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.  

Does massage therapy decrease inflammation and stimulate mitochondrial growth? An intriguing study oversold (David Gorski) Massage makes people feel good, but it doesn’t do all the other things it is claimed to do, like hastening healing.  A recent study was was essentially negative, but was presented as proof that massage “promotes mitochondrial biogenesis” and was hyped out of all recognition by the media. The study was unethical because it involved multiple muscle biopsies.    

Killer Tomatoes and Poisonous Potatoes? (Harriet Hall) Concerns have been raised about a toxic chemical, solanine, in tomatoes, potatoes, and other vegetables and fruits.  A chiropractor even diagnoses a bogus “solanine toxicity syndrome” using bogus AK muscle testing. There is no reason to worry about the solanine in foods except when potatoes have sprouted or turned green.

Bravewell Puts Integrative Cart Before Science Horse (Steven Novella) The Bravewell Collaborative has issued a report on the use of integrative medicine in the US. It is full of misrepresentations and biased language and provides no evidence that integrative medicine is effective. Bravewell is trying to push pseudoscience and nonsense into mainstream medicine.  

The Bravewell Collaborative maps the state of “integrative medicine” in the U.S., or: Survey says, “Hop on the bandwagon of ‘integrative medicine’!” (David Gorski) The Bravewell study uses distorted language, applies the fallacious argumentum ad populum, classifies as “alternative” things that are not (like nutrition), and pushes for utilizing treatments that have not been tested for effectiveness and safety. “Integrative medicine” integrates pseudoscience with science, quackery with medicine.  

Drug Interactions, Polypharmacy, and Science-Based Medicine (Scott Gavura) Mike Adams blames recent celebrity deaths on “acute pharmaceutical toxicity” and polypharmacy. Every possible combination of drugs can’t be tested, but combinations of drugs are regularly tested and pharmaceutical principles enable us to predict adverse interactions. The risks of drugs must be balanced against their benefits. We have the knowledge to significantly reduce drug-related harms.  

Lessons from History of Medical Delusions (Brennen McKenzie) Lessons from the History of Medical Delusions, by Dr. Worthington Hooker, was published in 1850.  He dissects homeopathy, explains key sources of erroneous conclusions in evaluating medical hypotheses, and addresses the issue of commercial and political success of medical nonsense. The book is still relevant today. His phrase “Error gilded with the pomp and circumstance of erudition” brings a number of recent examples to mind.  

Bravewell Bimbo Eruptions (Kimball Atwood) In the third SBM article this week about the Bravewell Collaborative’s report on integrative medicine, Dr. Atwood highlights its misleading language, the promises IM makes that it can’t keep, and its promotion of quackery.  Bravewell’s president is Christy Mack, the wife of Morgan Stanley’s chairman;  she made millions with low interest loans from the Federal Reserve. Bravewell is an example of what happens when ditzy rich people stick their noses into areas they don’t understand; it’s even worse when public funds provide “welfare for the rich.”