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How Safe And Effective Is Alternative Medicine?

Alternative medicine — from herbs to acupuncture to supplements — is huge in America. Now, one prominent doctor says it’s been way oversold.

This Oct. 28, 2009 photo shows Christine Kinsella, a licensed acupuncturist and Chinese Herbalist, treating patient Cynde Durnford-Branecki during an acupuncture treatment in San Diego. (Lenny Ignelzi/AP)

This Oct. 28, 2009 photo shows Christine Kinsella, a licensed acupuncturist and Chinese Herbalist, treating patient Cynde Durnford-Branecki during an acupuncture treatment in San Diego. (Lenny Ignelzi/AP)

We are a nation of alternative medicine seekers — $34 billion a year spent on supplements and herbs, vitamins and touch therapy, aromas and detox and crystals and acupuncture.

Gingko for memory. Palmetto for prostate. Coconut oil for Alzheimer’s. Echinacea for colds.

Dr. Paul Offit says stop.  He says he understands our disenchantment with standard medicine, the things it can’t do.  But unproven alternative medicine, he says, is not the answer — in spite of our attraction — and can hurt us.

This hour, On Point: One big doctor says it’s time to rein in alternative medicine in America.

–Tom Ashbrook


Dr. Paul Offit. (April Saul/Courtesy of HarperCollins)

Dr. Paul Offit. (April Saul/HarperCollins)

Dr. Paul A. Offit, chief of the division of infectious diseases and the director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. (@DrPaulOffit)

His latest book is “Do You Believe In Magic?: The Sense And Nonsense Of Alternative Medicine” — read an excerpt below.

Dr. Terry Grossman, founder and director of the Grossman Wellness Center and co-author (with Ray Kurzweil) of “Transcend: Nine Steps to Living Well Forever.” (@tgmd)

Interview Highlights

The following are all highlights from Dr. Paul Offit’s comments.

On not granting the alternative medicine industry a “free pass”:

I think modern medicine has it’s limits. The point I’m trying to make in this book is just because one is disillusioned with certain aspects of modern medicine doesn’t mean that alternative medicine should get a free pass. This industry shouldn’t exist under an untouchable halo. And I think one should bring the same level of skepticism that one brings to conventional medicine to this industry as well because remember: It’s an industry.

On the two ways to view alternative medicine:

One, you could argue there’s no such thing as alternative medicine. If alternative medicine works, then one could simply call it medicine. And if alternative medicine doesn’t work, then it’s not an alternative.

On the dangers of megavitamins:

If you look at people who take large quantities of vitamin A, vitamin E, beta-carotene (which is an A precursor) and selenium, they increase the risk of cancer, increase the risk of heart disease and shorten their life. Vitamins taken as large doses can hurt you, and most people don’t know that because the industry essentially markets it away.

On the placebo effect:

It’s certainly true that vitamin C doesn’t prevent colds and doesn’t treat colds, but you could argue that believing that your cold is getting better means something and, I think, probably goes a long way to helping you get better. But if we’re going to use these things as placebos, then why don’t we just use placebos, like a sugar pill?

When you buy into this notion that homeopathy is anything other than placebo, it’s dangerous. But I want to make the point that I’m not trying to do a complete smackdown of alternative medicine because I do think when people say the mind-body connection, that is real. And when you use the term placebo — I wish we had a different word because when people hear that word, they think it’s dismissive and people are saying it’s just all in your mind and it’s not real. But the mind is not a trivial place to be. And we’ve learned that people can, in fact, learn to release their own endorphins (which are pain-relieving chemicals that our body makes) or can  learn to up-regulate or down-regulate their own. Some even learn to release their own dopamine. So that’s not a trivial thing. I think figuring out the best and least burdensome ways to do that is a good thing. And that’s where alternative lives, largely; they live in the placebo response, which is a good thing.

On the popularity of alternative medicine and the lack of regulation:

I think we all want what’s best for our health. And the alternative medicine industry is a very powerful industry. They have a lot of money. They are media savvy. They are politically connected. And ever since the 1994 Dietary Supplement Health And Education Act, they are an unfettered industry. They are not tied down to actually prove that when they say something works that it works or tied down to prove when they say something is safe that it really is safe. That’s a pretty good deal for them and not a very good deal for us. And I think we’re susceptible to that because it’s very easy to appeal to our notion that we want better health and that here’s this magic medicine that can do it, even if it doesn’t.

This industry can’t make specific medical claims, so it’s the wink-and-nod claim. It’s the joint support formula, the prostate support formula, the heart support formula. They’re not allowed to say, for example, “shrinks your prostate” because the minute they do that, they’ve made a specific medical claim, and they will fall under the FDA. And if you look on those bottles, they all say, “This is not intended for treatment of a specific disease.” You have to look closely on the bottle to see that, but it does say that.

If you take an alternative medicine because you don’t know it’s harmful, like alpha-Tocopherol … most people don’t that because it’s not an FDA-regulated industry. And I just don’t think you can expect people to know that, given that the FDA isn’t looking over the shoulder. When Vioxx was found to be a cause of heart disease, you knew that in a  second because the FDA regulated that industry, they put out media alerts and ultimately that drug was off the market. The same is really not true on the other side.

Book Excerpt

Browse inside the book at the publisher’s website.

Excerpted from “Do You Believe In Magic?: The Sense And Nonsense Of Alternative Medicine” by Paul A. Offit, M.D. Copyright 2013 by Paul A. Offit, M.D. All rights reserved. Used with permission from HarperCollins.

From Tom’s Reading List

The New York Times: Mind Over Matter: Debunking Alternative Medicines [BOOK REVIEW] — ” He speaks for rational, scientific medicine (and medicines) whose efficacy has been confirmed in impartial, reproducible clinical trials. Everything else, no matter how venerable, highly recommended or self-evidently 100 percent terrific, he places on the spectrum between unproved and dangerous.”

The Los Angeles Times: Alluring But Risky Medicine [OP-ED] — “But alternative medicine shouldn’t be given a free pass. Just because something sounds harmless doesn’t mean that it is harmless. If we are to take our healthcare seriously, we should insist that alternative products — many of which are made by large pharmaceutical companies — be held to the same standards of safety and effectiveness as any licensed product.”

NBC News: Vaccine Advocate Takes On The Alternative Medicine Industry — “Offit says it infuriates him to see not only ordinary citizens buy into the claims of homeopaths, naturopaths and the vitamin industry, but doctors and hospitals. He calls out Dr. Andrew Weil, Dr. Deepak Chopra and others, saying they have abandoned science for the thrill of celebrity that goes with evangelizing alternative medicine.”

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  • nightingale8

    Alternative medicine is not something to be debunked. There are effective practitioners and ineffective practitioners, just as in the medical profession. However, allopathic medicine has not been around nearly as long as acupuncture (thousands of years). You have millions of Chinese to prove it, just as you have millions of citizens of India to prove the effectiveness of ayurvedic medicine. People need to know that most alternative practitioners get to the root cause of a problem and don’t just treat symptoms. Not only that, but they rarely keep a patient waiting, and personally stay in the room longer for patients to get their questions answered. Case in point: ear infections clear up quickly in children with chiropractic care. Placing tubes in the ears is costly and painful, becoming very commonplace, and almost totally unnecessary. These are the truths that have to become well known for people to make sound decisions.

    • 1Brett1

      I was with you until the part about ear infections. Some ear infections are caused by bacteria that (in mild forms) can be treated even without antibiotics. Some need antibiotics. Some are viral in nature and require other treatment/medication. Some are isolated and require no other treatment other than a one-off treatment. Some are systemic/chronic. Some emanate from the middle ear; some are more outer ear infections, etc. To simply say “ear infections clear up quickly in children with chiropractic care” is simplistic and irresponsible. 

    • RolloMartins

      Ear infections clear up quickly anyway in the vast majority of cases, which is why the AMA and other organizations say we should stop treating ear infections (except in cases where infections may spread to meningitis or where the practitioner feels it is too severe to risk palliative therapy). It likely has nothing to do with the chiropractic care. Alternative medicine needs to be debunked because it robs people of their hard-earned cash and gives many false hope. The worst is homeopathy, which is nothing but a false religion.

      • nightingale8

        Sorry but I disagree with that. The thing is, children who are under chiropractic care, especially Network Chiropractic (which is very gentle) tend not to get infections in the first place– because chiropractic care is an immune bosster. Most people do not know this. I started my daughter on chiropractic when she was 20 hours old and she was rarely sick. When she got sick, she was able to heal herself without drugs and their side effects, since chiro. is a tonic for the entire nervous system which supplies all organs with life force.

  • fia05

    Allopathic medicine has it’s place as it is highly effective in many areas of healthcare – or more accurately, sick care.  However, it is extremely limited in many areas not the least of which is preventative and wellness care and nutrition.  For years, MD’s have dismissed the impact of diet/whole foods/supplements, etc. only to eventually have to embrace these things when their limited thinking was proven faulty.  How often have highly touted drugs been recalled due to damaging, if not deadly, results – yet MD’s only know to prescribe the next new pharmaceutical panacea.  Doctors appear to be behind the times in their narrow thinking and do not seem to be willing to treat the “whole person” – just medicate the  separate “parts” of us.  the “specialist” mentality has offered areas of specific expertise at the expense of a truly coordinated, integrated assessment of the whole person and their particular health concerns. MD’s are quick to criticize the work of healthcare providers who are practicing “alternative medicine” but refuse to expand their own scope of practice to embrace a broadened perspective of health and wellness. Perhaps of they were more open to meeting their patients’ health needs and being willing to coordinate care with other practitioners, we would be getting better results.  Prescribing one drug after another makes our healthcare an expensive lab experiment and makes us  sicker in many cases from the deleterious effects of many medications. It is frustrating to try to talk to MD’s about the successes of care from other practitioners because of their narrow and cavalier attitudes so we often do not even tell them about the other care that we are seeking.  Time for doctors to become more curious and less close-minded about  practices they do not understand.

  • eldiosdedios

    For a person to understand evidence based medicine, one needs to learn the basics of biology, chemistry, physiology, the scientific method, double-blind clinical trials, and medical history. People are drawn to more simple, idealistic, and romanticized treatments,which alternative medicine offers, due to disinformation, misinformation, ignorance, and placebo effect.

    • Expanded_Consciousness

      You present a false dichotomy of real effects (medicine) and false effects (alternative medicine). Much of “alternative medicine” is substances and practices that have not been studied or understood by medicine, or that pharmaceutical companies cannot patent and make money off of, so they aren’t interested in studying. What matters is reality. Not what man-made classification something falls into (medicine or alternative medicine). Not what kind of company sells what. There are many folk remedies that were later understood and appropriated by medicine. Medicine has used substances because they worked long before they understood why they worked (penicillin). I’m sure many thought that red wine was good for the blood flow long before medicine “proved” the fact. That chocolate improved their mood. Etc. Etc.

      • RolloMartins

        This isn’t so. There are far more studies on alt. medicine products than you seem to suppose. I see them all the time, as a pharmacist. They just don’t work, or those that do, do not do much. A problem with herbs is that even if they have an efficacious agent it is in too low a dosing as it is not potent enough. Larger dosing is toxic, but a company could take an efficacious chemical(s) and patent them…if they were effective. But they so often are not effective. Snake oil is what they are. 

        • videmus

          One thing that strikes me about the alternative medicine proponents I’ve met is the inconsistency in applying their own internal standards of proof. 
          For example, it seems that it is acceptable to mistrust GM technology because of the belief that it has not been proven to be safe, while at the same time it is acceptable to trust alternative medicine because of the belief it has not been proven to be unsafe.

      • eldiosdedios

        I agree with you that there are “folk remedies” that were later appropriated by the evidence based medicine community and implemented to treat pathologies. I think you seem to be distorting my comment a little bit, I am making the distinction between evidence based medicine and medicine that is not evidence based. There are of course gray areas between these two medicines, but as time passes on, the evidence based medicine community determines through independent peer reviewed studies what medicines actually has physiological mechanisms and not just pure placebo. There is big money in alt med, not as much as in pharma, but there is big money.
        Go to your local super market and check out the homeopathy section and tell me that industry is not making millions. Thanks for your response.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000184595128 Elaine Dunn

      So?????? R U a Physician?????  

      • eldiosdedios

        Nope just some loser on the internet that thinks he is entitled to voice his opinion for no reason.

  • arydberg

    At 71  I too have a prostate problem.     What works for me is to take a synthetic amino acid called EDTA.   I also take both saw palmetto and ginger.     All I know is it works for me.   It was the prostate problem that led me to the EDTA.  Not only do I sleep all night.   I also check my email when i wake before going to the bathroom.    ( The EDTA  takes a little getting used to as it must get directly into your bloodstream which means it is in the form of a suppository)     

    There is an additional benefit in that the EDTA clears out arteries and makes going up and down stairs much easer.   

  • jerwest

    I don’t doubt a lot of alternative medicine is nonsense.  While we’re at it, can we debunk Pharmaceutical products as well?  The US is #1 by far in per-capita prescription consumption out of 34 OECD countries, but  25th in life expectancy.  Let’s also mention that alternative medicines are comparatively cheap, and not likely to be addictive.   

    All manner of healthcare providers have led us down a primrose’d path, regardless of philosophy. Trust a doctor at your peril

    • John_in_Amherst

      Both meds and procedures commonly used in biomedicine have either limited proof of efficacy, poorly understood mechanisms of action, and/or dangerous side effects.  Recent research indicates that epidural steroids are of limited use in treating back pain from stenosis, but these are routinely done and paid for by insurance.  Most patienst are shocked to learn that there are no standard prtocols for operations like joint replacements, not even for the anaesthesia used, and this is common for a lot of surgeries.  Medicine of all types straddles the line between science and art, but most MDs are loathe to admit it.

  • Randy Wright

    “Unproven” equals neither  “proof of danger.” nor “proof of ineffectiveness.”  Alternative medicines may or may not be efficacious; we don’t know because they are unproven and unstudied. Alternative therapies may or may not be dangerous. We don’t know because they are unuproven. They are unstudied because there is a bias in our life science systems toward that which produces patents and makes huge amounts of money.

  • MadMarkTheCodeWarrior

    The placebo effect is a demonstration of the power of the human brain over the body. The knee surgery study reported in 2002 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/12110735/
    Showed no difference between skim incisions, lavage and full arthroscopic surgery for knee pain. That said, let us not assume that we understand the mechanisms at work in whatever therapy that benefits a patient. I have had acupuncture work as a last resort with downright skepticism. Regardless of whatever symbolism or mythology was used to explain it 2500 years ago, it worked for me.

  • Wm_James_from_Missouri

    How can traditional medicine look at me with a straight face and tell me not to use supplements or herbs? They claim they are “unproven”, ineffective, unscientific, etc..
    The “scientific” community has had Thousands of Years of anecdotal evidence, covering many continents and yet they fail to push for funding for intensive studies, that could prove or debunk the claims of so many ! Can you imagine a world in which this type of bias had been applied when men asked why the shadows thrown on celestial bodies during an eclipse were round? Would the flat Earth “scientist” tell me, “oh, that is just your imagination” or “ no need to bother yourself with these questions, we know best” ! ? As with so many other institutions in our society, we need to get rid of all of the MBAs and money changers and bring back people who love the truth as much as the money produced by their trade!
    The good news is, that, soon there will be enough distributed computing power to allow any interested citizen scientist to enter anything they do, or ingest, or feel, or …, into an up-loadable portable device to be analyzed by super intelligent machines, who could care less about their personal profit.

    Free at last, free at last, thank God Almighty, we are free at last !

    • RolloMartins

      Baloney. The scientific method actually has debunked the snake oil of alternative medicine, largely. If some company could make money from the countless herbs (other than selling them OTC which they already do) they would. But they cannot prove that they actually are effective–because the vast majority of them are not. As a pharmacist I see the constant deluge of “possibly effective” and “no proof” claims on herbals. Those that might be effective for something are not worth the money; the others are just crap. Alt. Med practitioners (think Dr Oz) play on the ignorance of the masses. Snake oil has always been with us; it always will be I suppose. Buyer beware. 

      • 1Brett1

        Herbals can be dangerous. Some can block the efficacy of medication prompting sometimes grave results, yet practitioners of herbals don’t have the knowledge to give advice on how herbals  work (beyond some superficial information). 

        I have had asthma my whole life. I take an inhaled corticosteroid. About 15 years ago I experimented with St. John’s Wort, with some very unpleasant results…As it turns out, St. John’s Wort will alternately block the metabolism of cortcosteroids, fooling the body into acting as if it hasn’t taken any at all, causing, well, asthma attacks, inflamation, etc., and will at times boost the body’s response to corticosteroids making the body react as if it has taken too much. The result in me was a daily destruction of my immune system and uncontrolled asthma that took six months to get over.

        • Wm_James_from_Missouri

          Jogging can be dangerous, so what is your point ? Is it that we should not do extensive research on products that people claim, help them ?

          • 1Brett1

            If you read my other comments you’d know that I advocate for more research for alternative methods/medicines. My POINT was that often “practitioners” of alternative medicines are under-qualified, are deficient in basic knowledge of the human body and how it functions, and make claims of their methods and products that are overstated. To use my example, it is well known that St. John’s Wort will interact poorly with inhaled corticosteroids (my doctor AND pharmacist alerted me to that when I had my problem). The hazards, while actually quite well known in medical circles were not put on the label of the bottle, nor was that information known by my local herbalist. Do you get my point?

      • Wm_James_from_Missouri

        We know that your view is not accurate because there are places on this planet where people live very long lives, longer than in the US, with all of its’ “scientific” medicine. Somebody has fed you tainted baloney !

        • videmus

          You’re of course referencing East Asia and its various cultures of traditional medicine, but longevity there has more to do with diet than the efficacy of traditional medicine. In fact, the leading causes of unnatural death in Asia — cancers and cardiovascular diseases — are far more survivable when treated with modern medicine than with traditional medicine.

  • 1Brett1

    Much of the problem with alternative medication is in its presentation. Proponents often boast claims that are unrealistic and unproven (I think “oversold” is a good descriptor). All alternative medicine seems to be presented as safe, too, which is irresponsible. The best use of alternative medicine, I feel, is preventive. Once one has a disease, condition, etc. alternative medicine by itself is usually not very effective. 

    Another problem with the whole concept of healing, both in a “western” traditional sense and in an alternative sense is the competition between the two, as if one is better than the other or one should be used at the exclusion of the other. Both can peacefully coexist and both should be used in concert to promote healing. 

    Many alternative medicines and medical procedures need a lot more scientific study and should be scientifically studied.

  • AC

    i don’t know about any of this, but there are cures to things that are banned in the U.S.
    if possible, it would be interesting if you could research how the FDA and medical fields work together. what works and what doesn’t? why ARE there cures to things in other countries not allowed here? this one burns me. i need to understand…there’s prob a reason i can’t see, but there doesn’t seem to be much care about PR or communication from the FDA on thier decisions

    • Wm_James_from_Missouri

      You are asking a good question. “Why are there cures in other places that are not accepted here”? . Isn’t science, science everywhere? You question proves my point, I listed above, indirectly !

  • Shag_Wevera

    Of course alternative medicine is oversold.  That’s just Americans trying to make a buck off one another.  As with regular medicine, alternative medicines have varying degrees of effectiveness and success. 

  • John Cedar

    Much of modern medicine has little room to point fingers.

    It is odd, but anecdotally, the most vocal advocates of alternative medicine I know, are the abject failures in life. Failures at book learnin’, relationships, gainful employment or moderating their use of recreational drugs. But for some unexplained reason they fancy themselves to be gifted in this single area of life.

    “One of the strangest delusions of the Western mind is to the effect
    that a philosophy of profound wisdom is on tap in the East. I have read
    a great many expositions of it, some by native sages and the rest by
    Western enthusiasts, but I have found nothing in it save nonsense. It
    is, fundamentally, a moony transcendentalism almost as absurd as that
    of Emerson, Alcott and company. It bears no sort of relation to the
    known facts, and is full of assumptions and hypotheses that every
    intelligent man must laugh at. In its practical effects it seems to be
    as lacking in sense and as inimical to human dignity as Methodism, or
    even Mormonism…

    The so-called Philosophy of India is even more blowsy and senseless
    than the metaphysics of the West. It is at war with everything we know
    of the workings of the human mind, and with every sound idea
    formulated by mankind. If it prevailed in the whole modern world we’d
    still be in the Thirteenth Century; nay, we’d be back among the
    Egyptians of the pyramid age. Its only coherent contribution to Western
    thought has been theosophy—and theosophy is as idiotic as Christian
    Science. It has absolutely nothing to offer a civilized white man.”

    • Gary Trees

      [citation needed]

  • John Cedar

    Some people in this country are bringing the average down for the rest of us. That’s not a reflection on most of us.

  • Wm_James_from_Missouri

    For years science told us that there was an upward limit for cell divisions called the “Hayflick limit”. Researchers have shown that the supplement Carnosine, will rejuvenate senescent cells and extend the “Hayflick limit” for cells.


    This is JUST ONE example of the benefits of supplements.

  • nightingale8

    The reason we need supplements now, and must stand up without fear to those who will take this freedom away- is that we can’t get all our needed nutrients from food now as our grandparents and great-grandparents did. The soil, water, and air are now contaminated by toxic pollution throughout most of the world except for the land of small hardworking organic farmers who are trying to make a difference and being pushed out by big agriculture!

