We have strict rules here in Canada and given some high caliber practitioners that have come from the UK, I don't believe there are no rules.

    No serious harm has ever been the result from a competent reflexologist. No law suit has ever been filed against a reflexologist, at least not in Canada. Can your profession make that claim? Your charge is unwarranted.

    • Peter Cllemens RRPr. said:

      which tags are used to get those nifty quotes?

      HTML blockquote tags.

      It’s not an alternative therapy. It often works as an adjunct to allopathic medicine, and acupuncture, and massage, and chiropractic, any mode you may or may not like…. Complementary is a preferred term. “Alternative” implies a false dichotomy.

      First, provide some good evidence that reflexology has any benefit.

      • I agree that it will be very interesting to see what the loquacious Mr. Cllemens can procure in the form of convincing evidence for the healing benefit of massaging the sole of our feet. Apart from a sensuously soothing feeling which may temporarily relieve some stress of course.

        Perhaps the loquacious Mr. Cllemens can also produce references to support these interesting statements?:

        A foot massage is not the same as foot reflexology. At least that is what is starting to come out in the fMRI studies. And the Doppler sonograms of the kidneys and digestive system are double blinded randomized control studies. They show that specific application to areas on the feet effect blood flow to specific parts of the body. Of course you knew that from your in depth survey of research literature.

        A Nobel prize must be forthcoming for those who find previously completely unknown and physiological pathways that no-one but specially trained foot masseurs are able to invoke.

        And… what in the world is RRPr?
        Academic and other scholarly titles usually produce a prompt and concise explanation from uncle Google.
        My inquiry only produce three interpretations of this acronym: “Reduced Range Practice Rocket”, “Runaas Resources Public Relations” and “”Rada Research & Public Relations”

  • I don’t know where the heck you got your credentials, oh right university trained to think in one way, and wow you haven’t done your research at all. Reflexology has been going for many many thousands of years, and every trained certified reflexologist code is not to diagnose…. let’s see how well your chemo or your disease is being treated with medications down the road, medications certainly proven to save ?
    really, and hopefully one day when you are sick and need help there will be a trained individual to take pity on you and ease your burdens . I am fed up with people like you. sooth Sayers yea may you live long and well

  • HTML blockquote tags.
    Thanks, Allan. My inability to understand HTML codes parallels your inability to understand Reflexology. I offered good evidence. fMRI's don't lie. Yet you demand good evidence. Acedemiacs have a joke about the acronym for PhD: Piled higher and Deeper.

    If you wish to ignore or deny the evidence already posted, then piling it higher and deeper won't make any difference to you. However, I will take up the challenge for the sake of the readers.

    The American Academy of Reflexology conducted the first reflexology research study to ever be published in scientific medical literature, when the study appeared in the prestigious journal, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Vol. 82, #6, December 1993. This ground-breaking study was reported around the world, including in Journal Watch, which is published by the same people who publish the New England Journal of Medicine.

    Publishing of the study, and the wide spread reporting that followed in magazines, newspapers, numerous professional journals, as well as on radio, television, for the first time, gave Reflexologists around the world the ability to say, "Yes" when asked if there was any published scientific Reflexology Research validating that Reflexology works.

    Since the study was published, many other Reflexology Research Studies have been reported around the world. For any number of reasons, the PMS Reflexology Research Study has helped open doors for others around the world to conduct their studies.
    http://www.reflexologyresearch.net/PMSResearchCover.shtml

    In 2005 the National Institutes of Health (NIH) awarded Michigan State University (MSU Kellogg Center, East Lansing, Michigan) a grant for $3.1 million to study“The Effects Of Reflexology On Women With Breast Cancer Undergoing Chemotherapy.” It was the largest and the first federally funded grant in the USA for reflexology. The results of the 5-year study (2005-2010) were published in Spring 2011.

    Principal Investigator
    Gwen Wyatt, RN, Ph.D.,
    (oh my, an opposing PhD.. Maybe all the PhD's in world should have a symposium in the form of a football game to define "good evidence" and eliminate the referees just to avoid bias).

    s a professor and served as the principal investigator of the study for the College of Nursing, at Michigan State University. Gwen had wonderful results with reflexology to facilitate the healing of a broken tibia bone that had refused to mend using allopathic treatment options. Able to see and feel the benefits of reflexology first hand; she was led to explore the benefits of reflexology in her own field of nursing care for breast cancer. Michigan State University and Dr. Gwen Wyatt partnered with Branch Reflexology Institute for the study. Gwen has previously addressed the RAA conference in 2008 in Portland, Maine, where she explained the anatomy of research.

    Traditional Medicine and Holistic Therapies
    In grant writing and the study, our challenge was to blend the knowledge of traditional allopathic medicine and the holistic [modality] of reflexology. This involved learning to fit in the academic realm and adapting the grant to what was scientifically required by academia. Protocol design had to be based on a clear understanding of our goal and hopefully the outcome of the study would support this. The goal of the study was to determine if reflexology could improve the quality of life for women with breast cancer who were undergoing chemotherapy.

    Design Elements
    Four hundred fifty one women with advanced breast cancer on chemotherapy agreed to participate, and 385 provided complete data. Of these 385, 146 women were assigned to reflexology, and 141 women were able to complete their sessions with reflexology. Patients received 4 sessions of reflexology, 4 weeks in a row. One hundred and forty three (143) women received manipulation of the feet that was designed to be similar to reflexology, but delivered by lay people. Finally, 96 women were in the control group. Data were collected over 12 weeks.

    On a scale of 0-100, reflexology improved physical function by 5 points, or about 10% compared to the control group. This improvement is substantial and reflects better ability to walk, carry groceries, climb stairs etc. This improvement in physical function resulted from the reduction in difficulty breathing from having received reflexology. Women in the reflexology group had less trouble breathing compared to women in the control group, and also compared to women who received lay foot manipulation.

    Protocol Design
    • The sessions were held to 15 minutes per foot with 5 minutes of introduction and closure built into the session.
    • Patients received 1 session per week for 4 weeks.
    • Patients were studied a total of 16 weeks – 8 weeks out from the conclusion of their reflexology sessions.

    The Study 9-Step Protocol
    Since the goal of reflexology is to open the flow of energy and circulation throughout the entire body, I felt the results of these steps would be effective in two ways. First to open pathways to receive the chemotherapy more thoroughly and second to release the residual byproducts of the chemo after it has accomplished its function. The reflexology protocol was composed of 9 steps working the reflexes in this order:

    1. Spine as the gateway to the Central Nervous System.
    2. Chest/Lung as the breast reflex was the primary location of the cancer.
    3. Lungs on the plantar surface of the feet were worked because of the 3-dimensional nature of the body and some cancer sites are deep within the breast.
    4. Diaphragm for the reduction of stress. The diaphragm is the first place we carry stress. Constriction of the diaphragm keeps one from breathing deeply, slowing circulation. Working the diaphragm reflex allows for deeper breathing, increased circulation to the lungs, and contributes to the overall effectiveness of the chemo traveling throughout the system, as well as facilitating a pathway for the release of chemicals after they have accomplished their desired effect.
    5. Kidneys for stress and detoxification.
    6. Adrenal glands for stress and detoxification.
    7. Spleen, as a blood purifier, helps to raise blood cell count, and energy level.
    8. Intestines both small and large colon for detoxification: The small intestine to absorb the treatment and large intestine to release the chemicals.
    9. Lymphatic system—the upper and lower lymph reflexes for tissue drainage and immunity.

    Exciting Outcomes
    There was a 10% improvement in the quality of life. This was determined by patients reporting they were better able to walk, carry groceries, climb stairs, etc. This improvement in physical function resulted from the reduction in difficulty breathing from having received reflexology. Women in the reflexology group had less trouble breathing compared to women in the control group, and also compared to women who received lay foot manipulation. The 10% improvement in the quality of life is considered statistically significant in research. Also, not one patient had a negative side effect from receiving reflexology. This is a very important finding, especially in this fragile population. The three things this grant has established for reflexology are its: 1. safety; 2. feasibility; and 3. efficacy.

    NIH Awards a Second 5-Year (2011-2016) Grant for $2.65 million
    This grant will use the same protocol to study the effects of the 9-steps reflexology protocol with primary caregivers delivering the sessions. The reflexologists who participated in the first grant are now training the primary caregivers to deliver the 9-steps. The goal of this study will be to see if frequency of sessions shows to enhance the quality of life for these women as each primary caregiver will be able to perform the 9-steps on their spouse, family member, or friend as often as they would like in the week as long as they complete the full 9-steps.

    Barbara Brower, lead reflexologist in the MSU study, designed the 9-step reflexology protocol that was used. This article was originally published in ARCB’s Summer 2012 issue of Reflexology Today. Reprinted with permission of the author and ARCB. More info on the MSU study can be found at www.branchreflexology.com.

    http://www.washingtonreflexology.org/tag/reflexology-breast-cancer/

    There is more, Allan. And there are just as many critical and sceptical web sites with the same boring straw man arguments that Ernst uses. Before I sign off, lets get one thing straight. Reflexology does not claim to cure cancer. I hope I have made myself clear.

  • Reading through the study can be a challenging task. We developed the below chart to help clarify
    the percentage change that occurred between the three reflexology groups. The most significant comparison is between the 46% change in the Active Reflexology Group and 19% change in the Placebo Reflexology Group, a statistically significant difference of 27%.
    http://www.reflexologyresearch.net/PMSResearchChart.shtml

    Here’s more from Google. You can sift through them all and cherry pick one that suits you.
    http://www.bing.com/search?q=+PMS+STUDY+research+RESULTS+reflexology+&qs=n&form=QBRE&pq=pms+study+research+results+reflexology+&sc=0-0&sp=-1&sk=&cvid=fd9ee99b934246129f278d21daa3c520

  • Correction

    completely unknown and physiological pathways

    should read:

    completely unknown physiological pathways

  • Bjorn Geir, Alan is correct. RRPr. is an acronym for Registered Reflexology Practitioner, which is a federally recognized legal trademark, and I don’t debate with children who parrot the same remarks contrary to the evidence presented. If you insist fMRI’s lie, that’s your problem. (as it is with Dr. Earnst, who is strangely silent on the matter)

    A Randomized Control Trial to Determine the Effect of Foot Reflexology on Intensity of Pain and Quality of Sleep in Post Caesarean Mothers
    http://www.scribd.com/doc/237959287/A-Randomized-Control-Trial-to-Determine-the-Effect-of-Foot-Reflexology-on-Intensity-of-Pain-and-Quality-of-Sleep-in-Post-Caesarean-Mothers

    Michigan State University and the National Institutes of Health have now concluded a $3.1 million grant 5 year Reflexology study from 2005-2011 in which 451 women with advanced breast cancer on chemotherapy agreed to participate. Here is a summary:

    Original article found here: http://www.jackmarriott.com/reflexology-breast-cancer-results-are-in/comment-page-1/

    • These references raise two important questions.
      First, which is more cost effective, to let nurses to sit and massage the soles of patients or to teach nurses something useful about how to design, perform and present science. The latter is severely lacking in my part of the world also. The most incredibly poorly done “studies” are usually found in nurses publications for some reason. This is one of them and does not prove anything other than foot massage is nice.

