Weekend Reading


The SBP post on “pH Balancing” is one of the most popular, with over 43,000 views views since it was posted in 2009. The topic seems to come up again and again because alternative practitioners promote ideas that are not reality-based. Unfortunately, some pharmacies sell products that are marketed based on this falsehood. If you see these products for sale, think about taking your business to a pharmacy that puts a higher priority on selling credible products.

Just a short update today. Here’s some link and clips from the past week:


This is a superb post from Harriet Hall that itemizes and refutes criticisms of science-based medicine:

Our critics keep bringing up the same old memes, and it occurred to me that rather than try to answer them each time, it might be useful to list those criticisms and answer them here. In future, when the same points are raised, we could save time and effort by linking to this page and citing the reference number.

It’s a comprehensive list, including the memes of “You’re a Big Pharma shill”, “You’re biased”, “It worked for me”, “It’s natural, therefore it’s safe”, “There are different ways of knowing”, “Medicine only treats symptoms, not root causes”, “Science doesn’t know everything”, and more.

Learning to Expect Less From the War on Cancer

From the American College of Medical Toxicology, Five Things Patients and Physicians Should Questions [PDF]:

  1. Don’t use homeopathic medications, non-vitamin dietary supplements or herbal supplements as treatments for disease or preventive health measures.
  2. Don’t administer a chelating agent prior to testing urine for metals, a practice referred to as “provoked” urine testing.
  3. Don’t order heavy metal screening tests to assess non-specific symptoms in the absence of excessive exposure to metals.
  4. Don’t recommend chelation except for documented metal intoxication which has been diagnosed using validated tests in appropriate biologicalsamples.
  5. Don’t remove mercury-containing dental amalgams.

Chelation is a particularly dangerous alt-med recommendation, as it can be demonstrably harmful. Pharmacy and pharmacist involvement in the provision of chelation regrettably does occur, and is an embarrassment to the profession.

Good post on a potentially life-threatening topic: Can You Tell if a Food Allergy is Life-Threatening?

Alternatives to Medicine

This is amazing, and a big win for Bad Science Watch. Health Canada has agreed to put a warning label on homepathic “nosodes” which are sold by homeopaths and naturopaths as alternatives to vaccines:

 Bad Science Watch announced an important victory today in their campaign against misleading advertising of nosodes, also known as “homeopathic vaccines”. Health Canada has acted on the consumer protection organization’s criticism of new guidelines for nosode licensing, and will now require product packaging to feature the warning “This product is not intended to be an alternative to vaccination.”

Bad Science Watch participated in the stakeholder consultation on the draft guidelines, submitting a highly critical document arguing against the lack of distinction made between nosode products and vaccines, the ease of misinterpretation by the consumer, and the lack of acknowledgement of the harms posed by these products when used instead of vaccination. The document was produced as part of the organization’s successful Stop Nosodes campaign which brought awareness of the issue to medical professionals across the country and generated forceful debate in the national media.

Nosodes are homeopathic preparations made from diseased tissue, pus, blood, or excretions of a sick person or animal. Many homeopaths and naturopaths offer them as an alternative to vaccination, but there is no evidence they can protect against disease.

Not surprisingly, the homeopaths are outraged.

The Mexican manufacturer of adulterated “natural” pain pills is ‘ghost’ that can’t be found. “A USA TODAY investigation finds that consumers buying Reumofan dietary supplements are trusting their lives to a company that uses fake addresses, lies about ingredients and may not even exist.”

From Timothy Caulfield, The Paradoxes of Pop Science:

The inconsistent and selective use of the language and images of science is most notoriously seen in the realm of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). On the one hand, this community seems to increasingly embrace the most cutting-edge of health products, but, on the other, it continues to largely reject what science says about most complementary and alternative health treatments: that they don’t work.

Worse, it is not uncommon for CAM practitioners to explicitly reject a scientific approach to health care, suggesting that the efficacy of their approaches cannot be tested by the scientific method or that science is somehow interfering with a holistic approach to the healing process.


I agree with some, but not all of this. Thoughts? Don’t make children eat their greens.

I find most fitness and health websites to be filled with the worst forms of pseudoscience and especially “broscience”. Tom Venuto’s blog is the exception. And there is a lot to like in this guest post on fat loss and fitness tips.

Pharmacy Practice

Medical students demand boundaries between pharmaceutical companies and medical schools. Can we expect the same from pharmacy schools? Have any schools created explicit policies on industry interaction? Please let me know in the comments.

Other stuff

This is an amazing web comic. Keep scrolling.

Call me skeptical. Toronto startup uses DNA to help find your perfect date. (Why is everyone’s perfect match their sibling?)

Interesting read from Malcolm Gladwell: In athletic competitions, what qualifies as a sporting chance?

How to read a scientific paper – this is great:

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge



One thought on “Weekend Reading

  1. Love your topics and sites – I often bookmark them for later use. Had a patient in this week, where no one has found a cause for her nebulous symptoms – no clear medical condition at all, which is reassuring, but then she has been going for ‘hydrogen peroxide’ therapy which I found very disturbing. Any info on that? Haven’t come across it at all before, and when I google it, just hit sites extolling the anecdotal virtues of such!

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