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

charlatan

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Recently, I heard JD Vance (the would-be Vicepresident of the US) proclaim: THE ENEMY ARE THE PROFESSORS! Unsurprisingly, this remark alarmed me; I had not been previously aware of being an enemy of the people.

Vance stressed that this was a quote by Richard Nixon made some 40/50 years ago. I looked up Nixon’s quote and found that the original is apparently a little different:

Never forget, the press is the enemy. The establishment is the enemy. The professors are the enemy. The professors are the enemy. Write that on a blackboard a hundred times and never forget it.

So, why does Vance quote Nixon (arguably not one of the most honest men in the history of US politics) and insist on THE PROFESSORS ARE THE ENEMY? Why was this puzzling quote followed by plenty of applause from his audience?

The answer must be that it is a populist theme that touches a nerve with right-wing voters. But what does the sentence actually mean?

On Vance’s campaign website, he explains that “hundreds of billions of American tax dollars” get sent to universities that “teach that America is an evil, racist nation.” These universities “then train teachers who bring that indoctrination into our elementary and high schools.” Vance doesn’t want public funds to go to institutions that teach “critical race theory or radical gender ideology.” He rather wants them to deliver “an honest, patriotic account of American history.”

Vance and Nixon are not the first politicians to recently claimed that the enemies are the professors. In 2016, the UK conservative Michael Gove refused to name any economist backing Britain’s exit from the European Union, saying that “people in this country have had enough of experts”.

According to Wikipedia, anti-intellectualism is hostility to and mistrust of intellectintellectuals,  and intellectualism, commonly expressed as deprecation of education and philosophy and the dismissal of artliteraturehistory, and science as impractical, politically motivated, and even contemptible human pursuits. Anti-intellectuals may present themselves and be perceived as champions of common folk—populists against political and academic elitism—and tend to see educated people as a status class that dominates political discourse and higher education while being detached from the concerns of ordinary people. Totalitarian governments have, in the past, manipulated and applied anti-intellectualism to repress political dissent. During the Spanish Civil War (1936–1939) and the following dictatorship (1939–1975) of General Francisco Franco,  the reactionary repression of the White Terror (1936–1945) was notably anti-intellectual, with most of the 200,000 civilians killed being the Spanish intelligentsia, the politically active teachers and academics, artists and writers of the deposed Second Spanish Republic (1931–1939). During the Cambodian Genocide (1975–1979), the totalitarian regime of Cambodia led by Pol Pot nearly destroyed its entire educated population.

Fascist movements are notoriously anti-intellectual and anti-science. Adolf Hitler said he regretted that his regime still had some need for its “intellectual classes,” otherwise, “one day we could, I don’t know, exterminate them or something.” And Joseph Goebbels said this: “There was no point in seeking to convert the intellectuals. For intellectuals would never be converted and would anyway always yield to the stronger, and this will always be the man in the street. Arguments must therefore be crude, clear and forcible, and appeal to emotions and instincts, not the intellect. Truth was unimportant and entirely subordinate to tactics and psychology.” And the ‘bon mot’, “when I hear the word culture, I reach for my gun”, is attributed even to several of the top Nazis of the Third Reich.

And here we might have a reason why a certain type of politician dislikes intellectuals and feels that the enemy are the professors. Professors do science, science is about truth, and the truth is something that politiciance like Vance must fear like the pest. It would disclose their agenda as being fascist.

In conclusion, the claim, “THE PROFESSORS ARE THE ENEMY”, is an argument of polititians who have good reason to fear the truth, and it appeals to voters who are too dim to understand the danger posed by those they wish to elect.

 

 

 

 

Several years ago, I reported on the range of conditions which, according to homeopaths, “respond best to homeopathic treatment” (basically any condition imaginable). To remind you, here is the list again:

ENT and bronchial problems

  • Ear infections,
  • rhinitis,
  • sinusitis,
  • pharyngitis,
  • tonsillitis,
  • tracheitis,
  • bronchitis,
  • asthma.

Digestive problems

  • Stomach complaints
  • acidity,
  • heartburn,
  • fullness,
  • poor digestion,
  • flatulence,
  • duodenal ulcer,
  • diarrhoea,
  • constipation,
  • nausea,
  • vomiting,
  • canker sores.

