In many parts of the world, vaccination rates have been declining in recent years.
This study aimed to determine the rates and reasons for parental hesitancy or refusal of vaccination for their children in Türkiye. A total of 1100 participants selected from 26 regions of Türkiye were involved in this cross-sectional study conducted between July 2020 and April 2021. Using a questionnaire, the researchers collected data on:
- the sociodemographic characteristics of parents,
- the status of vaccine hesitancy or refusal for their children,
- the reasons for the hesitancy or refusal.
Using Excel and SPSS version 22.0, they analysed the data with chi-square test, Fisher’s exact test and binomial logistic regression.
Only 9.4% of the participants were male and 29.5% were aged 33-37 years. Just over 11% said they were worried about childhood vaccination, mainly because of the chemicals used in manufacturing the vaccines. The level of concern was greater among those who:
- got information about vaccines from the internet, family members, friends, TV, radio, and newspapers,
- used so-called alternative medicine (SCAM).
The authors concluded that parents in Türkiye have several reasons for hesitating or refusing to vaccinate their children, key among which are concerns about the chemical composition of the vaccines and their ability to trigger negative health conditions such as autism. This study used a large sample size across Türkiye, although there were differences by region, the findings would be useful in designing interventions to counter vaccine hesitancy or refusal in the country.
The fact that SCAM users are more likely to be against vaccinations has been reported often and on this blog we have discussed such findings regularly, e.g.:
- Intelligence, Religiosity, SCAM, Vaccination Hesitancy – are there links?
- Andrew Wakefield, Donald Trump, SCAM, and the anti-vaccination cult
- Endorsement of so-called alternative medicine (SCAM) and vaccine hesitancy among physicians
- So-called alternative medicine (SCAM) and vaccine hesitancy among physicians: findings from Germany, Finland, Portugal, and France
- Interest in so-called alternative medicine is linked to vaccination coverage
- Misinformation and conspiratorial thinking are at the heart of so-called alternative medicine(SCAM)
The questinon I ask myself is, what is the cause and what the effect? Does vaccination hesitancy cause people to use SCAM, or does SCAM use cause vaccination hesitancy? I think that most likely both is true. In addition the two are linked via a common trait, namely that of falling for conspiracy theories. We know that someone believeing in one such theory is likely to believe in other such notions as well. In my view, both vaccination heaitancy and SCAM can qualify to be called a conspiracy theory.
The purpose of this systematic review was to assess the effectiveness and safety of conservative interventions compared with other interventions, placebo/sham interventions, or no intervention on disability, pain, function, quality of life, and psychological impact in adults with cervical radiculopathy (CR), a painful condition caused by the compression or irritation of the nerves that supply the shoulders, arms and hands.
A multidisciplinary team autors searched MEDLINE, CENTRAL, CINAHL, Embase, and PsycINFO from inception to June 15, 2022 to identify studies that were:
- randomized trials,
- had at least one conservative treatment arm,
- diagnosed participants with CR through confirmatory clinical examination and/or diagnostic tests.
Studies were appraised using the Cochrane Risk of Bias 2 tool and the quality of the evidence was rated using the Grades of Recommendations, Assessment, Development, and Evaluation approach.
Of the 2561 records identified, 59 trials met the inclusion criteria (n = 4108 participants). Due to clinical and statistical heterogeneity, the findings were synthesized narratively.
There is very-low certainty evidence supporting the use of:
- cervical manipulation,
- low-level laser therapy
for pain and disability in the immediate to short-term, and
- thoracic manipulation,
- low-level laser therapy
for improvements in cervical range of motion in the immediate term.
There is low to very-low certainty evidence for multimodal interventions, providing inconclusive evidence for pain, disability, and range of motion.
There is inconclusive evidence for pain reduction after conservative management compared with surgery, rated as very-low certainty.
The authors concluded that there is a lack of high-quality evidence, limiting our ability to make any meaningful conclusions. As the number of people with CR is expected to increase, there is an urgent need for future research to help address these gaps.
