This pilot study is “delving into the potential benefits of Reiki therapy as a complementary intervention for the treatment and management of stress and anxiety”.
A total of 31 volunteers self-reporting stress, anxiety, or psychological disorders were enrolled. Health-related quality of life (HRQoL) was assessed using the 36-Item Short Form Health Survey (SF-36) Questionnaire for anxiety and depression. Pre- and post-treatment HRQoL scores were meticulously compared, and the significance of the disparities in these scores was meticulously computed.
Analysis was restricted to volunteers who completed the 3-day Reiki sessions. Statistically significant enhancements were discerned across all outcome measures, encompassing positive affect, negative affect, pain, drowsiness, tiredness, nausea, appetite, shortness of breath, anxiety, depression, and overall well-being (P<0.0001).
The authors concluded that the constancy and extensive scope of these improvements suggest that Reiki therapy may not only address specific symptoms but also contribute significantly to a predominant escalation of mental and physical health.
This study is almost comical.
Amongst all the many forms of so-called alternative medicine (SCAM), Reiki is perhaps the most ridiculous scam. It is a form of paranormal or ‘energy healing’ popularised by Japanese Mikao Usui (1865–1926). Rei means universal spirit (sometimes thought of as a supreme being) and ki is the assumed universal life energy. It is based on the assumptions of Traditional Chinese Medicine and the existence of ‘chi’, the life-force that is assumed to determine our health.
Reiki practitioners believe that, with their hands-on healing method, they can transfer ‘healing energy’ to a patient which, in turn, stimulates the self-healing properties of the body. They assume that the therapeutic effects of this technique are obtained from a ‘universal life energy’ that provides strength, harmony, and balance to the body and mind. There is no scientific basis for such notions, and reiki is therefore not plausible.
Reiki is used for a number of conditions, including the relief of stress, tension and pain. There have been several clinical trials testing its effectiveness. Those that are rigorous fail to show that the treatment is effective – and those that are dripping with bias, like the one discussed here, tend to produce false-positive results.
The present study has many flaws that are too obvious to even mention. While reading it, I asked myself the following questions:
- How could a respectable university ever allow this pseudo-research to go ahead?
- How could a respectable ethics committee ever permit it?
- How could a respectable journal ever publish it?
The answers must be that, quite evidently, they are not respectable.
Medical Acupuncture is the name of a quarterly journal published for the ‘American Academy of Medical Acupuncture’ that publishes around 60 pro-acupuncture articles every year. Its editor is Richard C. Niemtzow, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H. Richard is a retired US Air Force colonel who was the first full-time physician acupuncturist in the US Armed Forces. He is probably best known for his invention called ‘BATTLE FIELD ACUPUNCTURE’, a form of ear-acupuncture allegedly reducing pain in emergency situations.
Medline lists 79 papers (mostly published in 3rd class journals such as ‘Medical Acupuncture’) in Niemtzow’s name. Only one of them – 21 years ago – was a clinical trial. Here it is:
Purpose: We performed a pilot trial to assess the response of lower urinary tract symptoms and prostate specific antigen (PSA) to acupuncture in a population of patients biopsy negative for prostate cancer.
Materials and methods: A total of 30 patients were randomly assigned to 1 of 3 study groups, including observation for 3 months with 6 blood samples for PSA at set intervals, 9 sessions of acupuncture in 3 months to points of the kidney-bladder distinct meridian expected to treat the prostate with 6 blood samples for PSA at set intervals and 9 sessions of acupuncture in 3 months to points not expected to treat the prostate with 6 blood samples for PSA at set intervals. The effect of acupuncture on lower urinary tract symptoms was assessed monthly using the International Prostate Symptom Score.
Results: Trend analysis (repeated measures ANOVA) revealed no significant changes in the 3-month period in the randomized arms. Statistical analysis showed p = 0.063 for the International Prostate Symptom Score, p = 0.945 for PSA and p = 0.37 for the free-to-total PSA ratio.
Conclusions: Acupuncture to the kidney-bladder distinct meridian neither relieves lower urinary tract symptoms nor impacts PSA.
Yes, an acupuncture study with a negative result!
