It has been reported that two London councils have written to parents to warn that children who are not vaccinated against measles may need to self-isolate for 21 days if a classmate is infected with the disease. It comes after modelling by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) warned that up to 160,000 cases could occur in the capital alone as a result of low vaccination rates. Just three-quarters of London children have received the two required doses of the MMR jab, which protects against measles. This is 10 per cent lower than the national average.
Barnet Council wrote to parents on July 20 warning that any unvaccinated child identified as a close contact of a measles case could be asked to self-isolate for up to 21 days. “Measles is of serious concern in London due to low childhood vaccination rates. Currently we are seeing an increase in measles cases circulating in neighbouring London boroughs, so now is a good time to check that your child’s MMR vaccination – which not only protects your child against measles but also mumps and rubella – is up to date,” the letter reads. “Children who are vaccinated do not need to be excluded from school or childcare,” the letter added.
Neighbouring Haringey Council also warned that children without both MMR doses may be asked to quarantine for 21 days. Just over two-thirds (67.9 per cent) of children in the area had received both doses by the age of five. The councils stated that they had sent the letters based on guidance by the UKHSA, but the agency said that headteachers should consider “excluding” unvaccinated pupils who become infected with measles rather than instructing them to self-isolate.
Data published by the UKHSA showed that 128 cases of measles were recorded between January 1 and June 30 this year, compared to 54 cases in the whole of 2022. Two-thirds of the cases were detected in London. The agency have said that there is a high risk of cases linked to overseas travel leading to outbreaks in specific population groups such as young people and under-vaccinated communities.
Dr Vanessa Saliba, a consultant epidemiologist at UKHSA, said: “When there are measles cases or outbreaks in nurseries or schools, the UKHSA health protection team will assess the situation, together with the school and other local partners, and provide advice for staff and pupils. “Those who are not up to date with their MMR vaccinations will be asked to catch up urgently to help stop the outbreak and minimise disruption in schools.”
Measles is a significant concern with approximately 10 million people infected annually causing over 100,000 deaths worldwide. In the US before use of the measles vaccine, there were estimated to be 3 to 4 million people infected with measles annually, causing 400 to 500 deaths. Complications of measles include otitis media, diarrhea, pneumonia, and acute encephalitis. Measles is a leading cause of blindness in the developing world, especially in those who are vitamin A deficient. Malnourished children with measles are also at higher risk of developing noma (or cancrum oris), a rapidly progressive gangrenous infection of the mouth and face. Most deaths due to measles are caused by pneumonia, diarrhea, or neurological complications in young children, severely malnourished or immunocompromised individuals, and pregnant women. A rare sequela of measles is subacute sclerosing panencephalitis.
Back in 2003, we investigated what advice UK homeopaths, chiropractors and general practitioners give on measles, mumps and rubella vaccination programme (MMR) vaccination via the Internet. Online referral directories listing e-mail addresses of UK homeopaths, chiropractors and general practitioners and private websites were visited. All addresses thus located received a letter of a (fictitious) patient asking for advice about the MMR vaccination. After sending a follow-up letter explaining the nature and aim of this project and offering the option of withdrawal, 26% of all respondents withdrew their answers. Homeopaths yielded a final response rate (53%, n = 77) compared to chiropractors (32%, n = 16). GPs unanimously refused to give advice over the Internet. No homeopath and only one chiropractor advised in favour of the MMR vaccination. Two homeopaths and three chiropractors indirectly advised in favour of MMR. More chiropractors than homeopaths displayed a positive attitude towards the MMR vaccination. We concluded that some complementary and alternative medicine providers have a negative attitude towards immunisation and means of changing this should be considered.
The problem is by no means confined to the UK. German researchers, for instance, showed that belief in homeopathy and other parental attitudes indicating lack of knowledge about the importance of vaccinations significantly influenced an early immunisation. Moreover, being a German homeopath has been independently associated with lower own vaccination behavior. Data from France paint a similar picture.
Some homeopaths, of course, claim that ‘homeopathic vaccinations’ are effective and preferable. My advice is: DON’T BELIEVE THESE CHARLATANS! A recent study demonstrated that homeopathic vaccines do not evoke antibody responses and produce a response that is similar to placebo. In contrast, conventional vaccines provide a robust antibody response in the majority of those vaccinated.
Many community pharmacies in Switzerland provide so-called alternative medicine (SCAM) approaches in addition to providing biomedical services, and a few pharmacies specialise in SCAM. A common perception is that SCAM providers are sceptical towards, or opposed to, vaccination.