    • adks12020

      “we can’t get all our needed nutrients from food now as our grandparents and great-grandparents did”

      What in the world are you talking about? Of course we can get our needed nutrients from food. Supplements are what we can do without.

  • NrthOfTheBorder

    Alternative medicine is home to its own kind of hype and myth-making.  Listen to a group of alternative practice Doctor/practitioners in a room and they 1) slam traditional medicine as corrupt & oversold (some of which is true) 2) bestow on each other qualifications to practice their art 3) reinforce, in all manner apocryphal, the efficacy of their remedies.

  • Ellen Dibble

    It’s not only alternative medicine that Americans waste money on; also traditional medicine.  If something is profitable to traditional medicine, they will run with it as long as there’s any excuse, wringing you dry of time and money, as well as driving up insurance rates, or, in future, taxes.  In all cases, we have to work together to make sure that “science” isn’t being used to boost profits.  

  • NrthOfTheBorder

    Traditional pharmacology has created room for the growth of alternative medicine because it has tended to oversell the benefits on one hand and allowed to hide clinical trials that would disparage a new drug on the other.  Given this,  understandable why some would take their chances with alternatives. 

  • Kathy

    Alternative medicine is almost exclusive ineffective. It’s not that there aren’t herbal medicines that do certain things, opiates for example come from the poppy, but those things that do have active pharmaceutical powers are generally heavily regulated.

  • Mari McAvenia

    Never mind that iatrogenic deaths are far more likely to occur at the hands of approved and licensed medical doctors than from ingesting vitamin pills or having acupuncture treatments. (Most people DO know that mega-doses of ANYTHING over-the-counter can be hazardous to ones health) 

    There’s nothing new to hear, here, people. It’s just business as usual protecting its own assets and profits, that’s all.

  • AC

    why isnt stem cell therapy more available? because insurance companies don’t want to pay for it?

  • Zee Zarbock

    The problem with all medicine is that we are, as a nation, unwilling to give up the ever-worsening Standard American Diet (SAD). Western medicine and alternative medicine neither one will be all that successful long-term against that. While I am a big advocate of alternative medicine, the real answer is to eat really well and avoid frankenfoods and contaminants, whether you are a meat eater or not, and then supplement with whatever combination of modalities you are comfortable with. Hippocrates is quoted as saying “Let food be thy medicine.” Unfortunately, so much of our food is poison and there are no quick fixes against that crap that corporations are making addictive.

  • Emily311

    I have struggled with epilepsy for about 20 years- the vast majority of my life. My mom has got me to try magnets, supplements, and more- with little to no success. I think she wastes her money on these things out of a desperate hope to help me. But I think she is very gullible, and it upsets me to see her putting huge amounts of faith in this. It’s good that it makes her hopeful, but she has been let down repeatedly.  

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

    Please don’t forget the role of Orrin Hatch in the FDA follies of 1994. Hatch’s fellow Utahns in the industry of non-drug-supplements had a lot of input to that law.

  • Ellen Dibble

    When traditional medicine has nothing to offer, or nothing that works, why shouldn’t we find what works?  I have a few homeopathic cures that I’ve been using to excellent effect for decades.  Obviously different ones will work for different people, but these cost about $7.00 for a several-year supply:  borax 30 for canker sores.  It’ll take about two doses spaced a half hour apart, even if a virus is underlying it, for me almost always.  Hamamelis virginiana 30 for hemorrhoids, similarly reliably effective for decades for me, perhaps partly because I can use it almost preventatively before it becomes a surgical situation.  AlphaCF for Colds and Flu, crops, aconitum napellus 4x, bryonia alba 4x eupatorium perfoliatum 2x gelsemium sempervirens 4x ipececacuanha 4x phosphoros 6x eucalyptus globulus 2x; I’ve used this for decades for flu; I’ll be too far gone to lift my head but if I can reach for this remedy, I can turn the flu, within an hour; for something lesser like a sore throat, this works even faster.  For me.  $10.99 for a bottle; lasts years, depending on number of sore throats.  There’s an eye medicine I used last week when my eyes were too painful to open and nothing else worked; I couldn’t open them to read the labels; similasan, allergy eye relief,    apis 6x euphrasia 6x satradilla 6x.  I hope it never happens again, but I’m remembering.  It turns my body to fix that, which is the idea.

    • StevenHB

       How do you know that these things work, Ellen?  Conditions like canker sores are inherently self-limiting – they go away if you do nothing. So how do you know, that on average, canker sores go away more quickly when you use borax 30 to treat them?  Home much more quickly do they go away?

      I’d have similar questions for each of the conditions and treatments you list.  The problem with the “alternative medicine” industry is that it refuses to seek PROOF that its treatments are safe and effective.

      • Ellen Dibble

        How do you know that when you take an aspirin and a headache goes away that the aspirin did it? If it happens repeatedly, within minutes, and you can sort of feel it working, then you make the connection.  If the aspirin is affordable and solves the problem, I say go for it.  I wouldn’t do it day-in-day-out to hold a headache at bay.  But I would feel free to take advantage of it when needed.

        • StevenHB

          It’s fair to say that in the case an any particular headache, I don’t actually know whether the treatment helped.  I know that others have done randomized trials to determine that, on average, aspirin and other NSAIDs reduce the duration of headaches.  I choose to trust those other studies which have been peer-reviewed and published in respected medical journals.

          Is peer-reviewed medical research perfect? No, but it’s pretty good and the best thing that we have.  And it’s way better than most of the nonsense that the “alternative medicine” industry spouts.

    • kaybee63

      I wouldn’t say that you can’t get effective relief from herbal remedies – many medicines are derived from plants.  One that you list, aconitum napellus, is a beautiful and extremely poisonous plant – and what are many medicines but poisons in small doses?  The problem is the variability of the potency in herbal preparations – people who have no problem deriding the nutritional value of plants grown in some conditions (say non-organic vs. organic) also believe that herbs are always the same potency?  Heck, tomatoes taste different just in different weather – don’t you think the potency of the aconitum might also vary depending on its growing conditions?  That would be my main quibble with herbal remedies – distilling or synthesizing the active ingredients into measurable doses is basically a lot of modern pharmaceuticals are.  Of course, I have educated myself on some herbal remedies, just in case the apocalypse does come…..but it wouldn’t be my first choice.

      • Ellen Dibble

        Homeopathy is not an herbal remedy.  It works by a totally different dynamic.  To me, it reminds me of titration for allergies, where you’re giving an extremely tiny dose of the offending substance, which somehow muffles and eventually disables the allergic response.  It reminds me of that, but it’s more extreme; the smaller the “dose” in homeopathy, the more radical the effect.  I know a court reporter who had a homeopathic doctor who found the proper treatment for his hand arthritis.  There are several different substances, and one day he took the wrong one, and though it was a specific for arthritis, for his body, it made it much, much worse, for a long time.  If he has taken 3x or 30 x, I’m thinking that wouldn’t have happened.  There are dangers in misusing this medicine, but not so much at the doses that are lower.  I have never had a bad reaction to the wrong treatment; but I don’t even have access to the more extreme doses.

  • geraldfnord

    ‘Never try to smarten-up a chump: it rarely works, and almost always enrages the chump.’

    We have set ourselves up for disillusionment with modern medicine: we extrapolated too much from the success of antibiotics, vaccination, anaesthesia (and muscle-paralysers) for surgery; for their part, doctors were more than willing to seem and act god-like, and now to many are gods that failed.

    See also: how many who rightfully reject the absurd ease of western religion and don’t notice those of Eastern religion.

  • VincentMendes

    When medical doctors speak of the “dangers” of alternative
    therapies, it’s like foxes talking about what an unsafe place the henhouse
    is!  200,000 Americans die from medical
    mistakes each year (Medical News Today
    August 9, 2004), 100,000 die each year from taking the right drug at the
    right dose for the right condition (JAMA,
    1998), 16,000 die each year from G.I. bleeding from NSAIDS alone (N.E.J.M. 1999)!  How many people died from acupuncture last
    year?  Zero.  How many died from chiropractic?  Zero.  I
    am not opposed to medical doctors, and I respect my physician greatly, but I do
    think that if an MD says the words “alternative therapies” it should be while
    encouraging his/her patients to go out and try them – before risking their
    health with the prescription pad.

    As far as proof – I don’t know the statistics on all
    therapies, but I am a chiropractor, and I know those stats pretty well.  A 2003 study in the journal Spine showed chiropractic five times
    better for chronic back pain than medicines; a 2011 study showed chiropractic
    to be better at returning patients to work after injury, and, unlike medicine, helped
    prevent recurrence (J. of Occupational
    and Environmental Medicine, March 14, 2011); a 1996 study in the Journal Injury demonstrated that 93% of chronic
    whiplash patients who had failed medical care and physical therapy, saw
    improvement with chiropractic care; chiropractic care even lowered blood
    pressure in hypertensive patients better than the prescription drug in a 2007
    study published in the Journal of Human
    Hypertension!  These studies are all
    in the medical literature.

    Dr. Offit’s own unfortunate history is detailed in the
    prologue to his book – it reads like a morality tale of a person mistreated by
    the medical system – and yet instead of writing a book about how to reduce the
    astonishing rate of medical errors in our country, he has spent his time and
    energies criticizing “the other camp”. 
    Perhaps we all prefer the devil we know over the devil we don’t?  I wish him better luck in the future.

  • MacMillin

    It is my understanding that a majority of pharma comes from some type of root. It is also curious that pharma invests a large amount of capital in remote areas of the world in the search of so called non effective natural ingredients. Is it the assumption by the guest that only pharma has the knowledge to safely manufacture and distribute such ingredients? I would think manipulating such ingredients in a lab with harmful additives is a worse alternative than the natural ingredients stripped down.

  • Joaquim Branco

    The medical community sold out to the pharma companies by accepting samples, fancy dinners, vacations, and compensation for “studies” in order to promote their products. The ability of drug manufacturers to suppress trials that disproved effectiveness adds to the public’s distrust of the medical community. When I was growing up doctors were very respected pillars of the community because they seemed to have integrity via the Hippocratic oath; at some point doctors began to worship wealth more than aid and comfort. They began to invest in NMR’s for example thereby creating a conflict of interest by sending patients to their wholly owned diagnostic centers even when not necessary. The effect has been to lessen the general publics trust.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Another thing that should be in human medical chest is tourmaline, which is the Chinese medicine for I don’t know what.  For me, it works for frozen shoulder.  After a couple of years of being run from pillar to post for physical therapy, chiropractic, acupuncture, trigger point injections, I had to do something.  No amount of pain killers would kill this — strong ones.  I was trying anything on the shelf.  This was when I was 60; it had been years of pain.  I put the foot detox patches on a certain location on my neck, and it completely distracted the pain from ground zero of the pain.  Many years later of chelating heavy metals from my body, there seems to be less need for the patches, but I still need them every day.  These knots take a long, long time to get the physical memory to recede.  But the cost is about a dollar a patch, and you can reuse them with masking tape.  How many thousands of dollars did Blue Cross pay without helping for more than an hour or so.  

  • J__o__h__n

    The lamb entrails from this morning’s sacrifice predicted another fortnight of good health for me. 

    • http://www.facebook.com/john.m.cogswell John M Cogswell Jr

      hahahaha!!! I love it!

    • jefe68

      I use chicken bones, less mess.

  • StevenHB

    The reality is that people want to believe if fairy tales (I suspect that it’s a component of human nature).  Look at how appealing it is: wouldn’t you love to have a fairy godmother granting you wishes and looking our for your well being?  Is “God” any different?

    Sadly, people are bad at math and don’t understand probability and statistics so they’re easily fooled into believing all sorts of nonsense.  This is an industry that is taking advantage of those weaknesses.  Good for Dr. Offit!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000184595128 Elaine Dunn

    The good Doctor just said that alternative medicine is an industry?!??!  So is traditional medicine.  Seriously alternative medicines have worked for millennia.  Is their room for improvement?  Yes of course.  Doctors are horrified they have to compete with alternative medicine for raw dollars.  The drug companies and Dr’s have an unholy alliance.  Doctors and drug companies won’t be happy until EVERYONE is buying big pharma products.  I say YAY to holistic medicine.  There is plenty of room for these therapies.  Its called competition and Doctors hate it.  They want to crush alternative medicine.  Sorry I am not buying what this guy is trying to sell.  Once again the alternative medicine world is being demonized.  As I have said there is room for regulation and improvement.  Charlatans are everywhere.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/James-Patrick-Dwyer-Jr/100002088204784 James Patrick Dwyer Jr.

    I have know two people who tried alternative medicine for the treatment of their cancers, unsuccessfully.  It was a success in the transfer of money from them to the doctor. People will believe what the talking head on the screen tells them, they question nothing, they read nothing.

  • Mari McAvenia

    Obesity is a leading cause of disease and disability. Going to a doctor or alternative practitioner won’t help any patient or client who will not change their habits of overeating and inactivity.

    Put down that double-cheesy-thing and take a walk, for health’s sake! The less time you spend in the hospital or doctor’s office the less chance you have of contracting a drug-resistant disease or enduring surgeries that make you sicker and more disabled than you already are.

  • http://www.facebook.com/john.m.cogswell John M Cogswell Jr

    Let’s grind up rhino horns and mix with tiger blood for longevity.  Yes, let’s hear it for alternative medicine, the modern acceptable form of outright quackery.

    • Christopher Barry

       not helpful

    • nj_v2

      How’s that red-herring fishing trip going for ya?

  • nj_v2

    Wow, stunning. Mr. Offit thinks we can get everything we need in a “healthy diet.”

    How many people eating food mostly produced by an industrial agriculture system, with genetically engineered plants fed with synthetic fertilizers and blasted with pesticides, grown on soils depleted of micronutrients are getting “everything they need”?

    Even conscientious food buyers have a hard time finding nutrient-dense foods in an industrial food-production system.

  • Ellen Dibble

    The placebo effect is as much in play when you visit an M.D. as with alternatives.  I suppose if the acupuncture is working because there is a placebo effect going on, that’s remunerative for the acupuncturist, but I had been sent for acupuncture in the early 1980s by an MD who was at a loss.  And she told me to leave my relationships, leave my job, and move to another area, and/or to go to a certain doctor who had background in herbalism.  That doctor was the leading edge of M.D.’s looking at the inadequacies of traditional (read  for-profit, I’m thinking) medicine, but such doctors are trailblazers, and there is a long, long way to go for them.

  • zhouyangxu

    Previous patient called in and mentioned about her “Frozen shoulder”. She thinks the medicine is necessary to cure the frozen shoulder. I had a frozen shoulder about a year ago and it was cured on its own. It just takes time. Here in the US people are taking too much medicine. I believe in natural diet.

  • rberryj3

    Dr. Offit should be ashamed. For a physician to dismiss
    a whole school of thought in medical care is just not professional. I was
    injured (knee) as hockey player (amateur) in the 1990s. The recovery was
    difficult and the standard treatment from “Traditional Pharmacology”
    was massive pain medication and cortisone. I kept to that regimen for 6 months
    and it made my life miserable. I could not sleep, concentrate, and many other prts of daily life grew difficult.

    Then I tried acupuncture. It took a year, but that process cured my injury. I
    now have full motion in the joint, no pain, and I still play hockey. The
    physician that treated the injury initially, with the drugs, refused to see me
    when I told him of my acupuncture. Of course he was the one that told me not to
    expect full joint motion, not to expect to ever play hockey again, and that I
    would need a cane by the time I was 40. I am beyond forty, and I play hockey,
    do not use a cane, and have never seen that physician again.

    Dr. Offit is either just being be non-professional to say the least, and disingenuous
    to say more.


  • itsakerfuffle

    I do not care if a remedy is old or marketed as natural.  Why on earth would I?  I care if it is safe and effective.  That’s why I believe that all these “natural,” “ancient” drugs and supplements should be subject to exactly the same regulatory testing requirements as any other drugs. This would have the benefit of getting abject nonsense such as homeopathy (ingredients that may or may not be effective diluted until there’s nothing left of them).  Get rid of the false natural/medical dichotomy and hold everything to the same standard.

  • Betty

    I never wanted to turn to alternative medicine. But I am looking for medical care that is somewhere in the middle.

    I had chronic bladder pain for a year and a half. When my urologist was prepared to diagnose me with the mystery disease of “interstitial cystitis,” and cut me loose with a bunch of painkillers that left me with side effects like a numbed bladder and blurred vision, I was definitely willing to try something else. The nurse spoke to me in a low voice about “maybe trying some chinese herbs,” which seemed to me representative of “western medicine’s” attitude toward illness—take the drugs, or you’re on your own (and might as well go visit the quacks).

    So I took to online forums and found a good number of people that had shown improvement with removing gluten from their diets.

    It’s the only thing that’s worked for me. And I’m so grateful that I wasn’t so scared of “alternatives” to western medicine that I didn’t give it a try.

    Many of us are tired of the overdiagnosis and overtreatment that we find in “western medicine,” which leaves us with a hundred side effects that are as bad as the initial ailment. Instead of prescribing a hike, a doctor will prescribe a statin; instead of cutting out sugar, etc.

    It seems, there is no room for diet and exercise in the doctor’s office these days, and that’s a shame. For those of us who really want to feel well, the doctor is not enough.

  • Coldbeulah

    The questions I want answered before you go any further are: (1) Is the doctor’s hospital supported by any pharmaceutical companies and (2) Is any of his own research supported by Big Pharma? This is the most anachronistic apology for allopathic medicine I’ve heard in years. Lumping all alternative therapies together in the snake oil category is simplistic to the point of inanity. Homeopathy is not devoid of all active ingredient — on the contrary, it works on the same principle as vaccine, which uses a minute dose of a toxin to cause the body to produce its own defense. Come on, doctor — we’re not idiots.

  • http://www.facebook.com/tomcat.healer Tomcat Healer

    Homeopathy is a real form of medicine, one that today’s guest clearly did not study or understand. Most of what he said about homeopathy and the way it is used was completely false and based on his own assumptions rather than fact. This was an awful show and it did a disservice to the audience. 

  • Donna_Wheeler

    The dismissal of alternative medicine because of what they “used to believe” is an entirely specious argument. Just look at what conventional medicine used to believe: autism is caused by “cold mothers;” asthma is “psychosomatic;” bloodletting, leeches, on and on. Ridiculous argument.

  • mkbrinkman

    The embrace of alternative medicine and the rejection of science in our society is the result of a profound ignorance of the history of public health and the role of clean water, vaccines and scientifically developed medicines in extending life span and reducing infant mortality. Two of my aunts died of diptheria as children, a disease which no one even remembers!  Polio, whooping cough, tetanus, all of these are still affecting children in countries where public health programs do not reach them, often for religious prohibitions.  I find it alarming and sad that a country with universal education has falied so miserably to educate people to have a basic understanding of science and public health.  Shame on us.  We are willing dupes!

  • nj_v2

    If, as Mr. Offit says, we cannot place unquestioning faith in all things “natural,” we can also can not accept all findings of reductionist science.

    He argues that the identified, quantified, standardized active ingredient extracted from plants is necessarily better than the whole of the plant. This ignores or dismisses the fact that compounds often act as part of a complex of other agents which are present in the plant.

  • 1whoknowsall

    This guest is way off base…….the main reason that we live longer today has nothing to do with Western medicine.  It has all to do with the fact that we have been able to deal with human waste (thanks to the plumber “that protects the health of the nation”).

    And, because we are able to drink relatively clean water, we have eliminated many waterborne diseases


    • anamaria23

      Also, the discovery of penicillin and other antibiotics.
      Before penicillin, several  of my  ancestors died young of infections, esp pneumonia, that are easily treated now.
      My own father developed pneumonia at a young age and was saved just as penicillin became available, when the sulfa drug given him had failed.

  • Ellen Dibble

    As to vitamins, the root of the problem if you’re eating a balanced diet is the ability to absorb and then to use the things we need.  If your body isn’t able to do that, then vitamins are a patch, not a solution, and the solution requires to be found.  If you can learn to use vitamins as a patch, that is awfully good, but I’m thinking families and communities need communication patterns that reinforce this.  Different B vitamins do miraculous things for me, but only once.  A dose of niacin, for things no one ever thought of before.  A dose of B2 for other things, I’m not sure what, but I’ll try it if something weird goes on, and if it  doesn’t work after one or two tries, I stop.

  • http://www.facebook.com/tomcat.healer Tomcat Healer

    P.S. Homeopathy is NOT based on a placebo effect.  It is a proven form of treatment, but it is based on different principles than prescription drugs, and many M.D.’s simply don’t understand how it works. Today’s guest had NOT studied homeopathy and no knowledge of how it works.

    • J__o__h__n

      Homeopathy is only not a placebo effect because even the most gullible don’t believe that nonsense.

      • jefe68

        What about the use of marijuana in health problems.
        It’s an herb and it works.

        • J__o__h__n

          It isn’t diluted in water until the point that none of its substance remains and then people claim that the water has a memory of it.  Not all herbs are useless but most of the claims aren’t proven. 

          • jefe68

            That’s true. I’m skeptical of homeopathic medicine and it’s track record, if you use history as a base line is not so good. 

            That said I’ve had good results using acupuncture for back pain when pain medication and muscle relaxants made me feel worse. It did not cure the problem, it only seemed to help.
            Was it a psychosomatic response?  
            I’m not sure, what I think it did was help release endorphins as the pain subsided very quickly. 