Cardiovascular problems

Osteoarticular complaints

All types of muscle and/or joint pain due to arthrosis or arthritis:

  • neck pain,
  • shoulder pain,
  • elbow pain,
  • wrist pain,
  • Back pain,
  • sciatica,
  • knee pain,
  • ankle pain,
  • Sprains,
  • contractures etc.

Traumas

Urological disorders

Gynaecological problems

Dermatological problems

  • Eczema, hives,
  • Acne vulgaris, acne rosacea,
  • Recurrent boils, verucas, plantar warts,
  • Molluscum contagiosum,
  • Herpes simple and zoster
  • Psoriasis

Neurological disorders

  • Headaches and migraines.
  • Eye problems
  • Conjunctivitis,
  • blepharitis,
  • styes, dacryocistitis,
  • uveitis.

Behavioural and psychiatric disorders

  • Anxiety,
  • depression,
  • stress,
  • mental fatigue,
  • Pediatric problems,
  • Ear infections,
  • tonsillitis,
  • bronchitis,
  • asthma,
  • diarrhoea,
  • vomiting,
  • skin complaints,
  • canker sores,
  • teething problems,
  • sleep disorders,
  • educational attainment issues,
  • behavioural issues.

Endocrine disorders

  • Obesity,
  • hypothyroidism,
  • hyperthyroidism,
  • Depleted immune defences,
  • Recurrent infections affecting the throat,
  • sinuses, nose, ears,
  • connective tissue, larynx,
  • bronchial tubes,
  • lungs,
  • skin,
  • bladder etc.

Palliative care

For the treatment of the diverse symptoms that appear over the course of the illness. Homeopathy can improve the patient’s general wellbeing and counteract the side effects of other treatments.

These are just a few examples, but the list could be endless – it is important to stress that homeopathy is very effective in pathologies that are difficult to establish or those with contradictory or paradoxical symptoms.

In recurrent illnesses, homeopathic medicines can boost the defences and help to regulate the sufferer’s body in order to prevent further relapses.

Homeopathy is an excellent preventive medicine.

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You will notice that SCIATICA is on the list.

Would they really be as daft as to use homeopathy for sciatica?

Not only that, they would even conduct a study on the subject. Here is this recently published trial:

Objectives: Sciatica is a debilitating condition that causes pain in its distribution or in the lumbosacral nerve root that is connected to it. Although there are claims that homeopathy can reduce sciatica pain, systematic scientific proof is currently lacking. The objective of the trial was to determine whether individualized homeopathic medicines (IHMs) were as effective as identical-looking placebos in treating sciatica pain. Design: This is a double-blind, randomized (1:1), two parallel arms, placebo-controlled trial. Setting: The study was conducted at Mahesh Bhattacharyya Homoeopathic Medical College and Hospital, Howrah, West Bengal, India. Subjects: Sixty participants with sciatica pain were included in this study. Interventions: Verum (n = 30; IHMs plus concomitant care) versus control (n = 30; placebos plus concomitant care). Outcome measures: Primary-Sciatica Bothersome Index (SBI) and Sciatica Frequency Index (SFI) scores and secondary-Roland Morris Pain and Disability Questionnaire (RMPDQ), Short Form McGill Pain Questionnaire (SF-MPQ), and Oswestry Low Back Pain Questionnaire (OLBPQ) scores: all of them were measured at baseline, and every month, up to 3 months. Results: Intention-to-treat sample (n = 60) was analyzed. Group differences were examined by two-way (split-half) repeated measure analysis of variance, primarily accounting for between groups and time interactions, and additionally, by unpaired t tests comparing the estimates obtained individually every month. The level of significance was set at p < 0.025 and <0.05 two tailed for the primary and secondary outcomes, respectively. Group differences could not achieve significance in SBI (p = 0.044), SFI (p = 0.080), and RMPDQ scores (p = 0.134), but were significant for SF-MPQ (p = 0.007) and OLBPQ (p = 0.036). Gnaphalium polycephalum (n = 6; 10%) was the most frequently prescribed medicine. No harm, serious adverse events, or intercurrent illnesses were recorded in either of the groups. Conclusions: The primary outcome failed to demonstrate evidently that homeopathy was effective beyond placebo, and the trial remained inconclusive. Independent replications are warranted to confirm the findings.

