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Alternative medicine can be scientific, say besieged academics

RMIT University’s School of Health Sciences has rejected the suggestion that it peddles pseudo-scientific quackery via its…

Spicy debate: RMIT is researching the effectiveness of ginseng in improving lung function in patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. Flickr/wparadiso.

RMIT University’s School of Health Sciences has rejected the suggestion that it peddles pseudo-scientific quackery via its courses in complementary and alternative medicine (CAM).

Acting head of the school Dr Ray Myers has defended RMIT’s health science programs as “evidence-based education and practice”, citing collaboration in clinical research of CAM treatments funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).

Dr Myers was speaking in the face of a campaign by a coalition of prominent medical researchers to expunge higher education of the “undisciplined nonsense” taught in CAM courses at Australia’s “somewhat lesser universities”.

The campaigning group, Friends of Science in Medicine (FSM), has about 400 signatories, including immunologist Sir Gustav Nossal and Professor Jock Findlay, chairman of the NHMRC’s Embryo Research Licensing Committee. It has written to every vice-chancellor in Australia asking for a review of their health science courses to “ensure that primacy is given to scientific principles based on experimental evidence”. The letter laments the spread of chiropractic studies to 19 Australian universities, and complains that ‘energy medicine’, ‘tactile healing’, homeopathy, iridology, kinesiology, acupuncture, and reflexology are taught “as if they were science”.

Group co-founder Emeritus Professor John Dwyer from the University of NSW said that FSM wants “vice-chancellors to ask their deans of science what’s the heck’s going on … It’s just extraordinary that such undisciplined nonsense is being taught in universities around Australia.”

“One of the complaints that we have about so-called alternative medicine is that it doesn’t strive to be tested. … modern medicine is totally devoted to doing everything we can to take this evidence-based approach and do good science and do good research into the things we do to people,” he said. “Alternative medicine doesn’t do that - it’s more than happy to rely on tradition and anecdote and it doesn’t really want to be tested.”

However, Dr Myers said that CAM research at RMIT was conducted in a thoroughly scientific manner, with the NHMRC funding clinical trials of alternative medicines. In a clinical study granted A$560,000 by the NHMRC and A$30,000 by the National Institute of Complementary Medicine, the university was collaborating with two Melbourne hospitals on a clinical study investigating the use of ginseng, a herb used in traditional Chinese medicine, for improving lung function in patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), he said.

The NHMRC had also granted A$400,000 for a project in which the university was collaborating with three Melbourne hospitals on a three-year clinical trial of acupuncture for pain management in emergency departments, Dr Myers said. “The project follows the promising results of pilot studies by RMIT researchers, in which more than 1,000 patients received acupuncture treatment for acute pain relief at the emergency department of the Northern Hospital.”

The professions of Chinese medicine, chiropractic and osteopathy are government regulated, Dr Myers said, with RMIT programs in these fields meeting current professional standards and subject to external accreditation. Chiropractic and osteopathy were areas in which clinical research was limited, but RMIT’s education program incorporated the “best available evidence, while promoting further clinical research into these treatments,” Dr Myers said. “RMIT stands by its long record of evidence-based research and the high quality of its health sciences programs.”

But FSM is not buying it. “Those universities involved in teaching pseudoscience give such ideologies undeserved credibility, damage their academic standing and put the public at risk,” the group’s letter states.

The great danger, said Professor Dwyer, was that people who have chronic health problems or who have been persuaded that doctors do not have the answers are delaying the “proper investigation and treatment” of their illness by instead seeking help from therapists offering alternative medicine.

“These are dangerous delusions, and our campaign at the moment is aimed at those somewhat lesser universities, but nonetheless universities, that are offering and teaching pseudoscience as if there was an evidence base to support it, because obviously that gives credibility in the eye of the public,” Professor Dwyer said.

Citing the late CEO of Apple, Professor Dwyer said that “Steve Jobs spent a year with his cancer of the pancreas trusting homeopathic remedies, and by the time he got to the surgeons it was all over.” It is worth noting the veracity of this claim by Professor Edzard Ernst about Mr Jobs treating his cancer with homeopathy has left some struggling to find evidence for it, while others have claimed that for nine months after his diagnosis, Mr Jobs spurned what could have been life-saving surgery in favour of not homeopathy but a vegan diet and herbal remedies.

The “lesser universities” that have aroused the ire of FSM include the Australian Catholic University, Charles Sturt University, Central Queensland University, Edith Cowan University, Macquarie University, Monash University, Murdoch University, RMIT University, Southern Cross University, Swinburne University, the University of Ballarat, the University of New England, the University of Newcastle, the University of Queensland, the University of Technology Sydney, the University of Western Sydney, and the University of Wollongong. To buttress its case, FSM has gathered a list of offending courses, which includes Chinese Medicine, Wellness studies, Applied Eastern Anatomy, Clinical Science with options to study osteopathy and naturopathy, Mind/Body Medicine, and many others.

“It should be a policy that all universities, higher education institutions, should not be involved in in this woolly teaching,” Professor Dwyer said, adding that “I suspect that these are well attended, popular, money-earning courses for cash-strapped universities.”

The claims of FSM, however, ignore the evidence about CAM in higher education, said Dr Wardle, a NHMRC Research Fellow at the University of Queensland’s School of Population Health and co-director of the Network of Researchers in Public Health and Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NORPHCAM), an international group promoting clinical research in CAM.

“They’re actually not that interested in evidence, because the overwhelming evidence is that putting CAM into universities has increased the standards, decreased the fringe element, and improved public safety, so it definitely smacks of dogmatism,” said Dr Wardle, who is a naturopath.

“They love to say that there’s no such thing as complementary medicine and conventional medicine, there’s just evidence-based and non-evidence-based, but, for example, St John’s Wort for over a decade now has been shown to be equally as effective as any pharmaceutical indication for mild to moderate depression, yet there’s still a large group of doctors who refuse to integrate it simply because it’s a herbal medicine,” Dr Wardle said.

The world of CAM is not a “homogenous entity”, said Dr Wardle. “There is a lot of crap, but there’s good stuff, and treating it like it’s all the same thing is very, very fraught. Taking it out of universities runs a real risk of the fringe element getting a stronger voice in the profession.”

“There are studies from Canada, Australia, and Britain that show that CAM practitioners are less anti-vaccination when they’re university trained, and they refer more to conventional [medical] providers when things get serious if they’re university trained.”

“If you look at chiropractic courses [in universities], most of it is human physiology. Chiropractic is certainly not the dominant part of the course. If you look at naturopathy, they do learn herbal medicine and nutrition but they also learn basic health science: they learn the common language of health practice - they learn what a physio or a medical doctor or a nurse would learn. Putting it into the universities diminishes the fringe element,” Dr Wardle said. “If they [FSM] are really worried about public safety they should be not trying to exclude and ostracise them from the university sector.”

He questioned how representative FSM’s roll call of doctors really is, saying that he has just completed a survey of every rural GP in NSW and qualitative interviews with about 30. “About a third wouldn’t have anything to do with complementary medicine providers, another third were very open to it - maybe too open - and the other third if they knew a practitioner who got results they’d send people on.”

About 70 per cent of Australians use CAM and it thus makes sense for research and training to be carried out within the regulation and scientific rigour of the universities, Dr Wardle said.

Comments welcome below.

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415 Comments sorted by

  1. Douglas Cotton

    Climate Research

    "The great danger" can be that conventional medicine is too slow to implement discoveries in the "natural medicine" field which have been every bit as much trialled as convectional medications.

    Consider, for example, this US government website http://www.clinicaltrials.gov/ which lists trials, and their National Institutes of Health. http://nih.gov/ which conduct them.

    There are thousands of peer-reviewed published solid clinical trials in the field of natural medicine, many dating back 20…

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  2. Susan Kirk

    logged in via Twitter

    OK I will say it again I just find this issue oppressive for a number of reasons. It reeks of censorship. Its fascist and elitist. Are we really going to let a bunch of elitists dictate our philosophy? Are we also going to let them determine our choice of healthcare or education. If we relinquish the 'peoples' knowledge of herbs then we lose something intrinsic, something not quantifiable, a history, a history that includes our culture and our connection to nature, a big view picture. How can herbal…

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    1. Tim Scanlon

      Author and Scientist

      In reply to Susan Kirk

      Susan, by your logic it is fascist and elitist to insist upon any principles, scientific or otherwise, be held in teaching. So I'm going to propose that we team up to ban the teaching of gravity, "round Earth theory", that sticking your hand in a blender is not a good idea, and other such drivel.

      What opponents of alternative medicine are about is stopping quackery. Herbal medicines have been studied for many years and have been largely found to have no benefits. So selling them as a treatment is fraudulent. Teaching it as a science is degrading to all science. The same goes for accupuncture (placebo at best), chiropractic (placebo through to harmful), homeopathy (Lol), all pseudo-science rubbish.

      If it is fascist and elitist to demand standards of our sciences then be prepared for society to decline into the dark ages.

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    2. Susan Kirk

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Tim Scanlon

      If herbal medicine is such drivel, then why are scientific papers being published every day? And what makes this subject so far removed from what plant science (agronomists) are doing every day? Isn't science looking for that ''super' plant. The one that not only performs better in the field but has more polyphenols or more carbohydrates or more Vitamin D? Herbal medicine is an extraction of plant constituents that have value for health. So if we both concur that plants have health benefits…

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    3. Ian Musgrave

      Senior lecturer in Pharmacology at University of Adelaide

      In reply to Susan Kirk

      It is not elitist to require good evidence for therapies to be accepted (just like it is not elitist to prefer modern chemistry over the Phlogiston theory of combustion, or the heliocentric theory of the solar system over the geocentric).

      As a scholar, the very essence of scholarship is careful weighing of evidence, and when we are dealing with health, we want our decisions to be made with the best available information. When people want to make health care choices, they should have access to the best available information, no mere hearsy.

      Herbal medicine contains a mish mash of preparations that can work (artemesinin for malaria, St' Johns Wort for depression, providing the preparation actually contains the said substance) and things that don't work (echinacea, chasteberry etc.). Science is sorting out which do and don't work.

      People are very good at fooling themselves, and many traditional preparations are not effective.

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  3. William Bennett

    Lecturer in Environmental Chemistry at Griffith University

    I completely agree with the FSM on this one. Alternative medicine has no place in our Universities - in fact it has no place in any publicly funded place. If people are stupid enough to waste their money on unproven, untested 'treatments', let them do so - but don't waste public money on it!

    It is so hard to get research funding these days. It's time to cut-off this useless money pit and redirect the funding to real research!

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  4. Brendano

    logged in via Twitter

    Remember that in NSW, everyone can legally call themselves a Doctor.

    Dr. Wardle says "Taking it (CAM) out of universities runs a real risk of the fringe element getting a stronger voice in the profession."

    Wrong Dr Wardle, it is precisely by allowing CAM into Universities that the fringe element becomes more strident in espousing their magical beliefs, and the CAM 'professionals' further promote their shonky, unproven 'therapies'.

    Remember, if these 'Alternative Medicines' and 'Alternative Therapies' actually worked, and were proven to work, they would simply be called Medicine and Therapies.

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    1. Joseph rosso

      Not applicable for this conversation

      In reply to Brendano

      True. Doctor is NOT the protected title, Medical Practitioner is.

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  5. Sam Edwards

    logged in via Twitter

    I have a Bachelor of Health science in Acupuncture, and I wish Friends of Science in Medicine had been around a decade ago so I might have avoided it.

    I agree completely with Brendano in regards to inserting CAM into universities.
    Saying that introducing CAM courses into universities to make the practitioners less fringe is analogous to suggesting we create a white supremacist humanities course in the hope of making them less racist. Even if it works you have still devalued your entire academic…

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  6. Richard Dobson

    logged in via Facebook

    Sam Edwards' comments have profusely saddened me. We were contemporaries at ACNM, and we share a lot in common. I also am a massive Sherlock fan (you must d/l season 2, which has just been screened in England, its awesome!), and an enormous House fan, I really love the logical way of thinking. But you know even House has used Chinese Herbal Medicine to treat one of his patients in an episode...

    Thing is Sam, science has not discovered everything yet. There are still things to be discovered in…

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  7. Ken McLeod

    logged in via Facebook

    How can any rational person justify the teaching of homeopathy in taxpayer-funded universities? See this Coroner’s Report on the death of Penelope Dingle and weep.(http://www.scribd.com/doc/68731728/Coroner-Dingle-Finding)

    How can any rational person justify the teaching of chiropractic in taxpayer-funded universities? See this PowerPoint presentation from a leading chiropractor and gnash your teeth in frustration, that this is standard chiropractic teaching. (http://www.scribd.com/doc/61486011/Nimrod-Weiner-Seminar-Presentation)

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    1. Rachael Dunlop

      Post-doctoral fellow at University of Technology, Sydney

      In reply to Ken McLeod

      The misinformation regarding vaccination coming out of Nimrod Weiner's practice needs a public health warning in of itself. I sat through his appallingly inaccurate 2 hour presentation about 12 months ago and was shocked by the unadulterated nonsense being spouted from his computer screen. Despite being instructed to remove the presentation from his website following a complaint to the CCNSW, it re-appeared again recently. I believe a second complaint has now been submitted but in the meantime, the…

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    2. Trevor Lowe

      Student nurse

      In reply to Rachael Dunlop

      Perhaps those who seek to justity and advance scientifically evidenced based CAM could advance their cause by naming shaming and indeed osracising those who promote anti-scientific and pseudo scientific nonsense so as it can be clearly seen that the issue is about evidence not modality.

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    3. Carole Hubbard

      conservationist

      In reply to Rachael Dunlop

      Hi Rachael,
      Unfortunately, in my opinion mainstream medicine has come under the influence to some extent of pharmaceutical propaganda and misinformation. So to make broad sweeping statement that a certain altie has got it all wrong, isn't a good idea, because conventional medicine has got a lot wrong as well. You might think there is strength in numbers, and that because most people believe something that is taught as standard practice in mainstream medical schools, makes it true. This is incorrect.

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    4. Carole Hubbard

      conservationist

      In reply to Rachael Dunlop

      Hi Rachael,
      Conventional isn't all right and CAM isn't all wrong. Conventional allopathic medicine rails against CAM but shouldn't because there are so many diseases that conventional has no cure for and often the best drug-based medicine can do is ease a person's suffering.
      Scientific studies are up to 90% flawed and peer review is no more reliable than a throw of the dice. Antibiotics are touted as one of allopathic's miracle wonders, attributed to saving many lives, yet in a way this is a fraud because CAM has nutritional remedies / cellsalts which can also cure infections but its effectiveness has been kept under wraps. Why? Not because it doesn't work though.

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    5. Rachael Dunlop

      Post-doctoral fellow at University of Technology, Sydney

      In reply to Carole Hubbard

      Carole, please point out where I made a 1) "broad sweeping statement that a certain altie has got it all wrong". 2) Said all CAM is wrong. You've already been corrected on the 90% fallacy. Repeating it will not make it right.

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    6. Carole Hubbard

      conservationist

      In reply to Rachael Dunlop

      OK. You said "The misinformation regarding vaccination coming out of Nimrod Weiner's practice needs a public health warning in of itself. I sat through his appallingly inaccurate 2 hour presentation about 12 months ago and was shocked by the unadulterated nonsense being spouted from his computer screen." Then you went on to say that the information shouldn't be available to the public, taking steps to have it removed from the web or something similar.
      I had a bit of a look for his website, which…

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    7. Rachael Dunlop

      Post-doctoral fellow at University of Technology, Sydney

      In reply to Carole Hubbard

      Which is not the same thing as saying "...a certain altie has got it all wrong". I specifically cited his vaccination information. I did not mention his chiropractic information. I'm sorry Carol, but your propensity to misquote me. cite anecdotes as evidence and drift off into conspiracy time and time again precludes me from having a worthwhile discussion with you.

      If you don't understand why false information about vaccination is dangerous then I suggest you do some research of your own. I'm not here to do it for you. Cheers

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    8. Ian Musgrave

      Senior lecturer in Pharmacology at University of Adelaide

      In reply to Carole Hubbard

      You keep using that figure and I have pointed out it is wrong. In Ionnadies original studies it wasn't even anywhere near 50% let alone 90%, and that was for cutting edge reports NOT all science (and most of them were gene chips, so it's not surprising that later, improved methods could find different effects).

      But again, that's the strength of science, we don't accept these reports at face vaule but test them. Unlike CAM, which doesn't try and systematically tests their work.

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    9. Ian Musgrave

      Senior lecturer in Pharmacology at University of Adelaide

      In reply to Carole Hubbard

      Antibiotics have proven effectiveness in saving lives and reducing morbidity. There is no good evidence that either nutritional remedies or salts have any effect on survival in bacterial infections, or reducing the incidence or duration of bacterial infections (there is some weak evidence that cranberry juice might have a preventative effect for urinary tract infection in young, but not elderly women, but this still requires more evidence).

      This sentence from a popular site talking about cell salts is dnagerously wrong."Cell salts do not react with medications because they are supplying minerals on a cellular level."
      Potassium containing salts will certainly interact with potassium sparing diuretics, angiotenisn converting enzyme inhibitors (possibly fatally) and digoxin, as they also operation on mineral at a cellular level. This

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    10. Carole Hubbard

      conservationist

      In reply to Ian Musgrave

      Yes, antibiotic proven effectiveness is well known pharmaceutical intervention that saves lives, sure. But there are nutritional cellsalt remedies that are not so well known. Is this really surprising that nutritional cures aren't well known as pharmaceutical solutions?
      I can eliminate infections, parasites and fungi with cellsalts but this information is carefully hidden because the moment it becomes mainstream you can kiss pharmaceutical profits goodbye. This comes down to the competing schools of thought between the germ theory and the soil theory. In the 1800s there were some top scientists (bechamp, virchow) who thought the internal milieu / environment was more important than the germs, and as long as it was in good nick the person had natural immunity. However, the budding pharmaceutical business decided to run with pasteur's germ theory. I wonder why?

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    11. Carole Hubbard

      conservationist

      In reply to Rachael Dunlop

      Yes Rachael, it is dangerous to put out disinformation on vaccination in some ways. However, the truth also needs to be addressed.
      Vaccination may help prevent the diseases for which a person is vaccinated for, however, overall there is a theory that they have undesirable side effects generally on a person's overall health, many people developing auto-immune diseases. In some countries where there is a very low standard of living vaccinations can save lives, but the better solution is to improve nutrition. I've done some research and find that there are two conflicting sides of the story, one being put out by those aligned with pharmaceutical medicine, and the other by anti-vaxxers, often parents of kids who have seen deterioration with their own eyes.

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    12. Carole Hubbard

      conservationist

      In reply to Ian Musgrave

      Well Ian, my mistrust of scientific studies goes back to the reports the public often gets in the newspapers where one year eggs are bad for you, then a few years on they're good.
      Other such studies as well. And then I see that the evidence-based culture is one where people can't even come up with a ball park figure on anything without consulting a study. So if you have study which says black is white and vice versa, the inclination is to go along with it and say, "Oh, it is placebo that we see white as white, it is really black" etc.
      I think the public are entitled to try things out for themselves without interventional of EBM telling them what is good for them and what isn't. I think its all a big con designed to eliminate people's free choice and railroad them into pharmaceutical products.

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    13. Ian Musgrave

      Senior lecturer in Pharmacology at University of Adelaide

      In reply to Carole Hubbard

      It's not that they are not known, it's that there is NO GOOD EVIDENCE that they work. There is no good evidence that "Schuessler cell salts" do anything to bacterial infections.

      Strangely enough, we have learnt a thing or two about infections since the 1800's, Pasteur's germ theory was established well before we had the first effective antibiotics in the 1950's (well, there were the sulphonamides in the late 30's, but they were limited in scope).

      Ironically, drug companies don't like antibiotics because there is not a big enough profit in them.

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    14. Carole Hubbard

      conservationist

      In reply to Ian Musgrave

      Not just infections Ian, but also fungi and parasites. The nutritional remedies for many diseases has been suppressed to favour a drug-based culture.
      From what I read, the rockefeller family will do anything to make a buck including getting rid of any competition. One of old man rockefeller's quotes was "competition is a sin".
      http://coat.ncf.ca/our_magazine/links/53/rockefeller.html
      "Rockefeller’s great generosity was aimed largely at medical education, perhaps because of his father’s career…

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    15. Ian Musgrave

      Senior lecturer in Pharmacology at University of Adelaide

      In reply to Carole Hubbard

      Please provide some actual evidence that these salts treat infections.

      An what is this obsession with the Rockefellers? The US is not the world, and a large chunk of the development of scientific medicine occurred in Europe and Australia.

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    16. Carole Hubbard

      conservationist

      In reply to Ian Musgrave

      If nutritional remedies weren't put so much on the backfoot, this knowledge would be more available. You mean you want some sort of scientific evidence that cellsalts cure infections, fungi and parasites? Where am I going to find that -- well not in your dumbed-down institutes of medical learning, that's for sure.
      The rockefellers and their ilk, industrial robber barrons of the 19th century are responsible for cornering the market on things such as transport, oil, medicine, education, manufacturing etc. Anybody who tries to compete either gets incorporated into their outfit or eliminated. The rockefellers are the main example I suppose regarding medicine, but others include morgans, rothchilds, not sure of others - need to look it up. But what they started back in 19th century continues on today, it is an industrial medical monopoly that doesn't like competition and does what it can to talk it down and eliminate it.

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    17. Carole Hubbard

      conservationist

      In reply to Ian Musgrave

      I don't think there have been any studies done to compare the overall health of vaccinated to unvaccinated. Today's children are more prone to various auto-immune diseases such as allegies and asthma. There are certain reports of children who's health takes a backward step after vaccination, reported by parents. I just don't think the science is there to say that vaccinations don't cause any side effects or lowering in overall health.
      The theory that infectious childhood diseases were eliminated solely by vaccination isn't really true. Apparently sanitation had a lot to do with it as well as improved nutrition. Often there are outbreaks of disease due to vaccination, if you read some reports, not just those cherry picked by conventional sources wishing to paint a rosy picture.

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    18. Carole Hubbard

      conservationist

      In reply to Ian Musgrave

      The general public read about studies done by this and that institution showing eggs are bad one week then ok in a couple of years time. There is a lot of this sort of thing to the extent that the public often take studies with a grain of salt. And so I bring to this discussion my experience as a member of the public, along with the Ioannidis findings that many if not most studies, are flawed.
      I just get sick and tired of hearing about studies done for this and that. The studies that are done often don't prove a real lot and are in exclusive rarified topics often, while the incidence of chronic ill health continue to increase.

