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-woo in medicine.
Stanislaw Burzynski: A deceptive propaganda movie versus and upcoming news report (David Gorski) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/stanislaw-burzynski-propaganda-versus-news/ Eric Merola’s new film about Burzynski and his cancer “cures” is a bad movie, bad medicine, and bad PR. The patient reports are misleading, the evidence is lacking, the propaganda is unrelenting, and the attacks on skeptics are nonsensical.
New Developments in Acupuncture: Turtles and Motion-Style Treatments (Harriet Hall) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/new-developments-in-acupuncture-turtles-and-motion-style-treatments/ A report of treating turtles with acupuncture and a new study of motion-style acupuncture for patients with low back pain are equally unconvincing. Motion-style acupuncture involves assisted walking with the needles in place. Assisted walking with physical support and encouragement may indeed be effective; the acupuncture was probably irrelevant.
Gyrostim and the Infrastructure of Quackery (Steven Novella) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/gyrostim-and-the-infrastructure-of-quackery/ the Gyrostim is a device that spins patients to stimulate the vestibular system. It may have a role in vestibular therapy, but it has not yet been adequately tested. Pseudoscientists have jumped the gun to treat patients with other conditions like concussion, cerebral palsy, and autism. Quacks and the lay press have derailed the normal scientific process.
Kombucha: A symbiotic mix of yeast, bacteria and the naturalistic fallacy (Scott Gavura) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/kombucha-a-symbiotic-mix-of-yeast-bacteria-and-the-naturalistic-fallacy/ Kombucha is a folk remedy produced in home kitchens by fermenting sweetened black tea with a starter mat containing bacteria and yeast. It is claimed to have many medicinal and health effects; but it has never been tested in a clinical trial. From what is known about its content, there’s no reason to expect it would be effective; and there are potential harms.
DMAA: Efficacious but is it Safe? (Andrey Pavlov and Igor I. Bussel). http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/dmaa-efficacious-but-is-it-safe/The DMAA story demonstrates the deficiencies of current consumer protection legislation. Originally a prescription drug, DMAA was withdrawn because of side effects. Finding small amounts of the compound in geraniums allowed marketing as a diet supplement under the DSHEA. Manufacturers are selling a synthetic drug with toxic effects under the fiction that it is a natural product.