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Infectious disease

cranberry juice UTI

Does cranberry juice really treat a UTI? Let’s check the science

It’s that time of year when Americans have cranberries and turkey, which made me wonder if the belief that cranberry juice could treat a UTI (urinary tract infection). Now, I love cranberry sauce — yes, I love the stuff that comes out of the can, and I will die on that hill, though I’m not a fan of the juice version. But I’ve had girlfriends who swear by cranberry juice for treating a bout of UTI.

I kept hearing about this magical curative power of cranberry juice for decades. So much so, that I began to wonder if it was just one of the myths that are repeated so often that we think they are a fact. Or is it supported by real science? You know, like the old adage that sugar causes your children to be hyper, which proved to not be supported by any science.

Well, your cranky old dinosaur wanted to find out whether it was a myth or science, so I jumped into cranberry bog with both feet.

Read More »Does cranberry juice really treat a UTI? Let’s check the science
respiratory syncytial virus

Respiratory syncytial virus, flu, and COVID-19 — the “tripledemic”

I rarely write about the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), but the number of people infected by the virus, especially children, is leading to a fear of a tripledemic that includes RSV, the seasonal flu, and our constant nemesis, COVID-19. I guess this is the time I start writing more about the respiratory syncytial virus because everyone needs to be aware of this infectious disease.

This post will review what respiratory syncytial virus is, why it is so dangerous to children and seniors, and whether a vaccine is available.

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echinacea

Echinacea — the science and myths in treating the common cold

I recently wrote about pseudoscientific treatments for colds and flu, but I wanted to focus on one of the more popular treatments — echinacea. The history and science of echinacea treating these wintertime diseases are almost laughable. But you know how pseudoscience and supplements go together, and here we are.

I’m going to review the history of the herbal supplement along with the science of its safety and effectiveness. The history is quite amusing. And science is definitely lacking.

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flu cold treatments

Quack cold and flu treatments — echinacea and Oscillococcinum are useless

It’s that time of year when we are bombarded by treatments for cold and flu season. The quackery includes things like “immune-boosting” miracle supplements to junk that “cures” every single virus known to medical science.

This article will attempt to debunk the myths of treatments for cold and flu such as “boosting the immune system,” magical supplements, and other nonsense involved with the world of cold and flu pseudoscience.

Of course, the best way to prevent the flu is to get the vaccine. And since the vaccine is free (at least in the USA), it’s infinitely cheaper than fake, useless cold and flu treatments.

Read More »Quack cold and flu treatments — echinacea and Oscillococcinum are useless
honey wound treatment

Honey for wound treatment — is it really effective?

Speaking of honey, when I was in the ICU being treated for a nasty case of cellulitis recently, the wound treatment included dressings that were soaked in “medical grade” honey. The physicians and nurses insisted that it was really good for wound healing — of course, I gave them the old Skeptical Raptor side-eye. I had to “do my own research” about it and find out if there was any science involved.

Well, there was a lot of science around honey being used for wound treatment, so that meant it wasn’t pseudoscientific woo, but there might be some science around it. I want to warn the reader that it’s not necessarily definitive that honey is effective for wound treatment, but the science seems to be building a consensus that it’s useful.

Read More »Honey for wound treatment — is it really effective?
non-polio enterovirus

Non-polio enterovirus linked to respiratory disease, not vaccines

With the appearance of a polio outbreak recently, I wanted to clear up some misinformation (from anti-vaxxers) regarding non-polio enterovirus linked to an outbreak of children’s respiratory disease. There is no relationship between the polio outbreak and the outbreak of non-polio enterovirus, and there is certainly no relationship between either and vaccines.

For this article, I’ll focus on the non-polio enterovirus. There is a lot to this situation, so stay tuned for some science.

Read More »Non-polio enterovirus linked to respiratory disease, not vaccines
woman in brown dress holding white plastic bottle painting

Germ theory denial – another favorite of the anti-vaccine world

I have been meaning to write about germ theory for years because a big part of vaccine denialism requires a good bit of germ theory denialism. Some anti-vaxxers want to create an illusion of scientific integrity by attempting to outright reject the germ theory of disease.

Germ theory is one of the central tenets of biology along with biochemistry, cells, evolution, and genetics. It is not some idea that was invented by those of us who support vaccines just to convince people to get vaccines. It is a foundation of medicine and biology that is centuries old.

This article is going to be a discussion of what exactly is germ theory, and briefly show how the anti-vaxxers deny it to “prove” that vaccines are unnecessary.

Read More »Germ theory denial – another favorite of the anti-vaccine world
herpes zoster dementia

Herpes zoster vaccine and dementia — is there a surprising link?

I generally wouldn’t write about herpes zoster and dementia, which recently appeared in a peer-reviewed article. Such a topic is mostly outside of my interest area. Then a thought hit my reptilian brain — anti-vaxxers might use this information to claim that the shingles vaccine, which prevents herpes zoster (the more formal name for shingles), might increase the risk of dementia.

So, this article is here just in case you run into that pathetic argument. In no way would I advocate not getting the shingles vaccine because of its supposed relationship with dementia.

Let’s take a look at this new article and how we should look at whether the herpes zoster vaccine and dementia might be related.

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photography of people on grass field

COVID vaccines are not responsible for mysterious hepatitis outbreak

An outbreak of hepatitis of unknown etiology in children across the world is not caused by COVID-19 vaccines. Of course, anti-vaxxers are trying to use this hepatitis outbreak as more fear, uncertainty, and doubt about the COVID-19 vaccines, but the evidence doesn’t support it.

As of this time, we don’t know a lot about this hepatitis outbreak, like routes of infection and the causative agent, but it is ringing the alarm bells at various public health agencies across the world.

In this article, I will walk you through the hepatitis outbreak and then some limited data that appear to show that there is no link to either COVID-19 or COVID-19 vaccines.

Read More »COVID vaccines are not responsible for mysterious hepatitis outbreak