Yet, to patients suffering from CR, this is hardly constructive advice. What should they do vis a vis such disappointing evidence?
They might speak to a orthopedic surgeon; but often there is no indication for an operation. What then?
Patients are bound to try some of the conservative options – but which one?
- Cervical manipulation,?
- Low-level laser therapy?
My advice is this: be patient – the vast majority of cases resolves spontaneously regardless of therapy – and, if you are desperate, try any of them except cervical manipulation which is burdened with the risk of serious complications and often makes things worse.
Every now and then, I come across a paper that is so remarkable that I feel like copying it for you in its full and untouched beauty. The recent article entitled “Revisiting the therapeutic potential of homeopathic medicine Rhus Tox for herpes simplex virus and inflammatory conditions” falls in this category. Let me present to you its unchanged abstract as recently published in the ‘J Ayurveda Integr Med’:
Background: Herpes simplex virus type-1 and type-2 cause a viral disease named Herpes. Genital herpes is mainly caused by HSV-2 with symptoms of painful and itchy blisters on the vagina, cervix, buttocks, anus, penis, or inner thighs with blisters that rupture and convert into sores. The homeopathic remedy Rhus Tox has been widely used to treat herpes and has shown invitro anti-inflammatory effects in previous studies.
Purpose: The presented review focuses on relapses and harmful effects caused by acyclovir in modern medicine and the probable antiherpetic activity of Rhus Tox on HSV infection based on its pathophysiology, preclinical findings, on primary cultured mouse chondrocytes, mouse cell line MC3T3e1 and a comparative study of Natrum Mur with Rhus Tox on HSV infection.
Study design: The design of the study focuses mainly on the descriptive data available in various literature articles.
Method: Databases such as PubMed, Google Scholar, Medline and ScienceDirect were used to search the articles. Articles are selected from 1994 to 2022 focusing solely on the competence of Rhus Tox against herpes. Keywords used for the study are antiviral, Herpes, Rhus Tox, in vitro and homeopathy.
Results: The review includes fifteen articles, including 4 full-text articles on HSV, 6 in vitro studies of homeopathic compounds performed on the herpes virus, and 5 articles based on the pathophysiology and effects of Rhus tox. The review article proposes the anti-inflammatory and antiviral action of the homeopathic remedy Rhus Tox which can be used in crisis conditions when the physician doubts the simillimum, as it prevents further outbreaks of HSV infection.
Conclusion: The homeopathic medicine Rhus Tox has no cytotoxicity observed under in vitro conditions and can be used to treat herpes infection. Further studies are needed to confirm the results under in vitro and in vivo conditions as well as in clinical trials.
Considering that the paper was based on ‘descriptive data available in various literature articles’, the conclusion that “Rhus Tox … can be used to treat herpes infection” is surprising, to say the least.
In the paper itself we find many more baffling statements, e.g.:
- Modern medicines target only specific organs at a time, but there is a risk of widespread infection which influence complications such as meningitis or HSV-2 radiculopathy which are not observed after the use of homeopathy as the disease progression does not involve vital organs and the disease level stays on the skin layer itself.
- Homeopathy treats patients holistically taking into consideration all the physical, mental and characteristic ailments of the patient. Rhus tox can effectively relieve all the symptoms of herpes infection, including pain, blisters, redness, restlessness, etc. Rhus Tox can effectively penetrate the capsid structure of the infected cells and cure the patient. Rhus tox in different potencies is currently being used to treat inflammatory and viral diseases
- In homeopathy, many treatments have been clinically proven to have some impact, and in individual cases a solution for herpes viruses. Homeopathy can prevent further outbreaks of herpes simplex infection.
- Homeopathy strengthens immunity to fight infections and contributes to mental, physical, and social well-being, hence complementary therapies should be used along with the traditional antiviral drugs to give maximum comfort to the patient.
