January 9, 2009

A dubious Wall Street Journal opinion piece on alternative medicine.

I know some of my readers are doctors and scientists, and I'd like a professional assessment of what I consider to be a very weird column by Deepak Chopra, Dean Ornish, Rustum Roy, and Andrew Weil. (Enough authors?)

I'll just highlight a few things that triggered my suspicions:
In mid-February, the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences and the Bravewell Collaborative are convening a "Summit on Integrative Medicine and the Health of the Public." This is a watershed in the evolution of integrative medicine, a holistic approach to health care that uses the best of conventional and alternative therapies such as meditation, yoga, acupuncture and herbal remedies. Many of these therapies are now scientifically documented to be not only medically effective but also cost effective.
A "summit" is a "watershed in the evolution"? Even setting the inane mixed metaphor aside, that's inane. The convening of a "summit" is not a scientific advance, it's just people talking about something. And either treatments are supported by scientific testing or they are not. I'm not impressed that "many" alternative therapies have been "scientifically documented to be ... medically effective." The proper distinction is between what has passed scientific testing and what has not. I don't care about the categories "conventional and alternative." If it's proven scientifically it becomes conventional, doesn't it? The proven ones don't get to hang out with the bogus ones, propping up their reputation. [CLARIFICATION: I mean Chopra, Ornish, Roy, and Weil can't be permitted to group the proven ones with the bogus ones.]
President-elect Barack Obama and former Sen. Tom Daschle (the nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services) understand that if we want to make affordable health care available to the 45 million Americans who do not have health insurance, then we need to address the fundamental causes of health and illness, and provide incentives for healthy ways of living rather than reimbursing only drugs and surgery.
So, the alternative therapy gurus want their cut of the money. Millions of people need medical treatments, and these guys want money to instruct people about meditation and eating right.
Many people ... have a hard time believing that the simple choices that we make in our lifestyle -- what we eat, how we respond to stress, whether or not we smoke cigarettes, how much exercise we get, and the quality of our relationships and social support -- can be as powerful as drugs and surgery.
Oh, bullshit. People believe that — to excess if anything. What they have a hard time with is actually losing weight, exercising, and quitting smoking. Don't waste limited health care funds on these characters who only want to nag us about what we already know. And by the way, this isn't alternative medicine. It's is the routine health advice that any doctor would give you.
Chronic pain is one of the major sources of worker's compensation claims costs, yet studies show that it is often susceptible to acupuncture and Qi Gong. Herbs usually have far fewer side effects than pharmaceuticals.
Usually. Look, if those herbs are drugs, test them as drugs and get them approved by the FDA. Don't spread the generic notion that "herbs" are good. That's harebrained hippie talk. And as for acupuncture and Qi Gong: Point me to the scientific studies.

I'm skipping the paragraph that talks about erections. Integrative medicine wants to help you with your orgasms.

Closing in on the conclusion:
It's time to move past the debate of alternative medicine versus traditional medicine, and to focus on what works, what doesn't, for whom, and under which circumstances.
Yeah, let's call it all science, and let's just do real science, and cut the bullshit.
It will take serious government funding to find out, but these findings may help reduce costs and increase health.
Look, if you have a study you want funded, apply for funding. If you just want public support for a nice chunk of cash to go toward promoting alternative medicine, I say no no no no no no no.
Integrative medicine approaches bring together those in red states and blue states, liberals and conservatives, Democrats and Republicans, because these are human issues.
Oh, shut up.

187 comments:

Simon said...

"'Integrative medicine approaches bring together those in red states and blue states, liberals and conservatives, Democrats and Republicans, because these are human issues[?]' Oh, shut up."

No kidding: a statement that can fairly be paraphrased as "this is a problem that affects us all, ergo Republicans and Democrats will naturally agree on the solution!" marks the author as a little off.

mcg said...

Amen sister.

vet66 said...

Any mention of the so-called Placebo effect? Most chronic pain is due to lack of exercise and diet control as you stated. Gallons of mangosteen or some 5,000year old Chinese herb blend will not cure undiagnosed hyper-tension.

Integrative medicine in the example is simply a ploy to get a part of the health care budget for aging baby boomers. What's next? Hemp Depends?

BS is a correct description!

Tibore said...

They see what's happening in Britain with homeopathic treatments being reimbursed by the NIH, and they want their cut here in America too.

Professor, I don't know how else you can say it either. If it works, subject it to blinded studies and document at least the percentage of effectiveness vs. placebo. If not, quit trying to call it "medicine". But trying to argue its effectiveness via criticisms of "mainstream" medicine is stupid. A treatment either works on its own merits or it doesn't, its efficacy is either demonstrable or it's not, and the recording of efficacy is either possible or it's not. And no, don't buy into mere claims of treatments being "scientifically documented to be... medically effective". If a given treatment is, cite the studies and figures.

The last thing healthcare in America needs is a return to hucksterism and snake-oil salesmanship.

Deb said...

One word, but you already said it: bull.... I agree, they want their piece of the Federal pie. They can see (smell? it's a pretty strong stench) socialized medicine coming and want to be sure they legitimize themselves so they get their cut. This is so Oprahesque, and equally irresponsible.

kynefski said...

Good people have been trying to drag these clowns into the light for decades, but they can't get enough people to pay attention. The confidence folks have a real winner is portraying evidence-based medicine as cold and uncaring.

At least we can be grateful that US higher education hasn't yet gotten into the business of training people in fraud, as has occurred in the UK.

Tibore said...

Oh, sonofa...

"Heart disease, diabetes, prostate cancer, breast cancer and obesity account for 75% of health-care costs, and yet these are largely preventable and even reversible by changing diet and lifestyle.

Complaint: Diabetes is not reversible! I know this personally to my own great sorrow. It's treatable, and controllable, but not reversible!

That right there shows that at least one of the authors has been listening to pseudoscientific claims and taking them as gospel. Look, I wish diabetes were reversible. I'd be the first one with the megaphone shouting this out if it were. But it's not. And it's irresponsible to include it in such a sweeping claim like they did. Completely irresponsible.

" Last year, $2.1 trillion was spent in the U.S. on medical care, or 16.5% of the gross national product. Of these trillions, 95 cents of every dollar was spent to treat disease after it had already occurred. At least 75% of these costs were spent on treating chronic diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes, that are preventable or even reversible."

Yet, their own argument is that healthy lifestyle choices are cheaper than treatment. Of course treatment of illness is disproportionately more expensive; the real question is what percentage of delivered health care goes towards preventive medicine. Of course a 30 minute session with an internist and dietician is going to cost less than that same period of time with a gastric bypass surgeon or coronary specialist. The preventative treatment is less intensive and expensive than the corrective one. Duh!

The sad thing is, there's a legitimate criticism in there that's mishandled by the authors. It's accurate to say that in the US, modern medicine tends to center around battling disease, and less emphasis is given to prevention. I make that criticism myself. Yet, to argue from the dollar standpoint is ridiculous. Again, several sessions to counsel a patient into weight loss and better cardiac behavior is indeed cheaper than that same amount of time spent on corrective treatments; arguing from the dollar standpoint doesn't correctly demonstrate that such preventative medicine is lacking, all it demonstrates is that corrective treatments are expensive. That's all. Instead, what they should do is acknowledge that preventative medicine does indeed occur, but there should be further emphasis on it. Specializations in such - say, cardiac disease prevention - should be created, and practices/clinics should be encouraged. What cardiologists, endocrinologists, and others say about the preventative aspects in their specialties should be given even more emphasis. Positive policies, such as my own employer's cash reward for not smoking should be established by insurance companies. Things like that are what these authors should have put in their article.

But no... the dollar argument is more sexy...

Blah... I can go on, but then this post would be too damn long. Anyway, it's just sad and depressing to see legitimate criticisms of health care in the US so badly fumbled in these author's careless hands. Shame on them. The argument deserves better.

knox said...

Love it. This is making me crave a Greenwald fisking.

Original George said...

This is about the bucks. Nothing new about any of the stuff in the editorial. "Integrative" medicine has been around for 10+ years. It's a way for hospitals to make major buckos off of rich people. Get them to come and stay in a hospita-spa setting, pamper them....

As for these media doctors, all I say is beware. Folks like Weill are running big businesses. Go to his website and click on his "shop" page. And here is his media kit.

One of his products:

Plantidote™ Mega-Mushroom Treatment Lotion To optimize skin's defenses

This extremely light, hydrating lotion with Hypsizygus ulmarius, Cordyceps and Reishi mushrooms along with Ginger, Holy Basil and Turmeric quickly yet gently soothes and penetrates skin for hydration and a calmer complexion. Other potent plant ingredients help address the problems in skin that can get in the way of its healthy appearance. Your skin will look and feel healthier, more supple and refreshed. For all skin types.

HOW TO USE: Pat lightly onto clean skin with cotton pad or fingertips AM and PM. Follow with your Plantidote™ Mega-Mushroom Program as part of your integrative approach to skin care.

Andrew Weil, M.D., donates all of his after-tax profits from royalties from sales of Dr. Andrew Weil for Origins™ products directly to the Weil Foundation, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to supporting integrative medicine through training, education and research. For more information, visit: www.weilfoundation.org.

---

From the media kit, we see his target audience and their psychographics:

Women (81%)

Primarily 35-54 years old (59%)

Primarily married (72%)

Highly educated: 75% Degreed, 33% Advanced Degrees

$75,000+ household income (52%)

Primarily live in large metro areas on the West and East coasts


Psychographics

Primary health decision maker for herself and loved ones

She buys with her heart as well as her head

She thrives on information

She’s well networked and will proselytize her beliefs

She is willing to pay a premium price for a product she can feel good about buying

She sees our product through a larger world perspective – it’s important for her to understand our mission

(Yes, 'highly educated' women will buy mega-mushroom salves.)

dbp said...

Well done Althouse! You may not be a scientist, but you have a very high functioning BS detector.

sierra said...

A few years ago, the Washington Monthly did an interesting piece (summarized here) on the NIH's half-hearted effort to evaluate the effectiveness of various "alternative" treatments, with predictable results. People who believe in such alternatives regard any failure to demonstrate effectiveness as inconclusive.

Original Mike said...

I haven't read the article yet (I'll get to it), but my take from your excerpts is that you don't need a "professional assessment". You nailed it.

Tibore said...

"sierra said...
A few years ago, the Washington Monthly did an interesting piece (summarized here) on the NIH's half-hearted effort to evaluate the effectiveness of various "alternative" treatments, with predictable results. People who believe in such alternatives regard any failure to demonstrate effectiveness as inconclusive."


Worse yet, have you seen the retroactive explanations given by supporters for the failures to demonstrate homeopathy's efficacy? Good God...

TosaGuy said...

Liberals keep telling people that if science says so then it has to be true and good (i.e. global warming, embryonic stem cell research), but all of a sudden we are to believe in the power of magic herbs, acupuncture and Dr. Warburton's Health Elixer over established medical practice.

All all cases mentioned above...simply follow the money rather than the science or lack thereof.

garage mahal said...

Herbs usually have far fewer side effects than pharmaceuticals.Usually. Look, if those herbs are drugs, test them as drugs and get them approved by the FDA. Don't spread the generic notion that "herbs" are good. That's harebrained hippie talk. And as for acupuncture and Qi Gong: Point me to the scientific studies.

Herbs are bad because hippies use them I assume. So predictable AHouse. Properly prescribed prescription drugs are the 4th leading cause of death in the industrialized world behind heart disease, stroke, and cancer from their deadly side effects, and they rarely cure anything. I'm skeptical of homeopathic medicine myself but I also know drug companies, insurance companies, hospitals, the AMA, and their lobbies spend billions to control medical treatment in this country prescribing harmful drugs when non-toxic natural food supplements in most cases would improve quality of life without the side effects. Vioxx single-handedly caused as many as 139,000 heart attacks, strokes and deaths. That's alot of fucking people.

Much better for pharmaceutical companies to invent diseases and manufacture synthetic cures to patent. Herbs you can't patent see.

siyeh pass said...

I’m as skeptical as the next guy (or gal), and, yeah, I agree that there are plenty of holes in this article, but I’m not a total believer that today’s science has all the answers. There’s plenty western medicine doesn’t know and there are alt-therapies that are proving themselves (meditation, for one – hear UW med school) and are slowly making their ways into our traditional system.

And for what it’s worth, some call it advise, some call it nagging – it really depends on who’s receiving the message, I suppose, and who and what they choose to believe. It seems to me that western medicine focuses on ‘fixing’ and not prevention. How does one measure prevention?

Meade said...

Can't argue with the substance of this post...

But the tone?... hmmm.

I really think someone (and I don't mean Simon) needs to come up there and administer some, you know... therapeutic...

massage.

Original George said...

"As thin as the homeopathic soup that was made by boiling the shadow of a pigeon that had starved to death."

Abe Lincoln, in one of his debates with Douglas, referring to the potency of his opponent's contentions.

Original Mike said...

I’m not a total believer that today’s science has all the answers.

"Science" would be the first to agree with you. And the way to get more answers (presumably, we'll never have them all) is? Do more Science.

These guys don't want to compete in the regular channels. They want a special pot of money put aside just for them. There's a term for this: earmarking

Original Mike said...

homeopathic soup

Think how much money Tom Daschle can save if he gets to replace real drugs with a potion that is diluted so much that it doesn't even have a molecule of the original agent in it. Forget electronic records. The real money saver is in homeopathic medicines.

mrs whatsit said...

I have several old friends -- smart, well-informed, highly-educated people, working in responsible professions -- who passionately believe in homeopathy. (Actually, now that I think about it, my friends fit the profile that Original George found for the Mega-Mushroom buyers quite closely. So do I, for that matter, but I'm not buying!)

I have tried to argue my friends out of the homeopathy thing, but I gave up long ago. Nothing makes a dent. The absence of scientific data supporting its efficacy just proves, and I quote one of my friends, that "Big Pharm has bought all the scientists." Basically, they want to believe in homeopathy, so they do. As far as I can tell it's a form of magical thinking -- that wishing makes it so. They are sitting ducks, sadly, for hucksters like the ones running this "summit."

Tibore said...

" Properly prescribed prescription drugs are the 4th leading cause of death in the industrialized world behind heart disease, stroke, and cancer from their deadly side effects, and they rarely cure anything."

That's a misstatement of the finding. First of all, the actual quote:

"“Medication errors are the fourth leading cause of death among North Americans and cost billions of dollars each year.” - Dr. Neil J. MacKinnon, pharmaceutical researcher "

It's errors in either prescribing them or taking them that causes 100,000 to 160,000 deaths per year. And that's due to a variety of factors, such as open mistakes by the prescribing physician to note interactions with other medicines a patient is taking, non-compliance by the patient, failure/refusal to do proper monitoring to determine the effectiveness of the treatment, failure to notify the doctor of other treatments that may have detrimental effects when combined with the medication, etc. To name just a few. Prescription medications, when taken properly within a proper framework of treatment (which includes properly monitoring the effects of the medications) have low mortality.