            The best outcome for me was I did not have to take the codine based and muscle relaxation meds. Which I have bad reactions to.    

          • J__o__h__n

            My guess would be that there is a placebo effect with acupuncture.  Most of the time when it is claimed to be successful it is for reducing pain and back pain is supposed to be mostly mental.

          • J__o__h__n

            What did the chicken bones say?  Did you hurt your back picking them up?  Remember soothsay from the knees. 

      • nj_v2

        Who knew the Swiss government was so gullible?


        The Swiss Government’s Remarkable Report on Homeopathic Medicine

        …In late 2011, the Swiss government’s report on homeopathic medicine represents the most comprehensive evaluation of homeopathic medicine ever written by a government and was just published in book form in English (Bornhoft and Matthiessen, 2011). This breakthrough report affirmed that homeopathic treatment is both effective and cost-effective and that homeopathic treatment should be reimbursed by Switzerland’s national health insurance program. 


    • Ellen Dibble

      I think homeopathy might be extremely difficult to study scientifically because except for the very basics, it’s very, very individualized.  I haven’t been to a homeopathic doctor, and I’ve owned the homeopathic reference work and found it would work only for practitioners who used it day-in-day-out for many years, to get a feel for who might need what.  And clearly it can’t deal with things where the body has no chance of healing itself.  If there is a high heavy metal burden, it can’t take those out.  It might moderate specific symptoms from time to time.  Then again, something that you might think ought to work might not be efficacious for any one person at all.  I know I have a bottle of homeopathic caffea cruda (something like that, basically caffeine in tiny enough dose to offset the stay-awake mechanism), which has never had any effect on me.  Obviously it works for others.

  • jefe68

    I’m not an advocate on alternative medicine, and in fact I think a lot of is nothing more than playing on peoples gullibility  However I’ve been to acupuncturist for a very painful sciatica nerve problem.  I cannot take muscle relaxants as they make me ill and seem to little in the way eliminating the pain. I also can’t take codine/tylenol.  

    The acupuncture worked in reliving the pain enough for me to function. Before that I was pretty much lying in bed most of the day. It took a while, about three weeks for it work. What I think it did was release endorphins which helped cope with the pain. I see nothing wrong with that in this situation. It helped me to function better, it did not cure it, but made the pain manageable.

    Conventional medicine uses so many pharmaceuticals, some of which have side effects that seem worse than the disease they were designed to cure.  

    That said, I have a healthy dose of skepticism of alternative medicine as well as conventional medicine.

  • Reverend Rhythms

    Dr. Offit has mentioned the money and power of the alternative medicine industry, and I’d like to know how much money and power is in the mainstream medicine black bag.

  • Christopher Barry

    Are we NOT GIVING PEOPLE ENOUGH CREDIT for their intelligence? If alternatives are not working for you, or IF YOU HAVE A SERIOUS CONDITION, go to your western doctor. Duh.

  • adks12020

    There is certainly room for alternative medicine but I think a combination of both types of medicine it the way to go.

    Personally, if I have back, neck, joint problems I go to a chiropractor.  It actually feels good and it works. Regular doctors don’t do anything for that type of problem. If anything they prescribe drugs that ease pain but it just comes back when the drugs wear off and the drugs themselves have undesirable side effects.

    If I have a broken leg, a bacterial infection, a fever that lasts for days, etc. I would probably go to a regular doctor.

  • djg58

    Of course there are charlatans out there preying on people.  However, there is a place for alternative “medicine” in the spectrum of healing practices.  My own experience includes acupuncture & chiro.  I have a chronic back problem that is due to an injury, which also led to developing fibromyalgia.  I tried all the recommendations of “traditional” medicine for the fibromyalgia with no relief.  Ultimately, the most they offered me was seeing a pain management specialist once every 6 months.  I finally tried acupuncture and over time my fibro symptoms improved.  It did take a sustained amount of time (there were other things he was treating as well), but today my fibro flare-ups are rare and my pain levels are manageable.  Before acupuncture I would spend at least 1 day per month in bed due to utter exhaustion — usually included sleeping 18 hours or more.  I took motrin every day, several times a day.  
    I no longer take motrin and I no longer spend days in bed. Is it placebo?  Perhaps, but I doubt it.  

    I also went to a chiropractor who uses Non-force Directional techniques (no cracking or manipulations) because of a pinched sciatic nerve.  I was incredibly skeptical at first, but continued because I trusted the person who recommended this.  After 2 – weeks, I had complete relief.  I don’t know how that could be placebo given the level of agony that a pinched sciatic nerve causes.  

  • Douglas Brooks

    The conflict here should not be characterized as “western medicine vs. alternative medicine” but as science-based medicine vs. unproven medicine.  Science is a tool for finding out what works.  If an alternative, traditional medicine or therapy can withstand the rigor of evaluation through the scientific method then it deserves to take its place among the other proven medicines and therapies.  Some alternative medicines and therapies may work, but have not yet been proven.  Proponents of those treatments should be willing to put them to the test, but they should not make claims for which they have inadequate evidence.

  • Jim

    Some people who strongly believe in alternative medicine might be too extreme and flaw. But Tom, your guest’s argument is flaw too. 

    He does not even understand the human anatomy of different culture and race. they are not same for everyone. In the Chinese culture people use herb tea to combat the cold virus very very effectively. Yes, Chinese medicine still has ways to go when it deals with cancer and serious disease. However, with the way to deal with minor illness and enhance the long term well being of people, i believe chinese medicine sure beats the chemicals involved in western medicine.

  • JudyB202

    Dr. Offit is certainly entitled to his own opinions, but he is not entitled to his own facts.  He cherry picks the science, and uses extreme examples to make his point about the health value of supplements.  As importantly, he has no understanding of dietary supplement regulation and is flat out wrong when he says that the industry is not regulated.  He refers to the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act which was passed by unanimous consent in Congress in 1994 as the reason that the industry was let loose, so to speak.  However, that law provided the FDA with more enforcement tools than it previously had, including two ways to remove unsafe supplements from the market.

    In more recent years, the dietary supplement industry successfully pushed into place additional regulatory safeguards for consumers, including a law that mandates supplement companies report serious adverse events to FDA; a law that provides FDA with mandatory recall authority if needed; and regulations that created dietary supplement good manufacturing practices.

    I work for the dietary supplement industry and that makes me knowledgeable about industry regulation.  Further, I’m not some sheep that takes whatever I see advertised–that’s just insulting to the 150+ million of Americans who choose to take supplements.  In fact, I work with my doctor to determine which supplements are right for me, and suggest people find their own healthcare practitioner to do the same. 

    Back to my opening statement: I have no doubt that Dr. Offit may passionately believe in what he’s saying, and for many people, he may very well be a wonderful doctor.  But for those who think the industry has bias, let’s not forget that Dr. Offit is on a national publicity tour to sell his book.  That does not come without motive.

  • MacMillin

    I think the guest’s point is that it is not a matter of toxicity or danger of health issues related to supplements but the idea the industry is misleading to the actual results of what the marketing suggests. It is putting lipstick on a pig or a fig in this case.

  • WakeUp468

    I wish that ‘Western’ & ‘natural’ medicine could work together much more often, as I believe that there’s a time & place for both. There are numerous examples of time when antibiotics are necessary, but also times when ‘Western’ medicine can’t figure out what in the world is going on when there are physical symptoms, but nothing is showing up on blood tests, MRI’s, etc…when this happens, issues can be of an emotional nature, or a vitamin deficiency…lacking enough ‘B’ can cause a host of problems. If the ‘two sides’ would work together, much more could be accomplished for a lot of people.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1524211623 Brenna Joy

      I agree. I wish Dr. Offit would have written a less emotional book comparing and contrasting the two branches of medicine. 

  • paita

    I think this guy   needs some reality natural medicine,,Natural meds work,,,Got hepatitias from the hospital,,,took,,,milkthistle,,cured,,,gone,,Heard wonderful things about coca,,in its truly natural form,,but the mainstream medicine demonized all natural meds simply stop competition,,thus money,,but both should be OUR  choice!!!paita

  • Paulonpoint


    Let your guest know that, if he is really concerned with the health and welfare of ordinary people who are embracing “alternative” medicines, he might alter his belittling tone on the air. To dismissively suggest that people who use these treatments think that they are made by elves and magic is only going to make the people he is trying to reach turn away from his message. 
    You could talk to me as an adult, and perhaps change my mind. Or you could continue talking to me in these bullying terms, and ensure that I return to my acupuncturist.

  • Valeriezoe

    I have found that there’s a lot to be learned from both medical disciplines, the most important of which is to be skeptical of both.  But both to the test of proof in the pudding and don’t overlook the obvious failures when they’re staring you in the face.  There are things that mainstream medicine is quite good at; setting bones or doing skin grafts, for ex.  But there are also things that work quite well in “alternative” medicine such as massage and some mild pain killers such as the highly effective arnica gel.  The real problem, like in every other field today, is that someone is always trying to make money off our susceptibility, especially when we’re dealing with dysfunction or pain.  Buyer beware but beware of all the jobs we’ll eliminate by being aware.

    • Christopher Barry


  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Joseph-Rice/100000693874282 Joseph Rice

    While this is interesting, did anyone really think that minds would be changed by this discussion?

    Would love to hear the rest, but I have to run to my appointment with Dr. Bombay.

  • Noelle paffett-lugassy

    Thank you Dr. Offit for highlighting these studies that stress the dangers of supplements and vitamins. Why can’t we spend more money on actually getting healthy food to everyone? THen we wouldn’t need all of these supplements and vitamins! I’m terrified of these supplements and ‘health’ products that are on the market for anyone to take, we have NO IDEA what is actually in these products. 

  • paita

    pss,,the f.d.a. is corrupted by big pharmacy,,with all this lieing going on in ,”our” gov..lately,,don’t trust any gov,,to research anything now a days,,,paita

  • draudia

    We are in a sick care system! Look at rates of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, cancer and dementia! It’s not working. Many of the studies he references are funded by huge pharma. They too are extremely powerful and have lots of money. Look at all the drug ads on the media. Alternative medicines work, perhaps we don’t have the amount of research we should but ask our patients and look at our outcome data. What we do, works. Dr. Audia, Chiropractor.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Tom mentions curry powder.  That reminds me, turmeric, which I used to be allergic to, mercifully I came to tolerate.  Now, if I don’t put curry powder on my salad two days in a row, my joints are all inflamed.  Do I want studies? Yes, yes, yes.  It would probably prove that all the costly prescriptions do the same thing, for more money.  How about salt?  How about potassium? I’ve found that balancing the one and the other can cure leg cramps better than quinine, which is the prescription I could get for that.  Again, diminishing my body load of heavy metals diminishes the need to remedy that, but potassium salt has always been good for certain headaches and certain mostly autonomic muscle issues.  Yes, I want studies.  Sure.  It might mean we don’t have to pay so much nationally for prescriptions.

    • 1Brett1

      Hi, Ellen! I’ve grown to use curry powder (even more than I should for taste-variety purposes). I have also experimented with turmeric for years. It’s good on rice (and with onions), as well as potatoes. I do see some benefit regarding joint inflammation (both curry and turmeric). I have also liked the alternative tastes in my cooking. 

  • carpus

    There is no ‘eastern’ medicine or ‘western’ medicine, or ‘alternative’ medicine.  There is only that medicine which has been proved by data and that which has not.  Dr. Ott is right on.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1524211623 Brenna Joy

    Dr. Paul is on the wrong track. Modern and alternative medicine need to work hand-in-hand! WE can’t call it progress it we stick to practicing ancient medicine only but we also cannot call it progress if we are ignoring our developments in modern medicine. IT IS ALL MEDICINE!!! WE need to stop disregarding each other and work together. 

    • http://www.facebook.com/kelly.p.hammar Kelly Patricia Hammar


  • Paulonpoint


    Your guest chooses to engage with those he is trying to persuade in a belittling manner. If people are taking the trouble to search out these alternative treatments, the case may be that they have met with poor success or poor treatment from Western medicine. In order to bring them around to his point of view, he might choose to take it down a notch, and desist in implying that I believe that my acupuncture and vitamins are magicked into being by elves and fairy dust. 
    It’s demeaning, and a poor quality of debate.

    • J__o__h__n

      How dare you questions the effectiveness of elves!  My elf practitioner has restored the balance of my humors.

  • John Roberts

    Just look at any of the thousands of ads for so-called ‘alternative’ therapies: they all sound like 18th century medicine show snake-oil pitches – 100% quack-salvery with 0% empirical evidence. I’m not saying that the pharmas, HMOs/MCOs & PBMs don’t have an agenda, but if we ate better & exercised more, we wouldn’t be as suspicious of the scientific process & evidence for the interventions required to save us from ourselves.

  • CHealing

    I am an acupuncturist who does agree with Doctor Offiti.  People are taking a dangerous amount of vits and supplements.  It is a problem.  These are not safe items to take, in any quantity.  The NY Times wrote an article on June 9th stating this data.  However, we need to use science to prove what is and isn’t effective.  No one wants to pay for this.  We need to be careful of anything that is being advertised. 

    However, regarding acupuncture we also need to use science to modernize the practice of acupuncture.  I practice using straight anatomy and physiology, not yin and yang, with a method called the Tam Healing System.  This is a totally modernized approach to acupuncture not yet taught in the acupuncture schools through out the country.  We need more scientists and doctors using their minds to think up revolutionary forms of medicine instead of poo pooing  forms of functional medicine that do work and succeed at helping people to heal.

    • http://www.facebook.com/kelly.p.hammar Kelly Patricia Hammar

      I have read and watched movies about giving large doses of vit C when it is needed, for depression.  it works. everyone’s bodies are different.

  • DrTing

    Vitamin C- very good for all people (always safe & never show toxic). Dr. Linus Pauling (who won two Nobel Prizes; in 1954 for Chemistry, and in 1962, for Peace) believed that Vitamin C keep you live

    Recently, Dr. Pauling’s Vitamin C theory – confirmed by
    Prof Pei (Guangzhou Institutes of Biomedicine, China) – that Vitamin C can
    Boost the Induction of Pluripotent Stem Cells. Also other lab confirmed that Vitamin C Controls
    Gene Activity in Mouse Stem Cells….

    So take an orange a day, keep the doctor

    • 1Brett1

      Much of Pauling’s work has been debunked over the years. However, you yourself give conflicting advice. You end with “take an orange a day, keep the doctor away.” Pauling didn’t advocate that at all; he advocated large quantities of ascorbic acid purchased from one’s pharmacist in powder form and ingested. There is an important distinction between the form of ascorbic acid found in oranges (in its naturally occurring state) and ascorbic acid that has been extracted from fruits/vegetables and has been processed. The processing part of ascorbic acid to turn it  into powder kills any nutritive value it once had. One should take rosehips if one wishes to supplement…that said, large doses of vitamin c is not a completely safe practice. It can cause an increase in urinary-tract infections in women, for example. Pauling basically advocated for taking large quantities of something that had no nutritive value whatsoever and he was really dealing with a theory developed unscientifically…he died of cancer, by the way.

    • StevenHB

      Everything becomes toxic in the right dose, even water (see hyponatremia) and oxygen (see oxygen psychosis).

      Saying that vitamin C is “never show toxic” is just wrong.

  • patlite

     Yes, the “snake oil protection act” of 1994 has to be repealed. All products should be tested, at least that they really contain what they claim on the label. Do we allow food labels on all other products to be a “guess”? THEN, the FDA should be in the process to test for safety. Orin Hatch and his ilk in Washington have been and continue to be the problem with most of what’s wrong in this country where the public health is at stake as they continuously protect all the lobbyists and billionaires.

  • 1whoknowsall

    I think Dr. Offit is is really “Off It”.

    I’m thinking he’s just jealous of Doc Oz.  Sour grapes because he doesn’t have his own TV show??

    • jefe68

      Oh please. Dr.Oz is a snake oil salesman.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1524211623 Brenna Joy

        We should question anything that can make a profit out of our own pocket. Genuine people are harder to find the further up you go. 

        • jefe68

          That’s my point.

      • 1whoknowsall

        Give me a break.  Western medicine does immense harm to thousands of people every day.  Been to the hospital lately?In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated roughly 1.7 million hospital-associated infections, from all types of microorganisms, including bacteria, combined, cause or contribute to 99,000 deaths each year.

        • jefe68

          Did I say anything about Western medicine? Nope.

          My comment was about Dr.Oz, who’s show is about selling stuff and promoting the books and products. I repeat, Dr.Oz is a snake-oil salesmen.

        • StevenHB

          And how many people died from infections 150 years ago, before the advent of modern antibiotics?

  • Renee Engine-Bangger

    The arrogance and disdain Paul Offit displays is just part of the same old turf war that conventional medical practitioners have been waging for many years.

    • 1Brett1

      I thought he was pretty reasonable; I at least didn’t hear a tone of “arrogance and disdain.” Grossman was fairly reasonable, but he also had a tone at points of being condescending and mildly belittling. He also kept citing the study about zero deaths from vitamins. So, the standard should be whether or not science can draw a direct and immediate relationship between vitamin supplements and death? That seems a shoddy and irresponsible anchor on which to hang one’s professional philosophy.

      Andrew Weil, to shift my reply a bit, has toned down his arrogance (speaking of arrogance) quite a bit and has become fairly reasonable in his advice. He still condemns western medicine with too broad a brush, though. He is a trained doctor, but he has never practiced medicine, nor did he ever serve a residency. Thirty years ago he would say irresponsible things like, “if you have asthma, give up dairy and you’ll be cured.” This epitomizes what  is bad about alternative medicine…if one has an allergy to dairy, sure it makes sense to give it up; if one wishes to limit use of dairy and seek other ways of getting protein, calcium, myriad nutrients, etc., that’s fine too, but it behooves alternative medicine practitioners to be careful with their claims.   

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1524211623 Brenna Joy

    Just because we didn’t have data on atoms some 200-300 years ago doesn’t mean they were non-existant. Just because we don’t have data on some ancient medicinal practices doesn’t mean they do not work. Depending solely on data is small minded. 

  • TomK_in_Boston

    Maybe this is OT, but the best alt medicine I know is really hard exercise. Since I returned to serious swimming my joints work better and I’ve lost weight. It’s also an amazing stress relief. After a hard swim nothing bothers me.

  • nightingale8

    There hasn’t been enough on the program to include the benefits of table therapies such as energy work. Or on the side effects of Ritalin, which takes away children’s appetites and does not get to the root cause of ADD and treats symptoms— to make life easier for teachers..We need a part II!
    Let’s call vaccines “vaccines” too, and not interchange the word with “immunizations” because it is common  knowledge that:
    1. They are not 100% effective
    2. There are negative side effects
    3. There are safer, more effective ways to build immunity in children. What worked for my own daughter was Network Chiropractic. She became an honor student in college, speaks three languages, plays four musical instruments,and has enough physical stamina to climb a glacier. She has not been vaccinated, which was my choice.
    I have been a holistic practitioner for 20 years and receive it myself.
    Medical care is disease care, not true health care. Can’t deny the benefits of medical technologies, especially for orthopedics and heart disease. The two have to work together. From now on, not take sides!

    • StevenHB

      Not vaccinating children is just negligent. The benefits of vaccines so vastly outweigh the risks that it’s just not debatable.  And not vaccinating reduces herd immunity, so you’re not just taking an inappropriate risk for your children, you’re increasing risk for all children in the community.

      The moron British doctor who published a paper alleging a link between early childhood vaccinations and autism has been thoroughly discredited.  His paper is responsible for far too many preventable deaths.

      • 1Brett1

        Thanks, Steven, I couldn’t have put it better. 

    • jefe68

      You and your daughter are lucky. So far.

  • necimarr

    Give me a break!!!….the FDA is NOT necessarily out to protect people! …. WAKE UP FOLKS! ….the FDA is a political organization and for the right price $$$ …. their test results will support corporations that pay enough money!
    Its absurd thinking the FDA is needed to test natural “alternative” medicine! … The government should NOT regulate
    natural medicines.  

    • StevenHB

      There are plenty of “natural” products that are poisonous.   The consumer needs some agency to guarantee safety and to protect him/her from false advertising.

    • http://www.facebook.com/kelly.p.hammar Kelly Patricia Hammar

      the FDA is not out to protect people AT ALL. it is a business.

  • jefe68

    What about all those snake oil salesmen and women that PBS has on durung their endless weeks of fund raising.

    The worst is Dr. Daniel Amen who uses a self-produced infomercial for the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease and other health issues. For the record Amen has been on Dr. Oz’s show as well.


  • kaybee63

    The reduction in maternal death during childbirth, better infant survival, better sanitation and antibiotics (for now) have got to be responsible for 98% of the increased life expectancy of the modern world.

    • dust truck

      and the population boom of the 20th century. (from 1 billion to 7 billion)

      • jefe68

        Yes, lets go back to the days of the Black Death, dying from blood poisoning due to a cut, and using the humors as a form of medical practice. While we are at lets bring back blood-letting and the use of leeches.

        • dust truck

          at least the human population wasn’t on the verge of global warming, habitat destruction and natural resource overconsumption.

          • jefe68

            Ah the false equivalency.

          • dust truck

            It’s well known among anthropologist that hunter-gatherers were far healthier than any pastoral/agrarian/pre-industrial societies, so by mentioning Rome, you’re not going far back enough.

            Its still the big debate among academics as to why on earth the first farmers took to the fields and gave up the comparatively better life of hunting/gathering.

