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

Monthly Archives: September 2023

This study aimed to evaluate whether individualized homeopathic medicines have a greater adjunctive effect than adjunctive placebos in the treatment of moderate and severe cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). It was designed as a randomized, single-blind, placebo-controlled trial set in the clinical context of standard care. Patients admitted in a tertiary care hospital, suffering from moderate or severe COVID-19 and above 18 years of age were included. In total, 150 patients were randomly divided into two groups to receive either:

  • individualized homeopathic medicines
  • or placebos.

Both options were administered in addition to the standard treatment of COVID-19.

The primary outcome was time taken to achieve RT-PCR-confirmed virus clearance for COVID-19. Secondary outcomes were changes in the Clinical Ordinal Outcomes Scale (COOS) of the World Health Organization, the patient-reported MYMOP2 scale, and several biochemical parameters. Parametric data were analyzed using unpaired t-test. Non-parametric data were analyzed using the Wilcoxon signed rank test. Categorical data were analyzed using Chi-square test.

In total, 72 participants of the add-on homeopathy (AoH) group showed conversion of RT-PCR status to negative, in an average time of 7.53 ± 4.76 days (mean ± SD), as compared with 11.65 ± 9.54 days in the add-on placebo (AoP) group (p = 0.001). The mean COOS score decreased from 4.26 ± 0.44 to 3.64 ± 1.50 and from 4.3 ± 0.46 to 4.07 ± 1.8 in the AoH and AoP groups respectively (p = 0.130). The mortality rate for the AoH group was 9.7% compared with 17.3% in the AoP group. The MYMOP2 scores between the two groups differed significantly (p = 0.001), in favor of AoH. Inter-group differences in the pre- and post- mean values of C-reactive protein, fibrinogen, total leukocyte count, platelet count and alkaline phosphatase were each found to be statistically significant (p <0.05), favoring AoH; six other biochemical parameters showed no statistically significant differences.

The authors concluded that the study suggests homeopathy may be an effective adjunct to standard care for treating moderate and severe COVID-19 patients. More rigorous, including double-blinded, studies should be performed to confirm or refute these initial findings.

I do agree with the authors that more rigorous studies are needed before we can accept these findings. As it stands, this study seems to have multiple flaws:

  • I fail to understand why they did not design their trial as a double-blind study. The reason given by the authors makes little sense to me.
  • I also have my doubts that the study was even single-blind. If I understand it correctly, the placebo group was did not benefit from the detailed homeopathic history taking that is necessary to find the optimal homeopathic remedy. If that is so, unblinding of patients is inevitable.
  • The authors themselves point out that the relevance of many outcome measures is questionable

Generally speaking, I find the results suspicious, implausible, and frankly too good to be true. I might also point out that the authors’ afilitation do not inspire much trust in their objectivity:

  • 1Central Council for Research in Homoeopathy, New Delhi, India.
  • 2Central Council for Research in Homoeopathy, Ministry of AYUSH, Govt. of India, New Delhi, India.
  • 3Rejoice Health Foundation, New Delhi, India.
  • 4Department of Onco-Anaesthesia and Palliative Medicine, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Institute Rotary Cancer Hospital and National Cancer Institute, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, New Delhi, India.
  • 5Department of Onco-Anaesthesia and Palliative Medicine, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, New Delhi, India.

Neither do these statements:

Funding
The study was funded by the Central Council for Research in Homoeopathy, Ministry of AYUSH, Government of India. The funder approved the study through its review committees, delegated/recruited staff for conducting the study, and facilitated all collaborative procedures.

Conflict of Interest
None declared.

Lastly, I do wonder why the authors published their study in the 3rd class journal ‘Homeopathy’. Surely, such findings – if true – deserve to be published in a journal of a decent reputation!