The point of that doctor's findings was not to impugn prescription drugs themselves, as you imply Garage. It's to note the failures in the overall delivery of the care when medications are part of that framework. It was also a call to improve caregiving. Again, with emphasis: It was NOT a summary of the lethality of drugs, but the lethality of misuse and mistakes in taking them.

One source to read: Researcher Tackling Costly Issue of Medication Errors

Furthermore: Saying that prescription drugs "rarely cure anything" is a weak, misleading statement. First of all, many drugs are for conditions that cannot be cured; my own diabetes medications are one example of that. My own asthma meds are another. Yet, they're necessary. The fact that they can't cure my conditions doesn't change the fact that I'll suffer and perhaps die without them. So let's not use the lack of a cure as an impugnment against prescription medications, okay? That's a terrible argument.

MadisonMan said...

The problem with multi-author pieces, and this opinion piece is a great exhibit, is that they are all over the place. What is the point of this article? But your analysis I think is spot on.

One of the authors, btw, is someone who has published crackpot articles in my hometown newspaper for years.

Pogo said...

I am a physician, a board-certified internist, and maybe not the brightest bulb in the medicine, but I have been practicing since 1991. I have taught, given lectures across the country, written articles and chapters, but mostly saw patients, thousands of them.

I establish my bona fides only to support that I have rarely if ever seen a critique of medical journalism as well done as Althouse's. Stellar; can't be improved upon.

Chopra, Ornish , Roy, and Weil are selling us something as old as civilization, the chimera of a fountain of youth.

Nearly every sentence in the article could be shown as misleading or completely false. Frankly, it isn't worth my time, and it wouldn't change anyone's mind. I see it fitting in well with the similarly fanciful FDR-Keynsian economic approach to a depression, which is based on the same desire for a magical end to the vagaries of human existence.

The issue isn't one of proof or the lack thereof, it's ideology, and how easily such beliefs can deform even supposedly rational processes such as science. Indeed, a desire to be misled, and an indifference to knowledge.

Revel wrote a book about this problem, The Flight from Truth: The Reign of Deceit in the Age of Information".

""Half the harm that is done in the world is due to people who want to feel important. They don’t want to do harm—but the harm does not interest them . . . or they do not see it . . . because they are absorbed in the endless struggle to think well of themselves."
T.S. Eliot

John said...

There is a funny story about chiropractors and the scientific method at this link. Summary: chiropractors believed that the human body could respond to the difference between glucose (a "bad" sugar according to them) and fructose (a "good" sugar). When the chiropractors knew which sugar they were giving the subjects, the experiment "worked". When it was double-blinded (with neither the subjects nor the chiropractors aware of which sugar was which) the effect mysteriously disappeared.

The reaction of the chiropractors was classic. They accepted that the effect disappeared when double-blind tests were performed: "That's why we no longer do double-blind test."

garage mahal said...

Tibore
My 7 yr daughter has Type 1, she would die without insulin. My father was a scientist, my mother and two sisters both nurses - my point is simply the health care industry that markets and administers drugs in this country is largely a for-profit racket that treats one symptom and creates another. Feeling blue? Take Zoloft! Oh, that made your penis limp? Here, take some Viagra! Feeling suicidal now? Diarrhea? Nausea? Insomnia? Tremors? Dizziness? Here, here and here! In all those cases there are far better natural remedies that would help without the side effects.

By the way FDA scientists are the group that concluded Vioxx caused 140,000 heart attacks, strokes, and deaths. Every drug has a side effect. Aspirin cures your headache by causing internal bleeding.

chickenlittle said...

Rustum Roy used to write cranky letters to Chemical & Engineering News, published by the American Chemical Society, of which I was a member for 25 years. He was always a polemist, even amongst his peers. That said, he also appeared to be an excellent scientist.

I'll just highlight a few things that triggered my suspicions:
..

I share your suspicions, and my opinions are also influenced by my wife, who is a healthcare provider (RN, MSN), and who is an advocate of yoga, and occasional user of chiropractic, acupuncture. I myself carry the stress of life in my head (her words), and am blessed with a relativity healthy constitution (I advocate drinking in moderation).

President-elect Barack Obama and former Sen. Tom Daschle (the nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services) understand that if we want to make affordable health care available to the 45 million Americans who do not have health insurance, then we need to address the fundamental causes of health and illness, and provide incentives for healthy ways of living rather than reimbursing only drugs and surgery.

There is also a terrible problem in hospitals with regard to end of life. Its root cause is a lack of coordinated care at the top level, incentivized by money. I’ll use the case of my own father, who passed away at your own UW hospitals and clinics a number of years ago. He had a recurrent glioma which had previously been treated surgically. The second time around, he was in denial about the recurrence and let treatment go too long. His primary care physician was also woefully unaware (or incurious) about the his former history (there had been switch for insurance reasons, which amounted to a downgrade in level of care). Anyway, my father was diagnosed too late. Despite a round of surgery and radiation, he ultimately died of lung tumor (he never smoked but my mother did), because the tumor had metastasized elsewhere (rare we were told—he could be written up—almost out of consolation—no thanks). My point is, and this is what really gets my wife who now helps terminal patients: those doctor knew about the spot in the X-rays before another million dollar brain surgery was scheduled. My father lived another few weeks, long enough to say goodbyes and settle affairs, but it was like fighting a hydra. In retrospect, I think an overseeing physician could have seen the bigger picture here, and saved everyone money and grief. There is a dearth of such generalists, because there is such an abundance of specialists.

What they have a hard time with is actually losing weight, exercising, and quitting smoking. Don't waste limited health care funds on these characters who only want to nag us about what we already know.

And with government funded healthcare there will come political pressure to drum these lessons in.

It's time to move past the debate of alternative medicine versus traditional medicine, and to focus on what works, what doesn't, for whom, and under which circumstances.

Yes, and this requires physicians and nurses who can respond to these variable circumstances. Specialists are not nimble-minded.

It will take serious government funding to find out, but these findings may help reduce costs and increase health.

That’s from the article you quoted. Last year I signed my family up for high deductible coverage at my work. This means that insurance won’t kick in for routine visits, but we are covered for catastrophes. Even though the monthly premiums are dramatically less for a family of four, I keep putting the same amount of money into a health savings account which accrues money for use on the routine stuff. It rolls over every year and is portable. So I’m still spending the same amount of money, but it’s not disappearing into the blackhole of an insurance company.

Look, if you have a study you want funded, apply for funding. If you just want public support for a nice chunk of cash to go toward promoting alternative medicine, I say no no no no no no no.

I’ve benefited from science funding and witnessed my share of what I’d call soft fraud, but that is another story.

mcg said...

Tibore:

That right there shows that all of the authors has been creating pseudoscientific claims and hawking them as gospel.

Fixed that sentence for you.

Pogo said...

" There is a dearth of such generalists, because there is such an abundance of specialists."

Not quite.
I am a generalist. There are ever fewer of us because it's more lucrative to do something else. I routinely advise students not to go into medicine in the first place (because they will regret it), but if they feel they must do, they must specialize, or they will never pay back their student loans.

"Convential" medicine doesn't have all the answers. Big surprise.

The medical industry has liars and cheats and hucksters, like every other field. Big surprise.

The mortality rate of being human is 100%; completely unpreventable. Big surprise.

People need to grow up and accept the limitations of being human. It ain't nobody's fault you grow old and die. It just is.

reader_iam said...

The proven ones don't get to hang out with the bogus ones, propping up their reputation.

Oh, yes, they do. Isn't that the point?

chickenlittle said...

Pogo wrote: I am a generalist.

I suspected you were special. :)

I agree with you. Families have unrealistic expectations, and there's no end in sight.

Wilber said...

Agree with all your points and especially with the sentiment, cut the bullshit indeed.

Except this: "The proven ones don't get to hang out with the bogus ones, propping up their reputation. " Surely you mean the converse? The bogus ones don't get to hang out with the proven ones, right? It's the bogus ones that these self-righteous creeps are trying to slip past scientific scrutiny.

sierra said...

garage mahal says: "In all those cases there are far better natural remedies that would help without the side effects." The problem is such expressed belief by itself is insuffient to convince a reasonable person. "Aspirin cures your headache by causing internal bleeding." Nonsense: aspirin cures your headache by constricting your blood vessels. Taking too much aspirin or taking unbuffered aspirin on an empty stomach can ulcerate your stomach lining as a well known side effect. Drug companies aren't selling you aspirin in order to create more problems for you.

Shanna said...

(Yes, 'highly educated' women will buy mega-mushroom salves.)

Origins has makeup too!

garage mahal said...

The problem is such expressed belief by itself is insuffient to convince a reasonable person.

Dying from Vioxx or looking at a sedated 10 yr old's glazed over eyes pumped full of Ridilin is sufficient enough for me.

reader_iam said...

I confess a weakness for Origins' creamy cleanser and a couple of their other products, because they smell so good. (I LOVED their baby products, before they discontinued the line; the butt balm--not the official name--was the only one that didn't make my kid's ass break out, back in the day.)

However, budget cuts long ago eliminated that indulgence from my life, though my mother-in-law sometimes sends Origins bath stuff at Christmas.

Ann Althouse said...

"'The proven ones don't get to hang out with the bogus ones, propping up their reputation.' Oh, yes, they do. Isn't that the point?"

I mean to say that rationally, keeping them together is impermissible. I know the authors of the article are trying to do that.

Shanna said...

The mortality rate of being human is 100%; completely unpreventable. Big surprise.

There is a local commercial that asserts that the “mortality rate” of minorities is twice that of other groups. Not sure what it’s for but it bugs me every time I hear it.

raf said...

This illustrates one effect of highly centralized authority. It is more effective -- and lucrative -- to apply (political) pressure to the authority to get your way than it is to actually deliver something useful. I see this in private companies frequently when the top guy reserves too much decision authority to him/herself. At the federal level it is magnified enormously.

Pogo said...

"Dying from Vioxx..."

This idea is far too simplistic, and now you've repeated the claim.

There are a very limited number of pain medicines.
Acetaminophen, aspirin and NSAIDs (like Naproxen, ibuprofen), and narcotics.

Some agents like gabapentin and amitriptyline are usful in limited cases, primarily neuropathies. SSRIs like cymbalta seem to be useful in chronic pain disorders, although modestly so.

Vioxx and other cox 2 inhibitors are/were like NSAIDs, perhaps offering a little less of the bleeding complications. The increased incideNce of heart attacks was real, although not a huge change.

But the problem is, taking this drug away meant that many older patients who had for the first time found pain relief from bad joints, like osteoarthritis, have nothing they can take. Tylenol doesn't work, aspirin causes too much bleeding, narcotics cause nausea and constipation and sedation, and gabapentin fails here. Massage, accupuncture, yoga? Get serious.

Many old people would gladly trade a heart attack risk for less pain.

But we know what's better for them. Suffering!

sierra said...

garage says: "Dying from Vioxx or looking at a sedated 10 yr old's glazed over eyes pumped full of Ridilin is sufficient enough for me." That Vioxx might have bad side effects or that "Ridilin" [sic: Ritalin] may be misapplied or overprescribed is not surprising. However, you said: "In all those cases [typically treated with conventional drugs] there are far better natural remedies that would help without the side effects," an assertion for which you provide no evidence.

TMink said...

"Your brain may grow so many new neurons that it could get measurably bigger in only a few months."

Wow, I had read recently that minor adult neurogenesis was a new finding and quite hopeful. This sounds completely exaggerated.

Concerning the requirement for taxpayer funding, how did big pharm do all their research without government funding?

Trey

garage mahal said...

Pogo
In most cases would a doctor that gets paid on the prescriptions he writes suggest a herbal remedy with little or no side effects that would do the trick the same as a synthetic drug [that makes him no money], or prescribe a drug that does make him/her money? This isn't rocket science.

TreeJoe said...

There's so much in this post and comments that I would like to respond to, but here's a few items:

1. Prevention - Tell me something: If living a healthy lifestyle is so important to long-term health (it is), then why is it the the biggest standardized health education program (the physical educators from grades 1-12) is considering one of the first stops on the cutting ground of school budgets, a joke profession, and usually allocated about 1/3rd to 1/5th the amount of time as "core classes".

These teachers (my wife included) have ~180 days, for 12 years straight, to teach students from a young age about healthy eating, healthy living, exercise, health care, disease, etc.

People - The largest, most robust infrastructure for early health education and preventable disease knowledge already exists...you just don't use it and don't take it seriously.

The YMCA had it right when it was founded: Body, Mind, and Spirit. Equal parts in the pyramid. I'm fine not teaching much about Spiritual matters in public schools, but the Body needs a far greater emphasis and level of importance.


Watershed moment: It is a watershed, in that this meeting represents tne mainstream scientific community meeting with the wild-west of the alternative medicine pathway.

Accupuncture and Hypnosis have been used to anesthetize patients prior to surgery, and have a good success record in studies. Think about how much less expensive it would be, and how much less potential for lethal side effects there would be, if 30-40% of the population didn't need general anesthestia for more routine procedures.

Herbs? Yes, St. John's Wort has shown similar efficacy with less side effects than some popular anti-depressants. Why isn't it FDA regulated again?

Here's the thing....if you want PRIVATELY funded longitudinal research on homeopathic medication, then it needs to be patented.

To run a multi-country blinded study on thousands of patients across hundred's of doctor's office for a suitable length of time to establish side effects and effective, costs several hundred million dollars. I can tell you why if you would like.

(remember, this is 1 study, the FDA requires a minimum of 2 studies showing acceptable safety and effectiveness of a treatment option)

Oh wait, perhaps you can't patent acupuncture? Qi Gong? Shiatsu massage? Herb-grown Homeopathics?

Or perhaps you would like the U.S. government to spend $400 million to maybe $1-2 billion studying the effectiveness of an alternative medication? Per treatment option (think about all the options).

Oh, and should the government then own the licensing rights to that treatment to recoup it's costs? Will the EU accept the study, since the EU wasn't represented? Or will the EU chip in?

If the government funds the study, should the FDA be the regulatory agency to create, review and approve the protocol....which dictates everything that is done to a patient within the study? Oh wait, where do Institutional Review Boards (IRBs) get their mandate from?

Pharmaceutical companies exist for the following purposes:

Finding new treatment options for disease states, and then selling them at a profit sufficient to continue growing their operations.


Usually several billion dollars needs to be spent before they find a drug that is effective, safe, and marketable. And this is before they ever know if it's going to be approved.