          • jefe68

            And yet when faced with living in small villages and eventually towns people opted for the agrarian lifestyle.


          • dust truck

            arguing with you is a treat!  Thanks jefe68

        • http://www.facebook.com/kelly.p.hammar Kelly Patricia Hammar

          you have a lot to learn, my friend.

          • jefe68

            Oh please, stop preaching.

        • nj_v2

          [[ While we are at lets bring back blood-letting and the use of leeches. ]]

          Indeed, lets!


          Leech Therapy

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1524211623 Brenna Joy

      And decreased life expectancy for those unnecessarily stuffed with prescribed pills. Which pill has the most side effects?!

    • http://www.facebook.com/kelly.p.hammar Kelly Patricia Hammar

      im sorry, but the rate of maternal deaths in the united states is very high, mostly due to the current medical system.  there is also no public record of maternal deaths. did you know this?  Infant mortality is also sad here in the States. 

      • jefe68

        No it’s not. It’s due to lack of affordable health care. 

  • mike and cyndy cotter

    I am a family nurse practitioner in a conventional practice but when my 87yo mother was in chronic pain and her only choice was shoulder replacement surgery I took her to a highly recommended acupuncturist and her pain was totally relieved with one visit of acupuncture, acupressure massage. This was 2 months ago and she still feels great. We need alternatives when western medicine does not have reasonable solutions. We need to use the same sense with both types of medicine. We certainly cannot trust the pharmaceutical industry to put our health and safety ahead of their profit margins. That has been well proven

  • Rick Hudson

    Steven Novella, please call in now!

  • 1Brett1

    Recently, I heard something in the news about a study that had analyzed herbal teas and had found high levels of pesticides and herbicides, etc….There is an inherent problem with many herbal supplements. 1) titration is inconsistent, i.e., one pill might have 200mg of whatever curative ingredient, another might only have 10mg. 2) Many herbal supplements do actually contain toxins from pesticides, herbicides, etc. These problems must be addressed before herbal medications can be taken seriously. Another thing that needs to be addressed is proper labeling of how herbals interact with other herbals, pharmaceutical medication, etc. Anther is proper training of practitioners of herbal medicine. Some seem knowledgeable about all sorts of things necessary to be proper healthcare practitioners, some not so much. Standards need to be better before someone is certified/licensed/hangs out a shingle.   

  • clear2view

    Dr. Offit gave a totally inaccurate description of not only the efficacy of chinese medicine, but also the history of its inception showing a total lack of knowledge on the subject. When a doctor tells a patient not to try something like acupuncture that can help a patient because they do not have the training to understand how it works they do a disservice to the patient. 

    Medical doctors are not given the training they need to understand how to treat patients with alternative medicine or even how to refer patients to the appropriate alternative therapist. 

    It is ridiculous to group all alternative medicine therapies together. There are many different therapies with varying rates of efficacy. Some therapies are better for somethings than others.

    Complementary medicine is a more appropriate way to describe alternative medicine. “Western Medicine” should not be pitted again alternative types of care. The type of care should be based on the health issue being treated. The type of treatment chosen should be in accordance with both the lowest risk of harm and efficacy. Western medicine often comes with harmful side effects, so if there is an alternative, it is sometimes more appropriate. In some cases western medicine is the appropriate treatment to start with and in others alternative medicine. -But in many cases the combination of the two will compliment the healing process leading to an improved recovery.

  • 1Brett1

    The focus was too much toward megavitamins. Most people are not going to take vitamins in such quantities as to be dangerous. And, mostly it is fat-soluble vitamins that can be hazardous if taken in quantities.

    Herbals are a whole different ball of wax and can be much more potentially dangerous. Also, much less is known by practitioners and average people alike about herbals. Most people, at this point know to be careful with vitamin A or vitamin E, etc. But, how many will blindly take echinacea when they are sick? Or St. John’s Wort when they feel a little depressed? Or any myriad herbals just because someone said they work?

  • Harry Teasley

    Dr. Offit deserves a medal for trying to fight this fight. I find it disconcerting that he would talk about how amazingly powerful and real the placebo effect is, and Tom Ashbrook immediately says that he’s “mocking” the alternative therapies that are fueled by it. He’s not mocking them, he’s acknowledging that they can work, they just don’t work by the mumbo-jumbo reasons that believers think they work by.

    We, as a culture, really love the underdog, and the iconoclast who rages against the establishment and who is proven right later. We love that story *so* *much* that we look for it, and believe it without evidence all too often. We find folks that speak out against the massive, impersonal health industry, and believe in all sorts of conspiracies about how we’re being defrauded by big pharma, and end up being defrauded by snake oilmen.

  • John_in_Amherst

    Lumping all “alternative medicine” practices together is mistake 1.  There are, for instance, many variants of herbal medicine – Chinese, European, Native Ameriican, South American, etc., some much more thoroughly researched than others.  For example, there are dozens of Chinese herbal formulas that the National Board of Medicine in Japan has subjected to scrutiny, found to be safe and effective when used as directed, and pays for under the national health plan.  They also have herbal GMPs (good manufacturing procedures) in place that help insure safety.  (as opposed to here in the US, where there are no GMPs for herbal products, and they are governed by food GMPs, which do little to enable tracking of ingredients or side effects). 

    That said, being versed in one herbal tradition does not mean a person is an expert in all herbal traditions.

    Many herbs functioned as vitamin supplements in the days before refrigeration and shipping could bring fresh or nutritious produce to our tables year round. 

    In Asian herbal traditions, herbs are rarerly used singly, but are compounded together, as herbal active constituents are sometimes synergistc in terms of their effects, multiplying rather than adding to the effects of other herbs.  This complicates evaluating their use, as these synergies are not well understood, and means that individual formulas must be tested; results of testing single herbs in double blind studies DO NOT reflect a real life situation.
    Another impediment to evaluating herbal efficacy is the fact that herbal formulas are often not patentable, so Big Pharma has no incentive to undertake the necessary studies as proof of efficacy not only leads to something that will make no money, but may in fact, undercut the value of prescription drugs that DO make Big Pharma rich.

    Many herbalists do resist regulation, despite glaring examples of how some herbs are dangerous in any amounts (e.g.: those containing aristolochic acid, which some MD – note: MD – in Belgium put in his fad dietary regime, resulting in dozens of cases of kidney failure and cancer), or are dangerous to use in high doses and/or outside the context of their herbal traditions (e.g.: ephedra, which is Never used as a stimulant or diet aid in Chinese medicine, but was extensively marketed here for weight loss and/or “performance enhancement” in athletics).  

    For a more comprehensive take on herbal safety and regulation, please see “Green Medicine, Muddy Waters”, in the Journal of Alternative and Complimentary Medicine.

    As for acupuncture, there is no one biomedical explanation for what this does.  Acupuncture is simply a collection of physical stimuli that can influence the health of the body.  In some cases, there are clear parallels to parts of biomedicine, e.g.: trigger point injections or dry needling IS essentially acupuncture, despite the fact that many docs do not acknowledge this, and do “trigger point therapy” because they can bill hundreds of dolars for a couple trigger point injections, where as, if they called it acupuncture, they would be lucky to get reimbursed by insurance companies at all in most states.  Some of what SOME acupuncturists do is hokum – and I say this as an acupuncturist who works both in a private practice and a hospital pain management center.  But there is too much in the way of evidence – antecdotal AND research-based – to dismiss all of what acupuncture can do as “placebo”.  I do not try to play down the placebo effect, but the fact that acupuncture also works on animals is prima facia eveidence that it is not all placebo.  It doesn’t work on dogs or horses because they or their owners believe it works.

  • Brandon Zeller

    I agree with some of what Dr. Offit says–my wife is into homeopathy, and I don’t think it has any effect beyond placebo–but there are also a couple of huge problems with traditional medicine that Dr. Offit appears to ignore.

    First, Dr. Offit’s attitude is typical of a great number of medical practitioners who act as though they have all the knowledge in the world and their patients have none.  They show little respect for their patients, usually merely telling them what to do without explaining why it should be done.  I understand the temptation to take that attitude; I’m an attorney and no stranger to the feeling that my clients’ lives would be better if they just took my advice more readily.  But I know that I won’t keep my clients’ business if I treat them like children–they want to be respected.  I believe that doctors’ haughty attitudes drive some people away from traditional medicine.  If traditional doctors think that alternative medicine harms patients, perhaps they should consider their attitudes in light of their oath to “do no harm.”

    Second, alternative medicine usually is much cheaper than traditional medicine.  Who wouldn’t rather solve a health problem with a $30 visit to a chiropractor than with a $300 visit to an MD?  Traditional medical care is bankrupting the country.  Now, I’m not necessarily saying that the poor are turning to alternative medicine because they don’t know any better–I don’t have any data to back that up, and I actually think the poor are more likely to go to the emergency room than to the acupuncturist.  Rather, I think sometimes it’s the middle class, always looking for ways to save a little money, who look to alternative medicine as a cheaper way to solve their health problems.  Obviously, there are many other people who use alternative medicine solely because they believe in its principles, but it’s probably easier for people to believe in those principles when it saves them money to do so.

    I actually take Dr. Oz’s stance on alternative medicine: I let my wife try it, and if it doesn’t work, we go to the doctor.  But if there needs to be a debate here, traditional medicine has its problems, too.

  • http://ericsilva.myopenid.com/ Eric

    To paraphrase Carpus: 
    There is no “eastern” medicine or “western” medicine, or “alternative” medicine. There is only medicine which is supported by evidence and that which is not. Dr. Offit is right on.

    It’s all about evidence. That’s the critical test for any medical treatment; is the treatment’s efficacy supported by real data and evidence?

  • VTchemist

    The discussion about toxicity by Offit and Grossman was completely maddening.  Of course no one has died from overdose of vitamins.  They have a low ACUTE toxicity.  Offit’s point was that the CHRONIC toxicity is significant.  Chronic effects of herbs, supplements and even FDA-approved pharmaceuticals ARE NOT STUDIED.  Why do you think FDA-approved drugs are regularly pulled from the market?  We are all guinea-pigs to the chronic effects of drugs, chemicals and pesticides in the environment.

    • dust truck

      Exactly! That’s why I’ve stopped eating food.  No one has ever studied the chronic effects of eating food your entire life! We could be killing ourselves and not know it!

      • jefe68

        Some people are killing themselves with food.

    • Sy2502

      Excellent comment but it will go way over most people’s head unfortunately. Which should tell you something about the state of scientific education in this country.

  • Phillip Conrad

    I’d like to see Dr. Offit acknowledge that part of the skepticism that the public has for “conventional” medicine stems from some large publicized failures of the FDA process for approving new therapies—where new therapies were rushed to market with inadequate testing because of financial pressures from Big Pharma, and later proved to be dangerous.    I appreciate Dr. Offit’s point that both “conventional” and “alternative” medicine should be subjected to the same scrutiny—and it might be helpful to begin pointing out that the same corrupting influence—the “invisible hand of the unfettered free market” that libertarians and conservatives claim is so wonderful—lies at the heart of both the failures of conventional and alternative medicine—and that the solution is to pursue ways to further limit the corrupting influences on the scientific method for both conventional and alternative therapies.

    • Phillip Conrad

      “… later proved to be dangerous”   

      and/or ineffective.

    • Sy2502

      No, it mostly comes from complete lack of understanding of medicine and the scientific process.

      • Tyranipocrit

        herbal remedies used over mileniia is not a scientific process–but a few days under the watchful eye of the FDA for profit is–hmm, interesting logic.

        • Sy2502

          Chanting and magic spells have been used for just as long. Must be because they work uh…

  • Tom

    Dr? Offit has decided to put himself in the position of the most dangerous man on the planet. His statement on air that Steve Jobs shortened his life by his choices of treatment is totally unscientific. No one can say how long Jobs was going to live in fact he might have even prolonged his life. My mom is 90 enjoys life and has been taking many supplements for years her mother who never took supplements died at 57 her father who never took supplements died at 68 and her brother who did not take supplements died at 77. Dr. Offits claims are all false and can be refuted at “KnowledgeofHealth.com” Offit should be banished from speaking about health. If you believe anything he says you will wind up worse off. Hard to believe you would have him on your show. To say that the vitamin industry is big pharma is the most disgusting statement I have heard him utter on your show

    • http://www.facebook.com/brian.belgard.3 Catfish Hunter


    • Sy2502

      LOL people who don’t agree with you shouldn’t be allowed to speak! Will Your Highness command us about what is proper to speak or not speak in Your presence?

      • Tom

         I wrote that Offit should be banished from speaking about health because he lies, frightens and misleads people by using Dr. in front of his name. The pharmaceutical industry will never willingly let go of it’s death grip on the public who they as an industry knowingly mislead. This has been going on for decades. Thomas Quasthoff is a wonderful singer and has blessed many with his beautiful voice in Operas and recitals. His hands are attached to his shoulders he has no arms because his mother took the FDA approved drug Thalidomide while she was pregnant with him. There were almost 20,000 Thalidomide babies 7000 have died. Even though this tragedy took place many decades ago and affected so many, big Pharma and the FDA continue to introduce dangerous drugs to the public than stop selling them when they prove to be too dangerous.This behavior has driven many to look for safer alternatives to help them be well. So now that many  people are using vitamins and supplements and like the way they feel guys like Offit come around and try to indite the entire supplement industry which really grew and developed because of big pharma’s total lack of integrity. Too late now big pharma sites like knowledgeofhealth.com are full of real research on vitamins and supplements. All big pharma can do now is continue to lie and convince the FDA to allow them to release dangerous drugs or as Offit stated buy vitamin and supplement companies with the huge profits they have made. This way big pharma can play both sides. Meanwhile my 90 year old supplement and vitamin taking mother who takes no drugs at all is there to answer the phone when I call her every day to tell her a new joke I heard. She always laughs. Priceless.

        • Sy2502

          Cool conspiracy theory story… does it come with a tin foil hat too?

          • Tom

             You’re not a nice person Sy too sarcastic I never attacked you go ahead and defend big pharma it’s your right

          • Sy2502

            I am sarcastic because it’s painful to hear people speak of what they don’t know. If you knew even one person in the medical research field, you’d laugh at your post too.

          • Tom

             Not that it would matter to you but part of a sarcastic personality is speaking without knowing. You have no idea who and what I know and in fact I do know a number of prominent medical researchers. It’s part of  why I formed the opinion I now have. Sorry to cause you pain but I don’t feel too bad about it because it’s more like “phantom pain””.

          • Sy2502

            I have many friends and families in the medical research business. How about you? Several of them are currently working in startups to develop cancer treatment. How about that, not “big pharma”, startups. Do you actually know the entire mechanism to get FDA approval of a treatment? No? Thought so. I do. Don’t try to play this game with me buddy.

          • Tom

             You have a chip on your shoulder that’s bigger than your head. Seems like you get off on sparring over the net. I would rather exchange information that could be of help like “Knowledgeofhealth.com” and “resveratrolnews.com” Like I said you have zero knowledge of who and what I know and why I feel the way I do. I won’t bother telling you because you would find fault and disagree with anything I tell you. But I know that my friends in the medical research business are just people not gods and they have the same weaknesses and doubts and problems as anyone.

          • Sy2502

            So instead of presenting any argument at all, the best you can come up with is “you have a chip on your shoulder”. Good job, very convincing.

          • Tom

             You’ve given me nothing but your opinion I’ve given you two websites that are packed with information based on research. “Knowledgeofhealth.com   resveratrolnews.com

          • Sy2502

            If it’s on the Internet it must be true! Please keep posting stuff like this, it’s entertaining. 

          • Tom

             You can verify all the research on those very good sites. Be careful Sy I’m starting to like you. I am considering giving you my email address so we can carry on.

    • 1Brett1

      Anecdotes about one person’s longevity who “took supplements” doesn’t prove or disprove anything. I worked in a gas station in the early 1970s when I was a teenager with a man who was 78 years old, and he gave me a run for my money everyday. He ate doughnuts, hot dogs, fried foods, eggs, bacon, and sweets everyday in quantity; he also chain-smoked filterless Lucky Strikes (about 4 packs a day). He kept up this habit all of his life (and until the day he died); he died at 101 in the mid-’90s. I know people who ate well, exercised, didn’t smoke or drink and died at 50…I guess by your logic, we should all eat junk food and chain smoke if we want to live a long life.  

      • Tom

         I realize you don’t like “my Logic” but it’s not logic. Cause and effect has it’s place. There are always exceptions like your old friend who lived to 101 in spite of bad habits not because of them. But they are very few and far between. My mom’s immediate family all had similar health issues that my mom has avoided by lifestyle. My father also died of a massive heart attack at 61 and I am now 65. My father had a history of heart problems that started when he was in his late 30′s all of which were found out to be nutritional and exercise caused. And he was not overweight. He could still be alive if he had lived differently. And many in fact most people can say that. Too bad most people don’t believe this but there is hope.
        Check out “Knowledgeofheqalth.com” and look at all the very interesting research. It can’t hurt and it might even help you.

        • 1Brett1

          I know a lot about nutrition. One doesn’t have to be a devotee of alternative medicine and embrace supplements/herbals to eat properly, get plenty of exercise and rest. Don’t be presumptuous. You talked about supplements, which I am not against, I just don’t like their benefits being overstated. As far as heart disease, I believe strongly in using omega-3 supplements (Dr. Offit also said these are worthwhile). However, your relatives didn’t die young because they didn’t take supplements, they died young it sounds like because they ate poorly and didn’t exercise, maybe even might have engaged in other bad habits.

          By the way, I’ve had lifelong type-1 diabetes (that’s the childhood kind where the pancreas doesn’t work at all) and asthma, for which I have managed them very well through a combination of “western” medicine and alternative medicine working together. I wouldn’t be healthy, though, if I rejected “western” medicine and only embraced alternative medicine. 

    • Tyranipocrit

       my brother in-law did in fact extend his life.  he has leukemia.  he cant afford western medicine.  He lives on an organic diet and lives on Chinese herbal medicine prescribed by his Chinese doctors and is still alive when he should have died years ago.  and he is relatively fine.

  • http://www.facebook.com/amy.bradley.3388 Amy Bradley

    With all due respect to the good doctor, his suggestion that if we all just accept Alt Med as the placebo effect then we should just all take sugar pills (rough quote) indicates to me that he should consider staying out of the are of psychology when speaking in public. He doesn’t seem to have a good idea of what the placebo effect is…

    As an aside, the pills and such we take in ‘modern medicine’ also have side effects, draw backs, dangers and some just straight up don’t work. So while we could agree that not ALL treatments are the real deal, to suggest that modern medicine is the only solution is shortsighted.  There was a time when the sources of the modern pills he covets were the ‘herbal remedies’ of various cultures.

    Maybe Dr. Offit should discover nuance while he’s study basic psychology. ;)

    • Sy2502

      If “herbal remedies” work then they are medicine, not “alternative medicine”. Many such remedies have been proven to do absolutely nothing in valid clinical studies. Why anyone would continue to delude themselves is beyond me. But then I see people do the same with religion, so I can’t be too surprised.

  • Doc .Jann

    I am looking at my Textbook of Natural Medicine with references to studies that show a 10-12% decrease in total cholesterol, 15% decrease in LDL and a 10% increase in HDL.  The studies are in Annuals of Internal Medicine, Journal of Internal Medicine, etc.  Most allopathic  studies aimed at disproving the effectiveness of natural substances use the wrong amount, a form that is not well absorbed (a bad form of Vitamin C actually shuts the immune system down) and do not give it for the length of time they know it takes to be effective.
    This doctor is ignorant of the facts – programmed with mis-information and bad results as if allopathic medicine cures everyone.  
    Ask him how a variant of Vit A came to be used to treat certain blood cancers after a patient insisted upon taking it and improved.  Allopathic medicine now uses it.
    So sad he is ignorant of the studies that show how homeopathics work by changing the energy bonds of water – studies done at McGill – along with all the other studies.  I bet he is stuck in Newtonian physics too.  Perhpas he should look up the scientific background of homeopathy.

    So sorry you have someone who is so ignorant on your program presenting himself as an expert. 

    Jann Offutt MD

    • http://www.facebook.com/kelly.p.hammar Kelly Patricia Hammar

      He really is ignorant. I find it impossible for him to be so ignorant which is why I believe he is here to misguide us.

    • http://www.facebook.com/kelly.p.hammar Kelly Patricia Hammar

      I agree with you one hundred percent!!

    • Ryan Peterson

      If vitamin works in treating a disorder it is not “alternative” medicine.  Science-based medicine uses vitamins to treat disorders quite frequently.  Science-based medicine also recognizes the need for macro and micro nutrients. This is common knowledge.

  • jonithomas

    I was so put off by Dr. Offit’s mocking tone regarding alternative medicine that I can only believe that he is out to make money from his book. Period. 

    • http://www.facebook.com/kelly.p.hammar Kelly Patricia Hammar

      I agree. he is also here to mislead the public. this guy is a joke if he really believes his words. I think instead he is here to mislead.

      • 1Brett1

        Yeah, it’s a conspiracy…he’s intentionally speaking falsehoods so people will not seek alternative medicine. Did you acquire that knowledge through voices or from codes found in the newspaper? Seriously, though, you may find more usefulness and have more faith in alternative medicine than he, but he’s not ignorant, nor is he a shill, nor is he present on the show to be purposely misleading.

