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Posts Tagged ‘CAM’

Bowen Therapy – all fingers and thumbs

Posted by apgaylard on June 19, 2011

I stumbled across Bowen Therapy (aka Bowen Technique, Bowen Work) a few years ago when the other half decided to give it a try.  She found it relaxing and felt it provided a little immediate relief that was soon gone.  Essentially, it was worthless as a treatment for what was ailing her.

This therapy was invented by an Australian called Thomas Ambrose Bowen (1916 – 1982).  Apparently, he referred to himself as an osteopath before the title became regulated in the 1970s.  The therapy that now bears his name involves the gentle manipulation of soft tissue using fingers and thumbs; moving them over muscle, ligament, tendon and fascia.

It’s a fairly common, but definitely second division, complementary therapy.  In the UK, Bowen Therapists can register with the pointless Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC).

After our experience of Bowen Technique, I decided to try and see what evidence is available for the effectiveness of this therapy.  I also decided that it was time to see what claims are being made for it.

A bare cupboard

After having a good look, I don’t think that there is really nothing resembling evidence to support the use of Bowen Therapy for anything.  A careful search of PubMed, The Cochrane Database and Google Scholar identified just six relevant references. Read the rest of this entry »


Posted in bowen | Tagged: , , , , , | 14 Comments »

Reflexology and sub-fertility

Posted by apgaylard on June 2, 2010

I had never come across the baffling concept of “reproductive reflexology” until a local practitioner had a leaflet popped through my letterbox.  They rather fetchingly style themselves “foothold reflexology”.  The leaflet’s major theme is to suggest that reflexology can help with pregnancy and sub-fertility.

Given that a glorified foot massage is massively unlikely to offer help beyond relaxing someone and generally making them feel nice, I thought that this was worth a bit of investigation.  My main concern with this pitch is that issues around fertility can be profoundly distressing.  Though I am sure that this reflexologist is sincere and well-meaning, peddling false hope is cruel. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in reflexology | Tagged: , , | 11 Comments »

RCN, CAM and the menopause – Part two – Credulous nonsense

Posted by apgaylard on November 28, 2008

complementary-approaches-to-menopausal-symptoms1In part one of this short series on the Royal College of Nursing’s “Complementary approaches to menopausal symptoms – RCN guidance for nurses, midwives and health visitors” I looked at the guidance on herbal remedies.  Now I’m moving on to cover what the document has to say about the role of acupuncture, aromatherapy, reflexology and homeopathy in treating symptoms of the menopause. 

Just like its approach to herbal remedies, we shall see that this document falls into the pitfalls of appeals to common practise and tradition; along with a predilection for cherry-picking dubious positive evidence; ignoring more credible negative evidence. 

Before we begin, it is worth remembering that the RCN counsels its members: 

“… You should not recommend products or therapies over others without a good evidence base …”

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in homeopathy, Pseudoscience | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

The RCN, CAM and the menopause – Part one – The herbs don’t work?

Posted by apgaylard on November 18, 2008

complementary-approaches-to-menopausal-symptomsI’ve recently stumbled upon the Royal College of Nursing’s “Complementary approaches to menopausal symptoms” and I’m not overly impressed.  So I’ve decided to review it in two posts.  This post looks at some of its introductory sections and then focuses on what it has to say about herbs and the menopause. 

Part two will look at its inadequate treatment of the remaining complementary therapies (acupuncture, aromatherapy, reflexology and homeopathy)

Don’t get me wrong, the document has its strengths: a good discussion of the placebo effect and information on possible side-effects from herbs, to name two. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Supplements | Tagged: , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Lost In Translation? Part I: What Is Incommensurability And Why Should I Care?

Posted by apgaylard on March 1, 2008

I have some family and friends who are well disposed towards CAM in general and homeopathy in particular.  I’ve noticed that discussions of the relationship between their views and science are fraught.  At times it’s because they don’t really understand the CAM ‘therapy’ or science; at other times it’s like we’re talking in different languages.

The latter can be thought of as incommensurability: the lack of common units of measure shared by concepts that we’d like to compare.  Apparantly, this idea reaches back in time to Pythagorean geometers who had the notion that any two lengths were measurable by multiples of some common unit, hence are “commensurable“. One of their number subsequently discovered that this is not so, legend has it that the discoverer of “incommensurable” quantities (irrational numbers) was killed by his fellows.  Incommensurability is only a little less controversial today!

The cry of “incommensurable” is often heard when CAM modalities are threatened with a fair test of their claims, it’s become a standard ‘defensive’ gambit.  How valid is this defence along with the common invocation of the work of philosophers like Kuhn?

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments »

How Do You Interpret a CAM trial?

Posted by apgaylard on January 18, 2008

I have just read R. Barker Bausell‘s excellent “Snake Oil Science – The Truth About Complementary and Alternative Medicine“.  If you are interested in the reasons why CAM trials are likely to give false positive results and an in-depth look at the placebo effect: I thoroughly recommend it.

If you have not yet got around to it here is a flavour of the insights provided: some guidelines the author kindly offered me on how to interpret CAM trials (based on answers he has given to questions asked by interviewers). Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Statistics | Tagged: , , | 7 Comments »

Fading Evidence

Posted by apgaylard on November 15, 2007

 I’ve been continuing to pursue the evidence base for Lightwave Stimulation (LWS) Therapy  (a.k.a Downing Technique, Lumatron therapy, Ocular light therapy, Photron therapy) as a treatment for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) . 

It’s the therapy that a BBC ‘news’ item called “… the answer …” for “… many… ” SAD sufferers.

Now it turns out that the ‘expert’ who appeared on the BBC, Pauline Allen of the Sound Learning Centre, has no medical qualifications.  She does, however, run a private clinic that will sell LWS therapy to SAD sufferers for £60 an hour.

Given this level of confidence you might expect that there is some proper evidence to support these assertions?  Well, try as I might, I cannot find any.  If you can find some be sure to let me know!

My own trawl of the internet turned up just two papers from the Australian Journal of Holistic Nursing.  One was an un-refereed retrospective on colour therapies; the other a single case study.  They were both by the same author.  Not a trial between them.

So I thought that I’d ask the Sound Learning Centre what research evidence was available.  They sent me their Client Information Pack.  The only references it contained were for light therapies generally.  They were to just two books.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Lightwave Stimulation | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Light on Evidence

Posted by apgaylard on November 3, 2007

 I recently wrote about the BBC’s rash promotional video news item about Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and Lightwave Stimulation (LWS) therapy.  It is clear from what the advocates of this approach have put into the public domain that this is a speculative, pseudoscientific, treatment.

I’ve decided to dig a little deeper into the evidence base for LWS.  This post is just a quick progress report.

First, money: the Sound Learning Centre (irony levels rising!) charge £ 400 for a child (20 sessions) and £ 500 for an adult (25 sessions).  Not massively expensive, but at £60 per hour a significant cost.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Colour Therapy, Lightwave Stimulation, Logical Fallacies | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Light on Evidence