      Second, where is the paper published about this fantastically expensive, long-term study? It seems like it is breakthrough material so it should have been published by now? We have no way of appreciating it unless you provide a better citation.

      • These references raise two important questions.
        First, which is more cost effective, to let nurses to sit and massage the soles of patients or to teach nurses something useful about how to design, perform and present science. The latter is severely lacking in my part of the world also.

        In some parts of the world, reflexology is part of the curriculum in nursing schools.

        The most incredibly poorly done “studies” are usually found in nurses publications for some reason. This is one of them and does not prove anything other than foot massage is nice.

        The studies meet the same criteria as any study you care to name. The data speaks for itself, who publishes it is irrelevant.

        Second, where is the paper published about this fantastically expensive, long-term study? It seems like it is breakthrough material so it should have been published by now?

        It’s in the link you glossed over.

        We have no way of appreciating it unless you provide a better citation.

        No amount of citations will satisfy such extreme bias and academic snobbery.

        Edited by Admin to correct BBCode tags to HTML tags.

        • Well Peter (Reduced Range Practice rocket- what does RRPr mean?), In my opinion there is no bias or snobbery.

          If you wish to perceive that then you are deluded and have no critical thinking skills. If there is one constant on this blog, it is, if you provide robust evidence then everyone here would have to change their minds.

          Do that and shut everyone up, don’t cry about it pretending you get treated any differently to anyone else.

        • @Peter Clemens

          In some parts of the world, reflexology is part of the curriculum in nursing schools.

          That only proves that some nursing professors are gullible, not that reflexology works.

          The studies meet the same criteria as any study you care to name.

          Nope, they do not. Take the indian study for example. It is obviously performed by people wildly interested in proving that reflexology works. In the abstract it says:

          Reflexology is a sensational, dynamic yet simple approach to glowing health.

          After reading this blaring declaration of the authors’ partiality, the first thing a reviewer will look for in the paper is what the researchers did to exclude bias… Nothing! They had a relatively small population 30 + 30. One group received a warm bath and 15 minutes of foot massage called reflexology. The other group got no such nice attention. Did they for example tell the massagers to keep quiet? No, the massagers may very well have (=most probably did) told the subjects that they would feel fantastic and sleep much better and so on… That will induce strong bias by suggestion, relaxation and soothing. Like reading a ‘good night’ story, right? I could go on at length about all the blunders. About study design hypothesis building, statistics and so on. This paper would have been thrown out of most properly reviewed publications. I certainly would have sent it back with a short note: ‘Multiple serious methodological and technical problems. Not fit for publication or further consideration’.
          The PMS study, also proves nothing more than that reflexology is nice and relaxing and it must have been easy in the beginning of the nineties to get small, bias-riddled, poorly designed studies published in Obstet gynecol.

          The data speaks for itself, who publishes it is irrelevant.

          The data in none of these studies in no way overrides the blatant risk of multiple bias.

          It’s in the link you glossed over.

          Nope, no proper publication reference to be found to this “study” of hundreds of chemotherapy patients. Do you mean “Reflexology Today”?
          I find a Magazine by that name, published by an organisation of reflexologists but no peer reviewed, scientific publication. Was the study rejected by scientific journals?

          …extreme bias and academic snobbery.

          Well, I find it rather ironic that you use these terms to put me down as they associate well with the impression I have after perusal of the site you seem to favour: http://www.reflexologyresearch.net
          The collection of “reflexology research” valiantly assembled under “Reflexology research, 380+ abstracts” is especially revealing.
          I had a look at some of the listings there, starting with some in my field of work (general and bariatric surgery). I first looked at the “studies” of gallbladder problems and found it singularly odd. Eight references to tall tales told at a 1996 Chinese symposium of reflexology. Completely unsupported and incredible writings.
          Example:

          20 cases with gallbladder conditions were given foot reflexology. Four cases with cholecystopathy showed tenderness in the gallbladder reflex zones while 16 cases without gall cyst disease showed no tenderness. A 67 yr old female with cholecystolithiasis improved and was without symptoms after two sessions even though the gallstone was un-changed. A 59 yr old female with diabetes mellitus and cholecystitis and right hypochondriac pain and tenderness was completely relieved
          from pain after one session. A 63 yr old female with right hypochondriac pain was relieved of pain after two sessions.

          Effect my ass! I could have produced similar “results” by singing for them. Its called spontaneous improvement and is ubiquitous with gallstones. Tell me another one…

          I then looked at the Obesity listing. It contained one “abstract” from the same symposium:

          Subject: Obesity
          Study Conducted: [blank]
          Institution: Not indicated
          Country: China
          Citation:
          Sun, J. (1996). “Effects of Foot Reflexolotherapy on Obesity – Related Syndromes.” 1996 China Reflexology Symposium Report, Beijing : China Reflexology Association, pages 122-124.

          Synopsis:

          32 cases, both male and female, with body mass index above 24 and obesity-related syndromes were given 30 minutes of foot reflexology daily for 20 days and had magnetic beads taped to acupuncture points on their ears which were pressed for 2 minutes 3-5 times a day. Those with severe obesity were divided into 4 catagories:, those who had hypoventilation (hypersomnia, fatigue and breathlessness with activity); those with cardiovascular problems (palpitations, paleness, sweating, dyspnea) ; those with endocrine problems (hypomenorrhea or amenorrhea); those with digestive problems (excessive appetite, polyphagia, constipation, and abdominal distention). Results: those with hypoventilation and cardiac problems (15 patients) were relieved 100%; those with endocrine problems (12 patients) 91%; those with digestive problems 100%.

          Conclusion:

          Foot reflexology combined with magnetic beads on acupuncture points, was found to be effective for the relief of obesity-related syndromes.

          Oh my god, are you pulling my leg? Chinese reflexology research certainly excels at one thing and that is bloated exaggeration.

          I looked under several other headings and all were the same, lifted apparently from the same chinese catalog from a 1996 reflexology symposium. Similar incredible anecdotes, small surveys or make-believe research on small groups using all kinds of quackery along with “reflexology” and boasting vividly imaginative conclusions all over the place.

          OK, I realise that you have high and noble ambitions (note that I am not using the term ‘snobbery’ 😉 ) for promoting reflexology research. That may be laudable. Your exhibition of this is just not supported by any display of knowledge, training or insight and above all they are obviously hampered by frenetic fascination for your favourite vocation, resulting in extreme bias, as a matter of fact.

          I have now learned enough about reflexology. Homeopathy is less uninteresting.

  • Science pulls everything apart and puts it back together. By doing this science can then declare whether it works or not. In declaring, in wordy fashion, that a remedy that has made it through 1000’s of years – yes THOUSANDS – is defunct is absolutely laughable and sad at the same time. Discoveries were not made by ruling out everything that only a scientific brain can declare to be true. This arrogance is a crime!

    • @Giselle

      The fact that it may have been used for thousands of years (and I would question that anyway in the case of reflexology) has no bearing on whether it works or not. There is also no plausible mechanism of action. The best evidence would appear to show that it doesn’t have any specific effects – unless you can provide some?

      • Ummmm if something does not work, it becomes redundant, forgotten, not used….shall I continue? Reflexology was used a long time ago and is still here today. Why? Because it works silly! Let go – open yourself to feeling instead of thinking something.

        • Giselle said:

          Ummmm if something does not work, it becomes redundant, forgotten, not used….shall I continue? Reflexology was used a long time ago and is still here today. Why? Because it works silly! Let go – open yourself to feeling instead of thinking something.

          Why was blood-letting used for centuries for just about every ill and why was it eventually discarded as a general treatment?

        • Alan forgot to mention that anything that can bring an income is never forgotten. Reflexology would be forgotten if there were not people promoting it for monetary interests. Of course there is always a large component of self-aggrandisement in all alternative medicine but that is part of the gain-seeking behaviour of snake-oil charlatanism.

          The very reason make-believe medicine survives is because it can be sold to gullible persons using lies and deceptions, that are seldom criminalised because our culture is very apologetic to anything that can be sold with the prefix “health-“

  • Morning!
    I have work for many years as a foot therapist and I take a lot of time massaging the foot at the end of my treatment ( I treat painful conditions of the foot). Many many of my clients believe I’m helping them with conditions of the body when I’m massaging their feet. I tell them that I’m not trained in reflexology and that if I am helping them it is purely accidental on my part! It fascinates me this subject of the feet and Iv stayed away from training as a reflexologist as I want to work with a scientific integrity!
    I believe the placebo effect and the clients wish to feel better makes them believe they are better! I think that if reflexology can offer this simple harmless and in most cases enjoyable treatment and it makes people feel a little better from their suffering then absolutely it is worth the money people pay for it!

    • @Tania

      Thank you for showing that you can procure soothing, relaxing enjoyment without lying to your customers about specific health effects.
      Please continue giving your relaxing treatment with the pride and honesty of telling the truth.

      We often discuss placebo and placebo effect here.
      If you stick around this blog you may learn that what you are giving your customers is by definition not a placebo effect, simply because it does not involve deception.

      • Yes but it does involve taking money and the money taken will no-doubt be a similar amount as other SCAM therapists who in turn try to align their fees with real health professionals.

        I once heard a Bowen therapist claim that if a cardiac consultant charged in the region of £250 for a 30 minute appointment then she was undercharging!!

        The charge for a foot massage should be no more than minimum wage as it needs so technique other than to stop the person receiving it from saying ‘OW’!

        Note the massage came at the end of the ‘treatment’ WHAT TREATMENT? . the reason the ‘patient’ was there in the first place was because of the mistaken claims in Reflexology!

        • burdle – do you think it possible that the Bowen therapist you overheard was talking in jest or being sarcastic? I had Bowen a few years ago and I remember the fee being around £50. The fee for reflexology (in my experience ) is around the same, as is Chiropractic and homeopathy, and acupuncture nearer £60 to £70.

          I disagree that CAM therapists try to align their fees with real health professionals: I assume you mean hospital consultants. I believe there is quite a move towards using private GP’s but don’t know their fees. And private dentists’ fees appear to increase often.

          As a Reiki Practitioner I don’t charge as much as the above, and sometimes offer pro bono. Of course in London traditionally fees for everything are much higher. But generally my view (mine) is that CAM therapists’ priority is to support good health, not to price themselves out of a very busy and varied (and popular) market.

        • The bowen practitioner was not being sarcastic – I did not say she charged that but that she implied she considered herself on a par with a real medical practitioner and should charge accordingly. All the SCAM charges you nentioned are grossly inflated ehen you consider the training they receieve has no real intellectual demand.

          • True – my comment was made using mobile phone. Posts do not display on a Samsung properly and in this case overlapped each other in display. So the second bit of my post could be deleted as it is clearly not a correct reply!

      • “Note the massage came at the end of the ‘treatment’ WHAT TREATMENT?”
        Based on what Tania posted, I would guess foot therapy for a painful foot condition.

        “the reason the ‘patient’ was there in the first place was because of the mistaken claims in Reflexology!”
        How did you come to that conclusion, since Tania said she’s not a reflexologist?

    • It’s that simple! Well done Tania, that’s +1 for humanity!

      Your simple and elegantly stated opinion makes me wonder what has gone so wrong with people making all sorts of incredible claims about various types of massage.

