Skepfeeds-The Best Skeptical blogs of the day

FDA Warns Consumers to Avoid Vita Breath Dietary Supplement

Posted in News by Skepdude on May 11, 2010

READ THE FULL RELEASE AT FDA.GOV

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is advising consumers not to purchase nor consume Vita Breath, a dietary supplement manufactured by American Herbal Lab Inc. of Rosemead, Calif., and marketed at health fairs and on the Internet, because the product may contain hazardous levels of lead.

The FDA was notified by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene about a patient with lead poisoning who reported taking Vita Breath and two other herbal products. The department analyzed a sample of Vita Breath and reported it contained 1,100 parts per million of lead. This level is more than 10,000 times higher than FDA’s maximum recommended level for lead in candy.

READ THE FULL RELEASE AT FDA.GOV

Heart patients may be at risk from Herbal remedies

Posted in News by Skepdude on February 2, 2010

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT CTV CALGARI

Herbal remedies, such as St. John’s wort, gingko biloba — even garlic, may be putting patients on heart medications at serious risk, doctors are warning.

In a scientific review in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, doctors warn that while herbal remedies are thought of as safe and natural, they can cause serious interactions with heart drugs.

Some examples of supplements that can be dangerous to heart patients include:

• St. John’s wort. It’s typically used to treat depression, anxiety and sleep disorders, but it can reduce the effectiveness of heart medications, leading to recurrences of arrhythmia, high blood pressure or increase in blood cholesterol levels.

• Ginkgo biloba. This natural remedy is often taken to improve circulation or sharpen the mind, increases bleeding risk in those taking common blood thinners, such as warfarin or aspirin.

• Gingseng. While it’s touted as a way to increase energy and mental alertness, it can also increase blood pressures, cause low blood sugar, and decrease the effects of warfarin.

• Green tea. While it’s touted as an antioxidant and stimulant, green tea also contains vitamin K, so it too can make warfarin ineffective

• Garlic. Garlic supplements are often taken to lower cholesterol and blood pressure, which is important for heat patients. But at the same time, it can also increase the risk of bleeding among those taking warfarin.

The authors of the JACC review, who review over years of study on heart medication and herbal supplements, say the growing use of natural health products is especially concerning among elderly patients. That’s because many of them have multiple health issues, take multiple medications, and are already at greater risk of bleeding.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT CTV CALGARI

Important Studies page update

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on January 3, 2010

The Important Studies page has been updated to include the latest study on Ginko Biloba, the herb that purportedly helps with cognitive decline illnesses in older adults, which came back with absolutely negative results. It appears ginko is gunko!

Doctor who hailed herbal cancer cure arrested

Posted in News by Skepdude on October 10, 2009

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT MSNBC

LOS ANGELES – Prosecutors brought fraud charges Thursday against a family doctor accused of promising terminally ill cancer patients in their darkest hours that they would be cured with an herbal treatment.

Using her influence as an ordained Pentecostal minister, Dr. Christine Daniel tapped into the vessel of faith to entice people from across the nation to try her regimen. She even appeared on cable’s Trinity Broadcasting Network in 2002 touting her cancer cure and its 60 percent success rate, according to federal investigators.

Authorities arrested Daniel, 55, at her San Fernando Valley home Thursday and charged her with two counts each of wire and mail fraud. If convicted, she faces up to 80 years in prison.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT MSNBC

Tests show many supplements have quality problems

Posted in News by Skepdude on June 9, 2009

READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE AT “YAHOO NEWS”

Lead in ginkgo pills. Arsenic in herbals. Bugs in a baby’s colic and teething syrup. Toxic metals and parasites are part of nature, and all of these have been found in “natural” products and dietary supplements in recent years.

Set aside the issue of whether vitamin and herbal supplements do any good.

Are they safe? Is what’s on the label really what’s in the bottle? Tests by researchers and private labs suggest the answer sometimes is no.

One quarter of supplements tested by an independent company over the last decade have had some sort of problem. Some contained contaminants. Others had contents that did not match label claims. Some had ingredients that exceeded safe limits. Some contained real drugs masquerading as natural supplements.

“We buy it just as the consumer buys it” from stores, said Dr. Tod Cooperman, president of ConsumerLab.com. The company tests pills for makers that want its seal of approval, and publishes ratings for subscribers, much as Consumer Reports does with household goods.

Other tests, reported in scientific journals, found prenatal vitamins lacking claimed amounts of iodine, and supplements short on ginseng and hoodia — an African plant sparking the latest diet craze.

“There’s at least 10 times more hoodia sold in this country than made in the world, so people are not getting hoodia,” said Dr. Mehmet Oz, a heart surgeon and frequent Oprah Winfrey guest who occasionally has touted the stuff.

Industry groups say that quality problems are the exception rather than the rule.

“I believe that the problem is narrow, that the well-established and reputable brands deserve their reputations,” said Michael McGuffin, president of the American Herbal Products Association.

READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE AT “YAHOO NEWS”

Herbal remedies for arthritis mostly ineffective, says study

Posted in News by Skepdude on February 10, 2009

Many herbal medicines and other complementary therapies do nothing to help people with rheumatoid arthritis, according to a report published today.

A review of published data on natural remedies found the majority were completely ineffective at relieving patients’ symptoms, or had only tentative evidence to suggest they worked.

Almost half of the UK population tries complementary medicine at some point in their lives, and more than £450m a year is spent on herbal remedies, homeopathy, osteopathy, acupuncture and similar treatments. Among people with arthritis and similar conditions, the figure is nearer 60%, doctors said.