Niemtzow has, as far as I can see, never himself conducted a study of ‘battle field acupuncture’. In fact, there only very few trials of ‘battle field acupuncture‘. The most recent (albeit lousy) study even suggest that it is less effective than electroacupuncture (EA): EA was more effective than ‘battle field auricular acupuncture’ at reducing pain severity, but both similarly improved physical and mental health scores.
This does not stop Niemtzow to continue praising acupuncture in dozens of papers, particularly his ‘battle field’ version and especially in his ‘own’ journal. The most recent example has just been published; allow me to present an excerpt to you:
In December of 2023, I had the opportunity to visit the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. The only day I had for this visit was characterized by a pouring and chilling rain. This did not stop the crowds of people visiting this famous exhibition. I reminded myself that Van Gogh was a troubled spirit. He lived a short tumultuous life characterized by cutting off his left ear lobe and he spent a sojourn in an asylum. Yet, his art emerged in all its beauty and splendor to become famous in the world. Despite all his troubles, he contributed a precious collection of magnificent art. Many individuals would not have surfaced out of personal disorders to produce such a wonderful gift to society. However, history tells us that many sensational contributions originated from people embroiled in mental health illnesses.
Medical Acupuncture published more than 13 years ago the acupuncture ‘‘diagnosis’’ of Vincent Van Gogh. The article, which is worth rereading, discussed the Five-Element pattern associated with the artist’s hallucinations, alcoholism, severe depression, insomnia, anxiety, dizziness, headaches, nightmares, etc. The author, Vera Kaikobad, LAc, stated: ‘‘It is poignant to realize that a few needles in the hands of a skilled acupuncturist may have spared this great artist such torment and perhaps saved his life.’’ Feasibly, in 2024 we should not only examine our patients for their physical complaints; we should venture into their mental health status as well. A back or neck pain is important, but so is anxiety, insomnia, etc. In promoting mental health, we may assist many patients who are perhaps capable of contributing to the well-being of the world. It is our responsibility as acupuncturists not to think of our patients as a neck or back pain, etc.; instead, we must see them as whole persons having spiritual and physical needs that must be addressed.
I feel that, overall, this remarkable effort justifies Niemtzow’s admission to my ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE HALL OF FAME.
And let me introduce you to the rest of the 24 laureates:
- Helmut Kiene (anthroposophical medicine)
- Helge Franke (osteopathy, Germany)
- 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)
Getting old is not nice – but think of the alternative!
I think it was Woody Allen who said something to that extent. But there is a third way, at least this is waht Tai Chi advocates want us to believe.
Utilizing a hybrid design, this study aimed to test whether both long-term and short-term Tai Chi (TC) training are associated with age-related decline in physical function in healthy older adults.
The authors first conducted cross-sectional comparisons among TC-naïve older adults (n = 60, 64.2 ± 7.7 years), TC-expert older adults (n = 27, 62.8 ± 7.6 years, 24.5 ± 12 years experience), and TC-naïve younger adults (n = 15, 28.7 ± 3.2 years) to inform long-term effects of TC training on physical function, including single leg stance time with eyes closed, grip strength, Timed Up and Go, maximum walking speed, functional reach, and vertical jump for lower-extremity power. There were significant differences among the three groups on all the six tests. For most functional tests, TC-experts performed better than age-matched TC-naïve controls and were statistically indistinguishable from young healthy adult controls. Long-term TC training was associated with higher levels of physical function in older adults, suggesting a potential preventative healthy aging effect.
In the randomized longitudinal trial, TC-naïve subjects were randomized (n = 31 to Tai Chi group, n = 29 to usual care control group) to evaluate the short-term effects of TC over 6 months on all outcomes. TC’s short-term impacts on physical function were small and not statistically significant. The impact of short-term training in healthy adults is less clear.
The authors concluded that both potential longer-term preventive effects and shorter-term restorative effects warrant further research with rigorous, adequately powered controlled clinical trials.
Even though the authors imply that their cross-sectional comparison points to a causal effect, this is clearly not true. For instance, it could easily be that people who are somehow destined to keep fit and agile are the ones who keep up Tai Chi. So, rather than being the result of Tai Chi, the proneness to fitness and agility could be the cause for doing Tai Chi.
The authors laudably were aware of these problems and therefore also did an RCT. Sadly this RCT did not yield significant findings. Essentially this means that eitherTai Chi did not work, or the study was naively inadequate, e.g. too small and too short-term.