  • Tania: You bring up some interesting and I’d say important points. All of us with discretionary income always have the option to indulge in a “feel good” treatment of some sort. I applaud you for staying away from reflexology-proper as, like Chiropractic, acupressure, shiatsu etc etc it’s the bait-and switch aspect of these “professions” that is appalling to the right-minded….that is selling a shallow, temporary feel-good “thing” but proposing to the client it has a deep, profound, neurological or mechanical benefit, which of course they don’t.
    Of course since the effect of acupressure/puncture, manipulation or a good foot rub are transient, require no real skill-set or distinct understanding of anatomy etc it’s a near impossibility to make any substantial money, especially if there are numerous other “practitioners” (and worse yet if some of them refuse to play-fair and admit the extent of their limitations).

  • I have been a foot reflexologist and healer for 25 years. I have a degree in psychology and I’m highly intellectual. The feet represent our understanding of ourselves, others and life. By working on the feet we allow for a better flow through the crown chakra so that universal energy can move up and down more freely. I’ve seen a correlation between physical and non physical states and the reflex areas. For example the pericardiym reflex sensitive when someone faces challenge in his or her love life.

    Go ahead and call it placebo. It could be that you haven’t experienced the full dimension of the work. In my view a reflexologist should be versed not only in anatomy but also in the mind body connection where each organ connects to consciousness. Intellect without intuition = incomplete data.

  • Really interesting comments from both sides of the spectrum. Personally I’ve never come across a reputable, professional reflexologist who claims to diagnose, or treat, or ‘cure’ anything. Not saying it’s isn’t a great treatment, because it’s helped me personally, physically and mentally, for whatever reason, but the reason I enjoy it is that NO ONE has ever tried to make claims or influence me. It’s just been a very successful treatment, end of. And I’m a science person, so quite sceptical about the whole thing. I guess it just depends on where you live and the individual practitioners who also live there. If it was more regulated more controls could be implemented over individual practitioners. Seems to be the presentation of one or two practitioners who feed the bad press for everyone.

    • “… a very successful treatment…” for what?

    • Gail Brewster said:

      I’ve never come across a reputable, professional reflexologist who claims to diagnose, or treat, or ‘cure’ anything.

      So, when someone says, “reflexology may be effective for” or “reflexology helps with” various medical conditions, what do you think they are claiming to do?

      If it was more regulated more controls could be implemented over individual practitioners.

      What controls do you think they could implement that would protect customers?

      • Alan,

        The only “control” you really need would be a reminder that “…may be effective for” and “…helps with” and related phrasing doesn’t mean “cure”, “replacement for”, etc etc.

        Since most people have the common sense to understand that a nice foot massage is simply a nice foot massage – there’s probably not much of a rush to get those “controls” in place.

        Other than the obvious (a broken foot, for instance), what conditions do you think a relaxing foot massage wouldn’t effectively help with? Never forget the Icelandic Maxim “Massage is medicine. It can be soothing and healing. Let me know it from repeated personal experience after long and difficult operations. It works every time!”

        Truer words were never spoken.

      • @Alan
        As before, I look forward to the day when our esteemed friend will get up the courage to tell the world how she persuades her customers that massage needs to leave them all bruised up.
        Until then, at least, I prefer massage that does not result in injury 😉

  • I started becoming interested in reflexology a couple of years ago in my work as a nurse, as a means to help relax my elderly patients and alleviate pain. I became so convinced about the benefits, that I am currently training as a reflexology practitioner. I have not conducted a scientific study into the benefits of reflexology, but I can honestly say that I have witnessed some amazing effects, such as severe pain being relieved, and agitation in patients with dementia being calmed almost instantly. I have worked on someone with a head injury, suffering from severe agitation, and who was screaming constantly for hours. Within minutes of working on her she would calm completely, usually falling asleep. Another man was crying with pain to his arthritic hip and knee, which prevented him walking or even lifting his affected leg. Within minutes of having reflexology, he was calm, pain free and able to lift the affected leg. Following the session he relaxed and fell asleep. I have treated someone who was vomiting and experiencing crippling abdominal pain and headache, due to dysmenorrhoea. Immediately prior to having reflexology, she had collapsed and had to be assisted up and supported to walk. I commenced reflexology, focusing on all the nerve reflex points I knew may help her, and every one of these points were painful under even mild pressure from my thumbs. Within 5 minutes, the nausea and pain stopped completely and within 20 minutes, the person concerned was able to resume normal activities. The pain did not return. I have treated myself, getting rid of headaches, and nagging nerve pain to my back. The nerves reflexology works on are readily accessible on the feet, but may be reached by skilled practitioners over other areas of the body. The body is connected through a series of nerves, so it is possible to work on an area remotely, for example to stimulate a constipated bowel by working on the reflex areas for this area. For anyone who writes reflexology off, I can only ask that they leave skepticism behind and look again with an open minded.

    • can you explain why the effects of reflexology seem to disappear, if one tests them in a clinical trial?

      • EE

        One answer could be because the trial that have been done were low quality trials.

        http://theconversation.com/reflexology-panacea-or-placebo-10527

        “Does reflexology work?
        The most recent and comprehensive systematic review on the effectiveness of reflexology found 23 trials where reflexology had been compared to no treatment, usual care, or a placebo/sham treatment. The methodological quality of these trials was generally poor, with few studies adequately controlling for non-specific (placebo) effects or blinding the assessors documenting the outcome measurements.

        There’s no consensus about how reflexology ‘works’ but some believe it removes toxins.
        The review concluded that there is insufficient evidence to demonstrate that reflexology is an effective treatment for any medical condition.

        It needs to be acknowledged, however, that conducting high quality trials of reflexology is inherently difficult. Possible solutions to the problems of inconsistent reflexology maps and difficulties controlling for placebo effects have recently been proposed, but have not yet been implemented.”

    • @Saf
      Some indigenous cultures discovered that when they danced, sometimes it started to rain. Then, when rain was needed in dry periods, someone had the brilliant idea to try starting rain by dancing. They carried on until, sometimes, it started raining when or after they danced. They intuitively deduced from this observation, that they could perhaps start rain by dancing and rain-dance became “a thing”. Or so they thought.
      They danced the rain-dance every time the need arose and sometimes it started to rain after the dance. This they took as proof that the dance worked. What they did not realise was that when it sometimes failed to rain, it was not because dancing did not work, they wound other excuses such as that they had not danced in the correct manner or something.
      In order to know for sure that it was the dance that caused it to rain, they needed to test it in a systematic way. They needed to compare it to not doing the rain dance and analyse the difference mathematically. This is what we today call science.
      As the professor points out, when reflexology has been tested under scientific trial conditions, the effect cannot be confirmed. It disappears because there is no inherent effect, only the erroneously perceived association. The same would most probably be true for rain-dancing, don’t you think? 🤔

      • Björn- ‘…..someone had the brilliant idea to try starting rain by dancing…,,’

        Björn- who was that someone ? It’s hard to comprehend you were there monitoring every rain dance and deducing this is not ‘science’

        Our indigenous cultures must be turning in their graves; on the other hand, they would probably be having a little chuckle that this blog exemplifies just how far science has brought us: to negate traditional historical practices serves no purpose.

        That ancient indigenous saying ‘we are the ones we have been waiting for’ won’t apply to this sceptics blog. Maybe the ancient cultures are reflecting on the efficacy of the dance and many more practices, whilst thinking ‘ has open mindedness, respect for ancient culture disappeared and been replaced with dogma: that we in this current civilisation know it all – even ancient conversational content …. ‘

        Maybe the ‘scientific trial conditions’ are not working : because if you look at the popularity of reflexology, the recipients must be happy with the effects and don’t feel the need to consult the so called science. Maybe it is as simple as: I enjoyed that treatment, it was worth the amount I spent on it and I feel better.

        • “Maybe it is as simple as: I enjoyed that treatment, it was worth the amount I spent on it and I feel better.”
          probably true
          but then don’t pretend it’s a THERAPY
          I feel better after a lot of things that are not called a therapy [don’t ask me to provide details!]

          • Professor Ernst – therapies are all over multiple disciplines : it seems to be common term.

            Therapy equals therapeutic equals feeling better.

            No I don’t need to know what makes you feel better. However, i am happy to disclose that I feel better after seeing : my reflexologist, acupuncturist, homeopath, chiropractor, Reiki practitioners, and none of them call themselves therapists or pretend? to be one.

          • Therapy equals therapeutic equals feeling better
            (Angela)

            When I use a word it means just what I choose it to mean- neither more nor less.
            (Humpty Dumpty)

        • Angela,

          to negate traditional historical practices serves no purpose

          What do you mean by this? I don’t think Bjorn was negating anything. Or are you advocating the use of Rain Dances for, say, droughts?

          There are many historical traditions that we now know were completely ineffective in achieving their desired goal (such as the cruel practice of swaddling babies to prevent rickets). That does not make them invalid in their cultural context, but nor does it mean that they should be adopted outside of that.

          Björn- ‘…..someone had the brilliant idea to try starting rain by dancing…,,’

          Björn- who was that someone ? It’s hard to comprehend you were there monitoring every rain dance and deducing this is not ‘science’

          Are you suggesting that in fact nobody had the idea of trying to start rain by dancing?

          • Dr Julian – I am saying I don’t understand (not very well I agree) the conflation aspect of the ancient ritual of rain dancing with reflexology.

            To me it seems odd (but then I am not a scientist)

          • Angela,

            I think what Bjorn was trying to say was that when an event is followed by an action (such as recovery following reflexology treatment) there is a tendency to believe that they are cause and effect, and this is even the case when the association is intermittent. He gave rain dances as a less controversial example on the assumption that we would all agree 1. that there are (or have been) people that believed in them and 2. that they don’t work. I’m not sure that this is a terribly good example, however, as it seems to me that there are probably people who believe in the efficacy of both.

            Curiously, people (and animals) tend to be more convinced by an intermittent association than a consistent one. Perhaps this is an evolutionary adaptation which helps us to acquire skills by persistent practice (where inevitably there will be a lot of misses), but it is also one of the many ways in which our brains are easily fooled. Mostly people believe things that appeal to them, or what their parents and teachers told them, or what their friends believe, or (very often) what the advertising industry tells them with the aim of manipulating them into doing something that they would not otherwise do. It takes a lot of time and effort to stop and think something through rationally and most of the time we don’t bother. Nor are we even aware of this.

            When I first came across a textbook of reflexology I was rather surprised to see the authors recommending that, when treating serious illness, the therapist should work the reflex zone associated with the adrenal glands in addition to that of the affected part of the body. This seemed a bizarre way of legitimising what is basically witchcraft by incorporating a bit of physiology.

          • Dr Julian – ‘ when I use a word …..’

            I don’t know what to say so I will be polite and say ‘thank you ‘ anyway. (Angela)

          • Julian,

            I was in a martial arts seminar at one point, and the instructor was talking about balance. There was discussion about the body’s natural reaction to losing balance, which includes gripping the ground with the feet and all kinds of other tension in the body (hips, low back, shoulders, neck, etc) associated with that fear. Some speculate that the fear of falling causes the body to gaurd the vulnerable parts (carotid, femoral artery, internal organs…). The tension caused by the body’s natural reaction to “guard & protect” makes it easier to apply a joint lock, throw, punch, kick – much more difficult when the opponent is not holding excess physical tension and is structurally balanced.