        • Tyranipocrit


          • 1Brett1

            More name calling without anything to back up your over the top accusations and conspiracy theories.

          • Tyranipocrit

            there just is nothing to say anymore–all the reason and logic and empathy and brilliant arguments fall on dumb ears–just willful ignorance and idiocy–yes. i am so exhausted–arguing with the walls. Just so so dumb you people. your skulls are just so thick—nothing intelleginet can seep in–its like your tin foil on yur heads to prevent penetration of good ideas. Just dumb. America has a sad sad population. and the brain drain continues. What is the point of having conversations with such idiots. I mean its like screaming at blindfodled cows inn a harness. just a huge waste of time. I cant do it anymoer I ma sorry. Everyting is just reduced yo–”stupid” “dumb” there is nothing more to say. Eventaully you just stop talking to farm animals. ANd one has to admit–maybe i was little crazy for thinking the farm animals would talk back and say something smart. just crazy. Cngratulations–you win/ I give up. I will never teach cows and sheep and pigs to think. be well. Peace. wish you the best.

    • jm1951

      You know what, Joni? I’m going to happily BUY his book. Period. 

      • Tyranipocrit

         a sucker is born every day.  not gullible just dumb

        • jm1951

          “just dumb” = Tyranipocrit and everyone else who mindlessly embraces alternative medicine. And gullible in the extreme. 

          • Tyranipocrit

            did I say i embrace it. And how do you know I didn’t give any thought. Hmm. You are special. Your powers are incredible.

    • jm1951

      You know what, Joni? I’m going to happily BUY his book. Period.

      • Tyranipocrit


  • MsAlvarez

    It is a dis-service to people to say that alternative medicine is not effective and a non-sense.

    Modern medicine causes a lot of damage to people’s health. Prescription drugs that may “help” improve health concerns, cause other tremendous secondary negative effects. 

    Preventing medicine practiced effectively by alternative medicine doctors, chiropractors, naturopaths, acupuncturists, etc. and the use of supplements to cure diseases as opposed to prescription drugs can be effective and has no negative effects.

    I see it at home with my family.  My husband refused to try chiropractic medicine to deal with his back pain. He even had surgery that not only did not benefit him but caused further pain. He finally sought the help of our chiropractor and has improved greatly. Don’t tell me that alternative medicine doesn’t work!

    • Sy2502

      The reason snake oil has no negative side effect is that it has NO EFFECT. Water doesn’t have side effects either. 

      • Tyranipocrit

         shows how much you know–much of the wate ron earth is contaminated by your friends.

  • Harry Teasley

    The trouble with this topic is that no one really listens. Dr Offit was not saying banish alternative medicine; he did not say that everyone should just take a capsule of Placebitol and believe in that; he did not “mock” alternative therapies as Ashbrook accused him of doing. He simply said that many of them work via placebo: that’s not “mocking”, that’s *provably* *true*. People overhear *everything* in this debate.

    He said people are giving alternative medicine too much credit and too little scrutiny. People are substituting placebo medicine for real medicine in cases where placebos will not work, with sometimes fatal consequences. We’ve shifted too far towards embracing alternative medicine, past the reasonable point of integrating those alternative medicines and therapies that are testably effective, and jettisoning those that are just nonsense. 

    He’s asking folks to be as skeptical about the snake oil as they appear to be about traditional medicine. The believers seem to hear, “He said my stuff is fake and he called me stupid.” No, he didn’t. He said placebo is real and powerful, and there’s a place for the alternatives, but that place should not be the wholesale substitution of traditional medicine that some folks are taking it as.

    • http://www.facebook.com/kelly.p.hammar Kelly Patricia Hammar

      he is warning people to be skeptical, but while doing so he manages to show he clearly has NO information or learning of real homeopathic medicine. he sounds like a stubborn old man who would only appeal to those who have less knowledge than he does on the subject. 

      • Harry Teasley

        I consider myself very informed on homeopathic medicine, having done a fair amount of research into it (because this topic interests me). I found what Dr Offit said about homeopathy to be in line with what many double-blind clinical trials have repeatedly shown: that it operates by placebo effect.

        I find it surprising to think that folks apparently believe in “water memory” ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_memory ), and question if they would believe in homeopathy if they knew that the founder of homeopathy mostly treated folks with sulfur, and believed magnetism could raise the dead ( http://www.quackometer.net/blog/2009/04/samuel-hahnemann-and-his-frankenstein.html ).

        Homeopathy proponents have anecdotes and significantly flawed studies to bolster their faith. Traditional medicine relies on double-blind experiments to create real verifiable data (as opposed to random anecdotes), to rigorously prove if something actively works, or if there are other things in play.

        Homeopathy is placebo. That doesn’t mean it has no effect. It just does not work how you think it does.

        • Tyranipocrit

           what if that “placebo”–is just a kind of mediation, a movement and a rest–tuning in with nature–the way we evolved and are meant to live–seems like it would have enormous benefits in our anxious stressed deceitful corrupt hectic unnatural rat race life

          • 1Brett1

            Just groovy vibrations, man…far out.

          • Tyranipocrit

            im not a hippie but it is clear you are an idiot–as if your lifestyle choices are so cool and correct and anyone not like you is somehow flawed.

            You do realize you are a bully and a product of the bully american culture–exactly why we dont and cant have direct democracy and why americans are so obsessed with tyrants and dictators and individuals–do you see a pattern here bully bratty brett.  You think a guy with long hair is a hippie,  i think a guy with a flat top is a penis and a closet gay. 

          • 1Brett1

            You can’t be joked around with a little without being presumptuous, mean spirited, and resort to name calling? Talk about being a bully. Aren’t you just wound up a little too tightly, there? And what’s all that about hair length and penises and being gay, etc.? Jeesh

          • jefe68

            Another one with a horse hair shirt a few sizes to small.

          • Tyranipocrit

            Brett, if you wer joking I would appreciate it. The problem with “blogging” or texting (as with phones-)if that’s what this is called–is that tone can be difficult to read. If you were joking, my bad. I am just sick of being insulted rather than debated. I dont disagree with everything the doc is saying, just a lot of it–and his approach. And yes, i do think he shills for the industry (the farce the medical industry has become).

          • jefe68

            You win the most false equivalency’s in one comment award.

      • Tyranipocrit

         but in fact–he is just a corporate shill

        • 1Brett1

          Which corporation is he shilling for? Citations please…I’ll bet you can’t find any that show he has been paid by any corporation for his opinions…I know it sounds bold to call him a shill and reduce what he was saying to some black and white argument where he is a totally corrupt demon who knows nothing of what he’s talking about; that view only serves to make you look ignorantly closed-minded, presumably the very thing you accuse him of. 

          • Tyranipocrit

            how so? You are so gullible and so just tarded. You believe your government wants to protect you too huh? You think health insurance companies are in for the kindness of their souls–not for profit? You think health insurance companies dont actually make money or prevent care, huh?

            You live in an uber-capitalist society my friend. Take off your brand-name rose colored glasses

          • 1Brett1

            Wow, there is clearly something wrong with you. You know nothing about me or my own medical background/knowledge. And, “tarded”? Listen pal, I’m in my late 50s and have spent my entire life (since age 16) trying to get people in the general population to accept people who have disabilities, both physical and intellectual, with respect, and here you throw around the term “tarded”? You are a jerk.

          • Tyranipocrit

            whatever your backround–you arrogantly refuse to accept alternative ideas, and if i recall you began with the slanders. You cant have a serious discussion with people who want so bad to believe all the lies–pal–and sling arguments like take your meds–conspiracy theorist–lunatic–hippie–i want a serious discussion, not debates that fire back with such nonsense. Having a medical background doesn’t make you better than anyone else. In fact it says quite a bit about your stance. Frankly, I dont care how old you are. I’m 90. I have earned the right to say what I want.

          • 1Brett1

            I didn’t tell you to take your meds, someone else said that to you. You used the word “hippie”; I didn’t. I also didn’t use the word “lunatic”; you are imagining these things. So, what slanderous things did I start out with in my comments? 

            Are you really 90? Some of the expressions you use in your comments, e.g., “my bad,” are not typical of a 90 year old. 

          • Tyranipocrit

            I apologize for calling you tarded. That’s not good. i am sorry.

          • Tyranipocrit

             just pointing out the obvious bratty bret.  he is a doctor who relies on designer drugs to get rich and industry norms.  These designer drugs are pushed on doctors and they realize there is a lot of money in it.  Also they are lazy.  And profit motivated.

            the worst thing about our medical culture is we have no faith in preventative medicine–everything should be fixed with drugs and money.

          • 1Brett1

            What’s with the schoolyard name calling? 

            While I would agree that “western” medicine is too focused on treating illness instead of promoting wellness, that requires a lot of effort on the part of the patient, including lifestyle changes and being an informed consumer/knowledge acquisition, two things many people are unwilling to engage in. WE are in charge of our own health, health care practitioners are simply the experts we hire to help us. We can choose whom we employ and whom we don’t. 

            You levied an accusation against Dr. Offit, for which you’ve provided no evidence, and you’ve essentially slandered him. You don’t seem to have any sense of propriety or decency. 

          • jefe68

            That’s an understatement.

          • Tyranipocrit

            “slandered”–whatever you want to believe. he slanders himself Brett. Do you have feelings for him or something? Its okay for him to denigrate holistic medicine but its not ok for anyone else to criticize the profit-before-humanity big pharma industry–a fraudulent capitalistic scamming death-profiteering industrial complex. yeah, it makes me question his credibiity. i am on person–making irrelevent comments on a commment scroll–i am nobody–who cares what I think–its hardly slander Brett.

            If the shoe fits wear it. I am so sick of the wealthy crying slander–when common folk have no such rights. I’d say get down off the high horse. “Decency”–are you serious. Wher eis the decency in this society anymore–a nation for the 1% and by the 1%–a nation of lies and murder and terrorism-s-eriously–you’re going to talk to me about “decency”–i guess i would ask you the same thing. Where is the decency? People are sick of the lies and hypocrisy. The whole f-ing country is indecent. Are you really that sheltered or indoctrinated?

    • Tyranipocrit

       I have a relative in china who cant afford western medicine for his leukemia.  he should of died years ago but her is living quite well–knock on wood (an expression–dont get balllistic)–on chinese herbal remedies.  he should have been gone–but he is not.

    • Tyranipocrit

       when you call it snake oil–you dont need to say –”wow you’re stupid.”

      • Harry Teasley

        Are you a trained doctor, to know whether or not bee pollen is effective for anything? Or Acai juice? Will Hunza bread help you lose weight? Does your deep medical knowledge allow you to accurately determine the worth of those claims? Mine doesn’t, because I’m not a doctor.

        Falling for snake oil doesn’t mean you’re stupid. It means you don’t know everything. Plenty of smart people believe things that other folks think is silly.

        If you’re insulted by someone saying, “You don’t know everything,” then you’ll be insulted by Dr Offit’s message.

        • Tyranipocrit

          I am not insulted–im arguing. I dont know what half those things are. I just know the profit-motivate dindustry he has decicate dhis life to is full of BS half the time. Designer drugs are the snake oil he refers to in the snake oil act. he is twisting reality and spinnign garbage. Are eggs good for? Bee pollen is the essenc eof life and yes I am quite sure has beneficial properties. If I want to sweeten my bread i would use honey not commercial sugar.

          I dont know that the American “alternative medicine” industry is legitimite–never bought into it–but I would be willing to bet there is a lot of ignirance within it. I dont often proasie china but this is a culture that I trust when it comes to herbal medicines. They’ve been practising it and reasearching its prnciples for thousands of years and from what i have seen seems to work as well as any drug. There is nothing wrong with a little natural wisdom from grandma. it has ever failed me. Par to f the reason we have so many illnesses and disorder sin this crazy capitalist world is we stopped listening to grandma and nature.

  • Kay Bird

    I have had so many experiences in 40 years of the medical establishment failing to figure out and help turn around health problems with myself, my children, my niece and my Dad. After those failures, I was able to find a way to restore health and eliminate pain with all of us by using whole-food nutrients, fiber, herbs and homeopathy.
    I am sure that I personally would have been in a nursing home 15 years ago if not for finding out about Pycnogenol, although I had to take 10 capsules a day for 6 months before I recovered from chronic fatigue.

    One question that is not addressed about the “scientific” tests with vitamins is whether they are synthetic or from whole foods.
    That would be a very important comparison to investigate.

    • Sy2502

      Amazing what the placebo effect can do! Maybe you weren’t that sick after all.

      • Tyranipocrit

         and you think designer drugs and a visit to the doctors office isnt a placebo?

        • Sy2502

          Maybe YOU should stop abusing “designer drugs”. Those “bath salts” aren’t really doing you any good.

    • 1Brett1

      If one has an auto-immune disease, pine bark (pycnogenol) is best avoided as it can increase the effects of the disease and underlying condition, so there’s that. 

      I do agree with you last paragraph. It is optimal to get one’s nutrients from whole foods rather than vitamins (although, I am not against supplementing one’s diet).

  • http://www.facebook.com/kelly.p.hammar Kelly Patricia Hammar

    What would Dr. Deepak Choppra, MD, Harvard educator, and alternative medicine specialist, think about this Doctors misleading words. I have read widely and this Doctor is here to mislead the public.

    • J__o__h__n

      Chopra is a fraud.

      • Tyranipocrit

         so are you

        • J__o__h__n

          I’m not whoring out medical credentials to make a fortune from fake cures sold to the credulous.  

        • jefe68

          What are you 10 years old?

  • http://www.facebook.com/kelly.p.hammar Kelly Patricia Hammar

    By the way, Doctor, the key of homeopathic medicine is prevention, and assessing EACH person individually, what works for one may not for another.  You have much to learn if you in fact believe what you are saying here.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kelly.p.hammar Kelly Patricia Hammar

    Gee, how many times have you mentioned that “act” that allows this “magical” medicine to practice? this man could not possibly have political ties and motives to mislead the people into thinking these ridiculous things. He says alternative medicine makes money off of this?  gee, I thought the medical world was making all the money. give me a break, Dr. you are really really wayyyyyy off.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kelly.p.hammar Kelly Patricia Hammar

    Do you realize the FDA does not test for any of the products you use? shampoo, makeup, hairspray, all contain chemicals that have never been tested!!!!!! NEVER BEEN TESTED

    • Tyranipocrit

       except many contain chemicals know to encourage cancer

    • Ryan Peterson

      Yeah…..so silly that the Food and Drug Agency is testing food and drugs.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kelly.p.hammar Kelly Patricia Hammar

    I find it funny that you don’t need a homeopathic specialist to talk to this Doctor, it is the average informed person on the street who has more information than this ridiculous Doctor!! GEEZ

  • kenrubenstein

    It’s true, much of alt medicine is wishful thinking. But the same is also true for much of mainstream medicine. It’s amazing how little evidence exists for the benefits of many therapies and surgeries.

    • Ryan Peterson

      Such as?

      • kenrubenstein

        Anyone knowledgeable in the field has a great many examples. One is arthroscopic knee surgery of which millions were done before a clinical study revealed that it did a lot more harm than good. Another is the FDA-approved Merck COX2 anti-inflammatory that was pulled from the market after it was revealed that Merck had hidden data on heart attack side effects. Etc, etc, etc.

        • Ryan Peterson

          Anyone knowledgeable huh?  I don’t think you appreciate the irony of your post.

          First, you can’t mean arthroscopic knee surgery does not work (really, for anything?).  So I’ll assume you mean that it should no longer be used in treating osteoarthritis.  And what was that clinical study showing this?  Well it was done by the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons.  A conclusion was determined by using scientific means on a large-scale study and they (get this) changed their position-even though many surgeons will no longer profit from this indication of the procedure.  You see, therein lies the difference between science and quackery.  You probably did not look at that report though, did you?

          If you had you would have found that some cherished gems of alternative medicine were shown to not be effective (including acupuncture, glucosamine, and chondroitin).  If glucosamine worked it would not be considered “alternative.” So was the same study that convinced you about the inefficacy of this one use of arthroscopic surgery not so good anymore when it challenges your belief about acupuncture?

          As for Merck, of course they are a greedy corporation.  If Lockheed Martin fudges a study about the efficacy of anti-tank weapons and armor, does that call into to question engineering and physics, or would you want an “alternative physicist” not constrained by large scale effective studies and evidence.  Please stop wasting peoples time with these lame and unexamined arguments.

          • kenrubenstein

            You bore me, and I imagine the feeling’s mutual.

          • Ryan Peterson

            OK, man.  Rock on with your awesome level of knowledge.

  • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

    he just needs to watch more Dr Oz

  • http://www.facebook.com/kelly.p.hammar Kelly Patricia Hammar

    I missed the part where he said alternative medicine had a place.

    • Harry Teasley

      He said that homeopathic remedies might be the best first thing to try in some circumstances, like with a child’s cold: it’s a mostly a self-limiting illness, and active medicines can have side effects, while a homeopathic remedy might bring some relief through the placebo effect. Starting with a homeopathic remedy in that case might be the best thing to do.

      If it didn’t get better or worsened, of course, one would proceed to actual active ingredient medicines.

  • Seadub


    He’s a big pharma shill. How many people die from conventional medical mistakes each year? How many from alternative medicine? End of discussion. If you think conv. med has a good track record with chronic disease you are delusional. Might as well do a hour long infomercial for Merck, Pfizer and the like.       

    • http://www.facebook.com/nells.moobly Nells Moobly

      So what are those numbers exactly? You end the discussion without actually giving any evidence beyond a rhetorical question. 

      People do in fact die from “alternative medicine” when they are encouraged to forgo proven medical treatments. But I would also mention it’s easy not to harm someone when your not actually doing anything to them in the first place (acupuncture…i’m looking at you).

      • Seadub
        • 1Brett1

          Sure, taking too much vitamin E or echinacea, say, isn’t going to kill you. Taking, too much, say, narcotic analgesics will most likely kill you. But is there really much of a point to that sentiment? “Alternative medicine: you won’t die from the medicine or the treatment itself!” Is that really a compelling argument for alternative medicine?  

      • Bill98

        How about this tidbit, which is in Yahoo News this evening:


        Or this one, entitled “Preventable Medical Errors – The Sixth Biggest Killer in America”:


        Enough evidence for you?  If not, there is plenty more…

        • 1Brett1

          You didn’t answer Nells’s question, you just cited data on “western” medical errors. No one is denying that medical errors happen with frequency. Considering how many more people turn to “western” medicine than alternative medicine, even if you could cite data on alternative medicine (which you can’t), the number of deaths would be greater for “western” medicine, and considering data records are carefully kept on “western” medicine, it’s easy to cite data on deaths based on medical mistakes, those numbers are not readily available for alternative medicine because they are not kept….

          However, the question was how many deaths have resulted from alternative medicine. We don’t know, because as I said records are not kept, for one thing. Secondly, if someone forgoes normal treatment to pursue alternative treatments at times during severe, chronic, or life-threatening, acute illness, their death is deemed the result of whatever illness they had, not negligence from not pursuing medical treatment. Of course, proponents will say that zero deaths have occurred, which is not based anything but anecdotal/testimonials, etc.

          I’m not against alternative medicine, but it is insane the knee-jerk, blanket condemnation of “western” medicine by alternative medicine proponents. 

          • brettearle

            Hi Brett….

            Dr. Weil supports many traditional treatment methodologies does he not?….

            There will come a time, ?maybe?–when MDs are not too stressed out and are not too preoccupied with so many challenges that they are facing now, and that they are facing in the moderate future–when these practitioners will incorporate both alternative and traditional mixtures into their practice…especially as treatment modalities become more and more ‘honed’….[assuming that's at all possible.]….

          • 1Brett1

            My point to mentioning Weil is that he has mellowed considerably in the last thirty years (I should have been clearer). He no longer makes outrageous claims about alternative ideas in medicine; he also is not nearly as rejecting of “western” medicine as he once was. 

            My point to most of my comments in this thread has been that by boasting about cures and making claims of miraculous results regarding alternative medicine, the acceptance becomes more difficult. Also, as many do, if “western” medicine is denounced out of hand, it weakens any chance of reasonable discussion. I, like you, will fall back on “western” medicine in my hour of need; however (and, perhaps, also like you and many others), I will also rely on alternative medicine and supplements as part of my health regimen. It’s just that I have little tolerance for those who would malign every traditional doctor who offers an opinion/advice and who would paint “western” medicine as evil and corrupt categorically. Likewise, I have little tolerance for those who would embrace every alternative approach simply because it is “natural” or whatever; I also reject those who would dismiss all alternative medicine.

            Look at the comments on this forum. Most of those who are proponents for alternative medicine tend toward polemics, will take a single example of medical malpractice or error to condemn all “western” medicine, will claim miraculous cures through vague personal experiences, will display a lack of knowledge about medical science, will get nasty really damn quick when someone challenges them…on and on. Does this approach help getting acceptance of alternative medicine? I don’t think it does.

            Western medicine now embraces many alternative procedures (e.g., acupuncture, massage therapy, and others, are now accepted forms of medical therapies and are often covered by traditional insurance), and it will continue to do so. Alternative medicine must be held up to scrutiny, however. Practitioners of alternative medicine must be held to certain standards when it comes to licensing and regulation, in my view.


          • brettearle

            Agree strongly with your comments.

