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Complementary therapies

Any topic related to science can be discussed here.
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DougS
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Joined: July 4th, 2007, 9:48 am

#21 Postby DougS » August 7th, 2007, 3:37 pm

Latest post of the previous page:

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?

Maria Mac
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#22 Postby Maria Mac » August 7th, 2007, 4:10 pm

I don't know, Doug. Doesn't seem so. Talking of shops, I've just come across a certain 'reputable' chemist's very disreputable website:

Boots Learning Store

:cross:

What a bunch of crap! Here's an example:

Holistic healing considers the whole person and how they interact with their environment.It does not just focus on the illness.

A person is made of interdependent parts which are:
- physical
- mental
- emotional
- spiritual

and if one part is disturbed then health is impaired.



This is accompanied by a drawing of a person shape divided into three parts: physical, mental and spiritual - no emotional. No explanation of what is meant by 'spiritual', how the 'spiritual' part of us can be 'disturbed' and how this could 'impair health'.

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Alan H
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#23 Postby Alan H » August 7th, 2007, 4:51 pm

DougS wrote: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?
Doug

Yes. Any advertising is regulated by the Advertising Standards Authority. I have had a couple of successes with them against Dr & Herbs and Herbmedic. I'll dig up the links to the adjudications this evening.

Compassionist
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Misconceptions about the Mind

#24 Postby Compassionist » August 7th, 2007, 6:34 pm

It is absurd the way they use words such as physical, mental, spiritual and emotional as if they are different lego bricks that form people!

There is only physical and mental and these are not disparate parts but evidence shoes that the mind is produced by the physical workings of the brain. Of course, one could argue that all things physical are in fact illusions - the Maya Hypothesis - but it can't be proved or disproved.

Emotionality is often dubbed spirituality. You feel elated by a beautiful dawn and it's supposed to be a spiritual experience when it is just the workings of your brain. Most people seem to have little knowledge of the brain. That is why there is so much stigma against so called mental health difficulties. Neuropsychiatric problems are as chemically based as diabetes.

Obviously, because we are talking about the brain it is possible to intervene physically with medications and mentally by using talking treatments. They are just two different levels of interaction and intervention.

Noggin
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#25 Postby Noggin » August 7th, 2007, 8:22 pm

Courtesy of ASKE Psychic & Pseudoscientific services:

>>ASKE all-purpose homeopathic cure
Now of course we can't promise you anything definite as to a cure but we can give you a chance to test homeopathy's effectiveness before spending your hard earned cash on what might possibly be a useless remedy. So here's the deal. We have connected our own all-purpose homeopathic treatment to the mains water supply here in the UK. So to be cured all you have to do is turn on the tap. You can drink it, bathe in it or even use it to make tasty hot beverages such as tea and coffee. If your garden plants are looking a bit wilted then give them some of the treatment. Also suitable for household pets.

We are currently looking at producing a special dispensing vessel to ensure you get the most from our 'medicine' but in the meantime try and get by just using a drinking glass. Check back for an expensive introductory offer.

In scientific tests our treatment, indeed homeopathy as a whole, was proved to be the equal to any known form of placebo.<<



:wink:

Felicia
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#26 Postby Felicia » August 9th, 2007, 5:44 pm

Excellent, Noggin!

My own experience with homeopathy: years ago, before all the scientific stuff came up about its uselessness, I went to a homeopath. (:redface:) I'd had bouts of psoriasis for years, and no conventional medicine made the slightest difference. I'd noticed that it tended to get worse with stress - and at this particular time we were particualrly stressed with money worries. Anyway, so I turned up and spent a highly enjoyable hour or so talking about myself, whether I preferred hot or cold food, mountains or sea, etc etc. Then the homeopath said I was an extremely difficult case because everything sounded so positive! she brought out a pendulum and suspended it over two pages of a book of remedies. The whole process lost all credibility for me at this point. Anyway, she gave me some pills, and told me to take two before bed, and two in the morning, which I did. The next morning the post also brought a large cheque from my mother. The psoriasis cleared up (I've not had it since).

Now, cheque or sugar pill?

(I saw the homeopath years later and told her this and she said, with a twinkle, that the remedy made the cheque come!)

I think all these nutty therapies have such strong support not because of their intrinsic efficasy, but because the practicioners spend so much time getting to know their patients. Its the human contact which is therapeutic.

Compassionist
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#27 Postby Compassionist » August 9th, 2007, 8:08 pm

Felicia wrote:I think all these nutty therapies have such strong support not because of their intrinsic efficacy, but because the practicioners spend so much time getting to know their patients. Its the human contact which is therapeutic.


I would agree that it is the luxury of one-to-one time. Not to mention the fact that you are paying for this luxury. If GPs could give an hour to each of the patients, instead of 5 minutes, I am sure the patient satisfaction would go up big time!

Maria Mac
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#28 Postby Maria Mac » August 11th, 2007, 8:09 pm

In case TV owners don't already know, Richard Dawkins is doing a two parter on superstitions - including alternative therapies - and the first one is on Monday 13 August at 8 pm.

