Naturopathy’s fiercest and most-knowledgeable critic is being sued by a naturopath

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Britt Marie Hermes is an ex-naturopath who has come clean about her time as a naturopath. This video explains her transition from naturopathy to science and evidence, and is well worth watching:

Britt is being sued by a naturopath who believes you can treat cancer with vitamins and baking soda. From Britt’s post:

Colleen Huber is a naturopathic cancer crusader and owner of Nature Works Best (NWB) naturopathic cancer clinic in Tempe, Arizona. She is not a medical doctor and, to the best of my knowledge, has no formal training in cancer research. Yet, Huber promotes herself as a cancer expert (here, here, and here) and is an outspoken critic of standard-of-care treatments for cancer. She wrote that “conventional treatments (chemo, radiation, etc.) sicken and weaken you and ultimately strengthen the disease.”

Huber treats cancer using alternative therapies, including intravenous injections of vitamins and baking soda. She staunchly advocates that her cancer patients should follow a strict sugar-free diet. She advertises that a sugar-free diet increases a cancer patient’s overall survival, regardless of cancer stage or type.

Naturopathy is based on the idea of vitalism, a pre-scientific belief that some type of magical “energy” is a part of all living things. The idea of vitalism was disproved by Wöhler in 1828, yet the idea remains central to naturopathic ideas about medicine. Naturopaths believe their treatments restore this “vital force”. The practice of naturopathy has evolved over time into a mix of disproven or unproven health practices that includes homeopathy, acupuncture, “detoxification” and herbalism, along with the occasional science-based belief repackaged as “alternative”. (For more information, see my series of naturopathy vs. science posts at Science-Based Medicine.)

If you support science-based medicine you’ll recognize the importance of helping Britt defend herself. See her post here. If you can’t donate, please amplify her post by sharing it widely on social media.

Science-Based Medicine in New York City!

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A day of Science-Based Medicine, a weekend of science and skepticism

If you’re interested in science, skepticism and medicine, then NECSS, the NorthEast Conference on Science and Skepticism, is the conference for you. NECSS will be held May 12-15 in New York City at the Fashion Institute of Technology. The entire program is available schedule here.

The conference will welcome over 400 people and include panels, presentations and performances. Included in the program will be a full day of Science-Based Medicine, featuring speakers from the blog like including yours truly.

SBM day is Friday, May 13. Here’s the current schedule:

9:30-9:40 10 minutes Welcome
9:40-10:15 35 minutes Functional Medicine is Dysfunctional Harriet Hall
10:15-10:50 35 minutes Science-Based Dentistry: Where the Truth Meets the Tooth Grant Ritchey

10:50-11:00 10 minutes Break

11:00-12:10 70 minutes Natural Disaster: Dietary Supplements Scott Gavura & Jann Bellamy

12:10-1:40 90 minutes Lunch

1:40-2:15 35 minutes Kids & CAM: Playing Make-Believe with Children’s Health John Snyder
2:15-2:50 35 minutes Chronic Lyme: When Life Hands You Lemons Saul Hymes
2:50-3:25 35 minutes Your Baby’s Spine Will Be Just Fine Without Chiropractic Adjustment Clay Jones

3:25-3:40 15 minutes Break

3:40-4:45 65 minutes Debate: Should Physicians “Fire” Anti-Vaccination Patients? John Snyder, Saul Hymes, Clay Jones
4:45-5:20 35 minutes Bayesian Statistics Steve Novella
5:20-6:05 45 minutes Ask Us Anything: Audience & Twitter Q & A All Speakers
6:05-6:15 10 minutes Closing

Registration is open.

The entire conference looks amazing. I hope to see you there.

Is it ethical to sell complementary and alternative medicine?

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I joined Professor Chris MacDonald at Ryerson University earlier this week to participate in Ryerson’s business ethics speaker series. The topic was CAM:

Is it ethical to market complementary and alternative medicines? Complementary and alternative medicines (CAM) are medical products and services outside the mainstream of medical practice. But they are not just medicines (or supposed medicines) offered and provided for the prevention and treatment of illness. They are also products and services – things offered for sale in the marketplace. Most discussion of the ethics of CAM has focused on bioethical issues – issues having to do with therapeutic value, and the relationship between patients and those purveyors of CAM. This presentation — by a philosopher and a pharmacist — aims instead to consider CAM from the perspective of commercial ethics. That is, we consider the ethics not of prescribing or administering CAM (activities most closely associated with health professionals) but the ethics of selling CAM.