            The instructor mentioned that a way to start the process of regaining balance is simply to relax the feet. Might not keep you from falling, but it certainly reduces the tension associated with feeling like you’re going to fall – and makes for fewer falling related injuries.

            The instructior was teaching a Chinese martial art – so used the cavity ‘kidney 1’ or ‘yongchuan’ as reference to the physical location on the foot to start the process. Focus on relaxing that point, and the rest follows. In practice, it works pretty well. For whatever reason, maintaining a relaxed foot keeps you from being thrown so easily. When you are thrown, at least your neck is prepared to roll effectively.

            One of the students in the class was dabbling in reflexology – and mentioned that same point is generally mapped out on charts as the adrenal point. That same point has different names in different systems (some other students practiced bodywork from different traditions).

            It seems that concern over serious illness might cause an overall fear response (and associated tensin) in the body, and there’s probably not any harm in minimizing shoulder, neck, hip, etc tension. Relaxing the center of the foot is a pretty practical way to assist in that. If you are a reflexologist, the easiest way to find the point is using a map you’re familiar with.

            Edzard posted a while back about a Chinese head massage, and several acupuncture points were mentioned. In context, the listing of points was simply a map for the massage sequence to follow. Nothing ‘magical’ about the point selection – simply a description of how the massage was performed.

            So, “This seemed a bizarre way of legitimising what is basically witchcraft by incorporating a bit of physiology.” Maybe. Or maybe it’s simply a map, with the goal of relaxing the foot in an effficient way.

          • Angela,
            An A380 of logic just flew 300mm above your head and you missed it. No surprise.

      • Curiously, an intermittent payoff is a much stronger stimulus to the reward centres of the brain than a consistent payoff. This has been clearly shown when studying the brains of gamblers, particularly addicts. It is also an effective strategy when training dogs (if they don’t know whether they will be rewarded for the desired behaviour they will try much harder).

        • @Julian Money-Kyrle

          Very interesting.
          One thinks this phenomenon is not limited to monetary reward but also applies to intermittent satisfaction from experiencing random success.
          This might very well take part in explaning the strength of fascination that so called alternative medicine induces in some people?

        • Frank Collins – good you are back to tell me what I have missed. I would like to say that’s a valuable contribution to the discussion…….but I guess I am missing the relevance: but pleased you will be unsurprised.

          • Angela,
            Nearly everyone else on this blog is far too nice and won’t point out the very obvious; sadly, you are not very intelligent, in fact, the opposite. Your thinking is addled and confused (just as that of jm despite his literary flourishes), and you use Logical Fallacies as if they support your arguments.

    • Saf,

      The body is connected through a series of nerves, so it is possible to work on an area remotely, for example to stimulate a constipated bowel by working on the reflex areas for this area

      Could you give an example of these nerves? I don’t remember coming across them in my undergraduate anatomy course.

      • Dr. JMK

        Hey doc, why don’t you and your pals here lay off the attack on CAM treatments. If SBM had profs of actual cures, I might be entertained by the opinions of this forum. Unfortunately, SBM has stop-gap measures, and temporary cures that lead to nowhere…. no better than CAM measures.
        Meds, cortisone treatments, PT and the likes (that me and my family been offered) are not cures. Even surgery can be questioned at to efficacy. Please stop acting as though SBM has the answers…. it doesn’t.

        • Hey, RG

          You continue to believe that your Dunnig-Krugeroid stream of witless and unevidenced assertions trumps the knowledge of professional scientists and clinicians, and imagine that your anecdotes are of value. Why not ask my wife how she was cured of epilepsy, breast cancer and choleocystitis by modern medicine and surgery? Or are you going to claim that her symptoms have merely been suppressed and my anecdote doesn’t count?

        • RG,

          Hey doc, why don’t you and your pals here lay off the attack on CAM treatments

          As far as I am concerned there is treatment supported by evidence and treatment that is not supported by evidence and it is unethical to use the latter outside clinical trials. Much of what comes under the umbrella of CAM is not only unsupported by evidence but is not even plausible. Furthermore it is potentially harmful in ways that have been discussed endlessly here, and over the course of my career I have seen such harm done to people that I have known personally, which motivates me to speak out.

          I am not attacking anything. I am trying to educate and inform, and to warn against charlatans.

          If SBM had profs of actual cures, I might be entertained by the opinions of this forum

          I’m not sure what you mean by this. Are you saying that evidence-based medicine is not based on evidence?

          Please stop acting as though SBM has the answers…. it doesn’t.

          I have watched a teenager die of bacterial meningitis and a young adult from an asthma attack. These stand out in my memory among countless other deaths. Science-based medicine has never claimed to have all the answers or to be infallable, and indeed if that were the case there would be no need for medical research. Science-based medicine questions itself all the time, otherwise it could not move forward. On the other hand it isn’t based on wishful thinking, fantasy or downright fraud.

          Meds, cortisone treatments, PT and the likes (that me and my family been offered) are not cures.

          Meds, cortisone treatments, PT and other modalities can be cures depending on the situation. You have not specified what conditions you or your family have been treated for or what treatment you have had (other than mentioning previously that you have taken rofecoxib) so it is impossible to know what you are talking about. If you have a chronic medical condition then no, there aren’t any cures and you should be wary of anyone who claims otherwise. However, there are ways of managing chronic conditions which may well include meds (cortisone and others) to alleviate symptoms or reduce the severity of attacks, physiotherapy to maintain function, and other things such as social support and even disabled parking permits which all come under the banner of conventional treatment.

          I have read many of your posts and a recurring theme is that you are disillusioned with conventional medicine because it hasn’t cured you of something incurable. Extrapolating from your own experience you seem to be maintaining that it can’t therefore cure anybody of anything. Do you really think that is a reasonable position to take?

          If you have unrealistic expectations you will always be disappointed.

        • @RG on Thursday 07 November 2019 at 15:42

          Do any of your highly regarded sCAM treatments cure cancer or allow significant life extension?

          Name one (with real evidence, not fanciful nonsense) and you might (perhaps) have half a leg to stand on. In this lottery of life, it is largely only ‘luck’ that differentiates who is afflicted with horrible diseases, along with a smattering of genes. I hope you knew that, but I won’t hold my breath.

          • @Frank Collins

            Frank said;
            “Do any of your highly regarded sCAM treatments cure cancer or allow significant life extension?”

            I’ll ask you the same question. What treatments do you have in your medical bag of tricks that cure disease ?
            Please don’t list antibiotics and vaccines.

          • Just curious RG, why not antibiotics and vaccines?
            As to medical “bags of tricks” that can cure diseases, have you looked into how many types of cancer can be cured nowadays thanks to advances in chemotherapy. For example children who previously died of blood-cancers are often cured today. Also, testicular cancer that before was a death sentence is now mostly curable. There is progress being made all the time in this.
            There is also a lot of progress in tretment for chronic conditions even if the term cure cannot be readily used for it, the lives of many have been radically changed. Take MS for example. A friend of mine says her life is radically improved due to a new drug for it, even if she is not and never will be cured.

            You should try to read a book called “The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer” by Siddharta Mukherjee. You will learn a lot.
            You should be thankful for medical science instead of your scornfully paranoid attitude. I don’t think you are feeling well and I sure hope you will get over it.

          • @RG on Friday 08 November 2019 at 16:28

            “What treatments do you have in your medical bag of tricks that cure disease ?”

            As you cannot answer my question, simply because there is no answer, I will answer yours, as it applies to me personally.

            1. Appendix removed, aged seven, close to bursting and possible death.
            2. Flu vaccines, from ages eight to eleven, which saved me from debilitating illness. Sorry, you don’t set the rules.
            3. Cyst removal, aged 17, from right throat area, non-malignant but growing and potentially life threatening.
            4. Laminectomy, aged 29, so I could walk again and not neck myself because of the unrelenting severe pain.
            5. Rhinoplasty, aged 31, so I could breath properly and not die in my sleep.
            6. Vasectomy, aged 32, so I would not contribute to planet overpopulation, without which control climate change action is pointless.
            7. Removal of precancerous skin growths, 30 years later, so I wouldn’t develop melanomas and die.

            I haven’t included traumas, such as being run over by a car when I fell off a motorcycle in the rain, being stitched up from cuts and other bloody events, the diagnosis of a kidney stone and the subsequent pain relief, or run on the mill normal medical treatments.

            Even my paltry list far exceeds anything you can offer, nothing.

          • Frank,

            2. What about vaccinations against diphtheria, whooping cough, polio, tetanus, TB, smallpox? I’m guessing your approximate age but even if you didn’t receive these personally you would have had protection as a result of herd immunity (and in the case of smallpox from its eventual total eradication). These are more likely to have had an impact on your health than the ‘flu vaccine.

            5. I think you probably mean septoplasty, not rhinoplasty, though I am not aware of a blocked nose as a risk factor for sudden death – in the absence of significant neurological deficits most people are able to breathe through their mouth if their nose becomes blocked during sleep.

            6. It is a not very well-known fact that the world’s birth rate has already stabilised. The population is still growing as it is predominantly made up of young people, but as they grow older the death rate will match the birth rate and the population, too, will stabilise (I can’t remember the projected figure, but it is around 10 or 11 billion). I think you would enjoy this book:
            Factfulness: Ten reasons we’re wrong about the world, and why things are better than you think (Hans Rosling, Ola Rosling, Anna Rosling Rönnlund)

            In my case:
            Laparoscopic cholecystectomy – instant and dramatic relief from disabling episodes of biliary colic.

            Acute epiglottitis leading to respiratory arrest – luckily I had managed to get to my own A&E department by then and my colleagues were on had to intubate me so that I could be ventilated in ITU until the airway obstruction had resolved.

            Hypertension – I am on perindopril, which, statistically, reduces my chance of stroke, congestive cardiac failure and other chronic problems. I have not experienced any side-effects from it.

            Type II diabetes – without modern medicine this could not even have been diagnosed. Again I am on drug treatment which reduces my risk of long-term complications, such as blindness, kidney failure, amputation, cardiovascular disease… And I also feel better when my blood sugar is controlled. (and yes, diet and exercise are essential components of the treatment but in my case they are not sufficient in themselves).

            Obstructive sleep apnoea – this under-diagnosed condition is responsible for a great deal of misery and has a definite associated mortality, mostly from falling asleep at the wheel of a car but also from cardiovascular disease. In my case I was having apnoeic episodes every 1 3/4 minutes throughout the night where my oxygen saturation would fall to 60% leading to a huge increase in my haemaglobin level (which itself carries a risk of thromboembolic disease). Although I was not aware of them and felt as though I had spent the night asleep I was never rested and found myself constantly falling asleep during the day, even when typing letters and once when operating an ultrasound machine. I was prescribed a CPAP machine (a ventilator delivering slightly pressurised air through a mask – rather like breathing from a SCUBA regulator), which gave instant and dramatic relief (I felt 15 years younger the next day and couldn’t believe the energy I had after my first proper night’s sleep for years) and has kept the problem under control for six years now.

            Dehydration from severe diarrhoea – despite drinking I lost 4Kg in 24 hours and required 4 days of IV fluids to restore my fluid balance and correct my electrolytes.

