COVID-19 tests, questions, myths, and more…

FSM News and Articles

Watch what you’re saying:  “A statement from AHPRA issued on the Pharmacy Board website said: ‘While the vast majority of health practitioners are responding professionally to the COVID-19 emergency and focusing on providing safe care, AHPRA and National Boards are seeing some examples of false and misleading advertising on COVID-19’. Examples listed by AHPRA were some advertising claims that spinal adjustment/manipulation, acupuncture and some products confer or boost immunity or enhance recovery from COVID-19 when there is no acceptable evidence in support.”

FSM Friends News and Articles

COVID-19 treatment – China is exporting herbal remedies but scientists question their efficacy: Scientists, however, are opposed to the idea of China exporting its herbal remedies as part of its effort to help the world deal with the ongoing outbreak, saying they give people nothing but a false sense of security. “TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) mixtures can be toxic, contaminated or adulterated with prescription drugs; they can also interact with prescription drugs,” Dr. Edzard Ernst, Professor of Complementary Medicine at the University of Exeter, UK, told NBC News, adding that they pose both direct and indirect risks to patients. He said people could neglect proven medications and remedies under the impression that they are immune to the coronavirus after taking Chinese herbs.

‘This is misinformation on steroids’ – The Canadian who took on Gwyneth Paltrow is debunking coronavirus myths: There is evidence that people can typically tell when information is accurate if they simply take the time to pause and reflect — something Professor Timothy Caulfield and his team hope they can help encourage more people to do.

Acupuncture for migraine unconvincing:  We have a study with high risk of bias showing a small reduction in subjective reports but no reduction in more objective measures of migraine. In total, this is extremely unconvincing, especially given that by all accounts the acupuncture points they say made a difference in this study don’t actually exist. Their findings were “not completely consistent with those of several randomised clinical trials which found no significant differences between true acupuncture and sham acupuncture in reducing migraine headaches. The inconsistency might be driven predominantly by differences in treatments received by the control group.”


COVID-19 tests – how they work and what’s in development: RT-PCR is very specific and sensitive. However, once you have recovered the virus is eliminated and these tests can no longer tell if you’ve been infected. This creates significant uncertainty especially if someone has self-isolated due to mild and unclear symptoms. RT-PCR tests need a laboratory, so it takes time – even if the RT-PCR test itself only takes several hours, by the time you add sample collection, transport, and sample processing it can be days before the result is known. Rapid portable RT-PCR machines are the cutting edge of diagnostic technology, and COVID-19 tests are only just becoming available for these machines – but even the fastest machines take around two hours. These have been evaluated in the NHS to improve flu treatment.

Antibody typically takes a few weeks to develop against a new infection and lasts much longer in the bloodstream than the virus itself, providing a historical picture of past infections. The first studies suggest this is no different with COVID-19. This type of “serology” testing is a powerful tool used to check if vaccines work, for example, or to find out if people have encountered an infection. However, current antibody tests for the novel coronavirus haven’t fully been tested yet to be sure they are reliable, which is why WHO guidelines recommend RT-PCR testing.

‘They broke my mental shackles’ – could magic mushrooms be the answer to depression?  When a drug is employed for a condition without positive evidence of efficacy from clinical trials, the use is described as ‘off label’. The use of off label drugs has been brought into prominence with the passage of ‘Right to Try’ legislation, generally to grant terminal cancer patients access to drugs not yet trialled for their cancer. And of course, to people convinced that cannabis will cure any disease, anytime, anywhere. But off label application can have beneficial effects in other conditions less dire than cancer. This is the case for the anaesthetic ketamine and psilocybin, the active ingredient in ‘magic mushrooms’. Technically not off label since psilocybin has no approved medical use, still the use of this drug for mental health disorders is imaginative and innovative. It is particularly bold because psilocybin has been listed as a type 1 illegal drug for many years. Having broken through this taboo, psilocybin has the potential to help many people, particularly those with treatment-resistant depression.  

Great Moments in Health and Science

 The History of Anaesthesia: Relieving human pain has an important role outside of just alleviating suffering, but has also made complex operations that would be unbearably excruciating (such as gall bladder or appendix removal) able to be performed safely and commonly.

Today’s Abused Health Concept

Professional misconduct – IV clinic pharmacist found guilty: For-profit services offering unnecessary ‘vitamin drips’ and ‘energy boosters’ have been springing up with little regard for standards of professional ethics. The intravenous (IV) drip is an important medical tool for patient care, but is not risk free. Medical ethics dictates that a medical treatment must balance the risk with the benefit.

“The Tribunal found that the practitioner posed a substantial risk to the health of members of the public and accordingly ordered that the practitioner is prohibited from providing health services offering intravenous infusions, intramuscular injections and other forms of injectables of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other similar products, for the period until she obtains a reinstatement order under Division 8 of Part of the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (NSW) or its equivalent, or is re-registered as a health practitioner.”