Thus the authors finish with the usual statement that MORE RESEARCH IS NEEDED. This might be true, but is a definitive RCT likely?
I don’t think so.
A long time ago I had designed such a definitive study. It needed to be very large considering that many participants might drop out. Crucially, it also had to be long- term, i.e. years, not months.
And what happened to my study?
I never managed to get it funded, mainly because the costs would have been astronomical.
After the nationwide huha created by the BBC’s promotion of auriculotherapy and AcuSeeds, it comes as a surprise to learn that, in Kent (UK), the NHS seems to advocate and provide this form of quackery. Here is the text of the patient leaflet:
Kent Community Health, NHS Foundation Trust
This section provides information to patients who might benefit from auriculotherapy, to complement their acupuncture treatment, as part of their chronic pain management plan.
What is auriculotherapy?
In traditional Chinese medicine, the ear is seen as a microsystem representing the entire body. Auricular acupuncture focuses on ear points that may help a wide variety of conditions including pain. Acupuncture points on the ear are stimulated with fine needles or with earseeds and massage (acupressure).
How does it work?
Recent research has shown that auriculotherapy stimulates the release of natural endorphins, the body’s own feel good chemicals, which may help some patients as part of their chronic pain management plan.
What are earseeds?
Earseeds are traditionally small seeds from the Vaccaria plant, but they can also be made from different types of metal or ceramic. Vaccaria earseeds are held in place over auricular points by a small piece of adhesive tape, or plaster. Applying these small and barely noticeable earseeds between acupuncture treatments allows for patient massage of the auricular points. Earseeds may be left in place for up to a week.
Who can use earseeds?
Earseeds are sometimes used by our Chronic Pain Service to prolong the effects of standard acupuncture treatments and may help some patients to self manage their chronic pain.
How can I get the most out my treatment with earseeds?
It is recommended that the earseeds are massaged two to three times a day or when symptoms occur by applying gentle pressure to the earseeds and massaging in small circles.
Will using earseeds cure my chronic pain?
As with any treatment, earseeds are not a cure but they can reduce pain levels for some patients as part of their chronic pain management programme.
What the authors of the leaflet forgot to tell the reader is this:
- Auriculotherapy is based on ideas that fly in the face of science.
- The evidence that auriculotherapy works is flimsy, to say the least.
- The evidence earseeds work is even worse.
- To arrive at a positive recommendation, the NHS had to heavily indulge in the pseudo-scientific art of cherry-picking.
- The positive experience that some patients report is due to a placebo response.
- For whichever condition auriculotherapy is used, there are treatments that are much more adequate.
- Advocating auriculotherapy is therefore not in the best interest of the patient.
- Arguably, it is unethical.
- Definitely, it is not what the NHS should be doing.
The Austrian ‘Initiative für Wissenschaftliche Medizin‘ (Initiative for Scientific Medicine) did a great job by summarizing the non-scientific training events dedicated to pseudomedicine organized, supported or promoted by the ‘Österreichische Akademie der Ärzte‘ (Austrian Academy of Physicians), a partner of the Austrian Medical Association. They sorted them by date in descending order, listing the DFP points (points required for postgraduate education) awarded and the link to each specific event. The content of the programme of such events, if available, is also often “interesting”. The pseudomedicine methods are provided with links to psiram.com, where these methods are described in more detail.
So, restricting ourselves to the period of 20 years (2003-2023) and merely looking at a selection of all possible so-called alternative medicine (SCAM), we find in this treasure trove of quackery the following:
- Anthroposophic medicine – 218 events
- Homeopathy – 1 708 events
- Orthomolecular medicine – 645 events
- Neural therapy – 864 events
- TCM diagnostics – 1214 events
In total, thousands SCAM events were organized, supported or promoted by the Academy, and I am not aware of any national physicians’ organization that has done anywhere near as much for quackery.
On their website, the Austrian Academy of Physicians state that they were founded by the Austrian Medical Association as a non-profit organisation with the aim of promoting and further developing medical education in Austria… The aim is to lead the way in medical education issues in order to achieve continuous improvement in the medical profession. For the Academy, continuing medical education is an essential component of medical quality improvement…
This may sound alright but, in my view, it raises several questions, e,g,:
- Does the Academy believe that continuous improvement in the medical profession can be achieved by promoting, organizing or conducting such a huge amount of courses in quackery?
