TIME

Wikipedia Founder Sticks It To ‘Lunatic’ Holistic Healers

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales gives a lecture in Hanover, Germany, March 14, 2014.
Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales gives a lecture in Hanover, Germany, March 14, 2014. Christoph Schmidt—Zumapress

Jimmy Wales rejected a Change.org petition calling for more information on holistic medicinal therapies. "Every single person who signed this petition needs to...think harder about what it means to be honest, factual, truthful," he said

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales responded definitively to a Change.org petition from holistic healing supporters to “allow for true scientific discourse” on the online encyclopedia.

The petitioners say the representation of holistic healing on Wikipedia is biased, and they have not been allowed to amend the information. The petition, which has over 7,790 supporters, states:

“Wikipedia is widely used and trusted. Unfortunately, much of the information related to holistic approaches to healing is biased, misleading, out-of-date, or just plain wrong. For five years, repeated efforts to correct this misinformation have been blocked and the Wikipedia organization has not addressed these issues. As a result, people who are interested in the benefits of Energy Medicine, Energy Psychology, and specific approaches such as the Emotional Freedom Techniques, Thought Field Therapy and the Tapas Acupressure Technique, turn to your pages, trust what they read, and do not pursue getting help from these approaches which research has, in fact, proven to be of great benefit to many.”

Wales responded to the petition on Sunday, and was unapologetic for the way holistic medicine is covered on Wikipedia, saying it will only publish evidence rooted in science. He responds:

No, you have to be kidding me. Every single person who signed this petition needs to go back to check their premises and think harder about what it means to be honest, factual, truthful.

Wikipedia’s policies around this kind of thing are exactly spot-on and correct. If you can get your work published in respectable scientific journals – that is to say, if you can produce evidence through replicable scientific experiments, then Wikipedia will cover it appropriately.

What we won’t do is pretend that the work of lunatic charlatans is the equivalent of “true scientific discourse”. It isn’t.

Now perhaps he’ll tell us how he really feels.

TIME

Do You Think the CIA Infected African Americans With HIV? You’re Not Alone

Half of all Americans believe in that, or one of five other medical conspiracy theories

About half of the grownup population in the U.S. believes at least one medical conspiracy theory, a new survey from the University of Chicago shows.

In the study, 1,351 adults were asked about whether they had heard of, and agreed or disagreed with, six popular medical conspiracy theories, such as those that hold that U.S. regulators prevent people from getting natural cures, that the U.S. government knows cell phones cause cancer but does nothing about it, and that the CIA infected a large number of African Americans with HIV.

About 49% of the people agreed with at least one of the theories, which all had distrust of the government or large corporations as the common characteristic.

According to the study’s lead author, J. Eric Oliver, the reason so many people believe in medical conspiracy theories is that they are easier to understand than science. He added that people who believe in one or more of these theories are more likely to use alternative instead of conventional medicine.

[Reuters]

TIME ADHD

Doctor: ADHD Does Not Exist

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Over the course of my career, I have found more than 20 conditions that can lead to symptoms of ADHD, each of which requires its own approach to treatment. Raising a generation of children — and now adults — who can't live without stimulants is no solution

This Wednesday, an article in the New York Times reported that from 2008 to 2012 the number of adults taking medications for ADHD increased by 53% and that among young American adults, it nearly doubled. While this is a staggering statistic and points to younger generations becoming frequently reliant on stimulants, frankly, I’m not too surprised. Over my 50-year career in behavioral neurology and treating patients with ADHD, it has been in the past decade that I have seen these diagnoses truly skyrocket. Every day my colleagues and I see more and more people coming in claiming they have trouble paying attention at school or work and diagnosing themselves with ADHD.

And why shouldn’t they?

