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 Post subject: Re: The Red Flags of Quackery
PostPosted: Mon Jan 30, 2012 11:31 pm 
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littlebear wrote:
I have definitely started using homeopathic remedies in the last few months. Some of it I think maybe helps and none of it seems to hurt. The biggest thing for me was when I was having supply issues with my breastmilk I took herbs and they worked, really, really well.


Plaaaaceeeeeeboooooo.

But that's a good thing anyway. It's unfortunate that you had to pay unscrupulous people for it but hooray for happy babies.

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 Post subject: Re: The Red Flags of Quackery
PostPosted: Mon Jan 30, 2012 11:45 pm 
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solipsistnation wrote:
littlebear wrote:
I have definitely started using homeopathic remedies in the last few months. Some of it I think maybe helps and none of it seems to hurt. The biggest thing for me was when I was having supply issues with my breastmilk I took herbs and they worked, really, really well.


Plaaaaceeeeeeboooooo.

But that's a good thing anyway. It's unfortunate that you had to pay unscrupulous people for it but hooray for happy babies.

Man, I disagree! I went from having to supplement with formula because I could not produce enough milk to having a happy baby only getting breastmilk. Between the herbs and an 18 hour nursing session I was able to get my supply up.


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 Post subject: Re: The Red Flags of Quackery
PostPosted: Mon Jan 30, 2012 11:54 pm 
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Oh, I kinda misread that as being homeopathic stuff for lactation. I've heard that herbs work as well, and it'd be cool if somebody figured out why...

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 Post subject: Re: The Red Flags of Quackery
PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2012 12:00 am 
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solipsistnation wrote:
Oh, I kinda misread that as being homeopathic stuff for lactation. I've heard that herbs work as well, and it'd be cool if somebody figured out why...

Fom what I have read it seems some food and herbs can increase milk production and some can help to dry you up when you are weaning. There are lots of foods that do amazing things to your body. Maybe we don't completely understand it, but science will eventually. To me the thing about homeopathic, holistic, traditional medicine, if it works and we don't know why, it's cause science hasn't figured it out yet. Just because we don't have the science to back it up doesn't mean it doesn't work.


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 Post subject: Re: The Red Flags of Quackery
PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2012 12:08 am 
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But there's a big difference between ingesting an herb and ingesting filtered water that "remembers" the infinitesimal amount of something it was once in contact with.

An herb—or anything—might have some observable (or powerful) effect on your body. That's not homeopathy. Homeopathy is magical thinking. Science hasn't failed to understand it. There's no non-placebo effect to understand. And no means by which it could work.

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 Post subject: Re: The Red Flags of Quackery
PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2012 12:34 am 
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Yeah. That's why I was all "placebo!" when I thought it was homeopathic lactation stuff.

Because homeopathy is lies lies lies straight-up.

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 Post subject: Re: The Red Flags of Quackery
PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2012 10:01 am 
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Yeah homeopathic medicine is quackery. Water doesn't remember an herb.

The use of herbs themselves aren't alternative medicine because there are some herbs used in traditional medicine. I've had doctors recommend herbs in the past for various things. Hospitals use leeches. There are things that are outside of pharmaceuticals that are used but many pharmaceuticals are based on 'natural' remedies such as aspirin, penicillin, etc.

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 Post subject: Re: The Red Flags of Quackery
PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2012 3:49 pm 
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linanil wrote:

The use of herbs themselves aren't alternative medicine because there are some herbs used in traditional medicine. I've had doctors recommend herbs in the past for various things. Hospitals use leeches. There are things that are outside of pharmaceuticals that are used but many pharmaceuticals are based on 'natural' remedies such as aspirin, penicillin, etc.


I was trying to get at this several posts back, and agree (except I know nothing about the leeches thing). My doctor prescribed herbs to me many times, so basically we are talking semantics if someone says that is Medicine and someone else calls it holistic, or Chinese medicine. The herbs don't need to have double blind testing if they have been used safely and effectively for thousands of years by humans, and are prescribed by a doctor.