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    19. Ian Musgrave

      Senior lecturer in Pharmacology at University of Adelaide

      In reply to Carole Hubbard

      You are wrong, there are many studies showing that vaccinated people overall equal in health or better health than the unvaccinated (the links in the article I gave you will lead you to them) a Swedish study actualy showed teh vaccinated were slightly less likely to die overall (excluding the diseases they were actually vaccinated against).

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    20. Rachael Dunlop

      Post-doctoral fellow at University of Technology, Sydney

      In reply to Carole Hubbard

      Carole, that is the fault of bad reporting of science by non-specialists journalists. Which as a matter of fact, is part of the reason why this website was established. Please don't equate what appears in the papers to what scientists are discovering. It's highly offensive. Even we are (mostly) embarrassed by it.

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    21. Carole Hubbard

      conservationist

      In reply to Rachael Dunlop

      Your bias is showing Rachael. The journalist David H. Freedman who wrote the article stating that up to 90% of studies is flawed, is the author of 'Wrong: Why Experts Keep Failing Us—And How to Know When Not to Trust Them'.
      In another article by a different journalist, http://www.tbyil.com/Flawed_Fraudulent_Medical_Studies.htm
      Top Researcher Finds Medical Studies to be Largely Wrong or Fraudulent, there is the same comments.

      "Ioannidis [researcher who discovered studies were up to 90% flawed…

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    22. Carole Hubbard

      conservationist

      In reply to Ian Musgrave

      There is no way that vaccinated would have better health over unvaccinated. This is to imply that vaccination has some overall benefit apart from the disease it vaccinates against. So this study would be one of the faulty ones. How many people were tested, and was the study done by vested interests.
      What there needs to be done is a large scale study showing vaccinated children to be as healthy as unvaccinated. Because at the moment there is a suspician that while vaccination prevents one disease (that which it is vaccinated for) it causes other diseases, such as various auto-immune diseases (allergies, asthma, autism etc).
      I think the jury is out on this one Ian, and no matter how much denial you want to go into, just saying that vaccinations are safe isn't good enough given that the causes of so many auto-immune diseases are on the increase and without any known causes ie Vaccination has to be considered as a possible cause.

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    23. Rachael Dunlop

      Post-doctoral fellow at University of Technology, Sydney

      In reply to Carole Hubbard

      Goodness me, you were talking about eggs being bad/good, and somehow we're now back to your favourite study? And the fact that he wrote a book somehow makes him well qualified? Dear me Carole. It's really a shame you're not listening to the good information Ian is providing you. I see now that you have you fingers in your ears and you're chanting "la la la la, can't hear you!"

      As for the Ioannidis paper, I think you'll find it's more complicated than that. There is a well written analysis of his work here.

      http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2007/09/the_cranks_pile_on_john_ioannidis_work_o.php

      I encourage you to read it. I also encourage you to open your mind, because you seem intent on not listening or learning and that is a shame.

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    24. Carole Hubbard

      conservationist

      In reply to Rachael Dunlop

      What constitutes good or bad information is a bit subjective Rachael. I was just coming to the conclusion that Ian is repetitive and wrong on many things, and in fact reminds me of the typical skeptic type with biased outlooks. So be a pet and don't tell me what is good and what is bad, and who needs to learn what. I can't see any skeptic types learning anything, just the same old mantra about everything needing to be scientifically tested even although the tests are often wrong and prove very little. You talk about la la la, that is your attitude I'm afraid to learning anything about alternative medicine. Anybody who denies that homeopathy works obviously needs to brush up on their history.

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    25. Graeme Hanigan

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Carole Hubbard

      As a reformed self diagnosing, self medicating homeopathic junkie, I can say from first hand experience Carole, that I understand how you support your delusion in fantasy treatments. You show no understanding of skepticism or science and presenting your idiotic ideas does nothing to support the teaching of CAM in Universities. If anything you are a perfect example of the rusted shut, unthinking minds that CAM demands, unable to consider the possibility that you may be wrong.

      I am a skeptic and…

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    26. Carole Hubbard

      conservationist

      In reply to Graeme Hanigan

      The reason I know I am not wrong is that I can get rid of infections, parasites and fungi with cellsalts, by nutritional remedies. The fact that this information isn't known, or is known and kept quiet in favour of pharmaceutical drugs is criminal negligence. So don't tell me I don't know what I'm talking about or that I have a closed mind.
      You think I haven't worked anything out for myself, that I blindly follow CAM for no reason? That is you allopaths, skeptics and debunkers who do that. I know…

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    27. Graeme Hanigan

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Carole Hubbard

      "The reason I know I am not wrong" how many times have I heard this self delusion from a quack.

      Their own muddled anecdotal observations mean more to them than the best scientific research.

      Carole its because of the muddled human brain, making wrong correlations and cherry picking information which fits your beliefs and ignoring that which doesn't, is the very reason that the scientific method was invented.

      Thanks for reconfirming that your brain is rusted shut. The problem is your cognitive…

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    28. Carole Hubbard

      conservationist

      In reply to Graeme Hanigan

      Unlike you Graeme, I am not willing to give away my own reasoning processes, to be told that I'm mistaken and that its all placebo, that black is really white and vice versa.

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    29. Michael Bailes

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Carole Hubbard

      Both Science (Evidence based medicine) and alternative medicine have their own peculiar problems
      Ben Goldacre talks about some serious problems of bad science (and science reporting) on TED
      http://www.badscience.net/2012/09/i-did-a-talk-at-ted-about-drug-companies-and-hidden-data/
      and
      http://www.ted.com/talks/ben_goldacre_battling_bad_science.html

      I do find the prejudice against herbal medicine (not homeopathy) surprising given that plants are the source of so many life saving drugs

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    30. Carole Hubbard

      conservationist

      In reply to Michael Bailes

      Well of course, what it is all about is big pharma ie corporate medicine vs the people's medicine. The corporations wanting to get more market share and spending what it takes to put down alternative medicine and replace it with their product. The pharmaceutical companies spend so much money on marketing their products, more than on research. Marketing includes everything from donations to people running for office, getting their people inside government bodies, as well as the usual marketing to doctors and historical sponsoring of medical schools.

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    31. Rachael Dunlop

      Post-doctoral fellow at University of Technology, Sydney

      In reply to Carole Hubbard

      Er, I'm not wrong. How much money do you think Big Supplement makes? Do you think they are giving away their products out of the goodness of their hearts?

      Blackmores sales according to their annual report: Sales 2012: 260,832,000, 2011: 234,423,000, 2010: 214,934,000, 2009: 200,314,000, 2008: 178,833,000.

      So much for the "people's medicine".

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    1. Richard Dobson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Daniel Waddell

      That website uses case-study evidence to try and prove that acupuncture is ineffective and harmful. If you want to fight the battle on this particular turf, fine, because there is a legion of positive case-study evidence to counter your tiny sample, stretching back thousands of years and covering billions of patients.

      I mean, you're really scraping the bottom of the barrel, aren't you? Some golfer chick had *ONE treatment and didn't see an improvement? Yeah dude, its not a magic pill, its a healing process, it takes time. She had a bit of bruising? Ha, you obviously haven't seen the kinds of treatments they do in hospitals in China...

      That whole witch hunt website is bunk, and you should be ashamed of yourself for propagating and encouraging such narrow-minded intolerance.

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  8. Brian J. Morris

    Professor of Molecular Medical Science at University of Sydney

    As a signatory to the petition calling for the axing by universities of homeopathy, naturopathy, chiropractic and other courses based on pseudo-science I am shocked that any learned institution would teach gibberish alongside mainstream courses. But at the same time I support courses that apply the blow-torch of scientific rigour and evidence-based medicine to when teaching herbal medicine, as at the University of Sydney. Many very useful drugs are based on natural chemicals found in plants. And…

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    1. Carole Hubbard

      conservationist

      In reply to Brian J. Morris

      I tried to get a list of signatories from Friends of Medical Research's John Dwyer, or a website or something. But so far, no response. No, I don't think that alternative medicine should have all its remedies "scientifically tested" since up to 90% of such studies are flawed. What is most likely to happen, is that these studies that have stood the test of time, will be tested as useless - not because they are, but due to flawed science.
      If conventional medicine was right in its treatment of disease, there wouldn't be such a steady rise in chronic degenerative ill health amongst the community, nor would there be the blowout in costs of the medical system that has almost become unsustainable.

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    2. Carole Hubbard

      conservationist

      In reply to Brian J. Morris

      Maybe Brian, you can come up with a list of signatories or a website for this Friends of Medical Science group that you are signatory to.

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  9. Trevor Lowe

    Student nurse

    If there is evidence to support the use of a modality...then it is part of evidence based medicine. No evidence, trials, etc...then it isn't even CAM.
    People pay for treatments: they have an absolute right to an assurance, whether implicit or explicit, that their treatment is based on sound evidence, not a belief.
    It is not about philosophy, it is about reality. No one is dictating political beliefs or religions or fashion. Health management is about facts, science, proven methodology via recognised methods. The fact that science has so much to discover should not be used as an escape clause so as to allow fanciful practices to flourish under the guise of health treatments. What science is discovering gets incoporated into mainstream practices.
    Put the money, energy and effort into providing robust evidence for CAM and stop making cop out excuses.

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    1. Richard Dobson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Trevor Lowe

      Evidence for the efficacy of acupuncture is abundant. Let us also bear in mind that the double-blind randomised, controlled placebo trial is an inappropriate tool for measuring physical disciplines like acupuncture. For this reason, physiotherapy, surgery, psychiatry, psychology and a host of other mainstream treatments also suffer from a "lack of evidence" when evaluated with the same methodology.

      Simply put, that particular method is *ONLY suitable for measuring the effects of an interaction…

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    2. Ian Musgrave

      Senior lecturer in Pharmacology at University of Adelaide

      In reply to Richard Dobson

      Placebo and blinded interventions are used in surgery. The classic case was arthroscopy for osteoarthritis knee pain www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa013259 another is surgical interventions for Parkinsons disease, placebo based surgical trails go back to at least 1959. With surgery, the main is is whether placebo trials can be ethically performed in a particular circumstance (eg Placebo open heart surgery would not be justified), rather than the mechanism of the surgery.

      Physiotherapy and…

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    3. Richard Dobson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Ian Musgrave

      I'm aware that such placebo testing is conducted in surgery, physio, psych et al. But just because such a convention is accepted as the status quo, doesn't make it correct. And in fact, overall, the body of evidence for surgery, psych, physio et al is as equivocal as the evidence for acupuncture is, and the research quality in these disciplines in considered to suffer from the same paucity as acupuncture does.

      Simply put, we need a new paradigm of research methodology, because the current placebo…

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    4. Ian Musgrave

      Senior lecturer in Pharmacology at University of Adelaide

      In reply to Richard Dobson

      Then why did you strongly imply above that they didn't? If you think the body of evidence for surgery is as equivocal as for acupuncture, you are sadly mistaken.

      Acupuncture is very badly affected by subjective response and expectation bias, unless you control them, and conclusions are meaningless.

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    5. Richard Dobson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Ian Musgrave

      I am not mistaken, happily, because if you look at the genuine amount of Class 1 evidence for surgery, it just isn't there. The main evidence for the efficacy of surgery is clinical observational evidence, which in my assertion is the superior type for procedural techniques anyway.

      And the fact that acupuncture may be positively affected by subjective response is not a bad thing at all in the clinic, and the conclusions are only meaningless if you're only capable of thinking through one narrow, dogmatic paradigm.

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  10. Trevor Lowe

    Student nurse

    If the double blind, placebo controlled study is an inappropriate tool for measuring acupuncture efficacy and providing an evidence base, then what is a suitable methodology?
    Please also explain any justification for calling evidence "tainted".
    One trial (http://bit.ly/74AZmj) showed that the benefits of acupuncture may well be no more than placebo. The benefits may well be due only to the interaction of the therapist with the patient and not the therapy itself.
    Case study evidence is retrievable evidence; can you do this for the "billions?
    Calling your evidence "monolithically irrefutable" and hence citing others as "intellectually dishonest" does nothing to build up your arguement but rather is just shifting the topic of discussion. No therapy gets to name its own mode of providing evidence; that is life, it is science, it is why we progress because the independence of evidentiary modality from the treatment modality hopefully helps with the progress of treatments.

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    1. Richard Dobson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Trevor Lowe

      Science is observation and deducting, theorizing and testing, and acupuncture was one of the very first sciences in the world. But forcing every single practice in the health sciences to be measured with only one particular methodology that was designed by the pharmaceutical industry, for the pharmaceutical industry, and is only really applicable for measuring pharmaceutical substances, is unreasonable.

      The concept of placebo is not relevant to acupuncture, therefore its ludicrous to say "the…

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    2. Trevor Lowe

      Student nurse

      In reply to Richard Dobson

      You have yet to explain how and why the concept of placebo is not relevant to acupuncture. At this stage the only evidence is that it doesnt suit your purposes.
      You seem to think that the placebo controlled, double blind study is the contrivance of the pharmaceutical industry. Check the history of the Helsinki Accord and the Nuremburg Code. Indeed, the concept of using controlled studies (treated vs untreated and controlling for confounders) goes back to the 1800s.
      It seems that you have an expectation for others to accept your statements of historical relevance without knowing some relevant history yourself.

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    3. Richard Dobson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Trevor Lowe

      I have explained, numerous times Trevor, how and why the concept of placebo is not relevant to acupuncture. It is because the placebo controlled, double blind study seeks to isolate and examine solely the physiological effect of the compound in question by separating it from any effect rendered from interaction between practitioner and client.

      What I am saying is that the physiological affect of acupuncture does not derive from the needle, but from the force which inserts and manipulates the…

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    4. Brendano

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Richard Dobson

      Richard's magical thinking in his own words:

      "What I am saying is that the physiological affect of acupuncture does not derive from the needle, but from the force which inserts and manipulates the needle. If you had a machine to insert the needle, it would have an effect, but the effect would be different from if a human inserted the needle, because the force behind it was different. In fact, the needle itself is irrelevant, its just one particular technique among many, and it doesn't need to be used at all."

      Trust the force Luke ...

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    5. Richard Dobson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Brendano

      Not at all Brendano, its got nothing to do with magical thinking or pseudo-science, you think mocking me makes you look so cool, but it just makes you look small-minded and nasty. The concept of force is one of the most basic principles inherent to physics. The Chinese themselves recognised this universal principle of physics, and referred to it as "qi". Just as there are different types of force in modern english language physics, there were different types of qi in ancient chinese language taoist…

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    6. Brendano

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Richard Dobson

      Here we have Richard present a textbook example of the Logical Fallacy called 'Special Pleading', where a standard of proof is required for all medical interventions except acupuncture.
      Randomized controlled trials and Placebo-controlled studies are effectively used to evaluate the efficacy of interventions. No good reason has been given why this particular intervention, acupuncture, should be exempt from the same evaluation standards and methodologies used for all other interventions. Acupuncture is not a 'special case', it is just another intervention that claims to have health benefits, and as such, should be held to the same standards of evaluation as every other intervention.

      http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Special_pleading

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    7. Tim Scanlon

      Author and Scientist

      In reply to Richard Dobson

      Richard, you are not up to date with the research in this area. There has been a trial methodology developed that is a double blind assay of acupuncture. The results of it were exactly what were expected, it is just a placebo.

      I agree with Ken and Brian's comments here, it is disgusting to have universities and educated people support pseudo-science. Not only does it perpetuate a fraud in our society, it also debases the real sciences.

      I've always liked this quote: Do you know what they call an alternative therapy that has passed double blind scientific trials? Medicine.

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    8. Jarrad Hall

      PhD candidate, Molecular Microbiology

      In reply to Richard Dobson

      Of course using a machine would have no effect, why? Because the placebo effect in this case derives from the attention of the therapist. This concept has been found to be at play in many CAM disciplines. In fact, it's a reason cited by many who choose CAM. Doctors are usually quite busy and consults short, the CAM therapist spends more time "listening to me" is a commonly reported reason many choose the therapy. Having someone listen and validate you is known to relieve stress and anxiety, which…

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    9. Ian Musgrave

      Senior lecturer in Pharmacology at University of Adelaide

      In reply to Richard Dobson

      You are mistaken, acupuncture was by no means a science in it traditional form, and the modern form is a very recent invention.

      It doesn't matter whether an intervention is a substance or a device you need to test a placebo intervention because patient (and physician/ therapist) expectations can affect the results, especially in situations where there is a strong subjective component like pain. We can and do have placebo intervention for inhalers, electostimulation, transcranial magnetic stimulation…

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    10. Richard Dobson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Brendano

      "Here we have Richard present a textbook example of the Logical Fallacy called 'Special Pleading', where a standard of proof is required for all medical interventions except acupuncture."

      No I'm not, that is just not true. You are trying to put words in my mouth, and you're manifestly WRONG.

      I have been saying all along that randomised controlled double blind placebo studies are ONLY applicable to pharmaceutical drug trials and nothing else. That means that surgery, physiotherapy, psychiatry…

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    11. Richard Dobson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Tim Scanlon

      Tim, I am up to date in this area, and the trial methodology developed that you refer to is FLAWED, in numerous different ways.

      Firstly, the entire concept of testing acupuncture against a placebo is wrong-headed. Placebo testing was designed and is used for isolating out the effect of human interaction when evaluating the physiological effect of a pharmaceutical compound. However, when the treatment IS interaction between humans, the notion that the concept of placebo could be relevant in any…

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    12. Richard Dobson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Ian Musgrave

      No you wrong, on every count. Traditional Chinese Medicine was an ancient science, and just because it used a language steeped in mysticism does not detract from its scientific validity.

      And you do not need to test a placebo intervention when the the therapy is a relational interaction between practitioner and client. What is derided and scorned as the "placebo effect" is actually a valuable component of the treatment protocol, and helps to enhance patient's health.

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    13. Jarrad Hall

      PhD candidate, Molecular Microbiology

      In reply to Richard Dobson

      "Ancient science" "language steeped in mysticism", sounds like quackspeak to me. How is it a science if it can't be objectively tested? You're defending a lost position armed with nothing but intellectual blanks. Give me evidence and not rhetoric.

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    14. Richard Dobson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Jarrad Hall

      Traditional Chinese Medicine was most definitely a science, and it was ancient. Chinese Medical Scholars detailed accurate maps of human anatomy tens of centuries before Da Vinci and compiled comprehensive Materia Medica 1000 years before European physicians did. The Huang Di Nei Jing specifically rejected the influence of spirits and the use of magic, and outlined a mature synthesis of cosmological doctrines such as Yin and Yang and the Five Phases. It is these latter ideas that can be interpreted as being "mystical", however, as cosmological systems they do have validity.

      There is an overwhelming abundance of evidence for the efficacy of acupuncture. As soon as when steps outside the paradigm of using pharmaceutical drug trial methodology to evaluate acupuncture, all this nonsense about "placebo effect" melts away: http://www.medicexchange.com/MRI/new-mri-acupuncture-research-shows-mind-body-connection.html

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    15. Rachael Dunlop

      Post-doctoral fellow at University of Technology, Sydney

      In reply to Richard Dobson

      Hi Richard, what do you think about studying the placebo response in combination with evidence based practice? There are already a few interesting papers and lots of discussion surrounding the potential benefits of using placebo as a supplement to clinical practice to enhance the effects of the latter. Do you think this is worthy of the redirection of funds away from modalities which are known not to work to? This also raises lots of ethical issues, which have been discussed in detail, including whether it is considered lying to patients, so it does open a can of worms in this regard. Thoughts?

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    16. Richard Dobson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Jarrad Hall

      You have evidence that using a machine would have no effect? Ah, no. But of course... you're just speculating and injecting your patent bias into what you think would happen.

      Ethically, is it right for you to seek to shut down a beneficial practice that billions of people benefit from, just because you tried testing it with your bunk methodology and the results were inconclusive?

      Do you think its any coincidence that the only elements of CAM (specifically compounds from plants) that show up…

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    17. Richard Dobson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Rachael Dunlop

      Yes, I do think that there is a lot that is yet unknown about the placebo response, and that further research into this phenomenon is warranted. Medical professionals however should not treat patients condescendingly, and presume that patients are all dumb and stupid and easily deceived. In my opinion, most people are rational and intelligent, and should be treated as such.

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    18. Tim Scanlon

      Author and Scientist

      In reply to Richard Dobson

      You are still failing to understand the basic tenants of scientific testing using the placebo control. I've addressed this in another comment here.

      Instead I will point out that even when acupuncture has been straight up tested, it still hasn't shown anything in terms of results. You can continue to ignore this, but don't try to perpetuate this pseudo-treatment because of ignorance of science.

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    19. Richard Dobson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Tim Scanlon

      No Tim, you're straight wrong: when acupuncture has been straight up tested, every single time, it is shown to have positive beneficial effects. ''

      Every single time, Tim. Every. Single. Time.

      Recent criticisms concerning the effectiveness of acupuncture have focused on the ability of sham acupuncture to produce clinical results.

      However, MRI studies show that true acupuncture produces clinical results by different cortical mechanisms than sham acupuncture.

      Besides which, the sham acupuncture used is actually identical to certain techniques from Japanese acupuncture schools centuries old.

      But when you test acupuncture without paying reference to irrelevant notions of "placebo" and such, you find a significant beneficial effect EVERY SINGLE TIME.

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    20. Jarrad Hall

      PhD candidate, Molecular Microbiology

      In reply to Richard Dobson

      Anything with an effect, physical or otherwise will be picked up in a sufficiently large study size. The phenomenon has been investigated thoroughly. The methodology does not apply to compounds solely.

      No, I don't think it's a coincidence. Look at the above, they are biochemicals, and therefore according to the laws of chemistry, some will interact with our biochemistry to produce an effect. Apart from spreading Staph. aureus and a placebo effect, I'm yet to see any research that demonstrates…

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    21. Ian Musgrave

      Senior lecturer in Pharmacology at University of Adelaide

      In reply to Richard Dobson

      Some years ago there was a fad for painting whiteout on the edges (and or interior transparent bits) of CD's. Fans of this procedure swore that it improved sound quality. However, when this was tested by playing modified and un-modified CD to the same people but in a blinded fashion, they could not tell the difference.

      THIS alone shows why blinded placebo trials are needed. Humans are great at fooling themselves, especially where there is a lot of subjective response involved (such as pain…

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    22. Ian Musgrave

      Senior lecturer in Pharmacology at University of Adelaide

      In reply to Richard Dobson

      You web link doesn't refer to a published study, and I couldn't find one using the key words from the press release. The few actual studies I found show no significant difference MRI between electro-acupuncture and sham acupuncture. Which is not surprising as neither do very much at all.

