Consumer Health Digest #15-47

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
November 29, 2015


Consumer Health Digest is a free weekly e-mail newsletter edited by Stephen Barrett, M.D., with help from William M. London, Ed.D., M.P.H. It summarizes scientific reports; legislative developments; enforcement actions; news reports; Web site evaluations; recommended and nonrecommended books; and other information relevant to consumer protection and consumer decision-making.


Free "Science Based Medicine" course available. The James Randi Educational Foundation has produced a superb 10-part video lecture series in which Harriet Hall, M.D., contrasts science-based medicine with so-called "complementary and alternative" methods. The topics include: What is CAM?; acupuncture; chiropractic; energy medicine; homeopathy; miscellaneous "alternatives"; naturopathy and herbal medicines; pitfalls in research; science based medicine vs. evidence-based medicine; science-based medicine in the media and politics. The lectures range from 32 to 45 minutes. A companion course guide is also available.


"Natural therapies" panned in Australia. An Australian Department of Health review of 17 "natural" modalities could result in their exclusion from the partial subsidy Australians receive through their government's private health insurance rebate. The 188-page Review of the Australian Government Rebate on Natural Therapies for Private Health Insurance covered Alexander technique, aromatherapy, ayurveda, Bowen therapy, Buteyko, Feldenkrais, herbalism/Western herbalism, homeopathy, iridology, kinesiology, massage therapy (including deep tissue, lymphatic drainage, myofascial release, myotherapy, remedial, shiatsu, sports therapy, Swedish, Thai, and therapeutic), naturopathy, Pilates, reflexology, Rolfing, tai chi, and yoga. In 2012, the Health Minister announced that the Private Health Insurance Rebate will be paid for insurance products that cover natural therapy services "only where the Chief Medical Officer finds clear evidence they are clinically effective." The review concluded that "Such clear evidence has not been found." However, the current Health Minister has expressed doubts about dropping the rebate on these services. Erica Cervini, who frequently blogs about Australia's higher education system, believes that the teaching of disputed therapies at Australia's universities should be stopped. [Cervini E. Review of alternative therapies should prompt scrutiny of university courses. The Age, Nov 29, 2015]


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This page was posted on November 29, 2015.