The key objectives of this study were to examine the potential roles of biomedically oriented and SCAM-specialised pharmacists regarding vaccine counselling and to better understand the association between vaccine hesitancy and SCAM. The researchers thus conducted semistructured, qualitative interviews. Transcripts were coded and analysed using thematic analysis. Interview questions were related to:
- type of pharmaceutical care practised,
- views on SCAM and biomedicine,
- perspectives on vaccination,
- descriptions of vaccination consultations in community pharmacies,
- and views on vaccination rates.
Qualitative interviews in three language regions of Switzerland (German, French and Italian). A total of 18 pharmacists (N=11 biomedically oriented, N=7 SCAM specialised) were invited.
Pharmacist participants expressed generally positive attitudes towards vaccination. Biomedically oriented pharmacists mainly advised customers to follow official vaccination recommendations but rarely counselled vaccine-hesitant customers. SCAM-specialised pharmacists were not as enthusiastic advocates of the Swiss vaccination recommendations as the biomedically oriented pharmacists. Rather, they considered that each customer should receive individualised, nuanced vaccination advice so that customers can reach their own decisions. SCAM-specialised pharmacists described how mothers in particular preferred getting a second opinion when they felt insufficiently advised by biomedically oriented paediatricians.
The authors concluded that vaccination counselling in community pharmacies represents an additional option to customers who have unmet vaccination consultation needs and who seek reassurance from healthcare professionals (HCPs) other than physicians. By providing individualised vaccination counselling to vaccine-hesitant customers, SCAM-specialised pharmacists are likely meeting specific needs of vaccine-hesitant customers. As such, research and implementation efforts should more systematically involve pharmacists as important actors in vaccination provision. SCAM-specialised pharmacists particularly should not be neglected as they are important HCPs who counsel vaccine-hesitant customers.
I must say that I find these conclusions odd, perhaps even wrong. Here are my reasons:
- Pharmacists are well-trained healthcare professionals.
- As such, they have ethical obligations towards their customers.
- These obligations include behaving in a way that is optimal for the health of their customers and follows the rules of evidence-based practice.
- This includes explaining to vaccine-hesitant customers why the recommended vaccinations make sense and advising them to follow the official vaccination guidelines.
- SCAM-specialised pharmacist should ask themselves whether offering SCAM is in line with their ethical obligation to provide optimal care and advice to their customers.
I fear that this paper suggests that SCAM-specialised pharmacists might be a danger to the health of their customers. If that is confirmed, they should consider re-training, in my view.
The American Chiropractic Association Council on Chiropractic Pediatrics (CCP) announced a new diplomate education program focused on pediatric care. The program will include 300 hours of education covering topics such as pediatric development from birth to age 16, adjusting techniques, working diagnosis, clinical application, integrated care and more…
Development of the diplomate education program has been in the works for several years, with contributions from many members of the CCP, including council president Jennifer Brocker, DC, DICCP. At the helm of course development for this education program are Mary Beth Minser, DC, CACCP, and Kris Tohtz, DC, LAc, educational coordinators for CCP. They agreed that the goal of the new program is to provide education that furthers knowledge of chiropractic pediatrics in an evidence-based, integrative way. “We wanted to make sure that we had something that aligned with ACA’s core principles,” Dr. Tohtz said. “Chiropractic-forward, yes, but scientifically focused.”
Dr. Brocker added, “There was a need for more evidence-informed education [in pediatrics]. I felt like the Council was well positioned to take this on because we had the opportunity to build it from scratch, making it what students and practicing doctors need.” …
Drs. Minser and Tohtz are excited that the diplomate program will also include a research component. “There is some lacking information when it comes to pediatric chiropractic,” Dr. Minser explained. She recently participated in the COURSE Study, an international study seeking to fill knowledge gaps in research relating to pediatric chiropractic treatment. “It was a very easy project to do, and pretty exciting to be involved,” she said. “But you have to know how to treat pediatric patients in order to be involved in those research projects. We want doctors and students [in this program] to be able to go through a case study, to be able to extract information for their clinical application from that case study or from research, or, if they would like, to write up case studies so we can get more published.”
“We feel we could really push pediatric chiropractic to a whole new level having doctors that have this type of knowledge base,” Dr. Minser said. “We just want to be the best pediatric chiropractors that we can be, and this diplomate [education] program helps [us] do that.”
“There is some lacking information when it comes to pediatric chiropractic.”
I think the evidence is quite clear: chiropractic has nothing to offer for ill children that other, properly trained healthcare professionals would not do better.
“We feel we could really push pediatric chiropractic to a whole new level.”
“We just want to be the best pediatric chiropractors that we can be.”
In this case, please study the evidence and you will inevitably arrive at the following conclusion:
THE BEST A CHIROPRACTOR CAN DO FOR A SICK CHILD IS TO REFER IT TO A COMPETENT DOCTOR – A DOCTOR OF MEDICINE, NOT CHIROPRACTIC!