So, homeopathy does not work for sciatica.

Surprise, surprise!

Why not?

Simple: because homeopathy does not work for any condition.

Project 2025 is a set of proposals from the US Heritage Foundation to reform the US according to right-wing ideology and to consolidate executive power shouldTrump win the 2024 presidential election. The project is a most frightening blueprint for fascism in the US and would have serious implications for the rest of the world. It would also profoundly impact on healthcare (my expertise) in multiple ways.

Here are some of them:

According to Project 2025, the federal government should prohibit Medicare from negotiating drug prices and promote the Medicare Advantage program, which consists of private insurance plans. Federal healthcare providers should deny gender-affirming care to transgender people and eliminate insurance coverage of the morning-after-pill Ella. Project 2025 also suggests a number of ways to cut funding for Medicaid, such as caps on federal funding, limits on lifetime benefits per capita, and letting state governments impose stricter work requirements for beneficiaries of this program. Other proposals include limiting state use of provider taxes, eliminating preexisting federal beneficiary protections and requirements, increasing eligibility determinations and asset test determinations to make it harder to enroll in, apply for and renew Medicaid, providing an option to turn Medicaid into a voucher program, and eliminating federal oversight of state medicaid programs.

Project 2025 insists that life begins at conception. The Mandate says that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) should “return to being known as the Department of Life”. Project 2025 says it would reposition department policies “by explicitly rejecting the notion that abortion is health care and by restoring its mission statement under to include furthering the health and well-being of all Americans ‘from conception to natural death’.”

The project opposes any initiatives that, in its view, subsidize single parenthood. Project 2025 encourages the next administration to rescind some of the provisions of the Family Planning Services and Population Research Act of 1970, which offers reproductive healthcare services, and to require participating clinics to emphasize the importance of marriage to potential parents.

According to Project 2025, the Food and Drug Administration is “ethically and legally obliged to revisit and withdraw its initial approval” of the abortion pills mifepristone and misoprostol. It recommends that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “update its public messaging about the unsurpassed effectiveness of modern fertility awareness-based methods” of contraception, such as smartphone applications that track a woman’s menstrual cycle. The project also seeks to restore Trump-era “religious and moral exemptions” to contraceptive requirements under the Affordable Care Act, including emergency contraception, which it deems an abortifacient, to defund Planned Parenthood, and to remove protection of medical records involving abortions from criminal investigations if the owners of said records cross state lines.

Project 2025 aims to prohibit sending abortion pills and medical equipment used for abortions through the mail; the plan would allow criminal prosecution for senders and receivers of abortion pills. Project 2025 does not explicitly promote the prohibition of abortion, but some legal experts and abortion rights advocates said adopting the Project’s plan would cut off access to medical equipment used in surgical abortions to create a de facto national abortion ban.

Project 2025 advises the federal government to deprecate what it considers promotion of abortion and high-risk sexual behaviors among adolescents. It also seeks to remove the role of the Department of Health and Human Services in shaping sex education in the United States, arguing that this is tantamount to creating a monopoly.

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If you think this part on healthcare (within my area of expertise) is crazy or dangerous, you should see the rest of the document (not my area of expertise)!

Donald Trump tried hard to deny that he has anything to do with the project. But this as been largely in vain. However, the Democratic National Committee is rolling out a media blitz connecting him to it. This campaign will erect splashy billboards in major cities throughout the battleground states including Atlanta, Las Vegas, Raleigh, Charlotte, Philadelphia, Detroit, Lansing, Grand Rapids, Green Bay, and Phoenix.

Project 2025 is being staffed with countless members of Trump’s administration as well as close advisers. “I know nothing about Project 2025. I have not seen it, have no idea who is in charge of it, and, unlike our very well received Republican Platform, had nothing to do with it,” “Trump’s Plan to be a dictator day one: Project 2025. Google it,” reads one billboard. Another explains how Project 2025 will eviscerate our checks and balances, enable a Trump revenge tour, and ban abortion nationally. It is, in the truest sense, a blueprint for a fascist America.