If someone finds it difficult to pay attention or feels somewhat hyperactive, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder has those symptoms right there in its name. It’s an easy catchall phrase that saves time for doctors to boot. But can we really lump all these people together? What if there are other things causing people to feel distracted? I don’t deny that we, as a population, are more distracted today than we ever were before. And I don’t deny that some of these patients who are distracted and impulsive need help. What I do deny is the generally accepted definition of ADHD, which is long overdue for an update. In short, I’ve come to believe based on decades of treating patients that ADHD — as currently defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) and as understood in the public imagination — does not exist.

Allow me to explain what I mean.

Ever since 1937, when Dr. Charles Bradley discovered that children who displayed symptoms of attention deficit and hyperactivity responded well to Benzedrine, a stimulant, we have been thinking about this “disorder” in almost the same way. Soon after Bradley’s discovery, the medical community began labeling children with these symptoms as having minimal brain dysfunction, or MBD, and treating them with the stimulants Ritalin and Cylert. In the intervening years, the DSM changed the label numerous times, from hyperkinetic reaction of childhood (it wasn’t until 1980 that the DSM-III introduced a classification for adults with the condition) to the current label, ADHD. But regardless of the label, we have been giving patients different variants of stimulant medication to cover up the symptoms. You’d think that after decades of advancements in neuroscience, we would shift our thinking.

Today, the fifth edition of the DSM only requires one to exhibit five of 18 possible symptoms to qualify for an ADHD diagnosis. If you haven’t seen the list, look it up. It will probably bother you. How many of us can claim that we have difficulty with organization or a tendency to lose things; that we are frequently forgetful or distracted or fail to pay close attention to details? Under these subjective criteria, the entire U.S. population could potentially qualify. We’ve all had these moments, and in moderate amounts they’re a normal part of the human condition.

However, there are some instances in which attention symptoms are severe enough that patients truly need help. Over the course of my career, I have found more than 20 conditions that can lead to symptoms of ADHD, each of which requires its own approach to treatment. Among these are sleep disorders, undiagnosed vision and hearing problems, substance abuse (marijuana and alcohol in particular), iron deficiency, allergies (especially airborne and gluten intolerance), bipolar and major depressive disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and even learning disabilities like dyslexia, to name a few. Anyone with these issues will fit the ADHD criteria outlined by the DSM, but stimulants are not the way to treat them.

What’s so bad about stimulants? you might wonder. They seem to help a lot of people, don’t they? The article in the Times mentions that the “drugs can temper hallmark symptoms like severe inattention and hyperactivity but also carry risks like sleep deprivation, appetite suppression and, more rarely, addiction and hallucinations.” But this is only part of the picture.

First, addiction to stimulant medication is not rare; it is common. The drugs’ addictive qualities are obvious. We only need to observe the many patients who are forced to periodically increase their dosage if they want to concentrate. This is because the body stops producing the appropriate levels of neurotransmitters that ADHD meds replace — a trademark of addictive substances. I worry that a generation of Americans won’t be able to concentrate without this medication; Big Pharma is understandably not as concerned.

Second, there are many side effects to ADHD medication that most people are not aware of: increased anxiety, irritable or depressed mood, severe weight loss due to appetite suppression, and even potential for suicide. But there are also consequences that are even less well known. For example, many patients on stimulants report having erectile dysfunction when they are on the medication.

Third, stimulants work for many people in the short term, but for those with an underlying condition causing them to feel distracted, the drugs serve as Band-Aids at best, masking and sometimes exacerbating the source of the problem.

In my view, there are two types of people who are diagnosed with ADHD: those who exhibit a normal level of distraction and impulsiveness, and those who have another condition or disorder that requires individual treatment.

For my patients who are in the first category, I recommend that they eat right, exercise more often, get eight hours of quality sleep a night, minimize caffeine intake in the afternoon, monitor their cell-phone use while they’re working and, most important, do something they’re passionate about. Like many children who act out because they are not challenged enough in the classroom, adults whose jobs or class work are not personally fulfilling or who don’t engage in a meaningful hobby will understandably become bored, depressed and distracted. In addition, today’s rising standards are pressuring children and adults to perform better and longer at school and at work. I too often see patients who hope to excel on four hours of sleep a night with help from stimulants, but this is a dangerous, unhealthy and unsustainable way of living over the long term.