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:
- Tery Oleson (acupressure , US)
- Jorge Vas (acupuncture, Spain)
- Wane Jonas (homeopathy, US)
- Harald Walach (various SCAMs, Germany)
- Andreas Michalsen ( various SCAMs, Germany)
- Jennifer Jacobs (homeopath, US)
- Jenise Pellow (homeopath, South Africa)
- Adrian White (acupuncturist, UK)
- Michael Frass (homeopath, Austria)
- Jens Behnke (research officer, Germany)
- John Weeks (editor of JCAM, US)
- Deepak Chopra (entrepreneur, US)
- Cheryl Hawk (chiropractor, US)
- David Peters (osteopathy, homeopathy, UK)
- Nicola Robinson (TCM, UK)
- Peter Fisher (homeopathy, UK)
- Simon Mills (herbal medicine, UK)
- Gustav Dobos (various SCAMs, Germany)
- Claudia Witt (homeopathy, Germany/Switzerland)
- George Lewith (acupuncture, UK)
- John Licciardone (osteopathy, US)
Today, it is my great pleasure to admit another osteopath to the HALL OF FAME:
- Osteopathic manipulative treatment for nonspecific low back pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC Muskuloskeletal Disorders, 2014
- Effectiveness of osteopathc manipulative therapy for managing symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome: a systematic review. Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, 2014
- 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
- 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
- Comment: Is a postural-structural-biomechanical model, within manual therapy, viable? A JBMT debate. Journal of Bodywork & Movement Therapies (2011) 15, 259-261, Elsevier
- Die manuelle Behandlung des Kniegelenks – veraltetes Verfahren oder alternative Option? Naturheilpraxis mit Naturmedizin 9-2010, 1019-1026, Pflaum Verlag
- CRPS und Osteopathie – Grenzen und Möglichkeiten DO – Deutsche Zeitschrift für Osteopathie 3-2010, 6-8, Hippokrates Verlag
- Research and osteopathy: An interview with Dr Gary Fryer by Journal of Bodywork & Movement Therapies. 14, 304-308, Elsevier
- „…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
- Fred Mitchell und die Entwicklung der Muskel-Energie-Techniken DO – Deutsche Zeitschrift für Osteopathie 2-2009, 4-5, Hippokrates Verlag
- A randomized trial of arthroscopic surgery for osteoarthritis of the knee. Commentary Forschende Komplementärmedizin 2008 Dec 15(6), 354-5, Karger
- Evidence-informed management of chronic low back pain with spinal manipulation and mobilization. Commentary Forschende Komplementärmedizin 2008 Dec 15(6), 353-4, Karger
- Interview mit Prof. Eyal Lederman Teil 1 Osteopathische Medizin, 2/2007, S.15-21, Elsevier
- Interview mit Prof. Eyal Lederman Teil 2 Osteopathische Medizin, 3/2007, S.22-27, Elsevier
- Artikel über das 3. Internationale Symposium über die Fortschritte in der osteopathischen Forschung. Osteopathische Medizin, 1-2007, S.23-24, Elsevier
- Die richtige Haltung des Behandlers Osteopathische Medizin, 4-2006, S.8-10, Elsevier
- Interview mit Laurie Hartman Osteopathische Medizin, 4-2006, S. 11-16, Elsevier
- Herausgeber des Sonderheftes „Functional Technique” Osteopathische Medizin, 2-2006, Elsevier
- Harold Hoover, Charles Bowles, William Johnston und die Geschichte der Funktionellen Technik Osteopathische Medizin, 2-2006, S.4-12, Elsevier
- Interview mit Harry Friedman Osteopathische Medizin, 2-2006, S.25-30, Elsevier
- Funktionelle Technik – Praxis Osteopathische Medizin, 2-2006, S.17-23, Elsevier
- Osteopathische Diagnose und Behandlung des Hüftgelenks Naturheilpraxis mit Naturmedizin, 10-2006, S.1383-1393, Pflaum-Verlag
- Bericht über das 2-Tage Seminar von Prof. Laurie Hartman in München Naturheilpraxis mit Naturmedizin, 5-2006, S.754-755, Pflaum Verlag
- Bewusstsein für Bewegung. Die minimale Hebeltechnik und das Behandlungskonzept von Laurie Hartman Osteopathische Medizin, 4-2006, S.4-7, Elsevier
- ICAOR 6 / Interview mit Florian Schwerla Osteopathische Medizin, 3-2006, S.15-17, Elsevier
- Muscle Energy Technique – Geschichte, Modell und Wirksamkeit Teil 1 Geschichte Osteopathische Medizin 2-2005, S.4-10, Elsevier
- Muscle Energy Technique – Geschichte, Modell und Wirksamkeit Teil 2 Modell Osteopathische Medizin 3-2005, S.4-10, Elsevier
- Muscle Energy Technique – Geschichte, Modell und Wirksamkeit Teil 3 Wirksamkeit Osteopathische Medizin 4-2005, S.4-10, Elsevier
- 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
- Evidence-informed management of chronic low back pain with spinal manipulation and mobilization Franke H.Forsch Komplementmed. 2008 Dec;15(6):353-4
- 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 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.
