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Menopausal women have been driven towards the false promises of bioidentical hormone therapy. Lisa F. Young/Shutterstock

‘Natural’ hormone therapy no panacea for menopause symptoms

Natural or bioidentical hormones are plant-derived products closely resembling the oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone produced in the body. The hormones are made up (compounded) in pharmacies to…
Researchers working with alternative medicines have an obligation to report negative or null findings. hit thatswitch/Flickr

Industry has a role in funding alternative medicine research

TESTING ALTERNATIVE THERAPIES - La Trobe University’s decision to accept funding from Swisse for a new centre to research alternative medicines has sparked controversy. There’s been a fair bit of debate…
Herbal mixtures are comprised of many potentially active chemical compounds at relatively low concentrations. storyvillegirl/Flickr

Quality research of herbal medicines is possible

TESTING ALTERNATIVE THERAPIES - La Trobe University’s decision to accept funding from Swisse for a new centre to research alternative medicines has sparked controversy. This series looks at how the evidence…
In their “natural” form herbal medicines are so variable from batch to batch and across brands that gathering reliable evidence of effectiveness is unlikely ever to be possible. Mickey_Liaw/Flickr

Why we can’t have reliable evidence for herbal therapies

TESTING ALTERNATIVE THERAPIES - La Trobe University’s decision to accept funding from Swisse for a new centre to research alternative medicines has sparked controversy. This series looks at how the evidence…
What really works to alleviate hot flushes and other symptoms of menopause? splityarn/Flickr

Trick or treat? Alternative therapies for menopause

During menopause, estrogen levels drop, leading to a number of unpleasant symptoms. The transition to menopause can significantly affect women’s quality of life, with many willing to try anything to alleviate…
Most people don’t think of herbal medicines as drugs so they don’t tell their doctor about taking them. Ryan Somma/Flickr

Herbal medicines – toxic side effects and drug interactions

TESTING ALTERNATIVE THERAPIES - La Trobe University’s decision to accept funding from Swisse for a new centre to research alternative medicines has sparked controversy. This series looks at how the evidence…
Acupuncture is one of a suite of alternative therapies almost two-thirds of Australians use every year. KayVee.INC/Flickr

Here’s why we should research alternative therapies

TESTING ALTERNATIVE THERAPIES - La Trobe University’s decision to accept funding from Swisse for a new centre to research alternative medicines has sparked controversy. This series looks at how the evidence…
It seems anyone can call themselves a doctor these days. Bart/Flickr

Trust me, I’m a doctor… of sorts

Qualifications and their associated titles allow for quick identification of appropriately trained or recognised experts within a given field. They bestow legitimacy on the information provided to people…
There’s a conflict between the need for pharmacists to maintain a profitable business and their ethical obligations to the community. Andrew Dubber

Pharmacists should drop products that aren’t backed by evidence

If you look at the shelves of most Australian community pharmacies or browse the pages of local internet pharmacies, you’ll see numerous examples of products making claims that can’t be supported by scientific…
How can you tell what products might be of use and which ones will only lighten your wallet? Image from shutterstock.com

CAM or sham? Let’s get the facts straight on vitamins and supplements

Australia’s complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) industry is worth about A$4 billion annually. Around two thirds of Australians use CAM – which includes therapies such as chiropractic and naturopathy…
Muscle testing is used to gauge everything from general health status and specific supplement dosage. University of the Fraser Valley

Muscle testing (kinesiology): panacea or placebo?

Muscle testing, or kinesiology, has grown in popularity over the last 30 years. It’s a simple, non-invasive assessment tool used by many different kinds of health practitioners during examination or evaluation…
Up to one in three Australians take vitamin supplements, but few healthy people need them. Brian Gaid

Monday’s medical myth: take a vitamin a day for better health

Forget an apple a day, vitamin manufacturers would have you believe it’s important to take daily vitamins to boost your health. And a surprising proportion of Australians do. Data from the last National…
Ian Gawler recovered from secondary cancer after conventional and unconventional treatments, including meditation. Sebastien Wiertz

TB or not TB? A second opinion on Ian Gawler’s cancer

Late last year, two oncologists went public with a theory that cancer survivor Ian Gawler’s secondary cancer may not have been cancer at all but tuberculosis instead. At the time, the story made front…
Clinical hypnotherapy can be defined as being a combination of both hypnosis and psychological intervention. Katy Silberger

Hypnotherapy: panacea or placebo?

The term hypnosis often leads to visions of willing participants engaging in outrageous and embarrassing stunts at the command of a hypnotist. But while this practice of humiliating participants on stage…
It’s unclear whether reflexology provides any therapeutic benefits beyond those of a generic foot massage. Paul Bence

Reflexology: panacea or placebo?

Reflexology is a form of manual therapy based on the principle that specific locations on the feet, hands and ears have connections to the rest of the body. By applying pressure to these locations using…
Calendula (marigold), lavendar and rosemary are used by practitioners of Western herbal medicine. Smoobs/Flickr

Western herbal medicine – panacea or placebo?

PANACEA OR PLACEBO – A weekly series assessing the evidence behind complementary and alternative medicines. Herbs have been used for therapeutic purposes in most cultures for hundreds and even thousands…
Natural does not necessarily equate to harmless. Nor does conventional equate to unnatural. Flickr/wine me up

Monday’s medical myth: natural cancer therapies can’t harm you

One of the most misleading myths of modern medicine is that conventional cancer doctors reject “natural” therapies in favour of artificial or “unnatural” cancer treatments. This myth has contributed to…
There is no convincing evidence that the therapy works. Cafemama

Aromatherapy: panacea or placebo?

PANACEA OR PLACEBO – A weekly series assessing the evidence behind complementary and alternative medicines. Aromatherapy is based on the idea that aromatic substances, usually the essential oils of plants…
The idea of Chi (life force) flowing through meridians has an allegorical quality and the appeal of an ancient provenance. jacqueline/Flickr

Acupuncture research – the path least scientific?

A recent, rather flattering, article on acupuncture on this website holds a mirror to a broader problem in the world of acupuncture research. A problem that goes to the heart of the most fundamental scientific…
Most people see chiropractors for spine pain or other musculoskeletal conditions. Michael Dorausch

Chiropractic therapy: placebo or panacea?

PANACEA OR PLACEBO – A weekly series assessing the evidence behind complementary and alternative medicines. Chiropractors use manual therapy to address musculoskeletal-related conditions (joints, ligaments…

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