Quotation in “Using folk remedies to feel better will leave you cold”

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janehansenDr Michael Tam was interviewed and quoted in an article written by journalist Jane Hansen, published in the Sunday Telegraph.

“THEY are the first things we reach for when the winter sniffles arrive but experts say popular supplements such as vitamin C and echinacea are really just a waste of money.

Dr Michael Tam, a general practitioner and senior lecturer at the University of NSW, said most popular natural cold and flu supplements simply don’t work.

“They appear to be no better than placebo,” he said. “In the general community there is no evidence vitamin C makes any difference in terms of length or severity of a cold.”

Another popular herbal remedy, echinacea, which is a member of the daisy family, has also failed to prove its effectiveness as a preventative.

One supplement that has shown promise is zinc, Dr Tam said. “There is some evidence it can reduce some symptoms but you need high doses and it tastes bad and can make you sick, ” he said.

Garlic has shown some promise but only one study has been done by the company which is selling the garlic supplement, Dr Tam said.”

Quotation in “Supplement vitamin D rather than test”

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I was quoted in an article in MJA InSight, written by Cate Swannell, about my comments on a new short report published in the MJA (Vitamin D testing: new targeted guidelines stem the overtesting tide).

Dr Michael Tam, a staff specialist in general practice and a conjoint senior lecturer at the University of New South Wales, told MJA InSight that he did not believe the new Medicare item numbers and guidelines were the cause of the downturn in testing and expenditure.

“It’s great to see that the cost (and volume) of vitamin D testing is coming down,” Dr Tam said. “It is increasingly recognised by most doctors that there is little utility in vitamin D testing in the majority of the population.

“[But, this report] under-recognises some of the major efforts promoting evidence-based pathology ordering in general practice, such as the Choosing Wisely campaign, from NPS MedicineWise.

“I see the targeted guidelines as being part of the clinical cultural environment that led to a change in beliefs and attitudes towards vitamin D testing. Undoubtedly, it is a very important thing. However, it must be understood within the context of the limits of its influence.

“There is still a long way to go in reducing vitamin D testing to the level that would be supported by evidence-based practice, and this most likely will require more than guidelines.”