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.
Joe Dispenza is not all that well known in Europe but, in the US, he is all the rage as a health guru. Despite pretending to be a top (neuro)scientist and expert of quantum physics, Dispenza has, as far as I can see, just three Medline-listed papers to his credit. Here are their abstracts:
The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in significant morbidity and mortality worldwide. Management of the pandemic has relied mainly on SARS-CoV-2 vaccines, while alternative approaches such as meditation, shown to improve immunity, have been largely unexplored. Here, we probe the relationship between meditation and COVID-19 disease and directly test the impact of meditation on the induction of a blood environment that modulates viral infection. We found a significant inverse correlation between length of meditation practice and SARS-CoV-2 infection as well as accelerated resolution of symptomology of those infected. A meditation “dosing” effect was also observed. In cultured human lung cells, blood from experienced meditators induced factors that prevented entry of pseudotyped viruses for SARS-CoV-2 spike protein of both the wild-type Wuhan-1 virus and the Delta variant. We identified and validated SERPINA5, a serine protease inhibitor, as one possible protein factor in the blood of meditators that is necessary and sufficient for limiting pseudovirus entry into cells. In summary, we conclude that meditation can enhance resiliency to viral infection and may serve as a possible adjuvant therapy in the management of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The aim of the study is to evaluate the complexity matching between the HRVs of the group of Healers and the Healee during the various stages of the meditation protocol by employing a novel mathematical approach based on the H-rank algorithm. The complexity matching of heart rate variability is assessed before and during a heart-focused meditation in a close non-contact healing exercise. The experiment was conducted on a group of individuals (eight Healers and one Healee) throughout the various phases of the protocol over a ~75-minute period. The HRV signal for the cohort of individuals was recorded using high resolution HRV recorders with internal clocks for time synchronization. The Hankel transform (H-rank) approach was employed to reconstruct the real-world complex time series in order to measure the algebraic complexity of the heart rate variability and to assess the complexity matching between the reconstructed H-rank of the Healers and Healee during the different phases of the protocol. The integration of the embedding attractor technique was used to aid in the visualization of reconstructed H-rank in state space across the various phases. The findings demonstrate the changes in the degree of reconstructed H-rank (between the Healers and the Healee) during the heart-focused meditation healing phase by employing mathematically anticipated and validated algorithms. It is natural and thought-provoking to contemplate the mechanisms causing the complexity of the reconstructed H-rank to come closer; it can be explicitly stated that the purpose of the study is to communicate a clear idea that the H-rank algorithm is capable of registering subtle changes in the healing process, and that there was no intention of delving deep to uncover the mechanisms involved in the HRV matching. Therefore, the latter might be a distinct goal of future research.
This study investigated the impact of a brief meditation workshop on a sample of 223 novice meditators. Participants attended a three-day workshop comprising daily guided seated meditation sessions using music without vocals that focused on various emotional states and intentions (open focus). Based on the theory of integrative consciousness, it was hypothesized that altered states of consciousness would be experienced by participants during the meditation intervention as assessed using electroencephalogram (EEG). Brainwave power bands patterns were measured throughout the meditation training workshop, producing a total of 5616 EEG scans. Changes in conscious states were analysed using pre-meditation and post-meditation session measures of delta through to gamma oscillations. Results suggested the meditation intervention had large varying effects on EEG spectra (up to 50 % increase and 24 % decrease), and the speed of change from pre-meditation to post-meditation state of the EEG co-spectra was significant (with 0.76 probability of entering end-meditation state within the first minute). There was a main 5 % decrease in delta power (95 % HDI = [-0.07, -0.03]); a global increase in theta power of 29 % (95 % HDI = [0.27, 0.33]); a global increase of 16 % (95 % HDI = [0.13, 0.19]) in alpha power; a main effect of condition, with global beta power increasing by 17 % (95 % HDI = [0.15, 0.19]); and an 11 % increase (95 % HDI = [0.08, 0.14]) in gamma power from pre-meditation to end-meditation. Findings provided preliminary support for brief meditation in altering states of consciousness in novice meditators. Future clinical examination of meditation was recommended as an intervention for mental health conditions particularly associated with hippocampal impairments.