So now they've got this drug. What does it treat? Let's say it treats late-stage lung cancer.

And 50,000 patients per year take 60 doses on average (alot of these patients still die soon, or the treatment isn't effective for them so they try something else). 300,000 doses per year.

The patent will expire in 5 years. So the drug company estimates that it will get 1,500,000 doses sold prior to generic competition. Or maybe one fo their competitors will come out with an even better drug in 2 years, but they still need to recoup the $2 billion spent developing this drug.

So lets say they really only have 750,000 doses which they can count on...that means they pretty much would need to charge $266 per dose.

Now this is incredibly generic and doesn't take into count so many factors.

But that is a quick rundown of the business model of a pharmaceutical company.

1. Tens or Hundreds of thousands of compounds are created and tested for any potential effectiveness against a variety of diseases. Some are found, you patent them. (Year 1)

2. Lets imagine a dozen are found to be effective and safe in animal testing. (Year 2)

3. Let says 6-7 are found be to safe in healthy, young males/females (phase 1 clinical trials). (Year 3/4)

4. Only 1 of those drugs makes it through another 6-7 years of clinical trials (phase 2 and phase 3) while still showing an acceptable safety profile and sufficient effectiveness to be BETTER than currently available alternatives (maybe Year 12-13)


5. And gets FDA approved. (Year 13-14)

5. Now market it before your patent runs out or a competitor offers something better.



There are certainly evil people in the world, and some of them work in the pharmaceutical world. The business model is not ideally situated to develop the best treatment options or cure disease.

But the U.S. is responsible for the vas majority of the world's researched treatment options.

I'm not averse to developing a better system (boutique biotechs financed by wealthy people with uncured diseases are the newest thing popping up), but I think there is a severe lack of understanding about the current system.

Joe

TreeJoe said...

Garage mahal - Would a doctor whose livelihood depends upon the healthiness of his patients prescribe an "herbal remedy" with no proven, studied record of safety or efficacy, instead of a drug with a known profile?

This isn't rocket science.

FYI - Plenty of doctors prescribe St. John's Wort, which has been researched and published in major medical journals.

They don't make money on prescriptions as a standard, they do make money on their patients coming back....and recommending them to their friends and family....and not bringing malpractice suits against them.

But hey, you've got it all figured out.

Joe

Original Mike said...

I hope that monster chip on your shoulder isn't due to a personal tragedy, garage. I really do.

chickenlittle said...

Original Mike said: I hope that monster chip on your shoulder isn't due to a personal tragedy, garage. I really do.

I think it's chronic liberalism. He showed signs of recovery yesterday, so I hope he keeps it up.

Smilin' Jack said...

I think alternative medicine is great. It's cheap and easy to treat morons by giving them dried weeds and sticking pins in them, and that leaves more real medicine for the rest of us. Darwin would smile.

Go Deepak!

ricpic said...

Aspirin cures your headache by causing internal bleeding.

Pshaw.

Schorsch said...

Here's a nice treatment of some of the claims of "Alternative Medicine"
supporters:
http://www.theness.com/neurologicablog/?p=448#more-448

There's more on that blog, just follow the links.

Paul Zrimsek said...

Plenty of doctors prescribe generics as well. Perhaps the greedheads are too stooopid to realize that they aren't patented any more?

Christy said...

But St. John's Wort breaks me out in a rash! You can't prescribe something that makes people break out, can you?

My favorite alternative medicine:
As a kid, my pediatrician told me to treat that plantar wart by taking a nail brush and scrubbing it with soap and water for 15 minutes in the morning and then again at night. Granted, I rarely had the patience for the full 15 minutes, but it did get scrubbed twice daily and it did go away. I hear tell some people actually have surgery to get rid of those bad guys.

Chemjobber said...

This scientist thinks you're a treasure, Althouse.

Original George said...

Weill is also in the cosmetics industry, my wife tells me......

Plantidote™ Mega-Mushroom Face Serum
To optimize skin's defenses

Plantidote™ Mega-Mushroom Face Cleanser

Renews skin's radiance and clarity. With daily use skin will look and feel calmer, healthier and less stressed.

1.7 fl. oz./50 ml US$66.00
3.4 fl. oz./100 ml US$110.00

Do you have skin sensitivity? Extreme dryness? Redness? Hyperpigmentation? Lines? Wrinkles? Puffiness? Are you a flusher-blusher? All of these diverse skin conditions have something in common, what Dr. Weil calls “the fire within.” Sometimes it’s barely perceptible, but it’s there, proceeding unnoticeably until it sets into motion a cascade of unwanted events.

This highly potent treatment is the heart of Dr. Weil's integrative approach. It features his proprietary blend of Hypsizygus ulmarius, Cordyceps and Reishi Mushrooms, Ginger, Turmeric and Holy Basil. And due to its lightweight liquid form it easily penetrates the skin's outermost layer. Use it twice daily and you'll soon see a renewed radiance and clarity. Your skin will look and feel calmer, healthier and less stressed. Patent Pending

Ann Althouse said...

Garage is a great example of the similarity between the liberal and the hippie mind.

garage mahal said...

Not sure if calling me a hippie is supposed to be an insult as surely it isn't. Maybe a post comparing hippie predictions versus wingnut predictions the past 20 yrs is in order? That'd be fun! Pretty sure hippies would be spiking that one in the end zone :) Whatya say Ann.

George said...

Ah, the alternative medicine nutcakes. They've banished the Christian God from their lives but are unable to live with the result. Thus they latch onto all sorts of pseudoscience nonsense to take the place of their missing God.

John Lynch said...

I see the Althouse BS detector is still working wonderfully.

Meade said...

pssst, Garage -- just do it, man. Bring us your exhaustive study on hippie predictions.

Express yourself, be interesting, digress creatively, and, above all, amuse us out of our skulls.

Don't wait for the Professor to assign you the extra credit homework - As Jerry Rubin would have said -- do it! If she isn't bored, who knows, this could be your big shot at the front page.

Go, man, GO!

(btw: How DID Jerry Rubin's predictions play out?)

chuck b. said...

The drug approval process is ill-equipped to accommodate something as variable as an herb.

Consider that most drugs are single molecules either purified from natural sources or synthesized synthetically from petroleum-based starting materials.

Your Viagra pills are just billions and billions of molecules of sildenafil, or, more precisely, 1-[[3-(6,7-dihydro-1-methyl-7-oxo-3-propyl-1H-pyrazolo[4,4-d]pyrimidin-5-yl)-4-ethoxyphenyl]sulfonyl]-4-methylpiperazine, pressed together with a many billions other molecules of inert substances used to hold everything together in a pill form and make it colorful.

An herb on the other hand is a bazillion different things with varyiable quantities of everything depending on the unique DNA of every single plant in the batch, growing conditions, soil properties, etc, etc.

We usually make decisions/progress in science by varying one variable at a time. An herb is much too much to be very clear about insofar as drug approvals go.

There is a section in the Code of Federal Regulations colloquially referred to as GRASS--Generally Regarded as Safe Substances--which enumerates a long list of simple substances and botanical matter that mankind has been ingesting or applying more or less forever to treat every different ailments. These materials are bottled up for sale as elixirs and tinctures at your crunchy organic food store, and/or advertised on Rush Limbaugh. No legal authority governs their production or quality control. In and of themselves, the usefulness or worthiness of these materials is beyond the scope of the FDA approval's process.

Companies can and do run clinical trials on herbal extracts and will frequently say in their advertising that "[whatever extract] was clincially tested and shown to work". That's fine, and it sounds good, but these claims mean nothing because the FDA doesn't review a clinical trial unless you ask them to and that costs money. Smart money doesn't bother because the FDA will give such poorly controlled studies a thumbs down.

Alternative medicine is a big, big, BIG money in the US. Billions and billions. I'm not even sure what the number is. They have the resources to lobby govt for more money. People should be very wary. People think Big Pharma is bad because it's so big. Well, beware of Big Herbs!!!

Meanwhile, Big and Little Pharma's in a slump. Several interesting new drugs were approved last year however. We'll see what happens.

Pharma's problem, as I see it, is two-fold. One is scientific. The big drug targets that can work on huge numbers of people without significant adverse effects have all been knocked out. The low hanging fruit has been picked. Finding something new and big right now is a real challenge. Not to mention jaw-droppingly expensive.

That leaves smaller projects. Drugs targeting diseases in smaller patient populations. And here we immediately run up against the genetic differences between groups of people that limit the safety of certain drugs. You might experience side effects to Vioxx that I won't because we're different. Very, very hard to design clincial studies to pin that down and figure out the complexities of all that.

Essentially the market hasn't figured out to develop drugs for small populations. And then government steps in and distorts the market with various kinds of subsidies and business incentives.

It's a real knot.

Paul Zrimsek said...

Harmony and understanding
Sympathy and trust abounding
No more falsehoods or derisions
Golden living dreams of visions
Mystic crystal revelation
And the mind's true liberation
Aquarius! Aquarius!


As forecasters, the hippies fall somewhere between Larry Cramer and Paul Ehrlich.

Shanna said...

Plenty of doctors prescribe generics as well. Perhaps the greedheads are too stooopid to realize that they aren't patented any more?

Yeah, and a lot of doctors give out free sample drugs to patients so they don’t even have to get a prescription.

I do like Origins for some things and own Dr. Weil's book.

Original Mike said...

I'd offer my predictions from my hippie days, if I could remember any.

TreeJoe said...

Garage Mahal,

I take it you are not a fan of willow bark extract, huh?

That must be one of those big, bad Pharma-driven evil substances.

Oh wait, willow bark extract was found to contain acetylsalicylic acid, which was making everyone feel better. Synthesized and sold as aspirin by Bayer.

Oh, but it has the anti-coagulant effects of 2 cups of coffee in OTC doses? People ARE bleeding out from chewing on willow bark!

Joe

garage mahal said...

Meade
I think you've been prescribed too many boner pills, your erection lasting way past 4 hours, and as much as Ann loves to be complimented and stroked, I just don't get the feeling she's that into you. As far as the prediction gambit, I say bring it on! Maybe take the top 10 conservative blogs versus the top 10 liberal blogs and do some comparing. I think it would be fun.

TreeJoe said...

Chuck B.

You sound intimately familiar with the industry, so I thought I'd point out that there are a fair amount of treatment options that are not just a simple compound.

Biologics, to start. But to your point, they are freshly man made and therefore patentable.

Joe

Tibore said...

"Aspirin cures your headache by causing internal bleeding."

Aspirin binds cylooxygenase-2 and interferes with the inflamation response to pain, thereby lessening it. That's how it "cures your headache"; bleeding is a side effect, not the primary effect of the medication. I think you meant to write "Aspirin cures your headache but causes internal bleeding", and if phrased that way, that's true. Thing is, in many cases the risk of bleeding is known and acceptable in exchange for the benefit of the primary effects, so merely pointing out the existence of a side effect is not enough of a reason to denigrate the use of the medication.

Not all medications cause side effects or other symptoms that are truly deleterious or require further treatment and expenditure. Glipizide's been helping me bring down my blood sugars to normal levels, and the doctor's aim is to get me to the point where I no longer need it. So the side effects of long term use are avoided, but the short term gain of helping reduce glucose levels are achieved. Loratadine and Singulair help me breathe, and I'm not even feeling any side effects from those. And the first one's not even prescription. So here are three cases - with me - in taking medications and not having any issues with side effects.

Furthermore, this whole claim of "natural" remedies being safer or having no side effects needs to be proven. Herbs can harm just as much as manufactured drugs can. You can take the manufactured medication digitalis as long as you follow dosing guidelines rigorously, but try ingesting raw foxglove without getting poisoned. The point is not whether something comes from a drug manufacturer - I could care less about where a drug comes from - the point is what treatments clearly demonstrate their effectiveness repeatedly? If a "natural" remedy proves effective, then subject it to a series of blinded studies and document the rate of effectiveness, the proper doses, and the side effects. Don't merely presume that something with the label "natural" is safe. Safety is only determined with certainty after study, not merely because it carries the label "natural".

Look, I don't like the overmarketing and cultural reliance on psychotropic medications either, but to use isolated issues to make an overall point about the state of drug manufacturing and prescription use in America is a reach. Some cases exist of improper distribution of Ritalin; how does that impugn the pediatric standards of care, or the drug manufacturer who have published clear guidelines on when it should be prescribed? Pogo's already addressed the issue with Vioxx; I don't need to add to what a trained and experienced physician has already written. My point is that this impugnment of prescription medications and the industry behind it is being presented too amorphously and without any real support. It's hard to take such arguments seriously, especially when combined with incorrect claims.

Do we want to demonstrate natural remedies effectiveness? Subject them to study. Do we want to demonstrate the danger of prescription medications? Provide the citations, as well as the context of what conditions the individual drug's risks are weighed against the potential benefits. We all know that every drug has a side effect, but as Pogo pointed out, the proper employment of them weighs the risk of such effects against the benefits received. Don't just fire off an impugnment of the entire industry or pharmaceutical list of medications simply on the argument of one withdrawn medication (which, BTW, was withdrawn after study demonstrated its risk. Show me an equivalent situation with herbal or natural cures, and I'll concede that the field is finally catching up to the standards of modern science) and opinions regarding a couple of others. And please don't try to counter with vague, unsupported bromides about the supposed lack of natural remedies side effects. Just because they're unstudied, undocumented and not understood doesn't mean they don't exist.

Tibore said...

"mcg said...
Tibore:

That right there shows that all of the authors has been creating pseudoscientific claims and hawking them as gospel.

Fixed that sentence for you."


I was trying to be fair by only singling out one of the authors. But you're probably closer to the mark with that.

Joe said...

Accupuncture and Hypnosis have been used to anesthetize patients prior to surgery, and have a good success record in studies.

No they don't. They're quack medicine and don't work in legitimate double-blind studies.

St. John's Wort doesn't work either, as shown in well constructed double-blind studies. Most herbal medicines are completely fraudulent. Many non-herbal medicines are also essentially fraudulent--they may work, but their efficacy is barely measurable above a placebo.

chuck b. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Original Mike said...

I could care less about where a drug comes from - the point is what treatments clearly demonstrate their effectiveness repeatedly?

Ahh, but for some where it comes from trumps all other considerations.

chuck b. said...

Chuck B.

You sound intimately familiar with the industry, so I thought I'd point out that there are a fair amount of treatment options that are not just a simple compound.

Biologics, to start. But to your point, they are freshly man made and therefore patentable.

***

I am both a medical researcher and a patent agent.


You are correct that there are compound formulations. The vast majority of drugs however are single-agent substances which doctors prescribe in combinations called coctails.

Biologicals are not usually compound formulations, they are just very large, complex molecules--proteins, enzymes, antibodies, etc.

