When Real Medicine and Fake Medicine Co-Exist in Same Institution

Last week a doctor at the world-renowned Cleveland Clinic wrote an op-ed attacking vaccines and it prompted quite a furor. But the key to the story is that he’s the head of the Cleveland Clinic’s “Wellness Institute,” which provides all manner of homeopathic and evidence-free “medicine.” Nor is this arrangement unusual. From Stat News:


The anti-vaccine column that triggered the weekend’s outcry was written by Dr. Daniel Neides, director and CEO of the Cleveland Clinic’s Wellness Institute, which advertises homeopathic remedies and alternative weight loss and pain management treatments with little basis in science.

The clinic, which strongly disavowed Neides’s statements, is far from alone among major US medical centers in operating a wellness institute. Seeking to broaden their appeal and increase revenue, a flurry of US hospitals have opened alternative and complementary medicine centers in recent years. Top hospitals and academic medical centers, including the Mayo Clinic, University of California, San Francisco, the University of Iowa, and Duke University Medical Center, participate in what has become a multibillion-dollar industry.

“It’s infuriating,” said Tim Caulfield, a lawyer and health policy professor at the University of Alberta in Canada who often exposes fraudulent health advice. Hospitals “are providing therapies that don’t have good evidence behind them, and it absolutely opens the door to this kind of nonsense.”…

Dr. Michael S. Sinha, a physician-attorney and research fellow at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, said such institutes can be lucrative because of high patient demand for their services. Many patients are willing to pay out of pocket for services such as acupuncture, cupping, moxibustion, and reiki. Many of the services offered by such institutes can be billed to insurance companies, even if not supported by rigorous clinical studies.

In some cases, Sinha said, emphasis on naturopathic or holistic remedies, rather than conventional medical treatments, can be problematic, especially for conditions that have evidence-based treatments.

No kidding. Here’s some of what this clinic offers:

The Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute mixes more conventional health advice with ideas you might not associate with a top research hospital. The institute offers psychotherapy and healthier cooking tips — but its website says it also provides “Eden Energy Medicine, Reiki, and other energy healing techniques to promote balance and flow in your body’s energy systems” through “pressure touching” and “tracing and circling over certain areas of the body.”

The institute has a Wellness Store, accessible both online and in-person. Online, you can order everything from “stress-free” coloring books to homeopathic detox kits, which are sold for $36.

Yeah, anytime you start talking about “energy healing” and “balance” (of what, for fuck’s sake?) and “flow,” you know you’re dealing with some major league bullshit. These clinics know that, of course, which is they they use all sorts of euphemisms to obscure rather than explain. They talk about “integrative” or “complementary” medicine and “treating the whole person.” All pretty sounding words, all complete bullshit.

And this is not just some minor little thing. People die because of this kind of thing because they often reject treatments that actually work in favor of what is really just a big game of pretend.

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