For my second group of patients with severe attention issues, I require a full evaluation to find the source of the problem. Usually, once the original condition is found and treated, the ADHD symptoms go away.

It’s time to rethink our understanding of this condition, offer more thorough diagnostic work and help people get the right treatment for attention deficit and hyperactivity.

Dr. Richard Saul is a behavioral neurologist practicing in the Chicago area. His book, ADHD Does Not Exist, is published by HarperCollins.

TIME medicine

Bring the Doctor with You

The logical next step in managing chronic disease is technology that tracks our vitals and guides us to better health

Chronic disease affects 2 out of 3 adults in the U.S., and it is estimated that 8% of the American population suffers from diabetes. Sixty-nine percent of Americans say they would like direct access to their health records. People want to keep track of their health–and we’d be better off as a society if people had an easy way to do so.

As luck would have it, mobile technology is bringing us closer to the day when we’ll be able to essentially wear our doctors. So when TIME asked me to propose an idea for how design can improve the world, my thoughts quickly turned to medicine. I call my concept–and for now, it is only that–LifeTiles: a wearable kit of sensors for monitoring individual health.

The sensors–designed to be aesthetically pleasing–would noninvasively monitor the user’s physical activity, environment and bloodstream. The information would be sent automatically to the cloud, where specialized algorithms could be used to monitor it and notify the individual with personalized feedback.

A user could also volunteer to donate his or her data, which would be made anonymous and shared with medical experts. Researchers could use the data to look for patterns, understand how disease works and find ways to prevent and cure it. Our doctors would always be with us–and everyone would benefit.

Béhar is the founder of Fuseproject and leads design and brand at Jawbone

TIME

Running Out the Clock

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In our ongoing 'Doctor-in-Training' series, time is of the essence in more ways than one for a medical student conducting a routine physical on an elderly patient

I’m running out of time. It was right there on the vital signs monitor clock: 30 minutes left to finish the patient’s history and do her physical. And here she was, a real talker, expounding on the pros and cons of Obamacare. I pressed ahead with my questions about her health, not rushing her, but taking advantage of her pauses to steer the conversation in the direction of the information I needed to present in less than an hour to my supervising doctor.

A classmate and I had been assigned to this patient–I’ll call her Mrs. G.–as part of our course on the physical exam. She lay in her bed on the inpatient cardiac ward, frail under gown and blanket, an IV dribbling into her arm. We worked systematically, with lots of ground to cover. At this stage of our medical education, year two, nothing we do is for the patient’s benefit. Not the barrage of questions, not the poking and prodding for findings we’re only just beginning to understand. It’s all for our training. We find our patients catch-as-catch can. Sometimes one of our physician teachers will ask a patient to let us perform an examination. Other times the nurses tell us which of their charges that day are the nicest, and we ask those patients to put up with us. Invariably, they do. Though sicker than sick, they generously act as guinea pigs so we can learn the skills to help our future patients.

Mrs. G. was hoarse but still chatty as she answered our questions about her heart problems. “Have you experienced any palpitations?” I asked. “Only twice. Right before I came to the hospital, and the first time I saw my husband,” she deadpanned. They’d been married, she said, 63 years. As my classmate and I prepared to move from taking the history to doing the physical exam, it struck me that Mrs. G. was doing me a favor—allowing me to learn by practicing my budding physical exam skills on her frail form. And she was even entertaining. But I couldn’t repay her with the open-ended listening she was clearly hoping for. It’s starting, I found myself thinking. This is why everyone says doctors are always in a rush.

She was still talking. “They say I may go down in days,” she said. “I’m just hoping to get to Christmas with my grandkids.”

