Archive for category Ear Candles

Exploring TCM: Dr & Herbs, Liverpool

Having a rare weekend free, and having the need to pop into town in order to buy secret things for my girlfriend’s upcoming birthday (July 22nd if you want to wish her a happy birthday, by the way), I chanced into St John’s Shopping Centre and came across the rather charming ‘Dr & Herbs’ Traditional Chinese Medicine outlet. Which I immediately dived into and immersed myself in, obviously.

I’d like to say up front, before I get into any real detail – the two people who seem to run the shop were helpful, kind and friendly. Unfortunately, they were also entirely wrong in a number of ways…

The first thing that struck me about the shop was the crude (and rather awfully-designed) posters in the window, listing various ailments and how TCM can help – the list was reasonably long, and didn’t include any more wild and dangerous ailments to treat, but I was able to grab shots of the claims for Thrush, StressEczema and Asthma.

Thrush: TCM treats this as a problem of damp in the body, usually internal damp caused by an infection or fungus; herbs are a very effective treatment.

While it’s true to say that thrush is caused by a fungus, it’s vague and bewildering to claim it a problem of ‘damp in the body’, and the bald assertion that herbs are a very effective treatment is an outright falsehood, unsupported by evidence.

Stress: According to TCM, Stress is due to too much dampness and heart heat from internal and external pressure. We can treat this by clearing the dampness as well as regulating your Qi (vital energy) through a natural process).

Here the issue is somewhat more fundamental – the notion of ‘stress’ is something favoured by pseudomedical practitioners because of its dual properties of vagueness and ubiquity. Many people believe they have stress; very few of them could quantify what they mean by the term. Fortunately, Dr & Herbs seem to know, and they’re pretty sure it’s to do with dampness – although, in fairness, dampness is their go-to diagnosis. That they can regulate this invented dampness – both internally- and externally-caused –  via the regulation of Qi is neither here nor there, given that Qi adds one more invented element to the pot. All in all, their claims to fighting stress don’t stand up to scrutiny. Read the rest of this entry »

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Jessica Simpson: Ear-Candling So YOU Don’t Have To!

As regular, sporadic or even accidental listeners to our podcast might know, our very own Mike recently discovered ear candles lurking in the murky, unforgiving depths of Chester town centre. Dragged away from the peddler of this particular brand of dangerous crazy before he’d had a chance to a) ask why ear candles are on sale when they’re proven to be ineffective and ludicrously dangerous and b) stop  the stupid burning his brain, Mike was left with only one option – rant about it on Skeptics With A K. I suspect being on the show is actually far more beneficial to Mike’s mental health than it is to our listeners’ entertainment levels.

Still, it got me wondering – how many people actually know anything about ear candles? How many people know what they are, what they’re meant to do, what they actually do, and why they’re crazy crazy crazy? Canvassing opinion around colleagues and friends, it seemed to my (entirely un-scientifically-small) survey that the number of people who’d even heard of them was pretty low, and amongst those it was a mixed response on whether ear candles are any good or not. Which is a bit disturbing, because – as I mentioned – they’re actually crazy crazy crazy. So I found myself trying to explain to these lovely folk what an ear candle is, and the potential for harm that it can do. ‘If only’, thought I at the time, ‘I had some kind of video where a well-known yet annoying-enough-not-to-mind-seeing-them-in-discomfort celebrity had filmed themselves using an ear candle, so I could show people how woo this crap really is (and how crap this woo really is), and they could be in equal parts informed and grossed-out’.

Well, this is Christmas after all – the time of the year that wishes really do come true. They do. Ask anyone that’s been on Noel’s Christmas Presents and they’ll tell you. Oh, plus I can tell you they do, because lo and indeed behold what the intertubes have presented us with:

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