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    23. Rachael Dunlop

      Post-doctoral fellow at University of Technology, Sydney

      In reply to Ian Musgrave

      Hi Ian, I love that acupuncture for asthma study. I wish I could upload the graphs that show the stark differences between the subjective improvement for four interventions (Albuterol, placebo inhaler, sham acupuncture and nothing) versus the measured change in FEV for the same. For all three treatment arms, the patients thought they improved by between 45 and 50%, but when their FEV was measured improvement with Albuterol was 20.1%, but only 7.5, 7.3 and 7.1 for the rest respectively. So there was in fact no difference in FEV for placebo or sham acupuncture versus nothing, but patients thought there was! Very scary stuff especially when we're talking the difference between breathing and not.

      For anyone interested in looking it up, the study is Wechsler ME et al., NEJN, 2011; 365:119-26.

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    24. Richard Dobson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Ian Musgrave

      That paper proves absolutely nothing, it wasn't even a trial about real acupuncture, there was no actual acupuncture conducted in that trial at all! There were four groups in this trial and four groups only: albuterol, placebo, sham acupuncture and no treatment. Notice that dirty four letter word in front of "acupuncture"? "Sham"? This trial has no inferable relevance to real acupuncture at all!

      How disingenuous of you Ian Musgrave and Rachel Dunlup to insinuate that a trial which didn't even involve real acupuncture can give meaningful insight into the practice of real acupuncture. See the lengths you are going to? Its outrageous. This witch-hunt must end.

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    25. Richard Dobson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Ian Musgrave

      Acupuncture does show significant clinical benefits Ian Musgrave, in every single trial. The only criticism of acupuncture is that so-called "sham acupuncture" also shows clinical benefit. Yet as I have pointed out, "sham acupuncture" is NOT an inert treatment akin to placebo, in fact it is precisely similar to acupuncture techniques used in Japanese schools of acupuncture that are centuries old.

      Besides which, it is not relevant to talk about placebo in the context of acupuncture at all anyway…

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    26. Rachael Dunlop

      Post-doctoral fellow at University of Technology, Sydney

      In reply to Richard Dobson

      Hi Richard, I re-read my comment and it could be construed that I was implying real acupuncture was used in this trial. This was not my intention. It was a placebo study that used 2 placebos one of which was sham acupuncture, the other being sham inhalers. Apologies for that. I did not mean to insinuate anything.

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    27. Richard Dobson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Jarrad Hall

      Not at all. The onus is on defenders of the status quo to prove why in the first place the notion of placebo is relevant to procedural primary health care. Sure, in the context of scientific research into new pharmacological compounds, it can be demonstrated why the concept of placebo is relevant. But in the real world, where the consideration of client's health is paramount, WHY the patient gets better is not as important as IF the patient gets better. And with acupuncture, research shows that patients…

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    28. Richard Dobson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Rachael Dunlop

      Haha, I get carried away with the enjoyment of debate sometimes, I do need to calm down at times...

      But actually that was an interesting study, thanks for bringing it up Rachael.

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    29. Ian Musgrave

      Senior lecturer in Pharmacology at University of Adelaide

      In reply to Richard Dobson

      For you to claim this, you have to show Sham acupuncture (non-penetrating needles, needles placed in non-meridians, tooth picks that don't penetrate the skin at all, non of which correspond to Japanese acupuncture) is active and equivalent to acupuncture. BUT, as the asthma paper which you misinterpreted shows, it is no differnt from placebo, and has no effect on objective measures of disease.

      Of course, sham acupuncture is equivalent to real acupuncture in that niether have any real, objective effect.

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    30. Ian Musgrave

      Senior lecturer in Pharmacology at University of Adelaide

      In reply to Richard Dobson

      You have completely misunderstood the paper (and the purpose of quting it, which was clear in my original comment).

      The issue is that people report subjective improvement on placebos, but this is illusory, it is not matched by objective improvement.

      Of course, if sham acupuncture and real acupuncture give equivalent results, and sham acupuncture is not associated with objective results . you may draw your own conclusions.

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    31. Jarrad Hall

      PhD candidate, Molecular Microbiology

      In reply to Richard Dobson

      Did you read the article? The authors stated the data is not reliable with several confounders and no conclusions can be made.

      Placebo is relevant as people have been claiming several hundred times, because patients often claim to feel improvement in the absence of any improvement. Further, the body has mechanisms of repair and healing as part of its innate biology, most people will get better. If you don't accurately attribute the mechanism of physiological improvement, it would appear almost…

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    32. Taylor Arbour

      Acupuncturist

      In reply to Jarrad Hall

      Taking the content and context of your comment into consideration, it is interesting that you can identify defects in your predecessors' attempts to apply 'objective rationality' in medicine leading to a tragedy such as occurred with the dispensing of thalidomide to pregnant females and yet continue in the assertion that we in the present day and time (with not really all that much of a temporal separation between us two) have some special claim on or interest in 'rationality' or 'objectivity' such…

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    33. Carole Hubbard

      conservationist

      In reply to Jarrad Hall

      Do you realise that chronic degenerative diseases are on the rise with no cures in sight? What has modern conventional science-based medicine done to cure them and what is so marvellous about it that every other modality should follow suit?
      On the rise are diseases such as asthma, diabetes, autism, allergies, ms, dementia etc. One possible cause is allopathic medicine's failure to understand the need for a pure bloodstream and more holistic therapies. Pharmaceutical drugs don't cure, they merely suppress symptoms.

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    34. Jarrad Hall

      PhD candidate, Molecular Microbiology

      In reply to Taylor Arbour

      Sophistry. No evidence of function, versus an evidence of function misapplied with a lack of trial detail.

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    35. Brett Twentythree

      Typer

      In reply to Taylor Arbour

      Does anyone really doubt that future generations will look back at this time as an era where big pharma did their own research on new drugs, got the results they wanted, paid the FDA to have it rubber stamped, and got half the planet hooked on anti-depressants, anti-fat &/or anti-flacid pills, and got the western world's GPs to be their unquestioning drug pushers, for the price of a drug company branded wall clock, desk calendar and an all expenses paid trip to Cairns for a "seminar"?
      This is the status quo that so many here are defending as "real science" as opposed to the "pseudo science" they want to ban.
      How about a reality check and a touch of perspective here?

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    36. Ian Musgrave

      Senior lecturer in Pharmacology at University of Adelaide

      In reply to Taylor Arbour

      Thalidomide was a highly non-toxic compound that had been used for years by non-pregnant women and men and was safe in animal studies of pregnancy available at the time. It was only picked up as being toxic to human foetuses (and then only in a very narrow window of time), because we had a system of adverse drug surveillance in place.

      Alternative medicine does not have kind of surveillance system, and missed the toxicity of comfrey, Kava, Mua Huang and Shai Ka to. There is a lot more harmful CAM out there, which is not picked up by CAM practitioners.

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    37. Ian Musgrave

      Senior lecturer in Pharmacology at University of Adelaide

      In reply to Brett Twentythree

      Yes, yes we do (drug companies, who have been complaining bitterly about an "obstructionist" FDA, will be surprised to learn that when their applications have been knocked back that were actually rubber stamped).

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    38. Ian Musgrave

      Senior lecturer in Pharmacology at University of Adelaide

      In reply to Carole Hubbard

      Most are the inevitable side effect of living longer. As out population lives longer, chronic disease burden rises (the increasing incidence of dementia is entirely due to more people living past 70). Yet cardiovascular disease, the biggest chronic disease, is falling. Furthermore, even though people are living longer, the onset of chronic disease burden is shifting back, so people live longer disease free lives than before.

      Diabetes is rising because people are less active and are consuming…

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    39. Richard Dobson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Ian Musgrave

      You are making an unjustified leap there Ian, and going beyond the evidence.

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    40. Jarrad Hall

      PhD candidate, Molecular Microbiology

      In reply to Ian Musgrave

      Not to mention it still does have an ongoing role in the treatment of some conditions, but we now have trials to tetradogenicity, to test a drug's use in each application.

      I also have many MD friends, many are justifiably skeptical of pharmaceutical products also. Why? Because any trial conducted by someone with a vested interest should be regarded as suspect. We collectively value independent research with sound methodology. That doesn't mean all practitioners wait for good trial data. Some…

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    41. Richard Dobson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Jarrad Hall

      Yes, I read the paper Jarrad, and it said that 7 out of 9 studies into the electro-conductivity properties of acupuncture yielded positive correlation and that the findings were suggestive. This is real valuable evidence that can't be dismissed by you just because you're biased.

      Your idea of discussion is "if you disagree with me you're biased and further discussion is pointless". Meanwhile I'm the one here introducing new evidence that you're unaware of and you're the one stuffing your fingers…

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    42. Jarrad Hall

      PhD candidate, Molecular Microbiology

      In reply to Richard Dobson

      And for those who read the entire piece, beyond the quote mine Richard gave us: "Five out of 9 point studies showed positive association between acupuncture points and lower electrical resistance and impedance, while 7 out of 9 meridian studies showed positive association between acupuncture meridians and lower electrical impedance and higher capacitance. The studies were generally poor in quality and limited by small sample size and multiple confounders. Based on this review, the evidence does not…

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    43. Richard Dobson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Jarrad Hall

      My comprehension skills are suffice to understand that this preliminary research did indeed find suggestive evidence of the very phenomenon that TCM theory predicts, and you're not exhibiting a very inquisitive scientific approach to immediately try to wave it away and say that "poor control of variables or other confounders were the reason (why this evidence exists)."

      Its (remotely) possible this is the case, but to immediately latch on to it and state that its PROBABLE indicates that you're…

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    44. Richard Dobson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Ian Musgrave

      Firstly Ian, you're wrong straight up, all of what you said DOES that corresponds to Japanese acupuncture techniques: yes non-penetrating needles, yes alternate meridian locations, yes tooth-pick like instruments that don't penetrate the skin at all (its called a 'teishin').

      In fact, just for your elucidation, I will quote from this random website I found from a google search just that belongs to a random Japanese acupuncture practitioner. It says: "the practitioner employs a delicate technique…

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    45. Jarrad Hall

      PhD candidate, Molecular Microbiology

      In reply to Richard Dobson

      Apart from some evidence in chronic pain and stress relief, limited evidence of benefit. Pretty strong indicator of placebo. In fact research into stress reduction by being listened to is becoming well known and is a key reason many therapies are perceived to work. Not saying placebo is a bad thing, it has many clinical uses, but the evidence suggests there is no other effect. Ergo, my opinion is there is no further effect.

      I find it strange how one moment you say it can't be tested, then the next you're saying you need further tests, why should I believe in anything before I see results of further tests? Sounds like you're changing mantras fairly rapidly.

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    46. Richard Dobson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Jarrad Hall

      Pursuant to this discussion, Jarred, I would draw your attention to the latest review here: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/cam/acupuncture/healthprofessional/Page5

      "Four randomized controlled trials,[1,2,4,5] a nonrandomized clinical study,[3] and two case series [6,7] found that acupuncture enhanced or regulated immune function.

      The first randomized controlled trial found that acupuncture treatment enhanced platelet count and prevented leukocyte decrease after radiation therapy or…

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    47. Jarrad Hall

      PhD candidate, Molecular Microbiology

      In reply to Richard Dobson

      You'll find that the stress hormone cortisol is antagonistic to the immune promoting dehydroepiandosterone, and cortisol generally correlates with suppressed immune function. Stress relief in cancer patients would therefore be of benefit to immunity.

      http://psycnet.apa.org/index.cfm?fa=buy.optionToBuy&id=2004-15935-004

      http://informahealthcare.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10253890500100240

      http://www.nrcresearchpress.com/doi/abs/10.1139/H08-013

      If that's what a placebo can achieve through that route, it's still impressive. And there is evidence to suggest the lowering of cortisol achieved through the interaction is key to the benefit. If that's the mechanism, it's still hugely positive and preferable to pharmaceutical intervention. But it still doesn't require explanation with unproven assumptions.

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    48. Richard Dobson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Jarrad Hall

      Yes it does, namely the unproven assumption that acupuncture is merely a placebo.

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    49. Ian Musgrave

      Senior lecturer in Pharmacology at University of Adelaide

      In reply to Richard Dobson

      So basically, you've just shown that acupuncture is unfalsifyable, as every form of touching the skin, no matter with what and where, is acupuncture according to you.

      But then, if placebo acupuncture is equivalent to standard acupuncture, and placebo acupuncture has no objective effect, then we may also conclude that acupuncture has no objective effect.

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    50. Ian Musgrave

      Senior lecturer in Pharmacology at University of Adelaide

      In reply to Richard Dobson

      It is not the latest review (it's 2012 update was merely a name change). It also states "...the findings have limited significance because of methodologic weaknesses such as small sample sizes, an absence of patient blinding to treatment in most cases, varying acupuncture treatment regimens, a lack of standard outcome measurements, and an absence of adequate randomization. Further investigations into the effects of acupuncture on cancer pain using rigorous scientific methodology are warranted…

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    51. Richard Dobson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Ian Musgrave

      No, I didn't say that. In fact Ian, as someone with experiential and intuitive understanding of this field, I know that the practice of acupuncture is as much an art as it is a science, and that the skill of the practitioner is of decisive consideration in determining how successful the therapy is. Its not like just a drug, which any Dr. can prescribe, as long as the diagnosis is correct. The procedure of acupuncture itself is actually a skill, like surgery, upon which the efficacy of the therapy hangs.

      So this is the critical variable you are missing, Ian. Sure, some acupuncturists of low skill may only elicit a placebo effect. Some acupuncturists may be skilled in Japanese acupuncture, some maybe be skilled in Chinese acupuncture, the "placebo" acupuncture may resemble Japanese acupuncture, it may not, there are so many variables unaccounted for and undocumented that most of the research in this field coming from outside China is of very dubious quality and doubtful implication.

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    52. Richard Dobson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Ian Musgrave

      These reviews state that there is a poor description of the interventions. Seeing as acupuncture is a skill, this needs to be taken into account. Alas, in these reviews, it is not, and therefore these reviews are not useful. In fact, only studies undertaken in China are likely to be useful, because Chinese practitioners are the most likely to be highly skillful in acupuncture.

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    53. Richard Dobson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Ian Musgrave

      And quoting Edzard Ernst is an admission of bias, because he has been outed as an ideological crusader, which is why he was stood down from his chair.

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    54. Rachael Dunlop

      Post-doctoral fellow at University of Technology, Sydney

      In reply to Richard Dobson

      Actually Richard, I've just written a review on acupuncture with Edzard Ernst (in press) and we found Chinese studies were most likely biased towards being positive. When you looked at the same studies done in other parts of the world the Chinese ones were positive versus negative anywhere else. So it seems the Chinese are biased. Our recommendation was to be very careful when reading Chinese studies for this reason.

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    55. Rachael Dunlop

      Post-doctoral fellow at University of Technology, Sydney

      In reply to Richard Dobson

      It's a review paper Richard, I was one of the authors along with three others one of which was Edzard Ernst. I'd think you'd better check your sources because he was not ousted as an "idealogical crusade". I can see your confirmation bias is strong on this one, and I'm wasting my time having a discussion with you. I won't waste anymore.

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    56. Richard Dobson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Rachael Dunlop

      In fact Rachael, this is a case of ignoring an important princple of acupuncture, so that when you look at the results, they seem skewed, but once you account for that one important principle of acupuncture, the results make sense.

      I mean, acupuncture is not an standardised unit. Acupuncture is a skill and an art, and its efficacy is almost dependant on the skill of which which the practitioner applies the techniques. This is a critical aspect that is overlooked in ALL trials of acupuncture, which…

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    57. Richard Dobson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Rachael Dunlop

      Well then what is your supposition as to why Chinese studies (which in my opinion are the most sound) consistently find that it does work?

      Slightly off-topic, I have a nice quote for you Rachael~

      “One aim of the physical sciences has been to give an exact picture of the material world. One achievement of physics in the twentieth century has been to prove that that aim is unattainable.”

      “The world is not a fixed, solid array of objects, out there, for it cannot be fully separated from out perception of it.”

      “There is no absolute knowledge. And those who claim it, whether they are scientists or dogmatists open the door to tragedy. All information is imperfect. We have to treat it with humility. That is the human condition.”

      J Bronowski – The Ascent of Man

      Cheers!

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    58. Rachael Dunlop

      Post-doctoral fellow at University of Technology, Sydney

      In reply to Richard Dobson

      Richard, your confirmation bias precludes you from keeping an open mind in this discussion, therefore as I said in a comment somewhere else, there is no point in pursuing this further. And your use of logical fallacies is becoming dull. Over and out.

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    59. Taylor Arbour

      Acupuncturist

      In reply to Jarrad Hall

      It's not sophistry, it illustrates a point: science as a practice, and the scientific method as an application of that practice, are an ideal. Like all ideals, it is a worthy goal, but human endeavors will never reach the fulfillment of ideal, be it of science or otherwise, so how will we make up for the lack in the meantime? Will we blindly push on anyway in denial of our limited capabilities, hoping that if we keep our attention on chasing our limited scope of reality that the all the rest of it…

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    60. Ian Musgrave

      Senior lecturer in Pharmacology at University of Adelaide

      In reply to Richard Dobson

      So what you are saying is that acupuncture only works in China then.

      "[W]hen people thought the earth was flat, they were
      wrong. When people thought the earth was spherical, they
      were wrong. But if you think that thinking the earth is
      spherical is just as wrong as thinking the earth is
      flat, then your view is wronger than both of them put
      together."

      Isaac Asimov (1989). "The Relativity of Wrong." The
      Skeptical Inquirer, 14(1), 35-44. Fall 1989.
      http://chem.tufts.edu/__AnswersInScience/__RelativityofWrong.htm

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    61. Ian Musgrave

      Senior lecturer in Pharmacology at University of Adelaide

      In reply to Richard Dobson

      Ernst wasn't stood down, but took early retirement. He has been a tireless supporter of truth, for which CAM enthusiasts have mercilessly personally attacked him.

      Ignore the names, evaluate the data.

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    62. Ian Musgrave

      Senior lecturer in Pharmacology at University of Adelaide

      In reply to Richard Dobson

      That was kind of the point of the review, results from allegedly positive studies, where the description of the intervention is too poor to be sure what they have done, cannot be taken seriously.

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    63. Richard Dobson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Rachael Dunlop

      I don't see what you were trying to achieve anyway. If you wanted me to be willing to disregard all my own eye-opening and life-changing experiences that I've had with acupuncture, which have had innumerable; ignore all of what I know empirically and intuitively to be true from being intimately involved with the subject for almost ten years, in favour of your sterile speculations about what you think should be the case, when I doubt you have any first hand experience of it at all, then you are mistaken…

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    64. Richard Dobson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Ian Musgrave

      There is no objective truth, only a perspective on it. Ernst has tirelessly advanced his own perspective on the truth, but in no way is what he says exhaustively authoritative.

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    65. Richard Dobson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Ian Musgrave

      A does NOT equal B in every and all circumstances, therefore you are making an unjustified leap and going beyond the evidence.

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    66. Richard Dobson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Ian Musgrave

      Not at all, what I'm saying is that the skill of acupuncture practitioners in China is higher.

      Furthermore, skill of the practitioner is one of the decisive influences on the efficacy of the treatment, and because the issue of skill is not taken into account at all in the studies, the quality of the research conducted in the West is inferior to the quality of the research conducted in China.

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    67. Ian Musgrave

      Senior lecturer in Pharmacology at University of Adelaide

      In reply to Richard Dobson

      Evidence trumps no evidence every time.

      "[W]hen people thought the earth was flat, they were
      wrong. When people thought the earth was spherical, they
      were wrong. But if you think that thinking the earth is
      spherical is just as wrong as thinking the earth is
      flat, then your view is wronger than both of them put
      together."

      Isaac Asimov (1989). "The Relativity of Wrong." The
      Skeptical Inquirer, 14(1), 35-44. Fall 1989.
      http://chem.tufts.edu/__AnswersInScience/__RelativityofWrong.htm

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    68. Ian Musgrave

      Senior lecturer in Pharmacology at University of Adelaide

      In reply to Richard Dobson

      Ernst no being stood down is true, you can't have a differnt perspective on that (or the Earth orbiting the Sun, or the earth being 4.5 and a bit biliion years old, or bacteria causing disease)

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    69. Richard Dobson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Ian Musgrave

      There are many perspectives on it. Everything isn't always as cut and dried. Ernst's stood down himself, but his positions was becoming increasingly untenable, especially after making enemies of the Royal family in England. There were unseen influences at work in that situation and I think you are being too simplistic it dismiss them.

      Likewise, the Earth may not orbit the sun. It may be the case that the Earth simply travels in a straight line, but the force of the gravity of the sun warps the…

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    70. Richard Dobson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Ian Musgrave

      Now you are being disingenuous. You either accept that the research conducted is valuable, in which case both neck pain AND nausea are shown to be treated effectively with acupuncture above and beyond the placebo effect, or else you DON'T accept the research is valuable (because of the reasons I have outlined) and thus are left with "merely" the mountains of clinical evidence to rely on.

      But you can't accept only the research that indicates acupuncture is no more effective than placebo, but then turn around and try to deny the research that shows acupuncture is more effective than placebo, without being totally internally inconsistent and betraying your base bias.

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    71. Carole Hubbard

      conservationist

      In reply to Brett Twentythree

      I see today's medicine as a type of clayton's medicine, ie the medicine you're having when you're not having medicine. But it is lucrative and helps support a health system where costs have blown out of control and people have increasing levels of chronic degenerative disease. Oh but of course that's due to living longer isn't it? [Irony intended]
      So what modern allopathic medicine tries to say is that degenerative disease is just a natural part of growing old, we should be content to live with just the symptoms being treated rather than finding a real cure.
      Enter alternative medicine ...pharma drugs for life, no thanks!!

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    72. Ian Musgrave

      Senior lecturer in Pharmacology at University of Adelaide

      In reply to Richard Dobson

      You have to accept that when the vast majority of well designed placebo controlled studies show no effect, and the few that do are so poorly described you can't actually understand what they do, then you can't calim acupuncture has been show to do anything.

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    73. Richard Dobson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Ian Musgrave

      Not at all. The vast majority of placebo controlled studies are NOT well designed, because they do not account for the critical variable of practitioner skill. Therefore their findings are questionable at least.

