Licensing and legitimacy in alternative medicine

Interprovincial naturopath wars!

I saw this sign literally yards from my home in Ottawa. So close to the border between Ontario and Quebec, there is a lot of competition for services, competition which is enhanced by the fact that there are two different tax rates in the provinces. In this case, the Ontario naturopath is arguing that the customer (and let’s face it, users of naturopathy are really more customers than patients) would be better off using a provider from a province within which naturopathy is licensed and regulated (i.e. Ontario) rather than a province where the practice is unregulated (i.e. Quebec).  Of course, this really boils down to a debate over whether or not the Emperor’s new clothes were made by a tailor who was part of the Tailors’ Guild…
Read More »

Pure Med Naturopathic Centre, Ottawa: Logical fallacies and unproven treatments

Since my involvement with the 10:23 Campaign here in Ottawa in February 2011 (see our media coverage), I have had a Google Alert set up to notify me when the words “homeopathy” and “Ottawa” occur together in a news article.  This alert has been blissfully silent… until today!
Read More »

The limitations of clinical trials

[I really should have discussed this before having launched into reviews of evidence from clinical trials as it is fundamental to the issue of what constitutes “evidence”. You will notice, if you read back, that I have peppered my previous posts with links to this article where appropriate.]

I have mentioned in a number of previous posts that there is some evidence for efficacy for some fairly outlandish alternative medicine treatments. This evidence comes in the form of significant statistical tests in clinical trials. Now, clinical trials (double-blind, placebo-controlled and properly randomised) are the gold standard for evidence-based medicine but (as with all statistics) you have to know how to interpret them for them to be of any use. There are three places where care needs to be exercised in the interpretation of clinical trials:Read More »

Correactology – a very Canadian woo

I was carrying out some fieldwork in northern Ontario last summer, which involved trips to Sudbury, Sault Ste Marie and North Bay. Each day while staying in Sault Ste Marie, we would drive past a small, squat building with a sign outside announcing the presence of a “Correactology Centre”. I had no idea what that was and made a mental note to look it up. I was surprised that when I googled “correactology” there wasn’t even a Wikipedia page! It didn’t bother me that much as I had assumed that it was some obscure form of alternative therapy. I was correct, but it is a little bit more interesting than that.  Unlike many forms of complementary and alternative medicine, correactology (TM) is new.  Not only that, but it is Canadian, with the headquarters based in Sudbury, Ontario, and there is also a branch in Ottawa, making this a local matter!
Read More »

Debunking the drug store: Oscillococcinum and Homeocoksinum

For those of you who have been following the past couple of posts, I am currently working my way through part of a shelf in Shoppers Drug Mart and critically evaluating some of their products.  I’ve already covered Boiron’s “Stodal” cough syrup and found it to be a combination of folk remedies and wishful-thinking.  However, their big product is the flu-remedy Oscillcoccinum.  This is among the top ten over-the-counter medicines sold in France (not surprising given their love of homeopathy), so it isn’t a “fringe” alternative medicine by any means.  Oscillococcinum (“Oscillo” for short) and Homeocoksinum (its Canadian cousin) are the same medicine marketed by two different companies, so I’m going to deal with them together.
Read More »

Debunking the drug store: Stodal

For those of you who aren’t aware, I am on a mission to debunk at least a small part of Shoppers Drug Mart.  This time, it’s Boiron’s Stodal cough mixture.

I hadn’t heard of Stodal before.  Apparently it “relieves all types of coughs”, which seems like a pretty bold (and evidence-based claim).  This surprised me as it is produced by Boiron, a homeopathic manufacturer.  Now there are lots of perfectly good cough medicines out there, even if some of them taste like you’re drinking the products of a high school chemistry experiment.  So what does Boiron bring to the table?

Read More »