Consumer Health Digest #16-16
Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
May 1, 2016
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.
"Functional medicine" debunked. David Gorski, M.D., Ph.D. has published a critique that explains why "functional" medicine—like "complementary," "alternative," "holistic" and "integrated" medicine—is nothing more than a loosely-defined marketing term that offbeat practitioners use to promote their services. Its proponents typically do unnecessary testing, claim to identify and treat the "root cause" of illnesses, and claim that their approach addresses the "biochemical individuality" of their patients. [Gorski D. Making it up as you go along: So-called "functional medicine" is pure quackery. Respectful Insolence Blog, April 18, 2016]
Homeopathy blasted. Jan Willem Nienhuys has posted a detailed report on the Ph.D. dissertation on homeopathy defended in 1943 by David Karel de Jongh, M.D., a Dutch physician. De Jongh's report was based on meticulous examination of hundreds of articles and books and his experiences while working in a homeopathic hospital. His key points included:
- Homeopathy's founder, Samuel Hahnemann, M.D., never proved his method by trying it out systematically. His research consisted of gathering anecdotes from medical literature, which he interpreted in a very biased way.
- Since Hahnemann's time, homeopaths have attached great value to shaking of the remedies after each dilution step. However, physics tells us that it is nonsensical: the molecules in a fluid hit each other violently many million times per second, and only very unstable materials like nitroglycerin feel any effect of shaking.
- The concept of "constitutional homeopathy" enables homeopaths to give different remedies to different people suffering from the same disease, thus creating the illusion of individualized treatments.
FDA asked to ban the sale of highly concentrated caffeine products. The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has asked the FDA to ban pure, powdered caffeine and highly concentrated forms of liquid caffeine as an imminent public hazard. CSPI's petition states:
- The deaths of Logan James Stiner and James Wade Sweatt from caffeine overdosage were preventable tragedies and show that when it comes to "dietary supplements," the system is broken.
- It is astonishing that a substance that is fatal for adults in the amount of two tablespoons is sold cheaply over the Internet as loose powder in large bags without clear warnings.
- In September 2015, the FDA issued enforcement letters to five companies that sold pure, powdered caffeine. Although those companies stopped marketing the product, CSPI quickly found 15 companies (identified in the petition) that sell products similar or identical to those that killed Stiner, Sweatt, and others.
- A ban on such products would allow enforcement action against any company selling it—not just the five that received a warning letter. It would mean that such products could be seized by Customs at the border. It would also send a far clearer signal to the public about the risks.
- Any action less than a ban would be confirmation that FDA has lost its way.
This page was posted on May 1, 2016.