      But even so, despite this and many other errors and limitations of these studies, even still, acupuncture is demonstrably effective, at least in the case of nausea and neck pain. Even in rats acupuncture is recently found to be effective in both treating and preventing chronic stress: http://nccam.nih.gov/research/results/spotlight/010112.htm

      You have to accept Ian that there is more to this than is currently known, and to just instantly dismiss it as ineffective and mere placebo is not scientifically justified and is not aiding the advance of knowledge in this area

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    74. Ian Musgrave

      Senior lecturer in Pharmacology at University of Adelaide

      In reply to Taylor Arbour

      and yet:
      "Numerous reviews have produced little convincing evidence that acupuncture is effective in reducing pain. Serious adverse events, including deaths, continue to be reported."
      E. Ernst, Myeong Soo Lee, Tae-Young Choi
      Acupuncture: Does it alleviate pain and are there serious risks? A review of reviews
      PAIN, Volume 152, Issue 4, April 2011, Pages 755-764
      "It is debatable whether it would not be preferable to be more blunt and express clearly that the evidence is simply not positive."
      Acupuncture: What Does the Most Reliable Evidence Tell Us? An Update
      Edzard Ernst, J Pain Symptom Manage. 2012 Feb;43(2):e11-3.

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    75. Taylor Arbour

      Acupuncturist

      In reply to Ian Musgrave

      And so what now? My comment from Ernst, and not yours? Or vice versa? Isn't this small exchange illustrative of just how subjective even the 'objective' pursuits of the most modern medical research investigations remain?

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    76. Ian Musgrave

      Senior lecturer in Pharmacology at University of Adelaide

      In reply to Taylor Arbour

      No, this exchange emphasizes the need to consult the original literature, rather than relying on interview sound bites which may distort the actual intent of the interviewee.

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    77. Taylor Arbour

      Acupuncturist

      In reply to Ian Musgrave

      And yet what have you presented if not sound bites of your own? I find Ernst's intent very clear in his interview with Nature: he is contrasting CAM practices which do not currently have his preferred brand of high-quality research supporting their use, citing Homeopathy as an example, to practices which have garnered support as a result of objective inquiry, and here he uses acupuncture as a representative intervention. It's really a pretty straight-forward comment when taken in context.

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    78. Michael Bailes

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Richard Dobson

      I am not sure how you could arrange a placebo for acupuncture
      The psychological and social/situational variables could not be controlled IMHO
      Has anyone here read anything on the psychology of double blind experiments and patient and practitoner /researcher expectations?.
      Much psychosocial research casts doubt on so many double blind clinical trials- especially those more than 20 years old. We are a little better at controlling variables now but Rosenthal and others have demonstrated how easy it is for expectations to skew results

      It is also fascinating and amusing to hear Drug company executives complain that testing against a placebo is unfair to them (It might be, as it is powerful).. It would be nice if they tested against a herb or the current accepted drug treatment..

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  11. Brendano

    logged in via Twitter

    Richard reckons he is privy to "case-study evidence to counter your tiny sample, stretching back thousands of years and covering billions of patients"

    ... and "case-study evidence spanning billions of patients stretching across a history thousands of years long"

    ... perhaps Richard can cite a well-designed study that shows acupuncture works better than placebo? Just one out of all those billions

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    1. Richard Dobson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Brendano

      The concept of placebo is entirely irrelevant outside of the very narrow context of a pharmaceutical drug trial. When one is wanting to measure solely the interaction between a biological system and a pharmaceutical compound, then of course one wants to isolate any effect from human interaction from the results. However, when what one is wanting to measure is precisely so the interaction between two human beings, it would be ludicrous to then try to isolate the effect of human interaction from the results.

      No, you are trying to use terminology that is not relevant to this sphere. Placebo, placebo effect, sorry, you don't know what your talking about. Such concepts are meaningless in the context of acupuncture.

      Those billions of case-studies I referred to is real, clinical evidence, that stands on its own two legs and doesn't need to jump through irrelevant hoops that just to satisfy your narrow mind.

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    2. Graham Gower

      ex engineer, evol biology student

      In reply to Richard Dobson

      Richard, please note that a case study involving a patient that had a good outcome from a particular treatment does not prove that the treatment is effective.

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    3. Richard Dobson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Graham Gower

      Clinical experiential evidence is always relevant, especially when there is such a mountainous amount of it, and only a ideologically dogmatic denier would disagree.

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    4. Taylor Arbour

      Acupuncturist

      In reply to Brendano

      There is a more rational way to look at the placebo effect than to try to break one's teeth chewing over the problem of applying methods for its control to circumstances as complex and dynamic as procedural healthcare. Here is one group's idea as to what role placebo may actually be playing in the human experience and how this phenomenon may be what leads to our tendency to love medicines: http://www.nature.com/embor/journal/v11/n8/full/embor2010108.html

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  12. Brendano

    logged in via Twitter

    I must admit, this is Richard's strongest argument ... "But you know even House has used Chinese Herbal Medicine to treat one of his patients in an episode... "

    Golly gosh, Richard saw it in the telly, so Chinese Herbal Medicine must really work! Pass me the Bear bile, the Rhino horn and the Tiger penis.

    But let's not go there, just one well-designed study Richard.

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    1. Richard Dobson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Brendano

      Your idea of a well-designed study is in reality a very poor tool for measuring the efficacy of acupuncture. Even though, the effect of acupuncture is so profound that it has in many studies overcome the unreasonable and inappropriately rigged and biased methodology that is currently used. One case in point: acupuncture of Pericardium 6 for post-operative nausea http://summaries.cochrane.org/CD003281/p6-acupoint-stimulation-prevents-postoperative-nausea-and-vomiting-with-few-side-effects

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    2. Trevor Lowe

      Student nurse

      In reply to Richard Dobson

      The methodology for the studies included in the Cochrane Review are very similar to the methodology for the study I cited.
      You seem to constanty attempt to define away anything that doesn't suit your arguement. Why is it ludicrous in acupuncture to remove the element of human interaction (the placebo effect). You seem to make wide sweeping statements, without justifying them and then using those statements to decry the beliefs of others.

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    3. Richard Dobson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Trevor Lowe

      It is ludicrous in acupuncture to remove the element of human interaction because acupuncture IS human interaction.

      It is impossible to prove a negative, you know as well as I do. I can't "prove" that the concept of placebo is irrelevant in acupuncture. But the onus of proof isn't on me in this case, its on you to prove that the concept of placebo IS relevant in acupuncture.

      When measuring solely the interaction between a pharmaceutical compound and a physiological system, yes it can be proved that placebo is a relevant concept.

      But when measuring the interaction between two human beings (which is what acupuncture is), I don't see how you can prove that any notion of "placebo" or "placebo effect" can be relevant.

      But if there is conclusive proof, by all means, lets have it. But just because it the conventional way of doings things doesn't mean its the correct way of doing things.

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  13. Brendano

    logged in via Twitter

    If you have a strong stomach, go to www.pubmed.com. Enter the search words acupuncture and either complications or infection to see what harm can be done with this CAM 'modality'

    A lovely case of desperate cherrypicking by Richard .. A Cochrane abstract is not a study .... Funny, when I go to Cochrane and search for 'acupuncture' I see 458 results ... all negative except for the dubious one cited.
    And if you dig into the one cited, you will see that Cochrane itself is compromised. They admit that 16/40 of the trials were damaged and then conclude an effect on PONV ... what a joke.

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  14. James Heathers

    PhD Candidate in Applied Physiology at University of Sydney

    I'd like to deal, briefly, with some of the arguments that I see above.

    "This is scientific fascism".

    Using that as an argument implies that somehow your freedoms are being affected due to radical 'scientific authoritarianism'. Perish the thought. You, of course, are free to spend your money where you like, and believe whatever makes you comfortable.

    People use 'arrogant' as a criticism of scientists in the same way. Neither of these criticisms make the slightest bit of sense when we're…

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    1. Carole Hubbard

      conservationist

      In reply to James Heathers

      I'd just like to make a comment about chiropractic. This is a big misconception that it only treats problems of the spine, and to straighten the spine. What it does is to allow the body's electrical nerve currents to work more efficiently. I'm not aware of the full extent of its capabilities but can testify from my own experience with tonsilitis, whereby I was due for a tonsilectomy having already been through a couple of prescriptions of antibiotics some years ago. After a few chiropractic adjustments…

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  15. Mal Vickers

    Health Technologist

    The pilot study using acupuncture at the Northern Hospital in Melbourne was mentioned in the article by Dr Myers. A full copy of the pilot study can be found here:
    http://www.scribd.com/doc/79671703/Acupuncture-Trial-Northern-Hospital

    The study is full of the kind of pseudoscientific nonsense that only a true believer can think up. Dr Myers is being mischievous by supposing that this study constitutes supporting evidence for CAM.

    The author of the study spends many paragraphs putting forth…

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    1. Richard Dobson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Mal Vickers

      As I have been demonstrating, it would be highly inappropriate to run an acupuncture study which includes a placebo control. Such a practice is *ONLY* relevant to pharmaceutical drug trials.

      Acupuncture is an holistic treatment which influences mind AND body, indeed as the ancient proverb reads "the mind leads the qi", and it is the regulation and manipulation of qi which causes the therapeutic result.

      So we see that any attempt to isolate just the physical effects of acupuncture all of a sudden becomes not-acupuncture, its just jabbing people with needles.

      Its stirkes me as very shrill of to just want to test "jabbing with needles" instead of testing acupuncture.

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    2. Graham Gower

      ex engineer, evol biology student

      In reply to Richard Dobson

      "As I have been demonstrating, it would be highly inappropriate to run an acupuncture study which includes a placebo control. Such a practice is *ONLY* relevant to pharmaceutical drug trials."

      You have demonstrated no such thing. You are merely stating it as if it were fact. This does not make it a fact.

      According to you:
      Acupuncture = Jabbing people with needles + Magic.

      Perhaps you have issue with placebo controls because acupuncture is simply the most effective placebo going at this time?

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    3. Richard Dobson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Graham Gower

      The concept of placebo is not relevant to acupuncture, and its not up to me to prove its *NOT (can't prove a negative), its up to you to prove it IS.

      When you remove the irrelevant terms from your last sentence, it reads "acupuncture is..... effective".

      Well there, now we concur. Hoorah.

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    4. Richard Dobson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Graham Gower

      Btw, magic is just a term used by primitive people to describe a phenomenon that they do not understand. The principles of acupuncture are not mysterious or magical to me, in fact they are very pragmatic and prosaic. But then I have spent the last 10 years studying acupuncture so I don't expect everyone to have as deep an understanding of it as I do.

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  16. Dolina Somerville

    logged in via Facebook

    I would like someone to explain the placebo effect in relation to animals.
    Acupuncture is extremely effective in treating horses, dogs, cats etc.

    Trials using MRI and blood analysis can support the effects of acupuncture.
    The best proof of efficacy is the groundswell of younger folks who are embracing drug-free, surgery free options that simply work....placebo is always there for any treatment and as high as 30%...but do the animals know this????
    I don't know....just asking :)

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    1. Sam Edwards

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Dolina Somerville

      Hi Dolina
      Good question. Placebo is a combination of many different things. The common idea is that its' the patient getting better because they think they have been treated by an effective treatment. This is a bit of an over simplification.
      When we measure a treatment against placebo we are measuring the treatment against pretending to give the treatment, so we can pluck out treatment efficacy from the background of all possible factors that could appear to create a better outcome.

      One of these…

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    2. Richard Dobson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Sam Edwards

      You don't know what the placebo effect is. You can speculate, which is what you are doing, but there is no evidence at all to back up the things you're saying about the placebo effect. The bare fact is that sometimes people get better by taking a sugar pill, but you don't know if its got anything to do with what the patient thinks or believes or anything. You're just presumptuously speculating and I think you're wrong.

      You just try and wave your hands and dismiss it all away. "Ah", you say, "they…

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    3. Tim Scanlon

      Author and Scientist

      In reply to Richard Dobson

      I now see why you are such a staunch advocate of ignoring the placebo effect in accupuncture Richard.

      Richard is an acupuncturist-massuer at RADacupuncture after studying at the Australian College of Natural Medicine. So basically Richard is a proponent of this pseudo-treatment and is one of the peddlers of this rubbish.

      The placebo effect is in present in many things. Think you're happy, you become happy, think you're being treated, you react as though you are being treated. Doesn't mean the treatment had anything to do with it, which means that if something is actually wrong with the person you don't end up treating the ailment, merely making them feel better about being ailed.

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    4. Richard Dobson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Tim Scanlon

      Tim, your ad hominem attack on me is contrary to the terms and conditions of commenting on this site. Please apologise.

      My decade long pursuit of knowledge in this subject, and my years of clinical experience, far from invalidating my opinion in these matters, in fact enhances the value of my contributions. I invariably find that the biggest opponents of acupuncture are precisely those people that have never bothered to try it or even learn the slightest little thing about it. Your ignorance about…

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    5. Tim Scanlon

      Author and Scientist

      In reply to Richard Dobson

      I won't apologise for pointing out your qualifications and your clear bias in not accepting any placebo controlled trial results.

      You have continually asserted here that the placebo effect doesn't apply to acupuncture. This is patently false. You have falsely asserted that the human interaction cannot be removed from the procedure, as though this is the placebo effect. I am one of many who have pointed out that you do not understand what the placebo effect is. The placebo effect is reacting to…

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    6. Richard Dobson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Tim Scanlon

      You clearly know nothing about acupuncture, because you say, "in acupuncture the trial is controlled by giving only the sensation of a pin, without it actually being in the flesh", if you knew anything about acupuncture you'd have realised that this is actually a valid Japanese technique of acupuncture, and not a placebo-control at all. Far from "conclusively" showing acupuncture to be "quackery", all it has shown is that Japanese acupuncture techniques can ALSO be effective, as are Chinese acupuncture…

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    7. Rachael Dunlop

      Post-doctoral fellow at University of Technology, Sydney

      In reply to Richard Dobson

      Richard, Tim stating you affiliations is not an ad hom. I agree with Tim, you should have declared where your conflicts of interest lie. Now that I know them I will read your comments from a different perspective. I made a full declaration of what side my bread is buttered, why didn't you?

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    8. Richard Dobson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Rachael Dunlop

      What are you talking about!? The very first comment I made on this thread stated that I had been an acupuncture student at ACNM contemporaneously with Sam Edwards. I made no attempt to hide anything, I logged in with my facebook account which anyone can click on see what my occupation is.

      Now it is an ad hom to state that someone's profession, someone's livelihood, is a "psuedo-treatment", and that I'm a "pedlar of rubbish". Fyi my work is very hard, very physically demanding and emotionally draining…

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    9. Rachael Dunlop

      Post-doctoral fellow at University of Technology, Sydney

      In reply to Richard Dobson

      I don't think anyone has said that your opinions are not valid because you work in the field on which we are commenting - that's ridiculous. It apparently wasn't clear to Tim (or me) that you work as an acupuncturist and neither does it mean so just because you studied it. As you stated, Sam also did but he's not a practitioner.

      So you ask people to stop being mean but you refer to my occupation as "synthetic laboratory pseudo-reality"? Okey-dokey.

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    10. Richard Dobson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Rachael Dunlop

      Sorry, I didn't mean to offend you. I think your laboratory work is very valuable and I affirm your contribution to society. And that goes for all Doctors, pharmacists, pharmacology professors et al.
      However, I sometimes get the feeling that this sentiment of mine towards others is not reciprocated, which is a blow to me... it really is.

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    11. Joseph rosso

      Not applicable for this conversation

      In reply to Rachael Dunlop

      Why does it matter what your qualifications are in this debate? What was Steve Jobs' qualifications? Did you care before or now? No, what matters is his opinion. Say Apple Mac never took off, would he still be used as an example? No, not at all, but i'm willing to bet he would have still taken the same route of treatment. But while I'm mentioning Steve Jobs, can someone please tell explain what is the expected survival rate of Pancreatic Cancer from 'mainstream' medicine? and please explain what treatment method they will use to 'cure' it??? ....? Assuming you know the stats, what harm was there in him deciding not to take the mainstream approach? Because, according to the stats that have been 'proven', things weren't looking great even if he took the mainstream approach!

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  17. Dolina Somerville

    logged in via Facebook

    Sam....your comments astound me...literally....It was a wise move for you to leave acupuncture!!!! What a waste of time energy and money!!!! I hope you've found a suitable vocation. From your tone it sounds as if you are employed in the drug industry.
    It appears that you are saying that the animals owners are merely reporting placebo. Last year I treated a US vetinerary surgeon who was in absolute awe of the effects of acupuncture on the racehorses of his clients. Worldwide, acupuncture is becoming…

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  18. Mark Carter

    logged in via Facebook

    'Alternative medicine' is an oxymoron. It should just be called 'not medicine', or, more accurately; 'pretend medicine'.

    By definition, 'alternative therapies' don't work. If they ever are discovered to work they simply become part of actual medicine.

    I personally think those who sell these faux-therapies should face the same penalties as any common fraudster.

    Its not like we would allow 'alternative' airlines which charge customers hundreds of dollars to sit on a carpet which some fast-talker insists does fly, honest, but its beyond the abilities of science to actually detect it flying...

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    1. Brett Twentythree

      Typer

      In reply to Mark Carter

      "If they are ever discovered to work they simply become part of actual medicine"?
      What, like magic?
      Not quite. The testing process to bring a new drug to market has been estimated at eight hundred million dollars. (diMasi et al. in 2003), although a study published by Steve Paul et al in 2010 in Nature Reviews: Drug Discovery compares many of the studies, provides both capitalized and out-of-pocket costs for each, and lays out the assumptions each makes. The authors offer their own estimate of the capitalized cost as being ~$1.8B, with out-of-pocket costs of ~$870M.

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  19. Citizen SG

    Citizen

    I think most contributors to this debate should read the article before commenting. The article is about whether Health Science faculties should teach material which is not evidence based. It does not deny that alternative therapies should be researched to see whether they are efficacious.
    People are still free to choose therapies for themselves or their animals, if they wish, based upon folklore, anecdote or advertising from interested parties.
    Universities are not free to teach what they…

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  20. Robin Tennant-Wood

    Assistant Professor, Faculty of Business and Government at University of Canberra

    This morning I heard ABC Radio National's Fran Kelly interviewing Prof John Dwyer, head of the lobby group for traditional medicine, and Prof Kerryn Phelps, an advocate and pratitioner of 'integrative' medicine. If Prof Dwyer is unable to listen to questions put to him in an interview, as was evident, then he is probably unable to listen to his patients. Therein lies much of the problem with traditional medicine - patients must fit within a set of symptoms and increasingly, people are looking for alternatives where they are treated as individuals. By subjecting alternative medicines to rigorous research in the university environment, medicine is improving all the time. Prof Dwyer's apparent belief that 'scientific medicine' is the only option is madness. Thalidomide was 'scientific medicine' once. Traditional medical practitioners are too fast to embrace - and prescribe - their miracle drugs and too slow to listen.

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    1. Rey Tiquia
      Rey Tiquia is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Honorary Fellow, School of Historical and Philosophical Studies at University of Melbourne

      In reply to Robin Tennant-Wood

      I also heard the interview with Prof. Dywer in Radio National this morning. And I agree that some proponents of orthodox Western biomedical science like Prof. Dwyer are very slow in listening to new complementary and alternative views. They are very unilateral in their approach to the problems confronting contemporary science or technoscience which is a body of knowledge which is closely linked to society and nature and vice-versa. It sees no dichotomy between science and technology and each is an extension and embodiment of the other.

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    2. Jarrad Hall

      PhD candidate, Molecular Microbiology

      In reply to Robin Tennant-Wood

      Thalidomide was used in pregnancy without the same rigour applied to modern medicine. There was a different outlook and a lack of clinical trial stringency that apply today. If penicillin were invented today, it may not have made it onto the market due to some side-effects.

      Many things changed, even since the 80s thanks to science in medicine. Partly it's forced us to change much of what we thought. The mentality of the time is an important factor, new drugs were hailed panaceas and commercialised without restrictions (penicillin was sold in ointments and throat lozenges when it was released), society was of the opinion we could eradicate all infectious diseases. It was still believed we would soon know all there is to know and so on.

      Much has changed, science is showing some placebos are effective and better in some circumstances. Scientific medicine works, evidence so far is most alternative therapies are not effective.

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  21. Susan Kirk

    logged in via Twitter

    Sean has a good point. Read the article. Then read it critically. Then tell me if you see bias in the reporting? @theconversation you appear to be contravening your own charter. There will never be any worthwhile debate to the issues because there is too much noise and too many radical groups with agendas. Oh and if we are talking about scientific efficacy evidence etc, then go and have a look at the Food and Administration website (FDA) there you will find many warnings and alerts for adverse affects from pharmaceuticals that have gone through very 'rigorous' long term science. The placebo effect? Why is there no science for this? And James it does affect our freedom because the whole argument behind this is more about ostracising people who have different values and beliefs.

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    1. Ian Musgrave

      Senior lecturer in Pharmacology at University of Adelaide

      In reply to Susan Kirk

      Any therapy that has the potential to heal also has the potential to harm. Statins have been fantastically effective at reducing heart attack, but there is a very rare 1 in 100,000 chance of someone getting rhadomyolosis (where the muscle breaks down). This is due to the very mechanism that reduces heart attack being hypersensitive in some people.

      Similarly, the use of low does aspirin has been very effective in lowering heart attack, but the mechanism also increases your chance of bleeding (because it works by stopping teh clotting mechanism gumming up your heart.

      Show me a drug with no side effects and I'll show you a drug that does nothing. St Johns wort has the same side effect profile as drugs like fluoxitine.

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  22. Alvin Stone

    logged in via Facebook

    I find this article particularly interesting and some of the assumptions of mainstream medicine by commenters disturbing.

    A few years ago, Macquarie chiropractic students were being taught at Sydney University and were getting more anatomy as part of that program than the medical program. Equally the medical students would have lost an anatomy test against dentists because anatomy had been reduced to only a few hours. This has thankfully changed and anatomy is now a major part of that course…

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    1. Michael Vagg

      Clinical Senior Lecturer at Deakin University School of Medicine & Pain Specialist at Barwon Health

      In reply to Alvin Stone

      Alvin, I can reassure you that the problem-based learning approach has been critically examined repeatedly and does in fact lead to more effective learning not just in medicine but in other areas where it is applied with some consideration. Your 'grave doubts' can be laid to rest.

      You are incorrect to say that 'natural medicines' can't be patented. I have personally seen many patents for proprietary combinations of herbs and other preparations. The Complementary Healthcare Council, which is the…

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    2. Rachael Dunlop

      Post-doctoral fellow at University of Technology, Sydney

      In reply to Michael Vagg

      Yes, Dr Vagg, you're right. I just patented an amino acid that you can buy in the supermarket. A patent must have something unique but that does not need to be the compound or molecule. It can be a new application for the herb/drug/molecule as was the case for me. Just as Viagra was once used as a cardiology drug, and was then re-patented for use in impotence.

