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.  

NCCAM on “integrative medicine”: What’s in a word? (David Gorski) Dr. Josephine Briggs, the director of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), favors holistic and integrative medicine. Both her facts and her reasoning are faulty. On the NCCAM blog, she and others inadvertently demonstrate the problems with integrative medicine and with the way NCCAM does research.  

Do We Need “Evolutionary Medicine”? (Harriet Hall) It’s essential for doctors to understand evolution, but the need for a separate discipline of “evolutionary medicine” is questionable. All too often, evolutionary reasoning degenerates into untestable “Just So Stories.” Practical applications are few: we can study whether a runny nose is a host defense or a means of viral propagation without understanding how the phenomenon evolved.  

GSK Pays $3 Billion Fine (Steven Novella) The biggest health fraud settlement in history punished GSK for 3 charges of fraud. Companies will always bend the rules to maximize profits, but effective regulation can protect the public. The same regulatory standards should be applied to the alternative medicine industry, which has been remarkably successful in eliminating regulations to protect the public from their own fraud.  

Dr. Oz and Green Coffee Beans – More Weight Loss Pseudoscience (Scott Gavura) On his show, Dr. Oz promoted green coffee beans for weight loss. He had two viewers try it: they lost weight and he found that very persuasive. He didn’t review the evidence, which consists only of one tiny flawed trial. Dr. Oz regularly touts unproven products instead of providing credible science-based information.  

Testing the “individualization” of CAM treatments (Brennen McKenzie) Alternative medicine practitioners claim to individualize their treatment and accuse conventional medicine of treating everyone the same based on the results of clinical studies. In reality, good conventional medicine is already individualized, while alternative practitioners have no credible evidence base to support what they do. In recent study of herbal therapy, individualizing treatment didn’t improve outcomes.