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Dr. Oz is promoting woo

Dr. Mehmet Oz, a long time guest on Oprah, used to be lauded as being one of the few guests on her show that dispensed practical, real medical advice. However, it seems that lately, he’s given in (at least somewhat) to the woo side of things. Orac, over at Respectful Insolence gives a rundown of some recent offenses, but the main point he makes is that Dr. Oz has recommended reiki as a valid medical treatment (Dr. Oz is also making some vaguely anti-vaxx statements, too).

Reiki is a type of “energy healing” or, as Orac puts it…

As I’ve pointed out before, reiki is nothing more than faith healing using Eastern mysticism rather than Christianity as its base, and the “demonstration” on Dr. Oz’s show really is more akin to the sorts of demonstrations at a Benny Hinn or Peter Popoff revival

I first heard about reiki around eighteen years ago from an audio program by Wayne Dyer (Real Magic: Creating Miracles in Everyday Life… I know. I’m ashamed) and it seemed pretty fishy, especially given his description of it (flashing lights, shocking hands, cuts magically healing, etc). Scientifically, there’s no evidence that it works for… well… anything, except perhaps lining the pockets of “reiki masters” with money.

So here’s a clip of the reiki demonstration on Dr. Oz’s show.

The first thing that should raise a red flag when it comes to an explanation of “alternative medicine” treatments is deliberate vagueness. Here’s what Pamela Miles, the “reiki master” says in way of explanation.

Reiki is a balancing practice and so, rather than addressing the headache or whatever else is the problem, what it does is it influences the person’s overall system toward balance and then, as her system becomes more balanced, symptoms tend to fall away. Then, over time for example, if you get headaches, you know, you may find that you get them less frequently.

Now that is some world class vagueness. She admits to not addressing the actual problem, but only “influencing” the person’s “overall system toward balance.” I’d bet that even she doesn’t know what the heck that means.

So then the conversation continues with Dr. Oz asking, “Do you feel anything, Dalita?” (the woman getting “treated”).

She replies, “Oh, yes. My headache’s going away.”

Oz says, “Your headache’s going away. Do you feel any heat?”

“Yes.”

Break out the reiki fireworks, it’s a miracle!

The really sad part is that Dr. Oz’s recommendation will mean that people will go out and possibly try reiki rather than going to an actual doctor. In many cases, no harm will be done. I’m sure that Dalita would survive her headache without any kind of treatment. But there will be others, and this is where Oprah abdicates her responsibilities, who will take what Dr. Oz says as valid medical advice, seeking out a reiki master to treat them… and the only symptom that will be relieved is a heavy wallet.

Dr. Oz should be ashamed.

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