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 ultimate in “integrative medicine,” continued (David Gorski) “Integrative medicine” (integrating pseudoscience with science, quackery with medicine) has been increasingly accepted by scientific medical institutions. A new agreement between Georgetown University and the National University of Health Sciences is particularly disturbing: it explicitly promotes “alternative” medicine and even proposes to integrate the bogus “anatomy of acupuncture” into gross anatomy classes for first-year medical students.


Another Anti-Vaccine Book (Harriet Hall) The book Make an Informed Vaccine Decision for the Health of Your Child by Mayer Eisenstein   deplorably re-hashes all the anti-vaccine arguments that have been repeatedly debunked. It misrepresents the facts, omits crucial information, and uses emotional rhetoric to discourage vaccination. The very title is a lie: reading this book will inundate you with propaganda against vaccines; it will not help you “make an informed decision.”

Black Cohosh and Hot Flashes (Steven Novella) Black cohosh for hot flashes illustrates the double standard by which supplements are evaluated less rigorously than pharmaceutical drugs. The evidence is negative, sufficient to reject any pharmaceutical; but advocates refuse to reject black cohosh, simply because it is popular and “natural.”

Placebos as Medicine: The Ethics of Homeopathy (Scott Gavura) Homeopathy is not effective medicine, but it “works” as a placebo. Is it ever ethical to prescribe a placebo? Using placebos can result in failure to seek effective medical care, waste of resources, and credibility issues. The ethical downsides of homeopathy outweigh any possible benefits.

Failed Flaxseed and Bad News Brownies (David J. Kroll) It’s been a tough month for herbs. A recent study showed that flaxseed is ineffective for hot flashes. Brownies (Lazy Cakes) are being sold to promote sleep; they contain melatonin, valerian and passionflower extracts. They have not been tested for efficacy and may be risky.