King Charles III is an enthusiastic, albeit uncritical proponent of so-called alternative medicine (SCAM). Does that boost his popularity in the general population? Or does it have the opposite effect? I am not aware of reliable data on this issue, yet I suspect it is neither here nor there. So, his waning popularity is probably caused by other factors.

A survey of more than 2,000 adult Brits found that overall, 62% want to keep the monarchy and 59% of people thought Charles was “personally doing a good job”.. At first glance, this looks not too bad for Charles and William but a more detailed analysis is far less optimistic: among 18 to 24-year-olds, only 30% say the monarchy is “good for Britain”. This “remarkable difference between generations”, demonstrates that younger people are much less supportive on remaining a monarchy and more sceptical about the Royal Family representing good value for money.

A decade ago, the same YouGov tracking survey found 17% preferred an elected head of state, which in this latest survey has risen to 26%. On the question whether Britain should continue to be a monarchy or be replaced with an elected head of state, the poll found:

  • 62% wish no change,
  • 26% want an elected head of state,
  • 11% don’t know.

On the question whether the Royal Family is good value for money, 75% of the over-65s believe they are, but only 34% of 18 to 24-year-olds feel the same. And while 80% of the over-65s want Britain to stay as a monarchy, that figure falls to 37% for the 18 to 24-year-olds. There is also less support for the royals in Scotland or Wales than in England, where London has higher levels of people against the monarchy than elsewhere in the country.

Historian and royal commentator Ed Owens says the lack of support among the young should “certainly be of concern” to the Royal Family. But he says it will be difficult for the royals to turn this around, when many of the factors are outside their control. Dr Owens says opposition to the monarchy is part of a wider sense of “disenchantment” for younger generations about issues such as unaffordable housing, stagnant wages and student debt. “The system doesn’t seem to be working for them, so why should they celebrate an institution that seems to be at the heart of that system?” says Dr Owens.

Graham Smith, chief executive of the anti-monarchy campaign Republic, said the survey showed a “general trend of falling support, and that younger people will not be won back to the monarchist cause. Sooner rather than later we’ll see support for the monarchy fall below 50%.”

When the 1st edition of my book about about Charles’ (at the time, he was still ‘Prince of Wales’) love affair with SCAM came out, it was reviewd by the Daily Mail.  They courageously asked Charles’ press office for a comment on it. A Clarence House spokesperson then told the journalist: ‘The Prince of Wales believes in combining the best of evidence based, conventional medicine with an holistic approach to healthcare – treating the whole person rather than just the symptoms of disease and taking into account the effects on health of factors such as lifestyle, the environment and emotional well-being.’  I know this is not all that meaningful and just a (fairly daft and uninformed) formular for getting rid of a tedious request, yet – for what it’s worth – it does not indicate that, in the realm of SCAM, Charles is all that open to change. More recent activities of King Charles seem to support this impression.

With regards to his overall popularitiy in the UK, this might mean that Charles will continue to lose the support of skeptics, while gaining the one of SCAM enthusiasts.

And the net result of this?

I fear it will almost be negligible.

This study aimed to compare the effects of cognitive functional therapy (CFT) and movement system impairment (MSI)-based treatment on pain intensity, disability, Kinesiophobia, and gait kinetics in patients with chronic non-specific low back pain (CNSLBP).

In a single-blind randomized clinical trial, the researchers randomly assigned 91 patients with CNSLBP into CFT (n = 45) and MSI-based treatment (n = 46) groups. An 8-week training intervention was given to both groups. The researchers measured the primary outcome, which was pain intensity (Numeric rating scale), and the secondary outcomes, including disability (Oswestry disability index), Kinesiophobia (Tampa Kinesiophobia Scale), and vertical ground reaction force (VGRF) parameters at self-selected and faster speed (Force distributor treadmill). They evaluated patients at baseline, at the end of the 8-week intervention (post-treatment), and six months after the first treatment. Mixed-model ANOVA was used to evaluate the effects of the interaction between time (baseline vs. post-treatment vs. six-month follow-up) and group (CFT vs. MSI-based treatment) on each measure.

