Field of Science

NCCAM and NIH support "magnet field therapy"?

My recent blog on Ayurveda and NIH, which was mostly about NCCAM (the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine at NIH), has been getting a lot of attention, so I'm starting a new thread here. Some of the responses I'm getting seem to think it's a good idea to fund "alternative" medicines. I would argue strenuously that this is not so. NIH funds research based on scientific evidence - there is no such thing as "alternative" science. Likewise, the phrase "complementary and alternative medicine" is misleading because it uses the term "medicine" - but all modern medicine is based on well-grounded, firmly established scientific principles. If an herbal extract is effective at treating a disease, then it's a medicine - not an "alternative" medicine. If it doesn't work, then it's just an herb.
So I did a quick search of what NCCAM is funding, and picked one (yes, I'm picking on one) grant to show the kind of crap they support. Here it is: NCCAM grant R21AT003293-01A1, "Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and Static Magnetic Field Therapy." The investigator, Agatha Colbert, is at a place called the Helfgott Research Institute. She wants to study whether "magnetic field therapy" can treat carpal tunnel syndrome - yes, that's magnets. There is no evidence at all that magnets cure any disease, including CTS, but that doesn't matter for an NCCAM award, apparently.
I suppose I could launch into a diatribe about the superstitions surrounding the use of magnets as therapy, but I'll avoid that. There isn't even a mechanism by which magnets could work - this is just magical thinking. Proponents of magnets sometimes say they improve blood flow, but this is nonsense - the iron in blood is not attracted by magnets (it's not in the right form for that). It's just a superstition, and having a study funded by NCCAM will do little other than allow the purveyors of "magnetic therapy" to use this as a sales tool that will help them fool a few more people with this modern form of snake oil.
By the way, the Helfgott Institute is dedicated to naturopathy, "Chinese medicine" (whatever the heck that is), and "energy medicine" (ditto). I'm sure they are very happy that NIH has set aside funds for this kind of nonsense.
NCCAM is an embarrassment.