I am sure that some readers of the paper are impressed. These statments leave little doubt about the notion that homeopathy is the best thing since sliced bread. What a pity though that, for none of them, the authors (who incedently are affiliated with prestigeous sounding institutions: Homeopathic Materia Medica Department, Bharti Vidyapeeth, Homoeopathic Medical College and Hospital, Dept. of Postgraduate & Research Centre, Pune-Satara Road, Dhankawadi, Pune, 411043, India, ICMR-National AIDS Research Institute, 73 G MIDC Bhosari, Pune, India, ICMR-National AIDS Research Institute, 73 G MIDC Bhosari, Pune, India) provide any evidence whatsoever.
Homeopathy, it seems to me, is a cult characterised not just by a total lack of active ingredients but also by an equally total void of proper evidence supporting the delusions of its proponents.
So-called alternative medicine (SCAM) interventions are often being discussed as possible treatments for long COVID symptoms. However, comprehensive analysis of current evidence in this setting is still lacking. This review aims to review existing published studies on the use of SCAM interventions for patients experiencing long COVID through a systematic review.
A comprehensive electronic literature search was performed in multiple databases and clinical trial registries from September 2019 to January 2023. RCTs evaluating efficacy and safety of SCAM for long COVID were included. Methodological quality of each included trial was appraised with the Cochrane ‘risk of bias’ tool. A qualitative analysis was conducted due to heterogeneity of included studies.
A total of 14 RCTs with 1195 participants were included in this review. Study findings demonstrated that SCAM interventions could benefit patients with long COVID, especially those suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders, olfactory dysfunction, cognitive impairment, fatigue, breathlessness, and mild-to-moderate lung fibrosis. The main interventions reported were self-administered transcutaneous auricular vagus nerve stimulation, neuro-meditation, dietary supplements, olfactory training, aromatherapy, inspiratory muscle training, concurrent training, and an online breathing and well-being program.
The authors concluded that SCAM interventions may be effective, safe, and acceptable to patients with symptoms of long COVID. However, the findings from this systematic review should be interpreted with caution due to various methodological limitations. More rigorous trials focused on SCAM for long COVID are warranted in the future.
The review’s aim is, in my view, nonsense. SCAM is a diverse field which means that the review must capture a wide range of therapies each represented by just one or two primary studies. In turn, this means that general conclusions across all SCAM will be highly questionable, if not misleading.
Furthermore, I find these conclusions odd and irresponsibly misleading. My main reason for this is the poor methodological quality of the primary studies:
- Four trials were considered to have unknown bias risk for generating the random sequence due to insufficient information about the specific method of randomization used.
- Only 5 of the trials provided appropriate random allocation concealment.
- Only 5 trials were blinded to both participants and personnel.
- Three trials were rated as unknown risk of bias since insufficient information was provided.1
- Four trials failed to performed outcome assessment blinding.
- One trial did not report detailed information about drop-out cases and was defined as high risk of bias.
- Three study protocols were unavailable and had relevant outcomes that were not reported in the pre-specified way.
Moreover, safety cannot possibly be reliably estimated on the basis of the data. And finally, the statement that SCAM interventions may be effective, as the authors put it, is in my view not a valid conclusion but a silly platitude.
I therefore suggest to re-formulate the conclusion of this review as follows:
At present there is no sound evidence to assume that any SCAM intervention is effective in the management of long COVID.
I was alerted to the updated and strengthened guidance to ensure safer practice by chiropractors who treat children under the age of 12 years that has recently been published by the Chiropractic Board of Australia after considering the recommendations made by the Safer Care Victoria independent review. The Board also considered community needs and expectations, and specifically the strong support for consumer choice voiced in the public consultation of the independent review.
The Board examined how common themes in the independent review’s recommendations align with its existing regulatory guidance, and used these insights to inform a risk-based approach to updating its Statement on paediatric care. This includes updated advice reinforcing the need to ensure that parents or guardians fully understand their rights and the evidence before treatment is provided to children. ‘Public safety is our priority, and especially so when we consider the care of children’, Board Chair Dr Wayne Minter said.