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  23. Brett Twentythree

    Typer

    I am a huge fan of medical science, but this letter highlights an arrogance and closed mindedness that does nothing to help its arguments.
    Years ago I suffered from chronic, crippling pain in my stomach which dragged on for over a month. I was referred to three specialists, two of which confidently diagnosed a hernia, and the third a twisted testicle. All three recommended surgery. Not one of those three diagnoses lasted for more than five minutes. A friend suggested I see a naturopath, who, after…

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    1. Susan Kirk

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Brett Twentythree

      Good comment Brett but wait for it ......This means nothing...its heresay, and placebo. Yes, yes I'm leaving..

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    2. Graham Gower

      ex engineer, evol biology student

      In reply to Brett Twentythree

      "It is a myth that western medicine has tested every natural remedy. They haven't, so how can they confidently state that they don't work? Is that scientific? "

      You are very confused. This article concerns the teaching of degrees containing unsubstantiated unscientific claims as they were substantiated.

      X has not yet been proven to work (or, has been proven not to work for some of the values of X in question). The argument here is that X should not be taught as if it were proven along side methodologies that have been proven.

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    3. Brett Twentythree

      Typer

      In reply to Graham Gower

      This article is regarding responses to a letter written by Friends of Science in Medicine to universities. I was referring to that letter.
      If we stop teaching everything that hasn't been "proven" in universities, it will be a very lonely place. Is it just the hugely diverse disciplines lumped in as "alternative medicine" that should face this scrutiny? Mainstream medicine is constantly improving itself, and therefore admitting that much of what it taught five, ten, fifty years ago was actually incorrect…

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    4. Carole Hubbard

      conservationist

      In reply to Graham Gower

      Scientific evidence is over-rated. By some ratings scientific research is up to 90% flawed. If evidence based medicine is so good where are all the cures for increasing amounts of chronic degenerative diseases that plague society?

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    5. Trevor Lowe

      Student nurse

      In reply to Brett Twentythree

      Brett, please check out the following links:
      http://healthstats.org/articles/AJP_September_2007.pdf
      http://archpsyc.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/abstract/62/2/165
      http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMp078015
      The issue of "suicides and antidepressants" is far from "take an anti depressant and up goes the risk of suicide.'"
      The FDA, as does the TGA, collects fees from pharmaceutical companies as part of a cost recovery process. If this isn't done, then the taxpayer pays. Many would argue, regardless…

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  24. Gavin Moodie
    Gavin Moodie is a Friend of The Conversation.

    Adjunct professor at RMIT University

    I presume the friends of science in medicine are conducting an equally vigorous campaign to expel from universities theology, philosophy, Freudian psychology, gestalt psychology, counselling, social work . . .

    These disciplines and many others start where the empirical disciplines start to run out of answers. It is no answer to theology to argue that its propositions can't be proved empirically, and one doesn't persuade the religious by insisting that one should believe only what can be established empirically.

    The positivism espoused by the the friends of science in medicine is particularly narrow and, it seems, intolerant. It seems no better than other forms of fundamentalism.

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    1. Graham Gower

      ex engineer, evol biology student

      In reply to Gavin Moodie

      Theology is useless, but generally harms no one. Freudian and gestalt psychology are taught in a historical context.

      Counselling and social work are under the umbrella of social sciences, not health sciences. Legitimate randomised double blind trials may not be applied to areas such as these because of the ethical issues that would be raised in doing so. E.g. one cannot ethically do a well controlled study on the outcomes of different methods of raising a child, one must rely on correlation and statistics. Understandably, there is much confusion of cause and effect in such areas.

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    2. Richard Dobson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Graham Gower

      Complimentary health care does not harm anyone. In fact, it has benefited billions of people.

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    3. Ian Musgrave

      Senior lecturer in Pharmacology at University of Adelaide

      In reply to Richard Dobson

      Complementary medicine can kill, and definitely harm. From sertonin syndrome with St. Johns Wort to Pnemothorax with acupuncture. Surprisingly, there are only 3 recorded deaths from coffee enemas (seriously).

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  25. Gavin Moodie
    Gavin Moodie is a Friend of The Conversation.

    Adjunct professor at RMIT University

    Human's health and well being clearly involve social and psychological factors as well as physiological factors. As yet only physiological factors are understood empirically, and those only partially. It is therefore misguided to ignore and even worse to attack non empirical disciplines which seek to understand non physiological determinants of health and well being.

    The Crusades were not harmless.

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    1. Graham Gower

      ex engineer, evol biology student

      In reply to Gavin Moodie

      In psychology, theories are refined and/or disproved all the time. This tends to advance the field. That said, mental health could be better understood and better funded. If there is pseudo science being peddled in other fields, obviously it should be eradicated also.

      The crusades are unrelated to theology as taught at a university. Theology is the study of nothing.

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  26. Gavin Moodie
    Gavin Moodie is a Friend of The Conversation.

    Adjunct professor at RMIT University

    Theories in all disciplines are refined and refuted all the time. The issue is whether the only valid or rational ground for knowledge is empirical. Since human health involves many factors which cannot (yet) be understood empirically studies of human health should include non empirical methods.

    Disciplines which are not empirical are not necessarily anti empirical or anti science and still less are they are pseudo science since they don't pretend to be science - quite the contrary. This is in stark contrast to many theologians who of course are virulently anti science.

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  27. Simon Jowitt

    Research Fellow in Economic Geology at Monash University

    I think a distinction needs to be made between "Alternative" and "Complementary" medicine here. I am in no way suggesting that alternative medicine, i.e. medicine that diverts from that advocated by "scientific principles based on experimental evidence" is a good thing. However, I do think there is room for research into "complementary" medicine - as does someone who is far better qualified than I, Prof. Michael Baum from UCL in the UK, a notable critic of alternative medicine: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1466578/Cancer-surgeon-rebukes-Prince-over-alternative-therapy-support.html

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    1. Graham Gower

      ex engineer, evol biology student

      In reply to Simon Jowitt

      Ok, so what exactly do you mean by complementary? Is that like the time I smoked weed to deal with the shittyness of chemotherapy?

      Seems to me that if something is complementary in a positive way, it is something that you can safely discuss with your doctor(s) (as I did).

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  28. Citizen SG

    Citizen

    Just to clarify a couple of points. I don't think that you'll find that the defenders of the orthodoxy here are anti-alternative therapy. Merely, all that is asked is that sufficient evidence is provided for efficacy of a particular treatment modality. Once sufficient evidence is provided it becomes a valid therapy. If you can show us that something works well then it will no longer be fringe and move into accepted practice.

    Second point, I note the comments about Prof dwyer and Prof Phelps on ABC AM today. Yes Prof Dwyer was startingly hostile, but all he asked was for the provision of evidence. Prof Phelps, it should be noted, has a vested interest in alternative medicine as she profits from it. I'm not asserting it is a factor in her argument but I think she should acknowledge any potential conflict of interest when presenting her claims.

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    1. Carole Hubbard

      conservationist

      In reply to Citizen SG

      I don't think the onus needs to be on alternative and traditional remedies to be scientifically proven. That is the EBM way and not always that effective at all with up to 90% flawed by some accounts.

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    2. Brett Twentythree

      Typer

      In reply to Citizen SG

      Regarding naturopathy and herbalism, traditional use of medicines is recognized as a way to learn about potential future medicines. In 2001, researchers identified 122 compounds used in mainstream medicine which were derived from "ethnomedical" plant sources; 80% of these compounds were used in the same or related manner as the traditional ethnomedical use.

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    3. Trevor Lowe

      Student nurse

      In reply to Carole Hubbard

      some accounts...how about a few references for that statement so as to provide some robustness.

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    4. Trevor Lowe

      Student nurse

      In reply to Brett Twentythree

      Not unreasonable comments, Brett. Part of what occurs during that derivation is the work to determine:
      What are the active ingredients
      what do they interact with
      What are the side effects
      what are their half lives (this affects dosing, short half life means frequent and often inconvenient dosing, long half life may mean the compound is in the system too long and this may be negative if there is a harmful side effect)
      Work done on original active ingredients may include modifications to reduce drug interactions, provide a more favourable half life just as examples.
      Unfortunately some of the more extreme elements of the "alternative medicine" industry will deny that "natural substances" are chemicals (by what logic?) and so can have no problems (by what logic?) In doing this they actually do a disservice to their industry as such claims are not credible and so expose themselves to ridicule and unfortunately more robust practices may get caught up in the ridicule.

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    5. Brett Twentythree

      Typer

      In reply to Trevor Lowe

      I agree.
      And I'm sure there will be many more effective treatments to come from naturopathy and herbalism (which generally also includes fungal and bee products, minerals etc. Pharmacognosy would be a more accurate term, which means the study of medicines derived from natural sources).
      To me, the most surprising aspect of this movement are the gross, unscientific generalisations in their letter to universities (including the "lesser" ones). "Alternative medicine" in this instance describes such…

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    6. Carole Hubbard

      conservationist

      In reply to Trevor Lowe

      http://preview.tinyurl.com/35fe5kb 
      http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2010/11/lies-damned-lies-and-medical-science/8269/
      Lies, Damned Lies, and Medical Science
      "Much of what medical researchers conclude in their studies is misleading, exaggerated, or flat-out wrong. So why are doctors—to a striking extent—still drawing upon misinformation in their everyday practice? Dr. John Ioannidis has spent his career challenging his peers by exposing their bad science."

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    7. Carole Hubbard

      conservationist

      In reply to Ian Musgrave

      Even if only 50% of scientific studies are flawed, what it means is that the scientific method isn't the be-all and end-all of what is true and correct. There are many ways a study can go wrong, including being set up the wrong way, and not taking enough factors into account. Mostly the people who benefit from scientific studies are the pharmaceutical business and they are keen to have all therapies go through this process in order to eliminate any competition.

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    8. Rachael Dunlop

      Post-doctoral fellow at University of Technology, Sydney

      In reply to Carole Hubbard

      Hi Carole, with all due respect are you a research scientist? Only it doesn't sound like it from what you say about studies. Most studies that are set up the wrong way, or do not taking enough factors into account will not make it past peer review and will therefore not get published. Further, studies that are not designed well will not get funded in the first place so they will never even be done. It's a long and complicated process to get results published with many checks and balances on the way and it takes years. My last paper took 3 years between start and appearing in the literature.

      I'm not sure what you mean by "benefit from scientific studies" but if you take a look at PubMed you'll not find it full of Big Pharma funding. A lot of funding comes from the government (meaning tax payers) or donations (via charities).

      The last part of your comment is verging into Big Pharma conspiracy territory so I'll leave that alone.

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    9. Carole Hubbard

      conservationist

      In reply to Rachael Dunlop

      Hi Rachael, No i'm not a research scientist. The way that organised science is trying to ride roughshod over alternative and traditional remedies, smacks more of dogma than any real science.
      Have you read the article that states peer review is no more reliable than a throw of the dice? See 'Something Rotten at the Core of Science?',
      by David F. Horrobin
      Reprinted with permission from Trends in Pharmacological Sciences, Vol. 22,
      No. 2, February 2001
      http://www.whale.to/vaccine/sci.html

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    10. Ian Musgrave

      Senior lecturer in Pharmacology at University of Adelaide

      In reply to Carole Hubbard

      It's not even that, and the figures are for breaking research, which is then tested in follow-up studies. Yes, we don't take one study on face value, we TEST them, in multiple ways.

      Complementary medicine doesn't even do this, it never tests beyond a superficial level, and never withdraws. It lacks even the simplest checks and balances that modern medicine has, and you think this is a GOOD thing?

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    11. Rachael Dunlop

      Post-doctoral fellow at University of Technology, Sydney

      In reply to Carole Hubbard

      Hi Carole, thanks for the link. It is a very old article however and there have been changes to peer review since 2001. I agree (in fact, I don't know a scientist who wouldn't) that there are plenty of issues with peer review. In fact there has been a recent discussion in the media about the ongoing problems and how to fix them, particularly with respect to pay-per-view.

      Peer review is not perfect - indeed it's how Andrew Wakefield's article about MMR and autistic colitis got through and look…

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    12. Carole Hubbard

      conservationist

      In reply to Rachael Dunlop

      Hi Rachael, yes, I object to the cessation of any traditional remedies being taught in universities including homeopathy. I don't think that traditional remedies should need to go through the rigours of the scientific process, which in a way is an insult to remedies that have a proven track often over centuries.
      I see the demand by scientific medicine for more clinical trials for proven traditional remedies as being driven by big pharma's desire to eliminate any and all competition going back over…

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    13. Carole Hubbard

      conservationist

      In reply to Rachael Dunlop

      I don't let conspiracy theory stop me when it comes to analysing any situation. There is a range of topics that have an element of conspiracy theory involved, including anything to do with politics, espionage, the way big corporations are run, the inventions that would benefit humanity that get suppressed due to reasons of "national security", much information / disinformation fed to the public is generated for purposes of social engineering and control, and profit of big corporations. Its not a pretty picture but I believe it is realistic.

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    14. Carole Hubbard

      conservationist

      In reply to Ian Musgrave

      Evidence based medicine has become like some sort of religion, best to serve the interests of the pharmaceutical business. Its not really acceptable to have traditional and alternative remedies scientifically tested. Why should they be when allopathic medicine has such a closed mind and refuse to acknowledge even the most successful methods such as homeopathy and chiropractic. Why should science-based medicine get its grubby little hands on these remedies with their flawed studies which are up to 90% flawed, to declare them useless and quack science?
      Then extol pharmaceutical drugs, which only treat symptoms, not the real cause of disease, as "safe and efficacious" despite the fact of often severe side effects and sometimes even withdrawal of products that have proven themselves "safe and efficacious".

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    15. Ian Musgrave

      Senior lecturer in Pharmacology at University of Adelaide

      In reply to Carole Hubbard

      You have quoted the 90% figure again and it's not true, not even close (and again, the reason why we find these studies is that science doesn't take a single study as gospel and actually tests the finding rigorously - CAM doesn't do these basic levels of quality control).

      All therapies which have effects also have side effects, as an example the side effect profile of St. Johns Worth is pretty much the same as pharmaceutical Fluoxitine (except when what the sell you doesn't actually have any St. Johns Worth in it, a perennial problem with herbal medicines).

      The herbal medicines comfery, kava, Mua Huang have all been withdrawn becuase of serious side effects.

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    16. Ian Musgrave

      Senior lecturer in Pharmacology at University of Adelaide

      In reply to Carole Hubbard

      Peer review is like democracy, the worst form of review except all those other forms that have been tried :-)

      But CAM doesn't even have this level of quality control.

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    17. Brett Twentythree

      Typer

      In reply to Ian Musgrave

      Kava is an interesting example to use. I'm not sure what you mean by "withdrawn". It is legal to sell here, and is freely available in most countries, and banned in others. I guess the science isn't settled? I remember it first being banned in Germany, and the reason then was that it became trendy for a while, and there was not enough supply to fill the demand, and shady growers and possibly unknowing suppliers who bought kava from those growers, started manufacturing Kava using the leaves and peelings…

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    18. Rachael Dunlop

      Post-doctoral fellow at University of Technology, Sydney

      In reply to Brett Twentythree

      We do know something about why some Kava causes toxicity and other preps don't and I think this was discovered after the German incident. It turns out the method of extraction, whether aqueous or solvent will effect the type of kavalactones which dominate in the mix. Some are more toxic than others. I've done an in vitro study here but there's plenty of literature out there

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20734326

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    19. Brett Twentythree

      Typer

      In reply to Brett Twentythree

      Perhaps you could look at the list of side effects above, including death, and explain the science behind kava being banned and Ibuprofen being available in supermarkets.

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    20. Carole Hubbard

      conservationist

      In reply to Ian Musgrave

      Yes Ian, and and at the moment CODEX is doing its best to restrict access to nutrients due to their dangerous side effects when taken in doses higher than one might find in the average diet. One of the reasons I'm against evidence-based medicine is it is too easily rigged to favour vested interests, and vice versa. First their was huge influx of rockefeller money into medical schools around 1900, then standardisation of medical courses in favour of pharmaceutical science. Since back in 1800s there has been a drive to eliminate any / all competition to standard pharmaceutical medicine as it has the push of the pharmaceutical business behind it. Very often CAM medicine is fragmented knowledge base and nobody in particular with vested interest. The Friends of Medical Science should back down or risk being classified as Friends of Pharmaceutical Science.

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    21. Carole Hubbard

      conservationist

      In reply to Ian Musgrave

      Ian, when a person says "up to 90%" it can be anywhere ranging from 1 to 90.
      So the article is not theoretically incorrect. It is up to evidence based science to show that its studies are correct - which they are not entirely.

      Pharmaceutical studies aren't worth the paper (or computer) they're written on
      http://www.naturalnews.com/028194_Scott_Reuben_research_fraud.html
      Big Pharma researcher admits to faking dozens of research studies for Pfizer, Merck (opinion)

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    22. Ian Musgrave

      Senior lecturer in Pharmacology at University of Adelaide

      In reply to Carole Hubbard

      But the results were NEVER anywhere near 90%, for any study. The article you quoted doesn't say that either, so your statement of up to 90% is completely wrong.

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    23. Carole Hubbard

      conservationist

      In reply to Ian Musgrave

      Ian, you were saying? ...
      http://preview.tinyurl.com/35fe5kb 
      http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2010/11/lies-damned-lies-and-medical-science/8269/
      Lies, Damned Lies, and Medical Science

      "Though the results of drug studies often make newspaper headlines, you have to wonder whether they prove anything at all. Indeed, given the breadth of the potential problems raised at the meeting, can any medical-research studies be trusted?That question has been central to Ioannidis’s career. He’s…

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    24. Ian Musgrave

      Senior lecturer in Pharmacology at University of Adelaide

      In reply to Carole Hubbard

      Don't rely on newspaper articles (which greatly exaggerate the issues), I've read the original papers, and it is much ess than 50% (and even then the "flaw" in most of these papers is that the reported effects are bigger than established with more extensive clinicla trials. Again this is why we TEST all discoveries thoroughly, because chance alone can mean the some medicines appear to work better than they do, which is a point that CAM practitioners miss with their own claims)

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    25. Carole Hubbard

      conservationist

      In reply to Rachael Dunlop

      But yet Ian Musgrove (above comment) says that importation of Kava is banned in Australia. Obviously his comment is misleading, a bit like most scientific studies I'd say.

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    26. Carole Hubbard

      conservationist

      In reply to Ian Musgrave

      Ian, merely repeating this information, that scientific studies are 90% flawed is wrong, over and over does not make it true.

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    27. Carole Hubbard

      conservationist

      In reply to Ian Musgrave

      But Ian, why go to all the expense of testing CAM medicines that have a long history of success behind them, when scientific studies are so prone to error - ie up to 90% wrong by some accounts.

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  29. Gavin Moodie
    Gavin Moodie is a Friend of The Conversation.

    Adjunct professor at RMIT University

    But unfortunately there are some aspects of human health and well being which are not yet subject to empirical evidence. It is not sufficient to say that because there is not yet any empirical evidence nothing can or should be done. Clearly something can and should be done, altho I agree that one shouldn't describe non empirical methods as empirical methods.

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  30. Carole Hubbard

    conservationist

    I've just about had enough of all these "scientists" who think they have the only handle on what works and what is useless. Homeopathy works if a person knows how to apply it. Steve jobs might have died anyway. There are a whole heap of people who die from conventional cancer treatments, its not like they have 100% success. And the price of some of the chemo and other drugs is through the roof. Let one person die from alternative medicine and you never hear the end of it, yet if someone dies from conventional allopathic medicine that's fine and par for the course. Until allopathic can find the cures for all the increasing amount of chronic diseases that plague society, and not just lifelong treatment with "safe and efficacious" drugs, they should back down.
    I've had successful treatments with chiropractic which saved me needing my tonsils out, and can eliminate fungi, infections, parasites with correct application of cellsalts taken orally - all suppressed treatments.

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    1. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Carole Hubbard

      How much did it cost for this fungicidal treatment? Canesten cream costs about 10 bucks in the chemist... works a treat. If you don't like 'unnatural' things you could even use iodine or potassium permanganate (condy's crystals) topically... costs even less.

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    2. Carole Hubbard

      conservationist

      In reply to Citizen SG

      Not the issue how much my cellsalt treatment cost, but if its superior treatment.
      Conventional medicine is allopathic, meaning it opposes symptoms - kills the fungi, bacteria, microbe or cancer cell. The cellsalt treatment for treating athletes foot involves correcting deficiencies, which enables the body's own immune system to defend itself against fungi. Conventional medicine is man playing god, treating nutritional remedies is man working with nature.

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    3. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Carole Hubbard

      There's probably no point in arguing with you is there?

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  31. AJ Hyde

    student

    There seems to be a misconception that science is a straightforward and simple way of proving or disproving the workings of the universe. The formal scientific method is a great way of furthering our understanding, but it does not actually prove anything. (For example, it is known that induction is not a means of obtaining proof). However, the scientific method is considered to be the best method we have at this time.

    Like Western medicine, Chinese medicine has also evolved from thousands of years…

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    1. Rey Tiquia
      Rey Tiquia is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Honorary Fellow, School of Historical and Philosophical Studies at University of Melbourne

      In reply to AJ Hyde

      Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is not a static body of medical knowledge. It incorporates systematic forms of evaluation which support innovation. In this sense, systematic clinical evaluation is already embedded in TCM practice. Critical here are clinical records and possibilities for developing new schools of practice.

      This type of clinical evaluation that is embedded in TCM practice is undertaken by employing the Four Examination Techniques 'Si Zhen' as a clinical evaluation template or…

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  32. Joseph rosso

    Not applicable for this conversation

    This article clearly illustrates the closed mindedness of select individuals who are always in fear of losing something.

    Sure, acupuncture has not been proven effective in mainstream terms. But in Chinese Medicine terms, antibiotics are not strictly proven effective for each individual they are prescribed. Imagine the tables were turned? They're not! Chinese Medicine embraces western medicine, look at China - walk in the hospital, take a ticket, see the doctor, get referred to blood test/x ray/ct…

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    1. Taylor Arbour

      Acupuncturist

      In reply to Taylor Arbour

      The above is one person's take on acupuncture trials that highlights some of the difficulties when it comes to developing adequate and appropriate placebo control(s) to match the therapy. Never mind the issue of double-blinding, which can also be difficult (if not silly) in trials on therapies which are procedural in nature like acupuncture.

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    2. Ian Musgrave

      Senior lecturer in Pharmacology at University of Adelaide

      In reply to Taylor Arbour

      Doesn't matter if it is procedural or not, the same issues have arisen in testing surgical procedures. The ability to determine if there is a real effect, or just a subjective one, is crucially important to all medical procedure. We want therapies that work, not ones based on wishful thinking.

