Wednesday, December 16, 2015

#1546: Christina DiNicola

One has to give it to the pseudoscientists: The attempts of integrative” (yes, those are dick quotes) medicine practitioners to infiltrate otherwise respectable medical institutions and academia have been frighteningly successful, partially of course due to the resources made available by misguided and/or delusional wealthy donors and the erosion of standards in medical practice by leaving important decisions to administrators.

One bad example Thomas Jefferson University, a private health sciences university in Philadelphia, and Jefferson University Hospitals. They actually have an Integrative Pediatrics Program at Jefferson (indeed, it appears to be part of the the Myrna Brind Center Of Integrative Medicine), the director of which is one Dr. Christina DiNicola. DiNicola used to be a real pediatrician, but then she did an additional two-year integrative medicine fellowship under the direction of Andrew Weil. At present you probably shouldn’t trust her even on basic advice on how to interact with kids.

A good picture of DiNicola can probably be gleaned from her blogpost (for the JUH Blog) “Is Integrative Medicine Right for Your Kids? 5 Myths Debunked” (discussed here), which really rather confirms how unscientific, pseudoscientific and anti-scientific integrative medicine is. One of the first thing you’ll notice is the extent to which DiNicola has to emphasize, at every turn, how her servicees “are different from and not a replacement for good primary care pediatric services.” A sample of the “myths”:

-       Myth #1: All of the integrative therapies on the market are unproven.” DiNicola’s response? She’ll help guide you through the available options. Of course, the vast majority of alternative therapies are unproven – by definition. DiNicola doesn’t discuss that.
-       Myth #2: If my pediatrician doesn’t mention or recommend integrative medicine, then I shouldn’t consider it.” Oh, but you see, the reason real pediatricians don’t mention it may be because they’re afraid of being ridiculed. (Yes, there is a conspiracy lurking in the background – the hallmark of all pseudoscience.) Or because they may be unaware” of the research – or because they know that actual research indicates no benefit for the treatments, but DiNicola doesn’t consider that option.
-       Myth #5: Integrative medicine only benefits certain diseases and conditions.” According to DiNicola, however, it can be used for anything. Well, I suppose I have to agree that alternative medicine is equally effective across the board, but for somewhat different reasons.

Of course, DiNicola is careful about avoiding making too specific claims, mentioning only yoga and acupuncture explicitly. Indeed, the whole website for the Integrative Pediatrics program is pretty vague about what they do and even more nebulous about why they think it is effective (funny that). Instead, one gets some idiotic tropes like “[s]ome people believe external forces (energies) from objects or other sources directly affect a person’s health. An example of external energy therapy is electromagnetic therapy.” Indeed, some people believe that.

The Myrna Brind Center Of Integrative Medicine is a different matter, describing clinical trials of high dose intravenous vitamin C in pancreatic cancer, acupuncture, bioidentical hormones, and even an integrative mental health program.

Diagnosis: Yes, the dark side is tempting, and many give in. DiNicola has completed her journey, and there seems to be, currently, little good left in her.


  1. As long as insurance companies can be counted on to hold the line... but how long will that be?

  2. Whenever I hear "some people believe," I automatically become suspicious.