CFT showed superiority over MSI-based treatment in reducing pain intensity (P < 0.001, Effect size (ES) = 2.41), ODI (P < 0.001, ES = 2.15), and Kinesiophobia (P < 0.001, ES = 2.47) at eight weeks. The CFT also produced greater improvement in VGRF parameters, at both self-selected (FPF[P < 0.001, ES = 3], SPF[P < 0.001, ES = 0.5], MSF[P < 0.001, ES = 0.67], WAR[P < 0.001, ES = 1.53], POR[P < 0.001, ES = 0.8]), and faster speed, FPF(P < 0.001, ES = 1.33, MSF(P < 0.001, ES = 0.57), WAR(P < 0.001, ES = 0.67), POR(P < 0.001, ES = 2.91)] than the MSI, except SPF(P < 0.001, ES = 0.0) at eight weeks.

The authors concluded that this study suggests that the CFT is associated with better results in clinical and cognitive characteristics than the MSI-based treatment for CNSLBP, and the researchers maintained the treatment effects at six-month follow-up. Also, This study achieved better improvements in gait kinetics in CFT. CTF seems to be an appropriate and applicable treatment in clinical setting.

To understand this  study, we need to know what CFT and MSI exactly entailed. Here is the information that the authors provide:

Movement system impairment-based treatment

The movement system impairment-based treatment group received 11 sessions of MSI-based treatment over the 8 weeks for 60 min per session with a supervision of a native speaker experienced (above 5 years) physical therapist with the knowledge of MSI-based treatment. The researchers designed the MSI-based treatment uniquely for each patient based on the interview, clinical examination, and questionnaires, just like they did with the CFT intervention. First, they administered standardized tests to characterize changes in the patient’s low back pain symptoms, and then they modified the treatment to make it more specific based on the participant’s individual symptoms. Depending on the participant’s direction-specific low back pain classification, they performed the intervention following one of the five MSI subgroups namely [1] rotation, [2] extension, [3] flexion, [4] rotation with extension, and [5] rotation with flexion. Finally, Patients treated using the standardized MSI protocol as follows: [1] education regarding normal postures and movements such as sitting, walking, bending, standing, and lying down; [2] education regarding exercises to perform trunk movements as painlessly as possible; and [3] prescription of functional exercises to improve trunk movement [32].

Cognitive functional therapy

Cognitive functional therapy was prescribed for each patient in CFT group based the CFT protocol conducted by O’Sullivan et al. (2015). Patients received supervised 12 sessions of training over the 8-week period with 60 min per session provided with another physical therapist who had been trained in CFT treatment. In this protocol, a physical therapist with more than 5 years of experience conducted an interview and physical examination of the patients to determine their own unique training programs, considering modifiable cognitive, biopsychosocial, functional, and lifestyle behavior factors. The intervention consists of the following 3 main stages: [1] making sense of pain that is completely reflective, where physical therapist could use the context of the patient’s own story to provide a new understanding of their condition and question their old beliefs [2] exposure with control which is designed to normalize maladaptive or provocative movement and posture related to activities of daily living that is integrated into each patient’s functional impairments, including teaching how to relax trunk muscles, how to have normal body posture while sitting, lying, bending, lifting, moving, and standing, and how to avoid pain behaviors, which aims to break poor postural habits; and [3] lifestyle change which is investigating the influence of unhealthy lifestyles in the patient’s pain context. Assessing the individual’s body mass, nutrition, quality of sleep, levels of physical activity or sedentary lifestyle, smoking, and other factors via video calls. Identifying such lifestyle factors helped us to individually advise and design exercise programs, rebuild self-confidence and self-efficacy, promote changes in lifestyle, and design coping strategies.

I must admit that I am not fully convinced.