It seems noteworthy that none of these articles support any of the many outlandish therapeutic claims Dispenza makes. In these papers, Dispenza give his affiliation as “Encephalon, LLC, Rainier, WA”. My seraches for this institution led me to the website of Dispenza’s company that tries to sell you all sorts of strange stuff and bombards you with irritating platitudes about spirituality and related subjects. Here you will also find several of Dispenza’s books. Naturally, they were big successes. The latest volume is called ‘Becoming Supernatural‘. Its topics include:
- Demystifying the body’s seven energy centers and how you can balance them to heal
- How to free yourself from the past by reconditioning your body to a new mind
- How you can create reality in the generous present moment by changing your energy
- The difference between third-dimension creation and fifth-dimension creation
- The secret science of the pineal gland and its role in accessing mystical realms of reality
- The distinction between space-time vs. time-space realities
By now, I am beginning to suspect that “Dr. Joe”, as he likes to wrongly depict himself, is an 18 carrat bullshitter, and I feel like learning more about him and his incredible popularity.
So, who is Joe Dispenza?
Dispenza trained as a chiropractor and, in 1986, he had a cycling accident that left him with six compressed vertebrae – at least that is what he likes to tell journalists. Allegedly, doctors told him he might never walk again and recommended spine surgery. But he knew better, checked himself out of the hospital, and reconstructed his vertebrae with his mind. Within 10 weeks he was walking again. “I made a deal with myself that if I was ever able to walk again I would spend the rest of my life studying the mind-body connection,” he claimed in a 2018 interview. If you don’t know about vertebral compression fractures, this sounds like an unusal recovery. If you, however, know about such injuries, the course of events is not abnormal.
Ever since, Dispenza uses his mind to heal others. His website contains ~40 testimonials of people claiming he cured their cancer or their multiple sclerosis or their infertility. Under the heading of “coherence healing,” the site boasts Dispenza and his disciples have “produced profound biological changes in multitudes of individuals around the world” and “observed hundreds of healings from a wide variety of health conditions.” In a 2020 interview Dispenza bragged about bringing children onstage at his retreats to cure them of “really serious health conditions.” He claimed to have cured a 76-year-old woman of Parkinson’s. He said his treatments cured illness faster than chemotherapy and that “profound and prestigious universities” in the United States wanted to study his methods. “[We’ve seen] tumors disappearing, people stepping out of wheelchairs, blind people seeing, deaf people hearing—crazy stuff,” he stated. “This is biblical proportions stuff.”
Dispenza likes to present himself as a scientist. “Learning” becomes “forging new synaptic connections” and changing one’s behavior becomes “reorganizing circuits.” He claims that meditating in the presence of others—combining “coherent fields,” as he calls this—opens up “interference patterns of fractal geometry that are doors to dimensions.” During performances, he occasionally brings followers on stage to share the “miracles” they experienced at the workshops that day, such as a woman who claimed she regained her depth perception after decades of encephalitis. “She got a biological upgrade … and all she did was make up her mind to do it,” he told the audience.
Back in 2012, I published a post entitled “How to become a charlatan” where I provide several practical instructions for all who intend to persue this career:
1. Find an attractive therapy and give it a fantastic name
Did I just say “straight forward”? Well, the first step isn’t that easy, after all. Most of the really loony ideas turn out to be taken: ear candles, homeopathy, aura massage, energy healing, urine-therapy, chiropractic etc. As a true charlatan, you want your very own quackery. So you will have to think of a new concept.
Something truly ‘far out’ would be ideal, like claiming the ear is a map of the human body which allows you to treat all diseases by doing something odd on specific areas of the ear – oops, this territory is already occupied by the ear acupuncture brigade. How about postulating that you have super-natural powers which enable you to send ‘healing energy’ into patients’ bodies so that they can repair themselves? No good either: Reiki-healers might accuse you of plagiarism.
But you get the gist, I am sure, and will be able to invent something. When you do, give it a memorable name, the name can make or break your new venture.
2. Invent a fascinating history
Having identified your treatment and a fantastic name for it, you now need a good story to explain how it all came about. This task is not all that tough and might even turn out to be fun; you could think of something touching like you cured your moribund little sister at the age of 6 with your intervention, or you received the inspiration in your dreams from an old aunt who had just died, or perhaps you want to create some religious connection [have you ever visited Lourdes?]. There are no limits to your imagination; just make sure the story is gripping – one day, they might make a movie of it.
3. Add a dash of pseudo-science
Like it or not, but we live in an age where we cannot entirely exclude science from our considerations. At the very minimum, I recommend a little smattering of sciency terminology. As you don’t want to be found out, select something that only few experts understand; quantum physics, entanglement, chaos-theory and Nano-technology are all excellent options.
It might also look more convincing to hint at the notion that top scientists adore your concepts, or that whole teams from universities in distant places are working on the underlying mechanisms, or that the Nobel committee has recently been alerted etc. If at all possible, add a bit of high tech to your new invention; some shiny new apparatus with flashing lights and digital displays might be just the ticket. The apparatus can be otherwise empty – as long as it looks impressive, all is fine.
