July 28, 2005

How many other things like this are a complete waste of money?

You can stop eating that purple coneflower now, echinacea dupes.

23 comments:

HaloJonesFan said...

Heh heh. Telling comments from another message board:

"These samples were prepared in a lab, and they were probably much lower dilution than necessary."

"Well duh, it's not supposed to cure a cold, it's supposed to boost your immune system."

"If they just used people off the street it probably wouldn't work anyway, because they need to purify the sugar and carbs and cigarette toxins before echinacea can really work."

The people who believe in alt-medicine herbal-remedies will not be swayed by a mountain of evidence. After all, they take it, and they haven't gotten sick recently, right?

Meade said...

But Dr. Bauer, one co-author, was among those saying the study should be repeated with other echinacea species, preparations and doses.

"I am always in favor of further studies," Dr. Bauer said. He himself takes echinacea, he said, and will continue to do so.

Goesh said...

The bottom line with herbs is no co-pay for a doctor and pharmacist. Imagine scientists being self-serving! Oh the horror of it! I recall when the vitamin- laden cranberry was thought to cause cancer and we were told potatoes were worthless, despite the Irish potato famine and mass immigration resulting from it.

k said...

You ask, "How many other things like this...?" Well, the answer is, as many bottles of supplements as you can count at your local grocery store's "health and beauty" section.

StrangerInTheseParts said...

Very outlandish comparison:

Sometimes I think the alt-medicine crowd is very much like the anti-MSM crowd. For me, our culture seems to have reached a stage where the motivating force for a lot of very diverse idealogies is a deep deep distrust (disgust, rage, etc.) with mainstream institutions.

The alt-medicine crowd don't know much about what they are taking, what they KNOW is that MD's, Hospitals and Modern Science are toxic.

Likewise, I believe a lot of the hyper-pro-blogger rhetoric is not driven by any kind of deep understanding of what the new media offers so much as a pure vitirolic hate of what the old media does.

My main point is that many people are more and more defined by what they're against than what they're for. But few admit it. Similar to my thoughts about Multiculturalism a few weeks ago. It's really hatred of one group much more than it is acceptance and understanding of diverse groups.

Goesh said...

I may have to change my screen name to Dr. Herb. Some European doctors get paid for prescribing what we can get off the shelf. Herbs and medical malpractice, what a hot topic it must be over there. Am I the only one that ever sees a Pharmacist glaring as I browse the herb and vitamin section? Is it really just my DNA or does some of this stuff really work? You're gonna' pay for pills one way or another, right? It always comes down to money in America - just ask your doctor if you don't believe me.

Ann Althouse said...

Why do you have to take pills? I don't take anything and I've had one cold in fifteen years.

Goesh said...

- only if you promise not to litigate if it doesn't work... take bee pollen if you are ever bothered by allergies.

Diane said...

Much of herbal medicine is complete horse manure.

But as a person who just got rid of a bladder infection with cranberry pills, and another infection with yogurt, I have to say that a precious few of the remedies are gold. Look into the biochemistry of it before you try anything.

What really bothers me about most people who believe in all natural healing is that they equate "health" with "virtue".

Any doctor will tell you that not every bit of medicine works the same for everyone. But if you try an herbal remedy, and it doesn't work for you then it must be because you "don't take care of yourself!" or "You weren't pure." or some crap like that.

Yeah. Blame the victim. It happens with people who aren't into herbal medicine. ("You just aren't taking care of yourself. I run and eat well and get enough sleep and I've never had a cold!") It's much more prominent amongst those who buy into the homeopathic crud.

Maybe some of us just have *really* bad immune systems. . .

For instance: I exercise an hour a day, every day. I sleep at least nine hours a night. I eat a balanced diet. I have tried almost every recommendation others have given me. I am sick from the beginning to the end of cold season. My doctors can’t figure out how I keep getting sick. And the next person to tell me that I get sick because I *want* to get sick will meet my baseball bat. Repeatedly.

Ann Althouse said...

Diane: Maybe you're sleeping too much! Nine hours???? That's like throwing away a day every two or four weeks.

ploopusgirl said...

Goesh: Where do you live that your copays go to the pharmacist? I was always under the impression that it was the insurance companies that collected from that. I work in a pharmacy, and you must be entirely paranoid. While pharmacists can't help you while you pick out your natural herbs and remedies, they certainly aren't glaring at you for doing so.

Also, I see your point entirely. Why pay a $25 copay to an insurance company for a drug proven to cure whatever it is that's ailing you when you can buy a $12 bottle of some herb or another that may or may not have a chemical effect on you, but will probably make you feel better because you took something completely natural. Ahh.

Bruce Hayden said...