Drugs are generally either small molecule or large molecule. Examples of familiar small molecule drugs include aspirin, penicillin, Lipitor, Viagra, Ambien. These are usually given orally.

Biologicals are large molecule drugs. Their names in suffixes like -mab and -ase. They are very complicated large molecules, but they are usually formulations single substances, and administered by infusion.

gbarto said...

A few years ago, a neighbor was looking at painful and expensive surgery to remove excess bone mass from his shoulder to restore partial mobility. At a friend's insistence, he saw a witch doctor. She felt the shoulder, looked in his eyes and declared that he had "too much iron." She gave him a chelating tea and the mass went away on its own. His son, a research biochemist, eventually worked out exactly how it worked.

My neighbor got a lot better result for a lot less money from the witch doctor than what conventional medicine had on offer. Does that mean we should all go to witch doctors? Of course not. For all we know, my neighbor is the only person she effectively treated and diagnosed that year. What we do need to do, however, is to see where her approach and remedy (attacking the cause of the bone mass instead of the mass itself) can be integrated into conventional medicine. As TreeJoe makes clear, that's hard to do given the way research is currently funded.

There's no question that Weill and Co. are mainly looking for their share of the federal/insurance payout pie. But that doesn't mean that some of their stuff isn't the right way to go. The hard part is figuring out how to finance the research to determine what's efficacious. It's not fair to the pharmaceutical companies for the public to pay when they have to pay to develop their drugs. But it's not fair to put the whole burden on an alternative medicine establishment that can't patent its remedies. In other words, this isn't about junk science vs. real science; it's about creating new incentive structures for research in order to distinguish alternative medicine from quackery while bringing consumers the best remedies and prices and researchers their fair share of the loot for doing so.

Tibore said...

"garage mahal said...
Pogo
In most cases would a doctor that gets paid on the prescriptions he writes suggest a herbal remedy with little or no side effects that would do the trick the same as a synthetic drug [that makes him no money], or prescribe a drug that does make him/her money? This isn't rocket science."


I'm sorry to be such a stickler about this, but please provide support for your claim that doctors get paid on the prescriptions they write. As I illustrated above, my own doctor is following a treatment plan trying to get me off a medication.

And regarding the choice between prescription drugs and natural cures: Why is it that doctors first prescribe exercise instead of various drugs for weight loss, cardiac issues, and the like? Why do primary care physicians often recommend gargling with salt water for sore throats instead of prescribing medications for that? Writing off physicians as merely prescribing for their pocketbooks - as opposed to other, logical reasons such as having understanding of what prescriptions do in given situations - is silly. I understand that there will be bad apples in the profession who do exactly that, but you're not providing any evidence besides an argument from cynicism that it is indeed the dominant practice.

Original Mike said...

Tibore asked: Why is it that doctors first prescribe exercise instead of various drugs for weight loss, cardiac issues, and the like? Why do primary care physicians often recommend gargling with salt water for sore throats instead of prescribing medications for that?

My experience, too. Garage must have been unlucky in his choice/assignment of doctors over the years.

Meade said...

garage mahal said...
Meade
I think you've been prescribed too many boner pills, your erection lasting way past 4 hours, and as much as Ann loves to be complimented and stroked, I just don't get the feeling she's that into you.


Are you high again, Garage? You are, aren't you -- self-prescribing those hippie herbs of yours again aren't you?

Not that into me?

Puh! Garage, garage, garage...

Ask her for yourself, dude -- she can't get enough of my love, babe. I blow her mind. She screams my name.

Meade said...

...ever since I showed her my green pants.

Chuck Pelto said...

TO: Ann Althouse, et al.
RE: Heh

" It's time to move past the debate of alternative medicine versus traditional medicine, and to focus on what works, what doesn't, for whom, and under which circumstances. -- Deepak Chopra, Dean Ornish, Rustum Roy, and Andrew Weil

Yeah, let's call it all science, and let's just do real science, and cut the bullshit." -- Althouse

Gee. If only 'science' were REALLY apolitical in the first place.

Look at the Global Warming kerfuffle.

Then again, if we want to get SERIOUS about 'alternate medicine', please explain why it is that researchers at Purdue discovered that something in graviola, a broadleaf evergreen plant that grows in the Amazon rain forest, kills cancer cells in tissue while leaving healthy cells alone in 1997....

....and yet no further research is going on with the plant. [Note: I understand that certain drug companies have been trying desperately to make a synthetic compound that they could market, but have, for 11 years, failed.]

Imagine the interesting effect on the trillion dollar cancer 'treatment' industry if all those oncologists and radiologists had to give up their lucrative practices in order to open up a 'tea shop'.

Regards,

Chuck(le)
[Money talks.....]

The Crack Emcee said...

Every one of these guys is a quack, and a cultist. I sincerely don't know why you guys are ignoring it when it's right in front of your eyes:

Chopra is a follower of the Maharishi.

Orish is a follower of Sri Swami Satchidananda.

Gupta is tied to the Raelians.

Roy is a water-selling homeopath.

Folks, "The One" - the "Lightworker" - is a Oprah-sucking, gullibly cultish, fool.

You may find me shrill but I'll remind you: you miss cultism every time it rears it's head. Hell, Jim Jones (of The People's Temple) was friends with Harvey Milk, Willie Brown, Jerry Brown, George Moscone, and also put in charge of San Francisco's Housing Authority.

Your Black Muslim Bakery - which recently killed Chauncey Bailey, the only journalist that chose to seriously investigate it - was found to have letters of recommendation from every major political figure in the area, including Ron Dellums and Barbara Lee.

Wake up, people: the cults have got Obama and Co.'s number (through Oprah) and it's time to brush them back.

God, I'm sick of this.

Ralph said...

My step-mother, who was both an RN and a hs/college math teacher, has enjoyed ill health for decades. I've never known her to have a migraine when there was something she wanted to do.

She's found most of the quack doctors and treatments in the country, had her fillings replaced because of mercury seepage, and ruined her colon with prescription painkillers and other drugs. Every ten weeks for the last decade she goes to La Jolla from DC for special treatment. We're not expecting much of an inheritance.

What's funny is that she complains about all the drugs her even-nuttier sister takes, and then goes to the same doctor for her fix.

JohnAnnArbor said...

Maybe a post comparing hippie predictions versus wingnut predictions the past 20 yrs is in order?

"Imagine, if you will, someone who read only the Reader's Digest between 1950 and 1970, and someone in the same period who read only The Nation or the New Statesman. Which reader would have been better informed about the realities of Communism? The answer, I think, should give us pause. Can it be that our enemies were right?" --noted wingnut Susan Sontag, 1982

Tibore said...

"Accupuncture and Hypnosis have been used to anesthetize patients prior to surgery, and have a good success record in studies. Think about how much less expensive it would be, and how much less potential for lethal side effects there would be, if 30-40% of the population didn't need general anesthestia for more routine procedures."

I'm not informed about hypnosis, but as far as acupunture being demonstrated as an alternative to anesthesia: No. Studies show the opposite. The only study to demonstrate any benefit to acupuncture at all was Kotani et. al., and that study indicated that accupuncture prior to surgery could help lessen the amount of postoperative pain pallatives needed. It certainly didn't demonstrate that such a procedure could be done with acupuncture in place of anesthesia. And on top of that, metastudies have yet to demonstrate that these findings are consistent with other observations of acupuncture used in surgeries.

The lack of acupuncture's efficacy was also observed in animal cases. The book "Complementary and Alternative Veterinary Medicine Considered" had a section where the author described witnessing the practice of acupuncture in place of anesthesia for surgery on a rabbit. No anesthetic effect was observed.

This myth about acupuncture as a substitute for anesthesia stems from a Chinese demonstration back in the '80s. Information on that was written up here:
http://www.csicop.org/si/9607/china.html. Quote:

"TCM had been the treatment of the Chinese people since ancient times,3 but having gained Mao's somewhat cynical imprimatur, TCM's leaders began to amass increasing political power in the new China. Western journalists who accompanied Richard Nixon during his historic rapprochement with the Chinese government were intensively courted by the TCM establishment, as were later delegations of Western doctors (China Report 1983; Skrabanek 1985). These delegations were shown major surgery being performed with acupuncture anesthesia. When columnist James Reston required an emergency appendectomy during Nixon's visit, he was widely, though erroneously, believed to have been given only acupuncture as a pain killer during the surgery. It was not until much later that it was revealed that the Chinese surgical patients observed by foreign delegations had been preselected for high pain tolerance and heavily indoctrinated beforehand.4 It was also disclosed that these demonstration cases were routinely administered surreptitious doses of morphine in an intravenous drip that supposedly contained only hydrating and nourishing fluids (Keng and Tao 1985). In addition, it has since come to light that much of the apparently objective and well-controlled research on TCM emanating from Chinese medical schools during the tumultuous era of the cultural revolution (1966-1976) was falsified at the behest of the hospitals' scientifically unqualified political commissars to ensure that the "research" would support the party line."

Original Mike said...

WOW! Cancer was cured in 1997. Who knew?

chickenlittle said...

JohnAnnArbor: That Sontag quote sounds pretty cool if you read it aloud using Rod Serling's clenched diction from the Twilight Zone. do do doo do, do do doo do

Chuck Pelto said...

TO: The 'Crack' Emcee
RE: Homeopathy

"Roy is a water-selling homeopath." -- The Crack Emcee

I got a little bit of 'scientific research' YOU and anyone else who has the gonads, can try in your own home.

[1] Buy a bottle of cantharis, 6X to 30C 'miracle dilution' should work.
[2] Bring your oven to 400°F.
[3] Put a stainless steel skillet or pan in the over.
[4] Bake the skillet at 400°F for one hour.
[5] Remove the skillet from the oven and put it on the top of the stove.....USING YOUR BARE HANDS.
[6] After you've stopped dancing around the room and screaming obscenitites, take four tablets of cantharis of the 'miracle dilution' you've purchase. The process is to put them UNDER your tongue and let them dissolve on their own. Do NOT swollow them.

If your experience is the same as MINE—and this has happened to me on four occasions, but strictly by accident—the pain will go away in 15 minutes and there will be no scar tissue.

First instance while cooking for an Alpha Course dinner. Someone put a stainless steel pan in front of me to dish up food from without telling me where the pan had been; straight out of the hot oven. Instant 2d degree burns. Since I had no cantharis with me at the church, I had to wait until I finished the supper and drove home. All the while in very interesting pain in both hands. Fifteen minutes after the cantharis, no pain. Blisters went away without any scar tissue.

Another instance, a small fire in my candle making shop. Hot wax got on the electric burners were had been red hot. I tried to put the small fire out by smothering it with a towel. Unfortunately, I had not covered my hand completely and a pinkie finger came into contact with the burner element. Instant 3d degree burn. But a nice crispy mahogony brown.

Took cantharis. Pain gone in 15 minutes. Pain tried to return two hours later. More cantharis, no more pain. No scar tissue.

Try it yourself....

However, I DO recommend you try it in treating an accident instead of on purpose.

A bottle of cantharis can be had at any good Vitamin store, e.g., Vitamin Cottage, for about $7. Is that too much to invest in first aid? Or an experiment?

Enjoy....

Chuck(le)

P.P.P.S. If anyone can tell me how scar tissue not forming after a severe burn is a psychosomatic response or a placebo effect, I'd REALLY like to hear it.

Tibore said...

To TreeJoe, for clarity: I understand that you're not actually in favor of pseudoscience at the expense of proven treatments. I was merely addressing the one single claim, that's all, because I happened to have a bit of information about it. Don't take that prior post as an attack; rather, I was just clearing up the air about the myth regarding acupuncture's use in surgery.

The Crack Emcee said...

Chuck Pelto,

And what that has to do with cult networks, I don't know,...

Chuck Pelto said...

TO: Original Mike
RE: Indeed

"WOW! Cancer was cured in 1997. Who knew?" -- Original Mike

Who knew? The researchers at Purdue, knew.

Check this report out.....

Are you suggesting it doesn't 'work'?

Regards,

Chuck(le)
[God made the Earth and everything therein for Man.]

TreeJoe said...

Tibore -

It's actually my mistake. I quickly refreshed my memory and found that yes, Hypnosis is a solid, researched option for anesthetic minimalization. And that acupuncture appears to be a good choice for POST-OP pain management (i.e. analgesia).

Here's an interesting article I found when I did my google search: http://www.cja-jca.org/cgi/content/full/49/2/220

Didn't do any background research on it, but found it interesting that it took the approach of 'Yes, we're skeptical of hypnosis, but after reading this source we feel it's well-founded as a potential opportunity for our patients to have, and is about as well understand as anesthesia.


I'm involved in clinical research and have been directly involved, across a wide variety of therapeutic areas, for about 6 years now. I'm not a scientist nor MD.

And I try not to be close-minded in either direction. I grew up very much thinking that diet, exercise, and psychological self-help could cure just about anything...

I've learned that's not true, but that the general public tends to either want a cure-all or nothing-at-all.

I try to help find the middle ground :)

Joe

Chuck Pelto said...

TO: The Crack Emcee
RE: Loss of Train of Thought Problems?

"And what that has to do with cult networks, I don't know,..." -- The Crack Emcee

Nothing to do with 'quacks'. But you were disparaging homeopathy. And I offered you a simple little experiment you can do at home to prove to yourself whether or not homeopathic techniques work.

Now you 'whine' and 'dissemble'?

Regards,

Chuck(le)
P.S. If you try it and it works, would you have the courage to admit there's been a 'misunderstanding'?

Original Mike said...

Chuck Pelto:

Do it again without the cantharis and get back to us with the results.

Sincerely,
The FDA

JohnAnnArbor said...

Original Mike's right. You need a control group.

Swilcinburn said...

Amen Ann!

These bozos are the ones behind the door labeled "quacks". Sad thing is the mainstream media just sucks this crap up. Some of the therapies they list have some use and should by all means be tested, but generally this is a bunch of "third way", "new age" hokum.

I just love the "Chronic Pain" stuff. This is also known as depression, getting old, and bad health habits finally manifesting themselves. Most of this "new age" nonsense is just another systematic way to avoid responsibility/accountability for one's pain ... while a whole new class of charlatans get rich.

The one possible benefit is that people might take fewer prescription drugs. Accupuncture is probably better for you than an Oxycontin habit!

Original Mike said...

Are you suggesting it doesn't 'work'?

Yeah, that's what I'm suggesting. I, of course, don't know. How could I. But I have a hard time believing that Purdue researchers can't get a grant for a promising cure for cancer.

TreeJoe said...

Chuck Pelto -

Thanks for the link. I enjoyed the read.