4. Do not forget a dose of ancient wisdom
With all this science – sorry, pseudo-science – you must not forget to remain firmly grounded in tradition. Your treatment ought to be based on ancient wisdom which you have rediscovered, modified and perfected. I recommend mentioning that some of the oldest cultures of the planet have already been aware of the main pillars on which your invention today proudly stands. Anything that is that old has stood the test of time which is to say, your treatment is both effective and safe.
5. Claim to have a panacea
To maximise your income, you want to have as many customers as possible. It would therefore be unwise to focus your endeavours on just one or two conditions. Commercially, it is much better to affirm in no uncertain terms that your treatment is a cure for everything, a panacea. Do not worry about the implausibility of such a claim. In the realm of quackery, it is perfectly acceptable, even common behaviour to be outlandish.
6. Deal with the ‘evidence-problem’ and the nasty sceptics
It is depressing, I know, but even the most exceptionally gifted charlatan is bound to attract doubters. Sceptics will sooner or later ask you for evidence; in fact, they are obsessed by it. But do not panic – this is by no means as threatening as it appears. The obvious solution is to provide testimonial after testimonial.
You need a website where satisfied customers report impressive stories how your treatment saved their lives. In case you do not know such customers, invent them; in the realm of quackery, there is a time-honoured tradition of writing your own testimonials. Nobody will be able to tell!
7. Demonstrate that you master the fine art of cheating with statistics
Some of the sceptics might not be impressed, and when they start criticising your ‘evidence’, you might need to go the extra mile. Providing statistics is a very good way of keeping them at bay, at least for a while. The general consensus amongst charlatans is that about 70% of their patients experience remarkable benefit from whatever placebo they throw at them. So, my advice is to do a little better and cite a case series of at least 5000 patients of whom 76.5 % showed significant improvements.
What? You don’t have such case series? Don’t be daft, be inventive!
8. Score points with Big Pharma
You must be aware who your (future) customers are (will be): they are affluent, had a decent education (evidently without much success), and are middle-aged, gullible and deeply alternative. Think of Prince Charles! Once you have empathised with this mind-set, it is obvious that you can profitably plug into the persecution complex which haunts these people.
An easy way of achieving this is to claim that Big Pharma has got wind of your innovation, is positively frightened of losing millions, and is thus doing all they can to supress it. Not only will this give you street cred with the lunatic fringe of society, it also provides a perfect explanation why your ground-breaking discovery has not been published it the top journals of medicine: the editors are all in the pocket of Big Pharma, of course.
9. Ask for money, much money
I have left the most important bit for the end; remember: your aim is to get rich! So, charge high fees, even extravagantly high ones. If your treatment is a product that you can sell (e.g. via the internet, to escape the regulators), sell it dearly; if it is a hands-on therapy, charge heavy consultation fees and claim exclusivity; if it is a teachable technique, start training other therapists at high fees and ask a franchise-cut of their future earnings.
Over-charging is your best chance of getting famous – or have you ever heard of a charlatan famous for being reasonably priced? It will also get rid of the riff-raff you don’t want to see in your surgery. Poor people might be even ill! No, you don’t want them; you want the ‘worried rich and well’ who can afford to see a real doctor when things should go wrong. But most importantly, high fees will do a lot of good to your bank account.
Could it be that Joe Dispenza is the most successful pupil of my crash-course in charlatanism?
I have been asked by the NY Post to answer a few questions about Dispenza. Allow me to present them to you here:
What makes Dispenza so dangerous (his advice, obsession with manifesting, etc.)?
Dispenza is at his most dangerous firstly when he implies that he can cure serious illness. In this way, he can cause the premature death of many patients. Secondly, he systematically undermines rational thinking which inevitably will cause significant harm to the already badly damaged US society. As Voltaire once pointed out: those who make you believe in absurdities can make you commit atrocities.
Why, in your opinion, has he amassed a cult-like following?
In 2012 I published a satirical piece entitled ‘How to become a charlatan’ (How to become a charlatan (edzardernst.com)). It seems to me that Dispenza followed my instructions to the letter providing a masterclass on fooling the public. He is a textbook example of a charismatic pseudoscientist (e.g.: I am a “researcher of epigenetics, quantum physics & neuroscience“) touting pure bullshit (e.g.: “new science is emerging that empowers all human beings to create the reality they choose”). He may be a charlatan but he is very good at it, runs a highly sophisticated campaign, and is laughing all the way to the bank.
For readers who find themselves enamored by Dispenza, what advice would you give them?
My advise is to take a step back and do a reality check: ‘Dr.Joe’ is not a medical doctor or neuroscientist but a chiropractor. He does not understand quantum physics. He has not published any meaningful scientific studies. His proclamations are nothing but platitudes or empty phrases. My advice also is to ask yourself: are you sure you are not the victim of your own gullibility?
