Do dietary supplements improve heart health?

Posted 20 September 2019

By Scott Gavura Science Based Medicine

The sale of dietary supplements is booming and continues to grow. Supplements are enormously popular with an estimated 75% of Americans using some form of supplement regularly. Supplements are widely believed (and advertised) to provide meaningful health benefits. As cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the US, it is not surprising that supplements purported to treat, mitigate, or prevent cardiovascular disease would be popular. It has been noted in many posts on this blog that the supplement industry is very lightly regulated, meaning that claims of effectiveness may not be backed by credible evidence. Additionally, safety concerns have been raised with some supplements, with the suspicion that in some cases, they may harm more than help. With this question in mind, Safi Khan and colleagues from West Virginia University and other organizations undertook a massive umbrella Read the rest

Vogel Multiforce Alkaline Powder

Posted 31 August 2018

Vogel Multiforce Alkaline powder claims in adverts to, among other:

  • A multimineral supplement that helps support the body’s pH regulating mechanisms.
  • Proven to increase urinary pH which means there is less acidity in the body
  • Potassium Bicarbonate has blood alkalinising properties and acts on metabolic acidosis
  • Many foods and drinks, especially meat, dairy products, sugar, coffee and alcohol are acid forming. Without adequate alkaline minerals, which are necessary to offset increases in acidity, your body struggles to maintain its internal acid/alkaline levels. 

But does it work?

There have been multiple ASA rulings against the claims for this product.

Yet the company continues to make these false claims.

Scott Gavura has posted an article on detox scams to Science Based Medicine. He summarises beautifully how the pH regulating system of the body functions:

Read the rest

CAM use leads to delays in appropriate, effective arthritis therapy

Posted 31 December 2017

A preference to use CAM before seeking medical advice may be harming patients with inflammatory arthritis.

By Scott Gavura on November 16, 2017, posted to Science Based Medicine
Several weeks ago I summarized the evidence that demonstrates that when you delay cancer chemotherapy and substitute alternative medicine, you die sooner. Thank you to the tireless Edzard Ernst, who identified non-cancer evidence that demonstrates how choosing complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) instead of real medicine, can cause harm. In this case, the example is early inflammatory arthritis (EIA), and what was studied was the relationship between CAM use, and the delay to initiation of medical therapy. Time is of the essence with inflammatory arthritis, as there are medications that can reduce the risk of permanent joint damage. This new paper adds to the accumulated evidence to show that CAM, while it is commonly thought to
Read the rest

Systematic review blasts “adrenal fatigue” diagnosis

Posted 26 September 2017

Some healthcare providers are using the term “adrenal fatigue” to describe an alleged condition caused by chronic exposure to stressful situations. According to this theory, chronic stress can lead to “overuse” of the adrenal glands, eventually resulting in their functional failure. Last year, two Brazilian endocrinologists concluded that “adrenal fatigue”—also referred to as “adrenal burnout” and adrenal “exhaustion”—should be regarded as a myth. Their review analyzed the 58 most relevant studies identified in a systematic literature search.

1. Cadegliani FA, Kater CE. Adrenal fatigue does not exist: a systematic review. BMC Endocrine Disorders 16:48(1), 2016
2. A Science-Based Medicine article describes the origin and danger of the “adrenal fatigue” concept. Gavura S. Adrenal fatigue: A fake disease (updated). Science-Based Medicine, June 29, 2017

Source:  Consumer Health Digest #17-37, September 124, 2017

Read the rest

The Supplement Con

Posted 23 August 2017

A recent article in Business Insider is an encouraging sign that skepticism about the supplement industry is starting to go mainstream. The article hits all the main points – the supplement industry in the US is now $37 billion, is largely unregulated, and their products are largely worthless, make unfounded claims, and may even be harmful.They correctly point out the key factor that made the supplement industry go from bad to terrible:

[quote]In 1994, about 600 supplement companies were producing about 4,000 products for a total revenue of about $4 billion. But that market has since ballooned — today, close to 6,000 companies pump out about 75,000 products.