Firstly, the study was not large and we need – as the authors state – more evidence. Secondly, I am not sure that the results show  CFT to be more effective that MSI. They might merely indicate 1) that the bulk of the improvement is due to non-specific effects (e.g. reression towards the mean, natural history of the condition, placebo) and 2) that CFT is less harmful than MSI.

My conclusion:

we need not just more but better evidence.

The ‘ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE HALL OF FAME’ is my creation amd is meant to honour reserchers who have dedicated much of their professional career to investigating a form of so-called alternative medicine (SCAM) without ever publishing negative conclusions about it. Obviously, if anyone studies any therapy, he/she will occasionally produce a negative finding. This would be the case, even if he/she tests an effective treatment. However, if the treatment in question comes from the realm of SCAM, one would expect negative results fairly regularly. No therapy works well under all conditions, and to the best of my knowledge, no SCAM is a panacea!

This is why researchers who defy this inevitability must be remarkable. If someone tests a treatment that is at best dubious and at worst bogus, we are bound to see some studies that are not positive. He/she would thus have a high or norma ‘TRUSTWORTHINESS INDEX‘ (another creation of mine which, I think, is fairly self-explanatory). Conversely, any researcher who does manage to publish nothing but positive results of a SCAM is bound to have a very low ‘TRUSTWORTHINESS INDEX‘. In other words, these people are special, so much so that  I decided to honour such ‘geniuses’ by admitting them to my ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE OF FAME.

So far, this elite group of people comprises the following individuals:

  1. Tery Oleson (acupressure , US)
  2. Jorge Vas (acupuncture, Spain)
  3. Wane Jonas (homeopathy, US)
  4. Harald Walach (various SCAMs, Germany)
  5. Andreas Michalsen ( various SCAMs, Germany)
  6. Jennifer Jacobs (homeopath, US)
  7. Jenise Pellow (homeopath, South Africa)
  8. Adrian White (acupuncturist, UK)
  9. Michael Frass (homeopath, Austria)
  10. Jens Behnke (research officer, Germany)
  11. John Weeks (editor of JCAM, US)
  12. Deepak Chopra (entrepreneur, US)
  13. Cheryl Hawk (chiropractor, US)
  14. David Peters (osteopathy, homeopathy, UK)
  15. Nicola Robinson (TCM, UK)
  16. Peter Fisher (homeopathy, UK)
  17. Simon Mills (herbal medicine, UK)
  18. Gustav Dobos (various SCAMs, Germany)
  19. Claudia Witt (homeopathy, Germany/Switzerland)
  20. George Lewith (acupuncture, UK)
  21. John Licciardone (osteopathy, US)

Today, it is my great pleasure to admit another osteopath to the HALL OF FAME:

Helge Franke

Helge is a German Heilpraktiker and Osteopath. On his website, he lists his publications (kindly saving me the effort of doing a Medline search):

