Consumer Health Digest #16-03

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
January 17, 2016


Consumer Health Digest is a free weekly e-mail newsletter edited by Stephen Barrett, M.D., with help from William M. London, Ed.D., M.P.H. It summarizes scientific reports; legislative developments; enforcement actions; news reports; Web site evaluations; recommended and nonrecommended books; and other information relevant to consumer protection and consumer decision-making.


Minnesota blasts provoked testing and inappropriate chelation therapy. The Minnesota Department of Health and Minnesota Poison Control System have issued a fact sheet which states that (a) heavy metal toxicity does not normally occur in the absence of extraordinary exposure, (b) chelation therapy is almost never a first-line treatment and is known to be of no value in many cases, (c) nonspecific "screening" is of no value, (d) testing in response to nonspecific symptoms or in the absence of suspected exposure is of no value, and (e) the results of provoked urine studies have no role in determining the body's burden of toxic metals or the need for chelation therapy. This statement completely supports the views expressed by Dr. Stephen Barrett's article, How "provoked" urine metal tests are used to mislead patients.


Neck manipulation study finds little or no structural change. Many chiropractors tell patients who seek treatment for neck pain that the alignment of their neck vertebrae is responsible for the pain and that modifying it can relieve the pain. However, a recent study that compared 29 patients with nonspecific chronic neck pain and 30 pain-free volunteers has found (a) no difference in neck alignment when the patients sought treatment and (b) no significant change in neck alignment after four weeks of neck manipulation. [Shilton M and others. Does cervical lordosis change after spinal manipulation for non-specific neck pain? A prospective cohort study. Chiropractic & Manual Therapies 23:33, 2015]


"Pastoral medicine" designation spreading. Hundreds of practitioners—most of them chiropractors—have begun using the credentials "PSc.D.," "D.PSc." and/or "Doctor of Pastoral Medicine" to promote their practice. These titles are being issued by the Texas-based Pastoral Medical Association (PMA), which "licenses" provider members and registers prospective patients who wish to receive care as "private members." Its provider members typically offer services for a broad range of conditions that are outside the legal scope of chiropractors, but the PMA asserts:

Most chiropractic boards have ignored this problem, and the legality of the "licensing" arrangement has not been tested in the courts. The PMA Web site does not reveal the cost or requirements for its licensure.


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This page was posted on January 17, 2016.