            The `business’ of acceptance into the mainstream of alternative health therapies:

            When the anecdotal, biased crowd go off on their prejudicial tangents, I am reminded of how the `Moral Majority’ was turned off by anti-VietNam protests–because of how the shaggy- haired protestors looked, rather than the substance of their complaints.

            The alipathic model and the AMA establishment will, likewise, be turned off by the adolescent harangues of those who cannot focus to discipline their knowledge and their attitudes.

        • Harry Teasley

          Cancer rates are rising in China. Cancer rates are higher in the US, but our survival rate is much better than China’s. I would hazard a guess that proportionally, more cancer sufferers in China try things that do not work, and more cancer sufferers in the US try expensive, horrible treatment regimes that do have some measurable efficacy. I don’t have information to back up that guess, but I would be surprised if it were wrong. ( http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/18/world/asia/18iht-letter18.html?_r=0 for info on cancer rates in China.)

          I too have Chinese family. I have an in-law who is a well-established acupuncturist in the Bay Area in CA. My wife’s immediate and extended family have all been treated for various things with acupuncture: all of them have tried it, and all of them go to a real doctor for anything serious, because they have all experienced how it doesn’t really work, and how real problems tend to get worse the longer you put off effective treatments and stick with acupuncture.

          When we took a bus tour of China, we went to some big-deal herbal medicine pharmacy in Beijing. There were presentations, and some doctors spoke, and we were all analyzed by their experts. They felt our hands and skulls, examined us all over, and made all sorts of pronouncements about our various levels of health.

          Their diagnoses varied wildly from examiner to examiner, and felt for all the world like a cold reading from a psychic. Not helping them with volunteered information caused them to flounder for diagnoses. Most of the tour folks were Chinese-Americans who bought a lot of the expensive herbal remedies because they believed in that stuff, too.

          There’s probably some of it that works. The stuff that works has probably already been absorbed by western medicine.

    • Sy2502

      How many people die because they fell for the snake oil instead of treating their illnesses? You know why people don’t die from snake oil? Because it doesn’t do anything. People don’t die from drinking water either.

      • Tyranipocrit

         you live in a world of historical propaganda–just regurgitating the same old crap.  Snake oil?–come on!

        • Sy2502

          Coming from somebody who should definitely be on medications… 

          • Tyranipocrit

            herbal meds.

            there you go again–same old tired one liners–you know the nazis called people crazy if they challenged their vile ways too.  Most germans failed to recognize the horror of the state they lived in.  Comfortable with all they were told and all they believed in.

            Who drinks snake oil?  What century do you live in?

            In China, herbal medicines are part of the establishment–in every single pharmacy and prescribed by western-trained doctors.

            When i am ill–with cold–i have taken chinese herbal remedies fully expecting them NOT to work and found that they did every time. That is not placebo. I had no faith in the medicine.

            One time I had an infection in the eye–a common ailemt.  i used herbal medicated eye drops–cleared up in less than 24 hours.  And my eye was swollen and closed up oozing pus.

            There are some things in this world you dont know.  Americans dont know everything–and too often reject things out of hand because they think they do know every thing. its called willful hubris.

            Every thing we enjoy to day in mdern technology and science was thought to be magic and condemned by naysayers and industry establisment. Nobody wants to lose profits. Big oil condemns renewable energy and global warming and has all the American ignoramuses believing its a conspiracy. NO ONE outside America thinks its a hoax.

          • 1Brett1

            You win the Godwin’s Law award. 

          • jefe68

            And the false equivalency award.

          • Tyranipocrit

            you dont win anything

          • Sy2502

            LOL when short of arguments, bring out the Nazis. Classic!!!

          • Tyranipocrit

            say it again five times fast. it is your only response. Im afraid you will find that such comments dont win arguments or debates. You could never be accepted into an institution of higher learning with your third grade reasoning abilities–my daddy is bigger your daddy—you should be on meds–hahhahah–soooo funnny. Ow stop you pulled my hair!

    • Tyranipocrit


  • 1Brett1

    I wonder of the many people who roundly condemn “western” medicine and extol alternative medicine as only virtuous, how many would forgo relying on “western” medicine for emergency situations regarding themselves or their loved ones? which would be an act of negligence that is potentially prosecutable.


  • justcat

    I am amazed by this doctor’s postulations that the natural remedy lobby is snowing people.  There is far more power wielded by the AMA in this country and only surpassed by Big Pharm.  Having a chronic disease (auto-immune) myself, and having a team of conventional medicine docs attempting to strong-arm me into their “cure”, I ran in the opposite direction and have successfully managed the disease for 15 years.  I found this doctor to be incredibly patronizing, considering many of these holistic practitioners are very well education in their profession, and homeopathy has been tested far more than most of the drugs on the market today.

    • Ryan Peterson

      Do you doubt the names of the companies he mentioned that sell mega vitamins by the truck full?  Perhaps you think that those companies somehow are not “Big Pharma?”  

  • Fletcher Millmore

    Dr Offit IS “offit”, defending his own inane religion, with half truths and bad “science” – false gods.  By lumping together a vast universe of different things, he misses all the reality.

    I personally am in far better shape at 66 than I ever was earlier; I have been steadily increasing my nutritional status since 1964, each step a further improvement. I take amounts far in excess of anything this guy dreams of, and I have researched all of it without finding any believable evidence that ANY of these have any verifiable negative effects. I have no doctor, no meds, not taken any OTC anything other than vitamin/minerals in 12 years – I formerly lived on OTC pain killers, since I was about 8 – but always in pain. Now, I have NO pain that I cannot end in 20 minutes, even for things like stupidly slamming my finger in a door last week. I am never sick, and I can go 48 hrs without sleep while working hard with no ill effects. I go to sleep in less than one minute, and usually only for 5hr 15min. I do not work out or other stupid wastes of time, and I eat real food – not always what I would like, since clean good food is very hard to get and expensive, except what little I can grow. My hair is no longer white, but recovering the color it was when I was young.

     My 21 yr old daughter was raised on this scheme, and had NO doctor visits other than routine checks; her one and only prescription was when she went to college and slacked off the program – look up the average # of prescriptions for Americans of various ages – and the cost to the patient – or the profit to

    Expensive urine? I am still repairing damage from years of malnutrition starting prenatally, so I take more nutritional supplements than my daughter. My entire health care program averaged between myself and her is $0.62/day/person. I will say here and now that I could cut the health care costs in this country by half in a year for $0.50/day/person – with better health for all; further improvement to follow. Of course, the Pharma/Med/Insurance industry would be unemployed – good riddance.

    Placebo? My stuff works on people who have no idea what I gave them or what to expect – And it worked on my dog and cats as well.

    If there is ONE open minded, intelligent, and interested journalist in this world, send them to me, or I will go to meet them – Boston isn’t much, and I have friends there. I’ll even talk to this Dr Offit – I doubt that there are any infectious diseases that I cannot fix better, quicker, and cheaper than he.

    • 1Brett1

      Going 48 hours without sleep? That’s just plain unhealthy. Falling asleep as your head hits the pillow? Sounds like exhaustion. A person of normal health takes a little while to fall asleep; this is normal. Sleeping five hours at a time? Sounds as though you have a sleep disorder. Having your hair turn back to color after going gray at 66? Unlikely. In fact, your whole comment sounds a little off.

      • Fletcher Millmore

         Thank you Dr Brett, for the diagnoses, and also for having carefully observed me and mine for the past 22 years.

        48 hours without sleep is not my first choice, but the difference between doing it now and before I figured this stuff out is astounding.

        “A person of normal health takes a little while to fall asleep; this is normal.”
        Perhaps you should contemplate the distinction between “normal health” and “optimal health”. In addition to myself, my daughter also falls asleep in a minute or less – as little as the time it takes me to walk the 25 feet to her bedroom – and has since she was born, as did my wife, and the several people who have been following my program. I commonly go to bed thinking about something, and wake up in the middle of the sentence I was contemplating when I got into bed. It is exactly like a switch – get in bed and turn it off. Maybe you’d rather have investments in OTC or prescription sleep drugs? I will put them all out of business.

        “Sleeping five hours at a time? Sounds as though you have a sleep disorder.” I have been through all sorts of sleep regimes, from a “normal” 8-9 hr/day, to 20 hr/week for a number of years, to a (resulting) state of total exhaustion requiring 16hr/day for a year, and I can assure you that I now feel far better and more energetic than ever before, even or especially when I was a child or teenager, or young man. I can go back to sleep for another 2 1/2 hrs if I want, and sometimes do so when I’m bored with the world, but I feel no better then, aside from the “vacation”. I commonly have a “nap” in the evening, 20 min if I’m well rested, or 45 if I’m tired, but it is more a meditation than sleep, and if I do not get it, it has no effect on when I do go to sleep, or how long I sleep.

        “Having your hair turn back to color after going gray at 66? Unlikely.”
        Yep, unlikely – but an observed fact. It was not a goal, rather a side effect of getting other things in order. My hair and beard were dead white for about 15 years, and are no longer. Actually, they ARE longer, and thicker, and healthier, and shinier, and softer – and 90% less in the hairbrush or shower drain than for the first 60 years of my life = more inroads on the OTC pharma profits.

        It is all a matter of stress and nutrition to compensate. And there are many other “side effects” – all indicators of real health.

        My whole comment IS “a little off” – off the map of pain and sorrow and expense and bullshit that the Medipharma cartel gives everybody, and which nearly every brainwashed victim falls for; follow me or don’t is up to you, but do not argue my simple – and careful – observations and personal experiments.

        • 1Brett1

          So, tell us, oh mighty Fletcher Millmore, what is your elixir for restoring health, bringing forth health one never had before and de-aging oneself? What is your “regime” [read regiment] as you call it? What takes one from normal health to OPTIMAL health through vitamins and minerals, with supplements, with super food one grows oneself? Without exercise or “working out” (that which you call “stupid wastes of time”)?

  • feel integrated

    Ironic that Dr. Offit wrote this book, when he should know about all the serious injuries to children caused by (in some cases) mandatory vaccinations. All of them approved by the FDA, of course.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jonathan.reyes.5876 Jonathan Reyes

    If you want to apply a rational scientific approach to all alternative medicines you should look at one of the most ancient types of healing we know of; hallucinogenics. Within a precisely monitored environment and a carefully selected candidate; one maybe able to instill the ability to use the “placebo effect”. This could turn the body into a  internalized self healing type of therapy. These tools in ancient primitive forms have been used for healing for a long long time. 
    With the research that has been done since we started turning these primitive tools into precisely measured doses is why this form of alternative medicine could help bridge the gap of modern vs ancient medicine. 

  • Fletcher Millmore

    And furthermore:
    ” When Vioxx was found to be a cause of heart disease, you knew that in a  second because the FDA regulated that industry, they put out media alerts and ultimately that drug was off the market.”

    Really? I am prescient then, because I knew about it years before they pulled it. But then, so did the bastards who sold it AND the FDA who approved it.

    “The recall came just days after Merck discovered that a top medical journal was about to publish a study by an FDA (Food and Drug Administration) investigator indicating that the drug in question greatly increased the risk of fatal heart attacks and strokes and had probably been responsible for at least 55,000 American deaths during the five years it had been on the market.

     It soon turned out Merck had known of potential lethal side effects even before launching Vioxx in 1999, but had brushed all such disturbing tests under the rug.Read more: http://www.theweek.co.uk/us/46535/when-half-million-americans-died-and-nobody-noticed#ixzz2YbOQ69bo

  • hannahglogower

    My leanings are toward alternative medicine and praising its “magic” that it has done for me and my family. But, it is possible that when people seek the avenue of alternative medicine that they also learn more about healthy eating and adopting an entirely new lifestyle? It seems like a rarity to find someone deeply invested in alternative medicine but who also eats high amounts of sugary and processed foods. Maybe this is attributed to so many alternative medicine success stories. “Food” for thought!

  • HonestDebate1

    This was a really good show. Kudos to On Point, Mr. Ashbrook played the Devil’s advocate without mercy but in a very fair way and Dr. Offit was clear, concise and thorough. He struck a non-dismissal pro-proof balance.

    My mother had a long ad fruitful career as an RN and Midwife. She worked in hospitals and clinics but is also a big believer in alternative methods like Acupuncture, Aroma therapy and homeopathy. She understands the science (or lack thereof regarding the latter) but believes in the chi. She’s funny that way. 

    Her cancer is back. When confronted with a diagnosis of breast cancer 3 years ago she soberly assessed the  situation, sought the best experts and weighed all options. She went with a double mastectomy. Now there are a few isolated cells in the scar tissue, she is opting for aggressive surgery to remove the scar tissue with a big margin. Then radiation.

    I’m glad she isn’t trying acupuncture or algae.

    • 1Brett1

      Sorry to hear about your mom, truly. My mom (84) went through a fast-growing form of uterine cancer about four years ago (surgery, radiation). She is doing well for her age and what she’s been through. 

      I don’t see anything wrong with people participating in alternative medicine/methods, but why anyone would completely reject modern “western” medicine is beyond me, especially if they are experiencing a devastating illness/disease. 

      • brettearle

        As I mentioned to Honest Debate, above, Brett, all the best for your mother’s future health.

        I just went through extraordinary challenges, with my own mother’s health care….

        • 1Brett1

          Same to you and thanks, man…She is in remission, as it were, and is doing okay, but it has changed her health considerably. The prognosis is not great either. Supposedly, with each year the survival rate goes down considerably. I think there is about a 5-10% survival rate five years after treatment or something along those lines. 

    • brettearle

      All the best, for your mom’s recovery.

      I recently went through some arduous stuff with my own mother’s health care….

  • Tammie Heazlit

    I understand the point the guest Dr is trying to make, however, it is in how he is stating it that I have an issue. I would like to preface my comment with the statement that I am a scientist myself and am not a believer in “magical thinking” as he refers to it.  Yet I have tried a variety of alternative therapies and have evaluated each both from a personal experience perspective and from doing research on the techniques. As with any therapy, there is no panacea that is a cure all for everything, and the same logic must be applied to alternative therapies. Having said that, the Dr fails to mention that there have been studies, not new, that have demonstrated that there is a 1/100th less of an electrical conductivity on the skin at the location of the accupressure/accupuncture points. These are scientifically conducted and repeatable studies. There was a study conducted at UCLA under a Dr Gray (Grey?) with a patient named Mitchell May, that was the first documented study on energetic medicine, and the patient was able to regrow bone and nerve, and saved himself from having to undergo amputation for osteomyelitis. For me personally, when my father was in hospital having quadruple bypass surgery, I performed Jin Shin Jyutsu on him specific to health issues that were holding him back. The Drs on staff were baffled as to how his test results could possibly shift in the time span to the degree that they did for each issue, and began coming to me to ask that I use the hold for other ailments, each time receiving the desired results in unexplainable time frames. They each concurred that there was something to what was happening that lay outside of their western medicine logic. Similarly, several years later, I conducted qi gong on my father prior to a surgery they did not expect him to survive and he not only survived, but thrived and lived an additional year.

    Western medicine measures the electrical conductivity of the heart with EKGs, and the Electrical energy of the Brain with EEGs. Other tests measure our magnetic fields and there are now camera’s that can photograph our energetic foot print as well as those of leaves, and even amputated limbs. The University of Arizona has had an alternative Medicine program for about 10 years now I think, that combines western and traditional medicine.

    While it is personally irresponsible to simply rely on non traditional medicine for children in our care, it is irresponsible for the Dr to suggest that there is something magical in alternative therapies.

    Most individuals who seek out these practices do so in concert with their traditional Drs and use them as complimentary. The Dr should be encouraging this. Yes, fool hearty approaches to health are never good and marketing makes a fool of us in all sorts of ways. But no more than modern pharmaceutical companies who show happy couples in bathtubs on a beach hold ing hands, or people made of piping doing better because they no longer wet their pants as a result of a loss of control.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=602238283 E Russell Kalcec

    The biggest reason people turn to alternative medicine, is because of the failures  – often conspicuous failures of western medicine.  Freud’s very nonscientific medicinal treatments were used to malign parents, family members and patients for years – and at times is today still.  For many years, stomach ulcers were caused by stress, now we know it is a bacterial infection.  In my own life I’ve had incidents like this.  My wife saw a doctor in an ER.  She had sepsis.  I knew it, she knew it – the doctor sent her home.  We went right to another hospital that nearly put her in intensive care.  Comments below indicate the failures with vioxx and other drugs.  In people’s personal lives, doctors often fail miserably, and sometimes the scientific method fails miserably.  The scientific method is not immune from the forces alternative medicine experiences (namely, money and politics). One example is the vaccine court, which protects manufacturers and allows them no accountability for harm vaccines may cause.  Why should people trust these corporations, when they have no incentive to protect their patients’ health?  If we wish to control the alternative medicine market, then western medicine must significantly improve their track record.  I say this as a medical student, learning to be a doctor of western medicine.

  • Fletcher Millmore

     Yet more on the good Dr Offal:

    I’d like to try giving somebody near you “10,000 vaccines at once.”  Since that would likely be murder, how about you volunteer?

    Shame to On Point for foisting this on us without a shout out.

    • Jean-Luc Giraud

       Shame on you, Tom, For getting this fast talking “Dr.” that was just squirting around issues like acupuncture when I know that it revived my father’s ailing facial muscles caused by a wind draft on his wet neck and with one needle in his neck(given by a Chinese Acupuncturist in Sydney, he was back to immediately normal.

      Why didn’t you bring up the fact that the Supreme Court
      made a ruling on lawsuits against drug companies for fraud, mislabeling, side effects and accidental death. From now on, 80 percent of all drugs are exempt from legal liability.http://www.whiteoutpress.com/articles/q32013/supreme-court-rules-drug-companies-exempt-from-lawsuits/

    • 1Brett1

      That is as yellow as yellow journalism can get…in fact, it’s not even journalism. It is made to look like a CBS News piece but is really just something written by a parent of a child with autism. It takes pieces from a CBS News article and distorts them and tries to make them into something other than they are (and I’m sort of understating).

      You do know that there is no link between autism and vaccines, don’t you? If not, educate yourself and stop spreading lies and falsehoods; they go against public health and safety.

  • Matt2525

    “This hour brought to you by Pfizer, Eli Lilly and Merck.” Look at the comments here, Tommy…and keep talking…and keep bringing guests like this on. I love watching NPR destroy its own credibility.

  • Carol Harris

    I use many alternative therapies with my dog – chiropractic, acupuncture, and supplements including glucosamine. WHen he’s not on glucosamine, he has trouble with movement – stiff, etc.  Hmm, bad dog — he KNOWS when I sneak that pill into his food and just “acts” better when I give it to him! 

    • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

      canine placebo lol

    • Emily4HL

       I’ve heard, though I can’t tell you where so take it with a grain of salt, that studies show that a much higher percentage of dogs react positively to glucosamine than humans. It did wonders for my dog too, but nothing for my joints.

  • Tyranipocrit

    conventional “medicine”–and big pharma is an “industry”

  • Tyranipocrit

    taking anything in excess is bad.  Taking vitamins is questionable because you dont know where they come from-but

    a good organic diet with herbs and herbal medicines is smart and beneficial.

    Taking designer drugs is stupid and harmful.


  • Tyranipocrit

    free trade econmics is a religion. big pharma is a religion.  representative “democracy” is a religion–all myth all BS

  • Tyranipocrit

    why isnt there nay oversight of big pharma?  what he means by this snake oil act –why it was implemented was not for herbal medicine and supplements–it was to protect the fraudulent designer drug industry–wake up people–same time–these commercials appeared on TV.  Big Pharma is the snake oil industry.

    Like everything else you people belive in the exact opposite of truth.  You think you live in a free democratic society becuase you are told you do–but you live in a fascist totalitarian police state.  You think god exists and is protecting you over the nasty middle easterners—but is he–is she?  

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jacob-Aaron-Libby/12127496 Jacob Aaron Libby

    It is common practice in Taiwan for doctors to recommend Vitamin C supplementation as part of treatment for colds and flu. 

    • brettearle

      Often, it works for me.

      It has been so, for years.

  • Esnus

    Offit’s book spreads the myths that vitamins increase mortality and that they are of no benefit for the general public. But if you actually scrutinize the medical literature you find that both claims are falsehoods (read http://www.supplements-and-health.com/vitamin-benefits.html ). Politics is involved in the wider propagation of these myths.

  • Jean-Luc Giraud

     Shame on you, Tom, For getting this fast talking “Dr.” that was just squirting around issues like acupuncture when I know that it revived my father’s ailing facial muscles caused by a wind draft on his wet neck and with one needle in his neck(given by a Chinese Acupuncturist in Sydney, he was back to immediately normal.

    Why didn’t you bring up the fact that the Supreme Court made a ruling on lawsuits against drug companies for fraud, mislabeling, side effects and accidental death. From now on, 80 percent of all drugs are exempt from legal liability. http://www.whiteoutpress.com/articles/q32013/supreme-court-rules-drug-companies-exempt-from-lawsuits/

  • http://www.facebook.com/tmulvin Tim Mulvin

    I listened to this show with great fascination.  My mother died 10 years ago and she was “hooked” on alternative cures.  She would read a book about something and decide that she needed to get the vitamins to cure it.  She had a strong dislike for the medical profession.  When she had a minor stroke my dad took her to the hospital and she was given medicine and instructions to follow up with the Dr.  She dismissed this and “diagnosed herself.”  She was dropping on average $300.00 per week on these pills, books and her chiropractor.  What a waste.