            Vertebral collapse due to (undiagnosed) multiple myeloma – I am very grateful to the analgesia that I was prescribed, particularly fentanyl, which enabled me to function normally until the pain eventually resolved (after about a year).

            Multiple myeloma (aggressive variant) – although this didn’t respond to first, second or third-line standard therapy (including chemotherapy), for the past two years I have been on daratumumab and pomalidomide, which have kept it under control and enabled me to feel much better. Extrapolating from the trajectory that the disease was following before my haematologist hit on this combination I have no doubt that I would have died about 18 months ago. My case is very unusual as the response rates to each of the previous regimens that I had tried are about 95 – 97%, even in relapsed or refractory disease.

            Not to mention all of the epidemiological research and consequent legislation which has led to the world being a much safer place altogether, whether as a result of vaccination, hygeine, mandatory seat belts, health and safety legislation, environmental protection, food standards… which are of course impossible to quantify in an individual case (and which are deplored by an uninformed minority as an infringement of personal liberties).

          • “Do any of your highly regarded sCAM treatments cure cancer or allow significant life extension?”

            Thanks for asking, Frank – this is a fun exercise.

            Cupping – There are readily available snakebite and bee sting kits available that come with easy to use cupping devices. Much easier to use than hollowed out animal bone (or your mouth)…although those work, too. And speaking of cupping – in a lot of instances, cupping treats cold/flu quite quickly (overnight). I usually wait a day or so…but there’s no harm in treating right away. Or you can just wait a week (cold) or a few weeks (flu). Up to you – it’s not usually life threatening. Just inconvenient.

            Gua Sha – So well known (and used) as an emergency treatment for heat stroke that some modern Chinese-English dictionaries have it in the translation/definition. A friend of mine got to experience the treatment first hand while travelling to a remote area in China – the closest western med facility was a day’s bus ride away.

            Bloodletting – Maybe life extending, maybe not. Professional (and amateur) boxers use this all the time so their eyes don’t swell shut. You could argue that depth perception would extend your life (depending on your opponent). Bloodletting has also been used on severe sprains while hiking in the wilderness, and to prevent a possible case of compartment syndrome. Maybe not life extending…I’m sure they would have made it out of the mountains eventually.

            Herbal Poultices – If you’re allergic to yellow jacket stings, a simple poultice of baking soda can save your life. Especially if you don’t have your handy dandy bee sting cupping kit with you. Faster (and more fun) than letting the venom run its course on the way to the hospital for treatment with adrenaline. You can use some pretty common herbs for the poultice, too – I just happened to have some baking soda handy. And a steak on the grill that would have been ruined with a trip to the ER. Good thing the poultice worked – turns out my epi-pen was recalled due to a mechanical issue.

            Patent Medicines – There are some readily available Chinese patent formulas that (most of the time) will interrupt vomiting and/or diarrhea that can lead to severe dehydration (like Julian was talking about). Unfortunately, you need to be able to keep the medicine down long enough for it to start acting. Fortunately, there is a pretty common cupping treatment that interrupts the vomitting/diarrhea process long enough to keep the meds down. Or you could let it run its course and do the 4 days of IV fluids that Julian was talking about. That works, too.

            Those are just some common/obvious examples. There are a lot more, if you like…

          • @Frank Collins

            Good gosh Frank !…. you’re a mess. Is sounds like you’ve had a rough go of it. You NEED a few good doctors.

            The thing is, you didn’t make mention of one chronic disease that you’ve been cured of, but I’m happy to hear your’re hanging in there.

          • Even the term “herbal” you got wrong, “jm”. Baking soda is mineral, not herbal 😀

          • RG

            “The thing is, you didn’t make mention of one chronic disease that you’ve been cured of, but I’m happy to hear your’re hanging in there.”

            Ooh look. Goalposts being shifted because RG’s initial question has been answered comprehensively.

            Choleocystitis is a chronic condition which suffers periodic acute flare-ups. It is cured by surgery as my wife and Julien have confirmed.

            So let’s wait for a further shift as you demand to know how many chronic conditions medicine can cure.

          • jm,

            For snake bite it can be helpful to remove some of the venom by suction while getting the victim to a proper medical facility but even if you use the same equipment this isn’t really cupping. For bee stings the best thing is to scrape the sting and the associated venom sac off with your fingernail.

            For heat stroke it is essential to cool the patient down (I would suggest tepid sponging) and rehydrate them (IV fluids as they are probably unable to take anything by mouth) in order to prevent further brain damage or death. I can’t see that gua sha would do anything other than make the situation worse.

            Drainage of a haematoma is a standard medical procedure and is not the same as blood-letting, which involves removal of a significant amount of blood via a vein.

            A bicarbonate poultice as an effective alternative to an Epipen to treat anaphylaxis? Are you serious? Or maybe your diagnosis was wrong and it was something other than a wasp (I think that is what you mean by yellowjacket) that stung you; emergency departments regularly see people who are breathless as a result of anxiety when they think they have been stung or bitten by one thing that turns out to be something else (a colleague practising in Africa told me that he had to prescribe diazepam for snake bites far more frequently than antivenom). In any case I thought the folk remedy for wasp stings was to apply vinegar, bicarbonate being for bees.

            In the case of dehydration from severe diarrhoea, even if you can stop the diarrhoea (not necessarily the best course of action when it is infective) the dehydration still needs urgent treatment. In my case I had already been unable to rehydrate myself effectively with oral rehydration solution (though in sufficient quantities this alone can be life-saving even in cholera). The situation was further complicated as I was also significantly immunocompromised at the time due to my myeloma (my wife, who had eaten the same curry, wasn’t nearly as ill).

            Your reckless recommendations for serious medical emergencies are extremely dangerous and if followed they could easily lead to avoidable deaths.

          • It is frightening how many amateurs of archaic nonsense do not know the difference between a sneeze and a life threatening reaction.

          • Bjorn,

            I’m rarely surprised by your comments – but here we are! Since Wikipedia and YouTube are your primary sources for in-depth research, I thought you would know that traditional systems include anything you put on or in the body as herbal medicine. Or as your favorite source puts it: “The scope of herbal medicine is sometimes extended to include fungal and bee products, as well as minerals, shells and certain animal parts.”

            So now you know how baking soda mixed with spit is considered an herbal poultice. [You were surprised last time we talked about this, too. Can’t remember what substance we were talking about last time. Probably wasn’t baking soda…which might be why you’re confused.]

          • Julian,

            I have to completely disagree with you. Frank asked about CAM and “allowing life extension”. I gave him some examples. None of them are reckless – quite the opposite. All of them can easily lead to avoiding avoidable deaths. (The boxing example was a stretch.) Many are standard first aid.

            For example, you said “A bicarbonate poultice as an effective alternative to an Epipen to treat anaphylaxis? Are you serious?” No, because what I actually said was ” If you’re allergic to yellow jacket stings, a simple poultice of baking soda can save your life.”

            I’m highly allergic to yellowjacket, wasp, and hornet stings. My doctor wants me at the hospital within 20 minutes, based on my reactions. The closest ER is 30 minutes from my house. (A much longer commute if hiking in the woods.) Reckless would be not having a way to extend the 20 minute window (literally life extension). Previous to learning about baking soda, I relied on antihistamines. Baking soda works way better for me, and without putting me to sleep. Some people use bentonite clay. I personally haven’t tried the addition of vinegar yet…but it’s unlikely that I’d be hiking with that. Baking soda is easy to add to the hiking kit.

            By the way “Or maybe your diagnosis was wrong and it was something other than a wasp (I think that is what you mean by yellowjacket)” – no, I really meant yellowjacket. You get pretty familiar with the different stinging critters when they can kill you. Although the baking soda works even better & faster for wasp stings, applying to a yellowjacket sting also buys you a lot of time before the need for the ER or epipen.

            The devices that come with bee sting and snake bite kits – that actually is cupping. “Cupping” is just the common name for using negative pressure on the body for therapeutic purposes. Previous to “cupping”, the common term was “horn method” (in China, anyway) because animal horns were used. At some point, drinking cups became the popular device. Now we have really fancy tools…but the term “cupping” is still the norm. “Negative pressure therapy” just sounds too fancy for such a simple procedure. You could use your mouth (and most people do, for splinters & paper cuts & such) – but it’s still cupping. Most likely, the first uses of cupping were to remove venom. No way to tell for sure, though.

            On the other hand, the term “bloodletting” is a bit more variable. Sometimes “bloodletting” and “let blood” are used interchangeably, sometimes not. Sometimes “bloodletting” is used as you say – significant amount of blood via a vein. Sometimes “bloodletting” refers to a significant amount of blood via many incisions all over the body – like in the Finnish post-sauna practice (https://gbtimes.com/chinese-cupping-therapy-finnish-hands). In any case, I should have just said “let blood”. As in “the trainer let blood from around the boxer’s eye”. Or, if you’re hiking in the woods and suffer a severe ankle sprain, it’s good to know how to let some blood from the injury site. It can sometimes mean the difference between being able to get yourself back to civilization and not. Being stuck in the wilderness (around here, anyway) is often life threatening. Letting blood from an injury site is a good skill to learn.

            Also good to learn some ways of interrupting vomitting and/or diarrhea. Ideally before you hit the dehydration point – particularly if medical help is far off. The medicine travels well (small, easy to pack). The cupping part takes some instruction and tools – but you can usually make do (as we did) with stuff we found in the kitchen and a normal household medicine chest. Or you could find an animal horn, I suppose. Or simply let the medicine dissolve in your mouth (trickier, though – the taste can be a bit…vomit inducing…).

            In the gua sha example I used, medical help was a long bus ride away. “I can’t see that gua sha would do anything other than make the situation worse.” Gua sha vents heat from the body. I’m not sure how that would make heat stroke worse…as you say, it’s essential to cool the patient down. Gua sha does that, quite well. It doesn’t rehydrate them, though. For that, my friend was given liquids (can’t remember if it was an herbal tea or fruit juice or…).

            In any case, the point was to give Frank just a few example of how CAM can be quite beneficial – keeping you alive long enough to get to a hospital. In some situations, that life extension is quite significant.

          • Wrong again, dear. Even if you were right, Youtube and Wikipedia are eons closer to reality than your ancient sources for magical bloodletting, sucking and scraping rituals 😀

          • @jm on Saturday 09 November 2019 at 18:05

            More comedy gold from the resident nutbag. You are a ridiculous human being.

          • @Dr Julian Money-Kyrle on Saturday 09 November 2019 at 10:10

            Hello Julian,
            “2. What about vaccinations against diphtheria, whooping cough, polio, tetanus, TB, smallpox? I’m guessing your approximate age but even if you didn’t receive these personally you would have had protection as a result of herd immunity (and in the case of smallpox from its eventual total eradication). These are more likely to have had an impact on your health than the ‘flu vaccine.”

            I didn’t mention these vaccinations though I had them all except whooping cough. What many or most sCAMmers don’t understand is the devastation caused by these diseases. I went to school with kids who had had polio and it is awful. A friend’s father was in the German army during WW2 and came off his motorcycle crashing through a wire fence. His only injury was a scratch on the cheek but tetanus killed him within days.