According to the statement, the Board expects chiropractors to various things, including the following [the numbers in the following passage were added by me and refer to my brief comments below]:
- inform the patient and their parent/guardian about the quality of the acceptable evidence and explain the basis for the proposed treatment 
- provide the patient and their parent/guardian with information about the risks and benefits of the proposed treatment and the risks of receiving no treatment 
- appropriately document consent, including considering the need for written consent for high-risk procedures 
- refer patients when they have conditions or symptoms outside a chiropractor’s area of competence, for example ‘red flags’ such as the presence of possible serious pathology that requires urgent medical referral to the care of other registered health practitioners 
- I know what is meant by the ‘quality of the evidence’ but am not sure what to make of the ‘quality of the acceptable evidence]. Acceptable by whom? In any case, who checks whether this information is being provided?
- Imagine the scenatio following this guidance: Chiro informs that there is a serious risk and no proven benefit – which parent would then procede with the treatment? In any case, the informed consent is incomplete because it also requires information as to which conventional treatment is effective for the condition at had [information that chiros are not competent to provide].
- Who checks whether this is done properly?
- Arguably, all pediatric conditions or symptoms are outside a chiropractor’s area of competence!
In view of these points, I fear that the updated guidance is a transparent attempt of window dressing, yet unfit for purpose. Most certainly, it does not ensure safer practice by chiropractors who treat children under the age of 12 years.
That proponents of anthroposophic medicine have strange attitudes towards established and effective immunizations is hardly a secret. The authors of this review defined anthroposophic communities as people following some/certain views more or less loosely connected to the philosophies of anthroposophy. Their systematic review firstly collated evidence documenting outbreaks linked to anthroposophic communities.
A total of 18 measles outbreaks occurred between 1997 and 2011 in European countries. Eight out of 18 measles outbreaks started at Waldorf schools throughout Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Netherlands, and the UK. Although data from community reporting was limited, the measles cases at Waldorf schools were predominantly higher than in mainstream private or state schools across the five countries. Offering measles vaccination catch-ups by public health authorities (which is an effective way to manage a measles outbreak) was described in several articles but was largely refused by both parents and Waldorf schools. The most effective outbreak control strategy was the immediate closure of the Waldorf school and strict rules regarding entry to the school upon reopening.
Secondly, the review summarized the literature on vaccination coverage in anthroposophic communities. Six articles described vaccine coverage in anthroposophic communities, and one article described the personal belief exception (PBE) rate at Waldorf school in the USA. The papers focussed predominantly on diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus and poliomyelitis (DPTP), and mumps, measles and rubella (MMR) vaccines. Two studies studying the vaccination coverage at Waldorf pre-schools/schools, demonstrated overall low immunization coverage at those schools. One article focusing on PBE rates demonstrated a proportionally high rate at Waldorf schools in California. Three studies from the Netherlands measure vaccination coverage in general and focussed specifically on whether there were special groups that showed specifically low coverage. In these studies, anthroposophic communities were identified as showing low coverage. However, one study suggested that anthroposophic communities are not as significant in terms of low coverage as low-income groups. One paper described rates of vaccination refusal in Switzerland. It showed that complementary alternative medicine users, including people who draw on anthroposophic medicine, are more likely to refuse vaccination. However, the paper also shows that this group was more likely to vaccinate against tick-borne diseases and encephalitis than the general population.
Thirdly, the review discussed the literature that summarized theories and factors influencing vaccine decision-making in anthroposophic communities. Eight articles examining factors and theories influencing vaccine decision-making in anthroposophic communities were included. Five articles focused on parents of children attending Waldorf schools or who considered themselves part of an anthroposophic community. Three articles focused on the perspectives of anthroposophic healthcare providers, although two of those articles mixed and compared views with other alternative/complementary providers or allopathic health providers. Of the eight articles, two were quantitative and did not provide an in-depth discussion. The qualitative findings from six articles were summarized in-depth and revealed four themes.
