Bioidentical Hormones: Estrogen is Good. No, It’s Bad. No, It’s Good

MENOPAUSAL WOMEN USED TO HAVE NO ESCAPE from the sufferings of the dreaded “Change.” In the mid-20th century, they were offered a reprieve. They could take a pill to replace their missing hormones, and feel back to normal. That was good in itself, but then they found that replacing estrogens could prevent osteoporosis and hip

Don’t Let Them Hoodia-Wink You

I first heard of Hoodia last summer, when a radio ad told me it was the new miracle weight loss pill. Since then, I’ve been seeing ads for Hoodia everywhere. Anna Nicole Smith took it. It was featured on Oprah.  Lesley Stahl went to Africa to taste the plant on 60 Minutes. There are nearly

Critical Chiropractor, Inept Publisher

Book review of: The P.R.E.S.T.O.N. Protocol for Back Pain: The Seven Evidence-Based Practices for Living Pain Free, by Preston H. Long. PublishAmerica: Baltimore, 2006. 84 pp. ISBN 1- 4241-0684-2. Paperback, $14.95.   I really, really wanted to recommend The P.R.E.S.T.O.N. Protocol for Back Pain, but I cannot. It is full of excellent information that I

Teaching Pigs to Sing: An Experiment in Bringing Critical Thinking to the Masses

A skeptic encounters psychics, astrologers, and other strange creatures and discovers firsthand how they react to science and reason. Included: a fable about testing the Tooth Fairy. A couple of years ago, I saw an announcement for an astrology presentation to a local discussion group called Mingling of the Minds. My first reaction was, “Surely,

Andrew Weil: Harvard Hatched a Gullible Guru

Book review of Natural Health, Natural Medicine: The Complete Guide to Wellness and Self-care for Optimum Health. By Andrew Weil. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 2004. ISBN 0-618-47903-1. 432 pp. Softcover, $14. Andrew Weil’s Natural Health, Natural Medicine is a dangerous book. The preface states: “All the information is consistent with the best scientific evidence currently available.”

Three Perspectives on Longevity: Fantasy, Reality and Confusion

A book review of three books on longevity: Fantastic Voyage: Live Long Enough to Live Forever by Ray Kurzweil and Terry Grossman, M.D. Rodale, 2004. 400 pp. $24.95 ISBN: 1579549543. Anti-Aging Medicine: The Hype and the Reality, edited by S. Jay Olshansky, Leonard Hayflick, and Thomas T. Perls. The Gerontological Society of America, 2004. 195

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