To accuse anyone of an abuse of science is a hefty charge, I know. In the case of proponents of so-called alternative medicine (SCAM) doing science, it is, however, often justified. Let me explain this by using the example of chiropractors (I could have chosen homeopathy, faith heaalers, acupuncturists or almost any other type of SCAM professional, but in recent times it was the chiros who provided the clearest examples of abuse).

Science can be seen as a set of tools that is used to estabish the truth. In therapeutics, science is employed foremost to answer three questions:

  1. Is the therapy plausible?
  2. Is the therapy effective?
  3. Is the therapy safe?

The way to answer them is to falsify the underlying hypotheses, i.e. to demonstrate that:

  1. The therapy is not plausible.
  2. The therapy is not effective.
  3. The therapy is not safe.

Only if rigorous attempts at falsifying these hypotheses have falied can we conclude that:

  1. The therapy is plausible.
  2. The therapy is effective.
  3. The therapy is safe.

I know, this is rather elementary stuff. It is taught during the first lessons of any decent science course. Yet, proponents of SCAM are either not being properly taught or they are immune to even the most basic facts about science. On this blog, we regularly have the opportunity to observe exactly that when we read and are bewildered by the comments made by SCAM proponents. This is often clearest in the case of chiropractors.

  1. They cherry-pick the evidence to persuade us that their hallmark intervention, spinal manipulation, is plausible.
  2. They cherry-pick the evidence to persuade us that their hallmark intervention, spinal manipulation, is effective.
  3. They cherry-pick the evidence to persuade us that their hallmark intervention, spinal manipulation, is safe.

If they conduct research, they set up their investigations in such a way that they confirm their beliefs:

  1. Spinal manipulations are plausible.
  2. Spinal manipulations are effective.
  3. Spinal manipulations are safe.

In other words, they do not try to falsify hypotheses, but they do their very best to confirm them. And this, I am afraid, is nothing other than an abuse of science.

QED

And how can the average consumer (who may not always be in a position to realize whether a study is reliable or not) tell when such abuse of science is occurring? How can he or she decide who to trust and who not?

A simplest but sadly not fool-proof advice might consist in 2 main points:

  1. Never rely on a single study.
  2. Check whether there is a discrepancy in the results and views of SCAM proponents and independent experts; e.g.:
    • Chiropractors claim one thing, while independent scientists disagree or are unconvinced.
    • Homeopath claim one thing, while independent scientists disagree or are unconvinced.
    • Acupuncturists claim one thing, while independent scientists disagree or are unconvinced.
    • Energy healers claim one thing, while independent scientists disagree or are unconvinced.
    • Naturopaths claim one thing, while independent scientists disagree or are unconvinced.
    • Etc., etc.

In all of those cases, your alarm bells should ring and it might be wise to be cautious and avoid the treatment in question.

Yesterday, I stumbled across this remarkable notice. As it is in German, I took the libery of translating it for you:

Am 6. April 2024 war es wieder soweit: Die ÖGHM und die Schwabe Austria GmbH luden zur Verleihung des mit 4.000,- Euro dotierten Dr. Peithner Preises ein.

Dieses Mal wurde der Forschungspreis für die zwei eingereichte Arbeiten „Recommendations in the design and conduction of randomized controlled trials in human and veterinary homoeopathic medicine“ und „Recommendations for Designing, Conducting and Reporting Clinical Observational Studies in Homeopathic Veterinary Medicine“ an Katharina Gaertner, Klaus von Ammon, Philippa Fibert, Michael Frass, Martin Frei-Erb, Christien Klein-Laansma, Susanne Ulbrich-Zuerni und Petra Weiermayer vergeben.

Wir freuen uns sehr und gratulieren den Preisträger:innen zum verdienten Erfolg. Ein herzliches Dankeschön geht auch an die ÖGHM und die Schwabe Austria, die nicht nur mit diesem traditionellen Forschungspreis die Wissenschaft unterstützt.

Here is my translation:

On 6 April 2024, the time had come again: the ‘Austrian Society for Homeopathic Medicine’ (ÖGHM) and Schwabe Austria GmbH hosted the award ceremony for the Dr Peithner Prize, which is endowed with 4,000 euros.

