Two New Promising COVID-19 Drugs – Analysis and Questions

The COVID-19 pandemic isn’t over yet. Despite the success of vaccines, people continue to get the disease. Most cases are in the unvaccinated, but even those who have been fully vaccinated can have “breakthrough” infections. Relief appears to be in sight. Two new antiviral drugs promise effective treatment in pill form. Well-designed randomized controlled clinical studies

Get Your Flu Shot!

COVID-19 vaccines are important, but so are flu shots. They are safe, effective, and protect others (the elderly, the immunocompromised, and those too young to get the vaccine). While we are rightfully preoccupied with COVID-19 and the new vaccines, we mustn’t forget about flu shots. While the number of influenza cases has dropped dramatically (probably

Are Muscle Relaxants an Effective Adjunct for Treating Acute Low Back Pain? Yes and No

The journal American Family Physician left me confused about adding muscle relaxants to analgesics for acute low back pain. One article says it isn’t effective, but another article in the same issue says it is. For 22 years, American Family Physician (the journal of the American Academy of Family Physicians) has been publishing an annual review of

Living with Uncertainty

Uncertainty is uncomfortable. It is only natural to want certainty. It is more comfortable to be certain and wrong than to be uncertain. Like anyone else, I would like to be comfortable, but I think truth matters. I’d rather be uncertain than wrong; wouldn’t you?  As Voltaire said, “Uncertainty is an uncomfortable position. But certainty

Eye Drops for Dry Eyes

I could have chosen a prescription eye drop for my dry eyes. I decided not to. Here’s why. Dry eyes can have many causes: disease, medications, environmental irritants, or just age. Tear production tends to decrease as we get older. My husband (age 80) and I (age 75) were both diagnosed with dry eyes by

Who Is Amy B. Scher?

Amy B. Scher is a proponent of energy medicine and things like astrology and homeopathy. She claims to be a “science geek,” but how could anyone who understands science think that tapping on the breastbone will fix the thymus? Is the thymus the master gland for the immune system and connected to the entire energy

Why We Need Science

Most patients, and even many medical doctors and scientists, have not grasped how important it is to use rigorous science to evaluate claims for medical treatments. All too often, people decide to try a treatment that is irrational, that hasn’t been tested, or that has been tested and shown not to work. Why do they

Pitfalls in Research: Why Studies Are More Often Wrong than Right

Here is a course guide to episode 9, “Pitfalls of Research”, of my YouTube lecture series on science-based medicine. Alternative medicine relies heavily on anecdotal evidence and personal experience, but it knows it won’t convince mainstream science unless it can provide scientific validation. It is quick to crow about positive results from scientific studies, often

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

In Praise of Uncertainty

There is an old joke about a patient who had high praise for her new doctor. She had had headaches for years, and no one had ever been able to explain why. The cause remained uncertain. But the uncertainty ended when her wonderful new doctor promptly diagnosed her with cephalalgia. The joke is that cephalalgia

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