Announcing: Video Lecture Course on Science-Based Medicine

A couple of years ago, the James Randi Educational Foundation commissioned me to develop a series of 10 video lectures on Science-Based Medicine. After a lot of work and many vicissitudes, it is now available. The lecture titles are: Science-Based Medicine vs. Evidence-Based Medicine What Is CAM? Chiropractic Acupuncture Homeopathy Naturopathy and Herbal Medicine Energy Medicine Miscellaneous

A Misguided Study to Test the Reliability of Traditional Chinese Medicine Pulse Diagnosis

Pulse diagnosis and tongue diagnosis are widely used in traditional Chinese medicine. They are based on imagination, not on anatomical and physiologic reality. Pulse diagnosis History of pulse diagnosis Pulse diagnosis was an important part of ancient medicine in Egypt, Greece, India, Tibet, and elsewhere. The specific methods used were ambiguous and varied widely from

Facial Cupping: A Kinder, Gentler, Sillier Kind of Cupping

A new cupping fad using silicone devices is gentler than traditional cupping, but even sillier. There is no evidence of health benefits. I keep thinking, “Now I’ve seen everything,” and I am constantly being proven wrong. I recently came across the new fad of facial cupping. After I stopped laughing, I went on to an

TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine): New Developments

Evidence for the efficacy of Traditional Chinese Medicine is scanty, unconvincing, and often fraudulent. China is seeing a resurgence of TCM, even teaching it to children. But in Australia, restrictions are being placed on misleading advertising. What is traditional Chinese medicine (TCM)? And if it works, why aren’t we all using it? Here’s one explanation: With

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Didn’t Win a Nobel Prize, Scientific Medicine Did

Tu Youyou, a Chinese researcher, was awarded half of the 2015 Nobel Prize in Medicine for her discovery of , a malaria drug. This has been touted as a victory for traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and herbalism. It is anything but. Treatment of malaria had become problematic; there were a number of effective medications, but

Study of “Acupressure” for Constipation

A recent study in the Journal of General Internal Medicine evaluated a treatment for constipation. It tested whether training patients to massage the perineum (the area between the vagina or scrotum and the anus) would improve their reported bowel function and quality of life at 4 weeks after training. They found that it did. It’s a simple, innocuous

The Reality of Ancient Wisdom: Acupuncture and TCM Weren’t So Great

A Chinese barefoot doctor performing acupuncture A mythology has grown up around traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). The ancient wisdom of the inscrutable Orient supposedly helped patients in ways that modern science-based medicine fails to understand or appreciate. A typical claim found on the Internet: “The ancient beliefs and practice of traditional Chinese medicine have been

Puncturing the Acupuncture Myth

Note: This is slightly revised from an article I originally wrote as a “SkepDoc” column for Skeptic magazine. It was pre-released online in eSkeptic and it has already generated a lot of comments, including “a truly amazing piece of peurile pseudo-intellectualism,” “an ad hominem attack on one form of alternative medicine so beset by poor

An Herbal Cure for Peanut Allergy?

Peanut allergy is uncommon but devastating. Even a tiny trace of peanut can cause an anaphylactic reaction and death. That’s why labels specify “produced on shared equipment with nuts or peanuts” or “produced in a facility that also processes nuts.” There is no effective treatment: patients have to rely on avoiding peanuts and carrying emergency