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 Post subject: Re: The Red Flags of Quackery
PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2012 3:55 pm 
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JillW wrote:
The herbs don't need to have double blind testing if they have been used safely and effectively for thousands of years by humans, and are prescribed by a doctor.


Sure they do.

People have been using powdered rhino horn for thousands of years to increase sexual prowess. That doesn't mean it actually does anything.

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 Post subject: Re: The Red Flags of Quackery
PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2012 4:37 pm 
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powdered rhino horn causes harm (to the animal) so I wouldn't support that.


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 Post subject: Re: The Red Flags of Quackery
PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2012 4:51 pm 
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JillW wrote:
powdered rhino horn causes harm (to the animal) so I wouldn't support that.


The point is that simply because "people have used [something] for thousands of years" does not mean something works.

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 Post subject: Re: The Red Flags of Quackery
PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2012 5:12 pm 
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Anecdotal evidence piled up over thousands of years is evidence. Drugs with double blind studies that barely edge out the placebo effect, and then fast tracked to market, doesn't work that well for me either, particularly if they were animal tested first.
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 Post subject: Re: The Red Flags of Quackery
PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2012 5:32 pm 
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I don't understand your argument.

Drugs that have gone through extensive testing and have been found ineffective (or hardly effective), but that are nevertheless released into the public are not evidence against science or "Western" medicine. They are evidence against the perfection of the pharmaceutical industry.

Anecdotal evidence piled up over thousands of years is not necessarily meaningful. People have also been reading tarot cards for thousands of years, and believing in witches, and thinking that your soul magically lives on after you die.

If science investigates substance X and cannot find evidence that X does something, I think you're done. There's nothing else to appeal to, no other way to determine whether X does something.

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 Post subject: Re: The Red Flags of Quackery
PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2012 11:00 pm 
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ok, the argument would be that Substance X, say an herb, hasn't been investigated in rigorous scientific setting. No studies have been carried out. Substance X still has a lot of people saying it helped them, and this has gone on for centuries. I don't think it's analogous to souls going to heaven, because people obviously can't report back from the afterlife (demi moore and patrick swayze notwithstanding). If substance X has had the equivalent of human trials going back centuries, albeit without the rigorous testing we now use, I don't regard doctors who prescribe that as quacks. The other substances mentioned earlier like rhino horn, I don't believe are seriously diagnosed by medical professionals. Nor tarot readings.


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 Post subject: Re: The Red Flags of Quackery
PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2012 11:05 pm 
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The thing is that the placebo effect is strong. I've read something about diet pills in that something just being called a diet pill will have a bit more than 50% of the people who take it report that it works. If the marketing is good for the diet pill, the percentage goes up to 75-80%. The same thing can be said for 'traditional' herbs. If someone believes it works, tells you it works, you might believe it works even if it does nothing.

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 Post subject: Re: The Red Flags of Quackery
PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2012 11:25 pm 
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littlebear wrote:
I have definitely started using homeopathic remedies in the last few months. Some of it I think maybe helps and none of it seems to hurt. The biggest thing for me was when I was having supply issues with my breastmilk I took herbs and they worked, really, really well.


I don't think of herbs as a homeopathic remedy. Was it fenugreek? I've read that it is supposed to help promote lactation. Whatever it was, I'm glad it worked for you and baby!

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 Post subject: Re: The Red Flags of Quackery
PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2012 11:48 pm 
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JillW wrote:
ok, the argument would be that Substance X, say an herb, hasn't been investigated in rigorous scientific setting. No studies have been carried out. Substance X still has a lot of people saying it helped them, and this has gone on for centuries. I don't think it's analogous to souls going to heaven, because people obviously can't report back from the afterlife (demi moore and patrick swayze notwithstanding). If substance X has had the equivalent of human trials going back centuries, albeit without the rigorous testing we now use, I don't regard doctors who prescribe that as quacks. The other substances mentioned earlier like rhino horn, I don't believe are seriously diagnosed by medical professionals. Nor tarot readings.


