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 Complementary therapies 
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Joined: July 4th, 2007, 9:48 am
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Has anyone tried or does anyone currently use any of the following:

herbal remedies
acupuncture
homeopathy
reiki
acupuncture


or anything else that comes under the rubric of alternative medicine?


Please report your findings. I don't do any of them but I know several people who claim herbal remedies and acupuncture have helped them.


July 19th, 2007, 3:14 pm
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Sorry - nope! Think they're all crap.


July 19th, 2007, 3:22 pm
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Quote:
DougS.
herbal remedies
I've taken St Johns wort in the past, it worked for me, if one of the dogs has a dicky stomach, they go into the garden and eat Oregano and Marjoram, it never fails to work for them.
I have no doubt some herbs work for some things, the rest of the list, bunkum.

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July 19th, 2007, 3:45 pm
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I'm sure that herbal remedies work and I think it's been well established that St John's Wort does.

But homeopathy is something else again. I cannot understand the underlying principle and why Boots stocks something that appears to be sheer quackery.


July 19th, 2007, 5:26 pm
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I manage (among other things) a community health project that introduces people who experience mental ill-health to ‘complementary therapies’ as alternative strategies for coping with stress. They appear to work as such and are a lot less harmful than anxiety and depression or drug and/or alcohol dependency, to which coping strategies such ‘therapies’ can alternatives be.

Of course, it's all terribly unscientific and, for that reason, ought not to be publicly funded. Anti-depressants and tranquilisers are much more halal/kosher/scientifically validated.


July 19th, 2007, 5:33 pm
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Burning lavender oil seems to help us sleep and burning orange oil seems to wake us up. Apart from that, I've never tried anything.


July 21st, 2007, 4:49 pm
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Hi Whitecraw, I was working with a group of young folk with drug and alcohol problems a few years ago, and caused much hilarity when I volunteered to be the first person to be 'guinea pig' for acupuncture. My ears ended up looking like pin cushions. I am sure if I had twiddled my nose I would have been able to pick up the BBC World Service.

In the alcohol project where I used to do counselling, there were many things on offer to clients such as aromatherapy. I was, and am comfortable with all these things being used, as long as as no inappropriate claims were made for or about them. A wee placebo effect never hurt anybody, and the caring word and gentle touch that accompanied them may have been the only decent human contact some of these folk ever had. In this wee life we have, we take our comfort where we can. Good to hear from you by the way,

L

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July 21st, 2007, 5:05 pm
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I personally think most of these things have close to no efficacy and if they work at all it is probably due to a placebo effect. Until extensive double blind scientific studies are done into all of these things I wouldn't put any credence to them.

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July 27th, 2007, 12:42 am
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Sorry - nope! Think they're all crap -


- but as already said, the placebo effect can be got from anything; even prayer allegedly. DID I JUST SAY THAT ?


July 27th, 2007, 5:00 pm
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I talked to the Perth Group of the HSS last night on Complementary Medicine. Unfortunately (!), Ron had delivered the data projector before I arrived and he wasn't able to stay...:sad:

I'll post my talk here sometime over the weekend for anyone that's interested.


July 27th, 2007, 5:18 pm
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Autumn wrote:
I'm sure that herbal remedies work and I think it's been well established that St John's Wort does.



Not exactly. There is some evidence that it can be more effective than a placebo in cases of mild depression but this evidence is controversial. One thing that has been said about the trials for St John's Wort is that none of them lasted for longer than six weeks and this is not long enough to establish whether there were any adverse side effects.

The evidence against it being effective in cases of moderate to severe depression seems pretty conclusive and, given that depression is a serious illness and cause of suicide, to encourage people (as some do) to try something they can buy over the counter instead of seeking professional help is pretty irresponsible.

Sources:

Quackwatch

Net Doctor

The best that can be truthfully said about herbal remedies is that some of them may work for some people (and animals) some of the time in the alleviation of mild to moderate symptoms. Like Zoe, I sometimes burn lavender oil to help me sleep and I've noticed on the nights that I do, I feel much groggier in the morning - as if I'd taken a sedative. I also sometimes drink peppermint tea if I have a dicky tummy because I find it soothing.

There is a hell of a lot of promotion of these remedies by people with a vested interest in doing so. Unsurprisingly, such promotion often fails to mention some pretty unpleasant side effects. For example, this site, which sells peppermint oil on-line, makes no mention of side-effects.

