Here is a recap of the stories that appeared last week at Science-Based Medicine, a multi-author skeptical blog that separates the science from the woo in medicine.


The Image of Chiropractic: Consensus Based on Belief (Sam Homola) Chiropractic has a bad image because it is based on a myth (the chiropractic “subluxation”) and its practitioners have frequently embraced all kinds of questionable treatments and outright nonsense. A few chiropractors embrace science and provide treatment comparable to physical therapy. They will only gain respectability if they can re-define themselves as science-based back care specialists.

Acupuncture Revisited (Harriet Hall)

Ernst et al. have published a systematic review of 57 systematic reviews of acupuncture; they found only inconsistent and questionable evidence for efficacy, and they found 95 published cases of severe harm including 5 deaths. An accompanying editorial commentary by Harriet Hall elaborates on what these findings mean: when the evidence for a treatment is still not clear-cut after decades of study, we can conclude that it doesn’t work.

EMDR and Acupuncture – Selling Non-specific Effects (Steven Novella) Both acupuncture and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) are rituals that elicit non-specific therapeutic effects. We need to seek a better understanding of these nonspecific effects but we need not pursue a wild-goose chase looking for specific effects that don’t exist.

The benefits and risks of folic acid supplementation (Scott Gavura) Folic acid dramatically reduces the risk of neural tube birth defects (spina bifida, etc.). For other indications it is ineffective and it may increase the risk of some cancers. The fortification of our food supply may be both helping and harming. Folate supplements are not indicated for most people.

The Hazards of “CAM”-Pandering (Kimball Atwood) Journals dedicated to Chinese Medicine and CAM are included under the BioMed Central umbrella. Good studies can be published in regular journals. Separate journals tend to encourage nonscientific beliefs.