Tagalternative medicine

Meta-Study Suggests Acupuncture No Better Than Placebo

I’ve linked before to research on the effectiveness of acupuncture for managing pain. But a recent meta-study published in PAIN suggests that real acupuncture is no more effective than “fake” acupuncture:

The authors observe that recent results from high-quality randomized controlled trials have shown that various forms of acupuncture, including so-called “sham acupuncture,” during which no needles actually penetrate the skin, are equally effective for chronic low back pain, and more effective than standard care. In these and other studies, the effects were attributed to such factors as therapist conviction, patient enthusiasm or the acupuncturist’s communication style. […]

In an accompanying commentary, Harriet Hall, MD, states her position forcefully: “Importantly, when a treatment is truly effective, studies tend to produce more convincing results as time passes and the weight of evidence accumulates. When a treatment is extensively studied for decades and the evidence continues to be inconsistent, it becomes more and more likely that the treatment is not truly effective. This appears to be the case for acupuncture. In fact, taken as a whole, the published (and scientifically rigorous) evidence leads to the conclusion that acupuncture is no more effective than placebo

ScienceDaily: Acupuncture for Pain No Better Than Placebo — And Not Without Harm, Study Finds

The story also mentions harmful side affects from acupuncture malpractice (though malpractice is a risk in just about any professional service).

93 percent of Ayurveda medicinal plants threatened with extinction

Dhanvantari

Traditional Ayurvedic medicine could face an uncertain future as 93 percent of the wild plants used in the practice are threatened with extinction due to overexploitation, the Times of India reports. […]

Of course, other traditional Asian medicines have been attacked for their use of parts from endangered animals, such as tiger bones and rhino horns, but Ayurveda has so far avoided such criticisms.

Scientific American: Ayurveda out of balance: 93 percent of medicinal plants threatened with extinction

Thanks Bill Whitcomb who asks:

Can’t someone start a medical rumor about that would tend to get rid of something we don’t like? Something like, “Annecdotal evidence from many traditional healers points to a terrific increase in male potency achieved by smoking the dried scrotums of Republicans, though this is not supported by any scientific studies to date.”

Quack remedies spread by virtue of being useless

Eating a vulture won’t clear a bad case of syphilis nor will a drink made of rotting snakes treat leprosy, but these and other bogus medical treatments spread precisely because they don’t work. That’s the counterintuitive finding of a mathematical model of medical quackery.

Ineffective treatments don’t cure an illness, so sufferers demonstrate them to more people than those who recovery quickly after taking real medicines.

“The assumption is that when people pick up treatments to try, they’re basically observing other people,” says Mark Tanaka, a mathematical biologist at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, who led the study. “People don’t necessarily know that what somebody is trying is going to work.” […]

Under a wide range of conditions, quack treatments garnered more converts than proven hypothetical medicines that offer quicker recovery, Tanaka found. “The very fact that they don’t work mean that people that use them stay sick longer” and demonstrate a treatment to more people, he says.

New Scientist: Quack remedies spread by virtue of being useless

(via OVO)

University Opening New Integrative Medicine Center

“Many academic health centers offer programs that include traditional Chinese treatments or Ayurvedic medicine from India. The University of New Mexico goes beyond that, says management of its new Center for Life. “The uniqueness of our program is that we not only embrace Eastern and Western philosophies, but we try to integrate the traditions of New Mexico,” said Dr. Arti Prasad, the center’s director. Thus, Native American healers and Hispanic curanderas are invited to work with patients at the clinic.

The Center for Life, which opened Friday, offers what Prasad prefers to call “complementary medicine” – augmenting modern medicine with practices and treatments that may go back thousands of years in other cultures. The philosophy has its basis in preventing disease, what Prasad describes as “keeping the body in balance, staying healthy, exercising, eating healthy and doing good things in your life.” Western medicine works to find disease early with such tests as mammograms, while Eastern medicine steps in earlier to try to prevent disease, she said. If there’s an imbalance in the body and a person becomes ill, Eastern medicine tries to get the body back in balance, she said.

The center’s physicians work with yoga instructors, doctors of Oriental medicine or hypnotherapists “to achieve one goal of health and wellness in our patients,” said Prasad, a native of India who graduated from conventional Western medical schools but grew up with traditional folk medicine as part of the Indian lifestyle.”

(via PhysOrg)

LSD cures allergies???

I found this story on Plastic: Andrew Weil (a leader in alternative medicine) is advocating LSD as an allergy treatment. “I took LSD. I was in a wonderful outdoor setting. I felt terrific and, in the midst of this, a cat came up to me and crawled into my lap. I did not have an allergic reaction to it and I never did since.”

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