What it does say is:

Quote:
Peppermint oil is an excellent digestive aid. A few drops in a glass of water makes a refreshing after-meal beverage that not only tastes great, it improves digestion! Peppermint Oil eliminates gas, bloating and abdominal cramps. It improves circulation and the production of digestive fluids. All-natural Peppermint Oil relieves headaches, nausea and soothes spastic colon.


I sincerely hope anyone ordering it will have first seen this site, which isn't selling it:
Quote:
Peppermint oil can cause burning and gastrointestinal upset in some people. It should be avoided by people with chronic heartburn, severe liver damage, inflammation of the gallbladder, or obstruction of bile ducts. People with gallstones should consult a physician before using peppermint leaf or peppermint oil.


I've never tried acupuncture or reiki but I would like to. I've heard enough people say they get something out these to make me curious even though nobody can explain how these 'work' in any way that makes sense.

As for homeopathy - it is utter bunkum. Yes, I think Alan should post the talk he gave on this forum. If it saves one person from wasting any money on a homeopathic remedy, it'll be worth it.


July 28th, 2007, 12:54 pm
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I have tried acupuncture. It provided temporary musculoskeletal pain relief.


July 29th, 2007, 3:50 pm
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My talk can be found here. I usually make much of it up as I go and only occasionally refer to my notes, so it's not exactly as I gave it.


July 29th, 2007, 3:57 pm
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Alan H wrote:
My talk can be found here. I usually make much of it up as I go and only occasionally refer to my notes, so it's not exactly as I gave it.
Very good Alan, but my head hurts after trying to digest the numbers. :supershock:

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July 29th, 2007, 5:13 pm
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Loved your article Alan! Thank you.


August 1st, 2007, 8:21 pm
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Thanks for the link to your notes Alan. Interesting reading. I hope to be able to catch your presentation if and when you do it again.

Kindest regards,


L

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August 1st, 2007, 9:36 pm
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In Bed Goldacre's blog today, there is an article about the memory effect of water:


Quote:
********************************************************************************
Bad Science » The memory of water is a REALITY
http://www.badscience.net/?p=480
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The memory of water is a REALITY

August 2nd, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in homeopathy, bad science |

A special edition of “the journal previously known as the British Journal of Homeopathy” claims to have assembled a large body of data proving that water has a memory. By which they mean, of course, a memory of more than a few picoseconds, which can explain the effects of homeopathy sugar tablets (which have been shown in trials to be no more effective than placebo sugar tablets).

This is an interesting claim for two reasons. Firstly, without wanting to be too trite, a man called James Randi has a million dollar prize on offer for anyone who can reliably demonstrate paranormal phenomena, and he has been clear that homeopathic claims fall under this banner, so hopefully we’ll be seeing some new applicants soon.

But secondly, it raises the issue of what I call “the hassle barrier”: in extremis, for the purposes of popular discourse, it is not necessary for homeopaths to prove their case. It is merely necessary for them to create walls of obfuscation, and superficially plausible technical documents that support their case, in order to keep the dream alive in the imaginations of both the media and their defenders.

This is a pattern seen also in the work of anti-EM campaigners, and anti-vaccine campaigners, and I am sure it will be reflected in any journalist’s coverage of this special issue. “It’s quite complicated,” you can hear them thinking already: “but it looks like the science is divided, golly, look at those long words and classy job titles… I can get something out of this…”

I’ve lost count of the quantity of material I’ve trawled through from these lobbies. Time and again you find that the references they use do not say what they say they say. They use technical terms in a way that is completely inaccurate. They distort, misrepresent, and most significantly cherry pick data. After a while, you have to say: enough, life is too short, I’ve wasted too much time; you are no longer reliable witnesses to the data; you are, to me, a dead voice.

But that would be wrong. It’s possible that there is some meaningful and interesting new data in here, albeit that it will have to be considered in the context of all the negative findings (and who could forget the joy of this Benveniste story). The joy is in the details. And that is what I would like to share with you. But I can’t.

To my mind, the phenomenon of “the hassle barrier” is facilitated by the inaccessibility of information, the fact that you cannot get access to published primary academic research - which is often funded by your tax money - unless you have an academic login, or pay a very high premium per article, which reflects all kinds of factors, but is clearly not tailored towards selling content to individual interested readers.