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    3. Taylor Arbour

      Acupuncturist

      In reply to Ian Musgrave

      You mean surgical procedures done while the patient is under anesthesia? I wasn't aware that it is a common practice to subject surgeries to placebo-controlled trials. I guess blinding the subject wouldn't be too hard in that case, but are these subjects given dummy-incisions to convince them that they underwent some procedure while under in order to make a bid for their placebo response? I guess medicine, in the interest of ensuring only objective response, would best be served if all thinking…

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    4. Trevor Lowe

      Student nurse

      In reply to Taylor Arbour

      Procedural is a non issue. Years ago, it used to be the practice to ligate mammary glands to relieve angina. People "thought it helped." ie. they were symptomatically relieved.
      A sham study was done (http://www.ajconline.org/article/0002-9149(60)90105-3/abstract )where patients were ligated versus those who had an operation but did not have ligation. Same relief, but neither improved exercise tolerance. Mammary ligation was not effective.
      Placebo very often should be meant to be read as "control." It is not "nothing;" it is everything except the active, therapeutic part of the treatment. This may be extra (new agent on top of usual care).

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    5. Taylor Arbour

      Acupuncturist

      In reply to Trevor Lowe

      Kind of a deceptive endpoint they measured there, at least what I could see in the paper's abstract; exercise ECG change isn't really quite the same thing as angina which, maybe not completely ironic given the rest of this discussion, is very much an experience of the patient's perception. I couldn't get to the whole paper, how were the patients who received the sham surgery kept unknowing of whether they did or didn't undergo the procedure? How did they 'fake' the surgery?

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    6. Ian Musgrave

      Senior lecturer in Pharmacology at University of Adelaide

      In reply to Taylor Arbour

      Angina is caused by myocardial ischemia, which occurs whenever myocardial oxygen demand exceeds oxygen supply. Angina is a * subjective* response to myocardial ischemia. Exercise ECG is an *objective* measure of myocardial ischemia.

      The sham procedure consisted of a similar skin incision to the real operation, with exposure of the internal mammary vessels, but without ligation.

      People who had the either the sham operation or the real operation reported their pain was less, but objective measures of their heart function did not change in either group.

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    7. Taylor Arbour

      Acupuncturist

      In reply to Ian Musgrave

      That does not sound like an approach that controls appropriately for isolating ligation of the mammary vessels as the sole route of intervention. I mean, there are a host of physiological responses initiated, be they neural, endocrinological, or immunological in response to something as invasive as surgical procedure sans vessel ligation or not. Some would hold the opinion that such responses are not clinically relevant, but opinion that view must remain as there is no evidence to say 'yea' or 'nay' to such assertion. This is just one example of exactly why procedural intervention is difficult to control for in experiments, i.e. lack of uniformity or predictability in subject response.

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    8. Carole Hubbard

      conservationist

      In reply to Taylor Arbour

      Evidence-based scientific studies are only one means of measuring the worth of a procedure or process. When there is a long tradition covering centuries it is generally not considered necessary to do scientific studies, and they are only done to try and fit in with allopathic medicine - but why anybody would want to when it shows so little success with treating so much, is anybody's guess. However, allopathic medicine (conventional) has a history of arrogance and trying to wipe out any competition and so some are intimidated to try and fit in I guess. I think conventional medicine should concentrate on coming up with a few cures for chronic disease before it starts throwing its weight around - but I know it won't because it is a patriarchical system where male egos are at stake.

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  33. Didier Nave

    logged in via Facebook

    My career in CAM spans 25 years and i´m an ex herbalist.I´m with FSM on this.Universities are not places to teach pseudoscience.

    This issue is pretty clear.It is fundamentally about honesty.Science is the best way we have to determine reality:We either value the ways we proceed to determine what is true or we have a recipe for chaos.It is by strict adherence to theses principles that we make worthwhile discoveries that benefit us all.It´s because scientists have have tested the honesty of their…

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    1. Richard Dobson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Didier Nave

      You don't speak for CAM practitioners, Dave. Its clear that somewhere along the line you decided to shut your mind and "recant" of your "heresy". That's fine. But I don't hold secular humanism up to be a virtue, and I don't hold militant scepticism up to be a virtue either.

      I think belief in a Deity is perfectly justified, and I believe having a curious attitude towards unconventional practices is valuable as well.

      With regards to your criticism of acupuncture, let it be said that "qi" is not…

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    2. Richard Dobson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Rachael Dunlop

      Well actually Rachael, its a philosophical speculation that I make my on own, Racheal. I have spent a long time trying to find translations for the concepts of ancient TCM into modern scientific understanding, because I believe the old Taoists had valid insights. Starting from a viewpoint of curiosity and earnestness, as opposed to scepticism and dismissal, I make a genuine effort to understand such teachings in a realistic context.

      For example, it is said in TCM that "heart qi" is what causes…

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    3. Didier Nave

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Richard Dobson

      Hi Richard

      Far from closing my mind,i opened it up to the possibility that I might be wrong in my certitude on subjects that are terribly uncertain.It has made me see that CAM is built on a foundation of logical fallacies and until it rids itself of those fallacies it remains pseudoscience.
      I like to remind myself that minds much greater than my own laid the ground rules with which we measure reality.
      I also like to remind myself that thousands of people spend countless hours ,in obscurity, trying to find answers,using those very principles that CAM so often dismisses as not being applicable to itself.

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    4. Brett Twentythree

      Typer

      In reply to Didier Nave

      "CAM is built on a foundation of logical fallacies" This page is littered with sweeping generalisations like this.

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    5. Carole Hubbard

      conservationist

      In reply to Brett Twentythree

      The problem as I see it is indoctrination of mainstream medical establishments. If you listen they all seem to have the same responses to any arguments that are pro-CAM.
      If you go back to the beginnings of allopathic medicine, you find that Rockefeller invested huge amounts of money in medical schools, which no doubt was on the principle of "spend a penny, to make a buck" basis. And it sure has paid off for pharmaceutical medicine.

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    6. Ian Musgrave

      Senior lecturer in Pharmacology at University of Adelaide

      In reply to Carole Hubbard

      "Allopathy" was a term of abuse invented by Hannemann, long before there were Rockefellers. What US millionaires did in the US in the 20's has little relevance to the rise of scientific medicine (the Pharmaceutical companies mainly rose in Europe, ironically, a substantial number were originally herbal medicine suppliers).

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    7. Rachael Dunlop

      Post-doctoral fellow at University of Technology, Sydney

      In reply to Ian Musgrave

      Those making accusations about the profits of Big Pharma might want to consider a couple of things.

      1) Big Pharma make a lot of the supplements so in some cases they are supplying the supplements which you think come from some warm and fuzzy place at the end of a rainbow

      2) What about the ~$2.5 billion / year Big CAM industry in Australia? Consider the turnover of a company like Brauer Natural Medicine who sell distilled water and sugar pills for an exorbitant mark-up. And without the need for R&D or clinical trials or ethics in that case - recall homeopathic vaccinations for meningococcol disease? That.

      And consider the outlay of Big Pharma in R&D, licensing fees to the TGA, post-launch monitoring, continual safety assessments. All stuff Big CAM don't have to do. They just make something up on the ARTG, pay a thousand bucks, their product gets rubber stamped with an AustL number and we're away! Cha-king!

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    8. Carole Hubbard

      conservationist

      In reply to Ian Musgrave

      Today's conventional medicine is known as allopathic as the treatments oppose the symptoms - antibiotics kill the bacteria, insecticides kill the parasites, fungicides kill the fungus, chemo kills the cancer cells. Alternative aims to rebuild the immune system so the body can fight off these invaders itself.
      Modern medicine is a racket that began in the 1800s with the likes of rockefellers and AMA which have taken a dominance due to their approach to ridicule and rule out whatever competes with them. What was started back in 1800s still continues with the suppression of certain ideas and practices.

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    9. Ian Musgrave

      Senior lecturer in Pharmacology at University of Adelaide

      In reply to Carole Hubbard

      Except for insulin, which replaces the insulin that type I diabetiics bodies cannot make, (similarly for growth hormone replacement therapy), iron replace for anaemia, the whole range of vitamin therapy (not the super high doses used by CAM), surgery to repair atent ductus arteosis... and a whole range of therapies that repair replace and balance.

      CAM on the other had rarely has anything to do with the immune system (since when does coffee enemas alter the immune system), even the herbal remedies which do work have no relationship to the immune system (St. Jogns Wort is just another SSRI, like fluoxitine)

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    10. Edward John Fearn

      Hypnotherapist and Naturopath

      In reply to Ian Musgrave

      Int Arch Allergy Immunol 2000 June 122 (2) 137-42

      Effects of perilla seed oil supplementation on leukotriene generation by leucocytes in patients with asthma associated with lipometabolism.
      Okamoto M, Mitsunobu F, Ashida K, Mifune T, Hosaki Y, Tsugeno H, Harada S, Tanizaki Y, Kataoka M, Niiya K, Harada M.
      Source
      Department of Medicine, Misasa Medical Branch, Tottori, Japan. Makoto@cc.okayama-u.ac.jp
      Abstract
      BACKGROUND:
      Dietary sources of alpha-linolenic acid, such as perilla seed oil, may…

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  34. Dolina Somerville

    logged in via Facebook

    That's it. I'm going to buy a racehorse and name it "Placebo" With the success rate attributed to placebo it's bound to be a winner :)

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  35. Citizen SG

    Citizen

    yes, surprising isn't it, Dolina. The success rate of many therapies in mainstream medicine is no greater than that of a placebo. Medicine recognises this and it usually changes (sometimes slowly) the rate of prescription or referral for treatments. I don't see a similar trend in complementary medicine.
    Quite frankly I find it reprehensible that a practitioner can assert that his/her treatments are curative or efficacious when the success rate is no greater than that placebo (no I'm not talking…

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    1. Ian Musgrave

      Senior lecturer in Pharmacology at University of Adelaide

      In reply to Citizen SG

      So long as many means "hardly any". Statins, angiotensin converting inhibitors, low dose aspirin, insulin, beta blockers, warfarin, anti-epileptic drugs, digitalis, diuretics, ant-histamines, ventolin, antibiotics, HARRT therapy, folate supplementation (bye bye neural tube defects), cholinesterase inhibitors, paracetamol, codeine, fluoxitine (some other antidepressants turned out to not be so good for certain grades of depression, but we have many that work well), gleevec (revolutionised Chronic Myeloid Leukemia, with a better than 80% long therm survival) all work far better than placebo.

      So what are these "most" therapies which are no better than placebo?

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  36. Dolina Somerville

    logged in via Facebook

    Sean...should I apologise for adding some humour in this rarified atmosphere of an academic website??
    I imagine that these debates will continue endlessly and I don't intend to follow any further. Just for the record, I am a qualified acupuncturist. The people that I have been treating have generally been sceptics, intelligent and demanding value for money. I have been working outside of Australia. I see "miracles" almost every day. eg; a 70 year old woman suffering from Bell's Palsy for 14 years…

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    1. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Dolina Somerville

      You misinterpret me, Dolina. My diatribe excludes acupuncture (read my comment again!) I've seen acupuncture work since I was first exposed to it in 1991. There is good evidence that it works in the literature. But I do not for a minute believe that it has anything to do with mysterious energy channels or such like. (BTW one study inferred that it was the act of placing needles, not where the needles were placed {ie on meridians}, which provided benefit)
      Nevertheless, when discussing this with…

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  37. Brett Twentythree

    Typer

    A letter from this morning's Sydney Morning Herald:

    A lobby group is arguing that university reputations are at stake as a result of offering courses on alternative medicine (''Scientists urge unis to axe alternative medicine courses", January 26).

    I was approached by this lobby group to support its efforts, but requested clarification from it on how it defined ''pseudo science''. I pointed out that if it did not have a tight and usable definition of pseudo science its efforts would be wasted…

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    1. Rey Tiquia
      Rey Tiquia is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Honorary Fellow, School of Historical and Philosophical Studies at University of Melbourne

      In reply to Brett Twentythree

      "If the definition of evidence-based science was one that required double-blind trials then much of what is taught in medicine itself could be in danger of being classified as pseudo-science."

      This makes sense because double-blind trials i.e. hiding the nature of the treatment from both the patient and doctor are often impossible in biomedical treatments. . This is certainly true of chemotherapy tests, where the side effects make it impossible to 'hide' the nature of the treatment from doctors. Increasingly patients too are aware of the side effects of particular drugs. So even single-masking cannot be achieved.

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    2. Taylor Arbour

      Acupuncturist

      In reply to Brett Twentythree

      Good point Brett. Consider the following:

      “More than half of all medical treatments, and perhaps as many as 85 percent, have never been validated by clinical trials.” Michael L. Millenson, AB: Demanding Medical Evidence: Doctors and Accountability in the Information Age, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Issue 2, September 1998.

      “Only 10-20% of all procedures currently used in medical practice have been shown to be efficacious by controlled trial.” Office of Technology Assessment, US Congress. Assessing the Efficacy and Safety of Medical Technologies. Washington DC : Office of Technology Assessment, US Congress; 1978.

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  38. Alex John Crandon

    Surgical Oncologist & Director Qld Centre for Gyn Cancer

    I read this article with great interest. Dr Myers comes out to defend RMIT's running of courses in alternative treatment. However, he had no other choice if he was going to comment. As Acting Head he could hardly complain about RMIT's School of Health Sciences own courses. So lets look at the real facts.
    So called complimentary and alternative medicine (CAM) have, on the claims of it's own proponents, been around for a very long time. Yet they have never come up with sound evidence of efficacy…

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  39. Rob Seletto

    logged in via Facebook

    It is extremely disappointing to hear that some of our so-called top doctors including the president of the AMA, Dr. Steve Hambleton and University of NSW medicine professor John Dwyer are so narrow minded and frightened by Alternative Medicine that they are resorting to calling health treatments that have been clinically and scientifically proven and of benefit to countless people for hundreds of years quackery and fraudulent.

    Due to the popularity of Alternative Medicine amongst Australians…

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  40. Rachael Dunlop

    Post-doctoral fellow at University of Technology, Sydney

    Does anyone know if Ray Myers title of Dr is an osteopathic thing? It appears from his RMIT staff profile that the highest degree he has is a Masters.

    http://rmit.net.au/browse;ID=pok8lki69ea5

    Are you allowed to call yourself Dr with a Masters in Osteopathy?

    Qualifications

    M.Ost.Sc., RMIT, 1998

    B.App.Sc (Osteopathy), RMIT, 1995

    B.Surv., Melbourne University, 1977

    Or have I got the wrong Ray Myers?

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    1. Rachael Dunlop

      Post-doctoral fellow at University of Technology, Sydney

      In reply to Rachael Dunlop

      Okay, did some research and found out that use of the term "Dr" by osteopaths is allowed as long as long as its use makes clear that such a title does not apply to medical practice, eg., Dr Myers, Osteopath. Same applies to chiropractors.

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  41. Edward John Fearn

    Hypnotherapist and Naturopath

    I don't think that many acupuncture studies focus on the theory of active "myofacial trigger points". Popular theory is that trigger points are spasms or contractures of voluntary muscle, possibly caused by an abnormality at the neuromuscular junction where the nerves controlling muscles connect to muscles fibers. Other theories link formation of trigger points with shortage of ATP in affected muscles as a result of insufficient arterial circulation.

    In clinical practice these TrPs or as my clients…

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  42. Brett Twentythree

    Typer

    I've never had any time for homoeopathy, but I've just been reading about Cucurbitacins, which are found in some plants, notably members of the family Cucurbitaceae, that includes pumpkins and young cucumbers, developed in order to defend themselves from herbivores are so bitter that people can taste their presence even when the substance is diluted to one part per billion.
    Per billion. Food for thought?

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    1. Ian Musgrave

      Senior lecturer in Pharmacology at University of Adelaide

      In reply to Brett Twentythree

      at one part per billion they are still 10 to the power 21 times (or a trillion billion times) *more concentrated* than most homoeopathic preparations (ie there is still some actual chemical in your solution).

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  43. Graeme Hanigan

    logged in via Facebook

    There is no alternative to Information Technology, no alternative to aerodynamics, no alternative to physics, no alternative to chemistry etc etc etc and by the way, no alternative to medicine!

    Those with a vested interest in promoting (or using) snake oil have a pathological reluctance to acknowledge the reality that they are are devoid of evidence to support their claims and may I point out that this is exactly what we observe here in this discussion. Anecdote is not evidence.

    Skeptics will gladly shut up it you can provide some compelling empirical evidence.
    It you cant, then expect more of the same scrutiny of your indulged fantasies.

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    1. Brett Twentythree

      Typer

      In reply to Graeme Hanigan

      I'm actually a science nut. I read pretty much nothing but. But the science I read doesn't consist of the arrogant, condescending, insulting, sweeping generalisations I've been reading on this page. To throw practices as diverse as ancient Chinese medicine, homoeopathy, naturopathy and all the others together and make the sweeping generalisations I've found here is hardly scientific.
      As I wrote above, what medical science has so far come up with for hay fever hasn't helped me. After a lot of experimentation…

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    2. Ian Musgrave

      Senior lecturer in Pharmacology at University of Adelaide

      In reply to Brett Twentythree

      The issue is that we have *tested* these things and there is no good evidence that anyoth them work, just like phlogiston and alchemy. Just because some herbals work does not mean that acupuncture, homoeopathy or even naturopathy is valid (which is the trick here, to take something that actually has a chance of working, like herbal medicine, and using it to imply the rest of the medical system they have incorporated into works as well. .

      When CAM promoters say "but, for example, St John’s Wort…

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  44. Graeme Hanigan

    logged in via Facebook

    There is a common raft of logical fallacies presented here by CAM practitioners to support their nonsense.
    Cherry picking or confirmation bias and the inability to distinguish between correlation and causality to name two popular ones.
    Just because a CAM practitioner performs treatment X and the patient recovers is not evidence of causality. CAM is most popularly and I suspect deliberately applied to ailments that are self limiting anyway.

    Prof. Kerryn Phelps suggests that CAM is justified due to its popular use. Billions of people also believe in the existence of supernatural gods, without a shred of supporting evidence! Pandering to the vagaries of the human mind is not medicine.

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    1. Brett Twentythree

      Typer

      In reply to Graeme Hanigan

      Did you actually read my comment?
      Are you saying I should just suffer my hay fever until someone presents that peer reviewed paper? Could you possibly be that closed minded and arrogant?
      Brilliant.
      Remember Ignaz Semmelweis? The guy who told doctors they should wash their hands? His observations conflicted with the established scientific and medical opinions of the time and his ideas were rejected by the medical community. Some doctors were offended at the suggestion that they should wash their hands and Semmelweis could offer no acceptable scientific explanation for his findings. Semmelweis's practice earned widespread acceptance only years after his death, when Louis Pasteur confirmed the germ theory. I'm guessing you would have been one of those arrogant doctors who refused to stop killing his patients until until a peer reviewed paper could be produced.

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  45. Graeme Hanigan

    logged in via Facebook

    May I say I am not addressing any one particular comment here, just the overall approach of those that support CAM with "it worked for me" arguments which is not evidence at all, but just your opinion.

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    1. Brett Twentythree

      Typer

      In reply to Graeme Hanigan

      Like I said, I'm actually aware that it's just my experience. That wasn't the point. Mainstream medicine doesn't do some things very well (yet. I'm sure it's just a matter of time), and one of them, in my experience, is treating crippling hayfever. So in desperation, I looked elsewhere, and found something that worked for me. I have absolutely no doubt that what I take every spring will eventually be tested and found to be beneficial for some people (very few drugs have the same effect on everyone…

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  46. Alex John Crandon

    Surgical Oncologist & Director Qld Centre for Gyn Cancer

    Carole Hubbard's lack of knowledge about what she's talking about is mind blowing. Carole, before you say that modern medicine is an invention of the Rockefeller's and the AMA you really do need to sit down and read some medical history. The AMA and every other credible medical organisation only asks for evidence of efficacy that is not handed down anecdotes. If alternative practitioners want their treatments accepted by mainstream science/medicine then come up with the evidence.

    Likewise…

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    1. Carole Hubbard

      conservationist

      In reply to Alex John Crandon

      I just don't think that conventional allopathic medicine has it right, I'm dammed sure they don't. What modern allopathic medicine is all about is opposing the symptoms. I don't think you give the immune system enough credit and I don't think it has been thoroghly explored just how efficient the immune system can be under the right conditions. Might I suggest that it is allopathic medicine's arrogance and ignorance of holistic principles that is responsible for hordes of people turning to alternatives. Personally, I can get rid of parasites, fungi and infections by using cellsalts so until medical science starts to look at the avenue of curing disease with nutrition I will continue to call it stupid, dumbed down and based on doctored science.

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  47. Alex John Crandon

    Surgical Oncologist & Director Qld Centre for Gyn Cancer

    Carole, re: comments on vaccination. Yes better nutrition and sanitation had a major affect but that was on general health. Vaccination doesn't address general health, it addresses a specific disease depending on the vaccine. Read the history of smallpox! It was vaccination that eradicated it, worldwide!

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  48. Alex John Crandon

    Surgical Oncologist & Director Qld Centre for Gyn Cancer

    Carole. Yes the studies are often flawed. Many times we get to the end of a study and someone asks a question to which we say we hadn't considered that and have to start over again. The difference is that what we are doing is transparent, out there, warts and all, to be questioned. That's how science works.

    Our problem with alternative medicine is that we are told: "It works!" We are given no objective evidence it works and are asked to accept things on the basis of anecdote. Sorry that's not good enough.

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  49. Alex John Crandon

    Surgical Oncologist & Director Qld Centre for Gyn Cancer

    Carole, The Friends of Science in Medicine has no website, as yet, as it only started in December 2011 or there about. It came about because of frustration by scientists and academics, over universities spending taxpayers money running courses that have no scientific basis. The problem is that the vast majority of alternative treatment advocates, such as yourself, have no understanding of scientific method.

    As to degenerative disease they are a result of our body's wearing out. We cannot…

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    1. Carole Hubbard

      conservationist

      In reply to Alex John Crandon

      I am prepared to wear conventional medicine's frustration of money being spent on useless therapies, because so often they have done just the same. Allopathic medicine spends huge amounts of money chasing cures through allopathic means and not coming up with cures so much as lifelong treatment with drugs. This is not a cure.
      I don't accept so much illness is the body wearing out but this is allopathic medicine's excuse since it can't come up with any cures, and then it turns around and calls holistic therapies useless. Don't you see the hypocrisy involved?
      If the Friends of Scientific Medicine want to take a stand and face the flack they will receive in return, they should get a website going or some forum where the public can have some input. This high handed arrogance of calling alternative medicine useless quackery won't do.