“We’re regulating that with 26 people and a budget of $5 million,” [FDA spokesperson] Tave said.[/quote]

Continue reading this insightful article by Steven Novella posted to Science Based Medicine on August 16, 2017

Read the rest

The “It Worked for Me” Gimmick

Posted 22 April 2016

[quote]It is almost inevitable that whenever we post an article critical of the claims being made for a particular treatment, alternative philosophy, or alternative profession, someone in the comments will counter a careful examination of published scientific evidence with an anecdote. Their arguments boils down to, “It worked for me, so all of your scientific evidence and plausibility is irrelevant.” Both components of this argument are invalid. Even if we grant that a treatment worked for one individual, that does not counter the (carefully observed) experience of all the subjects in the clinical trials. They count too – I would argue they count more because we can verify all the important aspects of their story.[/quote]

This article by by Steven Novella published on April 20, 2016 on Science-Based Medicine, examines the value of the claim, ‘but it worked for me’.

He concludes:

[quote]It is hard… Read the rest

Alternative Medicine and the Ethics Of Commerce

Posted 16 March 2016

Scott Gavura, a pharmacist, publishes to his own website, Science-based Pharmacy. His articles, always thought provoking, are cross-posted to Science-based Medicine.

In this article, titled “The questionable ethics of selling complementary and alternative medicine”, he points out that like other critics, “I looked at CAM from a scientific evidence perspective, the one I was taught in pharmacy school, using the same approach I’d take when assessing a new drug. Did the evidence support the claims made about these products, or not? The answers, as you might expect, were often the same. There was little or no credible evidence to demonstrate CAM had any meaningful benefits”.

He and Professor Chris MacDonald of Ryerson University have now focused on the ethics of selling CAMS, now published in the journal Bioethics, a peer-reviewed paper on the same topic: “Alternative Medicine and the Ethics of Commerce.”Read the rest

Osillococcinum – its origons, i.e., how is it made and its ‘science’

Posted 22 January 2016

In a comment to the posting, Why an ineffective flu remedy (Oscillococcinum) is still being advertised in South Africa, a reader drew our attention to the excellent article Ososillyococcinum and other Flu bits by Mark Crislip on the blog, Science-Based Medicine, which explains the bizarre rationale for how this product was created and how it is manufactured. Very funny, (O-so-silly-ococcinum) but very serious. Worth a read.

[quote]In the 1919 flu epidemic a physician who did not understand that artifacts on the slide, probably bubbles, move randomly due to Brownian motion.  Looking at the tissues of flu patients with a microscope, he  found what he thought was not only the cause of influenza, but the cause of all diseases: small cocci (round balls) that oscillated under the microscope.  He found these wiggling bubbles in all the tissues of all the ill people he examined and thought… Read the rest

Review of 17 “alternative” therapies finds no evidence of effectiveness

Posted 22 November 2015

The Australian government recently undertook a review of natural products covered by private health insurance. It did this for two main reasons: The first was to ensure that private insurance plans were paying for “clinically proven” treatment. The second was based on concerns about tax dollars being used to subsidize ineffective treatments. The government provides a rebate on private insurance, and questions were raised about the extent to which the government was effectively subsidizing “natural” therapies that were not supported by good evidence yet were still being paid for through insurance. So in 2012 the government announced a review of natural treatments to determine if these therapies were effective, safe, and provided good value for money.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the report has concluded:

The Private Health Insurance Rebate will be paid for insurance products that cover natural therapy services only where the Chief Medical Officer

Read the rest

Free “Science Based Medicine” vs “CAM” course available

Posted 04 December 2015

The James Randi Educational Foundation has produced a superb 10-part video lecture series in which Harriet Hall, M.D., contrasts science-based medicine with so-called “complementary and alternative” methods.

The lectures range from 32 to 45 minutes. A companion course guide is also available.

This course consists of 10 lectures:
1. Science-Based Medicine vs. Evidence-Based Medicine
2. What Is CAM?
3. Chiropractic
4. Acupuncture
5. Homeopathy
6. Naturopathy and Herbal Medicine
7. Energy Medicine
8. Miscellaneous “Alternatives”
9. Pitfalls in Research
10.Science-Based Medicine in the Media and Politics

From: Consumer Health Digest #15-47, November 29, 2015

Read the rest