This time, the research prize was awarded to Katharina Gaertner, Klaus von Ammon, Philippa Fibert, Michael Frass, Martin Frei-Erb, Christien Klein-Laansma, Susanne Ulbrich-Zuerni and Petra Weiermayer for the two submitted papers “Recommendations in the design and conduction of randomised controlled trials in human and veterinary homoeopathic medicine” and “Recommendations for Designing, Conducting and Reporting Clinical Observational Studies in Homeopathic Veterinary Medicine”.

We are delighted and congratulate the prizewinners on their well-deserved success. A big thank you also goes to the ÖGHM and Schwabe Austria, who support science with this traditional research prize.

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And where is the irony?

Firstly, homeopaths are not exactly the experts on how to conduct research.

Secondly, there are recommendations and guidelines for conducting clinical research (e.g. here), and there is no reason for homeopathy to not to adopt those.

Thirdly, and most importantly, to award a prize to Michael Frass for telling us how to do research is more than a little ironic. If anything, Frass could teach us a thing or two about how to falsify, fabricate and manipulate research results!

Jay Kennedy is an experienced chiropractor of some standing.

In “2018, ‘The American Chiropractor’ wrote this about Jay Kennedy:

Jay Kennedy, DC, is a 1987 graduate of Palmer Chiropractic College and maintains afull time practice in western Pennsylvania. He is the principal developer of the Kennedy Decompression Technique. Dr. Kennedy teaches his non-machine specific technique to practitioners who want to learn clinical expertise required to apply this increasingly mainstream therapy. Kennedy Decompression Technique Seminars are approved for CE through various Chiropractic Colleges.

‘The Dynamic Chiropractor’ published plenty of articles authored by Jay Kennedy.

I am telling you this because Jay Kennedy recently posted a comment which is far too important to be burried in the many other comments on this blog. I think it deserves full recognition and loud applause. I have therefore decided to take the unusual step and re-post it here as an entirely seperate post.

Here we go:

I was a DC for 30+ years and a notable one for the last 20 years. I taught 200+ seminars, wrote innumerable articles and taught at many chiropractic colleges. I had (3) private practices and was a technique “guru”: “Kennedy decompression technique” or KDT. We “certified” nearly 5000 DCs to be “decompression experts”!

Kdt still sells farcical traction-tables I developed and designed (labeled as “decompression systems”) as well as useless lasers, ultrasonic vibrators and other scam modalities to confound the DCs and milk the public. (I have been out of it for several years now).

I am not proud of the fact I made a lot of money both in practice and as a lying cultist-entrepreneur.

I have read your blog for several years and many of your books, especially related to Chiropractic. You are not mistaken and I do NOT believe you are biased, the fact that you define the practice as SCAM and a cult is absolutely the case. As has been said before it is “the world’s largest non-scientific healthcare delivery system”. I was fortunate many years ago to meet Stuart McGill PhD. It changed my practice considerably. I opened a gym and focused dramatically on exercise. I also had other income steams from selling bullshit equipment. The regrettable feature is chiropractors sell “treatments”…. Some of which superficially alter pain signals temporarily like many OTHER less expensive and less mendacious things. This “traps” many patients into an erroneous paradigm….one a DC is ready, willing and able to exploit. “Chiropractic treatments” NEVER get to the root of a problem, alter any disease-process or substantially improve a patient. Regrettably selling exercise simply WILL NOT garner the income that selling (and coercing) subluxation-elimination treatments will (and virtually NO DC has the experience or expertise a PT PhD has in that arena).

Interestingly when you do seminars as a chiropractor, most states make you sign a waiver stating that you will not disparage Chiropractic or discuss information that minimize the value of Chiropractic. Can you imagine medical seminars or a scientific seminar having such a waiver? Chiropractic is and has always been a moneymaking scheme. That doesn’t exclude the fact there are many chiropractors who buy into it as a supreme truth….just like Muslims who murder with the thought of getting directly to Heaven to start porking some virgins.

I have discovered most DCs are on the low IQ scale, have poor critical thinking skills and rarely question their golden-goose (or perhaps more sympathetically; never venture outside the bounds of the profession and its rhetoric and hyperbole. They have been effectively able to compartmentalize Chiropractic from rightful and accurate criticism). Most of the successful ones are of course entrepreneurs with ravenous appetites for money, prestige and approval (and have little or no interest in the “truth”…..oops I described myself I guess).