Because of this, I’ve written to the Elsevier press office, asking if they would mind if I reproduced the articles here. I’m proposing to give each one a separate post, so that people can read the work - in full - and then comment on each paper. I am sure that the authors would like to see their work more widely available and freely discussed, and I’m not proposing a shitfight. What makes this site interesting for me is that - alongside occasional outbursts of high comedy - the comments are often very insightful, and many of you are quite sharp (and eminent, I see from snooping on the registration details…)

What I’m hoping is that this might be like a kind of informal “journal club”. I say hoping, because in reality I suspect they’re going to say no, and the data will stay locked behind a pay wall forever, leaving only the media coverage for mortals without Athens logins.

For those in the secret club who are allowed to read academic papers, here’s the link to the special issue.

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/14754916

The email to Elsevier is off. Fingers crossed. They have shown themselves to be rather good recently.

[Captured: 03 August 2007 00:15:49]

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August 3rd, 2007, 12:16 am
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...and the press release from Elsevier:

Quote:
********************************************************************************
Bad Science » The memory of water is a REALITY
http://www.badscience.net/?p=480
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

PRESS RELEASE:

The Memory of Water is a Reality
New issue of Homeopathy journal explores water memory effects

Oxford, UK, 01 August 2007 – A special issue of the journal Homeopathy, journal of the Faculty of Homeopathy and published by Elsevier, on the “Memory of Water” brings together scientists from around the world for the first time to publish new data, reviews and discuss recent scientific work exploring the idea that water can display memory effects. The concept of memory of water is important to homeopathy because it offers a potential explanation of the mechanism of action of very high dilutions often used in homeopathy.

Guest editor Professor Martin Chaplin of the Department of Applied Science at London South Bank University, remarks: “There is strong evidence concerning many ways in which the mechanism of this ‘memory’ may come about. There are also mechanisms by which such solutions may possess effects on biological systems which substantially differ from plain water.”

The concept of the memory of water goes back to 1988 when the late Professor Jacques Benveniste published, in the international scientific journal Nature, claims that extremely high ‘ultramolecular’ dilutions of an antibody had effects in the human basophil degranulation test, a laboratory model of immune response. In other words, the water diluent ‘remembered’ the antibody long after it was gone. His findings were subsequently denounced as ‘pseudoscience’ and yet, despite the negative impact this had at the time, the idea has not gone away.

In this special issue of Homeopathy (http://www.elsevier.com/wps/find/journa ... escription), scientists from the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Russia, USA as well as the UK present remarkably convergent views from groups using entirely different methods, indicating that large-scale structural effects can occur in liquid water, and can increase with time. Such effects might account for claims of memory of water effects.

Commenting on the special issue, Professor Chaplin said: “Science has a lot more to discover about such effects and how they might relate to homeopathy. It is unjustified to dismiss homeopathy, as some scientists do, just because we don’t have a full understanding of how it works.” In his overview he is critical of the “unscientific rhetoric” of some scientists who reject the memory of water concept “with a narrow view of the subject and without any examination or appreciation of the full body of evidence.”

Professor Chaplin and Dr Peter Fisher, editor-in-chief of the journal, agree that the current evidence brings us a step closer to providing an explanation for the claims made for homeopathy and that the memory of water, once considered a scientific heresy, is a reality. “These discoveries may have far reaching implications and more research is required,” comments Dr Fisher.

# # #

About Homeopathy
Homeopathy is the leading international journal of homeopathy, and the only journal dedicated to the topic indexed in Medline (http://www.sciencedirect.com/homp). It is the journal of the Faculty of Homeopathy (http://www.trusthomeopathy.org), and published by Elsevier.

About the Faculty of Homeopathy
The Faculty of Homeopathy was incorporated by Act of Parliament in 1950 to provide education and
training in homeopathy for statutorily regulated healthcare professionals. The Faculty’s membership includes doctors, vets, dentists, nurses, pharmacists, podiatrists and a number of other healthcare professionals who are qualified in and practice homeopathy.

[Captured: 03 August 2007 00:18:17]

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August 3rd, 2007, 12:18 am
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I haven't tried any and certainly wouldn't pay to try any. Homoeopathy and reiki are just plain b*ll*cks. Herbal preparations may have an effect, but because they have not been subject to any clinical trials, I can't be sure that any effect would be safe let alone beneficial.

I vaguely remember reading somewhere that acupuncture stimulates the brain to release endorphins and therefore can provide effective pain relief. i don;t know whether that is true or not. As for acupuncture's other claims... I file them under "B" with homoeopathy and reiki.

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August 3rd, 2007, 2:37 pm
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One of the things that really bothers me is the claims made by those little Chinese medicine shops that seem to have sprung up all over the place. Is advertising in shop windows not regulated by anyone?


August 7th, 2007, 3:37 pm
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