For about 40 years, the RMIT University in Australia had a Bachelor of Health Science/Bachelor of Applied Science (Chiropractic), probably the first official course of its kind in Australia. “Get qualified with a chiropractic degree: a solid grounding in anatomy, physiology and pathology and practise at the RMIT Health Clinic” was how the RMIT advertised it. But now the website states this: “from 2023, this degree is no longer offered.”
The Australian Chiropractors Association (ACA) is appalled!!!
- the main contribution of chiros to public health is that many of them advise AGAINST immunizations;
- a significant contribution by chiropractors to the health of the elderly is that they have put many of them in wheelchairs.
‘Chiropractic Economics‘ focuses on “bridging the gap between what doctors of chiropractic learn about healthcare and what they need to know as entrepreneurs who command successful, thriving practices. We are the top-rated resource for chiropractic news, marketing, consulting, financial planning, attracting and retaining patients, and motivating and managing employees. We provide information for practicing chiropractors, with a focus on office management, patient relations, personal development, financial planning, legal, clinical and research data, and wellness and nutrition.”
The magazine recently published an article that is so wonderfully overflowing with BS that I cannot resist showing you a few hilarious excerpts from it:
HOMEOPATHY IS A NATURAL FOR CHIROPRACTORS — because it works with innate intelligence. Each tiny pellet of a homeopathic remedy is like a flash drive full of information that “reinstalls the software,” i.e., it reminds the body that “you know how to have a healthy nervous system” or strong and healthy bones or muscles.
A remedy for patient malady
Homeopathic remedies have much to offer your patients:
- Fast-acting: Some patients will actually feel the effects as soon as they ingest the remedy; it works faster than herbs or vitamins
- Easily available in health food stores, some drug stores and online
- Inexpensive: pennies per dose
- No rebound or withdrawal: Your patient can discontinue it without symptoms recurring
- No drug interactions: It can work well alongside meds and supplements
- Safe: Reactions are rare and serious side effects are unknown.1
Practitioners will benefit as well from recommending homeopathy as this unusual modality will set the chiropractor apart and patients will be grateful for the relief they feel. Homeopathy is available as single remedies, plus more unusual ones are also blended into combination formulas which chiropractors may choose to stock in their office, just as they stock nutritional supplement and glandular formulas.
How does it work?
Homeopathy is totally safe because there is nothing in it — not even one molecule of its original starting substance — yet it is powerful and fast-acting. How can we make these contradictory claims? Because it is information technology.
The manufacturing process imprints the healing information onto water like recording onto a flash drive. The process takes the starting substance through many stages of dilution (making it safe) and potentizes or energizes it at each step (making it powerful). Water behaves differently at these very high dilutions, becoming coherent or structured, as explained by the newly emerging field of ultra-high dilution physics. Two Nobel laureates have testified that their studies explain how homeopathy works.2
Now let’s look at some specific remedies.
Hypericum for the nervous system
Hypericum is almost a universal remedy for nerve-related symptoms: tingling and numbness, pain shooting along a nerve, and trauma to nerve-rich areas (like hitting a finger with a hammer or slamming it in a car door):
- Arnica for soft tissue trauma: homeopathy’s best-known remedy, Arnica is good for sore muscles, pulled muscles, sports injuries, sprains and strains, and bruising.
- Symphytum for fractures: This is the well-known herbal remedy comfrey, known traditionally as “knit-bone,” used to speed the healing of fractures and reduce bone pain.
- Bryonia for joints that hurt to move. When your patient is splinting or guarding, think bryonia, for a bruised rib that makes it painful to laugh or cough or sneeze, or knees that hurt from walking that make the patient take cautious steps.
- Rhus tox for “rusty gate” joints: This is for your patient who needs to limber up when first getting out of bed, or who needs to swing their leg a few times to loosen it up before getting up from a chair.
- Ruta grav. for connective tissue, cartilage and joints in general: sprains and strains, cracking joints, torn tendons and ligaments, and fascia. It has a special affinity for the knee, like the knee that goes out from under someone and for Baker’s cysts.
Three homeopathically-energized minerals to strengthen and heal bone need to be given in a special 6x potency and are known as cell salts or tissue salts:
- Calcarea fluorica (Calc. fluor.) 6x to soften and dissolve: This remedy can help dissolve bone spurs and hardened or condensed tissues like cataracts.
- Calcarea phosphorica (Calc. phos.) 6x to deposit minerals in the bones: This provides the template to send calcium and other minerals to bones and not deposit them elsewhere in the body.
- Silicea 6x strengthens bone as well as hair, skin and nails; you know silica as a supplement, and as a homeopathic remedy it provides the instructions for silica the mineral to go where it is needed. However, Silica 30c (full strength) can push foreign objects out of the body and should not be given to patients with a rod or plate and screws.
