Why Write About Alternative Medicine? Part Three: Risks

February 6, 2012 at 12:30 pm (Alternative Medicine, Miscellaneous) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Another reason to write about alternative medicine: risk. Alternative therapies have associated risks that practitioners may not inform patients about. In part one of this series (here), I linked to research that found media coverage of alternative medicine to be positive (in some cases overwhelmingly so) and to lack discussion of the risks, benefits, and costs.

Given the reluctance of practitioners and journalists to tell people about the risks of CAM, I think it is worth taking some time to blog about them.

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Risks of CAM Part One: Nocebo

August 25, 2010 at 6:30 pm (Alternative Medicine, Chiropractic, Nutritionism, Patrick Holford, Placebo) (, , , , , , , )

Risk of adverse effects from (mis)information

As well as relying on the placebo effect when making claims of the efficacy of their therapies, those providing alternative treatments may also be aided by something akin to the nocebo effect. If you tell healthy people they are sick (or sick people that they are sicker than they thought), it may be possible to induce the perception of symptoms that you can later claim to have resolved. Read the rest of this entry »

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In Defence Of Bloodletting

December 6, 2009 at 9:37 pm (Alternative Medicine, Chiropractic, Good Science, Homeopathy) (, , , , , , )

Bloodletting is sometimes used as an example of a medical treatment that we once thought plausible, but now view as ridiculous. It is compared with chiropractic, homeopathy, and other “Alternative Medicine” disciplines in order to ridicule them. However, we might have been unfair. It appears that bloodletting may actually be more valuable than the Alt Med treatments it is compared to. Read the rest of this entry »

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AltMed Responses To Criticism – from Holford to Barnett

February 11, 2009 at 5:45 pm (Alternative Medicine, Bad Science) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Here, I have some examples of the, fairly limited, debate between sceptics and proponents of Alternative Medicine – and a couple of examples of how scientists generally respond to criticism. The most recent example of a supporter of Alternative Medicine (anti-vaccinationism, with a smidge of homeopathy) responding to criticism is Jeni Barnett. She referred on her blog to incandescently stupid comments she made about MMR during a radio broadcast on LBC, and the fuss that followed the broadcast. The comments section soon included critics explaining why Jeni was so dangerously wrong. Jeni’s response to the criticism? To remove the blog post and the comments. Thankfully, it’s been preserved and is available at The Quackometer website. Further discussion at Holford Watch. LBC’s response to the original criticisms? Legal chill tactics – a pretty disgusting way to tackle legitimate criticism. Other examples of legal chill (and other threats) come from nutritionists, chiropractors, homeopaths, herbalists, and an American Christian organisation. Read the rest of this entry »

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Heal All Illness – By Thinking. Why do people assume AltMed is safe?

October 10, 2008 at 11:48 am (Alternative Medicine, Bad Science, Big Pharma, Dangerously Wrong, Placebo, Woo) (, , , , , , , )

Here’s the story, via Ben Goldacre’s miniblog, and it’s about a new therapy that professes to heal all disease, including AIDS and advanced forms of cancer. By thinking. Dr Claude Sabbah teaches that cancer and other diseases are formed in the brain first, and must be deprogrammed. He also claims that up to 90 per cent of all illnesses are caused by messages from the medical community. The mind-body link is fascinating, particularly in terms of how the placebo effect can aid recovery, but this is going way too far. Read the rest of this entry »

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Silence is not golden: more on Rath and the $50bn nutrition industry

September 25, 2008 at 3:49 pm (Alternative Medicine, Bad Science, Nutritionism) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Yeah, I know – I’m boring you with this stuff now. I’m sorry, but I can’t let it lie. I really can’t understand why not one member of the $50bn Nutritional Therapy industry has come out and said what so clearly needs saying: “Matthias Rath’s actions in South Africa were unacceptable and his use of legal means to stifle debate inappropriate”. Read the rest of this entry »

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BANT – no opinion on Rath [updated]

September 18, 2008 at 10:22 am (Alternative Medicine, Bad Science, Nutritionism) (, , , , , , , , )

I’ve received a response from the British Association of Nutritional Therapists to the email I sent regarding the actions of Matthias Rath in South Africa. Read the rest of this entry »

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Critical Self-Appraisal In Alternative Medicine

September 17, 2008 at 12:14 pm (Alternative Medicine, Bad Science, Chiropractic, Homeopathy, Nutritionism) (, , , , , , , , )

Leaving this post completely blank would probably have been my funniest punchline yet.

I reckon all these branches of Alternative Medicine would probably benefit from a bit of critical self-appraisal: Homeopathy, Nutritionism, Reflexology, Reiki, Herbalism, Acupuncture, Chiropractic… but I have decided to focus quite narrowly on Read the rest of this entry »

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An Idea Relating To Dr John Briffa’s Current Favourite Homeopathy Study (Arnica “Effective”)

September 12, 2008 at 8:38 pm (Alternative Medicine, Bad Science, Briffa, Homeopathic Remedies, Homeopathy, Nutritionism, Remedies, Supplements, Woo) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

I recently wrote about Dr John Briffa, making reference to his approving comments about a study into arnica as a post-operative aid. I had an idea that homeopathic treatments like arnica relied on the placebo effect and was surprised to see that Briffa’s post described arnica as “effective”. Read the rest of this entry »

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What kind of person blogs?

August 20, 2008 at 1:57 pm (Alternative Medicine, Bloggers, Trivial) (, , )

Just a brief, speculative snippet this – rather than a full blog post. Via BPS research digest, I’ve seen the abstract of this paper in Computers in Human Behavior [unfortunately, it’s paywalled]. Read the rest of this entry »

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