We are programmed to respond to testimonials. Blame evolution. For most of human history, we had only two ways to learn about the world: our own observations, and what other people told us about their experiences. Gathering information from others gave us a survival advantage. Unfortunately, those testimonials can be unreliable. We now have something
They used to call useless treatments “snake oil.” We don’t hear that term anymore; now they may be called “dietary supplements” or “natural remedies.” A dietary supplement may contain a single herb or a combination of several ingredients. The ads frequently say they have been “clinically tested” or “clinically proven.” Do you believe that? I
Most people believe that fostering self-esteem in children will have many benefits, from happiness to better school performance, but that belief is not supported by the evidence. We are encouraged to reward children and not punish them, to praise them not only for real accomplishments but also for trivial successes and even failures (“everybody’s a
I recently got an email newsletter from TRC Natural Medicines. One of the articles was “Understanding the Hype Behind Adele’s Sirtfood Diet.” It’s brief enough to quote in its entirety: “English singer-songwriter Adele has made headlines in recent months for her dramatic weight loss. You might start getting questions about the diet she followed—it’s called the
Ankle sprains are common; as a family physician I treated a lot of them. My most memorable ankle sprain patient was a young woman I saw during my residency training. Doctors had diagnosed a sprain. They gave her crutches and told her not to try to bear weight on the injured ankle until the pain
Lyme disease is real Lyme disease is an infection caused by Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria. It is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected blacklegged ticks. According to the CDC, “typical symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, and a characteristic skin rash called erythema migrans. If left untreated, infection can spread to joints, the heart, and the nervous system.” A short course of antibiotics
I subscribe to The Medical Letter to learn about new drugs. I am frequently appalled by their cost. For example, a year’s treatment with Ozanimod, a drug recently approved for multiple sclerosis, costs $84,800. And some new drugs cost much, much more than that. A gene therapy drug from Novartis currently holds the record: 2.1 million dollars for a year’s treatment. But in
Do you worry that you are or might become dehydrated? Do you feel guilty if you don’t drink 8-10 glasses of water a day? Are you tethered to a water bottle? Have you been frightened by warnings on the Internet? “Eau” dear! “Water” you thinking? You may have been “flooded” with a tsunami of misinformation.
I recently learned there was a thing called deuterium depleted water (DDW). First, I asked “Whaat?” and then I asked “Why?” The atoms of the most common isotope (99.99%) of hydrogen contain only one proton, one electron, and no neutrons. Deuterium is an isotope of hydrogen with one neutron and one proton in its nucleus.
We have plenty of things to worry about: the pandemic, global warming, the economy, racial tensions, and much, much more. But here is some good news to ease the worry burden: you can stop worrying about eating undercooked pork. Most people agree that undercooked pork is bad, but not everyone can explain why. The “why”