It is the little things

It is the little things

Sometimes it is the little things that are annoying, the repetition of an invalid meme.

There is a nice review this month in Clinical Infectious Disease of all the wack-a-loon therapies offered on the internet for patients with chronic Lyme, Unorthodox Alternative Therapies Marketed to Treat Lyme Disease.

Odd title. Are there orthodox alternative therapies? Or unorthodox standard therapies? Or do we go with the old aphorism, what do you call alternative medicine that has been demonstrated to work? Medicine.


It is quite the review; although little in the way of surprise for those who have been analyzing and evaluating pseudo-medicines these past 6 years. Their conclusion has been an SBM mantra for years:

The efficacy of these unconventional treatments for Lyme disease is not supported by scientific evidence, and in many cases they are potentially harmful.

Accompanying the article is a nice editorial that outlines some of the issues of chronic Lyme and its kindred syndromes.

And then they get annoying. Diet and exercise, for example, are not alternative. Diet and exercise are often branded as such, and has been noted, are the Trojan Horse of Integrative Medicine. But diet and exercise are part of standard medicine and primary care. Not alternative.

So when the editorial says (italics added)

Moreover, a number of safe alternative therapies, can be helpful, and in some cases, they may be as or more effective than pharmacotherapy. For example, 2 randomized, controlled trials showed the effectiveness of tai chi, a mind-body practice (exercise with a patina of eastern mysticism), in improving fibromyalgia symptoms. Other complementary therapies include meditation, yoga (exercise with a patina of Indian mysticism), qi-gong, acupuncture, massage (not alternative), or low-impact aerobic exercise programs, which include walking or aquatic exercise (which is, well, exercise).

It is annoying. And wrong Exercise is neither alternative nor complementary.  "A lie told often enough becomes the truth." Maybe that is the mantra of pseudo-medicine. 

And, non-ironically, they include qi-gong and acupuncture, neither of which are based in known reality. Acupuncture, or acupunctures since there are dozens of styles, are theatrical placebo.  Or maybe these are the missing orthodox alternative therapies.  They still don't work.

It is a small part of the editorial, but a common enough occurrence in the literature where useless pseudo-medicines are recommended and standard therapies are branded alternative. If you ever wonder why Sisyphus is our logo, look no further.

Points of Interest 05/16/2015
Points of Interest 06/15/2015