This week, JAMA Internal Medicine published a clinical trial purporting to find that acupuncture helps stable angina. Here's a hint: It doesn't. It's a bait-and-switch study that used "electroacupuncture" instead of acupuncture with poor blinding and lack of consideration of prior plausibility.
Last month, HB 4710, a bill to license acupuncturists, was considered by the Michigan House of Representatives Health Policy Committee. If passed into law, HB 4710 would do far more than license the quackery that is acupuncture. It would also expand the scope of practice of acupuncturists to include homeopathy, “health coaching”, and dietary advice, and is yet another example of what practitioners of pseudoscientific medicine crave: State-granted legitimacy.
Integrative oncology "integrates" quackery with oncology. Its practitioners, however, frequently delude themselves that their specialty is science-based. A recent review article by two integrative oncologists from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center expresses that delusion perfectly.
There's a whole genre of quack apologia for traditional Chinese medicine that I like to call "traditional Chinese medicine is science, ma-an!" Basically, it tries to convince you that the prescientific, mystical, vitalistic mass of nonsense that is traditional Chinese medicine is "ancient knowledge" that was far ahead of its time and that its wisdom will be rediscovered to become the future of medicine. It's utter nonsense, of course. Unfortunately, in its January issue, National Geographic fell for this myth—hard.
How would you like a jacket with 7,000 miniature nontoxic plastic spikes lining it to stimulate those acupressure points? Have I got a jacket for you! Introducing...the Yogi Jacket! It's woo-tactic!
In May JAMA published a negative study of acupucnture and in vitro fertilization. Dr. Carlo Giovanardi, a physician and leader in acupuncture in Italy, was not pleased. As acupuncturists frequently do, he is now making excuses.
Aromatase inhibitors are antiestrogen drugs frequently used to treat breast cancer. Unfortunately, they can cause significant joint pain. A recent study of acupuncture for joint pain caused by these drugs was basically negative, but the authors did their best to spin it as positive. Same as it ever was for acupuncture studies.
The Department of Family Medicine at the University of Michigan has embraced integrating quackery with medicine in its "integrative medicine" program. But what is it teaching its trainees? Unfortunately, I've started to find out.
Helene Langevin has been named the new director of the National Center for Complemenary and Integrative Health. Given her history of dodgy acupuncture research, my prediction is that the quackery will flow again at NCCIH, the way it did in the 1990s when Tom Harkin zealously protected it from any attempt to impose scientific rigor on it.