  1. Osteopathic manipulative treatment for nonspecific low back pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC Muskuloskeletal Disorders, 2014
  2. Effectiveness of osteopathc manipulative therapy for managing symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome: a systematic review. Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, 2014
  3. Why reservations remain: A critical reflection about the systematic review and meta-analysis “Osteopathic manipulative treatment for low back pain” by Licciardone et al. Journal of Bodywork & Movement Therapies, 2012, Elsevier
  4. Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment (OMT) for Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms (LUTS) in Women. A Systematic Review and Meta-analyses. Journal of Bodywork & Movement Therapies, 2012, Elsevier
  5. Comment: Is a postural-structural-biomechanical model, within manual therapy, viable? A JBMT debate. Journal of Bodywork & Movement Therapies (2011) 15, 259-261, Elsevier
  6. Die manuelle Behandlung des Kniegelenks – veraltetes Verfahren oder alternative Option? Naturheilpraxis mit Naturmedizin 9-2010, 1019-1026, Pflaum Verlag
  7. CRPS und Osteopathie – Grenzen und Möglichkeiten DO – Deutsche Zeitschrift für Osteopathie 3-2010, 6-8, Hippokrates Verlag
  8. Research and osteopathy: An interview with Dr Gary Fryer by Journal of Bodywork & Movement Therapies. 14, 304-308, Elsevier
  9. „…there is not much we can say without any doubt“ DO Life about Gary Fryer DO – Deutsche Zeitschrift für Osteopathie 1-2010, 4-5, Hippokrates Verlag
  10. Fred Mitchell und die Entwicklung der Muskel-Energie-Techniken DO – Deutsche Zeitschrift für Osteopathie 2-2009, 4-5, Hippokrates Verlag
  11. A randomized trial of arthroscopic surgery for osteoarthritis of the knee. Commentary Forschende Komplementärmedizin 2008 Dec 15(6), 354-5, Karger
  12. Evidence-informed management of chronic low back pain with spinal manipulation and mobilization. Commentary Forschende Komplementärmedizin 2008 Dec 15(6), 353-4, Karger
  13. Interview mit Prof. Eyal Lederman Teil 1 Osteopathische Medizin, 2/2007, S.15-21, Elsevier
  14. Interview mit Prof. Eyal Lederman Teil 2 Osteopathische Medizin, 3/2007, S.22-27, Elsevier
  15. Artikel über das 3. Internationale Symposium über die Fortschritte in der osteopathischen Forschung. Osteopathische Medizin, 1-2007, S.23-24, Elsevier
  16. Die richtige Haltung des Behandlers Osteopathische Medizin, 4-2006, S.8-10, Elsevier
  17. Interview mit Laurie Hartman Osteopathische Medizin, 4-2006, S. 11-16, Elsevier
  18. Herausgeber des Sonderheftes „Functional Technique” Osteopathische Medizin, 2-2006, Elsevier
  19. Harold Hoover, Charles Bowles, William Johnston und die Geschichte der Funktionellen Technik Osteopathische Medizin, 2-2006, S.4-12, Elsevier
  20. Interview mit Harry Friedman Osteopathische Medizin, 2-2006, S.25-30, Elsevier
  21. Funktionelle Technik – Praxis Osteopathische Medizin, 2-2006, S.17-23, Elsevier
  22. Osteopathische Diagnose und Behandlung des Hüftgelenks Naturheilpraxis mit Naturmedizin, 10-2006, S.1383-1393, Pflaum-Verlag
  23. Bericht über das 2-Tage Seminar von Prof. Laurie Hartman in München Naturheilpraxis mit Naturmedizin, 5-2006, S.754-755, Pflaum Verlag
  24. Bewusstsein für Bewegung. Die minimale Hebeltechnik und das Behandlungskonzept von Laurie Hartman Osteopathische Medizin, 4-2006, S.4-7, Elsevier
  25. ICAOR 6 / Interview mit Florian Schwerla Osteopathische Medizin, 3-2006, S.15-17, Elsevier
  26. Muscle Energy Technique – Geschichte, Modell und Wirksamkeit Teil 1 Geschichte Osteopathische Medizin 2-2005, S.4-10, Elsevier
  27. Muscle Energy Technique – Geschichte, Modell und Wirksamkeit Teil 2 Modell Osteopathische Medizin 3-2005, S.4-10, Elsevier
  28. Muscle Energy Technique – Geschichte, Modell und Wirksamkeit Teil 3 Wirksamkeit Osteopathische Medizin 4-2005, S.4-10, Elsevier
  29. Die Behandlung der Rippen mit Muskel-Energie-Techniken Naturheilpraxis mit Naturmedizin, 10-2005, S. 1353-1359, Pflaum Verlag

Yes, I agree! The list is confusing because it contains all sorts of papers, including even interviews. Let’s do a Medline search after all and find the actual studies published by Franke:

  1. Osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) for lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS) in women. Franke H, Hoesele K.J Bodyw Mov Ther. 2013 Jan;17(1):11-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jbmt.2012.05.001. Epub 2012 Jun 17.
  2. Effectiveness of osteopathic manipulative treatment for pediatric conditions: A systematic review. Franke H, Franke JD, Fryer G.J Bodyw Mov Ther. 2022 Jul;31:113-133. doi: 10.1016/j.jbmt.2022.03.013. Epub 2022 Mar 24.
  3. Muscle energy technique for non-specific low-back pain. Franke H, Fryer G, Ostelo RW, Kamper SJ. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2015 Feb 27;(2):CD009852. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD009852.pub2.
  4. Osteopathic manipulative treatment for nonspecific low back pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Franke H, Franke JD, Fryer G.BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 2014 Aug 30;15:286. doi: 10.1186/1471-2474-15-286.
    Effectiveness of osteopathic manipulative therapy for managing symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome: a systematic review. Müller A, Franke H, Resch KL, Fryer G.J Am Osteopath Assoc. 2014 Jun;114(6):470-9. doi: 10.7556/jaoa.2014.098.
  5. Osteopathic manipulative treatment for low back and pelvic girdle pain during and after pregnancy: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Franke H, Franke JD, Belz S, Fryer G.J Bodyw Mov Ther. 2017 Oct;21(4):752-762. doi: 10.1016/j.jbmt.2017.05.014. Epub 2017 May 31.
  6. Evidence-informed management of chronic low back pain with spinal manipulation and mobilization Franke H.Forsch Komplementmed. 2008 Dec;15(6):353-4
  7. Osteopathic manipulative treatment for chronic nonspecific neck pain: A systematic review and meta-analysis Helge Franke, Jan-David Franke, Gary Fryer, 2015 Int J Osteop Med.

Not a huge list, I agree. Yet it is respectable, particularly if we consider that Franke managed to squeeze out a little positive message even from cases where the data are fairly clearly negative. Another thing that I find noteworthy is the fact that Franke, as far as I can see, never published a clinical trial. He seems to specialize in reviews – and perhaps that is understandable: if one is compelled to spinning the message from fairly negative evidence to a positive conclusion, reviews might be better suited.

Altogether, I think Helge Franke deserves his place in the ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE HALL OF FAME!

As I mentioned before: it’s the season for awards and prizes:

It goes all the way back to 1982 when the Australian Skeptics instituted an award to be presented annually at the National Convention to individuals or organisations who made the most outrageous claim of a paranormal or pseudoscientific nature in the preceding year. After conferring with leading American Skeptic and illusionist, James Randi, who had earlier instituted a Bent Spoon award, it was decided that the Australian version would also commemorate one of the less useful, though widely acclaimed, alleged paranormal claims; the psychic ability to distort items of cutlery. So was born the Australian Bent Spoon Award. Some years later, in a masterpiece of alliteration, it was decided that the preamble to the award should read “presented to the perpetrator of the most preposterous piece of paranormal or pseudoscientific piffle”.

For a nomination to be accepted it should include the following details:The Bent Spoon Award on its Plinth

  • The name and contact details of the nominator (only the name will be listed on the website)
  • The name of the person or organisation being nominated
  • The reason for the nomination, including a clear explanation of the link to the paranormal or to pseudo-science

The ‘Bent Spoon’ is reserved for people who do their woo in Australia. The organisers also reserve the right to reject nominations that are deemed inappropriate. In particular, defamatory or frivolous nominations will not be accepted.

If you feel like nominating you favourite Australian anti-hero, use this link to email your nomination for 2023.

Click here to see the list of all current nominations.

