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.
Has science-based medicine already lost to pseudoscience? (David Gorski)
A recent survey found that the majority of health care providers are using complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) for themselves and are recommending it to their patients. Doctors are flocking to the new “integrative medicine” specialty. Has a tipping point been passed? Maybe not: much of the “CAM” use involves things like exercise, diet, and manipulative therapies that are actually part of mainstream medicine. Most physicians are actually dismissive of CAM, although many of them are “shruggies” who don’t stand up for science-based medicine.
Accused of Lying about ASEA: Not Guilty (Harriet Hall)
Dr. Hall wrote that the diet supplement water ASEA was not supported by published studies; a distributor claimed she was lying, because a PubMed search for ASEA brings up 102 studies. It does indeed, but 84 are studies by authors named Asea, and the rest are about everything from alfalfa extracts to nuclear power plants, with nary a word about the product ASEA. There is one unpublished study, and their “boatload of patents” consists of 4 patents for electrolysis. There is still no reason to think ASEA is anything more than overpriced water.
Oil Pulling Your Leg (Steven Novella)
Oil pulling is a traditional Ayurveda method of swishing oil in the mouth for 10-20 minutes to allegedly prevent cavities and provide other health benefits. It’s being promoted as a cure-all. What little scientific evidence exists shows that it is probably not as effective as standard mouthwash for removing mouth bacteria, is useless for general health or other indications, and carries a risk of lipoid pneumonia.
When healing turns into killing: religious and philosophical exemptions from parental accountability (Jann Bellamy)
Special interest groups claim “parental rights” to choose faith healing or quack remedies for their children, and Christian Scientists are lobbying for religious exemptions from the Affordable Care Act. Children deserve rational, science-based health care. There is no constitutionally protected right to harm a child via the denial of medical treatment; all laws that allow religious and philosophical exemptions should be repealed.
Nightmares, Night Terrors and Potential Implications for Pediatric Mental Health… (Clay Jones)
A study suggested a link between early childhood nightmares/night terrors and future psychotic experiences; but it missed some glaring potential confounders, and it doesn’t constitute cause for concern. Dr. Jones reviews sleep and sleep problems in children. Most nightmares and night terrors are normal, but children with mental illness do sometimes present with severe or persistent nightmares or night terrors, so doctors should keep that possibility in mind.