Consumer Health Digest #17-40

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
October 29, 2017

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. Its primary focus is on health, but occasionally it includes non-health scams and practical tips.

CME credit for "functional medicine" under review. The American Academy of Family Physicians has issued a call for comment on the eligibility of "functional medicine" topics for continuing medical education (CME) credit. In 2014, and then again in 2016, its Commission on Continuing Professional Development reviewed functional medicine and identified a lack of existing evidence to support its practice. As a result, a moratorium on all functional medicine topics eligible for CME credit is in place until February 2018. "Functional medicine" is a marketing term that encompasses a wide range of tests and treatments that are unsubstantiated and/or unnecessary. Science-Based Medicine has posted an insightful discussion of this topic. [Bellamy J. AAFP: Functional medicine lacks supporting evidence; includes "harmful" and "dangerous" treatments. Science-Based Medicine, Oct 26, 2017] Comments to the AAFP can be made through an AAFP survey site.

"Plant Paradox" book blasted. T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D., emeritus professor of nutritional biochemistry at Cornell University, and Thomas Campbell, M.D., have co-authored a devastating review of The Plant Paradox: The Hidden Dangers in "Healthy" Foods That Cause Disease and Weight Gain, a popular book written by Stephen R. Gundry, M.D. The book is centered around the notion that lectins are the source of most human diseases and that following its dietary recommendations has resolved a long list of ailments. Gundry was trained as a cardiologist and cardiac surgeon, but in 2002 he abandoned these fields and began operating clinics where he provides advice based on his nutritional theories. He also operates a company that sells expensive dietary supplements such as Lectin Shield ("to assist the body in the fight against lectins") and Enhanced Circulation Formula ("designed to keep your blood flowing smoothly, carrying oxygen to all essential organs, tissues, and muscles").

Sixteen "natural therapies" to be removed from Australian insurance coverage. As part of the Australian governmen's overhaul of Australia's private health insurance system, coverage for Alexander technique, aromatherapy, Bowen therapy, Buteyko method, Feldenkrais method, herbalism, homeopathy, iridology, applied kinesiology, naturopathy, Pilates, reflexology, Rolfing, shiatsu, tai chi, and yoga will be ended. The government says that although consumers can still choose to access these services, they will no longer be able to collect benefits from their insurer after April 1, 2019. [Gavura S.. Australia ends insurance subsidies for naturopathy, homeopathy, and more. Science-Based Medicine, Oct 19, 2017] The decision was based on an extensive review that was published in June. Acupuncture, chiropractic, and reiki were not included in the review.

"Pediatric chiropractor" reprimanded. The Indiana Board of Chiropractic Examiners has reprimanded Jared Himsel, D.C. for making improper statements on his Web site and Facebook pages. The proposed settlement agreement indicates the Board objected to:

As part of the settlement process, Himsel removed the statements to which the board objected. His clinic Web site still recommends regular chiropractic care from birth onward and states: "Our unique focus achieves a high level of success across multiple conditions, not just for neck and back pain." Practitioners of "chiropractic pediatrics" typically advise against immunization and recommend spinal checkups and "adjustments from birth onward." Although the board action resulted in toning down what Himsel can advertise, it does not limit what he can do with patients.

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This page was posted on October 29, 2017.