Consumer Health Digest #07-12

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
March 20, 2007


Consumer Health Digest is a free weekly e-mail newsletter edited by Stephen Barrett, M.D., and cosponsored by NCAHF and Quackwatch. 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.


Nurses create quack specialty. The 2,500-member American Holistic Nurses Association (AHNA) has announced that the American Nurses Association (ANA) has officially recognized "holistic nursing" as a nursing specialty. [Holistic nursing achieves ANA specialty status. AHNA news release, Dec 14, 2006] To achieve this status, the AHNA submitted a 76-page document that defined "holistic nursing" and articulated standards. The document is not currently available but will be jointly published as a book called Holistic Nursing: Scope and Standards of Practice during the summer of 2007. The American Holistic Nurses' Certification Corporation, which administers the Holistic Nurses' Certification Examination, defines holistic nursing as “all nursing practice that has healing the whole person as its goal" and further defines it as "practice that draws on nursing knowledge, theories, expertise and intuition to guide nurses in becoming therapeutic partners with clients in strengthening clients’ response to facilitate the healing process and achieve wholeness." [A definition of holistic nursing. AHNCC Web site, accessed March 21, 2007] However, related textbooks and the AHNA's online practitioner directory indicate that "holistic" practices can include applied kinesiology, astrology, aura cleansing, channeling, chelation therapy, colon therapy, cranial therapy, crystal therapy, iridology, psychic surgery, reflexology, reiki, therapeutic touch, and about 100 other disreputable methods. This appears to be the first time in modern history that a mainstream professional organization has embraced a broad array of quack theories and practices.


Court upholds FDA ephedra ban. A Utah federal judge has ordered Nutraceutical Corporation of Park City, Utah to comply with an FDA Rule and stop selling ephedra products. The 1994 Dietary Supplement and Health Education Act (DSHEA) states that to ban a product, the FDA must prove that it poses an "unreasonable risk of illness or injury." Ephedra products have been linked to several deaths and thousands of consumer complaints. In 2005, in a suit brought by the Nutraceutical Corporation, the judge ruled that the FDA could not stop the sale of dietary supplements containing 10 mg or less of ephedra alkaloids because that dose appeared to be too low to cause harm. In August 2006, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit disagreed and ordered the lower court judge to enter summary judgment in favor of the FDA. The judge has now complied and ordered the case closed. However, an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court is still pending.


MIAZI Slimming Capsules found to contain prescription drug. Health Canada is advising consumers not to use MIAOZI Slimming Capsules because they have been found to contain sibutramine, a prescription medication that should only be taken under medical supervision. MIAOZI, manufactured by Bainian Pharmacy Group of Hong Kong, is promoted as a weight-loss product. Sibutramine can cause increased blood pressure, chest pain, and stroke. It should not be taken by people who have had a heart attack, coronary artery disease, heart-related chest pain, irregular heart beats, congestive heart failure, a stroke, or symptoms of a stroke; in individuals with controlled or poorly controlled high blood pressure; or by patients who are depressed or have a psychiatric illness. Sibutramine is also not recommended for women who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or planning to become pregnant. [Health Canada advises consumers not to use MIAOZI Slimming Capsules due to potential health risks. Advisory, March 14, 2007]


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This page was posted on March 21, 2007.