Before ethical standards changed, doctors used to occasionally fool patients with placebo injections of sterile saline or water. If my obstetrician had tried to give me sterile water instead of an epidural, I probably would have hit him. But apparently women are getting sterile water injections for childbirth and are… read more "Sterile Water Injections for Pain Relief"
When I recently wrote about glucosamine, I discussed the evidence up through the New England Journal of Medicine study of 2006, which I thought was a pretty definitive study showing that neither glucosamine, chondroitin or a combination of the two was more effective than placebo. Subsequent studies have continued to fuel the controversy. One 2007 study showed that… read more "Glucosamine Update: A New Study and a New Product"
Glucosamine and chondroitin, used separately or together, are among the more popular diet supplements. They are used widely for osteoarthritis, especially of the knee, and have been better studied than most other diet supplements. But do they really work? The journal of my medical specialty, American Family Physician, recently published… read more "Does Glucosamine Really Work?"
For my first blog entry, I wanted to write about something important, and I couldn’t think of anything more important than a recent book by R. Barker Bausell: Snake Oil Science: The Truth About Complementary and Alternative Medicine. If you want to understand how medical research works, if you want… read more "Snake Oil Science"
Once upon a time, not so long ago, a new drug was tested carefully by its manufacturer, demonstrated to be safe, and approved by the FDA. After it went on the market, people started reporting a lot of side effects. An independent researcher thought the drug manufacturer’s studies might have… read more "Double Blind or Double Talk? Reading Medical Research with a Skeptical Eye"
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… read more "Keeping an Eye on Alternative Medicine"
Several hundred practitioners, mostly chiropractors, are offering a simple paper-and-pencil test that they say can tell how your brain is functioning . 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,… read more "Blind Spot Mapping: A Dubious Aspect of “Chiropractic Neurology”"
ABSTRACT Background: “Vitamin O” is being sold as an oxygen supplement. Direct analysis has shown that it contains no oxygen. A scientific study published on the manufacturer’s website claims to have demonstrated the presence of oxygen in the product indirectly, by demonstrating increases in blood oxygen in anemic subjects taking the… read more "Analysis of Claims and of an Experiment to Prove that Oxygen is Present in “Vitamin O”"