Alt-Med Updates

There has been a lot of movement in the world of alternative medicine in recent weeks. I covered one news item recently, but there have been a few more notable events, both good and bad. Well, mostly bad.

Apparently the health minister in the UK isn’t quite up to her role as a health minister, you know, as someone who should promote good science-based health practices. Despite the The Commons Science and Technology Committee (CSTC) saying homeopathy is bunk, nonsense, and just water, Health Minister Anne Milton has made the decision to not ban homeopathy, citing its “long tradition.” That’s fantastic, didn’t slavery have a long tradition too?

The good news in all this is that the CSTC did say homeopathy is “nonsense on stilts,” an image I enjoy picturing.

On the domestic front, it appears that the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) has published a paper on acupuncture. The study supports current evidence that acupuncture does not work and its effects are only a placebo effect. It goes on to say that acupuncture should be used for the relief of chronic lower back pain.


Excuse me? Did it just say that the treatment doesn’t work, but it should be used as a treatment? Kids, this is what hard drugs will do to your brain. This seems to be a case of medical quacks doing real science and getting it publishes, then completely twisting the results to support their previously held beliefs. Steve Novella at NeuroLogica and Orac at Respectful Insolence cover this in detail.

Small steps. The NEJM study shows the mindset of the alternative medicine crowd. We cannot expect to convince them with our fancy science.

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