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    2. Carole Hubbard

      conservationist

      In reply to Alex John Crandon

      Have you watched the TV show called 'The Biggest Loser'? The principle of people having a greater physical age in health terms, compared to their actual age, is interesting. Some put on diets high in vegetables and cutting out certain unhealthy foods, have found to nip in the bud, or even eliminate certain diseases. Last episode I saw the Commando showing some people what he typically eats, which contains a lot of what people think of as rabbit food. The commando eats masses of this stuff - lettuce, cucumber, all sorts of salad.
      Now what I'm suggesting is that it is the alkalising minerals in all the salad that helps to reverse ill health. Its not simply enough to say to people "eat a healthy diet then take drugs when things go wrong". No modern research should actually be checking out what about salad contributes to making people healthy. Why not? Is this too simple or too obvious for medical science? This is what I mean when I say modern research is barking up the wrong tree.

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    3. Edward John Fearn

      Hypnotherapist and Naturopath

      In reply to Alex John Crandon

      Alexander, with respect to your comments on the scientific method and CAM, it would make more sense to examine each subject by merit for example are "BMS343 Evidenced based Complementary Medicine" "SOC108 Sociology of Health and Health Care" or "BMS255 Neuroscience for Health Practice" flawed in any way? Which core or elective subject in any university requires revision? Which subjects should be added or removed? I am interested in your thoughts in this area.

      As for EVM and CAM I think that very…

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  50. Rob Seletto

    Chinese Medicine practitioner, Acupuncturist, Doctor of Alternative Medicine and Advanced Care Paramedic

    As a practitioner of both CAM and western medicine I feel that some of the academics responding to the argument of whether Alternative Medicine should be taugh at universities, have lost view of the big picture of what medicine is all about, by instead focussing their arguments on what entails scientific evidence based research.
    The reason we practice medicine in whatever form or research in medically related fields, should be to relieve human suffering by providing relief of disease and its symptoms…

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  51. Alex John Crandon

    Surgical Oncologist & Director Qld Centre for Gyn Cancer

    Talking and trying to have a meaningful discussion with supporters of alternative medicine is like trying to have a deep and meaningful discussion with a brick wall. They don't think about what they are saying and they certainly don't listen to the other side and relate on the topic under discussion.

    It just reminds me of a quote many years ago from Shapiro, who said:
    "It never fails to amaze me how prejudices from the past blind us to current day facts that slap us in the face!"

    To all those out there with a logical, deductive, thinking and open mind; save your energy, they don't want to listen or learn. Let them submit themselves to alternative medicine and we can only hope that they become Darwinian stats before they pass on their defective genetic material.

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    1. Carole Hubbard

      conservationist

      In reply to Alex John Crandon

      I could say exactly the same of the allopathic minded mob - closed minded to the end. They're right, there is no other way, homeopathy doesn't work, chinese medicine doesn't work, nothing works except scientific studies. Oh yes there is all the incurable chronic diseases, but so what? Who ever said that medicine had to cure anything, right? As long as the studies are done that's what medicine is about, doesn't even matter is the studies are wrong half the time as long as the right method is used, right? Wrong!!
      I can get rid of infections, fungi and parasites with cellsalts, nutritional remedies. The soil theory not the germ theory. It is the conditional of the internal milieu that is the important factor. But trying to get that message through to allopaths, skeptics and debunkers is like trying to talk to a brick wall, may as well save your time and energy.

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  52. Alex John Crandon

    Surgical Oncologist & Director Qld Centre for Gyn Cancer

    Edward,
    Thank you for that information. That's all we have ever asked for, evidence of efficacy in proper trials. We have no objection to the use of treatments that have been shown in reasonably good trials to work. What we do object to is patients relying on treatments that have no proven efficacy beyond anecdotal stories in place of treatments where we do have evidence of efficacy.

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    1. Edward John Fearn

      Hypnotherapist and Naturopath

      In reply to Alex John Crandon

      Alexander

      This is exactly why I hold the view that university based training is vital for the development of therapists as an intergrated part of health system. Even though I completed my studies in Naturopathy over two decades ago, I can see that it is essential for future generations to work more closely with other health professions, In my opinion the GP is the very backbone of the health system in this country and patients need to feel comfortable comunicating their use of CAM therapies without fear or guilt. In some members of society there is a great fear of modern medicine, in some cases this is due to a previous iatrogenic injury to either themselves or those close to them. In some cases orthodox treatment may even be less frightening if it were combined with intergrative CAM therapies.

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  53. Alex John Crandon

    Surgical Oncologist & Director Qld Centre for Gyn Cancer

    To Edward Fearn - It all sounds nice but the problem is that it isn't peddled honestly. A friend of mine and his wife have been trying to achieve a pregnancy for some years without success. On numerous occasions I advised them to see an infertility specialist but no they wanted to continue with 'natural treatment' and over several years went around a few naturopaths, and others. I basically gave up advising them as they didn't want to listen. Last year they finally decided to see a proper infertility…

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    1. Edward John Fearn

      Hypnotherapist and Naturopath

      In reply to Alex John Crandon

      Alexander

      That is certainly quite a valid point, I will reply as honestly and openly as possible. After reading your post I asked myself did either Naturopath advise his or her client to speak to their medical practitioner regarding further investigations? If so did their client comply with this request? If not then why was it not discussed? Was duty of care breached and if so to what extent? If duty of care was breached what actions need to be implemented to prevent a similar incident from occurring…

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  54. Alex John Crandon

    Surgical Oncologist & Director Qld Centre for Gyn Cancer

    Edward, thank you for a rational and realistic response. It's one of the few on this discussion thread.
    My friends had seen a number of CAM practitioners but none recommended they see an infertility specialist. Further when they told some of the CAM practitioners that I had recommended this they were advised against it.
    The most common thread of their treatment was to clear the 'toxins' that they had accumulated especially in their livers. Several times I asked them to enquire of the CAM…

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    1. Graeme Hanigan

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Alex John Crandon

      I share your concerns Alexander,

      I have 3 friends who were convinced by quacks to reject medicine, in favour of quackery as a treatment for their cancer and are now dead. I have another friend with breast cancer, untreated for seven years, who 'knows' she is being cured by a psychic healer. Its plainly obvious to all that she is not getting better and is a seriously sick woman. How many Penelope Dingle's do we have to have?

      Sociopathic quacks thumb their noses at TGA directives to remove false…

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    2. Edward John Fearn

      Hypnotherapist and Naturopath

      In reply to Alex John Crandon

      Alexander

      Your last post addressed a number of issues, I will attempt to cover at least some of them in this post. One could write an entire book however and still not address all these topics in full.

      There are clear links between toxic chemical exposure and reproductive health, for example;

      "Several recent studies have shown associations between prenatal or postnatal exposure to certain pesticides or phthalates and reproductive disorders in humans." (1)

      "A history of agricultural work…

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    3. Alex John Crandon

      Surgical Oncologist & Director Qld Centre for Gyn Cancer

      In reply to Edward John Fearn

      A couple of issues. If you are undertaking some detox protocol them it must be because there are toxins present. Three things: First, can you provide a list of the toxins? Two, presumably someone has at some time in the past measured these toxins to believe that they are there; what was the methodology? Third, can you please provide the reference(s) for the study or studies that measured these toxins and then re-measured them after a detox protocol showing that they were reduced by said protocol…

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    4. Edward John Fearn

      Hypnotherapist and Naturopath

      In reply to Alex John Crandon

      Alexander,

      I think we need to first clarify whether we are discussing toxic substances in general that may or may not affect fertility or narrow the discussion down to just toxins. Just as many general practioners use the term the terms "atherosclerosis" and arteriolosclerosis interchangeably there are some technical differences. My previous post did not clearly demonstrate whether or not every part of this protocol is required for clinical effectiveness only that some aspects of the protocol…

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    5. Alex John Crandon

      Surgical Oncologist & Director Qld Centre for Gyn Cancer

      In reply to Edward John Fearn

      Edward, You haven't answered my question. You have skirted around the topic quoting papers to sound scientific but not answered the question.

      Please quote the studies that measured the whatever toxins in humans that after a detox program were remeasured and found to be at lower levels.

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    6. Edward John Fearn

      Hypnotherapist and Naturopath

      In reply to Alex John Crandon

      Alexander

      I have found no clear clinical trials (though not for lack of trying) on lipopolysaccharide levels in humans before or after prebiotic or probiotic treatment. It has been clearly demonstrated in animal studies however I was not able to find human studies.

      There have been however clear links to reduced levels of "gram negative bacteria" (10/3 from >10/4) following treatment for individuals with chronic constipation. (1)

      This should demonstrate a relationship between endotoxin…

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    7. Alex John Crandon

      Surgical Oncologist & Director Qld Centre for Gyn Cancer

      In reply to Edward John Fearn

      Edward. I'm not saying you're wrong, as a scientist I couldn't do that just because you haven't found the human studies. However, animal studies frequently don't translate to humans. They are a good place to start but often go nowhere.

      Bowel transit times and gram Neg bacteria makes sense. We have known for many decades that people who get badly constipated become sick because of the quantity of feacal material sitting and rotting in their bowel, however, it still doesn't answer my question…

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    8. Edward John Fearn

      Hypnotherapist and Naturopath

      In reply to Alex John Crandon

      Alexander

      The use of Urinary indicant testing is the most common assessment CAM therapists use for intestinal dysbiosis. However false negatives can occur with insufficient protein intake or with alcohol consumption in the previous 24hrs.
      Also high does of iodine or bile supplements can create a false positive.

      Generally if a positive result is noted, a couple of weeks of antimicrobial herbs and pre biotics will result in a negative result in follow up testing. The test is cost effective…

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    9. Edward John Fearn

      Hypnotherapist and Naturopath

      In reply to Edward John Fearn

      Urinary Indican

      In patients with excessive bacterial growth in the small intestine there is an increase in the excretion of indicant (indoxyl sulphate) in the urine. The indoles are produced by bacterial activity, particularly Escherichia and Bacteroides, or tryptophan in the diet. (1)

      (1) Clinical Investigations in gastroenterology by M C Bateman, I Arthur, D Bouchier

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    10. Edward John Fearn

      Hypnotherapist and Naturopath

      In reply to Edward John Fearn

      Int J Clin Pharmacol Ther 2008 May 46(5) 211-25

      Bovine colostrum as a biologic in clinical medicine: a review--Part II: clinical studies.
      Struff WG, Sprotte G.
      Source
      Center for Transfusion Medicine Muenster, German Red Cross Blood Transfusion Service West gGmbH, Muenster, Germany.
      Abstract
      The value of bovine colostrum as a biologic in medicine is documented in clinical trials and supported by relatively large databases containing case reports and anecdotal findings. The main actions include…

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    11. Edward John Fearn

      Hypnotherapist and Naturopath

      In reply to Alex John Crandon

      Sorry Alexander

      My last two posts were replies to myself so I don't know if you got them.

      The last quoted a paper on colostrum and lipopolysaccharides (LPS) levels. It referred to two well-controlled clinical studies with a total of 100 surgical patients have shown that the inhibition of intestinal LPS absorption measured after the application of BCC not only reduced the LPS levels in the peripheral blood but also inflammatory parameters like IL-6 and CRP were found to be diminished.

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    12. Alex John Crandon

      Surgical Oncologist & Director Qld Centre for Gyn Cancer

      In reply to Edward John Fearn

      No I don't think I got them. Do you have the reference for that last paper on PS?

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    13. Edward John Fearn

      Hypnotherapist and Naturopath

      In reply to Alex John Crandon

      I may as well just re-send both in the one post, easy enough.

      . Urinary Indican

      In patients with excessive bacterial growth in the small intestine there is an increase in the excretion of indicant (indoxyl sulphate) in the urine. The indoles are produced by bacterial activity, particularly Escherichia and Bacteroides, or tryptophan in the diet. (1)

      (1) Clinical Investigations in gastroenterology by M C Bateman, I Arthur, D Bouchier

      Int J Clin Pharmacol Ther 2008 May 46(5) 211-25…

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    14. Alex John Crandon

      Surgical Oncologist & Director Qld Centre for Gyn Cancer

      In reply to Edward John Fearn

      Edward, thanks. Give me some time to read and digest. This is outside my areas of expertise.

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  55. Alex John Crandon

    Surgical Oncologist & Director Qld Centre for Gyn Cancer

    Graeme you've said it all. We see it because when the patients reach the end they all end up in our hospital beds and we have to try and put things right as best we can.

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    1. Graeme Hanigan

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Alex John Crandon

      Contrary to what has been suggested in this Conversation, the result of Swinburne awarding a single PhD for a shonky piece of analysis of the authors own anecdotal evidence (what Pauli would have described as 'not even wrong'), has not made quacks more ethical or responsible.

      In fact we observe that the opposite has occurred.

      Quacks have become more arrogant and contemptuous of any attempts to have their industry regulated. There is better consumer protection in the second hand car industry…

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    2. Carole Hubbard

      conservationist

      In reply to Graeme Hanigan

      I'd be careful how I threw around the word "quack" in relation to alternative medicine. Many conventional therapies aren't scientifically tested, including the use of chemotherapy on many types of cancers. You could almost say that many conventional treatments are consensus based rather than any base in science.

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    3. Graeme Hanigan

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Carole Hubbard

      Carole,

      The words quack and quackery have long been used and are well understood to describe the pedlars and the claims made of their treatments, that are lacking in evidence of efficacy.

      It is not my problem if quacks and quackery are over represented in the CAM industry.

      Further as someone who has been fraudulently treated by a number of quacks, I refuse to dilute the effect by using a word that you may find a little less offensive.

      If I wanted to be really offensive I would call these people 'dangerous quacks'!

      From your posts you bear all the hallmarks of someone who has whole heartedly accepted the mindless ideology of anti-medicine and anti-science.

      You fail to provide any new perspectives, in fact I have heard the script from which you read many times. Nothing personal, but would I love to see some original ideas occasionally!

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    4. Carole Hubbard

      conservationist

      In reply to Graeme Hanigan

      A lot of conventional medicine is consensus based, nothing to do with what is really best in a given situation. Conventional is oriented around pharmaceutical drugs, and the teaching of medicine is careful to avoid any ideas that involve nutrition as being a cure for anything - which is where my thinking comes in. Nutritional cures are carefully suppressed from conventional as remedies for disease, and focus on drug-based treatments of symptoms. This explains why there is so much chronic degenerative disease in the community that is only treated for the life of the patient. The real quack medicine is conventional which is under the control of the pharmaceutical cartel.

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  56. Alex John Crandon

    Surgical Oncologist & Director Qld Centre for Gyn Cancer

    Carole, the one thing you can say is that ALL of the chemotherapy (cytotoxic) drugs ARE tested. Otherwise they wouldn't have been licensed by FDA or TGA.

    Yes not all of conventional medical treatments are tested in randomised control trials. Let me explain why. Let's say you have a 12 year old daughter and she wakes up one dy and says she feels unwell. She has a slight temperature, she feels nauseated and doesn't want breakfast and her lower right abdomen is sore and hurts. You take her…

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    1. Carole Hubbard

      conservationist

      In reply to Alex John Crandon

      Yes, the chemo drugs are tested against previous chemo drugs, for greater efficacy - not for use with types of cancer they may be suitable for though. The FDA and TGA aren't reliable and are influenced by business interests. Appendicitis is the type of condition that requires emergency intervention. CAM remedies are more suitable for chronic degenerative disease types, although in my opinion appendicitis can be cured with CAM.

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    2. Alex John Crandon

      Surgical Oncologist & Director Qld Centre for Gyn Cancer

      In reply to Carole Hubbard

      Carole, again yopu show your lack of understanding. Testing new chemotherapy against current chemotherapy, or for that matter any prospetive randomised trial of experimental treatment versus standard best therapy is a Phase 3 randomised trial.
      Note the Phase 3. That means that there were previously Phase 1 and Phase 2 trials. When you work out what they were come back and welll talk some more.
      Like usual you are talking about things you don't understand and just displaying your ignorance of the topic.

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    3. Carole Hubbard

      conservationist

      In reply to Alex John Crandon

      True, I don't know a lot about chemo except that it is cancer-causing itself, and people who administer it must be careful not to get it on their skin. Like all allopathic treatments it opposes the disease. Many people die from the treatment rather than the cancer, and apparently chemo is used in many cancers when there is no proof that it helps to cure anything. If you read the report at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15630849 you will see that "The overall contribution of curative and adjuvant cytotoxic chemotherapy to 5-year survival in adults was estimated to be 2.3% in Australia and 2.1% in the USA." Not a very effective treatment. But I know you will keep on arguing its benefits as highly efficient and evidence-based, and downplaying the usefulness of CAM.

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    4. Alex John Crandon

      Surgical Oncologist & Director Qld Centre for Gyn Cancer

      In reply to Carole Hubbard

      Carole, talking about jumping to conclusions. Saying that chemotherapy causes cancer should better be said that chemotherapy can cause some cancers. For example, alkylating agents and acute myeloid leukaemia (AML). However, given that they were being used in patients with things like stage 3 or 4 epithelial ovarian cancer they did well to live long enough to develop AML.
      You can't substantiate an argument by taking a single study and then extrapolating it to everything chemo such as the study…

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    5. Carole Hubbard

      conservationist

      In reply to Alex John Crandon

      See, I was right -- despite the really low rates of cure that chemo contributes to, you still have to argue that it is a good and worthwhile therapy. I suggest you go back and have a good read of the link I offered at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15630849 you will see that "The overall contribution of curative and adjuvant cytotoxic chemotherapy to 5-year survival in adults was estimated to be 2.3% in Australia and 2.1% in the USA. The conclusion of the study - As the 5-year relative survival rate for cancer in Australia is now over 60%, it is clear that cytotoxic chemotherapy only makes a minor contribution to cancer survival. To justify the continued funding and availability of drugs used in cytotoxic chemotherapy, a rigorous evaluation of the cost-effectiveness and impact on quality of life is urgently required.
      You're going into too much detail for a forum like this, point is chemo is crap.

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    6. Graeme Hanigan

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Carole Hubbard

      Carole, The only people who claim to be able to cure cancer are the quacks.

      There is no cure for cancer, chemo is far from ideal but it's the best we have and I don't hear any medico making untrue claims of it?

      However you just have to open a new age "Wellness" magazine or quack web site and its full of fraudulent claims.

      This approach, amongst your pop cultural group, of creating a false dichotomy contributes nothing to the discussion.

      If there is a good reason to teach quackery in Universities then lets hear it?

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    7. Alex John Crandon

      Surgical Oncologist & Director Qld Centre for Gyn Cancer

      In reply to Carole Hubbard

      Carole, let me see if I've got this correct.
      You say chemo doesn't work. I quote survival rates for Ovarian germ cell tumours of over 90% for ovarian germ cell tumours and you respond with: "See, I was right."
      You don't think 90% is good results?

      As to the article from NCI I haven't a problem with it. Yes I think too much chemo is used at times and in cases where there is very borderline justification. But now you get into a philosophical argument. A new drug come out which gives patients…

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    8. Carole Hubbard

      conservationist

      In reply to Alex John Crandon

      Oh, so you're an oncologist. I've heard that chemo is so toxic that if often kills the patient before the cancer does. Its is very toxic and is classified as a carcogen in itself. Yes, I suppose you have ethical issues about giving patients a few more months etc. However, this is not to say there aren't better alternative remedies that are shelved or kept quiet in favour of chemo, a pharmaceutical product. The nature cure view is that cancer is the end product of a toxemic condition that evolves due to inadequate diet, deficiencies, and stress. This information isn't taught in conventional medical schools, so wouldn't expect you to know about it.

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    9. Carole Hubbard

      conservationist

      In reply to Graeme Hanigan

      I disagree that chemo and allopathic methods are the best we've got. They are what is allowed to exist due to the powerful vested interests that promote drug-based medicine.
      Yes, and along with the pharmaceutical marketing which it spends so much money on promoting drugs, there is also the ridiculing of alternative medicine with such words as "quack". Scientific, "evidence-based" medicine hasn't got the corner on what is true and what works. You've been sucked into a nice little bit of pharmaceutical propaganda there.
      See 'Medicine: The Truth About Being "Scientific" and "Proven" ' - http://www.burtongoldberg.com/page37.html.

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    10. Alex John Crandon

      Surgical Oncologist & Director Qld Centre for Gyn Cancer

      In reply to Carole Hubbard

      Carole,. I really despair at your lack of understanding. You only just realised I am an oncologist, a surgical oncologist not a medical oncologist. it's been under my name on this thread since day one.

      Chemotherapy is not a wholesale carcinogen. Very few of the patients who have chemotherapy and are long term survivors end up with a chemo induced second malignancy. There may well be other alternatives but if CAM has them then they are not very clever about telling the world. They can't…

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    11. Alex John Crandon

      Surgical Oncologist & Director Qld Centre for Gyn Cancer

      In reply to Carole Hubbard

      Carole, what a load of absolute rubbish! Another crackpot conspiracy theory.

      I have been involved in various oncology trials for decades not all with chemotherapy and not all funded by pharmaceutical companies. The structures that need to surround clinical trials with research and ethics committee supervision would make it extremely difficult for any pharmaceutical company to fudge the figures and not get caught. Of course they know that if they do get caught the bad political flack would…

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    12. Carole Hubbard

      conservationist

      In reply to Alex John Crandon

      If you think that big pharma doesn't have any way to fudge studies, take a look at this article. http://www.naturalnews.com/028194_Scott_Reuben_research_fraud.html
      Big Pharma researcher admits to faking dozens of research studies for Pfizer, Merck (opinion). This guy was making up fraudulent studies for 13 years and getting them published. Yet I suspect he is only the tip of the iceberg. Conventional medicine is a rigorously controlled monopoly with tight rules and procedures, no mavericks allowed thankyou! And you can rule out innovators as well, who are consigned to the scrapheap of the outcast and delicensed.

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    13. Carole Hubbard

      conservationist

      In reply to Alex John Crandon

      We've already established that chemo is about as useful as tits on a bull for curing cancer. Then there is something called the Chemotherapy concession.
      http://tinyurl.com/3spaups

      "The Chemotherapy Concession
      "Unlike other doctors, medical oncologists (doctors who prescribe chemotherapy) can profit directly from prescribing certain drugs. Oncologists can purchase chemotherapy at lower prices than the amounts that the insurance company pays them and then pocket the difference. This mark-up, which can be as high as 86%, is called the chemotherapy concession."

      Ever heard of it?