            “5. I think you probably mean septoplasty, not rhinoplasty, though I am not aware of a blocked nose as a risk factor for sudden death – in the absence of significant neurological deficits most people are able to breathe through their mouth if their nose becomes blocked during sleep.”

            At the time, I was told rhinoplasty but you are quite right. It wasn’t just a ‘blocked nose’ that was the problem, it made my life miserable and there were secondary associated infection problems.

          • @RG on Saturday 09 November 2019 at 22:56

            “Good gosh Frank !…. you’re a mess. Is sounds like you’ve had a rough go of it. You NEED a few good doctors.”

            Far from it. I’m healthy because of medicine, not sCAM.

            “The thing is, you didn’t make mention of one chronic disease that you’ve been cured of, but I’m happy to hear your’re hanging in there.”

            It seems you are as big a smartarse as the resident loon, jm. Are you jm posting under another alias?

          • “Wrong again, dear. Even if you were right…”

            Bjorn, this site would be really boring without you. I love watching your brain spin its wheels. 🙂

          • jm,

            Your descriptions of removing extravasated blood as “blood-letting” and applying suction to a snake bite as “cupping” sound to me rather like describing a hypodermic injection as acupuncture. In any case they do not support the use of these treatments as they are more widely understood.

            You claim that gua sha removes heat from the body. That may well be how practitioners of TCM describe the process, but what they mean by heat is quite different from the rest of us. I can see no plausible mechanism whereby gua sha can bring down the body temperature of somebody suffering from heat stroke (and in any case sponging with tepid water is easy, effective and requires no special equipment or expertise).

            From what you say, your friend did not have heat stroke at all. Heat stroke is brain damage resulting from a high body temperature (most commonly affecting the Purkinje cells in the cerebellum). It occurs as a consequence of heat exhaustion, which is the inability to sweat due to dehydration. Both are serious medical emergencies and often fatal.

            You are making a distinction between yellowjackets and wasps. My understanding is that the term yellowjacket is loosely used in the US to include any species of the genus vespula, which, along with hornets, are types of wasps. In any case, you would be better advised to go hiking with your epipen than with the ingredients for a bicarbonate poultice, as I am sure your own doctor would agree. Arguably topical bicarbonate can help with the itching but it has no place in emergency treatment when there is a significant risk of anaphylaxis.

            With regard to medicines to stop diarrhoea, these tend to work by paralysing the gut, and have no effect on the exchange of electrolytes and water across the intestinal epithelium. Whether the liquid lost into the gut is released as diarrhoea or retained makes no difference to the dehydration of the rest of the body, and the use of such preparations can give a false reassurance. One measure that can rehydrate effectively, however, is the use of an oral rehydration solution containing the right proportions of sugar and salt, since the sugar powers an active cellullar pump carrying sodium back into the bloodstream, and where the sodium goes the water will follow.

            Vomiting is a lot more complicated and I won’t go into it here, other than to say that it is an important mechanism for getting rid of recently ingested toxins.

            Your belief that CAM can keep somebody alive until they get to the hospital is unfounded and dangerous. In any case, effective emergency measures, by definition, are not CAM.

          • Julian,

            An acupucturist certainly could perform acupunture with a hypodermic needle. Or a sewing needle, a sharpened stick, etc. An MD using acupunture needles isn’t necessarily doing acupunture. It’s not about the tool.

            What a TCM practitioner means by heat is the same as everyone else. It’s not a metaphor. If using gua sha (or cupping, for that matter) to treat a fever, for instance – you can use a simple thermometer to measure progress.

            Re-read what I’ve written about the whole sting/epipen thing. You seem to be reading into it what you expect to hear, rather than what I’ve said. (A common theme amongst commenters here.) My advice (whether you’re allergic or not) would be: carry baking soda (or similar) in addition to an epipen and a bee sting kit. If/when stung, first use the cupping device to extract as much venom as you can. Then apply the simple poultice. Make your way to the hospital. Use the epipen if you need to. My doctor agrees. But I would appreciate an explanation as to how that plan is reckless or dangerous. I’ll let her know your thoughts.

            Same with cupping out venom after a sting or bite, gua sha to vent heat, letting blood so you can make your way to safety, interrupting vomitting/diarrhea – all so you can get to medical care. These are all practices from traditional medicine (considered CAM on this site). You claim these things are dangerous and reckless. Your only explanation as to why has been the assumption that they would replace medical care. Since I’ve repeatedly said these things can buy you time so you can get to medical care…explain how that is dangerous or reckless.

          • I used to think that “jm” was a simple credulous charlatan merely risking the skin of its gullible customers with cuping and spooning.
            After learning, the past days, about this person’s staggering disregard for sense and safety, we now need to worry that one day the poor thing will get on the shortlist for the Darwin award.

          • @ Björn Geir on Monday 11 November 2019 at 23:18

            Dear Greatly Respected Fellow Poster,

            “I used to think that “jm” was a simple credulous charlatan merely risking the skin of its gullible customers with cupping and spooning.
            After learning, the past days, about this person’s staggering disregard for sense and safety, we now need to worry that one day the poor thing will get on the shortlist for the Darwin award.”

            As I commented to Angela, below, some people on this blog are too nice, including you. In the face of total absurdity, stupidity, and inutterable nonsense, you remain calm and try to explain logically, soundly and courteously to the most deranged, such as jm. I admire you for this, and I am sure this extends to your dealing with patients you have either cut open or are about to.

            Perhaps it is a character flaw on my part, however, but I cannot watch passively as lunatics, such as jm, spout such dangerous bullshit. Angela is upset at me calling her a nutbag and unintelligent but the shoe fits and she must wear it. That there are charlatans out there who so willingly cause harm, even if their intentions are good, is tantamount to criminal, as I have said to jm before. His/her total confidence befits the fool s/he is.

          • Bjorn,

            Darwin Awards? Yikes. Seems like I’ll have some stiff competition. While waiting for Julian’s explanation as to how/why the whole yellow jacket sting thing is so reckless/dangerous, I got curious and googled. Seems like a lot of places recommend the same “staggering disregard for sense and safety” (but usually with the addition of ibuprophen). Who knew? Here’s one example amongst many: https://torontofirstaidcpr.ca/treatment-for-yellow-jacket-stings/

            Maybe you can set them straight 🙂.

            Also found some bee sting/snake bite kits that use the same cupping tools as the popular Finnish post-sauna bloodletting treatment I linked to earlier. They’re spendier than the simpler cupping tools…but hey, you could use them after taking a sauna. Multi-tasker!

      • Frank Collins – assumptions mean nothing on this blog : how do you know that nearly everyone is too nice……? You know as much about my intelligence as I know about yours’ . As said before this is just a blog that is set in place to denigrate CAM.

        You don’t like comments from proponents of CAM : fair enough, but to reduce your reasoning to one of superior knowledge of a poster’s intelligence or lack of holds no water. It kind of shows a certain way of thinking (not sure if psychology is your thing) . However, I am sure all those reading the blog are grateful that your language is ameliorated : no loon, idiot or worse in sight.

        Oh should I be pleased about ‘the literary flourishes ‘ comment? Probably not Frank, because history shows that your comments have not always added to the debate, because of personal attacks.

        You are welcome to the last word Frank, it is the weekend. Hope you have a good one, And a healthy one too: reading your other post it seems you have had a raw deal in that respect, and you must be grateful for the medical professionals in your life. I wish you well.

        To assume because I use CAM I am against conventional medicine would be an assumption too far (and a reminder that this is just a faceless blog) :
        many loved ones’ lives have been saved and continue to be because of the NHS and expert medical professionals in the UK. I have so much respect for those that go the extra mile to ensure better health.

        People’s lives are many fold and varied: to believe you have a handle on who someone really is by reading a comment is misguided, and respectfully I think you should consider that before putting finger to key.

        • @Angela on Saturday 09 November 2019 at 10:10

          “Frank Collins – assumptions mean nothing on this blog : how do you know that nearly everyone is too nice……? You know as much about my intelligence as I know about yours’ . As said before this is just a blog that is set in place to denigrate CAM.”

          The prof’s blog is a scholarly examination of the purported efficacies of CAM; as there are none, it denigrates itself. Supporters of it show a complete lack of understanding of what constitutes evidence, as do you repeatedly, and fall back to anecdote which, as research demonstrates, is unreliable. What you are incapable of grasping is the simple notion of those making a claim have the burden of proof. Given your total inability to grasp such a fundamental concept, how could any other conclusion be drawn about your intelligence?

          “You don’t like comments from proponents of CAM : fair enough, but to reduce your reasoning to one of superior knowledge of a poster’s intelligence or lack of holds no water. It kind of shows a certain way of thinking (not sure if psychology is your thing) . However, I am sure all those reading the blog are grateful that your language is ameliorated : no loon, idiot or worse in sight.”

          See above. What you know about psychology could be written on a postage stamp. As for my occasionally intemperate language, behave like a loon and you will be described as such. See above, again.

          “Oh should I be pleased about ‘the literary flourishes ‘ comment? Probably not Frank, because history shows that your comments have not always added to the debate, because of personal attacks.”

          Generally, I don’t like personal attacks, however, there are some (many) contributors who make such ridiculous comments that they demean every scientist, particularly those in medicine, it is far more insulting than anything I could possibly write. You’re in that group.

          “You are welcome to the last word Frank, it is the weekend. Hope you have a good one, And a healthy one too: reading your other post it seems you have had a raw deal in that respect, and you must be grateful for the medical professionals in your life. I wish you well.”

          I am one of many people who have benefitted from medical science and the skill of doctors. If you want to see how things were far different, go for a walk around an old cemetery and read the headstones from the 19th century. Anyone of us could be listed there but for the chronological accident of our birth.
          As for “last word”, this type of thinking puts you where you deserve.

          “To assume because I use CAM I am against conventional medicine would be an assumption too far (and a reminder that this is just a faceless blog) :
          many loved ones’ lives have been saved and continue to be because of the NHS and expert medical professionals in the UK. I have so much respect for those that go the extra mile to ensure better health.”

          Then why support sCAM which has no evidence? You want the best of medicine, while insulting it with absurd nonsense.

          “People’s lives are many fold and varied: to believe you have a handle on who someone really is by reading a comment is misguided, and respectfully I think you should consider that before putting finger to key.”

          If you don’t think your posts don’t reveal anything about your intelligence and delusional thought processes, you are even more unhinged than I thought.

          • Frank Collins – that’s quite a post, even by your standards. I had to read it a couple of times to understand your commentary. You see I am fortunate that even when discussing something as seemingly contentious as CAM in my community, there is respect for each others’ opinions.

            I am not here to be unkind, but when you use words like smart arse, nutbag, unhinged, a ridiculous human being, loon and then paranoia sets in with who jm maybe, it sets alarm bells ringing.

            You are in no position to assume my intelligence, my choice of health treatments, my psychology knowledge ( maybe I have been a Psychology lecturer, maybe you have) . The point is you can throw any accusations at those who disagree with your view, but it doesn’t mean you are right.

            You say ‘generally I don’t like personal attacks’ . Are you serious? You say there are (many) contributors who demean scientists especially medical ones : that’s not me Frank – I have worked with some of the best and only respectful behaviour order of the day.

            No, I think this blog is a vehicle for your own standard of intelligence. It isn’t mine ( I struggle to understand your point, apart from the perfectly clear demonstration that those who have another opinion are lowlife) Respectfully, that is not a good look for ‘the prof’s blog is a scholarly examination…..’