It was a mental slap on the wrist. I’m running out of time? I thought. My cheeks warm, I contemplated how few hours she could have left on this earth. A few hundred, probably. If she was lucky. And yet, here she was, spending one of those hours helping me grow into a doctor.

TIME tobacco

E-Cigarettes Don’t Discourage Smoking Among Teens

E-Cigarettes Become Increasingly Popular Amongst Smokers
Consumers smoke electronic cigarettes at a mall on June 30, 2013 in Manila, Philippines. Dondi Tawatao—Getty Images

Adolescents who use e-cigarettes are more likely to smoke other tobacco products and regular cigarettes, a new study finds, suggesting that e-cigarettes may not be the lesser of two evils that some had hoped

Are e-cigarettes the lesser of two evils, or just another method of nicotine exposure?

It’s a question public health experts are debating. Some question the benefits of steering smokers towards less harmful products on the nicotine product spectrum. And a new study published in JAMA Pediatrics suggests what medical experts dread: that people who use e-cigarettes are also likely to be regular cigarette users.

Adolescents who use e-cigarettes are more likely to smoke other tobacco products and regular cigarettes. The researchers surveyed 17,353 middle and high school students in 2011, and 22,529 young people in 2012 as part of the National Youth Tobacco Survey.

Youth who reported ever using e-cigarettes or currently using them had a greater likelihood of experimenting with regular cigarettes, smoking on a regular basis, or being a current cigarette smoker. Among young people who had used tobacco cigarettes, trying an e-cigarette was linked to being an established smoker. The researchers also found that teens who used e-cigarettes were more likely to want to quit smoking the next year, but they were also less likely to abstain from cigarettes all together.

The study didn’t look at whether young people are initiating smoking with regular cigarettes and then switching to e-cigarettes, or the other way around. However, e-cigarettes aren’t “discouraging use of conventional cigarettes,” the researchers say.

In September, numbers from the CDC showed that the percentage of middle school and high school students who have tried e-cigarettes doubled from 3.3% in 2011 to 6.8% in 2012.

“While much remains to be learned about the public health benefits and /or consequences of [electronic nicotine delivery systems] use, their exponential growth in recent years, including their rapid uptake among youths, makes it clear that policy makers need to act quickly,” Frank J. Chaloupka of the University of Illinois at Chicago wrote in a corresponding editorial.

Most recently, Los Angeles extended its city-wide smoking ban to include e-cigarettes.

TIME Aids

Doctors Believe a Second Baby Is Cured of HIV

Dr. Deborah Persaud of Johns Hopkins' Children's Center in Baltimore.
Dr. Deborah Persaud of Johns Hopkins' Children's Center in Baltimore. Johns Hopkins Medicine—AP

A baby born infected with human immunodeficiency virus in Los Angeles who received treatment shortly after birth is still showing no signs of the disease a year later, doctors say. The child's mother was not taking her HIV medication while she was pregnant

A baby infected with HIV at birth has been cured of the disease, doctors believe.

The baby, who was born in Los Angeles, received treatment within a few hours after birth, and is still virus-free a year later, doctors announced Wednesday at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Boston. The mother had not been taking her HIV medication while pregnant, doctors say.

Although it’s too early to know for certain whether the child is just in remission, doctors say the baby’s vitals are displaying differently compared with patients with suppressed HIV. The baby is currently in foster care.

This is the second baby doctors believe to be cured of the disease with very early treatment. Another child from Mississippi received similar treatment when her mother was discovered to be HIV-positive during labor. The child is now 3 1/2 years old and appears to be cured, even though her mother was not administering the baby her HIV medication at follow-up.

[AP]

TIME medicine

Experimental HIV Injection Drug Shows Promise

Monkeys who received an experimental injection-based HIV treatment didn't contract the disease when later exposed to it, raising hopes the current once-a-day pill system of treatment could soon be replaced for those battling the illness

New research shows that an experimental drug given once every few months could replace daily pills to prevent HIV infection.