But thousands of years of people using it and claiming results is, as you said before, purely anecdotal evidence and is thus not particularly reliable. You seem to be misunderstanding what a human trial _is_-- for it to be scientifically acceptable, you need 2 groups of comparable people, or people with similar issues (and of course it's more complicated than that but roll with me) and you need to give one group a placebo and one group the actual substance. And you tell BOTH groups that you've given them the actual substance and see who improves and who doesn't.

Just saying "Well, yeah, people took it and got better," sure. For example:

For thousands of years, people with colds have sipped hot tea.
Within 3-5 days, the cold goes away and the people feel better.
Thus, sipping hot tea cures colds.

"Well duh, of course it doesn't," you say. But by the rules you are defining for a human trial, it has been proven that sipping hot tea DOES cure colds.

This is a long way around to say "Correlation does not imply causation."

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 Post subject: Re: The Red Flags of Quackery
PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2012 11:57 pm 
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That also reminds me of the idea of spontaneous generation. For thousands of years, people believed that life could spontaneously generate from inanimate objects. The classic example is maggots from meat. Based on observational data, people believed that maggots came from meat. It wasn't until experiments were done to show that was not the case that idea was thrown out. It seems odd to us now that people would believe life could just spontaneously occur but people did.

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 Post subject: Re: The Red Flags of Quackery
PostPosted: Thu Feb 02, 2012 7:21 am 
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i've been trying really hard to stay out of this, since apparently i am a quacker. However, I have a hard time condemning all herbs as quackery since big pharma (which, it seems to me, is really the driver behind what gets tested and what doesn't- i remember reading somewhere that the tests cost so much to do) doesn't want to test them- and why would they, they have no revenue potential if people can pick them from their yards. I use herbs for some things, and for these things it's easy enough to find studies from europe, from china, from south america, where the universities and government are paying for research, though surely they won't spring for large-scale human trials. sure, i suppose, i use "third world info". i live in the third world, though, so maybe i deserve it.

i use an herb for kidney stone stuff. not because it holds "moon energy" or because "thousands of years of Asian secrets", but because it's been used successfully in clinical settings. a two-second search on one of its functions brings up lots of journal articles about its use- some from "quackers" like ethnopharmacology, and some that aren't:

Murugaiyah, V., et al. "Mechanisms of antihyperuricemic effect of Phyllanthus niruri and its lignan constituents." J. Ethnopharmacol. 2009 Jul; 124(2): 233-9.
Schuler, T., et al. "Medical expulsive therapy as an adjunct to improve shockwave lithotripsy outcomes: a systematic review and meta-analysis." J. Endourol. 2009; 23(3): 387-93.
Kieley, S., et al. "Ayurvedic medicine and renal calculi." J. Endourol. 2008; 22(8): 1613-6.
Wright, C., et al. "Herbal medicines as diuretics: a review of the scientific evidence." J. Ethnopharmacol. 2007 Oct; 114(1) :1-31.
Murugaiyah V, et al. "Antihyperuricemic lignans from the leaves of Phyllanthus niruri." Planta Med. 2006 Nov; 72(14): 1262-7.
Micali, S., et al. "Can Phyllanthus niruri affect the efficacy of extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy for renal stones? A randomized, prospective, long-term study." J. Urol. 2006 Sep; 176(3): 1020-2.
Barros, M. E., et al. "Effect of extract of Phyllanthus niruri on crystal deposition in experimental urolithiasis." Urol. Res. 2006 Dec; 34(6): 351-7.
Nishiura, J. L., et al. “Phyllanthus niruri normalizes elevated urinary calcium levels in calcium stone forming (CSF) patients.” Urol. Res. 2004 Oct; 32(5): 362-6.
Barros, M. E., et al. “Effects of an aqueous extract from Phyllanthus niruri on calcium oxalate crystallization in vitro.” Urol. Res. 2003; 30(6): 374-9.
Freitas, A. M., et al. “The effect of Phyllanthus niruri on urinary inhibitors of calcium oxalate crystallization and other factors associated with renal stone formation.” B. J. U. Int. 2002; 89(9): 829–34.
Campos, A. H., et al. “Phyllanthus niruri inhibits calcium oxalate endocytosis by renal tubular cells: its role in urolithiasis.” Nephron. 1999; 81(4): 393–97.

