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

Mainstream Doctors Actually Do What CAM Claims They Don’t

Alternative medicine proponents criticize mainstream medicine and think they can do better. Evidence from medical journals shows that their criticisms are not valid. Advocates of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), including naturopaths and functional medicine practitioners, constantly criticize mainstream medicine. The recurrent themes are: Doctors don’t do prevention They only prescribe drugs and surgery and

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

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

My Personal Odyssey in Skepticism

I discovered the Skeptical Inquirer shortly after its name change from The Zetetic. It changed my life. I had already rejected religion after reading atheist writings, but I was still open to belief in UFOs, ESP, and all sorts of other weird things, simply because I had never come across anyone who questioned those beliefs.

Politics, Science, and Health

Carl Sagan said, “We live in a society absolutely dependent on science and technology and yet have cleverly arranged things so that almost no one understands science and technology. That’s a clear prescription for disaster.” The beliefs that politicians hold affect legislation on public health, medical research, and medical care. If they don’t understand science, they

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