I find it fascinating that people read that and think "Cure for cancer" but apparently don't notice this:

"McLaughlin notes, however, that the effect on drug-resistant cells has been studied only in laboratory cultures and will require additional study in animals before it can be tested in humans."

Do you know the process of drug development? Lots and lots of substances are found with do great things in lab cultures, then they don't do anything in animals. Some that do stuff in animals are tested on humans and found to do horrible things to humans. And those are healthy humans, not sick ones.

A cure for cancer wasn't found. A promising substance was found.

Joe

P.s. Chemotherapy does great things to cancer cells in a lab culture too.

Chuck Pelto said...

TO: Original [gutless(?)] Mike
RE: Been There....

"Do it again without the cantharis and get back to us with the results." -- Original Mike

...done that.

All done in the 30+ years of life before being introduced to homeopathy. And the results were the same as YOU experienced if you ever had a second-degree burn.

So....

....tell me why I should satisfy your sadistic nature in order to prove something you won't accept unless you experience it yourself?

Too 'cheap' to spend $7 on an bit of 'scientific resaerch' for yourself?

Or are you afraid you might be 'wrong'?

Regards,

Chuck(le)
[There is none so blind as he who will not 'experiment'.]

Tibore said...

"Original Mike said...
Chuck Pelto:

Do it again without the cantharis and get back to us with the results.

Sincerely,
The FDA

3:27 PM
JohnAnnArbor said...
Original Mike's right. You need a control group."


Control group?? It takes more than that. There must be a demonstrated replicable effect, not a one off testimonial like Chuck has given. Above and beyond that, if correlation between treatment and the elimination of the affliction is established, then causation must be established. If things get that far - one hell of a whopping big "IF" - then mechanism must be explained. And I'd love to know how exactly a 30C dilution of anything is supposed to have an effect on the human body.

There are a bunch of stages to go before cantharis is demonstrated as being a real treatment for burns. Setting up a control group as a comparison is merely one of many.

The Crack Emcee said...

Chuckie P,

If you're going to try to convince me "water has a memory," or some such, Dude, you're not paying attention:

I ain't TreeJoe trying to keep an open mind:

Con men disgust me as they should everyone but most wait until they've lost something to react. I lost everything already because of your kind and I know you people kill. I find nothing harmless about this discussion and have the proof to back it up. You just have anecdotal evidence and foolishness.

Give myself a burn,...

JohnAnnArbor said...

Tibore, I know. I was just being snarky to the quack true believer.

Chuck Pelto said...

TO: TreeJoe
RE: Lab Work

"Do you know the process of drug development? Lots and lots of substances are found with do great things in lab cultures, then they don't do anything in animals. Some that do stuff in animals are tested on humans and found to do horrible things to humans. And those are healthy humans, not sick ones." -- TreeJoe

I'm somewhat familiar with the FDA directed process. My undergrad work was microbiology and we did a lot of lab-time in the pharmacology department facilities. So I think I know a tad more than your average 'Joe'.

However, you seem to miss the primary point that NO REAL research into this possible cure for this heinous disease has been carried OUT on 'humans'.

Why IS that, when the lab tests proved so 'promising'?

Probably because drug companies cannot patent a naturally occutring substance. Therefore there's no 'real' money in it for them.

So, what's more important? Making money? Or researching a possible cure for this horrible disease?

You tell ME....

Regards,

Chuck(le)
P.S. And you claimed to be so....

....'middle of the road'.

What road is that anyway?

Tibore said...

"Cantharis in the early treatment of minor burns."
A M Leaman and D Gorman


Quote:

"This modest but properly controlled trial has failed to show any difference between Cantharis and placebo..."

And that's across more than one person. Single experiments are worthless in determining the effectiveness of a treatment; only multiple blinded studies across multiple subjects compared against control each time can uncover enough of a trend for a metastudy to determine whether a treatment is truly effective or not. There are no citations beyond anecdotal testimonials that demonstrate cantharis is truly an effective treatment.

JohnAnnArbor said...

You know what the real test would be?

1. Burn with no treatment.
2. Burn with homeopathic treatment.
3. Burn with distilled water as treatment.

2 and 3 would be double-blind; neither treater nor treated would know whether it was the "real stuff."

And, if you stick with only minor burns, I bet you could get this kind of thing approved for an actual test on volunteers.

Chuck Pelto said...

TO: The Crack Emcee
RE: Well....

"I ain't TreeJoe trying to keep an open mind:" -- The Crack Emcee

...that's pretty obvious. You just go about doing what you do. And if you get 'burned' you only have yourself to blame.

After all....

I'm not here to educate people who don't have the synapse to 'learn'.

Regards,

Chuck(le)
[Hatred is the cowards response to being intimidated.]

P.S. You manifest that quite well.....

Tibore said...

"JohnAnnArbor said...
Tibore, I know. I was just being snarky to the quack true believer."


Oh, sorry John. I was just building on your point in order to highlight my own. I wasn't trying to criticize you in any way. Now that I go back and reread, it does look like I was responding to you instead of build on what you wrote. I could've phrased things differently. My fault; sorry about that.

Chuck Pelto said...

TO: JohnAnnArbor
RE: One More Control

"1. Burn with no treatment.
2. Burn with homeopathic treatment.
3. Burn with distilled water as treatment." -- JohnAnnArbor

4. Burn with blank sugar pill (placebo) treatement.

Cantharis that I use comes in a milk-sugar pill.

We can let The Crack Emcee to item 1.

I've done item 2.

Maybe Original Mike will do item 3 or 4. And Ann can do the one Mike doesn't.

Hey! It's all for the sake of science and who knows....

....maybe we can actually prove something.

Regards,

Chuck(le)
[Science is truth. Do not be confused by facts.]

The Crack Emcee said...

Chuck,

You got me. I'm not your "student" or "follower" - nor did I ask for your help.

The arrogance, alone, is disgusting.

JohnAnnArbor said...

Good find, Tibore!

Probably because drug companies cannot patent a naturally occutring substance. Therefore there's no 'real' money in it for them.

More likely they did a mouse study and the mice (or some other animal model) didn't tolerate the treatment. I know conspiracy theories can be appealing, but resist.

In other news, the airlines aren't spraying everyone daily.

Original Mike said...

Maybe Original Mike will do item 3 or 4.

Do I look stupid?

Tibore said...

Here's a flyer from an organization called "Sense about Science" that discusses homeopathy basics, why it appears to work some times, and some basics about why the underlying theory behind homeopathy is pseudoscientific, not actually scientific:

http://www.senseaboutscience.org.uk/pdf/SenseAboutHomeopathy.pdf

Chuck Pelto said...

TO: Tibore
RE: Okay...

"This modest but properly controlled trial has failed to show any difference between Cantharis and placebo..." -- as reported by Tibor

....show me the primary research data.

I'd also like to see who funded this "modest but properly controlled trial".

As I stated in my earliest comment on this thread, 'science' is HARDLY 'apolitical'. Or are you ignoring the Global Warming 'discussion'?

Regards,

Chuck(le)
[The Truth will out....]

Original Mike said...

Above and beyond the call of duty, Tibore!

Chuck Pelto said...

TO: Original Mike
RE: Do You REALLY....

"Do I look stupid?" -- Original Mike

....want an answer to that?

Regards,

Chuck(le)
[Stupid, n., ignorant and proud of it.]

P.S. The answer is.....'yes'.

Chuck Pelto said...

TO: Tibore
RE: That Study

Are you up for a little experimentation of your own?

What would you think if cantharis worked for you at home? Placebo?

Go get yourself a small vial and keep it handy in your kitchen.

I cook a lot and the distaff bakes state-fair prize winning breads and cookies. We both get a bad burn from direct contact with hot elements at least once a year. It works for us.

It might work for you.

Regards,

Chuck(le)
P.S. Or is $7 too high a price for the sake of 'science'?

The Crack Emcee said...

Folks,

I'm serious (in case you can't tell) and would like to know:

Don't any of you wonder where these people come from? How they're networking? They're practically a shadow government these days (with enough credibility to get in THe Wall Street Journal and with programs on PBS) but the reaction seems to be ho-hum.

I was married to one of these people, and she's gone on to kill three people. One of the last things she said to me was, "We're in the hospitals - we're getting legit - you'd better 'get it' before it's too late!" I've learned to take her words seriously - especially now that I understand how pervasive it is.

Why not you guys?

Tibore said...

Chuck Pelto, if you were truly a science undergraduate, then you yourself would damn well know the uselessness of individual cases and anecdotal evidence. You yourself would also understand the need for multiple blinded studies slowly demonstrating the repeatable effectiveness of a treatment, or the lack of such effectiveness, and you would absolutely be aware of the fact that trends uncovered in metastudies are important to demonstrate the effectiveness of a given, single treatment.

And yet, you push individual experiments as if they mean something? Tell me, how long were you a microbiology student?

Also: If you were truly a science undergraduate, you'd understand why homeopathy is based on pseudoscience, and as a microbiology student you'd also have the chemistry corequisites to understand the fact that homeopathy's central dogma is contradicted and in fact falsified by general chemical principles, nevermind the direct, explicit studies demonstrating the lack of effectiveness of homeopathic treatments. On top of all of that, you also wouldn't resort to asking dumb questions about the funding of any given study because you'd realize that any one study may be falsifiable by demonstrating ill intent behind the financiers, but general trends uncovered in groups of studies financed by differing organizations are undeniable, and those general trends clearly demonstrate that homeopathy has no scientific basis.

So, what do you want to do now? Are you going to continue this parody of what a "scientific experiment" is by asking individual people to try individual treatments one single time and compare that against the volume of current knowledge already demonstrating the lack of homeopathic effectiveness?

Keep trying, Chuck. Mockery is no substitute for the accumulation of knowledge. And it's not any of us you're arguing with, it's the weight of already established findings. Keep pitching that one-off experiment, Chuck. It'll help demonstrate that you learned nothing about science in your undergraduate experience.

Triangle Man said...

Hi Chuck(le),

I should not be responding to you, because you have the classic rhetorical style of a crank. Crankery is an unpersuasive approach because people who have encountered cranks in the past avoid cranks and their crankery in the future

Why would you think that second degree burns should leave scars? Here, look at my hand for proof. See? Skin regenerates remarkably well.

If you want to sell something, take a look at the ShamWOW guy. He knows how to move product.

tim maguire said...

Can one agree with the general statements here about unproven "alternative" medicine and yet quibble around the edges about which particular treatments are unproven?

Some on the list I'm happy to laugh at along with everyone else (loved the Lincoln quote about homeopathy), but others have too long a record of effectiveness to dismiss because they are unsponsored by the drug manufacturers.

My own quibble is acupuncture. You can argue all you want about how data is not the plural of anecdote, but at some point the anecdotes become too numerous to ignore.

Or is lockstep adherence to making fun of anything unpatented the rule on this thread?

Tibore said...

Metastudy:

"Are the clinical effects of homoeopathy placebo effects? Comparative study of placebo-controlled trials of homoeopathy and allopathy", Shang et. al.

Quote:

"Findings: 110 homoeopathy trials and 110 matched conventional-medicine trials were analysed. The median study size was 65 participants (range ten to 1573). 21 homoeopathy trials (19%) and nine (8%) conventional-medicine trials were of higher quality. In both groups, smaller trials and those of lower quality showed more beneficial treatment effects than larger and higher-quality trials. When the analysis was restricted to large trials of higher quality, the odds ratio was 0·88 (95% CI 0·65–1·19) for homoeopathy (eight trials) and 0·58 (0·39–0·85) for conventional medicine (six trials).

Interpretation: Biases are present in placebo-controlled trials of both homoeopathy and conventional medicine. When account was taken for these biases in the analysis, there was weak evidence for a specific effect of homoeopathic remedies, but strong evidence for specific effects of conventional interventions."


My bolding.

Pogo said...

One easily forseeable side effect of allocating medical resources by political forces rather than market forces, as would occur in any national health care initiative, is this sort of appeal.

As a result, spending would go to those with the right friends, connnections, lobbyists, and donors, as well as favoring fads and scares.

The idea that science would remain a neutral arbiter is wholly false, especially in the US.

Original Mike said...

Emcee - Oh, these people scare me allright. Especially people at the level of the authors of this article. Chuckie P., not so much.

However, this is primarily a fight about funding, and we now know that all the government needs to do is print as much money as we need.

SFC B said...

I have spent a good deal of time cooking in a kitchen and working under the cowling of a motorcycle. I've suffered a couple dozen incidents of skin contact w/ blindingly hot surfaces. Most of the time I've just cursed and gone on w/ what I was doing. Despite zero treatment beyond icing the area afterward, I've only been left w/ two scars from a burn. One on the first knuckle of my thumb from a hot skillet, and one on my shin from pressing it against a hot exhaust pipe.

Based on this I believe that cursing and ice will prevent scarring of skin from first and second degree burns.

Can I get my grant now?

Original Mike said...

One easily forseeable side effect of allocating medical resources by political forces rather than market forces, as would occur in any national health care initiative, is this sort of appeal.

Getting serious, Pogo's right. I found the article chilling for exactly this reason. They're setting themselves up to get in on the national health care boondoggle.

The Crack Emcee said...

Original Mike,

Thanks for the answer. I know, I'm coming at this from a different perspective than most, but I'm the guy who had his wife come home one night declaring she could walk through walls. I asked her to prove it, and she just got angry - at me. That's what we're dealing with here. It's cultism, and it's growing, and it's got waaay more credibility in America than I'm comfortable with.

Bill Clinton is hooked up with Ken Wilber and Tony Robbins. Barack Obama has Oprah and her slew of quacks (which Tupak Okra and Co. come from.) Arianna Huffington is with John Robert. Hillary talks to psychics, Cherie Blair is hooked in with a gang of them. Doesn't anyone want/need to know what's going on with this?

I think it's the key to what's wrong with society today.

Original Mike said...

I teach science, Emcee. You're preaching to the choir. I despair at a lot of what I see around me. But whatta are you going to do? Whether it's worse now than in the past, I don't know.

Chuck Pelto said...

TO: All
RE: As I Said

"Oh, these people scare me allright. Especially people at the level of the authors of this article. Chuckie P., not so much." -- Original Mike

Hatred is the cowards response to being intimidated.

It's not so much that The Crack Emcee and Original Mike are afraid of ME. Rather, they're afraid of 'experimentation'. But because I challenge them to experiment for themselves, as opposed to adhering to the 'priesthood' of modern medicine, they do tend to 'hate'. Why? Because they have no gonads, let alone a 'questing' mind.

RE: Who Is Stupid?

The question boils down to whether or not people accept 'authority'. Sometimes 'authority' has a hidden agenda. And simple-minded people don't care to 'question' that 'authority'.