What could possibly go wrong?
Not much — an “overdose” in homeopathy is not harmful in the long run — in fact, too much of a remedy is pushing the patient too fast in the direction of cure and the long-term result can be positive. It can be uncomfortable in the short run, though.
The body can only process so much of the remedy’s information at once, and if the body is presented with more than it can handle, it pushes back in the form of increased symptoms, the same symptoms the remedy was intended to treat. This is called an “aggravation” in homeopathy. It’s often said that “You have to get worse before you get better” in homeopathy and this is absolutely not true as long as mild to moderate doses are used (the typical 30c dose in health food stores) and the patient is told to stop if the remedy starts to feel too intense. When in doubt, it’s always safe to stop the remedy and start again later.
The bottom line
Start by recommending these few remedies and you are likely to get good feedback from your patients. Or consider stocking combination remedies that include even more unusual remedies.
They may give even better results and keep patients coming back to you for more, since they are only available through professionals. And if you’re feeling exhausted beyond repair, try some Sepia for yourself.
END OF QUOTE
Yes, this is what a ‘top rated’ chiropractic resource mistakes for information on ‘clinical and research data, and wellness and nutrition’!
I didn’t promise too much, did I?
Many scientific journals have started to ask article processes costs from authors. This development has created a new category of journals of which the business model is totally or predominantly based on financial contributions by its authors. Such journals have become known as predatory journals. The financial contributions that they ask are not necessarily lower than those asked by high-quality journals although they offer less:
- there is commonly no real review,
- texts are not edited,
- there are commonly no printed editions.
The lack of serious reviews might make predatory journals attractive particularly to authors of low-quality (or even fraudulent) manuscripts.
The authors of this paper suggest that numerous journals, some of which may predatory, attract manuscripts by approaching authors of articles in high-quality journals. They conclude that publication of articles in such journals contaminates the medical literature and undermines the trustworthiness of science and medicine. Any involvement in such journals (as an author, reviewer or editor) should therefore be discouraged.
The ironic thing here is that the paper was published by a journal that itelf is, in my view, borderline, to say the least. But let me nonetheless contribute a recent, personal experience on this issue.
About 2 weeks ago, I received an invitation to join the editorial board of a general medicine journal that I had never heard of. I looked it up and found that it had a decent impact factor and a long list of international members of the board. But then I found that the journal charged around $ 1 500 for each submission. I was told that this is to cover the cost of the review process.
I then decided to write to the editor thanking her for the kind invitation. I also asked her how much the journal would pay its reviewers for reviewing submissions. I received a polite answer explaining that the amount was $ 00.00. My response was to politely decline the invitation to join the editorial board and to urge the journal editor to make it clear from the outset that the fees charged to authors did NOT go to the reviewers.For many years now, I have taken a very dim view on predatory journals. Sadly, in the realm of so-called alternative medicine (SCAM), there currently are dozens of such publications. I believe their danger in polluting the medical literature is hard to over-estimate. I think they ought to be stopped. One way of doing this is refusing to co-operate with them in any way.
The increasing demand for fertility treatments has led to the rise of private clinics offering so-called alternative medicine (SCAM) treatments. Even King Charles has recently joined in with this situalion. One of the most frequently offered SCAM infertility treatment is acupuncture. However, there is no good evidence to support the effectiveness of acupuncture in treating infertility.
This study evaluated the scope of information provided by SCAM fertility clinics in the UK. A content analysis was conducted on 200 websites of SCAM fertility clinics in the UK that offer acupuncture as a treatment for infertility. Of the 48 clinics that met the eligibility criteria, the majority of the websites did not provide sufficient information on:
- the efficacy,
- the risks,
- the success rates
of acupuncture for infertility.
The authors concluded that this situation has the potential to infringe on patient autonomy, provide false hope and reduce the chances of pregnancy ever being achieved as fertility declines during the time course of ineffective acupuncture treatment.
The authors are keen to point out that their investigation has certain limitations. The study only analysed the information provided on the clinics’ websites and did not assess the quality of the treatment provided by the clinics.
Therefore, the study’s fndings cannot be generalized to the quality of the acupuncture treatment provided by the clinics.
Nonetheless the paper touches on very important issues: far too many health clinics that offer SCAM for this or that indication operate way outside the ethically (and legally) acceptable norm. They advertise their services without making it clear that they are neither effective nor safe. Desperate consumers thus fall for their promises. In the case of infertility, this might result merely in frustration and loss of (often substantial amounts of) money. In the case of serious disease, such as cancer, this often results in premature death.
It is time, I think, that this entire sector is regualted in a way that it does not endanger the well-being, health, or life of consumers.