The authors concluded that this systematic review showed that there have been several measles outbreaks linked to anthroposophic communities in Europe. Although studies on vaccination coverage in anthroposophic communities are limited, it appears that coverage is lower than in the general population. Monitoring outbreak numbers and vaccination coverage could be important. Popular beliefs about the anthroposophic communities’ vaccination beliefs are challenged in this review. As the evidence shows the communities are not categorically against vaccines. Moreover, there are a myriad of factors that influence vaccine decision-making of parents belonging to an anthroposophic community. The importance of experiencing childhood illnesses and concerns over long-term side effects were mentioned. Moreover, parents want to be able to individually select vaccines for their children. They consider themselves actively engaged in vaccine decision-making and well-informed. Stigma regarding vaccine choices was mentioned repeatedly mostly by people outside of the anthroposophic community but also by people within the community. This review calls for a better understanding of vaccine choices and beliefs for vaccines beyond MMR, in particular HPV vaccines. The review also highlights a potentially important research gap, which constitutes understanding not only a belief system but the role that stigma may play in making decisions about vaccines.
If you ask where this strange anti-vaccination stance of anthroposophic medicine comes from, you don’t need to look far:
“In the future, we will eliminate the soul with medicine.
Under the pretext of a ‘healthy point of view’, there will be a vaccine by which the human body will be treated as soon as possible directly at birth,
(1) so that the human being cannot develop the thought of the existence of soul and Spirit.
To materialistic doctors, will be entrusted with the task of removing the soul of humanity.
As today, people are vaccinated against this disease or disease, so in the future, children will
(2) be vaccinated with a substance that can be produced precisely in such a way that people, thanks to this vaccination, will be immune to being subjected to the “madness” of spiritual life.
He would be extremely smart, but he would not develop a conscience, and that is the
(3) true goal of some materialistic circles.
With such a vaccine, you can easily make the etheric body loose in the physical body.
Once the etheric body is detached, the relationship between the universe and the etheric body would become extremely unstable, and man would become
(4) an automaton, for the physical body of man must be polished on this Earth by spiritual will.
So, the vaccine becomes a kind of arymanique [Ahrimanic] force; man can no longer get rid of a given materialistic feeling.
(5) He becomes materialistic of constitution and can no longer rise to the spiritual “.
Despite effective vaccines, there is still a need for effective treatments for COVID, especially for people in the community. Dietary supplements have long been used to treat respiratory infections, and preliminary evidence indicates some may be effective in people with COVID-19. This study tested whether a combination of vitamin C, vitamin D3, vitamin K2 and zinc would improve overall health and decrease symptom burden in outpatients diagnosed with COVID-19.
Participants were randomised to receive either vitamin C (6 g), vitamin D3 (1000 units), vitamin K2 (240 μg) and zinc acetate (75 mg) or placebo daily for 21 days and were followed for 12 weeks. An additional loading dose of 50 000 units vitamin D3 (or placebo) was given on day one. The primary outcome was participant-reported overall health using the EuroQol Visual Assessment Scale summed over 21 days. Secondary outcomes included health status, symptom severity, symptom duration, delayed return to usual health, frequency of hospitalisation and mortality.
A total of 90 patients (46 control, 44 treatment) were randomised. The study was stopped prematurely due to insufficient capacity for recruitment. The mean difference (control-treatment) in cumulative overall health was -37.4 (95% CI -157.2 to 82.3), p=0.53 on a scale of 0-2100. No clinically or statistically significant differences were seen in any secondary outcomes.
The authors concluded that, in this double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomised trial of outpatients diagnosed with COVID-19, the dietary supplements vitamin C, vitamin D3, vitamin K2 and zinc acetate showed no clinically or statistically significant effects on the documented measures of health compared with a placebo when given for 21 days. Termination due to feasibility limited our ability to demonstrate the efficacy of these supplements for COVID-19. Further research is needed to determine clinical utility.
In several ways I am puzzled by this study. On the other hand, I should congratulate the naturopathic authors for honestly reporting such a squarely negative result. One could, of course, argue that the study was under-powered and that thus the findings are not conclusive. However, the actual survival curve depicting the results show clearly that there was not even the tiniest trend for the supplement to show any effect. In other words, a larger sample would have most likely yielded the same result.
Participants randomised to the treatment arm received:
- Vitamin D3 50 000 units orally once on day 1 of the study (capsule).
