Professor Gives Grades to Alternative Medicine

Edzard Ernst assigns a grade to 150 alternative medicine modalities, evaluating plausibility, efficacy, safety, cost, and risk/benefit balance. A very useful reference. Edzard Ernst has written another book, and it’s a real tour de force: Alternative Medicine: A Critical Assessment of 150 Modalities. He probably knows more about alternative medicine than anyone else alive, and he

Science Envy in Alternative Medicine

One definition of alternative medicine is medicine that is not supported by good enough evidence to have earned a place in mainstream medicine. Comedian Tim Minchin asked, “What do you call alternative medicine that works?” His answer: “Medicine.” That’s a simplistic answer good for laughs, but the truth is more complicated. Alternative medicine embraces many

The Case That CAM Is Unethical

Edzard Ernst is arguably the world’s foremost expert on the claims and the evidence (or lack thereof) for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM). Now he has teamed up with a medical ethicist, Kevin Smith, to co-author a new book, More Harm than Good? The Moral Maze of Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Much has been written on

Acupuncture Revisited

Believers in acupuncture claim it is supported by plenty of published scientific evidence. Critics disagree. Thousands of acupuncture studies have been done over the last several decades, with conflicting results. Even systematic reviews have disagreed with each other. The time had come to re-visit the entire body of acupuncture research and try to make sense

The Ethics of CAM: More Harm than Good?

Edzard Ernst is arguably the world’s foremost expert on the claims and the evidence (or lack thereof) for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM). Now he has teamed up with a medical ethicist, Kevin Smith, to co-author a new book, More Harm than Good? The Moral Maze of Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Much has been written

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

The Last Word on Homeopathy

No one will ever need to write about homeopathy again. Edzard Ernst has said it all in his new book Homeopathy: The Undiluted Facts. Far too many trees have died in the service of praising or debunking homeopathy in the two centuries since Hahnemann invented it. The forests can celebrate, because this is the definitive book about

A Scientist in Wonderland

Edzard Ernst is one of those rare people who dare to question their own beliefs, look at the evidence without bias, and change their minds. He went from practicing alternative medicine to questioning it, to researching it, to becoming its most prolific critic. I have long admired his work, and I finally met him in

An Introduction to Homeopathy

A brief guide to a popular alternative system of remedies based on a nineteenth-century concept that has no scientific validity. In 1800, conventional medicine was a disaster. Doctors weakened patients with bloodletting and purging, they poisoned them with mercury and other harmful substances, and they often killed more patients than they cured. Dr. Samuel Hahnemann

Acupuncturist’s Unconvincing Attempt at Damage Control

Acupuncture has been in the news recently. A former President of South Korea had to undergo major surgery to remove an acupuncture needle that had somehow lodged in his lung.  A recent study in Pain compiled a list of 95 published reports of serious complications of acupuncture including 5 deaths. Meanwhile, acupuncturists continue to insist that