And here is the fascinating list of former winners that reads like a ‘WHO IS WHO IN AUSTRALIAN QUACKERY’:

  • 2022: Maria Carmela Pau, for selling useless COVID vaccination exemption certificates, and claiming medical qualifications she did not have.
  • 2021: Craig Kelly MP, for spreading misinformation about COVID and vaccinations, and offering dubious cures and conspiracy theories.
  • 2020: Pete Evans for the promotion of the pseudoscientific non-medical BioCharger and continuing his anti-vaccination position.
  • 2019: SBS-TV program “Medicine or Myth” for promoting certain alternative medical treatments as if they had scientific credibility as opposed to placebo effectiveness.
  • 2018: Sarah Stevenson/Sarah’s Day for the promotion of questionable natural health remedies via her vast network of followers.
  • 2017: National Institute of Complementary Medicine and the University of Western Sydney for the continued promotion of disproved and unproved alternative medicine practices.
  • 2016: Judy Wilyman, Brian Martin, and the University of Wollongong for awarding Wilyman a doctorate on the basis of a PhD thesis riddled with errors, misstatements, poor and unsupported ‘evidence’ and conspiratorial thinking.
  • 2015: Pete Evans, chef, for his diet promotions, campaigns against fluoridation and support of anti-vaccinationists.
  • 2014: Dr Larry Marshall, Chief Executive, CSIRO for his support of water divining.
  • 2013: Chiropractors’ Association of Australia and the Chiropractic Board of Australia for failing to ensure their own members – including some committee members – adhere to their policy announcements.
  • 2012: Fran Sheffield of Homeopathy Plus! for advocating the use of magical sugar and water in place of tried and true vaccination for many deadly diseases, most notably Whooping Cough.
  • 2011: RMIT University “for having a fundamentalist chiropractic education program – if the word education can be used in this way – and for endorsing the practice by targeting children and infants in their on-campus paediatric chiropractic clinics”
  • 2010: the Australian Curriculum and Reporting Authority (ACARA) for its draft science curriculum.
  • 2009: Meryl Dorey and the deceptively named Australian Vaccination Network, who spread fear and misinformation about vaccines
  • 2008: Prof Kerryn Phelps
  • 2007: Marena Manzoufas, Head of Programming at the ABC for her sterling work in authorising the television show Psychic Investigators, made worse by putting it to air in the Catalyst timeslot
  • 2006: The pharmacists of Australia, who manage to forget their scientific training long enough to sell quackery and snake oil (such as Homoeopathy and ear candles) in places where consumers should expect to get real medical supplies and advice. Video of award here.
  • 2005: The ABC television program Second Opinion for the uncritical presentation of many forms of quackery.
  • 2004: The producers of the ABC television show The New Inventors, principally for giving consideration to an obvious piece of pseudoscience, the AntiBio water water conditioning system
  • 2003: The Complementary Healthcare Council
  • 2002: Gentle Heal Pty Ltd for the selling of fake (Homoeopathic) vaccine.
  • 2001: The Lutec “Free Energy Generator”
  • 2000: Jasmuheen who claims one can live without food and water.
  • 1999: Mike Willesee for the ‘documentary’ Signs From God.
  • 1998: Southern Cross University for offering a degree course in naturopathy, while also claiming to be conducting research into whether there was actually any validity to naturopathy.
  • 1997: Dr. Viera Scheibner – Anti-immunisation advocate
  • 1996: Marlo Morgan – American new age author who claimed in her book Mutant Message Downunder, that Australian Aborigines could levitate.
  • 1995: Tim McCartney-Snape for his promotion of the Foundation for the Adulthood of Mankind.
  • 1994: Commonwealth Attorney General for an enterprise agreement with its 2,400 employees that included a clause so any employee, who had taken sick leave, need not provide a medical certificate signed by a medical practitioner, but could provide one signed by a naturopath, herbalist, iridologist, chiropractor or one of assorted other “alternative” practitioners.
  • 1993: Steve Vizard’s Tonight Live programme (Channel 7).
  • 1992: Allen S Roberts, archaeological research consultant for a search for Noah’s Ark.
  • 1991: Woman’s Day magazine for its coverage and support of the paranormal, in particular astrology.
  • 1990: Mafu, multilifed entity, channelled by Penny Torres Rubin and who, despite millennia of experience, was remarkable for the banality of his/her pronouncements.
  • 1989: Diane McCann who wrote that Adelaide was built on one of the temples of Atlantis.
  • 1988: None
  • 1987: Anne Dankbaar, Adelaide “psychic”, whose discovery of the Colossus of Rhodes created something of a media stir until it was shown to be modern builders rubble.
  • 1986: Peter Brock, prominent racing driver, whose highly touted “energy polariser” generated more heat in the motoring media than it did energy in his car.
  • 1985: The Findhorn Festival Group, which sponsored the visit to Australia of American “psychic dentist” Willard Fuller. “Brother” Willard left town just ahead of some injunctions from real dentists.
  • 1984: Melbourne Metropolitan Board of Works for its payment of $1,823 to US “psychic archaeologist” Karen Hunt to use divining rods to detect an alleged “Electromagnetic Photo Field”
  • 1983: Dennis Hassel, “medium” whose chief trick was to make his hand disappear.
  • 1982: Tom Wards, self proclaimed “psychic”, whose predictions in the popular press were renowned for their inaccuracy.