    • Sy2502

      This made me particularly sad as a good friend of mine recently almost died of a stroke and the only reason she’s alive is that she was treated quickly with the appropriate medications. It makes the difference literally between life and death. Superstition does kill.

    • brettearle

      I am sorry for your loss….

      How long, may I ask you, after the diagnosis of the minor stroke, did your Mother pass away?

  • Richard Mandell

    As an acupuncturist of 23 years, I found this show to be an example of poor journalism. Dr Offit is very ill-informed about the realities of acupuncture and other complementary/alternative modalities, and yet there was truly no other professional on the show to point this out. Playing a clip from Dr. Oz just played into Dr Offit’s biases and ignorance, allowing him to dismiss this popular TV personality. Without the facts related to the growing body of scientific research supporting such modalities as acupuncture and with only the anecdotal evidence of many callers, the listening audience is left feeling that any success of complementary/alternative medicine is all in the patient’s mind. Journalism is supposed to be a source of reliable, valid information to educate listeners/readers. Dr. Offit proved to be superficial and, ironically, unscientific, and this show let this go unchallenged.

    • Sy2502

      All the scientific research shows acupuncture is no different than placebo. Or do you have other scientific information you’d like to share?

      • brettearle

        What you are, in effect, saying is that the millions of people–who use and who have used acupuncture–benefit from it because they believe in it.

        I may believe in God but that doesn’t mean he exists.

        Just because you believe in something, doesn’t mean it’s remedial.

        Sometimes, one needs real results….benefits that are long lasting.

        Many a child has died, when Christian Scientists pray and don’t seek treatment.

        Many an acupuncture patient has benefited, when traditional MD treatments didn’t work.

        But it is also true that many an acupuncture patient has probably become worse or has died, as the result of choosing acupuncture as the only treatment for a serious illness; or even as the result of choosing acupuncture as a companion treatment with other methods.

        Who’s to say what’s right all the time?

        Certainly not you, me, Dr. Offit, or an acupuncturist, or Dr. Oz, or Dr. Weil, or even Dr. Debakey or Dr. Anthony Faucci…..

        • 1Brett1

          I went to an acupuncturist for a while. He was Vietnamese, had been trained in the US in western medicine, was a practicing MD, and renowned. 

          He said that after serving his residency in the US, he had returned to Vietnam during the War in the mid ’60s to help out in his village where he grew up. One morning someone came to him and said an American soldier had Bell’s palsy, needing his help. He was at a loss, as nothing in his training had prepared him to help someone with such a condition. 

          A local acupuncturist was called upon by someone in the village and “cured” the soldier with one treatment. Dr. Phuong (my doctor) was amazed and wanted to learn more…after 40 some years, he’s still at it (and has all the credentials to back up what he does), although he makes few claims about “cures” and the like.  

          • brettearle

            Does he also, I can assume, practice  traditional medicine?

            About how effective was he for you?

            It’s funny, off the top of my head (no pun intended)….if there was any kind of affliction that I would say, acupuncture would treat, effectively, it might be Bell’s Palsy….

          • 1Brett1

            He did have a normal medical (GP) practice set-up (he’s recently retired). I liked that he could look at a medical issue from both a western and eastern view, as well…We were not completely successful in my case, however. 

            I was suffering from carpal tunnel in my left hand (too much guitar playing, etc., plus a medication that was making my tendons pained and also bringing me constant bursitis). There was some immediate (and some long-term) relief from the pain with the acupuncture treatments, and I was able to continue playing guitar (I had given up playing because of the pain and weakness had gotten so bad). 

            Later I discontinued the medication, which helped a lot, but even with the acupuncture and stopping the med. I still had problems (I had to cease playing certain things on guitar and limiting my playing). I eventually had surgery (which I feel was a last resort). The surgery was successful; and, actually, one tendon had sort of pulled away from its post so to speak, which surgery was the only answer. No alternative medicine, procedure, healing ritual, etc., would have been a complete fix like the surgery. Good old-fashioned “western” medicine physical therapy also helped immensely in recovery. 

            I later had some tendon problems in my right hand. I went to an “eastern” healer/massage guru/demi-god in my community for that. He was a great masseuse, but he was haughty and promoted himself as some sort of “healer.” I went to him four times. He bruised my arm during the first time, kept saying I was “blocked,” meaning my “energy” flow was off, etc. He also missed the fundamental, underlying problem; I had a bone spur in my wrist that was pressing against tendons. On the fourth visit he pronounced me “cured”! (Although, I think he didn’t like the fact that I didn’t act like I worshipped him the way everybody else did and wanted me gone.) Interestingly, he advised against seeking out a regular doctor, immobilizing the hand in a sling while I slept and a couple of other things…I eventually went to a regular doctor and had surgery to remove the bone spur. My recovery was again helped with physical therapy. 

            My function is as strong as ever now. 

            My experiences with Dr. Phuong were good overall; with the other guy they were disastrous. He kept massaging right over the bone spur and missed what it was (because it was beyond his level of expertise); I thought it was a ruptured blood vessel. He said something nonsensical like it was blocked energy…I can’t remember, but it was some kind of BS line. He would have been wise to say that I had a problem he couldn’t help and that I should seek help elsewhere. 

            Another interesting aspect to the bad experience was that he is revered in my community. So many people go to him and consider him some sort of magic healer with a Divine gift. People knew I was going to him and would grill me about him at the coffee shop, etc. They would lead by implying I was supposed to extol his virtues. I really tried to avoid talk about my visits, but eventually I simply said, no, he didn’t help me; I said, in fact, he hurt my healing process…man, was I treated like persona non grata by certain people, or that I must be a negative person and my negative energy must’ve interfered. It was crazy! 

          • brettearle

            I appreciated your story/stories.

            The occupational-hazard thing for your work, as a guitarist, reminds of what Julie Andrews went through, with her throat.

            Glad to hear you’ve improved.  But you’ve been through some stuff…is for sure.

            I have medical stories, I could tell you, that would intrigue you.

            I have also encountered–when seeking services for professionals, who were supposedly highly touted–total washouts and busts.

            In the case of the masseuse/energy healer (who’s own soul is clearly `energy-blocked’), I know of some [and I assume, generally, it is often true] that `these’ alternative allied health practitioners can suffer from narcissistic, self-righteous character flaws.

            Almost as disturbing–if not more disturbing–is the blind positive bias towards such a guru, displayed by the community.

            I don’t doubt your description, for a moment.

            We see this sort of denial-dysfunction in so many places–whether it’s in the workplace, private advocacy groups, in so many different institutions, etc.

            People are afraid to face the Truth–because of GroupThink and because they don’t want to admit that they could be wrong.

            From my way of thinking that sort of ignorance is,


      • Richard Mandell

         I am happy to email research articles demonstrating the efficacy of acupuncture. As I am unable to attach documents in this conversation, you will have to provide an email address. You may also want to look at these: http://www.annualreviews.org/doi/abs/10.1146/annurev.med.51.1.49

        • Sy2502

          Thank you for the link, the placebo effect is in fact real and demonstrated. The point isn’t whether there are studies that show acupuncture works but rather studies that show acupuncture has the same efficacy of placebo. The studies you referred aren’t controlled for placebo. In other studies, people who received real and fake acupuncture (that is needles in the wrong places or not deep enough) had the same results. In fact the placebo effect is so well known and accepted that we have to test treatments with double and triple blind methodology to ensure it doesn’t come into play. Where are the dobule and triple blind trials of alternative treatments?

          • Richard Mandell

             I forwarded your response to a Harvard researcher, who said, “And they did not read the papers/ don’t understand what blinding is.

            I am sorry for your efforts but agree that this person may not be able to hear you on this topic.”

          • Sy2502

            I see no actual rebuttal. Just dismissing my post with a hand wave doesn’t cut the cheese. Good try though.

  • brettearle

    Placebo effects?

    I don’t know of any in my life.

    But I DO know that Vitamin C has literally stopped infections and wiped away flu symptoms for me, many times.

    Not every time.

    It is especially disheartening for me to hear from an establishment MD, who is well-respected, that such experiences are part of a placebo effect.

    Linus Pauling [Nobel Prize] was not the only scientist who recognized the benefits of Vitamin C.

    It is an intolerance to a fault, not to recognize that some illnesses can be treated by methods that do not fit the traditional medical model.

    It is, however, true that alternative solutions can be deadly.

    It pays to do research.

    And if the method has not been around long enough to prove its own credibility, then patients ought to be responsible enough to make responsible choices.

    I would always chose traditional medicine.

    But it is, NEVERTHELESS, especially unfortunate for an excellent MD to harbor such a major bias.

    • Marie

      Western medical treatments don’t work 100% of the time either. And they also have powerfully negative side effects. I don’t understand why he is so strongly against something that can help.

      • brettearle

        The probable reason lies, very likely, in his personality.

        In my view, people with such inflexibility–who rely on their own expertise to reenforce their inflexibility–basically harbor a basic insecurity:

        That insecurity normally revolves around an obsessive need to be right and to be a perfectionist.

        However, I would usually opt for traditional medicine–if I had to choose between two options, for a specific illness.

        Alternative medicine is less proven, by comparison.

        That will change.

        In the the comments above, I already speak of my own side effects to medications and I also speak of how I take Vitamin C.

        Vitamin C seems to work, reliably, for me.

        Many MDs don’t recommend it.

        But millions of bottles are stocked in thousands of pharmacies.

        I seriously doubt that is all because of good `ole Placebo.

  • wbsurfver

    What a sham, Offit gets off saying vitamin E causes cancer when the study was rigged that way using one kind of vitamin E. Little debate about the real reason the establishment would want to regulate alt medicine, to put it out of bussiness because now they can charge a hefty price for a few tablets of vitamin C. Little mention of all the people who die form prescription drugs and kemo therapy

  • Jasoturner

    I think it safe to wager that this will be a war of data versus anecdote, with plenty of personal testimonials of results derived from “alternative” medicine.  I guess I’ll find out when I stream it…

    • brettearle

      Hi Jason….

      How’ve ya been?

      Still taking that Kelp for your Impetigo?….

      I think that FDA drugs can come with identifiable, and not so easily identifiable, side effects–ones that might not show up for years.

      The same can be said for alternatives–though likely, with more frequency.

      However, the Federal Establishment would never inject (vapid pun, intended) an infusion (vapid pun, again intended) money into evidence-based outcomes–for alternative therapies……

      ….unless and until millions more people insist upon it.

      I don’t think that’s likely to happen.  

      For one thing, people are living longer.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1134011166 Brad Harris

    Something tells me that Dr. Offit doesn’t have a chronic medical condition that Western Medicine can’t cure. If he did, maybe he’d be looking for relief in other avenues as well.

    • brettearle

      It’s a good point.

      Remember Orrin Hatch–who opposed stem cell research?….


      How differently our Christians (in his case, more specifically, Mormons) sing, when it behooves them!

      The double standard is nearly, if not totally, disgusting.

    • StevenHB

      So if you have a chronic medical condition that modern medicine can’t cure, you should spend time and money pursuing unproven treatments pedaled by an industry that is reluctant to subject those treatments to real studies?

  • http://www.facebook.com/stacey.rossi1 Stacey Rossi

    Dr. Offit presents so much anti-altmed biased misinformation under the guise of “scientific” skepticism as to scare the misinformed and uneducated public away from remedies that can truly heal patients. His advice is not only not helpful but I would go so far as to say violates his Hippocratic oath. 

    In addition to the vitamin E examples discussed by other commentators, Dr. Offit cherry picks data to blanketly discredit garlic as a beneficial supplement for patients with cardiovascular risks. An unbiased, scientific, and responsible account on garlic would explain that the data shows that while garlic does not lower low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C), apolipoprotein B, and TC/HDL-C ratio, it does reduce serum total cholesterol (TC) and triglyceride (TG) levels.  From the study’s conclusion: “garlic therapy should benefit patients with risk of cardiovascular diseases.” This was a double blind PLACEBO controlled NIH study, mind you.

    What does the hippocritical Dr. Offit recommend that patients do instead? Take dangerous statins!

    Utterly disgusting. 

    • brettearle

      Statins can reduce the risk of a second heart attack.

      That’s a proven statistic.  However, the side effects are deplorable.

      But these side effects do NOT necessarily obtain for all patients.

      But, like you, I am troubled by an across-the-board bias, by Dr. Offit.

      Many traditional MDs would concede that some alternative methodologies can be effective, at certain times…..even if these MDs do not necessarily incorporate such measures in their practices.

      Dr. Offit’s attitude is somewhat toxic (pun intended):

      You can’t indict ALL alternative treatments, simply because some of them can be harmful or unproven.

      I take at least one non-cardiac medication that is too new to the market to determine long-term side effects….and these long-term side effects are ones that might not show up, until years from now: 

      In other words, the problems could take longer to appear than it took to develop the drug and get it approved by the FDA.

      I am ALREADY suffering from a long term side effect from a staple cardiac medication.

      It’s an OUTRAGE.

      We, in our family, have other Side-Effect examples that could be almost as bad or worse.

      But these repercussions are hard to prove….  

      [However, the cardiac side effect, that I refer to above, has been, to all intents and purposes, proven.]

    • StevenHB

      He’s “biased” against “altmed” because there’s no reliable proof that it works.  Can you post a link to the actual double-blind, unbiased, scientific study of garlic that shows that it reduces serum total cholesterol and triglyceride levels?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000642403971 Howard Phung

    Dr. Offit insists on a critical exam on the alternative medicine.  But there are big flaws in his arguments.
    1/ Placebo effect: It cannot last for long time.  To imply that most alternative medicines only have placebo effect is wrong.  Many alternative medicine users maintain their health for a long period.  I personally take turmeric for my GERD.  My stomach has been good for years.  Before taking turmeric, I had to take prescribed pills every day and to avoid certain food.  Now, I can eat whatever I want.  Placebo effect of turmeric?  I don’t think so, Dr.  Please do more research on many alternative medicines and be specific.  You cannot put them all in a big umbrella of placebo effect and dismiss them.
    2/  Harm because of overdoes:  Water is good.  However, if we drink it all day until we puke, water can be harmful too.  Out of their ignorance and stupidity, many people take too much medicine.  I am very sure Dr. Offit know many cases in which people get overdoes of over-counter drugs.  So why only criticize alternative medicine for overdosing?  Also, if vitamin E can be overdosed, does it mean that it have some benefit if taken properly?  Or is it that vitamin E only has placebo effect?
    3/  FDA regulation and extensive research.  Just because many alternative medicines do not have FDA regulation and are backed by extensive research, it does not mean that many of them cannot cure.  All alternative medicine bottles have a phrase like “not approved by FDA.”  Therefore, it is up to each consumer to do research and monitor the effect.  Drug takers must do these practices with ‘conventional’ medicines regardless of FDA approval.  Some conventional drugs with FDA approval has been proven harmful.  After a car accident, a wound on my hand would not close up.  Frustrated, I bought an wound ointment from a local grocery store.  Within less then three days, the wound beautifully closed up. This surprises many nurses in the hospital.  So don’t tell me I can only trust medicines approved by FDA and backed by extensive research.
    4/  Celebrity testimony.  Really?  A doctor must bring Steve Jobs to support his argument?  Where is the extensive research?  Many cancer patients use alternative medicine and get well.  And how effectively does the conventional medicine cure cancer?  If it is very effective, we would not have many organizations to raise cancer awareness and funding for cancer research.  What a lame argument.
    P.S.  Mr. Ashbrook, please ask harder questions when discussing controversial topics. 

    • 1Brett1

      I have used turmeric in cooking for some time…I have recently decided to use it beyond that for health benefits. How do you take it? How much? I have some symptoms of GERD and would like to explore this more.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000642403971 Howard Phung

        I currently take a turmeric & ginger 600mg pill per day.  I suggest you take it for at least 2 wks.  Many alternative medicines need time to improve our health.  If you currently take prescribed medication, slowly reduce the dose after 2 wks.  Of course, you should check with your doctor about drug interactions.

        • 1Brett1

          Thanks, Howard. I am not currently taking it in pill form; I’ll try an experiment with it in pill form to see what happens (and, as you say, I’ll check out any possible contraindications with certain drugs, etc.)

  • http://www.facebook.com/stacey.rossi1 Stacey Rossi

    I should add the following:

    I am not saying that garlic is an adequate substitute for statins in treating cardiovascular disease overall. I am asserting that a responsible doctor with an open mind (i.e. scientific) would recommend that patients have a healthily skeptical attitude to both pharma and its alternatives. He might suggest garlic as part of a mileu of remedies.

    As a patient with cardiovascular disease myself (caused by the genetic disorder of metyltetrahydrofolate reductase deficiency), my primary care physician recommended statins as an aggressive treatment. Being extremely smart, open minded, well-educated, and on the cutting edge (as he does advanced lipid analysis and carotid intima media imaging), he also recommended Omega-3 supplements and aspirin therapy. Having had poor results from pharmaceutical and typical medical options in the past, I did not want to rush into using treatments known to have dangerous side effects (basically all pharmaceuticals). I told my doctor that I wanted to explore the Omega-3s, aspirin, and alternatives first. 

    Notice that it was a M.D. who prescribed the omega 3s which used to be considered “alternative” but is now mainstream as the use has become widely acceptable by the medical community.

    I spent countless hours studying the biochemistry of lipids in order to understand the results of my doctor’s tests. I read numerous studies on the effectiveness of aspirin, vitamin B3 (aka niacin), vitamin B12, omega-3, and folate (not folic acid, but one of the components of folic acid). For a year, I took daily mega doses of B12 and folate, 1 gr of vitamin c, regular doses of omega-3s and aspirin as well as increased my exercise and lowered my saturated fat, trans fat, and partially hydrogenated fat intake. I have not taken too much niacin as the studies are still conflicting on its safety.

    The results could not only not have been better with statins (my cardiovascular plaque build up completely reversed), it was done without harmful side effects. 

    I cannot help but wonder what pharma company has Dr. Offit in its pocket.

    • 1Brett1

      Offit did say that he thought omega-3 supplements were worthwhile. 

      There is more conflicting evidence about statins than many doctors would divulge to their patients. I say, go to nurse practitioners, if one can, instead of doctors; they are less arrogant, condescending and see patients as intelligent beings who can be spoken to like adults. Doctors will often not spend the time necessary to really talk to patients, which is a shame, and an important component to rapport (an essential ingredient to good treatment).

      I also am a believer in garlic! (Of course, I am Italian, so I may have some bias).

  • Nancy McGregor

    Rather than wasting time debating the benefits of “alternative” vs
    “western” medicine, or worrying about who has whom in whose pocket, my philosophy for dealing with the medical issues of
    myself and the members of my family is to be open to trying anything.  Who cares if improved health is the result of taking multivitamins, chiropractic care, the placebo effect, or of
    dosing with double-blind tested MD-prescribed drugs?  The only truth in this debate is
    that at this point in time no one – not Dr. Offit, Dr. Grossman, the FDA, the drug companies, or the acupuncturist down the street – can state unequivocally that any one type of treatment for a particular “dis-ease” is THE optimum treatment.   

    • Ryan Peterson

      Sure you can.  It’s easy.  For example the best way to prevent measles (which historically has been quite a problem) is….a  vaccine.  This is science-based as opposed to “alternative” medicine.  What is the best treatment for group B strep sepsis in a newborn?  Ampicillin and Gentamycin.  These are not trivial examples in that they have and do change the outcome for many lives.  Of course the number of examples ranges into the thousands. 

      I’m not being nit picky or twisting anything you are saying. What turns out to be “optimal” really means what is it that has the best evidence to work at the time our child or we are sick.  

       The whole concept of branding some practices as “alternative” is that it has been shown to not work (e.g. equals placebo) or has not been studied in great detail (e.g. certain herbal remedies).  Many science based remedies come from plants.  These are not part of “alternative” medicine however, since they have real evidence to support you or your child putting them into their bodies.

      • Nancy McGregor

         But then you are making assumptions based upon what we know now.  Who knows where new “science-based” evidence will take our definition of “optimal.”  Open to trying anything does not preclude utilizing what appears to work best as a result of present knowledge.
        Also, as Dr. Offit conceded, placebo does not equal “shown to not work.”

        • Ryan Peterson

          Right, who knows where imagination,science, and real evidence will take us?   My problem (and I am not accusing you of this) is when people are not willing to change their minds in the face of evidence contrary to what they wanted to be true.  Some of the “alternative” medicines have been looked at quite extensively and shown to be no better than placebo. 
          While I agree that placebo does not mean “does not work” these treatments are sold as if they were much more than placebo, and often not cheaply.  Holding on to one’s sacred cows in the face of common sense and evidence is not demonstrating open mindedness.  Rather it is precisely the opposite.

          • Nancy McGregor

             I agree. And that applies to those who hold on to the “sacred cows” of both alternative and western medicine in the light of new evidence.   

          • Call_Me_Missouri

            The guests story about Steve Jobs is a perfect example of what you are concerned about.

  • L Martinez

    alternative medicine has  no oversight?  
    This doctor was the  co-inventor of a  vaccine. 
    Garlic has not been proven to have medicinal value for the heart.
    HOw often have people died  using garlic for their health?
    Does  the New England Journal of Medicine  always have articles written by ethically-motivated doctors and 

    scientists and researchers who have no vested intersts whatsoever?
    People in the alternative-medicine  industry are  “Media savvy” and “Politically connected”?
    And  people in the  regular medical establishment aren’t?