I am a believer in some supplements, but not in many. One of the guys on my yearly male bonding ski trip is an MD who has moved almost entirely out of his family practice into vitimins and herbal supplements. So, every year, we work him over on the latest research, what is working, what he is prescribing, etc. And he is as likely to say that something is totally unproven as that it works.

My favorite is Glucosamine / Condroitim complex. When I am either lifting weights a lot or skiing for more than a couple days straight (common in the winter), my 54 year old knees start to hurt. And taking this supplement works wonders for them.

ploopusgirl said...

Goesh: Also, I love how you assume that the pharmacist has so little to do in the pharmacy that he would spend his time staring at you picking out your herbs.

Ann Althouse said...

Ploopusgirl: Maybe Goesh looks like a shoplifter.

Charlie (Colorado) said...

There were several previous studies that indicated echinacea had an effect. The more recent, stronger studies don't.

If that makes people who take echinacea "dupes", there are a lot of people who are being or have been "duped" by traditional pharmaceuticals.

Goesh said...

Oh my, Ms. Ann! My darting, secretive glances in drug stores and other establishments are at the butts of certain types of ladies, I assure you! The only problem with herbs that are proven/known to be beneficial is shoddy manufacturing and plain fraud over selling something that simply isn't what it is supposed to be, sort of like buying a used car with the odometer turned back 60,000 miles. Buyer beware, sort of like the side affects of patented medication. i.e. cure a headache but run to the toilet 10 times a day in the process. Much of it all, herbs and prescriptions, may be mostly a placebo anyway.

knoxgirl said...

I don't know about herbal remedies, but the "Swiffer Wet Jet" was a big disappointment.

Finn Kristiansen said...

Goesh said...

Oh my, Ms. Ann! My darting, secretive glances in drug stores and other establishments are at the butts of certain types of ladies, I assure you!

Oh! That explains your possible shop-lifty look. I am sure Ann and Ploopusgirl (from around the pharmacy counter) are now totally relieved... pervyness being so much better than shoplifting.

(Actually, don't mean that harshly, just thought your statement was kinda funny, and not helping you any).

Smilin' Jack said...

Dr. Stephen E. Straus, director of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, the government agency that sponsored the new research, says he for one is satisfied that echinacea is not an effective cold remedy.

Well, I always stride by the local supermarket's shelves of dried weeds with an air of smug superiority: At least I don't waste my money on that crap.

So now it turns out my money is being wasted on that crap. Great.

Mable said...

As someone who suffered from Chronic Fatique Syndrome,I have a lot of experience being the guinea pig for both alternative medicine and western medicine. Yet it strikes me as odd that people tend to pit themselves in one camp or the other, as I have received both terrible care/medicine and fantastic care/medicine from both parties.

The funny thing about echinacea is how trendy it became. Every seemed to be into this trend while knowing very little of herbal medicine or consulting a professional. I've known for quite sometime based on experience that echinacea did nothing for my colds. A Native American herbalist told me that once you have symptoms of a cold, it's too late to use echinacea. She suggested Osha root instead, which I had much more success with. I've also had success with macrobiotics while western medicine failed me. After 3 months of a macrobiotic diet I began to menstruate again (it had been 2 years). I've also had success with Aryuvedics in treating a skin condition that a plethora of dermatologist were not successful in treating. However, I tried many many alternative medicines that were a waste of time and money before I found ones that worked for me.

Ann, you must have a great immune system if you rarely catch colds. Bravo!

Meade said...

Ann Althouse said..."Why do you have to take pills? I don't take anything and I've had one cold in fifteen years"

I'll bet Ann is good hand washer.

Ann Althouse said...

Lmeade: You wrote what I was going to write. It's about the hands, people. Watch where you put them. Do you go around shaking hands with people and using your bare hands on door knobs? You do realize what you're touching there, don't you? Watch what you touch and wash your hands before you rub your nose.

The hardest thing is to avoid colds when you have young children. I got a lot of colds when my kids were young. Hard to avoid that.

Diane said...

On six hours of sleep a night, I cannot even keep food down. I'm that sick.

On seven and eight hours of sleep a night, my colds last longer.

I cannot sleep ten hours a night. I've tried.

Also my chronic pain bothers me less the more sleep I get. I'll sacrifice quantity for quality. *winks*

As for hand washing, I took Micro in college. You won't be able to get rid of all the germs and trying is not always wise. My mother is a nurse. The hand-washing drills are second nature for me. I couldn't stop if I wanted to.

Not all germs are bad. Very few are, as a matter of fact. Also if you don't allow yourself small exposures to germs, your immune system has no chance to build up any line of defense. Many studies have linked allergies in adults to a lack of germ exposure durring childhood.

Sterile environments are not ideal. Sanitary is a good idea, though. The real key is to know how to acheive sanitary without sterile.