- Do they not know that this is the exact opposite of medical quality improvement?
- Are they aware of their ethical responsibility?
- Do they know that the promotion of quackery puts patients at risk?
- Have they heard of evidence-based education?
It is easy to criticize but less obvious to improve. In case the people responsible for postgraduate education at the Academy want to discuss these issues with me, I would therefore be delighted to do so, for instance, via a series of evidence-based lectures on SCAM.
Motor aphasia is common among patients with stroke. Acupuncture is recommended by TCM enthusiasts as a so-called alternative medicine (SCAM) for poststroke aphasia, but its efficacy remains uncertain.
JAMA just published a study that investigated the effects of acupuncture on language function, neurological function, and quality of life in patients with poststroke motor aphasia.
The study was designed as a multicenter, sham-controlled, randomized clinical trial. It was conducted in 3 tertiary hospitals in China from October 21, 2019, to November 13, 2021. Adult patients with poststroke motor aphasia were enrolled. Data analysis was performed from February to April 2023.
Eligible participants were randomly allocated (1:1) to manual acupuncture (MA) or sham acupuncture (SA) groups. Both groups underwent language training and conventional treatments.
The primary outcomes were the aphasia quotient (AQ) of the Western Aphasia Battery (WAB) and scores on the Chinese Functional Communication Profile (CFCP) at 6 weeks. Secondary outcomes included WAB subitems, Boston Diagnostic Aphasia Examination, National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale, Stroke-Specific Quality of Life Scale, Stroke and Aphasia Quality of Life Scale–39, and Health Scale of Traditional Chinese Medicine scores at 6 weeks and 6 months after onset. All statistical analyses were performed according to the intention-to-treat principle.
Among 252 randomized patients (198 men [78.6%]; mean [SD] age, 60.7 [7.5] years), 231 were included in the modified intention-to-treat analysis (115 in the MA group and 116 in the SA group). Compared with the SA group, the MA group had significant increases in AQ (difference, 7.99 points; 95% CI, 3.42-12.55 points; P = .001) and CFCP (difference, 23.51 points; 95% CI, 11.10-35.93 points; P < .001) scores at week 6 and showed significant improvements in AQ (difference, 10.34; 95% CI, 5.75-14.93; P < .001) and CFCP (difference, 27.43; 95% CI, 14.75-40.10; P < .001) scores at the end of follow-up.
The authors concluded that in this randomized clinical trial, patients with poststroke motor
aphasia who received 6 weeks of MA compared with those who received SA demonstrated
statistically significant improvements in language function, quality of life, and neurological
impairment from week 6 of treatment to the end of follow-up at 6 months after onset.
I was asked by the SCIENCE MEDIC CENTRE to provide a short comment. This is what I stated:
Superficially, this looks like a rigorous trial. We should remember, however, that several groups, including mine, have shown that very nearly all Chinese acupuncture studies report positive results. This suggests that the reliability of these trials is less than encouraging. Moreover, the authors state that real acupuncture induced ‘de chi’, while sham acupuncture did not. This shows that the patients were not blinded and the outcomes might easily be due to a placebo response.
Here, I’d like to add two further points:
- We have learnt that the vast majority of research coming out of China is fabricated.
- I think it is lamentable that a journal of high standing is not more critical and repeatedly falls for such suspect acupuncture studies.
Dragons’ Den is a British reality television business programme, presented by Evan Davis and based upon the original Japanese series. The show allows several entrepreneurs an opportunity to present their varying business ideas to a panel of five wealthy investors, the “Dragons” of the show’s title, and pitch for financial investment while offering a stake of the company in return.
It has been reported that Giselle Boxer began selling needle-free acupuncture kits for ears after being diagnosed with myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME). She said the technique had helped improve her own health. Ms Boxer worked for advertising agency before starting her business. A researcher on the show had contacted her to ask if she would like to take part.
Entrepreneur and former footballer Gary Neville was so impressed with her pitch he made her an offer in full before the Dragons had a chance to begin asking questions. She said the impact on the business since the show aired had been “bonkers”. “It’s just been a complete whirlwind,” she said.