I was skeptical of homeopathy when it was first presented to me too. But, as there was nothing to lose and EVERYTHING to gain, I tried it. And, of all thinks, it actually worked.

So....

...the question becomes, what do the people like The Crack Emcee and Original Mike have to 'lose' here?

Is it $7? Or is it something more 'significant'? Something to do with 'pride'? Or a fear of being 'wrong'?

Personally? I gave up on pride some time ago. I guess it was when I first took the homeopathic materia medica to deal with a problem I'd suffered from for years. And within 5 minutes the problem had disappeared.

What did I lose? Nothing of any particular importance.

What did I gain? A better knowledge of ways to cure medical issues. And, over the last 20 years, I've been doing quite well at it. And that includes acute cases of gout....a birthday gift from my Father, God rest his soul.

[Note: If you're not familiar with gout, watch Gibson's The Passion. And imagine your own feet being nailed to the cross. That's a pretty close 'visualization'. All there is is YOU and the PAIN.]

Fifteen minutes after I took the proper materia medica, the pain was GONE! The problem was identifying the proper materia medica. One pill is not a cure-all. You need to be able to recognize the other symptoms that will identify the one materia medica amongst the 46 that address gout.

In one instance it was that I was suffering chills at the same time.

In another, it was that my tongue looked like someone had painted it white.

It's odd, but it's true.....at least for me. And whether or not the likes of The Crack Emcee or Original Mike—people who hide behind noms des blogs—accept my honest report is not my problem.

And, as my working definition of 'stupid' goes, the stupid people are those who are 'ignorant' and 'proud' of their ignorance. The smarter people will go out and find out for themselves, as opposed to believing everything someone in a position of 'authority' tells them.

The 'stupid' remind me of the people of the Middle Ages who believed everything that came down from the 'pulpits' of the old Roman Catholic Church, without question.

The 'smart' people brought us the Reformation.

Let the 'stupid' people go their way to their various ends. In the meantime, if Bird Flu goes 'ballistic', I'm better prepared to cope with it than they are.

Regards,

Chuck(le)
P.S. What's this I hear that the vaunted Tamiflu doesn't work anymore in America?

Original Mike said...

Can one agree with the general statements here about unproven "alternative" medicine and yet quibble around the edges about which particular treatments are unproven?

Absolutely. Science is a process. Many things now accepted were originally questioned.

TreeJoe said...

Chuck Pelto,

I once sat in a discussion between the head of clinical development (a E.VP) of Astra Zeneca and the head of geriatrics at Johns Hopkins Bayview. They were discussing partnership between pharma and academia.

It turned into a mob mentality that partnership with Pharma was inherently evil. Only good things could be done from academic research. Ironically, the Pharma expert was very adept at quoting an incident of unethical research manipulation from academia for every one named by the academic of Pharma.

In other words: People are good and people are evil. You can learn to distrust entire industries, but you need to learn where you place your trust. And sometimes you get fooled anyway.

A quote from you, "However, you seem to miss the primary point that NO REAL research into this possible cure for this heinous disease has been carried OUT on 'humans'.

Why IS that, when the lab tests proved so 'promising'?

Probably because drug companies cannot patent a naturally occutring substance. Therefore there's no 'real' money in it for them.

So, what's more important? Making money? Or researching a possible cure for this horrible disease?"

You apparently, instead of reading in between the lines, are just skipping some lines of reading.

First lab tests, then animal tests, then human tests.

If it wasn't tested on humans, then it probably didn't pass the animal tets.

Look - Scientists can get millions of dollars a year in NIH grants directed at studying the behaviour of insect mating habits. The researchers from Purdue could secure funding.

And, if the NIH and Pharma turned them down, as I mentioned earlier, a popular trend is becoming privately funded biotechs.

This is where X-Millionaire suffers from cancer and is fed up with the current treatment options. He/she decides to privately fund the research into a new opportunity presented to them by Y-Purdue researchers. $5 million is provided to start.

This is happening all over the country (and world) with wealthy people with the best intentions.

If there is a miracle substance, it's funded all right. It's either in development, not yet discovered, or it failed the testing process.

Regarding making money vs. researching:

Let me put it this way - A company can not maintain it's research pursuits of new treatment options if it constantly spends time researching options that can't support it financially. Is it self-serving? Absolutely!

But that's the way it works. It's not evil. And, like I said, there is other private and public funding available for such research.

When miraculous cures become available they either:

1. Become cheap and widely spread(i.e. vaccines to things that used to wipe out 1/3rd of the population, or anti-bacterials that were revolutionary in their day)

or

2. Are patented by drug companies and sold until they become generic.


They don't get hidden because somebody wants to make a profit. Once something like that is published, it gets around.

Tibore said...

"I was skeptical of homeopathy when it was first presented to me too. But, as there was nothing to lose and EVERYTHING to gain, I tried it. And, of all thinks, it actually worked."

Testimonialism is not rigorous proof. Documented trends demonstrated over time and multiple subjects comes closer. As a microbiology student, demonstrate efficacy with something other than an individual anecdote. You should understand the importance of this from your own microbiology background.

Original Mike said...

I gave up on pride some time ago.

I think we've identified the problem.

The Crack Emcee said...

Original Mike,

"whatta are you going to do?"

Sort out who they are - don't allow them the shadows and "grey" legal areas they thrive in. I've snuffed out my ex-wife and the quack she hooked up (and killed) with - and they're in France.

It's because we don't take them seriously that they're allowed to do this stuff. They must - must - be challenged and exposed. The damage they do isn't being exposed - I know that from my own experience, where everyone said NewAgers are too "nice" to be killing people, so I (a black guy) must have done something to make my wife that way. (All I did was try to be a good husband and not lock her in the house, y'know?) I had no idea what was going on at these seminars, spiritual retreats, and lectures. That's what I've learned anyway:

Figure out who they are and what they're up to.

I mean, how did these four quacks - all with cult backgrounds - get together to write this article? Why did THe Wall Street Journal print an article by four guys anyone can learn (if I did) are quacks? Why is PBS promoting them?

What's going on?

Chuck Pelto said...

TO: Tibore
RE: Again....

"Chuck Pelto, if you were truly a science undergraduate, then you yourself would damn well know the uselessness of individual cases and anecdotal evidence." -- Tibore

...what's the matter of proving it TO yourself FOR yourself?

As I stated, just a little while ago, I was skeptical of homeopathy myself when first presented. BUT I found it WAS effective.

You don't like that? Well....that's not MY problem now. Is it?

For the last 20 years I've been able to put down colds, flu, infectious colitis, gout, burns, etc., etc., etc.

And, as I commented at that time, if Bird Flu goes pandemic, I think I'm better prepared to cope with it than most of the people decrying homeopathy are.

It's sort of like, "What's YOUR problem with MY use of homeopathy?"

Let alone sharing my experience.

You remind me of so many low-key 'witch hunters'. So...am I a modern day 'warlock'? You got a stake with my name on it?

I give you my honest report of experiences and you 'hate' me for it?

Well....they did the same to Christ......

Regards,

Chuck(le)
[God made the Earth, and everything therein, for Man.]

The Crack Emcee said...

Chuck,

"It's not so much that The Crack Emcee and Original Mike are afraid of ME. Rather, they're afraid of 'experimentation'."

I've got three dead bodies that say you're wrong.

The Crack Emcee said...

I was skeptical of homeopathy when it was first presented to me too. But, as there was nothing to lose and EVERYTHING to gain, I tried it. And, of all thinks, it actually worked."

Nothing to lose? You're not listening. Sure, What's the harm?

Try con men, madness, and death.

The Crack Emcee said...

"Hatred is the cowards response to being intimidated."

And patting yourself on the back - for intimidating others - is what?

Unwarranted arrogance. That's what it is.

Chuck Pelto said...

TO: TreeJoe
RE: Indeed

"People are good and people are evil. You can learn to distrust entire industries, but you need to learn where you place your trust. And sometimes you get fooled anyway." -- TreeJoe

There is a great deal of truth in all of that.

And I've found that the modern-day 'priesthood' of medicine can be just as good/evil as the earlier 'priesthood' of the Middle Ages.

So....what's a body to do?

I suggest learning for yourself. And hence my 'challenge' to the denizens here, like The Crack Emcee and Original Mike: both of whom are as close-minded as any other 'true believer' I've encountered in my 58-year sojourn here.

RE: Testing the Truth

"First lab tests, then animal tests, then human tests." -- TreeJoe

I agree....HOWEVER....

....I point out that Purdue University did the first step. But NOBODY has taken it to the additional steps. And I ask....WHY?

It's been 11 bloody and painful years of loss. At over half-a-million lives every year. And that's not just the aged. I know a teenager in my church who developed bone cancer in his knee. A promising athlete whose life was 'ruined'.

Again I ask the question....WHY IS IT NO ADDITIONAL RESEARCH IS BEING DONE!

Regards,

Chuck(le)
[Cui bono?]

Chuck Pelto said...

TO: All
RE: The Crack Emcee & Projection

"Unwarranted arrogance. That's what it is." -- The Crack Emcee

'nuff said.

Regards,

Chuck(le)
P.S. The gutless wonder doesn't even have $7 nor the gumption to do an experiment on his own.....

The Crack Emcee said...

Like I said:

I've got three dead bodies that say you're wrong.

Chuck Pelto said...

TO: All
RE: The Crack Emcee & Cui Bono

"Nothing to lose? You're not listening. Sure, What's the harm?

Try con men, madness, and death." -- The Crack Emcee

First off, dead men don't comment blogs.

I've been practicing homeopathy for over 20 years now. And I'm hardly 'dead'. However, 'madness' is a matter of perception. And I'm certain that TCE considers me 'mad'. But that's their 'personal problem', as we in the military would call it.

So why is he/she so adamant about shouting my reports down? I wonder what he/she does for a living.....

Regards,

Chuck(le)
[Cui bono?]

Chuck Pelto said...

TO: The Crack Emcee
RE: Okay

"I've got three dead bodies that say you're wrong." -- The Crack Emcee

Show me your 'burns'.

Regards,

Chuck(le)
P.S. Did you misunderstand my comment about 'quacks'?

Tibore said...

"It's sort of like, "What's YOUR problem with MY use of homeopathy?"

Let alone sharing my experience."


Chuck, I personally don't give a damn if you use a witch doctor shaking a voodoo chicken. My issue is with your claim that homeopathy works and your lack of anything above personal testimonial that it does. And your peddling of cantharis as a supposed "treatment" for burn scarring. At least Evian markets water only as water, and only for drinking; homeopathic fantasists try to market it as something else. The old-days term was "snake-oil salesman"; there needs to be a modern equivalent to it. At any rate, I don't give two hoots what you do to yourself. My issue is in spreading misinformation as fact. That's why I'm here posting what I do.

Don't make the mistake of thinking that I'm trying to convince you to not use homeopathy. If you're so enthusiastic about inflicting it on yourself, go right ahead. No skin off of my back. What I'm doing is using you as an object lesson for those who haven't previously looked into this alt-medicine before. I've demonstrated that you have nothing beyond personal testimonial for its effectiveness (worthless, since I can find people who've seen Elvis or UFO's recently), you have no defense of why multiple studies demonstrate the ineffectiveness of homeopathy, and that anyone can claim to be a science-majored undergrad in order to try to argue pseudoscience from authority, but the real proof of education is in how they approach science (as an aside, you frankly haven't lived up to your claimed education). The lesson there being that it doesn't matter who says something, it matters what they say. And your claims of homeopathic cures working is bunk, regardless of your education or exhortations to "try it yourself".

On top of that, to continue in the "object lesson" vein, I've been waiting for you to try to preach the background dogma behind homeopathy so I can also demonstrate how the idea of water memory and dilutions is pseudoscientific bunk, but so far you've denied me on that point in favor of trying to argue from even sillier points of personal appeal.

At any rate, if you want to do things to yourself, you can go right ahead with it. But if you are going to preach to an audience that stuff works, don't be surprised when people bring along proof that it doesn't. By putting it out in public, you subject it to scrutiny. And crying over the scrutiny is no defense of the pseudoscience.

Chuck Pelto said...

TO: Tibore
RE: Not You....

"Don't make the mistake of thinking that I'm trying to convince you to not use homeopathy." -- Tibore

...but pay closer attention to The Crack Emcee and Original Mike.

Regards,

Chuck(le)

David Colquhoun said...

Excellent write-up. I suggest comments should be sent to the WSJ. I just submitted this one.

"After the very sensible article in WSJ by Steve Salerno, "The Touch that Doesn’t Heal" [[url]http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123024234651134037.html[/url]], it was disappointing to see you featuring the somewhat medieval thinking of Deepak Chopra and his friends. The title misrepresents the facts as much as most of the contents do. No doubt the authors would like to believe that "Alternative medicine is mainstream", but it is not, for the simple reason that the only reason for the label "alternative" is that it consists of treatments that have not been shown to work. If they had, they would not be "alternative medicine" they would just be medicine.

The subtitle is as bad "The evidence is mounting that diet and lifestyle are the best cures for our worst afflictions.", Precisely the opposite is true. One good consequence of the public interest in new age magic medicine is that there are now some really good trials in several areas.

It is clearer now than it has ever been that homeopathy is a placebo, that there is no difference between "real" acupuncture and sham acupuncture, so acupuncture is just a rather theatrical placebo too. And although it would be really good news if you could prevent cancer by taking vitamin pills or "antioxidants", there has been a string of trials that show very clearly that is not that simple. They just don't work. Eat sensibly and get some exercise is all the advice you need, and it's free.

The fact of the matter is that this article is largely devoted to promoting a rather tired form of new age mystical medicine that, by and large, doesn’t do what is claimed for it. They are defending an industry that is very profitable but largely fraudulent.

The idea that industries based on fraud are a legitimate way to make money has suffered something of a blow recently, Fortunately Barrack Obama has appointed some really first rate scientists, They are unlikely to be deceived by articles like this one.

David Colquhoun http://dcscience.net/

Chuck Pelto said...

TO: Tibore
RE: Silly, Isn't It

"....so far you've denied me on that point in favor of trying to argue from even sillier points of personal appeal." -- Tibore

Yeah. Telling the truth as one understands and experiences it IS 'silly'. Isn't it.

But, 'silly me', that's why I asked you to try it for yourself. But you seem to be ignoring that.

Why?

Regards,

Chuck(le)
[There is nothing men will not stoop to in order to avoid having to actually 'think'.]

Tibore said...

TO: Chuck Pelto
RE: Yeah, you sure are

Still no scientific argument for the effacicy of homeopathy, I see.

Telling... that's very telling.

Tibore said...

"But, 'silly me', that's why I asked you to try it for yourself. But you seem to be ignoring that.

Why?"


You silly twit... I directly addressed that above. Go read.