Alan is circulating today's Guardian comment about it in his MediaScan or you can read it directly here:

Richard Dawkins, TV evangelist.

DougS
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#29 Postby DougS » August 12th, 2007, 5:16 pm

Thanks for all the responses to this thread and I hope people will continue to contribute to it.

Given that anything Richard Dawkins does tends to be provocative, I thought I'd start a new one for people to post their reactions to the programme and discuss the issues raised, if that's OK.

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Alan H
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#30 Postby Alan H » August 15th, 2007, 10:45 pm

On Ben Goldacre's blog, an interesting article on research on the memory effect of water: Homeopathy Journal Club

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Alan H
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#31 Postby Alan H » September 25th, 2007, 5:54 am

In Tuesday's Times:


********************************************************************************
Sticking needles in a bad back ‘eases pain better than drugs’ - Times Online
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_a ... 525544.ece
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Sticking needles in a bad back ‘eases pain better than drugs’
Nigel Hawkes, Health Editor

Acupuncture works better than conventional treatments in reducing lower back pain, according to researchers in Germany.

But so does fake acupuncture, where the needles are inserted shallowly and in the wrong places. In a trial of more than 1,100 people, both were almost twice as effective as a combination of drugs, physiotherapy and exercise.

The results suggest that both acupuncture and sham acupuncture act as powerful versions of the placebo effect, providing relief from symptoms as a result of the convictions that they engender in patients.

A team led by Michael Haake, of the University of Regensburg, recruited 1,162 patients aged between 18 and 86 who had suffered lower back pain for an average of eight years. They were divided into three equal groups, and treated either with genuine acupuncture, with the needles inserted in precisely specified places and to a predetermined depth, with fake acupuncture, or with antiinflammatory drugs, painkillers and physiotherapy.
Related Links

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* Acupuncture shown to 'cut arthritis pain'

Success was measured as a one-third improvement in pain, or a 12 per cent improvement in mobility.

After six months, almost half of those on true acupuncture (47.6 per cent) and 44.2 per cent of those on sham acupuncture had met these criteria, while only 27.4 per cent of those treated conventionally had. This suggests, say the authors in Archives of Internal Medicine, that acupuncture, however incompetently it may be applied, is about twice as effective as conventional therapy.

“The superiority of both forms of acupuncture suggests a common underlying mechanism that may act on pain generation, transmission of pain signals or processing of pain signals by the central nervous system and that is stronger than the action mechanism of conventional therapy,” the authors say.

“Acupuncture gives physicians a promising and effective treatment option for those experiencing chronic low back pain, with few adverse effects or contraindications. The improvements in all primary and secondary outcome measures were significant and lasted long after completion of treatment.”

They say that this is the largest and most rigorous trial to investigate the benefits of acupuncture, the technique in which sharp needles are introduced to a considerable depth into the body in precisely defined places in the body.

Its results, they acknowledge, are surprising. That random pricking of the skin to a depth of one to three millimetres works almost as well as “true” acupuncture, which involves penetrations to a depth of five to forty millimetres in precise places, leads them to question the underlying mechanism.

It also suggests that lengthy training in the technique may be superfluous. All that is needed is to declare that you are a practising acupuncturist and make a few shallow insertions, the trial suggests.

The trial aimed to distinguish between the physical and the psychological effects of the technique. If true acupuncture worked better than sham, it would have shown that it has a genuine basis in physiology. But the trial failed to find any differences at all. So the authors conclude that the results send a confused message. One possibility is that there are no physical effects at all of acupuncture, or that they are are so small that they are overlaid by far stronger psychological effects.

Alternatively, acupuncture does work, but it does not matter how well or badly it is done. Symptoms improve regardless of point selection or depth of needling.

Since all the participants had long-term back pain, it is reasonable to assume that all had experienced conventional treatment, which often fails. Low back pain is notoriously hard to treat, so the use of acupuncture would have been novel, and likely to bring the placebo effect into play.

That fake acupuncture appeared to have worked almost as well as true acupuncture supports this conclusion.

Straight to the point

–– In Oriental medicine, illness is said to be due to an imbalance of “vital energy” (Ch’i) which flows through the body along 12 pathways or meridians, each corresponding to one of the vital organs

–– The acupuncturist inserts very fine stainless steel needles at specific points to stimulate energy flow; patients report a tingling sensation

–– Trials have shown benefits in treating pain, nausea and headaches

–– There appears to be no scientific basis for the medical concept or placement of needles

–– It has been used in China since 3000 BC, with stone needles found in Mongolia

–– The Cochrane Collaboration, the most authoritative review of evidence, says that it is effective for low-back pain but no better than conventional treatment

Source: Times database

[Captured: 25 September 2007 05:54:51]

###################

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Nick
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#32 Postby Nick » September 25th, 2007, 9:42 am

I don't know whether to be amused or horrified, but you can now get "Professional Indemnity and Public Liability" insurance for the following "professions"

Angel Work
Learning how to communicate and receive messages from guides, spirits, angels and the afterlife


Crystal healing


Energy Cone Technique (ECT)

This is similar to Meridian Energy Therapy.