The tiny beads are a needle-free form of auriculotherapy, designed to stimulate specific points of the ear to address physical and emotional health concerns. “It completely transformed my life alongside lots and lots of other things like diet, lifestyle changes, meditation, breathwork and movement,” said Ms Boxer. She has since had a child and claimed she was fully healed within a year. “It was like a full overhaul of my life,” Ms Boxer said. Her business, Acu Seeds, sells kits for people to use at home and made a £64,000 profit in its first year, she added.
On the Acu Seed website, we learn the following:
Ear seeds are a form of auriculotherapy, which is the stimulation of specific points of the ear to support physical and emotional health concerns. They are a needle-free form of acupuncture that have been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for thousands of years. TCM teaches that the ear is a microsystem of the whole body, where certain points on the ear correspond to different organs or body parts. Energy pathways (or ‘qi’ or vital life energy) pass through the ear and ear seeds stimulate specific points which send an abundant flow of energy to the related organ or area that needs attention. Think of it like reflexology, but for the ears instead of feet.
Ear seeds also create continual, gentle pressure on nerve impulses in the ear which send messages to the brain that certain organs or systems need support. The brain will then send signals and chemicals to the rest of the body to support whatever ailments you’re experiencing, releasing endorphins into the bloodstream, relaxing the nervous system, and naturally soothing pain and discomfort. Some people use ear seeds alongside acupuncture treatments as they may help the effects of acupuncture last longer between sessions.
I am impressed by the lingo used here:
- support physical and emotional health concerns – the seeds support the concerns but not the health?
- a needle-free form of acupuncture – sorry, the seeds don’t puncture anything; they exert pressure; therefore it’s called acuPRESSURE.
- have been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for thousands of years – no, it was invented just a few decades ago by Paul Nogier.
- TCM teaches that the ear is a microsystem of the whole body – TCM teaches plenty of nonsense but not this one.
- Energy pathways (or ‘qi’ or vital life energy) pass through the ear –Qi is nothing more than a figment of the imagination of TCM advocates.
- send an abundant flow of energy to the related organ or area – only if you believe in your own fictional form of physiology.
- Think of it like reflexology – which btw is also nonsense.
- nerve impulses in the ear send messages to the brain that certain organs or systems need support – only if you believe in your own fictional form of physiology.
- The brain will then send signals and chemicals to the rest of the body – only if you believe in your own fictional form of physiology.
- help the effects of acupuncture last longer – help the non-existing effects of acupuncture last longer?
One the website, we also learn what for which conditions the treatment is effective:
Ear seeds may support a broad spectrum of health concerns including anxiety, stress, headaches, digestion, immunity, focus, sleep and fatigue. Our ear seed kits include the protocol ear maps for these eight health concerns and each protocol uses between 3 to 5 ear seeds. Ear seeds have also been found to support with women’s health issues like menstrual issues, libido, fertility, postpartum issues, inflammation, menopause and weight loss. The ear maps for these issues are given in our women’s health ear seed kit bundles. The specific combination of seed placements will support your chosen health concern. Further issues that they may support with are addiction, pain, tinnitus, vertigo, thyroid health and more.
Here, I am afraid, we might have a major problem:
THERE IS NO GOOD EVIDENCE TO SUPPORT ANY OF THESE CLAIMS!
I thus do wonder whether the venture of Giselle Boxer might be a case for the Advertising Standards Authority.
Diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN) is a common complication of diabetes mellitus and can lead to serious complications. Therapeutic strategies for pain control are available but there are few approaches that influence neurological deficits such as numbness.
This study investigated the effectiveness of acupuncture on improving neurological deficits in patients suffering from type 2 DPN.
The acupuncture in DPN (ACUDPN) study was a two-armed, randomized, controlled, parallel group, open, multicenter clinical trial. Patients were randomized in a 1:1 ratio into two groups: The acupuncture group received 12 acupuncture treatments over 8 wk, and the control group was on a waiting list during the first 16 wk, before it received the same treatment as the other group. Both groups received routine care.
Outcome parameters were evaluated after 8, 16 and 24 wk. They included:
- neurological scores, such as an 11-point numeric rating scale (NRS) for hypesthesia,
- neuropathic pain symptom inventory (NPSI),
- neuropathy deficit score (NDS),
- neuropathy symptom score (NSS);
- nerve conduction studies (NCS) as assessed with a handheld point-of-care device.
