Thursday, March 22, 2007

Alternative therapy = fraud

Just a warning, I'm going to rant about this, because I feel pretty strongly about this subject. Alternative therapy or complementary medicine are things like acupuncture, homeopathy or reflexology. Those who practice or promote these techniques are at best fooling themselves and at worst defrauding honest people. Science is a method to get answers, our only limitation is our ability to find testable hypotheses, which isn't a problem when it comes to alternative medicine. The truth about alternative therapies is this: They are unproven, untested, pseudo-medical procedures that are based on faulty logic and are scientifically unsubstantiated. Acupuncture is based on the idea that "vital energy" flows in the body via "channels", which when "clogged" cause diseases. Somehow you can stick needles into these channels to restore flow. All the clinical trials so far looking at pain prevention have shown no effect, and in fact sham needles which do not puncture the skin were just as effective. This is purely a placebo and relaxation effect. Homeopathy is based on the idea that diluting something 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 times (actual figure), which causes similar symptoms to your disease (it can be anything really), leaves a memory imprint in water which will rebalance your body fluids. A drop of water is then placed on a sugar pill and then sold to you. Some people will forgo therapy to take that, paying good money too. Obviously readers of the bayblab know better, but many people don't. Health is a human right, and false claims and fraud on this scale should be punished. And it makes me really sad and angry when the therapies are offered as a program in universities, that I have to share a science degree with them.

Speaking of quackery, even cancer treatment is not immune to it, and it's too close for comfort. The alternative therapy offered by the Ottawa-based Canadian Cancer Research Group has more then questionable scientific validity. Even though you can find claims of efficacy on the web I cannot find any peer reviewed research that is happening there, and their methods remain unpublished, and for a good reason, it is not scientifically validated. Don't be fooled. If you want to learn more about the Canadian cancer research group, their amino-acid/vitamin "therapy", or Mr William O'neil you can check the very good quackwatch website and its canadian counterpart the canadian quackery watch, and the ratbag. I also strongly encourage you to see the CTV investigation on the show W5 about the claims made by this individual and his organistion. He's been known to bully his critics, including me, and authorities know about him... In fact there is a standing order at the OHRI to alert authorities and block his entry if he comes on campus.


9 comments:

Anonymous said...

I agree with much of your criticisms. However, some scientific investigation into the claims of alternative medicines should be investigated with an unbiased agenda. Demonstrating no effect should be widely publicized, and practitioners of this type of medicine should then not be allowed to make unsubstantiated claims. In my mind this is the best way to protect people from being ripped off.
Acupuncture is a good example of a practice that has been around for along time and while the reasons suggested for its efficacy sound silly and unscientific, it has been selected for over the years as something that, at the very least, some people believe works.
What if it actually does for some other reason that we might be able to figure out in the context of scientific fact?
Another issue I think is why have many people decided that western medicine is not the pinnacle of treatment? Why is there doubt as to whether it has the best available treatments? Conspiracies aside, I think that it is possible that there exists some preventative or placebo 'medications' that just aren't part of the paradigm of diagnose then treat with a small molecule. It is at least worth looking at.
That being said I think that anyone at the Canadian Cancer Research Group who is ever diagnosed with cancer should not receive any conventional therapy and should have to treat themselves with their own methods. bastards.

Bayman said...

Well said Coward! Enough of the bullshit, I'm sticking with phrenology.

Anonymous Coward said...

I agree with you that alternative medecine should be investigated scientifically. But I'm tired of staying in the moral gray area. I think Dawkins has a point, there is such a thing as perverse tolerance. The truth is, even if they don't advertise their products as having efficacy, there is an implied understanding that they do. And I bet you that none of the practioners give informed consent on the inefficacy of their treatment to their patients. As an aside i think the placebo effect is one of the most interresting scientific phenomena, and should be a subject of intensive research.

Bayman said...

What we need is a controlled, double-blind trial comparing the efficacy of various agents in activating the placebo effect, and the cohorts of mechanistically-unrelated diseases that each one affects.

Dominic B. said...

Some studies have been done on homeopathy (although I do not have references) and, if I remember well, no effect was really proven. However, homeopathy works for many people. And it does work. Noone can deny the power of the placebo effect. This effect is the most marvelous thing the human body can experiment...it eally proves the concept of "mind over matter". I think mny homeopaths are "snake oil salespersons" BUT...many of them are genuinely concerned about the health of their patients (see this posting: http://bioblogie.blogspot.com/2007/02/venin-et-chinace.html

CHEERS!!!

Anonymous said...

hey fuckwad! post a peer reviewed study demonstrating the efficacy of chemotherapy. goodluck....

Anonymous said...

How did he know I was reading this?
Thanks for you wishes of good luck, though.

Dr. I.M. Fuckwad, PhD, Esq.

karim said...

Very thoughtfull post on alternative therapy. It should be very much helpfull

Thanks,
Karim - Creating Power

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