Copper bracelets and Moscow mules: Will copper heal you or kill you?

Copper bracelets have been used for centuries in folk medicine. They allegedly reduce the joint pain and stiffness associated with arthritis, and wearing copper on the wrist supposedly benefits all joints in the body. There are claims that copper has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. The copper from the bracelets is said to be absorbed through the

Recent Developments in “Eastern” Science

An email correspondent occasionally sends me items of interest from the Indian press. He recently sent me two clippings about initiatives to solve all of India’s problems by studying the Vedas (for Hindus) and the Qu’ran (for Muslims). The Vedas The headline read, “For diabetes, cancer cure, Raj institute to study the Vedas.” The article

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

Would You Drill Holes in Your Head for Science?

How do we know whether a treatment is effective? It is only natural to assume a treatment works if: There is a good rationale as to why it should work Lots of patients got better with the treatment But assumptions can be wrong. Remember the old saying that assumptions make an ASS out of U

The Riddle of Consciousness

For most of human history, people have assumed that some kind of vitalistic essence had to be added to matter to produce life. The belief in an immaterial soul was pervasive. At one point, scientists even tried to weigh the soul by weighing a body right before and after death, expecting to find a decrease

Testosterone Rex

When a man does something silly, my daughters and I like to joke, “Testosterone poisoning strikes again!” Everybody knows women and men are different, not just anatomically but psychologically and behaviorally. That common knowledge is epitomized in the book title Men Are from Mars; Women Are from Venus. Sometimes common knowledge turns out to be

The Incorrigible Dr. Oz

Dr. Mehmet Oz, the cardiothoracic surgeon who became a media star thanks to Oprah, has been widely criticized by physicians and others for giving non-scientific medical advice. The James Randi Educational Foundation dishonored him with three Pigasus awards, more than any other recipient. A study in the British Medical Journal found that evidence only supported

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

Chiropractors: Pro and Con

In a recent article in The New York Times, pediatrician Aaron Carroll asks us to rethink our biases against chiropractors when it comes to treating bad backs. He points out that lower back pain is a common problem that usually resolves over time, and that interventions that focus on relief of symptoms and allow the

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