Sixty-two participants were included. The NRS for numbness showed a difference of 2.3 (P < 0.001) in favor of the acupuncture group, the effect persisted until week 16 with a difference of 2.2 (P < 0.001) between groups and 1.8 points at week 24 compared to baseline. The NPSI was improved in the acupuncture group by 12.6 points (P < 0.001) at week 8, the NSS score at week 8 with a difference of 1.3 (P < 0.001); the NDS and the TNSc score improved for the acupuncture group in week 8, with a difference of 2.0 points (P < 0.001) compared to the control group. Effects were persistent in week 16 with a difference of 1.8 points (P < 0.05). The NCS showed no meaningful changes. In both groups only minor side effects were reported.
The authors concluded that acupuncture may be beneficial in type 2 diabetic DPN and seems to lead to a reduction in neurological deficits. No serious adverse events were recorded and the adherence to treatment was high. Confirmatory randomized sham-controlled clinical studies with adequate patient numbers are needed to confirm the results.
That “acupuncture may be beneficial” has been known before and presumably was the starting point of the present study. So, why conduct an open, under-powered trial with non-blind assessors and without defining a primary outcome measure?
Could the motivation be to add yet another false-positive study to the literature of acupuncture?
False-positive, you ask?
Yes, let me explain by having a look at the outcome measures:
- NRS = a subjective endpoint.
- NPSI = a subjective endpoint.
- NDS = a subjective endpoint.
- NSS = a subjective endpoint.
- NCS = the only objective endpoint.
And what is remarkable about that?
- Subjective endpoints are likely to respond to placebo effects.
- Objective endpoints are not likely to respond to placebo effects.
In other words, what the authors of this study have, in fact, confirmed with their study is this:
acupuncture is a theatrical placebo!
He came to my attention via the sad story recently featured here about patients allegedly being harmed or killed in a Swiss hospital for so-called alternative medicine (SCAM). What I then learned about the doctor in charge of this place fascinated me:
Rau states about himself (my translation):
Early on, Dr Rau focused on natural therapies, in particular homeopathy and dietary changes. The healing success of his patients proved him right, so he studied alternative healing methods with leading practitioners. These included orthomolecular medicine, Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine and European holistic medicine. With his wealth of knowledge and over 30 years of experience, Dr Rau formed his own holistic theory of healing: Swiss Biological Medicine – Dr Rau’s Biological Medicine. It is based on the principles of detoxification, nutrition, digestion and sustainable strengthening of the immune system.
Career & studies:
- Medical studies at the University of Bern
- Final medical examinations in Switzerland and the USA
- Subsequent work in rheumatology, internal and general medicine
- Member of the Swiss Medical Association FMH since 1981
- 1981 to 1992 conventional physician & medical director of a Swiss spa centre for rheumatology and rehabilitation medicine
- 1983 to 1992 Doctor at a drug rehabilitation centre
- 1992 to 2019 Establishment of the Paracelsus Clinic Lustmühle as medical director and partner
- until 2020 Head of the academic network and training organisation “Paracelsus Academy”
Rau also states this:
- 2019 mit dem Honorarprofessoren-Titel von der Europäischen Universität in Wien ausgezeichnet (2019, he was awarded the title of homorary professor at the European University in Vienna)
This puzzles me because there is no such institution as the ‘Europäische Universität in Wien’. There is a Central European University but this can hadly be it?!
Now, I am intrigued and see what the ‘honorary professor’ might have published. Sadly, there seems to be nothing on Medline except 2 interviews. In one interview, Rau explains (amongst other things) ‘live blood analysis’, a method that we have repeatedly discussed before (for instance, here and here):
Darkfield microscopy shows a lot. We take 1 drop of blood and look at it under a very large-scale magnification. The blood is life under the glass. Once it’s on the glass, there isn’t oxygen or light or heat. This is a giant stress for the blood. So we see how, over a time, the blood reacts to this stress, and how the blood cells tolerate the stress. You can see the changes. So we take a drop of blood that represents the organism and put it under stress and look at how the cells react to the stress, and then we can see the tolerance and the resistiveness of these cells. Do they have a good cell-membrane face? Do they have good energetic behavior? Do they clot together? Is there a chance for degenerative diseases? Is there a cancerous tendency in this blood? We see tendencies. And that’s what we are interested in, tendencies.