In two different trials on a total of 28 monkeys, the Associated Press reports, researchers gave one group shots of an experimental HIV-preventative drug, while the others received placebo shots. They then exposed the monkeys to HIV at a few different times during the trials. The monkeys who were given the drug remained healthy, while the monkeys without the drug were infected. The drug had a protective window of about 10 weeks.

The results are very promising because they provide a potential alternative to Truvada, a daily pill that treats people with HIV. Truvada is also being used to help prevent infection in people who do not have the virus. Studies have shown it can significantly cut risk depending on how consistently people take the daily pills. If people at risk for contracting HIV could take a shot every one to three months instead, the injection method could help prevent even more infections.

The research was presented at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Boston. Given the small sample size, and that the drug has not been tested in humans, the results are still preliminary.

[AP]

TIME medicine

9 Old-Time Cures Doctors Swear By (and 3 to Skip)

Dried plums
Florea Marius Catalin—Getty Images/Vetta

Classic treatments we grew up with are making a comeback, thanks to fresh research confirming their powers. Here's why you should reach (again) for the Pepto, prunes, and other throwback cures

Medical offices might have gone high-tech, but some of the advice you’ll hear there these days rings more nostalgic: Complain of constipation or congestion and you may get an Rx for dried plums (née prunes) or a saltwater gargle. “The more that old remedies pan out in studies, the more likely physicians are to suggest them,” says Philip Hagen, MD, vice chair of the division of preventive medicine at Mayo Clinic. “Part of the drive is the cost of health care—trying these at home could save you a trip to the doctor.” Consider these golden oldies the next time you’re feeling under the weather.
Health.com: Scary Symptoms You Can Relax About
Ginger

For thousands of years, this spice was used to knock out nausea. But unless you went to an Eastern medicine doctor, you weren’t going to hear about it from your MD. Then, along with the 21st century came a string of studies pointing to ginger’s potential to combat nausea related to motion sickness, chemotherapy and pregnancy. “Once the science was there, more doctors were willing to ‘prescribe’ it,” says Patricia Raymond, MD, assistant professor of clinical internal medicine at Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk, Va. Try candied ginger, ginger tea or even ginger cookies the next time that you’re feeling queasy.

BenGay

This pain-easing ointment was always a favorite with athletes but not so much with the average exerciser, mostly because of the medicinal scent. “When I smell menthol, I’m like, ‘Ugh,'” says Renee Acosta, clinical associate professor of health outcomes and pharmacy practice at the University of Texas, Austin. “You don’t want to smell like that at work.” Today, though, medical pros are touting BenGay even to weekend warriors, especially now that it comes in scentless and patch versions. “People are trying to stay active longer, and we want to give them all their options,” Acosta says.

Health.com: 27 Mistakes Healthy People Make
Prunes

Back in the day, the answer to irregularity was prunes, possibly administered from your grandmother’s stash and definitely embarrassing. That changed when, in 2000, the decidedly unsexy-sounding fruit was rebranded as “dried plums.” “They became an easier sell,” Dr. Raymond says, partly due to a growing interest in digestive health and food cures. Recent science has confirmed prunes’ benefits: A 2011 study found that eating 12 a day relieves constipation better than the trendier psyllium supplements.

Pepto-Bismol

Pepto was originally invented to treat infants before it became the ultimate upset-stomach cure for adults. In recent years, however, studies have shown that it works particularly well to treat traveler’s diarrhea—and even to prevent it if taken before a trip.

Salt-water gargle

This headache pill was elbowed out by nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as Advil. Then the Food and Drug Administration approved Excedrin as the first over-the-counter medicine for migraine symptoms, and it was newly marketed as Excedrin Migraine. “That swayed doctors and pharmacists to look at it again,” Acosta says.

