Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Biocranial Baloney

Recently in the field of chiropractic alternative medicine the ‘Biocranial Technique’ has become rapidly popular. Not satisfied with cracking your bones, this ‘technique’ seeks to realign bones in the skull and top of the spine to increase the efficiency and duration of the ‘correction’. Chiropractor S. Marmorstein describes the technique as "the membrane within the skull excerts and powerful influence over the integrity of the spine. With it, the entire spine and pelvis can be adjusted simply by working on the cranium"1. The exact procedure seems to vary from practitioner to practitioner; such variance would not be tolerated in the medical community. Robert Boyd developed the Biocranial system and claimed that “most injuries occur at birth, and that this can be influenced during pregnancy and from the birth of the mother, and so on”2 and that these ‘injuries’ don’t need to have symptoms to still affect us and our offspring. The idea that pressure on the soft bones of the skull during pregnancy and childbirth can cause or influence disease later in life is quite illogical, because the skull needs to be malleable in order to exit the birth canal, and so we would all be affected by this (which conveniently means this technique is applicable for everyone). It is also not explained how some gentle manipulation of the scalp or rubbing of the spine correct this. Another claim is that rhythms of the craniosacral system can be felt with the fingertips and that this is the flow of cranial fluid 3, the rate and flow of which has been claimed to have an influence or be an indicator of disease.

No properly randomized, blinded, and placebo-controlled trials have been published regarding any Biocranial technique 3. Furthermore, of the small trials that have been carried out to compare practitioners, the practitioners were requested to record the ‘cranial rhythm’ they claimed to feel in their patents, however when compared there was no similarity in their measurements 3. Scientific evidence does not support the theory of misalignment of cranial bones, the medical community believes that the bones of the skull are fused by sutures 4 (fibrous joins), but allowing small expansion due to intracranial pressure, however, this does not suggest that they could become misaligned or that this could be a cause of disease since the movement would be miniscule. This technique has been claimed to treat a range of disorders including: Angina, hypertension, eczema, arthritis, asthma and gastric problems 3. Over all, this technique can be seen as another ineffective and unnecessary addition to the vast numbers of alternative medical procedures available, which seek to separate the patient from their money in exchange for unrealistic pseudoscientific claims.

E Markham (2011). Biocranial Baloney Blogspot

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Fitflop Fallacy

A new crazy hitting the high streets this summer is the fit-flop 1, which has been promoted with claims such as “helps you lose weight and improve muscle tone”2 simply by walking. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and this product is trying to provide that evidence by extrapolating on the initial findings from a very small study of the shoes (only 20 women).  Fit-flop claims to increase leg and thigh muscle activity by up to 30% 1, 2, however in such a small study it would be impossible to know if such a claim is true. While the position of the strap over the main part of the foot is beneficial over conventional flip-flops it is by no means a method for obtaining toned muscles. The method claimed this was due to the soft area of padding in the mid area of the shoe, which apparently means the foot is more unstable and has to work harder to keep balance. Would this not be the same as buying a pair of shoes that don’t fit properly? Because your legs would have to work harder to keep them on your feet. And if this is the case then why would you pay $50 for a pair of sandals that do not fit? Podiatrist Lorraine Jones says "If someone has excessive motion in the mid-foot that isn't controlled they could suffer tissue damage or heel or calf pain," 2 many other scientists have been critical about this product, sighting the pronation of the foot and the excessive rolling of the foot to be a major source of knee pain and foot pain, due to the lack of support. There is no evidence to suggest they are any better than another pair of footwear.

Not only are they likely to be damaging to your feet, they also have no proof they will help you lose weight, except for maybe giving you the motivation to walk more because you have just spent $50 on a pair of flip-flops. Again, it is the age old saying ‘no pain, no gain’, there is no easy solution and the only really proven way to become more fit is to reduce your calorie intake, eat a healthy balanced diet and exercise regularly.

E Markham (2011). Fitflop Fallacy Blogspot

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Zombie Zealously

The Center for Disease Control plays a vital role in a variety of programs and efforts; this includes tracking the spread of outbreaks of disease to educating communities about avoiding disease and assisting in the distribution of health supplies and resources. The CDC releases an information guideline for emergency preparedness every year, with guidelines on storing and sterilizing water to preparing a first aid kit. However this year there publication was slightly different, it had a zombie theme 1. This may seem unrealistic, but it is clearly a good way to communicate the desired information to the target audiences, where they would not normally pay much attention to a dry safety outline. The online guide was instantly so popular that it crashed the CDC servers due to the unexpectedly high levels of traffic to the site. It has since been featured on the news, social media and across the internet in general. Overall the guide could be described as incredibly successful, it has connected and informed so many more people than it usually reaches and clearly this represents the changing face of how information is distributed and communicated within this technology and film based generation.

E Markham (2011). Zombie Zealously Blogspot