Question: If you saw a cancerous tendency, what would that look like?
Rau: Cancerous tendency is a change in the cells. They get rigid, so to say. They don’t react very well.
Question: And how long does blood live outside the body?
Rau: It can live for several days. But after 1 hour, the blood is already seriously changed. For example, a leukemia patient came to my clinic for another disease. But when we did darkfield, I found the leukemia. We saw that his white blood cells were atypical. Look at this slide—the fact that there are so many white blood cells together is absolutely unusual, and the fact that there are atypical white blood cells. This shows me that the patient has myeloid leukemia. The patient had been diagnosed as having rheumatoid lung pain, but it was absolutely not true. The real cause of his pain was an infiltration of the spinal bone by these lymphocytes.
This is, of course, complete nonsense. As I explained in my blog post, live blood analysis (LBA) is not plausible and there is no evidence to support the claims made for it. It also is by no means new; using his lately developed microscope, Antony van Leeuwenhoek observed in 1686 that living blood cells changed shape during circulation. Ever since, doctors, scientists and others have studied blood samples in this and many other ways.
New, however, is what today’s SCAM practitioners claim to be able to do with LBA. Proponents believe that the method provides information about the state of the immune system, possible vitamin deficiencies, amount of toxicity, pH and mineral imbalance, areas of concern and weaknesses, fungus and yeast infections, as well as just about everything else you can imagine.
LBA is likely to produce false-positive and false-negative diagnoses. A false-positive diagnosis is a condition which the patient does not truly have. This means she will receive treatments that are not necessary, potentially harmful and financially wasteful. A false-negative diagnosis would mean that the patient is told she is healthy, while in fact she is not. This can cost valuable time to start an effective therapy and, in extreme cases, it would hasten the death of that patient. The conclusion is thus clear: LBA is an ineffective, potentially dangerous diagnostic method for exploiting gullible consumers. My advice is to avoid practitioners who employ this technique.
And what does that say about ‘honorary professor’ Rau?
I think I let you answer that question yourself.
Mushrooms are somewhat neglected in medical research, I often feel. This systematic review focused on clinical studies testing the effectiveness of mushrooms in cancer care. A total of 39 met the authors’ inclusion criteria. The studies included 12 different mushroom preparations. Some of the findings were encouraging:
- A survival benefit was reported using Huaier granules (Trametes robiniophila Murr) in 2 hepatocellular carcinoma studies and 1 breast cancer study.
- A survival benefit was also found in 4 gastric cancer studies using polysaccharide-K (polysaccharide-Kureha; PSK) as an adjuvant therapy.
- Eleven studies reported a positive immunological response.
- Quality-of-life (QoL) improvement and/or reduced symptom burden was reported in 14 studies using various mushroom supplements.
- Most studies reported adverse effects of grade 2 or lower, mainly nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and muscle pain.
The authors caution that limitations included small sample size and not using randomized controlled trial design. Many of the reviewed studies were observational. Most showed favorable effects of mushroom supplements in reducing the toxicity of chemotherapy, improving QoL, favorable cytokine response, and possibly better clinical outcomes.
The authors concluded that the evidence is inconclusive to recommend the routine use of mushrooms for cancer patients. More trials are needed to explore mushroom use during and after cancer treatment.
The use of mushrooms for medicinal purposes has a long history in many cultures. Some mushrooms are known to be highly poisonous, some have hallucinogenic effects, and some are assumed to have pharmacological effects that have therapeutic potential. Some mushrooms possess pharmacologic properties such as anti-tumour, immunomodulating, antioxidant, cardiovascular, anti-hypercholesterolemic, anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-parasitic, anti-fungal, detoxification, hepatoprotective, and anti-diabetic effects.
Many modern medicines were derived from fungi. The best-known example is penicillin; others include several cancer drugs, statins and immunosuppressants. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, numerous herbal mixtures contain mushrooms; examples are reishi, maitake and shiitake which are all assumed to have anti-cancer properties.
As the review authors point out, there is a paucity of clinical trials testing the effectiveness of mushrooms, and the existing studies tend to be of poor quality. At present, most of our knowledge comes from traditional use or test-tube studies. The adverse effects depend on the specific mushroom in question and, can in some instances, be serious.
Considering the potential and the complexity of mycomedicine, I find it surprising to not see much more research into this subject.