Book about Quackery Is a Hoot!

Lydia Kang, MD, and Nate Pedersen have written a delightful new book, Quackery: A Brief History of the Worst Ways to Cure Everything. Histories can sometimes be a bit dry and boring; this is anything but. It’s a page-turner. The authors ferreted out some of the most disgusting and ridiculous things people have subjected themselves

Ayurveda: Ancient Superstition, Not Ancient Wisdom

I frequently get emails asking whether I think a certain treatment is supported by evidence or is quackery. I recently got one from an elderly man who was wondering whether he should take a friend’s advice to consult an Ayurvedic doctor. That was the first time I’d ever been asked about Ayurveda. I knew it

Homeopathy

Introduction Homeopathy is a system of health care that was originated in 1796 by a single individual, Samuel Hahnemann, a German doctor who was critical of the medicine of his time. It is a discipline practiced by homeopaths, but homeopathic remedies are also sold over the counter in pharmacies for customers to self-treat. Homeopathy is

Ancient Navajo Cure for Hearing Loss: A Lesson in Spotting Red Flags

I’ve been getting emails advertising a lost Navajo remedy that can cure deafness. Nearly 33,500 people have allegedly reversed their hearing loss in just two weeks with this 100 percent natural treatment. The emails invited me to watch a free video presentation by Ben Carter. I did. What I found was a textbook example of a

Fun for the Fourth

Is it OK to laugh when we encounter a ridiculous claim in alternative medicine? This video lecture highlights some hilarious claims and encourages both laughter and appreciation of the human creativity involved. Since today is a holiday, I decided to take a holiday from writing my usual posts and instead direct you to the video of

Functional Medicine: Pseudoscientific Silliness

Language keeps changing. We used to call questionable remedies “folk medicine,” “fringe medicine,” or “quackery.” In the 1970s, the term “alternative medicine” was coined, an umbrella term for all treatments that were not supported by good enough evidence to have earned them a place in mainstream medicine. Then came “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM), and

A Questionable Letter of Recommendation for Ear Candling

The New York Times Magazine has published a remarkable article by Kathryn Jezer-Morton: a letter of recommendation for ear candling. It is part of a regular series of “Letters of Recommendation” that the magazine publishes as “celebrations of objects and experiences that have been overlooked or underappreciated.” Jezer-Morton’s article is remarkable for providing insight into

The CAMphora: Health in a Jar

Amazon.com sells a lot of other stuff besides books. One of its most intriguing offerings is the SweatEvaporating/Sauna/HealthyUrn/NanoAnion/NegativeIon/FarInfraredRay/Hyperthermia/Fumigate/PulseMagneticField/PurpleClay/Underglaze Pastel And Yellow-glazed—Lotus Out Of Clear Water. I am not making this up: http://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/B019QTUIA2/ref=dp_olp_new?ie=UTF8&condition=new. I will quote the whole deliciously garbled product description for your enjoyment: Embedded 2200 pcs Health-rock Gemstone by specific rules, healthy urn manufacturing

The Truth About Cancer

Ty Bollinger’s documentary series “The Truth About Cancer” demonizes conventional oncology and promotes alternative cancer treatments. I recently wrote an article for Science-Based Medicine pointing out how very untruthful it is. I showed that it used unreliable sources and was full of lies, distortions, omissions, false claims, myths, fallacies, and frankly dangerous misinformation. The “Truth

Uninformed Consumers Are Treating Their Flu Symptoms with Muscovy Duck Offal (Minus the Duck)

What if you bought a can labeled “beef stew,” and when you got ready to enjoy a hearty dinner you found there was nothing in the can but water? What if you discovered fine print on the label that said “Contains no beef stew”? You would be upset. You might think that anyone would be