Consumer Reports Misses the Boat on Back Pain

Consumer Reports’ recent articles on low back pain address anecdotal customer satisfaction rather than scientific evidence of effectiveness. A correspondent e-mailed me, saying: “I received my latest issue of Consumer Reports with great interest because the cover story is about back pain. However after reading the article I walked away disappointed. How this well respected publication printed

AAFP CME Program Succumbs to “Integrative Medicine”

For many years I have been using Continuing Medical Education (CME) programs offered by the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP). The FP Essentials program consists of a monthly monograph with a post-test that can be submitted electronically for 5 hours of CME credit. Over a 9-year cycle, a complete family medicine curriculum is covered

Red Yeast Rice and Cholesterol

While much of CAM is ridiculous or implausible, herbal remedies are an exception. Plants produce pharmacologically active substances; in fact, the science of pharmacology grew out of herbalism. Some herbal remedies have not been scientifically tested, but others have been tested and are clearly effective. Nevertheless, these are seldom if ever the best choice for treatment. One

Red Yeast Rice to Lower Cholesterol

The Medical Letter,  a highly respected source of reliable independent evaluations of drugs and therapeutics, has just published an evaluation of red yeast rice (Vol 51, Issue 1320, P 71-2, Sept 7, 2009). It has been widely promoted as a “natural” alternative to prescription medications for lowering blood LDL cholesterol levels. Studies have indeed shown

Red Yeast for Cholesterol: It Works, BUT…

John’s cholesterol is high but he doesn’t like taking prescription drugs. Should he take red yeast as a “natural” alternative? Evidence shows that it is effective in lowering cholesterol. In 1994, the Diet Supplement Health and Education Act was passed, allowing the fiction that “natural” medicines are really “foods” and need not be regulated the