You can watch it here here.

It was great to see so many public members attend and participate. There was an extended Q&A afterwards, with some very thoughtful audience questions. Watch for more on this topic from us in the future.

Upcoming talk: Complementary and Alternative Medicine: A Business Ethics Perspective

trlc_logoI’ll be joining Professor Chris MacDonald on January 28 for a discussion about the ethics of selling complementary and alternative medicine:

Is it ethical to market complementary and alternative medicines? Complementary and alternative medicines (CAM) are medical products and services outside the mainstream of medical practice. But they are not just medicines (or supposed medicines) offered and provided for the prevention and treatment of illness. They are also products and services – things offered for sale in the marketplace. Most discussion of the ethics of CAM has focused on bioethical issues – issues having to do with therapeutic value, and the relationship between patients and those purveyors of CAM. This presentation — by a philosopher and a pharmacist — aims instead to consider CAM from the perspective of commercial ethics. That is, we consider the ethics not of prescribing or administering CAM (activities most closely associated with health professionals) but the ethics of selling CAM.

Admission is free. Space is limited. Register here.

WHAT: Complementary & Alternative Medicine: A Business Ethics Perspective

DATE: January 28, 2015

TIME: 3:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.

WHERE: Ted Rogers Leadership Centre, Ted Rogers School of Management, Ryerson University, 55 Dundas Street West, Toronto.

 

Praise from Science Borealis

Thank you to the Science Borealis blog for making Science-Based Pharmacy an Editors’ Pick for 2014!

The blog won in the category of “Health, Medicine and Veterinary Science“. Given the output and quality of other Canadian health professionals and colleagues that blog, I’m surprised and very grateful for the recognition. I’m a strong supporter of Canadian science blogging, and am privileged that they have included SBP in their blog roll. If you want more Canada (and who doesn’t?), adding the Borealis feed to your RSS reader or following them on Facebook is an excellent way to discover more Canadian science.

I find it hard to believe that the SBP blog enters its sixth year in 2015. After over 300 posts and 1.6 million views, there’s still lots of work to be done. SBP will continue to advocate for a pharmacy vision that embraces science, rejects quackery, and puts ethical patient care at the core of the pharmacist’s role. Thanks for reading and your continued support.

Google Reader is Closing: Here’s what you need to know

Actually, it isn't. We'll all be just fine after Google Reader dies.

Actually, it isn’t. We’ll all be just fine after Google Reader dies.

Hundreds of SBP’s readers follow this blog using RSS and Google Reader.  Some link their Google Reader account to sites like Flipboard and Zite.  If this is you, read on:

Google Reader will close down on July 1. If the way you access SBP relies on this application, you need to make some choices to stay updated with its content.

  1. Switch to a new RSS reader. I’m really impressed with Feedly, and think it’s actually better than Google Reader. One click to transfer your feeds to Feedly, if you’re already subscribed via Google Reader.  There are other alternatives to Feedly, too. Here’s another list of alternatives.
  2. Subscribe to SBP by email.
  3. Follow SBP on Facebook. Posts will always be linked on the FB page, and there’s lots of bonus content too.
  4. Follow me on Twitter, where I will always link to posts.

Thank you for your continued support and interest. We are nearing 1 million visits to SBP.

 

Ben Goldacre’s Bad Pharma North American Tour

Ben Goldacre

Ben Goldacre is a British physician, journalist, and author of two books I’ve previously reviewed and recommended: Bad Science and Bad Pharma. Ben will be in Canada and the United States next week promoting the North American release of Bad Pharma. Here are a few of the events that are open to the public:

Portland Oregon, February 17
Seattle Washington, February 18
New York City, February 21
Toronto, Ontario Feb 14 (Pub night!) and February 15

More details here. I hope to see you at the Toronto events. To prepare yourself, here’s a recent interview with Goldacre, and here’s one of Ben’s TED talks, What doctors don’t know about the drugs they prescribe.