          • @Angela on Monday 11 November 2019 at 09:52

            Largely, I only quote when the person shows a lack of capacity to follow a line of argument and/or reason, that is you.

            “Frank Collins – that’s quite a post, even by your standards. I had to read it a couple of times to understand your commentary. You see I am fortunate that even when discussing something as seemingly contentious as CAM in my community, there is respect for each others’ opinions.”

            Ah, the old, erroneous and quaint notion of ‘respect for each others’ opinions’. This is referred to as philosophical (to distinguish it from other types) relativism. As usual, you don’t seem to understand the concept of conflating arguments; where they are separate and distinct but erroneously conjoined.
            One is not required, for any reason, to respect any opinion, particularly when it is invalid. As someone opined, opinions are like arseholes, everyone has one.
            There is a difference between respecting a person (if they deserve it), and respecting others’ opinions. As Stephen Fry observed about being offended, inter alia and to paraphrase, ‘who f@cking cares’. If you can’t function properly as an adult, get help.

            “I am not here to be unkind, but when you use words like smart arse, nutbag, unhinged, a ridiculous human being, loon and then paranoia sets in with who jm maybe, it sets alarm bells ringing.”

            As it should. Express baseless assertions which are demonstrably false and be labelled for your actions. Having said that, the paragraph above illustrates your erroneous thinking.

            “You are in no position to assume my intelligence, my choice of health treatments, my psychology knowledge ( maybe I have been a Psychology lecturer, maybe you have) . The point is you can throw any accusations at those who disagree with your view, but it doesn’t mean you are right.”

            Your intelligence is, rightly, assumed by the nonsense you post. Get over it. You throw in words, such as psychology, as if you have some knowledge. You don’t.

            “You say ‘generally I don’t like personal attacks’ . Are you serious? You say there are (many) contributors who demean scientists especially medical ones : that’s not me Frank – I have worked with some of the best and only respectful behaviour order of the day.”

            Then why do you support sCAM? There is no evidence for it, as the good prof (for whom I have great respect) has shown ad nauseum. Stump up evidence, not meaningless anecdote, and earn some respect.

            “No, I think this blog is a vehicle for your own standard of intelligence. It isn’t mine ( I struggle to understand your point, apart from the perfectly clear demonstration that those who have another opinion are lowlife) Respectfully, that is not a good look for ‘the prof’s blog is a scholarly examination…..’ ”

            You struggle for a very good reason.

        • Frank c – that’s quite a diatribe and vent. ‘Angela is upset at me calling her a nutbag and unintelligent ‘

          I think through the red mist Frank you have lost the thread of who you accused of what. I think nutbag was directed towards another poster. The point I tried to make is that based on your language (it is bullying ) it is hard to take seriously your points.

          I get that you are a great supporter of this blog ( you seem to know a lot about the protocol) but if you don’t like proponents of CAM commenting, have a word with your friend the Professor, maybe he will block them for you.

          CAM is popular and makes you angry. Many of the medical professionals that you rightly admire also use and/or recommend CAM. I could list here, but no point.

          You denigrate a poster because he/she gives an account of how he /she keeps him/herself healthy until medical help is reached (with a doctor’s agreement ) why?

          You are back Frank and no need to block me Professor; the posts have gone down hill and I for one would rather not read such vitriol that takes the debate to a meaningless one. Oh yes no debate, just the sceptics are always right: I remember.

          Hope you enjoy whatever it is you do Frank because everyone deserves a lighthearted few hours.

          • @ Angela on Tuesday 12 November 2019 at 09:05

            Oh Angela, I am so sorry for not checking what form of unhinged loony I called you earlier. I must be more careful with that. I take it as a given you fail to see the irony in this.

            As for the bullying claim, I repeat;
            “There is a difference between respecting a person (if they deserve it), and respecting others’ opinions. As Stephen Fry observed about being offended, inter alia and to paraphrase, ‘who f@cking cares’. If you can’t function properly as an adult, get help.”, with the emphasis on the last two words.

            While on bullying, it is one of those recently created final fortresses; when all else fails, use the B word. No surprise from you, given the dearth of anything resembling reason or logic.

            Yes, I have an idea of how the blog works, and while I greatly respect and admire the work the good Prof does, we are not “friends’, as in we do not know each other personally. I realise this is just another of your tiresome attempts at passive-aggressive and I am sick of them. Your hypocrisy on this is as bad as that of the treatment of equivalency of medicine and sCAM.

            CAM might be popular, but so are cats and cancer; all equally despicable. You really should research Logical Fallacies because you roll them out with such regularity, it makes you appear an unsophisticated, ignorant boor. The Argument from Popularity, while popular, is used by people who are sheep, that is, those unable to understand that mass appeal does not make something right, correct, ethical, moral, or proven. An example of this occurred 80 years ago. That there are medical professionals who advocate sCAM only makes them fools, not correct. This is an example of the Argument from Authority Fallacy. Geeez Angie, you keep racking them up.

            “You denigrate a poster because he/she gives an account of how he /she keeps him/herself healthy until medical help is reached (with a doctor’s agreement ) why?”

            You really don’t get it, do you? Anecdotes are meaningless, more so because the people who make these claims are lucky enough not to die, unlike Leah Bracknell who can’t claim the benefits of sCAM. Your cognitive dissonance is scary and I suspect you are a regular church goer, as the two are so closely intertwined.

            “You are back Frank and no need to block me Professor; the posts have gone down hill and I for one would rather not read such vitriol that takes the debate to a meaningless one. Oh yes no debate, just the sceptics are always right: I remember.”

            Yet another cracker from you. Medicine is not about “debate”. What gives you that crazy idea? Science is about observing, hypothesising, testing, and analysis; the same process which gives you all of the comforts and technology of modern life. Do you want to “debate” how electricity is generated (that is, whether Maxwell was right with his equations), whether aeroplanes fly because of aerodynamics or some other reason, whether it is really X-rays are responsible for medical imaging or some sCAM causation, whether concrete really fractures under tension because of shear stress or some magic unknown to engineers, or some other nonsense you might pluck out of your derriere?

            Here, hopefully to rid you of your abundant ignorance of the notion, is a definition of scepticism;
            “Scientific skepticism involves the application of skeptical philosophy, critical-thinking skills, and knowledge of science and its methods to empirical claims, while remaining agnostic or neutral to non-empirical claims (except those that directly impact the practice of science).”

            Sceptics are always right, however, they strive not to be wrong. You, on the other hand, revel in ignorance and stupid myopic opinions for which you have no evidence. Yet, you claim to have a valid viewpoint but have nothing but a worthless opinion. Stump up evidence, not fanciful and pointless anecdotes.

            And another passive aggressive Logical Fallacy to sign off from you, Faux Sincerity. Looooonnnnnngggg sigh of exasperation while going back to having a laugh and playing with my dog (smarter than many posters on this blog).

  • @Bjorn

    “You should be thankful for medical science instead of your scornfully paranoid attitude. I don’t think you are feeling well and I sure hope you will get over it.”

    Bjorn, I’m doing just great thanks, I’ll take a look at the book.

    • Frank C – whilst I would like to ignore your recent diatribe, there are too many assumptions that are incorrect. But let them lie.

      Your view of respect is not mine. Everyone deserves respect, whoever they are and whatever their opinions. This has got uncomfortably personal : let’s be clear – we don’t know each other and for that reason it was wrong for me to call you a bully.

      You get carried away with who you think everyone else is. It doesn’t mean anything. While I respect you adhere to ‘science has all the answers’, in truth it doesn’t. There is constant movement Currently the WHIO are proclaiming stress as a major factor in disease; this wasn’t the case many years ago.

      You can write me off anyway you like Frank, but the truth is when you say things like I must be a churchgoer, you give the game away : because It’s like an anecdote you so dislike, but dressed up as something else. No I am not a churchgoer, but have respect for God and man.

      Your accusations of (well too many to mention really) let’s say passive/aggressive leave a question mark. If truth be told whilst you don’t upset me personally, I feel uncomfortable and not a little sad that I am in discourse with someone where my comments are so anger inducing, it’s not a nice read.

      For that reason Frank one of us has to leave the ‘chat’ (it is absolutely not serving the Professor’s goal)

      Enjoy your dog (and hope you can avoid any of the cats you dislike so much.) This has been an unwelcome exchange with you Frank and adds nothing to the blog. Should I contribute again and you respond, for everyone’s sake I will ignore it. Now where are those lovely cats and dogs….?

      • @ Angela on Wednesday 13 November 2019 at 09:04

        lol. When you dig a hole, instead of stopping and seeing the size of the hole, you keep on digging, putting your ignorance of glaring display. Let’s dissect the nonsense in your post.

        “Everyone deserves respect, whoever they are and whatever their opinions.”
        Didn’t I mention philosophical relativism, which you evidently ignored? Do you respect Adolf Hitler and his opinions? What of Pol Pot, Geoffrey Dharma, Saddam Hussein, Jon Venables, Donald Trump, or Joseph Stalin? Shouldn’t it be abundantly clear you are wrong?

        Yes, you were also wrong to call me a bully and it is fitting you for to apologise. What, you didn’t apologise?

        “While I respect you adhere to ‘science has all the answers’, in truth it doesn’t.”
        I didn’t suggest science is a thing or that it has “all of the answers”. Science is a process, a verb, and is a work in progress. Science searches for answers, it doesn’t throw its hands in the air and invoke some genocidal celestial fairy as the answer to unsolved questions. It is yet another of your misplaced ideas.

        “No I am not a churchgoer, but have respect for God and man.”
        Haha, I knew it it. Anyone who believes in one sort of magic is likely to believe in other forms of magic. May I ask, which god of the roughly 4,00 invented by humans? Perhaps it is the vicious, capricious, jealous, genocidal deity of the three Abrahamic cults which also is very fond of incest, as the stories of Adam, Noah, Lot and others show?

        It isn’t a nice read simply because you use the form of language used by the passive-aggressive. Is it any surprise you are then described as such? Perhaps to you only, as those who are seldom have sufficient self-awareness.

        If I may suggest, one of the esteemed Prof’s goals on this blog is to, not only, describe the problems with sCAM, but try to educate in critical thinking, logic, reason, rationality, and the scientific method. Achieving the latter will, hopefully, drive people to have a sceptical view of sCAM and slow down the progress of charlatism in the world.
        Your leaving only highlights your lack of either capacity or desire, perhaps both, to be a rational human being.

        The exchange is, obviously, unwelcome for you and the above explains why. Your little shell and consequent cognitive dissonance try to shield you from a reality you don’t want to understand. Perhaps your god can explain that to you when you next have a chat?

        As for cats, they carry many diseases, including toxoplasmosis, slaughter wildlife, and do nothing for humanity, except for the feeble-minded. Are there any guide cats, sniffer cats, or any that do such roles? Nah, but they are responsible for Australia having the fourth highest extinction rate in the world, and they slaughter unique small marsupials into oblivion. In a recent news story, a feral cat was shot that weighed EIGHT kilograms and required two hands to hold it up for the camera, one at the shoulders and the other near the tail.

        • Frank,

          If you can’t find the cap for the glue…try opening a window.

