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The Sense and Nonsense of Alternative Medicine

DoYouBelieveInMagicIn his new book, Do You Believe In Magic? The Sense and Nonsense of Alternative Medicine, Dr. Paul A. Offit takes a critical look at the field of alternative medicine and separates fact from fiction and science from snake oil.  Since fifty percent of Americans use some form of alternative medicine, and ten percent use it on their children, Dr. Offit examines the questions, does it really work and where is the scientific proof?

As a multiple best-selling author, Every Child By Two Board Member, and Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases and Director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Dr. Offit suggests that while American’s love alternative medicine, they are paying a high price for it.  From regular visits to acupuncturists, chiropractors and naturopaths to the daily ingesting of homeopathic remedies, Chinese herbs and megavitamins, the use of alternative therapies has not only become a $34 billion-a-year industry, but a practice that promotes miracle cures that are often ineffective and very harmful to our health.  Drawing on current research and real-life experiences of patients, this book investigates alternative therapies for such ailments and conditions as chronic pain, Lyme’s disease, cancer, menopause and aging.  Grounded in science, Dr. Offit’s book warns that alternative medicine is an unregulated industry under no legal obligation to prove its claims or admit its risks.

“Making decisions about our health is an awesome responsibility,” writes Dr. Offit.  “If we’re going to do it, we need to take it seriously.  Otherwise we will violate the most basic principle of medicine: first do no harm.”

While the book will be released by Harper Collins next Tuesday, June 18th, we are organizing a “flash mob” pre-sales event tomorrow, Tuesday, June 11th.  To help drive media attention and book sales on this one day, please consider purchasing a copy of the book (or several to gift to family and friends) on June 11th.  Hard copy purchases are best, but eBooks help too.

You can purchase Do You Believe in Magic? The Sense and Nonsense of Alternative Medicine online at Amazon here or through Barnes and Noble here.  When you make a purchase you can do so knowing that all proceeds from the sales of the book will be donated to the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, a resource that we regularly reference and refer others to for accurate vaccine information.

  1. Ben
    June 10, 2013 at 1:04 pm

    i think there was a typo. Dr. P. meant to say that the vaccine schedule is an unregulated industry under no legal obligation to prove its claims or admit its risks, and unfortunately, he does not take seriously the basic principle of medicine to first do no harm.

    Like

  2. June 10, 2013 at 1:13 pm

    Ben, if you are going to argue a point. Use some facts.

    All Vaccines and regulated medicine must be supplied with warnings regarding potential side affects.

    The first rule of trying to make an educated person appear the buffoon, is to not play the buffoon whilst attacking them.

    Like

  3. June 10, 2013 at 2:13 pm

    @Ben – any proof that vaccines aren’t subjected to the same rigorous testing and approval process that every single other medical treatment is required to undergo?

    How about the thousands of published clinic trials and pubmed papers related to vaccine safety?

    Seems you may have a reading comprehension issue.

    Like

  4. Peter M
    June 10, 2013 at 2:55 pm

    Fear mongering in regards to acupuncture and chiropractic services? Unbelievable!

    “*acupuncture needles have pierced hearts, lungs, and livers, and transmitted viruses, including hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV;”

    “*chiropractic manipulations have torn arteries.”

    Like

  5. Peter M
    June 10, 2013 at 3:00 pm

    The book will be an interesting read or a big joke; I assume it will be the latter, but we shall see.

    Like

  6. Christine Vara
    June 10, 2013 at 3:12 pm

    Lilady was unable to post, due to a glitch we have been experiencing with WordPress. Therefore, she emailed us this comment that we are posting on her behalf.

    Lilady states: I had the pleasure of attending Dr. Offit’s seminar at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory on Saturday June 8th, where he discussed his new book “Do You Believe In Magic”. The seminar was well attended and Dr. Offit touched on many of “Complementary/Alternative” therapies such as homeopathy, naturopathy, chiropractic, acupuncture, homeopathy, reiki, and other not-based-in-science treatment modalities. He was especially critical of “supplements and mega-dose vitamins”…which are totally unregulated and are manufactured by *Big Supplement/Big Pharma* and are targeted to credulous people, to “boost the immune system” and other such unsupported claims.”

    At the end of the Q & A session, I spoke “as the parent of a developmentally disabled and as a retired public health nurse”, to thank Dr. Offit and the staff at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia for their excellent care of children, and, to also thank him for the superb job he does educating parents about vaccines and the serious, sometimes deadly, diseases they prevent.”

    Like

  7. Christine Vara
    June 10, 2013 at 3:21 pm

    Just a note to the regular participants here, Peter M. is “Joe”, who’s privileges on this site have been restricted in the past.

    Like

  8. Sara
    June 10, 2013 at 3:49 pm

    Mega-doses of vitamin C have miraculous healing properties for any disease, while appropriate doses of vitamin A have been proven to prevent complications from measles. Supplements like kava kava, valerian, echinacea, garlic, lemon balm, elderberry (or Sambucol), and hawthorn (and dozens of others) effectively and safely treat certain conditions for a fraction of the price of pharmaceutical drugs, every one of which can cause a grocery list of dangerous side effects, up to and including death. Americans have already made our choice, and have protested vigorously at every attempt on the part of drug manufacturers to limit our access to supplements.