This study aimed to compare the effectiveness of three distinct interventions – Yoga, Naturopathy, and Conventional medical management – in alleviating pain, reducing disability, enhancing spinal mobility, and improving the quality of life in individuals with low back pain. Ninety participants were recruited and randomly divided into three groups.

  • The first group (group 1) received Yoga,
  • the second group (group 2) received Naturopathy treatments,
  • the third group served as the control and received conventional medications.

Visual Analogue Scale (VAS) scores, Oswestry Disability Index (ODI), Flexion Test-Finger to Floor Test (FTFT) results, and Quality of Life (QOL) were assessed at baseline and after a 10-day intervention period for all groups.

Overall comparisons between the groups, utilizing ANOVA, revealed marked differences in pain severity, disability index, daily functional capacity, and Quality of Life (QoL) improvements following respective interventions. Substantial improvements were also noted within the yoga and naturopathic medicine groups across multiple variables.

The authors concluded that the results of this comparative analysis emphasize the effectiveness of Yoga, Naturopathy, and Conventional Medical Treatment in managing low back pain. All three interventions demonstrated significant improvements in pain intensity, disability, spinal mobility, and quality of life. This study contributes valuable insights into the diverse therapeutic approaches for low back pain management, highlighting the potential of holistic and alternative treatments to enhance patients’ well-being.

__________________

This is a remarkably poor study. Its flaws are too numerous to account for them all here. Let me focus on just a three that stand out.

  1. All we learn about the 3 treatment regimen is this (and it clearly not enough to do an independent replication of this trial):

Yoga Group:

Participants in the Yoga Group underwent a specifically designed integrated approach of Yoga therapy (IAYT) for back pain, incorporating relaxation techniques, spinal movements, breathing exercises, pranayama, and deep relaxation techniques. The intervention was conducted by qualified yoga instructors at SDM College of Naturopathy and Yogic Sciences.

Naturopathy Group:

Participants in the Naturopathy Group received neutral spinal baths and partial massages. The spinal bath was administered at Government Yoga & Nature Cure Out Patient Center, Puttur, and massages were performed by trained naturopathy therapists.

Conventional Medicine Group:

Participants in the Conventional Medicine Group received standard medical treatments for low back pain as recommended by orthopedic physicians from S.D.M Medical College, Dharward

  1. As an equivalence trial, the sample size of this study is far too small. This means that its findings are most likely caused by coincidence and not by the interventions applied.
  2. There was no attempt of blinding the patients. Therefore, the results – if they were otherwise trustworthy – would be dominated by expectations and not by the effects of the treatments.

Altogether, this study is, I think, a good example for the fact that

poor research often is worse than no research at all.

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