While you're at it, I'm curious as to your microbiology-trained opinion regarding the Shang et. al. study. You have one?

Chuck Pelto said...

TO: Tibore
RE: And So....

"Still no scientific argument for the effacicy of homeopathy, I see." -- Tibore

...we've come full-circle.

You insist on 'scientific argument'.

I offer you an opportunity to research such a 'scientific argument' yourself, vis-a-vis spending $7 and waiting for an accident in the kitchen.

You apparently 'refuse'.

Such an 'open and questing mind' you have.....

Regards,

Chuck(le)
[There is nothing to which men will not stoop in order to avoid having to actually 'think'.]

P.S. Why don't you joine The Crack Emcee and Original Mike in the bleachers and howl at me from there?

sierra said...

If it helps matters at all, let me relate my own remedy for a kitchen burn, which is to apply mashed onion for a few minutes. Seriously. I have no idea why it works.

The Crack Emcee said...

Tibore,

He ignored the "What's the harm?" link, too.

Chuck Pelto said...

TO: All
RE: Tibore and 'Projection'

"You silly twit..." -- Tibore

Twit, n., a silly or foolish person

Interesting redundancy there. Don't you think?

On the other hand, what's 'silly' about offering relief from pain from a severe burn?

Or is it 'sillier' to say, "It can't possibly work!" Without even determining it for yourself?

You listening to some 'priest'? Or are you too 'proud' of your knowledge to even test it? For merely $7?

Regards,

Chuck(le)
[The Truth will out.....]

Chuck Pelto said...

TO: Tibore
RE: Shang Study, Anyone?

"While you're at it, I'm curious as to your microbiology-trained opinion regarding the Shang et. al. study. You have one?" -- Tibore

Hadn't heard of it before. However, the link mentions The Lancet.

Isn't that the same org that declared that 650,000 Iraqi civilians had been killed since the invasion of Iraq in 2003?

They were pretty well discredited in that claim. So why should we put an overabundance of belief in the truthfulness of what THEY have to say? After all, they, better than any other case I can think of, have PROVEN my point about 'science' being ALL TOO POLITICAL these days.

Don't you think?

Regards,

Chuck(le)
[Oh what tangled webs we weave when first we practice to deceive.]

Tibore said...

Yep... keep up with peddling the one-off "experiments" as somehow proving the opposite of what metastudies of controlled studies like Shang et. al. find. That'll convince 'em!

Again, I'm disappointed. You keep asking people to try it. $7 bucks huh? For water... hmmm... Evian, around a buck and change, C30 dilution of cantharis, $7... hmmm... it's as if you're trying to sell something here, Chuck.

You know, most people would've taken the argument in another direction, especially in the face of links to controlled, blindeed studies contradicting the homeopathic dogma. Yet, you're not trying to defend the treatment against that. Could it be that you don't have any understanding of the homeopathic theory itself? I admit, most pseudoscience peddlers at this point would have brought up an aspect of the theory; you seem to be steering clear. Could it be that there's something about your microbiology background that clues you into the fallacy of homeopathy? Might that be the case?

Interesting.

Chuck Pelto said...

TO: sierra
RE: The Onion 'Mash'

"If it helps matters at all, let me relate my own remedy for a kitchen burn, which is to apply mashed onion for a few minutes. Seriously. I have no idea why it works."-- sierra

Had no idea about the topical application of onion for skin burns.

Interesting. Next not-too-major burn incident, I'll give that a try. I've always got a number of them in the pantry. [Note: Something to do with an inquisitive mind, I guess.]

On the other hand, onion IS a materia medica, but more oriented towards allergy attacks and colds involving runny noses.

Thanks for the report.

Regards,

Chuck(le)
[It never ceases to amaze me how many ways different things can be used.]

P.S. If the next 'accident' is a serious one, I'm going to go straight to the cantharis.

I've had enough personal practice with pain while in the Army....burns, breaks, frostbite, snake bite, etc., etc., etc......ad nauseum.....

Chuck Pelto said...

TO: Tibore
RE: Try....

"Again, I'm disappointed. You keep asking people to try it. $7 bucks huh? For water... hmmm... Evian, around a buck and change, C30 dilution of cantharis, $7... hmmm... it's as if you're trying to sell something here, Chuck." -- Tibore

...NOT to be the complete 'twit' you projected at me.

Go to Vitamin Cottage, or some similar retailer and buy the VIAL of PILLS.

Cripes! Where did you learn to READ anyway?

Regards,

Chuck(le)
Twit, n. Silly or foolish person....who can't read English]

Pogo said...

Occasionally I have guys like Chuckles come in the office, usually with a family member, not for themselves.

They want to argue ad nauseum like Chuck here, even though all you're trying to do is get the hell out of earshot.

Well if you haven't tried it, how do you know it doesn't work? is perhaps the stupidest form of scientific evidence there is.

The medical version of Michael. God, what a bore.

reader_iam said...

Anyone got a cure for a dead horse?

sierra said...

Also, another "alternative" remedy I've found to work repeatedly for my wife's occasional headaches is to scare the crap out of her. My best guess as to why it works is the adrenaline rush, which makes blood flow away from the dilated vessels in the brain causing the pain, and towards the muscles in the extremities, especially her tightly clenched fist. Unlike the onion remedy, this one wears off the more it's applied, for obvious reasons.

Tibore said...

"Hadn't heard of it before. However, the link mentions The Lancet.

Isn't that the same org that declared that 650,000 Iraqi civilians had been killed since the invasion of Iraq in 2003?"


I myself criticize that Iraq Body Count study. I know it's bunk. But trying to use it to discredit Shang et. al. is weak. Different authors, different methodologies. If you have a specific complaint about the methodologies - equivalent to John Allen Paulos's, and separately Debarati Guha-Sapir's specific methodology critiques - elucidate it. But hiding behind a weak critique of a publication without addressing specifics of the study is not a response. It's a dodge.

Besides, what does it say about homeopathy that a publication known for being tolerant of a wide variety of conclusions still accepts that homeopathy is bunk? Says a lot about the "effectiveness" of such treatments, n'est pa?

On top of that, where are your supporting citations? Once again, a microbiology student should understand that one-time, single subject "experiments" mean nothing, especially in the face of multiple, controlled, blinded studies, Shang et. al. only being a meta-analysis of all those findings. So someone with your education should have many sources available, if only to convince himself. You haven't offered any in defense. Wonder why?

As said a multitude of times above: One-time "experiments are worthless as proof. Why don't you address trends and overall effectiveness? If a cure works, it will repeatedly work. You should be able to shut me up by demonstrating this. Yet, I've yet to see anything but treatment peddling from you.


"TO: Tibore
RE: Try....

"Again, I'm disappointed. You keep asking people to try it. $7 bucks huh? For water... hmmm... Evian, around a buck and change, C30 dilution of cantharis, $7... hmmm... it's as if you're trying to sell something here, Chuck." -- Tibore

...NOT to be the complete 'twit' you projected at me.

Go to Vitamin Cottage, or some similar retailer and buy the VIAL of PILLS.

Cripes! Where did you learn to READ anyway?"


I learned to read in school. Why should I know that cantharis is offered as a VIAL OF PILLS when homeopathy is all about dilutions, dilutions, dilutions. It should be apparent that I've never shopped for homeopathic cures before, that I've merely trusted the progress of science to inform me what treatments are effective and what ones aren't.

Is that the best you can do? A silly attempt to deflect, and a rant about my supposed reading incomprehension? When you yourself have ignored multiple, repeated explanations why single anecdotal experiences mean nothing in the face of years of compiled studies? Who should be asking who where they learned to read? I'm not the one failing to read the other's explanation of why individual experiments and testimonials are worthless, and I'm certainly not the one failing to read and understand the critiques of homeopathy put forth in the links provided above.

Let me know when you have a scientific argument ready. Until then, until you can adequately address (not glibly dismiss) the following links, there's nothing more to say to you. You've brought zero proof of homeopathy's effectiveness, and revealed yourself to be a mere shill, more interested in peddling product than demonstrating effectiveness:

Comparative study of placebo-controlled trials of
homoeopathy and allopathy


Sense about Science: Homeopathy

"What's the Harm": Homeopathy page

"What alternative health practitioners might not tell you"

alittlesense said...

Early in this discussion someone mentioned "Depends" made of hemp. I apologize in advance but can we follow this with "Smoke 'em if you're wearing 'em, but not if they are used..."

Minos said...

My professional opinion is that the authors are sloppy thinkers, incompetent logicians, poor writers, and, in a strong field, some of the worst peddlers of pseudoscientific twaddle to whom I have been exposed. You struck true.

On a secondary matter, some of your commenters make me want to chew on willow bark. Oh, *(@& it. Give me an aspirin.

Original Mike said...

Anyone got a cure for a dead horse?

WHAT'S THAT? SPEAK UP! YOU SAY YOU'RE A LITTLE HOARSE? I HAVE SOMETHING FOR THAT RIGHT HERE IN MY BAG!

The Crack Emcee said...

Original Mike,

LOL!

Tibore said...

Oh, gawd! Top Secret!!!

[Nick and Hillary arrive at the Potato Farm. Shetland pony is coughing]
Nick Rivers: What's wrong with him?
Wagon Driver: Oh, he caught a cold last week and he's just a little horse.

Patm said...

Altouse, I love you when you pull no punches. And Amen, too.

blogging cockroach said...

you know professor i like
the way people here in cambridge mass
are into alternative extermiation too
i think it s called integrated
pest management not that i regard
myself as a pest but you know how
no one sees themselves as others do
anyway the thing i like about ipm
is that is doesn t work
but it makes people feel happy
that they re not sucking diazinon
and it makes me feel even better
and the buddhists are happy they're not
actively killing fellow sentient beings
yay buddhists everybody s happy

anyway here in cambridge lots of people are
into alternative therapies surprise surprise
they usually work about as well as boric
acid under the fridge which any
self respecting cockroach knows how to
step around give me a break i only have 960
brain cells and even i ve figured that out
i mean would you go walking through
white dust up to your ankles sheesh

but mom here at the house is french and
being european is more into herbs and
folk remedies from the auvergne
like vervain tea which is great
to stimulate your sex drive if it needs it
one thing she says is good for the liver
bon pour votre fois is a little medoc
a nice 96 chateau potensac is a natural
detoxifier and regeneration anti aging
treatment that goes well with braised
beef or pork in brown sauce
which mom is welcome to spill
behind the stove anytime

Ralph said...

sierra, I'll get my dad to try that next time the stepmonster gets a migraine.

sierra said...

Probably won't work on a migrane.

Ralph said...

May not, but he's supposed to scare her to death.

TreeJoe said...

Re: Homeopathy

I've got about 100,000 controlled clinical research studies showing that I can give a sugar pill, or a sham procedure (i.e. pretending to perform a surgery...even up to the point where a person has a catheter inserted in their leg), or a sham topical ointment, or a fake inhalant....

I've got about 100,000 of those that show anywhere from 20-50% of people reporting or showing improvement in patients receiving that placebo.

So, according to the logic of homeopathy, placebo should actually be the most widely provided prescription...for any and all ailments.

It has next to no side effects (although plenty of people report side effects when on it), costs next to nothing (though I could charge alot for it), and gives improvement to 20-50% of people across almost any therapeutic area.


Really....why is this amazing placebo being suppressed as a way to treat people. It's a damn conspiracy, that's what it is.

These drug companies claim that it's all just a "placebo effect" and that it has no curative powers. But all their studies support it's curative powers! Bastards!

TreeJoe

P.s. Chuck Pelto - The cancer substance may have been tried on animals and never reported to have failed. People rarely report failures when testing a theory.

If you doubt me, why don't you call the researchers. And find out the real story.

TreeJoe said...

By the way, diet and exercise are the proper cures for almost all major mortal diseases of today, that's one thing the authors got right.

It's much harder to measure prevention unless you study individuals from childhood through late-life, and account for their environmental exposures. But heart disease, diabetes, cancer, hypercholesterolemia, hypertension....etc.

Mostly can be cut back dramatically, in the general population, through a life-long pursuit of healthy eating and physical activity.

One of the interesting factoids I was taught at Hopkins was that pharma salespeople will mention that diet and exercise only reduce systolic/diastolic blood pressure by about 4mm in the general public.

What they don't mention is that that research shows that 50% of the hypertensive general public would then no longer be hypertensive. It's a mean drop, but they don't mention the mean blood pressures it's held against.

Science has advanced us far. And propaganda has slowed us down. Early education based upon sound scientific research and objective principles is a good use of K-12 schooling.

Joe

Chuck Pelto said...

TO: Pogo
RE: Well....

"They want to argue ad nauseum like Chuck here, even though all you're trying to do is get the hell out of earshot." -- Pogo

....you're obviously an example of someone who puts total 'faith' in the priesthood of the AMA.

You're welcome to limiting your options. Like the others here. It's not my problem.....

Regards,

Chuck(le)
[Run Awaaaaayyyyy!!!! -- Another 'Monty Python' moment]

P.S. You can't afford to spend $7 to test it for yourself?

How 'open minded' of you....

Chuck Pelto said...

TO: Tibore
RE: The Lancet....

"I myself criticize that Iraq Body Count study. I know it's bunk. " -- Tibore

....and the bursting of 'boils'.

So. We've established that this org can't be trusted when politics are involved.

Good for US.

RE: The Shang Article

I notice he focuses on the 'placebo' effect.

I find that interesting.

However, I have to remind you about my 'challenge' item (above). And would you please explain how scar tissue is diminished from a second-degree burn treated with cantharis. The point being are individual cells and tissues subject to the placebo affect?

Pain is a 'nervous', i.e., 'mental' think. Healing of damaged tissue, as yet, has not been proven to be a such a think.

As I stated (above) my personal experience with burns is that scar tissue is dramatically reduced form treating a severe burn with cantharis in homeopathic dosage.

If reduction of scar tissue does result from taking cantharis in homeopathic doses, that opens up a whole new field of research.

Maybe you should get some and try it yourself? Or are you so cash-strapped you can't afford $7?

Regards,

Chuck(le)
[If people could ACTUALLY 'think' for themselves......]

Chuck Pelto said...

TO: Tibore
RE: Really?

"I learned to read in school." -- Tibore

Must have been a pretty poor excuse for a 'school'.

Which 'school' was it? And when did you 'graduate'?

Regards,

Chuck(le)
[Inquiring minds want to know.....]

Ann Althouse said...

"As I stated (above) my personal experience with burns is that scar tissue is dramatically reduced form treating a severe burn with cantharis in homeopathic dosage."

Homeopathic dosage = there isn't a molecule of the substance in the container your paid for.

Chuck Pelto said...

