Consumer Health Digest #05-50

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
December 13, 2005

Consumer Health Digest is a free weekly e-mail newsletter edited by Stephen Barrett, M.D., and cosponsored by NCAHF and Quackwatch. 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.

Bee sting therapy found ineffective against multiple sclerosis. A 24-week study of 26 patients with relapsing-remitting or relapsing secondary progressive multiple sclerosis has found no benefit from bee-sting therapy. Live bees were used to administer bee venom three times per week. The treatment did not reduce disease activity, disability, or fatigue and did not improve quality of life. [Wesselius T and others. A randomized crossover study of bee sting therapy for multiple sclerosis. Neurology 65:1764-1768, 2005]

Washington Attorney General attacks another EDT practitioner. The Washington Department of Health is seeking a court order to stop Joyce M. Tasker of Coleville, Washington, from continuing to practice medicine and veterinary medicine without a license. The motion for summary judgment states that Tasker, who is not a licensed health-care provider, has been using electrodermal testing (EDT) to diagnose a wide variety of problems in humans and animals. EDT is a bogus procedure based on the notion that health problems can be detected by measuring skin resistance to a tiny electrical current. [Barrett S. Dubious electrodiagnostic testing. Quackwatch, Aug 25, 2005] In September, a King County Superior Court Judge assessed approximately $2 million in penalties against Monte Kline, another unlicensed practitioner who did EDT at his Pacific Health Centers in Bellevue, Washington. The judge also ordered Kline to refrain from representing in advertising or in practice that EDT can guide appropriate treatment for any human ailment. The state Court of Appeals has partially stayed the Superior Court's order while Kline appeals it, but he is not allowed to continue electrodiagnostic testing without posting a $200,000 bond, which Kline says he cannot afford. In November, Patsy J. Mansfield, whom Kline employed to administer EDT tests, signed a consent agreement that included a permanent cease-and-desist order and a $2000 penalty.

FDA attacks fraudulent avian flu therapies. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has ordered, Chozyn, LLC, Healthworks 2000, Iceland Health Inc., Melvin Williams, PolyCil Health Inc., PRB Pharmaceuticals Inc., Sacred Mountain Management Inc., to stop claiming that their products could be effective against preventing the avian flu or other forms of influenza. Eight of the products were purported to be dietary supplements. [FDA acts to protect public from fraudulent avian flu therapies. FDA news release, Dec 13, 2005]

Massage group denounces "fringe" practices. The American Medical Massage Association (AMMA) has issued a position statement denouncing six categories of metaphysical, paranormal, and pseudoscientific practices that are part of the massage therapy marketplace. The paper states that many subjects taught in massage schools and/or practiced by massage therapists are "so extreme in nature as to constitute health care fraud." The objectionable practices include reiki, polarity therapy, therapeutic touch, touch for health, crystal healing, craniosacral therapy, subtle energy, aroma energy, aura reading, hypnotherapeutic massage, chakra healing, five-element healing, vibrational healing, zero balancing, emotional balancing, unwinding, and many others. AMMA was founded in 1998 to promote medical massage therapy as an allied health care profession and to differentiate it from other forms of massage. It seeks this goal through professional standards, education, and testing. Noting that "the situation . . . has advanced to the point of becoming a serious problem that is adversely affecting the overall professional image and reputation of massage therapy in the United States, AMMA will no longer accept fringe massage courses for continuing education. [Categories and definitions of fringe massage therapy - AMMA position statement, Oct 2005] However, the AMMA Web site promotes questionable practices such as acupuncture, naturopathy, and herbalism.

Quackwatch fundraising appeal. Quackwatch now includes 20 Web sites with over 3,000 pages of information and traffic exceeding 4,000 per day on the home pages. Dr. Barrett would appreciate donations to help fund further research and speed up development of several of the sites.

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