    Good to see you here again, Joe (or Peter)!

    Like

  9. Chris
    June 10, 2013 at 3:59 pm

    Sara, citation needed.

    The Vitamin A works mostly in areas where children are malnourished, like in developing countries. The herbs may have real pharmaceutical effects, but sometimes they are not useful, or have compounds that are not safe.

    No one has limited your access to supplements. What has been done is remove regulations to keep those “supplements” safe. Sometimes certain things are put on the market without proper tests just because they are “supplements”, and people end up dead.

    Oh, and Peter M/Joe/Sara:
    J Altern Complement Med. 2013 Jun;19(6):564-8.
    Acupuncture-associated pneumothorax

    Like

  10. Peter M
    June 10, 2013 at 4:02 pm

    Christine, you obviously have the right to restrict me if you like, but never said why you did. And you can call me Peter and not Joe.

    Like

  11. June 10, 2013 at 4:21 pm

    @Sara – yeah & you guys won. You an have all the supplements you want, without any safety regulations, just about. Feel free to gorge yourself on all the melamine & adulterated substances you want – because the manufacturers don’t have to prove their products are safe or effective.

    Like

  12. Christine Vara
    June 10, 2013 at 4:36 pm

    Joe/Peter M: As an admin it is obvious that you have been using multiple accounts to gain access to this site (to include, but not limited to Daran, Dina, Agnid, Scott, Foster Dad and others). By representing yourself as more than one person your behavior is misleading and your comments will therefore be considered as spam.

    Like

  13. Christine Vara
    June 10, 2013 at 4:48 pm

    To those of you interested in a taste of what Dr. Offit has covered in his new book, you may want to check out his recent Op-Ed in the NY Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/09/opinion/sunday/dont-take-your-vitamins.html?ref=contributors&_r=0

    Like

  14. Peter M
    June 10, 2013 at 4:52 pm

    Lawrence, those are two completely different issues.
    One – are the vitamins/minerals effective for treatment etc?
    Two – are they regulated for safety etc?

    Christine, That doesn’t explain the original restriction, and it is because of the restriction that the other names were used in the first place. Although I was NOT Dina or Foster Dad.

    Like

  15. June 10, 2013 at 5:08 pm

    @Peter/Joe/sockpuppets –

    1) Please provide the appropriate citations that vitamins / minerals are effective treatments (for things other than say malnutrition or scrurvy).

    2) They really aren’t nor are they required to prove that they are effective, either.

    Like

  16. Christine Vara
    June 10, 2013 at 5:09 pm

    Peter, Back when you were Joe, there were multiple occasions where you two apparently different people were conversing with one another, Joe and someone else. Yet, the someone else was Joe in disguise. I do not appreciate you misrepresenting your position by congratulating yourself on a “good comment”. Please stop wasting people’s time with this immature behavior.

    Like

  17. Peter M
    June 10, 2013 at 5:14 pm

    Christine, that may be true and in hindsight is ridiculous. It may have been during a time that I was extremely frustrated for not being able to comment and I apologize for doing it.

    Like

  18. June 10, 2013 at 5:18 pm

    @Peter/Joe/Sockpuppets – I recommend you take this conversation “off-line.”

    Contact Christine directly via her email & perhaps you can work something out.

    Like

  19. Peter M
    June 10, 2013 at 5:18 pm

    Lawrence,

    You don’t think that vitamins and minerals are effective in treating and/or preventing anything other than malnutrition and scurvy? Have your read anything about Vit D3?

    2) I agree with you.

    Like

  20. C.
    June 10, 2013 at 5:28 pm

    I (C.) have congratulated others for good comments, including Joe or whoever. He has not congratulated himself. He’s a really nice guy, and we have corresponded through private emails. He’s a good man, gentlemanly, considerate, and polite, a great husband and father, and totally sincere in what he says about vaccines, autism, supplements, and dietary interventions to heal autism. He has a valued place in this discussion. I have been forced to use other names because of having been blocked many times, but I think that what I have to say is very important to a balanced exchange of news and views on vaccines. You will not find that I have congratulated Sara, Ben, Dina, etc.

    Like

  21. Lawrence
    June 10, 2013 at 5:51 pm

    @Ms Parker – joe admitted as much. Quit digging.

    Like

  22. C.
    June 10, 2013 at 6:34 pm

    Meaning? Joe has used other names, as have many of us who wish to continue commenting despite being banned and censored. He hasn’t used any of the names I have.

    Like

  23. Lawrence
    June 10, 2013 at 6:51 pm

    @ms Parker – as Chris has stated, please get some help.

    Quit posting off-topic too.

    Like

  24. Gray Falcon
    June 10, 2013 at 9:57 pm

    Joe, one consistent feature of all your posts is a general disdain for the concept of honesty and integrity. Christine banned you for a very good reason.

