Fix Your Ruptured Disk Without Surgery? The Truth Behind the Ads

  “Space Age technology cures back pain without surgery – 86% success rate.” Ads like this have been inundating my local newspaper. I wanted to know more. I am a medical doctor, and I wondered why my medical journals had neglected to tell me about this wonderful new discovery. I sent in for the free

Keeping an Eye on Alternative Medicine

In case you hadn’t noticed, snake oil is alive and thriving under the shield of alternative medicine. As the Baby Boomers approach retirement age and develop health problems, we can expect an even greater boom of quackery, pseudoscience, and misinformation. Even the most critically thinking scientist may think less critically when he’s sick. This column

Blind Spot Mapping: A Dubious Aspect of “Chiropractic Neurology”

Several hundred practitioners, mostly chiropractors, are offering a simple paper-and-pencil test that they say can tell how your brain is functioning [1]. They call it “blind spot mapping,” “brain function testing,” “brain mapping,” or “cortical mapping.” They claim that this test can detect an enlarged blind spot in one eye, that the enlarged blind spot

LIVING PROOF: A MEDICAL MUTINY

Book Review of LIVING PROOF: A MEDICAL MUTINY By Michael Gearin-Tosh 334 pp. New York: Scribner, 2002.  ISBN 0-7432-2517-1, $25.00. The author, an Oxford professor of English literature, was diagnosed with multiple myeloma and advised to have chemotherapy. He rejected that advice because of the toxicity of chemotherapy, the uncertain prognosis, and his aversion to

HANDS OF LIFE:  An Energy Healer Reveals the Secrets of Using Your Body’s Own Energy Medicine for Healing, Recovery, and Transformation

Review of HANDS OF LIFE:  An Energy Healer Reveals the Secrets of Using Your Body’s Own Energy Medicine for Healing, Recovery, and Transformation, by Julie Motz, 309 pp. New York: Bantam Books, 1998.   ISBN 0-553-10714-3, $24.95. Energy healer Julie Motz was once a troubled young film student with a history of bulimia, attempted suicide, childhood sexual abuse,

Energy Medicine

A review of Energy Medicine: The Scientific Basis by James L. Oschman. London: Churchill Livingstone, an imprint of Harcourt Publishers Limited, 2000. 274 pp. ISBN 0-443-06261-7 “ENERGY MEDICINE” INCLUDES therapeutic touch, craniosacral therapy, homeopathy, acupuncture, and numerous other alternative medicine practices. It usually implies a vitalistic philosophy: something immaterial produces life and health in a

Dubious Genetic Testing

Stephen Barrett, M.D. Harriet Hall, M.D. During the past year, a few companies have begun offering genetic testing combined with guidance on diet, supplement strategies, lifestyle changes, and/or drug usage which they claim can improve health outcomes. This article explains why such testing should be avoided. Until recently, hereditary tendencies were determined mainly by examining

A Skeptical View of the Perricone Prescription

Harriet Hall, M.D. Stephen Barrett, M.D. Nicholas Perricone, M.D., has written three similar books: The Wrinkle Cure [1], The Perricone Prescription [2]; and The Acne Prescription [3]. All contain many claims that are questionable, controversial, fanciful, unsupported by published evidence, or just plain wrong. Although he mentions standard skin-care treatments, sometimes favorably, his books provide

My Response to An Alt-Muddled Friend

I’ve been discussing “alternative medicine” with a friend who is very intelligent but has no training in science. She uses chiropractic, magnets, vitamins, and acupuncture, and she says she doesn’t care what science says because science can be wrong, she trusts her personal experience more, and if something “works” for her, she doesn’t care how