- Vitamin K2/D3 120 μg/500 units orally two times per day for 21 days (liquid).
- Vitamin C/Zinc acetate 2 g/25 mg orally three times daily for 21 days (capsule).
I fail to understand why the researchers might have conceived the hypothesis that such a mixture would be effective. Only 90 of a planned 200 participants were enrolled in this study which ran between September 2021 and April 2022. I fail to understand why recruitment was so poor that the study eventually had to be aborted. My speculation is that the naturopaths in charge of running the trial were too inexperienced in conducting such research to make it a success.
The study was supported by the Ottawa Integrative Cancer Centre Foundation and by Mavis and Martin Sacher. All investigational products for this study were provided in-kind by New Roots Herbal. Perhaps in future these sponsors should think again before they support amateurs pretending to be scientists?
Certain aspects of yoga can be used as a non-pharmacological conservative therapeutic approach to the management of chronic low back pain (CLBP). This overview summarized and evaluated data from current systematic reviews (SRs) on the use of yoga for CLBP.
The researchers searched SRs on the use of yoga for CLBP in nine electronic databases from inception to September 2023. The methodological quality was evaluated using the Assessment of Multiple Systematic Review Scale-2 (AMSTAR-2). The reporting quality of the included SRs was evaluated using the Preferred Reporting Item for Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis-2020 (PRISMA-2020), and the quality of data was graded using the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development, and Evaluation (GRADE). Two independent researchers performed the screening, data extraction, and quality assessment process of SRs.
A total of 13 SRs were included. The results of the AMSTAR-2 indicated that the methodological quality of the included studies was relatively low. The PRISMA-2020 checklist evaluation results indicated that methodological limitations in reporting, especially regarding data processing and presentation, were the main weaknesses. The GRADE assessment indicated that 30 outcomes were rated moderate, 42 were rated low level, and 20 were rated very low level. Downgrading factors were mainly due to the limitations of the included studies.
The authors concluded that yoga appears to be an effective and safe non-pharmacological therapeutic modality for the Management of CLBP. Currently, it may exhibit better efficacy in improving pain and functional disability associated with CLBP. However, the methodological quality and quality of evidence for SRs/MAs in the included studies were generally low, and these results should be interpreted cautiously.
Sorry, but I beg to differ!
- The safety of a therapy cannot be ascertained on the basis of such small sample sizes.
- The effectiveness of yoga has not been demonstrated by these data.
- All that has been shown with this review is that the quality of the research in this area is too poor for drawing conclusions.
According to chiropractic belief, vertebral subluxation (VS) is a clinical entity defined as a misalignment of the spine affecting biomechanical and neurological function. The identification and correction of VS is the primary focus of the chiropractic profession. The purpose of this study was to estimate VS prevalence using a sample of individuals presenting for chiropractic care and explore the preventative public health implications of VS through the promotion of overall health and function.
A brief review of the literature was conducted to support an operational definition for VS that incorporated neurologic and kinesiologic exam components. A retrospective, quantitative analysis of a multi-clinic dataset was then performed using this operational definition.
The operational definition used in this study included:
- (1) inflammation of the C2 (second cervical vertebra) DRG,
- (2) leg length inequality,
- (3) tautness of the erector spinae muscles,
- (4) upper extremity muscle weakness,
- (5) Fakuda Step test,
- radiographic analysis based on the (6) frontal atlas cranium line and (7) horizontal atlas cranium line.
Descriptive statistics on patient demographic data included age, gender, and past health history characteristics. In addition to calculating estimates of the overall prevalence of VS, age- and gender-stratified estimates in the different clinics were calculated to allow for potential variations.
A total of 1,851 patient records from seven chiropractic clinics in four states were obtained. The mean age of patients was 43.48 (SD = 16.8, range = 18-91 years). There were more females (n = 927, 64.6%) than males who presented for chiropractic care. Patients reported various reasons for seeking chiropractic care, including, spinal or extremity pain, numbness, or tingling; headaches; ear, nose, and throat-related issues; or visceral issues. Mental health concerns, neurocognitive issues, and concerns about general health were also noted as reasons for care. The overall prevalence of VS was 78.55% (95% CI = 76.68-80.42). Female and male prevalence of VS was 77.17% and 80.15%, respectively; notably, all per-clinic, age, or gender-stratified prevalences were ≥50%.