    Like

  25. Peter M
    June 11, 2013 at 1:41 am

    GF – I disagree with you. You bring trouble to your self. You turn up the heat, and then can’t take it, rather than choosing to have respectful honest discussions.

    Like

  26. novalox
    June 11, 2013 at 1:45 am

    @peter m.

    Considering that you have to use sockpuppets for discussion, your comment reeks of hypocrisy.

    So please, spare me your holier than thou attitude.

    Like

  27. Ben
    June 11, 2013 at 1:08 pm

    C.,
    You asked about vitamin C being useful for conditions other than scurvy. Patrone F 1979 “Vit C and phagocytic system: present status and perspectives” Acta Vitaminol Enzym 1(1-6), 5-10. PMID 400272. Lack of vit C interfers with oxidative metabolism, bactericidal power and chemotaxis of neutrophil granulocytes. C stimulates true chemotactic resonse of normal human granulocytes, and in patients with recurrent infections, neutrophil functions were restored.
    1980 Dallegri F. “Effects of ascorbic acid on neutrophil locomotion” PMID 7350124 Vit. C greatly enhanced neutrophil locomotion and chemotaxis, C showed an effect on entire moving cell population.
    I’m skipping articles on vit C’s effect healing sepsis, since you agree with that.
    2003 Ashton T. “Exercise-induced endotoxemia” PMID 12885590 Athletes with exercise-induced endotoxemia who had had high levels of LPS in their bloodstream previously, were pre-treated the next time they did exercise with mega doses of vit C. Vit C ameliorated the increase in LPS and nitrite. This implies that endotoxemia is a free-radical-mediated process.

    Like

  28. Chris
    June 11, 2013 at 3:04 pm

    Ms. Parker, your wacky way of posting citation betrays you. Especially since you should know better with a PhD in Spanish. Something has happened to you, please get help.

    Like

  29. dingo199
    June 11, 2013 at 6:17 pm

    Ben :
    C.,
    You asked about vitamin C being useful for conditions other than scurvy…ramble…some in vitro stuff with zero clinical applicability.

    i.e. not useful by any of the standard clinical norms of usefulness.

    Like

  30. Chris
    June 11, 2013 at 6:54 pm

    Exactly, Dingo, humans are not exactly petri dishes.

    Like

  31. June 13, 2013 at 6:07 pm

    Sara :
    Mega-doses of vitamin C have miraculous healing properties for any disease

    I won’t deny that some vitamins are helpful, but “miraculous healing properties for ANY disease?? That is quite a claim. Are you suggesting that massive doses of vitamin C can cure leprosy, HIV, and ALS? If so, start drafting your application for the Nobel Prize today because if you can prove it you are most certain in the running for a medal.

    Sarcasm aside, do you really have any citations to support your statement surrounding vitamin C? I won’t even so bold as to require you to provide support for any and all diseases… I’ll settle for evidence where it is a proven treatment and/or cure for four diseases – and you can pick which four!

    Americans have already made our choice

    Considering childhood vaccination rates hover at or above 90% in the US, it would seem you are correct. Americans have in fact already make their choice.

    Like

  32. dingo199
    June 20, 2013 at 4:28 am

    Just got my copy in the post yesterday.
    Looking forward to reading it.

    Like

  33. Jesse
    June 23, 2013 at 6:00 pm

    On June 1, 2013 the American Board of Integrative Medicine (ABOIM) announced it is officially accepting applications for board certification. Integrative Medicine is now a recognized specialty by the American Board of Physician Specialties. Makes Paul Offit’s new book, “Do You Believe in Magic?: The Sense and Nonsense of Alternative Medicine” into a laughing stock. Hopefully he and his pharma-bought cronies will soon go away.

    Like

  34. Gray Falcon
    June 23, 2013 at 6:06 pm

    Jesse, people once believed that it was impossible for a human to control an automobile driving at over 10 miles an hour. Does that make it true? An idea’s popularity isn’t evidence of anything but people’s willingness to believe anything.

    Like

  35. June 23, 2013 at 8:57 pm

    @Jesse – you do realize that any medicine that works is called “medicine” – what has been labelled as “alternative” is nothing more than hocus-pocus, with no logic, reason, or evidence behind it…..

    Like

  36. Narad
    June 23, 2013 at 10:42 pm

    Jesse :
    On June 1, 2013 the American Board of Integrative Medicine (ABOIM) announced it is officially accepting applications for board certification. Integrative Medicine is now a recognized specialty by the American Board of Physician Specialties.

    Oh, I did need a chuckle tonight. Behold the “requirements”.

    Like

  37. August 17, 2013 at 7:18 pm

    I think you have to keep in mind that alternative medicine works a lot if you actually believe in it…. Call it placebo effect, nevertheless it works….

    Like

  38. August 18, 2013 at 6:16 am

    @Dolores – by its very definition, placebo-effect isn’t “working” as much fooling yourself that it is working.

    If a particular alternative treatment actually worked, it wouldn’t be alternative anymore – it would be medicine.

    Like

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  40. lilady
    November 22, 2013 at 2:52 pm

    Necromancing Spammer above.

    Like

  1. July 3, 2013 at 9:32 pm

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