What alternative health

practitioners might not tell you

 

ebm-first.com

 

 

 

Ask for evidence

 

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"Take a simple scientific fact or term, build an elaborate fantasy on top of it, promote it, and you have pseudoscience. Live blood cell analysis by darkfield microscopy is an example. It sounds like a legitimate and valuable evidence-based diagnostic procedure; it is not...Live blood cell analysis is not currently recognized by the laboratory profession as a worthwhile laboratory test because it reveals very little diagnostic information. One can only imagine the chaos that would ensue if legitimate laboratory tests had to bear the disclaimer: "This test is for educational purposes only and cannot be used to diagnose, evaluate, or treat any disease or disorder." ...The idea that wand waving, dietary supplements, and alkaline diets can cure the host of strange disorders identified during live blood cell analysis is certainly pseudoscience at its worst. The hope is that we are not slowly travelling backward in time toward Sagan's demon-haunted world through the eyepieces of our darkfield microscopes." Thomas Patterson, professor in the Clinical Laboratory Science Program at Texas State University, The Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (November/December 2012)

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“Based on the review conducted, ASHA is unaware of any valid published studies sufficiently supporting the diagnostic utility of this specific procedure.”  American Speciality Health, Inc. (ASH) clinical practice guideline. (Revised 28th January 2010) [pdf]

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Case report and review of the literature: “A 45-year-old woman presented for evaluation to an infectious diseases specialist with chief complaint of "blood parasites." She stated that she had recently gone with a friend to a consultation with an alternative medicine practitioner who performed live blood analysis with a dark-field microscope. After expressing some skepticism, the patient allowed the practitioner to draw a drop of blood from her finger, place it onto a slide and then use a dark-field microscope to provide a detailed analysis. The practitioner identified multiple structures which she identified as red blood cells. She also identified other structures which she stated were parasites, though she could not identify the species. Because the "parasites" were moving during the microscopy session, the practitioner felt that this was clear evidence of active infection. The practitioner recommended a course of treatment which included multiple herbal supplements. After the visit, the patient became anxious about her diagnosis of "blood parasites" and sought a second opinion… Though a PubMed search yields no matches for LBA, there are over 2.5 million hits on Google…While LBA offers the appeal of a scientific approach to diagnosis and treatment, there is no reliable scientific evidence to substantiate the claims made on the internet and elsewhere…LBA appears to be a pseudoscientific sales pitch to get patients to buy equally unsubstantiated alternative treatments.” Zachary A. Rubin, M.D., UCLA Department of Medicine (18th December 2009)

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"Dark-field microscopy is a valid scientific tool in which special lighting is used to examine specimens of cells and tissues. The objects being viewed stand out against a dark background-the opposite of what occurs during regular microscopy. This allows the observer to see things that might not be visible with standard lighting. Connecting a television monitor to a microscope for diagnostic purposes is also a legitimate practice. However, live cell analysis is not. Although a few characteristics of blood (such as the relative size of the red cells) are observable, live cell analysts invariably misinterpret other things, such as the extent of red blood cell clumping, changes in the shape of the cells, and other artifacts that occur as the blood sample dries. Moreover, most practitioners who perform the test are not qualified to manage the problems they purport to diagnose." Article by Stephen Barrett, MD (Chirobase)

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In live blood analysis, the "physician" takes a drop of the patients blood and examines it under a high power phase contrast or a darkfield microscope. Changes in the constituents of the blood are noted and linked to a variety of ills. It is an impressive and expensive system: microscopes and various support equipment start at around $5000. However, live blood analysis has the opportunity to be lucrative in the right hands as the patient often gets weekly analysis to see how the interventions (usually supplements sold by the blood analyst) are working. Evidently in the hands of a skilled snake oil salesman, an income of $100,000 a year to more can be generated…..With live blood analysis, practitioners take the seed of truth that the evaluation of the blood constituents can give valuable information and grow a forrest of fantasy and magic. It is something to behold….Live blood analysis does not resemble most alternative medicine modalities, but is more akin to high tech reading of tea leaves or the entrails of pig to divine the future. It is the cargo cult of quackery, with the trappings of science but none of the substance." Article by Mark Crislip, Science Based Medicine (13th February 2009)

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Essentially LBA is a front for selling you some expensive cocktail of herbs or vitamins. Prices vary for a consultation, the most expensive I came across was USD $375 for the initial visit and $175 for a follow up. In Australia, the test costs about $150. But then the potions are much more, $105 per kilo for the GBP they tried to sell Richard and I. And of course you are not cured with one course, this is a repeat business venture plus you will need to return for a follow-up visit to demonstrate that you are "cured". The Skeptic Zone (9th October 2008)

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Report on 'Reliability of Enderlein's darkfield analysis of live blood' (Teut M, Ludtke R, Warning A. Altern Ther Health Med 2006; 12(4): 36-41), Focus on Alternative and Complementary Therapies [FACT] (December 2006)

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"Intrigued by the spectacular claims made for Live Blood Analysis (LBA)? Don't be. It doesn't work." Article by Prof. Edzard Ernst, The Guardian (12th July 2005)

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Dark field microscopy [also called live blood analysis (LBA) or peripheral blood assessment] according to Enderlein claims to be able to detect forthcoming or early cancer through minute abnormalities in the blood. In Germany and the USA this method is used by an increasing number of physicians and health practitioners. In this study blood samples were drawn for dark field mircroscopy in 110 patients. A health practitioner with several years of training in the field carried out the examinations without prior information about the patients. Out of 12 patients with present tumour metastasis three were correctly indentified. The study concludes that dark field microscopy does not seem to reliably detect the presence of cancer and that clinical use of the method can therefore not be recommended until future studies are conducted. Forsch Komplementarmed Klass Naturheilkd. (June 2005)