The authors concluded that the results of this study suggest a high rate of prevalence of VS in a sample of individuals who sought chiropractic care. Concerns about general health and wellness were represented in the sample and suggest chiropractic may serve a primary prevention function in the absence of disease or injury. Further investigation into the epidemiology of VS and its role in health promotion and prevention is recommended.
This is one of the most hilarious pieces of ‘research’ that I have recently encountered. The strategy is siarmingly simple:
- invent a ficticious pathology (VS) that will earn you plently of money;
- develop criteria that allow you to diagnose this pathology in the maximum amount of consumers;
- show gullible consumers that they are afflicted by this pathology;
- use scare mongering tactics to convince consumers that the pathology needs treating;
- offer a treatment that, after a series of expensive sessions, will address the pathology;
- cash in regularly while this goes on;
- when the consumer has paid enough, declare that your fabulous treatment has done the trick and the consumer is again healthy.
The strategy is well known amongst practitioners of so-called alternative medicine (SCAM), e.g.:
- Traditional acupuncturists diagnose a ficticious imbalance of yin and yang only to normalise it with numerous acupuncture sessions.
- Naturopaths diagnose ficticious intoxications and treat it with various detox measures.
- Iridologists diagnose ficticious abnormalities of the iris that allegedly indicate organ disstress and treat it with whatever SCAM they can offer.
As they say:
No disease can be more surely, effectively, and profitably treated than a condition that the unsuspecting customer did not have in the first place!
Sadly, such behavior exists in convertional medicine occasionally too, but SCAM relies almost entirely on it.
This study was aimed at evaluating the effectiveness of osteopathic visceral manipulation (OVM) combined with physical therapy in pain, depression, and functional impairment in patients with chronic mechanical low back pain (LBP).
A total of 118 patients with chronic mechanical LBP were assessed, and 86 who met the inclusion criteria were included in the randomized clinical trial (RCT). The patients were randomized to either:
- Group 1 (n=43), who underwent physical therapy (5 days/week, for a total of 15 sessions) combined with OVM (2 days/week with three-day intervals),
- or Group 2 (n=43), which underwent physical therapy (5 days/week, for a total of 15 sessions) combined with sham OVM (2 days/week with three-day intervals).
Both groups were assessed before and after treatment and at the fourth week post-treatment.
Seven patients were lost to follow-up, and the study was completed with 79 patients. Pain, depression, and functional impairment scores were all improved in both groups (p=0.001 for all). This improvement was sustained at week four after the end of treatment. However, improvement in the pain, depression, and functional impairment scores was significantly higher in Group 1 than in Group 2 (p=0.001 for all).
The authors concluded that the results suggest that OVM combined with physical therapy is useful to improve pain, depression, and functional impairment in patients with chronic mechanical low back pain. We believe that OVM techniques should be combined with other physical therapy modalities in this patient population.
OVM was invented by the French osteopath, Jean-Piere Barral. In the 1980s, he stated that through his clinical work with thousands of patients, he discovered that many health issues were caused by our inner organs being entrapped and immobile. According to its proponents, OVM is based on the specific placement of soft manual forces that encourage the normal mobility, tone and function of our inner organs and their surrounding tissues. In this way, the structural integrity of the entire body is allegedly restored.
I am not aware of good evidence to show that OVM is effective – and this, sadly, includes the study above.
In my view, the most plausible explanation for its findings have little to do with OVM itself: sham OVM was applied “by performing light pressure and touches with the palm of the hand on the selected points for OVM without the intention of treating the patient”. This means that most likely patients were able to tell OVM from sham OVM and thus de-blinded. In other words, their expectation of receiving an effective therapy (and not the OVM per se) determined the outcome.