Explanatory studies are done under controlled conditions to determine whether a treatment has any efficacy compared to a placebo. Pragmatic studies are designed to assess how the intervention performs in everyday real world practice. Pragmatic studies measure practical success but don’t determine actual efficacy: that requires a proper randomized controlled… read more "Pragmatic Studies and Cinderella Medicine"
Chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome (CP/CPPS) is a somewhat nebulous diagnosis with unknown etiology and no effective treatment. To make the diagnosis, bacterial infection must be excluded and the symptoms must last at least 3 months. Symptoms include pain in various locations (between rectum and testicle, in the testicles, at… read more "Acupuncture for Chronic Prostatitis/Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndrome"
I subscribe to American Family Physician, the peer-reviewed journal of the American Academy of Family Physicians. It emphasizes evidence-based medicine and most articles include a table showing strength of evidence ratings for key recommendations for practice. Lately, its scientific rigor has been slipping. I have complained to the editor about… read more "AFP Promotes Acupuncture"
Alternative medicine by definition is medicine that has not been shown to work any better than placebo. Patients think they are helped by alternative medicine. Placebos, by definition, do “please” patients. We would all like to please our patients, but we don’t want to lie to them. Is there a… read more "Incorporating Placebos into Mainstream Medicine"
I read this Reuters Health article on MedlinePlus, and then I read the study the article referred to (The impact of acupuncture on in vitro fertilization) and now my head hurts. The study found that acupuncture was not effective in increasing the pregnancy rate (PR) during in vitro fertilization (IVF). As quoted… read more "Acupuncture for IVF Revisited – More Tooth Fairy Science?"
Note: This is slightly revised from an article I originally wrote as a “SkepDoc” column for Skeptic magazine. It was pre-released online in eSkeptic and it has already generated a lot of comments, including “a truly amazing piece of peurile pseudo-intellectualism,” “an ad hominem attack on one form of alternative… read more "Puncturing the Acupuncture Myth"
“Alternative” medicine is by definition medicine that has not been scientifically proven and has not been accepted into mainstream scientific medicine. The question I keep hearing is, “But what about acupuncture? It’s been proven to work, it’s supported by lots of good research, more and more doctors are using it,… read more "But What about Acupuncture?"
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,… read more "HANDS OF LIFE: An Energy Healer Reveals the Secrets of Using Your Body’s Own Energy Medicine for Healing, Recovery, and Transformation"