In the report, compiled by the charity Arthritis Research Campaign, doctors reviewed medical research on more than 50 remedies sold as treatments for rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis or fibromyalgia, a condition that causes pain in the muscles and connective tissues.

Each therapy was ranked from one to five, with one indicating the treatment has no effect, and five meaning there is good evidence that it works. Only fish oil, which is sold for rheumatoid arthritis, received the top ranking of five, while 17 of the remaining 20 treatments were deemed completely ineffective or had too little evidence to support their efficacy. Among them were extracts of elk antler velvet and green-lipped mussels.

READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE AT “THE GUARDIAN”

Alt med galore!

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on January 23, 2009

Did you know that sales of herbal formulas for cleansing, detoxification and organ support among natural food retailers were more than $27 million from Dec. 2, 2007, to Nov. 29, 2008 and that 54 food and drink products were launched in 2008 with the word “detox” in their descriptions — up from 15 in 2003? Why is that you ask?

“Western medicine is treating the symptoms instead of addressing the root cause,” said Edward F. Group III, a Houston-based naturopath with theholisticoption.com, an online resource for the alternative wellness community. “We basically have a world that’s constipated. It’s like if you change your oil in your car but never change the oil filter. Ultimately it gets so full of sludge the engine’s going to break down.”

Holy shit! Treat the root cause…fucking genius! I wonder what these geniuses think transplants are! Symptom treatments?

In fact this holistic approach is so, well inclusive, that this one stumbled across it… on her massage parlor:

I saw this first-hand in my massage practice when a client came in complaining of neck pain. As I began the massage I followed a line of tension all the way down the back, to the hips. Later I found increased muscle tension and decreased range of motion in the muscles of the leg as well. As I began to work this myofascial restriction the client mentioned, “Oh yeah – I hurt my knee 6 months ago, I forgot to tell you.” Even though it didn’t seem related to the client, the pattern of compensation set up in the body because of the knee injury, caused an imbalance in the body. The client felt the pain in the neck, but the root of the problem began in the leg.

Get it? Treat the cause not just the symptom. This guy bumped his knee and he got a stiff neck. 6 MONTHS LATER! That’s just amazing biologically speaking…amazing! I’m sure no modern, close-minded, cynical, western educated doctor could have helped him. No sir, you need a masseuse for this kind of shit, nothing less will do!

And you’d better look for this sort of help because, aparently “the American medical establishment crumbles around us — dying from its own greed, government neglect, a corrupt insurance system, and the disgusting excesses of the pharmaceutical industry“. Run for your life! Oh, sweet sounds of neck crackig chiropractors where art thou?

And let’s not let the western alternative medicine practitioners get all the credit. Let us not forget that fabulous Indian treasure, Ayurveda. Did you know it is to be credited for George Clooney’s and Madonna’s good looks? And also, the French President’s secret of stamina at this age is the special secret massages by alternative medicine expert Jean-Paul Moureau! Oui, oui! And why not, after all:

Ayurvedic massages just don’t end at skin care or relaxation. It is aimed at holistic well-being: meeting your physical, spiritual and emotional needs. During a massage session, the specialised masseuse transforms positive energy into the body thereby creating a feel good factor.” It’s about the environment in the spa — the oils used, the background music and the traditional techniques — that do wonders to one’s health.

The wonder…THE WONDER! I’m wonder-ified, aren’t you? And you didn’t think I’d leave without a tip of the heat to good ol’ Christianity now did you?

Much of alternative medicine has sound biblical applications in health and healing of disease. We need more representation in Christendom for this powerful healing system, which is predominately embraced by other belief systems.

In my experience as a Christian physician, I have seen fellow believers embrace teachings like this and accept some very clear pagan practices and count them as being permissible in Christian experience. I am not sure if they read the same Bible as I do, but I get clear instruction from the Scripture that pagan practices break the very first command that God gave to humankind, “You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3).

I wonder if this guy puts up a tree for Christmas? Can someone inform him that this is a pagan practice, lest he end up glorifying a God other than the real one that is?

Oh and one last thing, if you’re supposed to be on a low iodine diet as treatment for thyroid cancer, you may want to steer clear of supplements. My favorite words from that article: Voodoo Medicine! Precious words for sure!

Where do you get your mercury?

Posted in Denialism by Skepdude on December 2, 2008

There is an ongoing discussion amongst our Sciblings regarding our German counterparts at scienceblogs.de. Apparently they have some odd folks as science bloggers over there, including people who think ayurvedic heavy metals are good for you. In the tradition of countering speech with speech, I’m giving you this repost. More to come, I’m sure. –PalMD

ResearchBlogging.orgThe Infectious Disease Promotion Movement (let by such intellectual luminaries as Jenny McCarthy) may be worried about “toxins” in vaccines, but the real problem may hiding in plain sight.

Today’s issue of JAMA has an interesting study of Ayurvedic (traditional Indian) medicines. It turns out that many of them contain a significant amount of toxic heavy metals.

Let’s have a little refresher on the difference between science-based medicine and everything else. Science-based medicine is medicine based on science, everything else is either unproven or bullshit. Appealing to “ancient traditions” is a common practice among the “altmed” crowds. After all, if it’s been used for thousands of years, it must have something to it, right? Well, not really. After all, the only thing “ancient” really means is “pre-scientific”. Why trust your health to an ossified, thousand-year-old belief system based on superstition?

READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE AT “DENIALISM”