          • jm, I haven’t sniffed glue yet, but it would be preferable to reading the bullshit you post.
            Take your snivelling crap elsewhere, someone might appreciate your nonsense but you are a tiresome boor devoid of sense and intelligence.
            Piss off and rip off some fool with your bruising stick, thieving charlatan.

          • COULD I ASK YOU TO REFRAIN FROM INSULTING LANGUAGE AND AD HOMINEM ATTACKS, PLEASE?

          • Prof,
            I will try.
            In terms of damage done, all I have used are words whereas charlatans, like jm, perpetrate their witchcraft on innocent fools with the possibility of death.

            While jm will smugly, his defining trait, claim otherwise, the reality is he does not and would not know how many people his nonsense has seriously injured in the long term. Like all cultists, he has a strong case of cognitive dissonance.

          • thanks for trying

  • Bjorn

    I’ll pass on purchasing and reading The Emperor of All Maladies. I can’t get past many of the negative reviews…. even an Oncologist chimed on with one star.
    I’m sure you’ll point to the high number of five star reviews as an endorsement of the book. Here is my view on that. The book has so many reviews due to the fact that it has been required reading for class. Students can be easily misled, obviously many were bamboozled by this crafty writer. I suspect the book has some value, but I think it’s not for me.

    • @RG

      Tut-tut
      This was an extremely poor argumentation, I thought your had more guts and were genuinely interested in health and medicine?
      I actually went and had a look at the 26 1-star reviews out of a total of 1.787. They were mildly put underwhelming. The one who claims to be an oncologist was bitter because he thought Siddharta placed to much emphasis on medical oncology vs. surgical and radiological. Not a convincing argument for a trashing review. The rest of the one-stars came mostly from people who had got a bad copy or people with perverse ideas about causes of cancer and alternative treatments. Most of those hadn’t even bought the book!
      95% 4 and 5 star reviews means this is a book worth buying.
      Do you honestly think 1.437 5-star reviews have accumulated just because students had to read the book in class?!!
      That there are 5% 1-3 star reviews does not mean you will not learn about cancer from this book – that is what you sorely need, dear RG. Your performance here tells us you know nothing about it.
      You’re just chickening out in your cognitive dissonance. Be brave, buy the book and read the whole thing! Only when you have read it you are entitled to form an opinion on it.

      https://www.amazon.com/product-reviews/1439170916/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_viewopt_sr?ie=UTF8&filterByStar=all_stars&reviewerType=all_reviews&pageNumber=1

    • RG on Sunday 10 November 2019 at 16:59

      Cognitive dissonance at it best (worst).

  • Frank C – hopefully blog readers will give our exchange a miss : we are adding nothing to the discussion about CAM. I would like to ignore your last post, but it contains so much nonsense that I am here again. I take back the bullying statement : you are that person who is always right and those of a different viewpoint deserve vitriol. I guess it is hard to understand that we are all unique with different experiences and feelings.

    You can use all your little terms to your heart’s content, it doesn’t mean you know that person. This is a written blog, not a court of law.

    You seem to have got carried away with language ; you seem to think you know – one of your favourites – the language and actions of a passive aggressor. Because I respond in my truthful way and without any anger you are looking for a label.

    You assume you know me : it’s a road to nowhere: one of the first things learnt in psychology and counselling is make no assumptions. Now hard as it may seem to your , shall we say very different slant on human behaviour, you don’t know the people commenting, you know what they write. You have inferred I know nothing about psychology and you are wrong but I am not here to talk about how wrong you are. I would say if you have a degree in psychology you should ask for your money back.

    “Ha ha I knew it’ referring to church going and magic. Does that even make sense? You expound about the many different gods in different cultures: you cannot rationalise that I believe in a higher being that doesn’t involve worshipping idols through history.

    You speak about respect and Hitler etc, – you can not fathom that my comments pertain to this blog – and yes I really do respect that other people have different views to
    mine. I truly don’t feel any anger -passive or otherwise. You see you are not that important : you are merely responding in your own way to my posts. If you don’t want advocates of CAM to post speak to the Professor: or at least moderate your response so it’s not personal and abusive. Social media and the freedom for uttering vitriol are not helpful: hopefully legislation steps in very soon.

    No I am sorry Frank you come over as a petulant child without boundaries or indeed manners. I guess you want to change my mind about my positive experiences of CAM? Respectfully, you are doing the opposite: bring yourself and your comments back to the Professor’s goal at the inception of this blog. .

    I am away from this blog for a few days so really won’t be reading any responses. But Frank I say this without any passive aggression, do take stock that there (we are told) many scientists, academics and doctors reading this blog : from my experience of working with these professionals, respect was tantamount to reaching a good solution when diverse views were being aired.

    Frank I am in the real world and self aware: no hole digging needed. . The platform is all yours but do hope for the readers’ sake, you try harder to heed the Professor’s plea.

    • @ Angela on Thursday 14 November 2019 at 12:19

      This would be easier to follow if you use the conventions of replying to post in the appropriate sub-thread. I realise it is pointless to ask you to do anything rational but I have tried.

      I know I am butting my head against a thick, dense, hard wall but let’s see if you can understand something, anything at all will do at this stage.

      Examples of passive-aggressive;
      “I take back the bullying statement : you are that person who is always right” (and no apology).
      “You can use all your little terms to your heart’s content” (What is a “little” term?)
      “If you don’t want advocates of CAM to post speak to the Professor: or at least moderate your response so it’s not personal and abusive.” (As I said, are you so precious that the message is less important than the tone?)
      “I would say if you have a degree in psychology you should ask for your money back.”
      “No I am sorry Frank you come over as a petulant child without boundaries or indeed manners.” Condescending too.
      “The platform is all yours but do hope for the readers’ sake, you try harder to heed the Professor’s plea.”

      My guess is you are a social worker, at best in educational terms, or, more likely, a non-university trained counsellor who is oh-so earnest. Neither of those involve any training in critical thinking as your replies demonstrate.

      “You expound about the many different gods in different cultures: you cannot rationalise that I believe in a higher being that doesn’t involve worshipping idols through history.”

      Oh, your god is different to all of the others? The others are merely idols but yours is real? As per the repeated requests for evidence about sCAM, do you have any evidence for your god that is any more convincing than evidence for all of the others? While I’m at it, there is no evidence for the existence of Jesus. None of the gospels are contemporaneous, and the gospel of John is an embarrassment with its substantial conflict with the other three. None of it is evidence of anything, just as the story of Goldilocks is not evidence of three bears living a human like existence.

      One and a half billion Muslims believe Muhammad flew on a winged animal (probably a donkey) during one night to Jerusalem and then up to the seven heavens where he met Jesus, Adam, Abraham and the others, then had a face-to-face chat with Allah (Koran chapter, The Night Flight), bargaining him down from 50 prayers a day to five. What makes your religious views more truthful than that of 1.5 billion people? Do you respect those religious views? Evidently not by your reference to idols.

      The crux of this is to show you are willing to believe in whatever you think is true without a shred of evidence, all the while proclaiming it is true for everyone, because if it works for you, it must work for everyone. If this is not the case, then you have no basis for your argument. (This is logic and reason FWIIW.)

      “You speak about respect and Hitler etc, – you can not fathom that my comments pertain to this blog – and yes I really do respect that other people have different views to mine.”

      Hmmm, you didn’t say that as it appeared a universal statement. In fact, all you have done is reveal yet another hypocrisy. Do you respect jm who makes outlandish claims with such smug self-assurance of righteousness, the trolls who post what is essentially advertising, energy ‘healers’ who claim to transmit your god’s energy through their hands, or the innumerable frauds and charlatans who post abject nonsense?

      Again, this demonstrates your continual use of Logical Fallacies and the failure to understand a simple concept; an exception to a “rule” disproves it. Please read about the absurdities and dangers of relativism, though, I suspect, it was an integral part of your course.

      “hopefully legislation steps in very soon.”
      So that people, like you, can make completely unsubstantiated claims that cannot be repudiated as nonsense?

      “Frank I am in the real world and self aware: no hole digging needed.”
      More evidence of a lack of self-awareness.

      Oddly enough, I know a social worker in Australia, also named Angela, who thinks the same way as you. I can’t talk to her any more because she is as irrational as you. Unlike you, I don’t “believe” in anything where there is no evidence for it. I also know I am susceptible to irrational thought, as with all human beings, and am vigilant to sceptically analyse all claims for evidence. That is what clearly distinguishes us; I am prepared to accept my human vulnerabilities and guard against falling prey to them, whereas you have the absolute arrogance to believe you know better than those who can provide evidence to the contrary. That makes one of us rational and sane.

  • Frank Collins (with apologies to other readers; red alert: this is not about anything meaningful regarding health, so feel free to skip)

    1 the post appeared where it did on the thread completely due to the mechanism of where the nearest reply button was.: my rationale had no effect.

    2 you again expound your passive-aggressive theory without considering the complexities of this term. Simply put :for me to post in that manner I would first be feeling angry and possibly silent : neither of which I am presenting with. As I said before I am just posting what I think. And as I said you are not important enough to have that affect. However, I acknowledge I don’t like your assumptions and feel the need to put those right.

    What is the point of guessing I am a social worker? How does it help you denigrate CAM? It is irrational in the extreme to align me with Angela The Australian Social Worker who you are no longer connected with. Still trying to puzzle that one out……

    3 my belief in a higher being /God is mine alone. You have gone off on a tangent: of course each culture has their own version of God; history shows many Gods have been worshipped, respectfully I accept that. It is the way: I am not denigrating that as you want to infer:.You then continue with Jesus,John and Goldilocks : each to their own.

    4 Respect: accusations of hypocrisy : do I respect jm ((whom you bring up in these exchanges for some reason)? Yes I do : especially as he/she had received the worst ad Homs from you to the point the Professor’s plea for moderation, and there is no untoward response from him/her – very commendable. Yes I respect energy healing ( I don’t know all healers so can’t say I respect on a personal level) and No I don’t respect charlatans. But again you are on your own path with this one: the point I was making is that my language borne from my thoughts is respectful to all who post here, regardless of their views on CAM.

    5 you miss the point completely regarding legislation. It wasn’t a plea to curtail or prohibit the public’s right for a view but the language in which it is presented. Here in the UK it is a problem, and certainly not helpful for the younger generation whereby social
    Media is the ‘thing’

    6 I have no arrogance and do not believe I know better than any one else. The opposite is true. To bring this exchange back to reality: you have taken issue with an initial post (I have not responded to you). These responses have been ugly and I have tried to point that out. Now the cogent point is you have options: you ask the professor to ban proponents of CAM like me, you don’t read the blog (it does seem to make you angry) or you moderate your responses and not use ad Homs. If you re read you your posts you may see you are sometimes very impolite : and that’s not me coming from a passive aggressive or arrogant demeanour – just trying to hang on in there with reading this blog when there is so much unpleasantness.

    Frank – I would very much have liked to
    Ignore your post but this is one last pitch for reasonable exchange. I won’t respond to anything you post and if I occasionally comment, I hope you can ignore it or at least not be personal. It is the personal aspect I am addressing here not the fact you are against all CAM: I respect that is your belief ( and please don’t go off on lecture mode about so called evidence: 40 years’ personal positive experience works for me)

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