The majority however struggle to get by and are constantly seeking SOMETHING that might actually work. Thus 70%+ use and advertise “decompression”, Activators (and other ridiculous “adjusting guns”), drop-tables, energy-techniques, orthotics and whatever other nonsense some company advertises in Chiropractic Economics with a testimonial of how much money can be made. It always fascinated me that if “subluxation-reduction or elimination” was the solution for disease and pain WHY did the profession embrace all of these other nonsensical modalities? If your guess is: “chiropractic doesn’t really work”…give yourself a beer.

When you graduate as a DC you CAN ONLY be in private SCAM practice….no other opportunities exist. Is it really any wonder that lying is the only avenue available to support a practice and an income stream? Nope.

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I wish to express my thanks to Jay for his courage and honesty in writing these lines.

The comment sections of this blog have provided plenty of reason to suspect that chiropractic is a cult, a health cult to be precise. A health cult is defined as a system for the cure of disease based on dogma set forth by its promulgator. The promulgator, in this case, is DD Palmer. As discussed previously, he ‘invented’ chiropractic and promoted many extraordinary claims and ideas, e.g.:

  • I was the first to adjust the cause of disease
  • Chiropractors adjust causes instead of treating effects
  • 95% of all diseases are caused by subluxations of the spine
  • Vaccination and inoculation are pathological; chiropractic is physiological
  • It was my ingenious brain which discovered [chiropractic’s] first principle; I was its source; I gave it birth; to me all chiropractors trace their chiropractic lineage
  • Among the wonderful achievements of this century, the discovery and development of chiropractic is preeminent; it is destined to replace all methods which treat effects
  • Dis-ease is a condition of not ease, lack of ease
  • His magnetic cure for cancer involved freeing the stomach and spleen of poisons
  • Chiropractic is a science of healing without drugs
  • Wants to turn chiropractic into a religion (as this would avoid chiropractors being sued for practising medicine without a license)

Since DD Palmer, the chiro-cult has changed. In fact, it has split into two camps. The ‘straights’ have become a Palmer worship cult, while the rest delude themselves of being based on evidence. That the former are cultists is impossible to deny. The latter reject such allegations but, in my mind, they too belong to a cult.

Let me explain.

The criteria for a cult can be defines as follows:

  1. Charismatic Leader: the ‘mixers’ might no longer worship Palmer, yet they are far from free of his ‘philosophy’; after all, they went to chiro-school where they were educated in the Palmer tradition.
  2. Isolation: chiropractors seek surprisingly little co-operation with other healthcare professionals and thus tend to be isolated.
  3. Control: chiropractors are under tight control of their professional bodies, peers, journals, etc. which all make sure that heretic ideas are kept at bay.
  4. Deception: chiropractors are masters of deception in persuading the public and their patients of the value of spinal manipulations, regardless of the actual evidence.
  5. Us vs. Them Mentality: chiropractors tend to create an “us vs. them” mentality, demonizing real doctors and promoting group cohesion.
  6. Exploitation: chiropractors have a long history of exploiting their patients; maintenance care is just one of many examples.
  7. Fear Tactics: chiropractors are scare mongers, for instance, when they diagnose subluxations even in perfectly healthy people and claim that this invented diagnosis needs urgent adjustments.

What, you don’t agree with these arguments?

In this case let me quote a different set criteria that might help to decide whether chiropractic might be a cult. Here they are:

  1. Absolute authoritarianism without accountability
  2. Zero tolerance for criticism or questions
  3. Lack of meaningful financial disclosure regarding budget
  4. Unreasonable fears about the outside world that often involve evil conspiracies and persecutions
  5. A belief that former followers are always wrong for leaving and there is never a legitimate reason for anyone else to leave
  6. Abuse of members
  7. Records, books, articles, or programs documenting the abuses of the leader or group
  8. Followers feeling they are never able to be “good enough”
  9. A belief that the leader is right at all times
  10. A belief that the leader is the exclusive means of knowing “truth” or giving validation

Bearing in mind that not all of the 10 criteria need to be fulfilled, I ask you: is chiropractic a cult?

 

 

Of all the many forms of so-called alternative medicine (SCAM), Reiki is perhaps the one that has the least plausibility. It assumes that a Reiki healer can send healing energy into the body of a patient which, in turn, stimulates the self-healing ability of the body and thus cures illness. Neither the source of the energy, its nature, or its effects have ever been convincingly demonstrated. These facts, however, do not stop enthusiasts to conduct clinical trials of Reiki.

