Herbal Remedies, Street Drugs, and Pharmacology

David Kroll’s recent article on thunder god vine is a great example of what can be learned by using science to study plants identified by herbalists as therapeutic. The herbalists’ arsenal can be a rich source of potential knowledge. But Kroll’s article is also a reminder that blindly trusting herbalists’ recommendations for treatment can be

Diet Supplements or Nutritional Supplements: A Ruse by Any Other Name is Still a Ruse

February 22, 2011 I was surprised to get this e-mail from a reader: Surely, Dr. Hall, the public mania for nutritional supplements is baseless. All the alleged nutrients in supplements are contained in the food we eat. And what governmental agency has oversight responsibility regarding the production of these so-call nutritional supplements? Even if one

Defending Isagenix: A Case Study in Flawed Thinking

The Internet is a wonderful new medium for communicating ideas and information in a rapid and interactive way. Many articles are followed by a “comments” section. Like so many things in this imperfect world, comments are a mixed blessing. They can enhance the article by correcting errors, adding further information, and contributing useful thoughts to

Antioxidants? It’s a Bit More Complicated

I am getting very annoyed with antioxidants. Like Pavlov’s dogs, I’m becoming conditioned to flinch when I hear the word “antioxidant” because it is so often followed by oversimplifications, distortions, and partial truths. The hype is everywhere, in magazines, on the Internet, on the radio, in books, in stores. Antioxidants promise to prevent heart disease, cancer,

Antioxidant Supplements for Macular Degeneration

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is one of the major causes of visual impairment in the elderly: it affects central vision, impairing the ability to read and recognize faces while preserving some peripheral vision. It comes in two forms: wet and dry. Dry macular degeneration is by far more common, but wet macular degeneration, involving the

Glucosamine: The Unsinkable Rubber Duck

Glucosamine is widely used for osteoarthritis pain. It is not as impossible as homeopathy, but its rationale is improbable. As I explained in a previous post, Wallace Sampson, one of the other authors of this blog, has pointed out that the amount of glucosamine in the typical supplement dose is on the order of 1/1000th

Life Extension: Science or Pipe Dream?

Wouldn’t it be great if we could find a way to prolong our lives and to keep us healthy right up to the end? Ponce de León never found that Fountain of Youth, but science is still looking. What are the chances science will succeed? How’s it doing so far? In his new book The

More Evidence of Green Tea’s Effectiveness Is Needed

 to the editor: In this article’s Strength of Recommendations Taxonomy (SORT) table, three of the recommendations said “results are mixed,” “studies are inconsistent,” or “the evidence is conflicting.” When conflicting results are found in small controlled studies and epidemiologic studies, the most likely explanation is that there is no real effect. Ioannidis has shown why

A Report from the Bariatric Trenches

The American Society of Bariatric Physicians recently invited me to speak at their continuing medical education (CME) conference on obesity in Seattle. They got my name from Stephen Barrett of Quackwatch and asked if I could speak about questionable weight loss treatments like HGH, MIC (methionine, inositol and choline), and the HCG Diet. I seized

A Sleep Remedy with Proprietary Secrets

A new product, Dream Water, is designed to help one relax, fall asleep and improve the quality of sleep using the all natural ingredients melatonin, GABA and 5-HTP (tryptophan). A single-dose 2.5 oz bottle retails for $2.99. They also offer a more dilute formulation in an 8 oz bottle. They suggest drinking half a bottle,