Consumer Health Digest #13-27

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
July 11, 2013


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.


British homeopaths blasted. A campaign spearheaded by the Nightingale Collaboration has stimulated the British Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) to clamp down on homeopathic advertising. When the ASA receives complaints about an individual advertiser, its ruling applies only to that advertiser. However, there were so many complaints about homeopathic advertising that the agency decided to issue general rules. On July 3rd, the ASA published two highly significant adjudications. One ordered the Society of Homeopaths to stop claiming that homeopathic products are effective against allergies, upper respiratory tract infections, ankle sprain, bronchitis, childhood diarrhea, chronic fatigue, ear infections, fibromyalgia, hay fever, influenza, osteoarthritis, premenstrual syndrome, rheumatic diseases, sinusitis, and vertigo (dizziness). The other ordered Homeopathy: Medicine for the 21st Century to stop making unsubstantiated claims about homeopathy's "success." Overall, the ASA has concluded that homeopathic treatment not been substantiated for any medical condition.


Reiki practitioners fail to show "energy transmission." Researchers at the Scripps Institute (San Diego) have studied several reiki practitioners to see whether they emitted any detectable electromagnetic radiation from their hands or heart during reiki sessions. No radiation attributable to reiki was found. [Baldwin AL and others. Practicing reiki does not appear to routinely produce high-intensity electromagnetic fields from the heart or hands of reiki practitioners. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine 19:518-526, 2013] Reiki is one of several nonsensical methods commonly referred to as "energy healing." Reiki practitioners claim to facilitate healing by strengthening or balancing an "energy field" that supposedly surrounds and permeates the body. In a traditional reiki session, the practitioner's hands are placed lightly on or just above the client's body, palms down, until the practitioner feels that the flow of energy—said to be experienced as sensations such as heat or tingling in the hands—has slowed or stopped. Reiki is sometimes self-administered or administered to others at distant locations. Quackwatch has additional information.


"Dr. Oz" facing suit by injured man. Mehmet Oz, M.D. and his television producers are being sued by 76-year-old Frank Dietl, who claims an insomnia cure promoted on "The Dr. Oz Show" left him with third-degree burns of his feet. According to the complaint:


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