    There are no  common treatments and procedures being oversold?  
    what about  the big campeign about mammograms and so called womens’ health?  
    The fact is that statistics show that women die more  often from heart disease than breast cancer or ovarian cancer 

    or cervical cancer,  but  the biggest hooopla  made about womens health is  reproductive cancers. 
    That branches into other issues, however what should be obvious is that the  medical establishment has a lot of 

    influence over what people think  and  people are being oversold on getting  so called regular life-saving tests  

    that  a majority of people actually dont need; and if anyone  dares to say that a lot of people don’t need  regular 

    cancer tests,  then  the  medical establishment  would reply that it is better to be safe than sorry.
    But  there is little or no  research  into how many people  somehow get sick or are put in danger’s way by having  

    regular tests that actually are not  100 percent accurate  and  there are no studies  on  how  often   people have 

    been given cancer  by  tests such as mammograms that they would not have developed  if they had not gotten 

    mammograms.And then it is made to seem that the cancer was  treated by  mammograms  and  biopisies and  chemo etc.. 

    Women  and of course men more  infrequently got cancer before invention of mammogram.
    The overprecaution    of   making healthy women get  thest tests  is a matter of the medical establishment   

    creating their own definition of what risks are worth it. It is as if  the  medical establishment had  created a 

    hospital-grade type of risk and consequence:Their  medications and procedures, even if they make people very sick, 

    are better than getting mildly sick naturally, and without medical intervention.
    If  you get sick getting tests that have been officially-established by   differnet medical associations and  

    medical  boards ( etc) then  the medical establishment can justify to themselves  that  even if the patient had had 

    a  .001 percent chance of  developing cancer;  and, since the testing and/or treatment is for the purpose of 

    “finding”   and / or  “curing” cancer,   then even if the treatment and or  testing  had a 99 and nine-tenths 

    percent of a chance of causing cancer, then  the  illness was a necessary  outcome in the attempt to thawart  any 

    potential for spontaneous illness. 
    The idea  in effect is that it is better to cause cancer because of good medical-intentions than  to  not search 

    for cancer even if not searching for it means that cancer won’t be  caused  by the “search methods.” 

    it is  all so that doctors and medical professionals can write down on paper that they   had   followed  certain 

    precautions and  procedures  and are not guilty of leaving any stone unturned.  If  it does not result in the  best 

    possible outcome for the patient then it can be said that all medical procedures carry that risk, but everything 

    was done in the atttempt  to remedy  rather than ignore the potential for disease or illness;

    Should vitamins come under scruitiny of FDA? Test vitamins like drugs?
    WOuldn’t  foods that have particularly high levels of a certain vitamin ( for example Kiwi fruit reportedly has 

    more vitamin C than oranges)  have to be  tested for their “megadose” qualities?

    Furthermore, the irony is  that the FDA does not oversee regular drugs enough and there is a lot of incompetency or 

    inefficiency  in the so-called oversight  of the pharmaceutical industry and  the way that it develops and tests 

    and markets  drugs . 
    I personally do think that  a lot of so-called  alternative medicine is overrated  and over-stated by certain people who are religious or other kinds of fanatics. I think that there are people with vested interests in the  so-called alternative medicine industry. 

    Still, Dr Paul Offit is not in a good position so as to speak against the so-called alternative medicine industry. He is someone who co-invented  a  vaccine  and  he profits from the making of drugs and definitely from promoting their “benefits.”  
    He is not a neutral third party  who has studied both sides objectively without vested interests.

    • Ryan Peterson

      “alternative medicine has  no oversight?  
      This doctor was the  co-inventor of a  vaccine.”

      This epitomizes the type of non-sequitors arising from the “alternative” medicine camp.

      • DrAaron

        I think you’re overlooking the politics of vaccine development…it’s great, and impressive that Offit developed a vaccine to prevent Rotovirus, but that doesn’t make him an expert in other modalities in healthcare; if anything, it exposes a bias in his “camp” related to an existing, politically polarizing fight between alternative vs conventional on the subject of vaccines.  A very complex issue that exploits emotion over logic and data…vaccines are a good thing, but not for all people…responsible use of vaccines should be employed, not the compulsory use of vaccines while continuing to accept preventable risk. 
         I’m an “alternative” healthcare doctor, but I don’t have a “camp”; this is not a political party system, this is healthcare we’re talking about, and the idea of dichotomizing via bias and polarized “camps” is ridiculous and concerning, and it distracts from attaining a complementary, cooperative healthcare delivery system.

        • Ryan Peterson

          This was a jokey comment about a blatant non-sequitor.  But there is some truth that lies in jest.  

          • brettearle

            It has become clear to me–abundantly clear–that your need to identify comments as quote, ‘non-sequitors’, unquote….or as `strawman’ tactics is designed to obfuscate, in order to retreat from Debate.

    • Call_Me_Missouri

      “Garlic has not been proven to have medicinal value for the heart.  HOw often have people died  using garlic for their health?”

      Probably none, but no one has been cured of a heart malady by Garlic either and why would you take Garlic for your health if it doesn’t actually make you healthier?  It just makes you stink.

  • Call_Me_Missouri

    I agree with the idea that there is no such thing as Alternative Medicine..  there’s just Medicine.  The difference is Regulated or Unregulated Medicine.

    I take a large number of unregulated supplements every day without a doctors prescription or involvement and they help me quite bit, but they have been chosen with deliberate care to help me with specific issues.  It’s funny how he listed a bunch of vitamins that are known to cause cancer when taken daily in large doses and I don’t take any of them…  Made me think that I must be choosing well!

    Despite the number of supplements I take every day… I really am a total skeptic with every medical treatment regulated or not.  I’m a “Less is More” and “Show-Me” type Person.  There have been many supplements that I have tried and have stopped taking because they did not do anything for me and I do not believe in taking pills for the sake of taking pills.  

    It’s always the supplements that are being advertised by the Media as huge discoveries that do nothing for me.  So, there is no doubt in my mind that the guest was right…  Unregulated Medicine is an industry too.  They put out new supplements based on bogus/unverified studies that ignorant news papers print as Gospel.  They assume there are suckers out there that are going to buy whatever the media tells them.  Occasionally they suck me into buying a bottle and I am always disappointed.

    • DrAaron

      The outdated “one size fits all” campaign of vitamin (and drug) recommendations is finally being replaced by personalized strategies based on genetic (genomic) based strategies for knowing what kinds of “vitamins” and drugs  that individuals might respond to, and those that they might be sensitive to.  There are now (and evolving) established methods to know why an individual should take, for example, a folate supplement, or why they should not take it…but that takes an open-minded and willing practitioner who also ignores the marketing hype and who considers the biological individuality of the patient, and one who knows how to order the right tests and how to interpret such tests, etc…. It’s an art and science, in a rapidly emerging field, with rapidly emerging sub-fields.  This doesn’t mean that we should dichotomize “alternative vs conventional” or vilify alternatives as “dangerous” or “unscientific”… it means that different healthcare delivery practices can merge, based on science. Unfortunately, as in conventional medicine, the retail and marketing part of healthcare dominates the field and obscures the view, as do insurance benefit structures and practice management/business structures in healthcare delivery. In other words, we consumers don’t necessarily get access to nuanced healthcare, or to what is available because of politics, cost, economical interests, and disproportionately disseminated personal bias and opinions by “experts” in the media impersonating as authorities on the subjects.  

      • brettearle

        Are you saying that we are on the threshold of specialized blood tests that can actually reveal what `designer’ supplements, vitamins, and prescription medications might be relevant for an individual’s Biochemistry?

  • sarah864

    I am so disappointed in this show. I am a long-time listener but I am considering not listening to On Point at all any more. I know quite a lot about alternative medicine, and hearing Dr.Offit speak in such a defamatory way about alternative medicine, using scare tactics and poor examples that really misrepresent how and why people seek alternative therapies, makes me lose faith and confidence in On Point itself.

    • ranndino

      A typically hysterical response from a woman who is completely unable to listen to anything she disagrees with. I find that extremely annoying and unintelligent.

  • martinj1968

    Dr. Offit is the most arrogant person I have ever heard.

  • Fredlinskip


  • Amy Sear

    I have struggled to even put together in words how this show struck me. But let me try. The reason for the struggle is the extreme reaction I had to the part of the show I could tolerate. Now I see here that Sarah 864s words perfectly state my thoughts and feelings – including my loss of confidence in On Point itself.  I not only found Dr Offit to be ridiculous, he actually used highly incorrect information, and used it with such strength and confidence, I fear people will actually believe it. For instance, he stated that he thought there was some benefit to Acupuncture, but that the reason he was against it was that people catch HIV from it. Are you kidding me? I am a long time state licensed Acupuncturist, that has served on State and National Boards and even been part of WHO programs, and there is not one stitch of reality to any transmission of HIV. I do Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine in a hospital in Florida and can speak to thousands of situations where Acupuncture has helped people that suffered from problems that not one drug they were prescribed helped, so their doctor sent them to me.

    I am a strong supporter and fan of Tom Ashbrook and am dumbfounded why he or the show would put on someone that threw around so much incorrect and harsh fearful rhetoric as Dr. Offit.  And I am saddened that he was portrayed as anything remotely close to an expert. He sounded like a bigot decades ago that argued and used all kinds of intelligent wording to claim that blacks really were inferior. Are you freaking kidding me.

    And since his rhetoric was so intense and so misguided, he completely missed what could have been salient points that people could benefit from – some of the real issues with people self prescribing them selves anything and at any dose, and knowing nothing about side effects of any particular herb or supplement.

    I actually had to turn the show off because I could just not stand one more incorrect and un based ‘fact’ that he threw around.

    Tom – restore my faith in your show. Please.  Giving this man national exposure for his personal and erroneous rant does not match the rational and clear presentation I have come to know and love about your show.

    Lastly- let me proclaim: non drug or surgery based medicine is not all regulated. Acupuncturists in Florida go to school for 4 years and have extensive licensure requirements, and every herb and supplement has to abide by FDA and DSHEA cGMP. They do not have to be tested to treat a specific disease and have double blind placebo controls, but they are NOT unregulated. Any herb company can speak to TONS of regulations. 

    • ranndino

      Amy, do you realize that your hysterical response in which you go as far as questioning your faith in OnPoint as a show (talk about being ridiculous!), simply based on the fact that you disagreed with its guest, sounds extremely far from being rational?

      If anything it only confirms that people who work in the field of alternative medicine are not particularly intelligent so your reply achieved the opposite of what you intended.

      Flying off the handle like this does not add any credibility to what you are saying. In fact, it makes you sound about 13. Try to behave and write like an adult next time and more rational, intelligent people may take you seriously.

  • Lawrence Jones

    What Dr. Paul A. Offit don’t realize is Western Medicine has killed more people than it has helped. He not mentioning about dialysis. A sub industry that was created by Pharamical  drugs causing kidneys to failure.

  • alexafleckensteinmd

    As a “conventional” doctor, I know that conventional medicine has much to offer. Mainly in acute situations like trauma, acute surgery and dramatic interventions during heart attacks and strokes. But conventional medicine also kills patients – more than a hundred thousand a year (and that is a conservative number) through prescription drugs, over-the-counter drugs and medical procedures. 

    Dr. Offit’s arguments are not scientific and not rational – they are biased and prejudiced.

    Most chronic diseases are lifestyle-related, and can be reversed with lifestyle changes – this “new” idea is supported by impressive scientific and rational research. Sure, there are some quacks in the “alternative” scene – but there are quacks also in conventional medicine. And conventional medicine has not been able to stem the tides of obesity, depression, cancer and arthritis.

    We need both kinds of medicine!

    Alexa Fleckenstein M.D., physician, author.

  • ranndino

    This was an interesting listen. I found Dr. Offit to be extremely rational and his way with words made me crack up quite a few times. Especially the bit about the alternative medicine industry convincing people that all its products are made by elves and old hippies in mom and pop shops. 

    Predictably the reaction from the crowd that uses emotion and ideological adherence to their views over reason and logic is rather furious. 
    Yes, medicine is complicated. Just diagnosing what’s wrong is often extremely difficult. So yes, conventional medicine does kill a lot of people and yes, drugs are extremely overprescribed in this country. None of that means that it should be dismissed in favor of shaman-like remedies that, while having been used for thousands of years, resulted mostly in people not making it to 30, as Dr. Offit rightly pointed out.

    Steve Jobs, one of the world’s greatest businessmen and unconventional thinkers (regardless of what people think of Apple) would still be alive today had he not opted to treat his disease by alternative methods. He himself admitted as much at the end of his prematurely ended life.

  • lomagna

    I would have been much more interested in hearing about alternative medicine as a preventative and balance-seeking practice. In terms of treating acute conditions, I think traditional medicine knows best. But in terms of general mind/body wellness and with things like treating chronic autoimmune disorders, I think alternative practices have a lot to teach us.

  • DrAaron

    Dr. Offit deceptively claims to be an expert and authority on the subjects he writes about.  Apparently, he is neither.  What he chooses to ignore is the existing scientific validation of such therapies, particularly in the field of nutritional biochemistry. He ignorantly (and errantly) presents these therapies as amateurish, and alternative practitioners as being substandard in education, clinical knowledge and skills.  His myopic perspective only contextualizes the typical consumer/retail use and marketing of “vitamins”…it does not represent the responsible clinical use of such formulas and the ever-evolving research base supporting them.  There is an entire field in health care dedicated to that.  Danger with natural products? Of course, as there is with anything else that is used improperly!  As usual, there is a double-standard within the typical anti-alternative bias on these subjects from MD’s like Offit who abuse their inflated credentials to publish something,…or anything to shirk their responsibility and accountability in their own fields of expertise:  Adverse events from prescription and OTC drugs, and medical procedures, are packaged as “an acceptable risk” with the attitude of “authority” by those who dispense and prescribe them irresponsibly. Vitamins and botanicals’ adverse events don’t even come close to those of prescription and OTC drugs.  Offit completely exposes his ignorance and personal bias in his rants.  How can one take any published opinions on “alternative medicine” seriously when coming from individuals who have never practiced “alternative medicine” themselves? That expression, in and of itself, is disingenuous, at best.  Tom, I think it’s time to have a guest on your show who is actually an expert on these topics, no?  

    • brettearle

      Or at least get them to challenge each other in public debate.

      Why don’t YOU challenge Offit?

      The side-effects, that I have encountered with standard prescriptions medications, have been nothing short of outrageous.

      I do not say this because I wish to `attack the establishment.’

      Members of my family, too, have not always had pleasant experiences.

      Cliche or no, it CAN be a crapshoot.

      And, yes, Vitamin C, has been useful in fighting infections, for years–as in NOT a placebo effect.

      [Wish I had the opportunity to be more specific, to you, about the medication matters....]

    • Ryan Peterson

      Sir, you seem to be mistaking verbosity for content.

      Instead of attacking specific points made by Dr. Offit you launch into an emotional tirade against his character.  Why keep citing his “inflated credentials” and “ignorance”, then not provide a specific example (throwing out the name of a field of medicine doesn’t cut it)?

      And the old canard that science-based medicine supported by Offit in any way shape or form does not recognize the importance of nutritional biochemistry keeps coming up from the alt-med practitioners-as if the next time the tired point is made it will be valid.

      Where do you think all the data in that field comes from?  From actual scientists publishing peer reviewed papers that are open to scrutiny and challenges of reproducibility.  You see it is actually possible to make convenient and useful binaries.  For example all organizations adhering to scientific principles who claim to study medicine are real scientists.  All organizations who ignore really basic scientific principles of research (using double blind placebo controlled trials when possible, showing reproducible resultts, etc) are not composed of real scientists.  Appeals to culture, views, biases, etc might be made on either side of this debate but this point is immutable.

      Oh, and that non-sequitor about someone having to practice a pseudoscience before having an opinion simply falls on its face.  Really?  All astronomers have to practice astrology before they can comment about the lack of supporting evidence?

      Cmon….you can do better than that.  

      • brettearle

        If you have been side-effect free and repercussion -free from Western Medicine, then you are clearly living a charmed life.

        Clearly alternative medicine IS less reliable–IF ONLY because it is not as well regulated.

        But for you to believe that there are not precarious problems, coming from traditional medicine, then you are practicing excessive reverse discrimination.

        I know for a fact that traditional methods and treatments can sometimes cause harm.

        But that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t make decisions based on traditional medical strategies.

        But what it DOES mean is that there are no all-or- nothings or black-or-whites.

        You are demonizing one side and extolling the other.

        It doesn’t work that way.

        Side-effects to medications can show up years later, than it takes to test them and put them on the market.

        • Ryan Peterson

          I honestly don’t know if this was meant to be a response to me or you just hit reply on the wrong post.  You aren’t addressing a single point that I made.  Then you go on to argue against a helpless straw man who thinks there are never side effects to “western” medicine (aka medicine scientific medicine).


          • brettearle

             A serious misreading of my point.

  • hederoma

    First of all, there is NO SUCH THING as “alternative medicine”.  That ‘s a little misleading term the very threatened medical/pharmaceutical industry made up a couple decades ago to arm itself with language to communicate with the general public, and to first and foremost, point out that “their” medicine pathway was “the one”, everything else being, well, second tier or “alternative”.  

    But we don’t buy into that any more- nor do we buy into the other pretty little terms, such as “primary care”, “evidence based”, “personalized medicine” (ugh- that one is pretty chilling), “quackery”, and so on.  It is allopathy that has been “WAY oversold”, and even that is an understatement.  Investment into allopathy has delivered up nothing more than a lifetime of chronic disease (hey! lets “manage” that! for lots of money , of course!  what fun!- keep em sick & payin) , brainwashed the culture into thinking they cannot participate in their own decisions and disempowered an entire western culture.  I am not even going to bother “arguing’ with this obvious shill, but rather call on holistic practitioners to keep on doing what they have been doing for decades- helping people heal, deeply studying and applying healing methods, establishing more and more schools, expanding their practices, and making the positive difference in individual lives and in society as a whole.

  • myblusky

    When “western medicine” fails, people turn to
    alternatives which is understandable – leave no stone unturned. Chronic
    illnesses are hard to treat. That’s just the reality. Cancers and Alzheimer’s
    are hard to treat – or even untreatable at this point so the hopelessness
    drives us to seek out something else – which is the magic Dr. Offit speaks

    Having said that – I’m a person who suffered chronic sinus infections and that
    wasn’t resolved until I went on supplements for vitamin D, B and iron
    deficiencies. I initially complained to my doc about fatigue, so she tested my
    levels and I was low. The fatigue and infections have since gone away so
    supplements in my case were good. I try to only take what I need.

    Secondly – my understanding is our standards for Vitamin B12 levels in the US
    are too low when compared to Europe and Japan and that there is a link between
    Alzheimer’s and B12 levels that is under investigation. I know turmeric is also
    being studied for Alzheimer’s – but who knows where that will lead.

    I would be fine with some regulation of supplements because it’s anybody’s
    guess of what is really in that stuff. Independent testing shows a wide range
    of results and why should anyone be allowed to throw stuff on the market and
    make a false claim when it is something we are putting in our bodies? For those
    of us with deficiencies, it does matter that we get the right amount.

    I also agree with Dr. Offit that other things work – touch,
    meditation, exercise. We just have to be willing to do them and to eat right.

    I also agree that some people get completely irrational when discussing this
    topic. If western medicine was so bad then why don’t people go to the health
    food store when they break their bones or get a deep cut?  Again – it is only because western medicine
    cannot fix everything that people backlash against it and throw the baby out
    with the bathwater. If we ever reach the point where it can, then a lot of
    these magical alternative treatments will just disappear – like magic.

  • David Euler

    Funny how fast people get scared when they hear: “alternative medicine can hurt you”. How about: “allopathic medicine Kills thousands of people every day!”
    Funny how we made a very dangerous kind of medicine “standard of care” and push more gentle and kinder kinds of medicine to the side as “alternative”.

    Any kind of medicine that tries and help human health is valid and important. We should allocate the correct type of care to the appropriate patient and condition without non-sencial and wrong (politically influenced) commentarry.
    BTW: A “Big” doctor is one who tries to help and provide an honest care service. Not some post on the political scale.

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Aug 22, 2014
Attorney General Eric Holder talks with Capt. Ron Johnson of the Missouri State Highway Patrol at Drake's Place Restaurant, Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014, in Florrissant, Mo. (AP)

The National Guard and Eric Holder in Ferguson. ISIS beheads an American journalist. Texas Governor Rick Perry gets a mug shot. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

Aug 22, 2014
In this image from video posted on Facebook, courtesy of the George W. Bush Presidential Center, former President George W. Bush participates in the ice bucket challenge with the help of his wife, Laura Bush, in Kennebunkport, Maine. (AP)

The Ice Bucket Challenge: ALS, viral fundraising and how we give in the age of social media.

Aug 22, 2014
In this image from video posted on Facebook, courtesy of the George W. Bush Presidential Center, former President George W. Bush participates in the ice bucket challenge with the help of his wife, Laura Bush, in Kennebunkport, Maine. (AP)

The Ice Bucket Challenge: ALS, viral fundraising and how we give in the age of social media.

Aug 22, 2014
Attorney General Eric Holder talks with Capt. Ron Johnson of the Missouri State Highway Patrol at Drake's Place Restaurant, Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014, in Florrissant, Mo. (AP)

The National Guard and Eric Holder in Ferguson. ISIS beheads an American journalist. Texas Governor Rick Perry gets a mug shot. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

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