There is more on pubmed. Yet it is still not recommended by FDA. I just don't really see this as being the same as crystal healing and spontaneous generation.

(and am really surprised this thread is still open.)

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 Post subject: Re: The Red Flags of Quackery
PostPosted: Thu Feb 02, 2012 7:39 am 
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I don't think the FDA approves any herbals though and no one is saying that something has to be FDA approved. Just that anecdotal evidence isn't enough. There are scientific standards across the world and if something stood up to those standards, then it seems good to me. We know herbs can be medicinal so that really isn't an issue.

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 Post subject: Re: The Red Flags of Quackery
PostPosted: Thu Feb 02, 2012 9:31 am 
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The INDUSTRY (as in, we wanna make $$) that creates herbal/vitamin remedies does not want to be regulated by the FDA as medicines because that means they would have to provide proof of what they claim. They are regulated as a food.
Once on the market, they are monitored for "quality standards" but that does not mean they are safe or effective.
The manufacturers of these products are making cash without having to prove that their products are effective. That peas me off at least as much as "big pharma."

If something works, it becomes medicine. I don't think that it's helpful to distinguish between medicine and "alternative/complementary" medicine.

For those who are interested, here is a journal article about galactogogic medicines and herbal treatments. (Apparently, galactogogic means "something that increases milk production."
http://ejournals.library.ualberta.ca/in ... /6663/7429
http://sci-ence.org/red-flags2/

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 Post subject: Re: The Red Flags of Quackery
PostPosted: Thu Feb 02, 2012 9:33 am 
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solipsistnation wrote:
"Correlation does not imply causation."

I'm thinking about having this tattooed on my arm.

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 Post subject: Re: The Red Flags of Quackery
PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2012 8:45 pm 
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I thought I would raise a thread from the dead because the OP is still valuable as people search the internets seeking cure-alls.

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 Post subject: Re: The Red Flags of Quackery
PostPosted: Wed Jun 13, 2012 9:52 pm 
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Just wondering why you guys lump chiropractic in with all those other things that I don't buy into. My chiropractor is awesome. He's never adjusted my spine (it hasn't been my problem - not sure if he does adjustments or not) and does more deep massage/active release. He diagnosed my leg length discrepancy which no MD had ever noticed, diagnosed my extra tight IT bands and worked them out to a point where I can walk long distances without getting bursitis in my hip anymore (so long as I keep going to him or foam roll on my own - but I now know what that popping on my trochanter is and how to fix it) and when I started working as an xray tech and suddenly had extreme shooting pains and an inability to raise my arm after feeling an odd "pop" in my shoulder while working alone at night and trying to slide (pull) a 300-lb patient onto my xray table I went to see him and after explaining my symptoms and having him examine me quickly he diagnosed an old AC separation from my youth which was causing an impingement in my shoulder (exacerbated and slightly re-injured from all the overhead work and pulling), as well as impingements in both elbows that were just beginning to flare up but not that bad yet. After a half hour session I could move my arm again and after a few weeks of following the stretches and deep tissue massage he told me to do myself I haven't had a problem since. That sort of chiropractic seems pretty "medical" to me. Is there another kind I don't know about? If so they definitely shouldn't be lumped together with my guy 'cause he's rad. He did way more for me than physio did. After months of physio after breaking my tibial plateau I was still in pain and limping. A few weeks with him and I was definitely on the mend.


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 Post subject: Re: The Red Flags of Quackery
PostPosted: Wed Jun 13, 2012 10:21 pm 
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Your chiro sounds great. The guy I met ran x-rays and told me I had a severely deteriorated neck disk and I would need all sorts of expensive tests and work or else I'd have serious issues in the future. I got a second opinion from my MD who told me the chiro was just plain wrong. My neck is fine now, after a round of PT.

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