Alternative medicine as a placebo

I recently wrote a post about the decision by NICE to no longer recommend acupuncture for lower back pain. This decision was made because, like most alternative medicine, acupuncture hasn’t been shown to work any better than a placebo. However, plenty of people use and get benefit from such treatments. This raises an interesting question: is there a place for complementary and alternative medicine (as a placebo) in the clinic? Continue reading

Have we explained how acupuncture works?


Acupuncture is a topic that divides people. It is seen by some as a little understood branch of medicine, by others simply as pseudoscience. The theory states that inserting needles at specific points can have effects on almost every ailment, from chronic pain and allergies to irritable bowel syndrome and even stroke. At present, however, there is little reliable evidence that acupuncture works any more than placebo, which makes this article from The Guardian quite unexpected:

Rats help scientists get closer to solving the mystery of acupuncture

The Guardian – 21/07/2015

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Can we predict cancer a decade in advance?


The Daily Mail, The Telegraph and The Independent are among the many media outlets that reported this week that we could predict cancer a full decade before it appears. Some outlets even went as far as to claim that we could predict it with 100% accuracy 13 years in advance. Unfortunately however, this is media hype of a study that makes claims its data cannot support, helped by a poor press release. There is some interesting science behind this headline, but the simple fact is that we cannot detect cancer that far in advance. If a news story appears too good to be true, then it probably is. Continue reading