Observational Studies and Experimental Studies

Research studies can be divided into two types: observational studies and experimental studies. Observational studies simply observe the effect of a variable in a population. They can assess the strength of a relationship, for instance between dietary factors and disease. Are vegetarians less likely to develop cancer? Are patients treated with a new diabetes drug

Are Muscle Relaxants an Effective Adjunct for Treating Acute Low Back Pain? Yes and No

The journal American Family Physician left me confused about adding muscle relaxants to analgesics for acute low back pain. One article says it isn’t effective, but another article in the same issue says it is. For 22 years, American Family Physician (the journal of the American Academy of Family Physicians) has been publishing an annual review of

Genetic Testing for Selection of Psychotropic Medications

GeneSight is a blood test to determine which neuropsychiatric medications are indicated for an individual based on genetic analysis. The test is expensive and not likely to be helpful for most patients. Patients who suffer from major depression and other neuropsychiatric conditions usually improve with medication, but about half of patients fail to respond to

Lumen’s Information Is Not So Illuminating

Lumen is a handheld device that you can supposedly use to “hack your metabolism”. The science behind it is not convincing. Users are essentially navel-gazing. An introductory video on the website for Lumen presents it as the first device for hacking your metabolism. They make a lot of claims that have not been substantiated by

Green Lipped Mussels for Arthritis

What are green-lipped mussels? My imagination conjures up a SpongeBob SquarePants episode featuring a clam-like creature with green lips, and I can’t help wondering what would happen if they applied red lipstick? Imagination can be fun; but to get back to reality, green-lipped mussels are a shellfish naturally found in New Zealand and now cultivated

American Academy of Family Physicians Supports “Integrative Medicine”

Is integrative medicine “strong medicine”? I thought I could trust the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) to recommend the best medicine available. My family practice residency followed their philosophy. By learning what the AAFP taught I was able to pass the board certification exam with flying colors. Their flagship journal American Family Physician rates its recommendations

Misogyny in Medicine

Misogyny persists in clinical and academic medicine. We need to be aware of subtle micro aggressions and report abuses, but we mustn’t get carried away into paranoia and conspiracy theories. We should be guided by common sense and moderation in all things. In the June 17, 2021 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine Dr. Erica

Mayim Bialik’s Neuriva Commercials Make Questionable Claims

Mayim Bialik is a neuroscientist. In her TV commercials for Neuriva Plus she asserts that it is backed by strong science. I don’t think so. I wrote about the brain supplement Neuriva over a year ago. I thought their claim to have proof from clinical studies was misleading. I won’t repeat here what I said there

The FDA Blundered When It Approved Alzheimer Drug

The FDA has a difficult job. It is understaffed and underfunded. It has to walk a very fine line between prematurely approving a new drug that may turn out to be useless or even harmful and rejecting or delaying approval of a drug when earlier approval might have been saving lives. On the whole, I

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