The aim of this randomised clinical trial was to investigate the effect of the application of Reiki on fatigue and sleep quality in people with MS. A total of 60 people (control group = 30, intervention group = 30) participated in this study. Personal Information Form, Piper Fatigue Scale (PFS) and Pittsburg Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) were used as endpoints.

It was found that the PFS and PSQI total and subcomponent scores of the intervention group decreased after Reiki compared to the control group and this was statistically significant (p<0.05). The study showed that Reiki was significantly effective in improving fatigue and sleep quality in people with MS.

The authors concluded that, as Reiki is a simple, inexpensive and accessible method, it was suggested that its use in the management of MS should be encouraged and maintained in nursing practice.

In the introduction, the authors state this:

Reiki is a non-invasive, low-cost, easy-to-apply practice with no side effects and no negative effects on the existing treatment, and prevents acute and chronic conditions. It is frequently preferred in rehabilitation centres, emergency care units, nursing homes, elderly care centres, paediatrics, psychiatry, obstetrics and gynaecology clinics. Reiki can be applied by trained practitioners such as health professionals who have received first level reiki training in hospitals and clinics, caregivers or patients themselves. Reiki can be administered from with the patient or remotely when the patient and practitioner are in separate locations. Both types of Reiki are based on the premise of a universal source of healing energy that the Reiki practitioner can channel through intention.

For me, this begs the questions:

  • If all of this were true, why do we need a study?
  • If anyone believes such BS, are they the ideal people to conduct a study of Reiki?

Anyway, we should ask why this study generated a positive result. The most plausible explanation is that, as the study was not blind, the Reiki healers managed to maximise patient expectation. This, in turn, has generated a placebo respose which affected the subjective outcome measures. In other words, Reiki has no specific effect but patients tend to improve because of non-specific effects.

This retrospective cohort study investigated the effect of reflexology on immunological parameters of people living with HIV (PLWH). All patients who received at least one reflexology treatment were included and compared with the group of PLWH who were not treated with reflexology. Measured parameters included CD4 count, CD4%, CD8 count, CD8%, CD4/CD8 ratio, and HIV viral load (VL). Changes in these parameters before and after the treatment were compared with changes in two consecutive measurements in the control group.

In total, 74 patients who received reflexology treatments were matched by age and sex to 144 controls. There was a male predominance of 86% in both groups. Patients in the control group were slightly older, with a median age of 45 versus 43 in the treatment group (p = 0.022). The median baseline CD4 count (730 vs. 795, p = 0.187) and CD8 count (890 vs. 832, p = 0.32) did not differ between the groups. Baseline CD4% tended to be lower in the treatment group (34% vs. 36%, p = 0.058), CD8% was higher in the treatment group (40% vs. 38%, p = 0.03), and the
CD4/CD8 ratio was lower in the treatment group (0.8 vs. 1, p = 0.002).

After therapy, there was a significantly higher increase in CD4, CD4%, and CD4/CD8 in the treatment group (p = 0.006, 0.0004, <0.001, respectively), whereas CD8% decreased significantly and CD8 tended to decrease in the treatment group (p < 0.001, 0.054, respectively).

The authors concluded that reflexology showed a positive impact on the immunological parameters of PLWH.

Who on earth conceives such a study?

Who funds such offensive rubbish?

Who publishes it?

We may well ask these questions, because the paper is pure nonsense!

The authors are very clear about their conviction that the observed differences were caused by the reflexology treatment. They don’t even discuss other options. Yet, there are several plausible explanations that have nothing to do with reflexology.

The patients in the control group originate from the hospital’s register from the time before reflexology had been introduced in the standard care package. Thus these patients differ in numerous ways from those of the experimental group. To name just one possibility, these patients were treated at a time when the treatment of PLWH was less sophicticated and thus had worse outcomes.

The two patient groups are clearly not comparable! This is also shown by the data published in the paper. So why compare them?

The only sensible conclusion of this paper is in my view:

In an effort to prove that their SCAM works, enthusiasts without research expertise often go to great lengths. As a result they mislead us all and do a great disservice to science and medicine.

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