Petroleum jelly

Back in the 1800s, Vaseline was a popular remedy for skin complaints. Though it fell out of vogue in favor of newfangled creams, doctors have a surprising modern-day use for it: applying it to wounds after surgery. “Some patients have allergic reactions to antibiotic ointments, and petroleum jelly works just as well in the absence of infection,” says Stephen Stone, MD, professor of dermatology at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine in Springfield, Ill. You can use it on minor cuts, too.

Adhesive bandages

Speaking of cuts, the pretty recent common wisdom was that they’d heal better if you exposed them to air. “Turns out, we were right decades ago when we said to use adhesive bandages,” Dr. Stone says. They help maintain a moist environment for faster healing.

Health.com: 19 Signs Your Thyroid Isn’t Working Right
Ice

Ice packs are a classic headache-killer. Newer pain relievers may be more effective, but a recent study shows that migraine sufferers get great relief from ice packs—especially when placed for 15 minutes on the front of their neck, over the carotid arteries, rather than on their head. (For best results, try a bag of ice mixed with salt water.) Cool, indeed.

You shouldn’t try: Raw steak on a black eye

A slab of cold beef may feel soothing, but the bacteria on uncooked meat can lead to infection. Better idea: Apply an ice pack for 15 to 20 minutes every hour.

Health.com: The Truth About Internet Food Rumors
You shouldn’t try: Singeing a tick off with a match

“Ticks can be as small as poppy seeds, so you can easily burn your skin,” says Thomas Mather, PhD, director of the University of Rhode Island’s TickEncounter Resource Center in Kingston. It’s far safer to use pointy tweezers to pull the suckers off.

You shouldn’t try: Swigging whiskey for toothaches

“The alcohol was thought to kill bacteria and numb the area, but it doesn’t do either very well,” says Matthew Messina, DDS, a Cleveland dentist and ADA Consumer Advisory spokesperson. “If your tooth pain is bad enough to try this technique, you need to see a dentist in case you have an infection requiring antibiotics or surgery.”

This article originally appeared on Health.com.

TIME Aging

Oscar Winners Live Longer Than Nominees, Study Says

82nd Annual Academy Awards - "Meet The Oscars" New York
Bennett Raglin—WireImage/Getty Images

Actors who take home the statuette get about four extra years, while those who win multiple times get six

This Sunday, a handful of stars will go home empty handed from the 2014 Academy Awards show. Not only will they be left with the bitter sting of defeat, but such loss may also lead to shorter lifespans than the winners.

Seriously. Social status has long been recognized as a predictor for poor health. Typically, research has focused on disparities between the rich and the poor. But science tells us that the effect may extend to quite literally the top of social ladder. In fact, Oscar winners may also have the perk of longevity.

The finding was first noticed in 2001. Researchers from the University of Toronto studied 1,649 Oscar-nominated actors and actresses. When they accounted for factors that could influence death rates, they found that among the participants, Oscar winners had a survival advantage of about four extra years of life, and actors who won multiple Oscars had an advantage of six years. Nominees who didn’t win had the same survival rates as their non-nominated peers.

Success could possibly account for the survival advantage, the researchers say. They speculate that since stars are subjected to intense personal scrutiny, they pay special attention to their looks and behaviors. Consequently, they may avoid risky behavior and focus more intensively on eating and exercise. Not to mention, many have the means to hire nannies, trainers, and managers, which could mean they are under less stress than the general population.

Of course, there are the exceptions, like Oscar winner Philip Seymour Hoffman who died recently after an overdose. Another study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine questioned the methods of the 2001 study. The original study was criticized for counting the years an actor was alive, instead of comparing years after a win. They also declared winners and losers at the onset, and didn’t factor in whether actors in the study won an award later on. When the new researchers re-calculated, they didn’t find the numbers significant.

If the findings do hold true, it could mean that there are other factors that impact survival, like a jump in social status. Looks like we will have to wait and see.

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