TO: Ralph
RE: Migraines

I've never experienced one myself...thank God. However, the distaff has 'auras' on occasion. They are supposedly 'low-grade' migraine events. No pain. Just 'weird'.

I've heard that Ginko Biloba (GB) in herbal dosages is effective against them.

As I take GB as an herbal mental stimulant....and it works so well I don't take it before going to bed. The dreams are just TOO startling....

....I suggested she take it when she has an aura. It seems to help her.

However, do not take it in conjunction with aspirin. They both act in a similar manner and that could lead to bad things happening.

Hope this helps....

Regards,

Chuck(le)
[God made the Earth, and everything therein, for man......]

Chuck Pelto said...

TO: Treejoe
RE: Well Then....

"I've got about 100,000 controlled clinical research studies showing that I can give a sugar pill, or a sham procedure (i.e. pretending to perform a surgery...even up to the point where a person has a catheter inserted in their leg), or a sham topical ointment, or a fake inhalant....

I've got about 100,000 of those that show anywhere from 20-50% of people reporting or showing improvement in patients receiving that placebo." -- TreeJoe

Go buy yourself some sugar-pill blanks and make yourself 'feel better'.

Regards,

Chuck(le)
[The proof of the pudding.....and all that sort of 'rot'.....]

Chuck Pelto said...

TO: All
RE: The Screwy Think....

...about all of this discussion is that NOT ONE of the people arguing against me on this matter has either the money and/or the intellectual curiosity to take me up on this little do-it-yourself 'experiment' for the sake of 'science'.

They are all as mindless as any other True Believer.

How very sad.....

But it's not lose to me. When the viral pandemic—whatever form it arrives in—comes....I'm better prepared then they.

After all, the allopaths have NOTHING, as yet, that can deal with a viral infection. And, as reported by CDC, things here with US are worse than had been previously understood....Tamiflu doesn't work....

Regards,

Chuck(le)
[Be prepared. -- Motto of the Boy Scouts]

P.S. And oddly enough, the Politically Correct hate the Boy Scouts too.....

Chuck Pelto said...

TO: All
RE: Tomorrow

More tomorrow on tests run by people opposed to something that will diminish their income, i.e., allopaths trying the 'prove' homeopathy works.

After all....

....what would happen if the drug companies were faced with a challenge of something you could grow in your backyard....under proper conditions....that outperformed THEIR products? And without adverse side-affects?

Regards,

Chuck(le)
[The Truth will out....but some people won't care to listen to it.]

P.S. Let alone prove it true or false for themselves.....

sierra said...

RE: Migraines
I've never experienced one myself...thank God.

You appear to be what is referred to among medical professionals as a "carrier."

kynefski said...

A good review of the article from Respectful Insolence

"This article, predictably enough, has riled Deepak Chopra. He's not happy about it at all. Oh, no. Nor are his buddies, including the Godfather of Quackademic Medicine and Lover of Anecdotal Evidence above controlled observations, Dr. Andrew Weil, and that king of pseudoscientific arguments for homeopathy, Dr. Rustum Roy. Truly, this is an Unholy Trinity of Woo, and the results are very predictable. They view Salerno's article as the "opening salvo" against CAM/IM.

I certainly hope it is. I certainly hope it's the first salvo of a veritable barrage that would put the bombardment of Normandy in preparation for the D-Day invasion to shame. I hope it's the first salvo of a barrage that flattens any pretensions Chopra and his ilk have to scientific legitimacy, pulverizing it to a cloud of woo-ful dust the way a shell pulverizes its target."

Tibore said...

"100,000 controlled clinical research studies showing that I can give a sugar pill, or a sham procedure (i.e. pretending to perform a surgery...even up to the point where a person has a catheter inserted in their leg), or a sham topical ointment, or a fake inhalant...."

That may be slightly hyperbolic (but only slightly; such research has been conducted for decades now), but it's in the right direction. The fact of the matter is that, regarding homeopathy, there have been in excess of 150 actual clinical studies on the topic, 110 of them mentioned in the Lancet metastudy I mentioned earlier. So this is a topic that, while far from being exhaustively covered, is already quite well understood.

And as a slight digression: The fact that the Lancet metastudy linked above retains validity despite the origin of publication (a point Chuck's trying to hang his rebuttal on) is because it was a meta study. It was a study of multiple studies that had been done in the past, over a hundred of them. It's one thing to impugn a single study's funding or question the scope of its conclusions, but it's a whole other thing to ignore trends uncovered over the course of a hundred-plus separate trials. So next time you see or read someone try to dispute the Shang et. al. study's conclusion by "questioning" the funding source or claiming some sort of slant by the "establishment", think about the fact that homeopathic effects have not manifested over the course of 100+ separate, individual trials and ask yourself if the criticism addresses that. Or tries to dance around the fact instead.

"P.S. Let alone prove it true or false for themselves....."

I don't think there's any point to addressing Chuck directly anymore, not until he tackles the substance of my posts above and quits trying to peddle. So I'll address this to everyone else here: A physician in Canada once wisely advised me to respond to homeopathic claims by asking them to provide a randomized double blind control trial that proves that it works like they say it's suppose to work, and that works significantly (in the statistical sense) better than a placebo. At that point, you (me, in that conversation) can start discussing specifics. Until then, there's nothing to discuss. It's a useful suggestion to remember. Pseudoscience peddlers can do their best to bog you down in the minituae of individual aspects of what they peddle, but in all cases where ingestion of material or treatment of an individual is concerned, ask yourself if you really want to sample a treatment where the provider cannot provide clear documentation of the direct effects, including measurements of successes and failures, and clear risk information about the side effects, again including measurements/quantifications/plain numbers measuring percentage of patients affected and degree to which they're affected. Then point blank ask for the randomized trial(s) with control, and the statistical significance of the numbers pulled. You get that in research into allopathic treatments, but as you can see here in my direct questions to Chuck, you don't get it in alt-medicine, not as far as I have seen. You certainly don't get anything above either excuses or exhortations to "try for yourself" (at a price, of course). So just remember to ask the question above, and if stalled, demand something above and beyond anecdotal evidence. You can find plenty of anecdotes from ballplayers that not shaving or wearing lucky clothes has an effect on their game, too, but I'd rather see numbers bear any such claim out. If the effect of a given treatment truly exists as the advocate for it says it does, then there's no way to fail to note such effects over time and numbers of patients. Ask. Don't be satisfied with individual testimonials; you'll see that for everything from satisfaction commercials for automobiles to testimonials about hotels, but it's only through numbers that you see how reliable a car actually is, and how good the service is that you actually get from a hotel.

Dr. Nobluff said...

As we decide that real medical therapeutics and intervention are too costly we need cheaper alternatives like weeds and chanting gurus.

After all, 97% of all illness gets better by itself and a similar percentage of people never need high-end critical or expensive care until they are either too old o9r debilitated to register their needs appropriately.

So this is a good strategy for health care reformers. It will save a lot of money.

Omaha1 said...

To; Chuck Pelto

Re: Stupid arguments

hey chuck(le),

I always appreciated Andrea Harris' approach of banning you based solely on your annoying formatting habits. Your stupid approach to anecdotal argumentation is just icing on the herbal/homeopathic cake.

Regards,

Omaha1

[Stupid is as stupid does - Forrest Gump's mom]

p.s. I don't care to respond to any further comments from you, but it's not because I "hate" you, it's because I think you're an idiot.

Chuck Pelto said...

TO: All
RE: The Allopathic 'Tests' (Part 1)

Question: Do each of you [doubters] think you are identically alike to each other? Genetically speaking?

Seriously?

If you do, they you fit right into the ideal 'mold' that the allopaths would love to achieve.

But, in truth, each of us is different from the other. In more was than one.

Otherwise, the FDA wouldn't require those extensive warnings on the labels of prescription medications; if you experience heart palpitations or sudden headaches or pass out, stop taking this medicine immediately and contact your doctor....or words to that effect.

Case in point....

....I went to my GP complaining about a gassy stomach and abnormal belching. The PA who supports my GP gave me a medication HE 'thought' would solve the problem.

Within two days of taking the medication, I was still belching. However, to add to the situation, I suddenly developed what is known as 'central sleep apnea'.

For those who are ignorant of CSA, it's when while you are asleep, your brain forgets to tell your lungs to breath.

There are only three ways out of that: (1) you wake up gasping for breath like someone coming up from drowning, (2) you wake up 'dead' the next morning or (3) you become your family version of Terri Schiavo. Be advised none of these are particularly pleasant.

So.....

....I called the fine people who make this 'medicine' and asked them about what I was experiencing. And they said there was the possibility of 'sleep disorders'. When I asked them about 'central sleep apnea' and if they recognized it as a 'sleep disorder', they were unwilling to admit to that.

So, as a point of fact, whereas the allopaths would like to treat us all as round pegs to fit in their simple-minded boards, we are not all 'round'. Some of us are [hip to be] square. Others are hexagonal. So on and so forth.

And we're back to the business of 'are we all the same'?

Regards,

Chuck(le)
P.S. More tomorrow on how this figures into the Shang and other allopath funded 'tests'.....

Chuck Pelto said...

TO: Omaha1
RE: Heh....

"....I think you're an idiot." -- Omaha1

....show me your Mensa membership ID number and I'll call you 'bro', bozo.

Regards,

Chuck(le)
[The truth will out....and projection is a big help....]

Florian said...

Good lord when will the alternative gurus go back to just treating their patients and spreading the good Eastern medicine the way it was intended to be administered? One-on-one, with thought and with time, and NOT institutionalized and standardized.

By moving toward "standardized" [read: government funded] alternative medicine as it will need to become during its politicization, it will demean the meticulous methodologies established by Ayurveda, yoga therapy, etc. These methodologies take time to administer and don't always have exact dosages and precise "rules" to follow. This will make it prohibitively difficult to mold the practices into our current HMO driven system.

Just leave the alternative practitioners alone (and I don't mean the big popular one we hear from in this article, rather the everyday practitioners). Has Deepok even talked with them, or is he too busy flitting around making a fool of himself on O'Reily to even know what his "constituents" think about his efforts?

I'm all for alternative treatments, Western medicine and taking advantage of ALL the tools in our toolkits...but to to try to crunch Eastern practices into a Western political funding model....give it up now before you waste even more of the tax payer money than what will be wasted under the new administration. Nice concept- destructive to implement.

PS I'm a yoga teacher.

Chuck Pelto said...

TO: All
RE: OBE

Currently Overcome-By-Events. Issues relating to computer matters and the fact that the early part of the each month is wrought with various activities, i.e., commissions, clubs, political party meetings, etc., etc.

I'll address the Shang study and the differences between allopathy and homeopathy, vis-a-vis such 'studies' later this week. Right now I'm staring several 'must-be-there' activities.

RE: Things to Think About

Might be a good idea for you to review what I addressed the other day regarding how each of us is different and how allopaths want to think of us in terms of the 'lowest common denominator.

I'm reminded of the way mechanics in the mech infantry battalion I was the Battalion Maintenance Officer for treating 'ailing' vehicles.

Regards,

Chuck(le)
[A doctors reputation is based on the fame of people who died in his care.]

Chuck Pelto said...

TO: All [and especially the skeptics here]
RE: Apologies

Sorry to have taken so long in getting back to this. I was breaking in some new computers and some of them were being a bit ‘balky’ regarding my LAN and access to various things. [Note: The BIG complaint is an apparent problem in migrating e-mail services from the Mac OS X Tiger to the Mac OS X Leopard environment.]

RE: Back On-Topic

So, to date, I’ve described something about how allopaths [think AMA] treat people, as if they are all the same.

So if they treat people as if they all relate to some lowest-common-denominator, that would explain a lot about the way they prescribe medications. One pill should cure a particular ailment. As evidence I offer how there are so many warnings about ‘side effects’ on prescription drug notices. My personal experiences having borne out the truth of those warning (see previous comments, above, for details).

RE: Allopathic Tests

So, if the allopaths treat everyone pretty much alike, I would suspect that in the test conducted by Shang that they would take one homeopathic pill supposedly oriented towards treating a cold and think that it should treat all the subjects in their test for colds. Or asthma. Or gynaecology issues. Or surgery issues. Or gastrointestinal issues. Or musculoskeletal issues. Or neurological issues.

I read over the article from The Lancet. I noticed a lack of information about what was administered, homeopathically, to any of the subjects of the test. I also notice that the article doesn’t mention the gross or subtle symptoms of the subjects of the test who were administered homeopathic treatments. Or placebos.

I find this a gross omission on the part of the ‘good’ doctor Shang.

Why do I say that?

Because, as I’ve pointed out here time and again, people are not all the same. And, that is the primary difference between homeopathy and allopathy. The latter treats people as if they ARE all-the-same. Or so it hopes. But it subtly recognizes there ARE differences. Check the fine print on the prescription drug warnings.

On the other hand, homeopathy recognizes there are essential differences from one individual to the next. And from one disease/disorder to another. Especially on how a disease/disorder interacts with an individual.

RE: A Case in Point

For instance, there are 46 homeopathic materia medica that can help with an acute attack of gout. That is according to the Boericke book. And none of them will treat all gout attacks. Instead, one has to know the other symptoms that the subject is experiencing before you can identify the one materia medica that WILL be effective.

In 2006 I experienced two acute attacks. One in January the other in April.

The materia medica that I took for the attack in January did not help me in the April attack. One would think that the placebo effect would have covered the April attack. But it didn’t. Likewise, the materia medica that relieved my pain in the attack before (September 2003) the January incident, didn’t help me in the January attack.

Why? Because the OTHER symptoms were ‘different’.

So, in January 2006, I took what had worked in September 2003. No ‘joy’. The excruciating pain continued. It took me three days and pretty-much-sleepless nights to notice that I was suffering from severe ‘chill’s. There were only three materia medica that connected ‘gout’ with ‘chills’. I had one of them on-hand. I took it and the pain disappeared in 15 minutes.

So, in April 2006, I took the materia medica which worked in January 2006. Again, no ‘joy’. But I wasn’t suffering ‘chills’ either. Then I noticed that my tongue looked like someone had white-washed it. There was one materia medica that connected ‘gout’ with a ‘heavily coated white tongue’. I took it and the pain went away.

You skeptics may want to pooh-pooh this. But that’s hardly MY problem now, is it.

RE: The Point

If the people like Shang are not properly connecting individual’s symptoms to a particular materia medica, their ‘tests’ are strictly bogus.

So, maybe someone could provide the full report on Shang’s ‘test’.

Regards,

Chuck(le)
[The Truth will out....and the AMA isn’t going to like it.]

P.S. The Lancet is a British pub, isn’t it. And, it is oriented towards allopathy. That would go far to explain why they are so adamantly opposed to homeopathy. After all, homeopathy has not been ‘outlawed’ in England yet.