It brings emotions and negativities of the client to the awareness of both “client” and clinician.

These realisations are subsequently removed (or dealt with) with the express intention of the conscious mind. ECT is non invasive, non intrusive, and may be used as a completely confidential technique. There is no necessity for either the therapist or the client to know details of the trauma in order to effectively release it from the system.

ECT focuses on the discovery of Energy Cysts, or Cones, predominantly in the palms o f the hands and the dispersal and elimination of that trapped energy in, through and out of the energy body. It can be applied to consciously acknowledged problems, but more often than not it is applied to the unknown and unacknowledged issues that lie beneath all manner of our problems from stress, distress, self esteem issues, phobias and traumas, and much more besides.

ECT may be used alone, or in conjunction with other techniques.



...and many many others.


Has the world gone mad?

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whitecraw
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#33 Postby whitecraw » September 25th, 2007, 10:27 am

Yeah, I knew that. I had to get an endorsement on my organisation's insurance in order to ensure that the complementary therapies we offer through our Community Health project were covered against the risk of legal claims. It's pretty standard.

Fred
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Joined: July 13th, 2007, 3:33 pm

#34 Postby Fred » September 25th, 2007, 11:20 am

Talk about a misleading headline - http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/7011738.stm

It's not until paragraph 4 that you get the telling sentence, "The Archives of Internal Medicine study also found fake acupuncture to work nearly as well as the real thing."
Fred

Tom Rees
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#35 Postby Tom Rees » September 25th, 2007, 2:25 pm

Fred wrote:Talk about a misleading headline - http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/7011738.stm

It's not until paragraph 4 that you get the telling sentence, "The Archives of Internal Medicine study also found fake acupuncture to work nearly as well as the real thing."


The fake acupuncture also involved sticking needles into people. There's a theory of pain called the 'gate control theory' which says that you can block nerve pain transmission by activating large nerve fibers.

So acupuncture may still work for pain relief, though not by the medieval theory normally used to explain it. At least, that's what I rememeber from my undergraduate days :)

I found this: Neuroscience for kids heh heh... kids these days eh?

Fred
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#36 Postby Fred » September 25th, 2007, 2:41 pm

Tom Rees wrote:
Fred wrote:Talk about a misleading headline - http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/7011738.stm

It's not until paragraph 4 that you get the telling sentence, "The Archives of Internal Medicine study also found fake acupuncture to work nearly as well as the real thing."


The fake acupuncture also involved sticking needles into people. There's a theory of pain called the 'gate control theory' which says that you can block nerve pain transmission by activating large nerve fibers.

So acupuncture may still work for pain relief, though not by the medieval theory normally used to explain it. At least, that's what I rememeber from my undergraduate days :)

I found this: Neuroscience for kids heh heh... kids these days eh?


It wasn't until after I posted that it dawned on me to wonder what fake acupncture was :puzzled:
Fred

Felicia
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#37 Postby Felicia » September 25th, 2007, 4:01 pm

What I find so interesting about this acupuncture study is the power of the placebo effect (although I take Tom's point about gate-blocking theory). I often think the occasional study result like this, or the very high levels of devotion that people have for complementary therapies, is what really needs investigating. I suspect the degree of personal attention is what really makes the difference. It seems that what so many really want is someone simply to pay attention.

Tom Rees
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#38 Postby Tom Rees » September 25th, 2007, 9:43 pm

Felicia wrote: I suspect the degree of personal attention is what really makes the difference.


When it comes to pain, distraction is an extremely effective remedy, of course. There was an interesting study recently that showed that, for kids being given an injection, having mum present was better than analgesic alone. But even better than having mum present was giving giving the kids a portable dvd player to watch!

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Alan C.
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For anybody...........

#39 Postby Alan C. » September 25th, 2007, 10:53 pm

For anybody who didn't see Horizon "A war on science" it's here in 5 ten minute video's. And well worth watching.
video 1
video 2.
video 3.
video 4.
video 5
Abstinence Makes the Church Grow Fondlers.

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Don Alhambra
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#40 Postby Don Alhambra » September 27th, 2007, 7:20 pm

Tom Rees wrote:The fake acupuncture also involved sticking needles into people. There's a theory of pain called the 'gate control theory' which says that you can block nerve pain transmission by activating large nerve fibers.


Ooh, interesting. I will have to ask my friend Stuart about this, he's a pain researcher. (And one of the authors on the paper about whether foetuses can feel pain that was all over everywhere a couple of years ago, if you're interested. :))

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Alan C.
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#41 Postby Alan C. » September 27th, 2007, 8:09 pm

Don Alhambra
And one of the authors on the paper about whether foetuses can feel pain that was all over everywhere a couple of years ago, if you're interested.
I'd love to read the paper if you have a link for it Don.
Abstinence Makes the Church Grow Fondlers.


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