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    14. Graeme Hanigan

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Carole Hubbard

      Hi Carole,

      In my little compendium of 'fallacious arguments put forward in support of quackery', I have ticked off the boxes as you recite them and may I say your'e doing very well, don't let me discourage you, but there are a few still outstanding.

      What is you opinion on the belief that vaccination is a plot by shape shifting lizard aliens, from the constellation Draco, to inject mind control microchips?

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    15. Alex John Crandon

      Surgical Oncologist & Director Qld Centre for Gyn Cancer

      In reply to Carole Hubbard

      Yes Carole, there are some rotten apples out there but they usually get caught out as did this chap. Mind you I would look past the editorial comments such as "the real story is that this is business as usual" and remember that the author has a vested interest in this outcome. Natural News is hardly an objective and unbiased opinion.
      Given the way the system works today it would be much harder to do this. Yes I could invent a whole study make it look good and submit it to a journal. The first things the editor would do was ask for a copy of the clearance from the relevant Research & Ethics Committee that approved and oversaw the study. No clearance then no publication.

      Of course there are innovators. For heavens sake have a look about you at the innovations in medicine that come out all the time. Open your eyes woman!

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    16. Carole Hubbard

      conservationist

      In reply to Graeme Hanigan

      I've seen these little lists before and don't worry allopathic medicine has one just as long. One day the truth will come out, how the pharmaceutical business with disease suppresses alternative cures, that the cures have been there all along but been suppressed due to the fact that pharmaceutical business wants to keep its cash cow intact.

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    17. Alex John Crandon

      Surgical Oncologist & Director Qld Centre for Gyn Cancer

      In reply to Carole Hubbard

      Carole, what do you mean, "We've already established that chemo is about as useful as tits on a bull for curing cancer."
      We've established nothing of the sort. Are you playing the ostrich and sticking your head in the sand. You haven't read what I said about ovarian germ cell tumours or GTD have you? You exemplify why alternative practitioners make no headway with the rest of us and you blame it on pour attitude. I have presented you with factual information showing that chemo does work and…

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    18. Alex John Crandon

      Surgical Oncologist & Director Qld Centre for Gyn Cancer

      In reply to Carole Hubbard

      Carole, open your eyes and use some common sense.
      If you had something that actually worked the pharmaceutical industry would be into it like rats up a drain-pipe. Not to suppress it but to exploit it. They are quite happy to use natural origin products if there's a quid in it. As an example, paclitaxol from the needles of the Pacific Yew tree or it's cousin, taxotere from the bark of the same tree, just t mention a couple of the more recent ones. They are a business. Economics 101 Carole - What is the primary function of a business? Answer: To make money!

      BTW you love that word allopathic. It crops up, usually with it's definition, in every other reply you make. Tell me is it your word of the month? Or do you think it sounds impressive?

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    19. Carole Hubbard

      conservationist

      In reply to Alex John Crandon

      I'm in Australia, mate. And I'm a person who has been forced to work out their own health issues due to the fact that conventional medicine is largely ineffective until a person needs some sort of "cut, burn and poison" treatment, generally unresponsive and effectively has become a bureacratic dictatorship of what is and isn't allowed in the hallowed halls of big pharma.
      This study says it all - did you read it? Chemo is ineffective and toxic. To say it is the best of what we've got is not an answer.
      http://germannewmedicine.ca/documents/Chemo%20Australia%20Study.pdf 
      RESULTS:
      The overall contribution of curative and adjuvant cytotoxic chemotherapy to 5-year survival in adults was estimated to be 2.3% in Australia and 2.1% in the USA.
      CONCLUSION: To justify the continued funding and availability of drugs used in cytotoxic chemotherapy, a rigorous evaluation of the cost-effectiveness and impact on quality of life is urgently required.

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    20. Carole Hubbard

      conservationist

      In reply to Alex John Crandon

      I'm into nature cure and nutritional solutions. I can get rid of fungi, bacterial infections and parasites using cellsalts ie nutritional, used the right way - correct cellsalts in the right amount, which means basically that I'm getting rid of disease by correcting nutritional deficiencies. Think about it! Allopathy means "opposing the symptoms" - you kill the fungi, you kill the bacteria with antibiotics, you kill the cancer with radiotherapy and chemo. Its all about opposing, or killing the baddies. It is well known and in the dictionary that conventional medicine is allopathic.
      No its not my word of the week but was a long time ago. My latest word of the week is astroturfing. This is when big business pays people to go online and argue against alternative remedies.

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    21. Carole Hubbard

      conservationist

      In reply to Alex John Crandon

      Alexander, all I see from you allopaths is rationalisation and lines you've all been fed in your training / indoctrination at the hands of pharmaceutical medicine. You can't afford to questionyour training since you have your entire career to think about. And what I hear is that anybody who tries to use nutritional remedies instead of pharmaceutical products gets delicensed at the first opportunity ...probably when a patient dies. Yet if an alternative practitioner loses one patient, it makes a federal court case. I have a problem with this type of double standard.

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    22. Alex John Crandon

      Surgical Oncologist & Director Qld Centre for Gyn Cancer

      In reply to Carole Hubbard

      Carole, you are talking through your hat. You have not done medicine so what you know about the contents and teaching of a medical school curriculum could be written on the back of a postage stamp. I have no problem at all criticising medical school training if I think it's not up to standard. I have done that many times in the past without any adverse effects on my career or my registration. I have actually used successfully a natural treatment for ringworm which worked very well and I'm…

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    23. Ian Musgrave

      Senior lecturer in Pharmacology at University of Adelaide

      In reply to Carole Hubbard

      From that paper,
      Hodgkins disease, 40%
      Testicular caner 30%
      Cervix 12%
      non Hodgkins lymphoma 10%
      From the general literature
      Acute Lymphoblastic leukemia (children) 85+%
      Acute Lymphoblastic leukemia (adultsn) 40%
      Breast cancer (Lancet. 1998 Sep 19;352(9132):930-42., BMJ 2005;330: 217–20.)
      women under 60 ~9%

      This is an unusual definition of "ineffective"

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    24. Alex John Crandon

      Surgical Oncologist & Director Qld Centre for Gyn Cancer

      In reply to Carole Hubbard

      Ok Carole, then you accept that medical practitioners cannot buy and on-sell chemotherapy at a profit. The article you quoted was American.

      As to the article in Clinical Oncology I have already answered you comments about that and I'm not going to re-invent the wheel.

      You still haven't commented on the factual figures on ovarian germ cell tumours and GTD and >90% 5-year survival. How can you possibly say it doesn't work?

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    25. Alex John Crandon

      Surgical Oncologist & Director Qld Centre for Gyn Cancer

      In reply to Carole Hubbard

      Well Carole I can tell you that all of the pharmaceutical companies in the world combined don't have the financial means to buy my opinion.

      As I said before. It was antibiotics from the time of WW2 that significantly reduced deaths from infection worldwide. If alternative practitioners had the means, what were they doing other than sitting on their hands until antibiotics turned up?

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    26. Ian Musgrave

      Senior lecturer in Pharmacology at University of Adelaide

      In reply to Alex John Crandon

      Here's another paper (free access), where the addition of chemotherapy to the standard surgery (the "cutting" which Carole also objects to) is more modest. But look at the graphs and ask yourself, would you rather be on the blue line (surgery only) or the red line (surgery plus chemo).
      http://www.bmj.com/lookup/ijlink?linkType=ABST&journalCode=bmj&resid=330/7485/217
      Look particularly at figure 3, the response of women with node negative, estrogen negative tumours is extremely good. This is why we are increasingly using boichemical methods to better target treatment.

      For many, but not all, solid tumour types, chemo after surgery or radiation improves survival. For most leukemias and other non-solid cancers where you can't use surgery, chemo is very effective.

      To say that chemo is ineffective or useless is to deny reality

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    27. Alex John Crandon

      Surgical Oncologist & Director Qld Centre for Gyn Cancer

      In reply to Ian Musgrave

      Ian, I'll take the surgery and adjuvant chemo thanks. Much better out come. Same for treatment of advanced ovarian cancer.

      I can't believe how far into the sand these people have stuck their heads.

      Ovarian germ cell tumours with >90% 5-year survival and they say: "See chemo doesn't work".
      I doubt they'd be happy with anything less than 110% survival.

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    28. Ian Musgrave

      Senior lecturer in Pharmacology at University of Adelaide

      In reply to Alex John Crandon

      .and zero side effects. Any real medicine will be a big disappointment. As will any CAM that actually does something, a they will have side effects too.

      The other issue here is failing to read for context. The paper doesn't actually say what Carole thinks it says.

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    29. Carole Hubbard

      conservationist

      In reply to Alex John Crandon

      Alex,
      Sorry but I can't distinguish one cancer from another, being merely a layperson. If the average rate of cure due to chemo is a measley 2.5% I wouldn't be talking it up. Why does it work for this type of cancer and not others? Is this some sort of undifferentiated cells that aren't typical? Allopathic treatments are suppressive, which means they may eliminate the symptoms at hand but don't create wellness in the long run. They eliminate symptoms at an overall expense to long-term health. I am not saying to throw out all chemo. What I am saying is that allopathic treatments are not the right approach. Creating wellness is the right approach - and removal of the conditions that run the body down, ie toxemia.

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    1. Carole Hubbard

      conservationist

      In reply to Graeme Hanigan

      Randi isn't scientific evidence. Not to mention Tim Bolen is making mince meat out of his skeptic associations. see www.bolenreport.com.
      For a discussion on whether even conventional medicine is scientific or evidence-based see article 'Medicine: The Truth About Being "Scientific" and "Proven"' at http://www.burtongoldberg.com/page37.html.
      "The matter hinges on the definition and scope of the term "scientific." The mainstream media is continually full of carping complaints by supposed medical experts that alternative medicine is not "scientific" and not "proven." Yet we never hear these experts take a moment out from their vituperations to examine the tenets and assumptions of their cherished scientific method to see if they are valid. They are not." see article for explanation.

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  57. Pip Cornall

    Director Grace Gawler Institute

    Dear Carol, I held views akin to yours since American surfers at the famous Bell's Beach in the late 60's told me vegetarianism was healthier. I started the first Au surfers health food shop in Torquay and proselytised everybody about the benefits of grape diets etc.
    A PE teacher at Geelong High School I later studied yoga and later yoga therapy. I had 4 organic farms and married a 'spiritual therapist' in Oregon, USA.

    Carol it was not until I met a former GHS student, Grace Gawler and began…

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    1. Pip Cornall

      Director Grace Gawler Institute

      In reply to Carole Hubbard

      Carol - the story was to show that I came from an alt/med backgrgound and yet had to change my views when faced with the evidence in real people that the alt/med was not helping their cancer and worse causing much death.

      If you had read the links I suggested you'd not be peddling alt/med. Alex Crandon has the balls to say this stuff is very dangerous. As said in my article alt/ed in cancer could be killing 1000s of patients each year in AU. If these people did not buy into the falsities peddled…

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    2. Carole Hubbard

      conservationist

      In reply to Pip Cornall

      Pip, you have your experiences, I have mine. My experiences are with cellsalts and treating toxemia. If you don't understand toxemia and how to eliminate it I would say that you've been wasting your time with alt med. Do you understand what toxemia is at all? I would venture to say you have absolutely no idea. For a start you should read 'Toxemia Explaine'd by JD Tilden which is available at www.soilandhealth.org. Then you should read the '7 stages of disease', which has various versions around the internet. But even then you still need to understand how to eliminate toxemia which is the tricky bit. Once you can identify the effects of toxemia, you then need to find a way to eliminate it which you don't seem to have done. So it is no wonder you have met with failure.

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    3. Alex John Crandon

      Surgical Oncologist & Director Qld Centre for Gyn Cancer

      In reply to Pip Cornall

      Pip, you are absolutely right. I have never seen a single patient who has been having alternative treatment show any objective signs of improvement, not even a partial response. Some certainly say they are feeling better, like the lady we had awhile ago whose ovarian cancer was objectively growing, whose tumour marker (CA125) was progressively increasing while her cancer increased in stage.
      She finally agreed to surgery when we lined up 4 ultrasounds and half a dozen CA125 readings all done…

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    4. Edward John Fearn

      Hypnotherapist and Naturopath

      In reply to Alex John Crandon

      Hi Alex

      I think your best option is to contact the Queensland Heath Quality Commission, and make a health quality complaint. The documentation is on the website http://www.hqcc.qld.gov.au
      To contact them by phone.

      1800 077 308

      If you know the name of the association that the practitioner is a member of, their may be grounds for expulsion, or at the least some disciplinary action or counselling. Expulsion would prevent health funds from accepting rebates from the therapist and may restrict…

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  58. Graeme Hanigan

    logged in via Facebook

    What we are seeing here from the pro quackery lobby, is the perfect example of the utterly irrational, cult like, zealotry that is so prevalent in the Wellness Industry, and which makes quackery so dangerous.

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  59. Pip Cornall

    Director Grace Gawler Institute

    Carole - boy you can sure turn things around - actually we have a very high patient survival rate - because we work collaboratively with the country's best oncologists and surgeons. But you have to know your chemistry to do that. Grace Gawler would be the country's most experienced cancer naturopath. She sells no supplements, recommends few but meets regulary with specialists and oncologists applying a team approach for best patient outcomes.

    The deaths I see are due to patients using alt/med…

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    1. Carole Hubbard

      conservationist

      In reply to Pip Cornall

      Pip, no I don't know who Penny Dingle is. Citing one death due to alt med mismanagement means very little. Conventional medicine regularly loses patients and claims to be the best and only game in town. One death, or even a few deaths doesn't prove anything. Cellsalts aren't trace minerals, but rather macro minerals (calcium, potassium, sodium etc) where mgs even grams are RDA. Trace minerals are where there are mcg needed (eg selenium, manganese, iodine). Merely talking about bucketloads of supplements means nothing, since they must be the right supplements in the right amounts. Taking bucketloads of the wrong ones does nothing.
      Have you got a website or do you have a regular forum you post to?

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    2. Alex John Crandon

      Surgical Oncologist & Director Qld Centre for Gyn Cancer

      In reply to Carole Hubbard

      Carole,
      Let's stop going around in constant circles. I'm still interested in the answers to the questions I posed at the end of last week. In case you didn't get them I'll redo the scenario.

      I come to see you on the advice of a friend. I'm 40 yrs old and tell you that I have been in good health until the other week when I was told I had cancer of the cervix. I saw my GP because I had bleeding after intercourse for the last four months. My friend recommended I come and see you because I have been told I need surgery and maybe also radiotherapy and chemotherapy and I'm concerned about all of this.

      1. What would you tell me?
      2. How would you manage my problem?
      3. I am worried about the outcome so I ask you; "What are my chances of survival?"
      4. Should my young daughter be given the Gardasil vaccination the school is offering free of charge for cervical cancer prevention?

      I wait with interest and curiosity.

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    3. Carole Hubbard

      conservationist

      In reply to Alex John Crandon

      Ok. I didn't see your previous post last week.
      My approach to any disease is to remove toxemia which I have figured out how to do with cellsalts, mainly just by experimenting on myself.
      What I'll say is that most people are calcium deficient. Something like 1/3 of 45 yo females and 1/3 of 65 year old males will experience some sort of osteopractic fracture. My first course is to increase calcium intake. Then to balance it out I take potassium (as cream of tartar) and sodium (as bicarb), 1/2 tspn…

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    4. Alex John Crandon

      Surgical Oncologist & Director Qld Centre for Gyn Cancer

      In reply to Carole Hubbard

      Carole,
      Thank you , that is exactly what I wanted although I haven't, as a patient, had all of my questions answered. My biggest concern is as I have a young family (husband and three children, all school age; the children that is) I am very concerned about what my prognosis will be.

      If I understand your management, and I want you to correct me if I've got this wrong, your approach is to correct all of the other likely problems and once they are all corrected then I'll be in a position where my own body/immune system can eradicate the cancer.

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    5. Carole Hubbard

      conservationist

      In reply to Alex John Crandon

      Basically, my approach is eliminating toxemia with correct use of cellsalts. When I say correct use though, this is a bit tricky in knowing exactly what is correct use. It took me over 20 years to work out that I could eliminate fungi by taking cellsalts. I had been taking them for a variety of conditions but wasn't sure that they could get rid of fungi - tried one cellsalt then another, until eventually worked out that it was mainly the three (calcium, potassium and sodium) in correct balance that…

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    6. Alex John Crandon

      Surgical Oncologist & Director Qld Centre for Gyn Cancer

      In reply to Carole Hubbard

      Carole,
      I want to thank you for your assistance in this matter.
      May I go over how I or any gynaecological oncologist in the world, would manage this patient.

      My first aim would be to confirm her diagnosis and at the same time determine what kind of cervical cancer she had, there are several and some need to be treated differently. So I would either want to review the original biopsy, or if that wasn't possible then I would repeat the biopsy. I wouldn't assume that what the patient told me…

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    7. Carole Hubbard

      conservationist

      In reply to Alex John Crandon

      Alex, Thanks for all that explanation/s.
      As previously mentioned I am not an alt med health person working in the industry, and certainly don't treat patients. I have no personal experience with treating cancer, myself or anybody else. So trying to pin me down to not giving details on available treatments and possible survival rates with different protocols, isn't valid. Yes, alt med has its failure but so does conventional. Addressing your points -
      1. A diagnosis along with associated options…

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  60. ByBe

    logged in via Twitter

    Great Post, Thanks for sharing. I'm into all types of meds which are classed as unproven and some are really good,this is a real eye opener for most.

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  61. Graeme Hanigan

    logged in via Facebook

    To the pro CAM lobby who are pathologically unable to accept that their fantasy treatments dont work, and endlessly call for more research, I say research your socks off, so long as its the CAM industry funding it and not the tax payer and provided you do it transparently, scientifically (there have already been more then enough preudo-scientific studies done) and publish the results.

    For those that are more open minded, you can read the results of 10 years of CAM research here;

    http://nccam.nih.gov/

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    1. Carole Hubbard

      conservationist

      In reply to Graeme Hanigan

      Where are the nutritional studies Graeme? Its ok for allopathic to have older people become so calcium deficient they develop osteoporosis, and that is the only problem you can see that their bones are prone to break? What about the correlation between osteoporosis and cancer for example, or between calcium deficiency and general ill health? You haven't got a clue and this is why more people are turning to alt med.

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    2. Ian Musgrave

      Senior lecturer in Pharmacology at University of Adelaide

      In reply to Carole Hubbard

      Since conventional medicine puts in a lot of emphasis on ensuring preventative measures for osteoporosis (calcium rich diets, exercise, and supplemental calcium when necessary) are in place for the elderly, the answer is no.

      It was after-all, conventional medicine that discovered the role of calcium in osteoporosis and bone health in the first place, and these kinds of preventative measures have been around for decades.

      Conventional medicine has always had nutrition as an important part of preventative medicine (and to a lesser extent, therapeutics eg iodine for gout, nutritional balance for diabetics etc.). Where do you think all the TV ads for eating more fruit and veges come from, it's not from the alt med community.

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    3. Carole Hubbard

      conservationist

      In reply to Ian Musgrave

      What I am saying is that the very nutrients that lead to osteoporosis, are the very same minerals that are involved in eliminating toxemia, and it is toxemia which leads to cancer.
      Duh!!

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    4. Alex John Crandon

      Surgical Oncologist & Director Qld Centre for Gyn Cancer

      In reply to Carole Hubbard

      Carole,
      I can't ignore your statement that toxaemia leads to cancer. I'm sorry but that is rubbish. Cancer is not one disease so the causes of cancer depend on what cancer you are talking about. Skin cancers are caused by exposure to ultraviolet radiation; that's why there is such a close correlation between geographocal proximity to the equator and the incidence of skin cancer in caucasians.

      Cancer of the cervix is caused by a human papilloma virus infection. That's why the disease does…

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    5. Ian Musgrave

      Senior lecturer in Pharmacology at University of Adelaide

      In reply to Carole Hubbard

      Calcium supplementation has no overall effect on cancer in women in general, slightly increases the risk of prostate cancer in men, and slightly decreases the risk of colon cancer. It's not a wonder preventative.
      http://www.ajcn.org/content/74/4/549.short

      The toxemia hypothesis was a product of the 19th century, when our understanding of biology was limited, toxaemia as imagined by the alt med community doesn't exist (as opposed to bacterial toxaemia, but that's something different again…

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    6. Carole Hubbard

      conservationist

      In reply to Ian Musgrave

      Ah yes, but calcium is only one essential mineral whose deficiency causes toxemia. The combination required is calcium, potassium and sodium - in the right proportion and the right amount. So while you think that modern medicine has done all these tests and knows the lot, it hasn't done the calcium, potassium, sodium combination or any other combinations. Just tests one mineral at a time. This doesn't work to reduce toxemia and can actually increase it as it puts the body out of balance.

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    7. Carole Hubbard

      conservationist

      In reply to Alex John Crandon

      Well I'm sorry, the theory that toxemia leads to cancer isn't rubbish. You bite your tongue!
      I had a little growth that was cut out at the local quack's office and sent away for pathology - turned out to be benign. So when I got another one I wasn't all that worried and experimented a little with cellsalts. I increased my level of calcium for a while (days, a week) and it went away. While it wasn't cancer and merely a benign growth, the principle is the same, that little growths can be influenced…

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    8. Alex John Crandon

      Surgical Oncologist & Director Qld Centre for Gyn Cancer

      In reply to Carole Hubbard

      Carole,
      Rubbish again! I wish you wouldn't sound off on things about which you obviously no nothing.
      Who, other than you, said we only measure one at a time? When we do a biochemical screen, we do a whole range of assays including, sodium, potassium, chloride, calcium, just to name a few. Sorry, looking at thousands of patients there was no association with cancer .

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    9. Alex John Crandon

      Surgical Oncologist & Director Qld Centre for Gyn Cancer

      In reply to Carole Hubbard

      Carole, Toxaemia DOES NOT CAUSE CANCER!!!

      I can probably explain what happened with the small growth you had but I would need to know what the pathology report said it was.
      Your body keeps your serum calcium within very tight limits. You can take extra calcium and it wont make a significant change in you s. calcium. You'll store some in your bones and excrete the rest in your urine; take enough for long enough and your'll get renal stones. The probability is that your second growth went…

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    10. Carole Hubbard

      conservationist

      In reply to Alex John Crandon

      I had a little growth, like a mozzie bite for a long time, maybe a year or more. Same as the other one in an area which was exposed to the sun in the v-neck area, and the 2nd one on top of my arm. Its true that I don't really know what I'm doing, just experimenting with different combinations of cellsalts. No, I don't believe I have my fingers in my ears, but conventional medicine does.
      Germs, parasites and fungi are contagious. People can catch them from others. Some people catch them worst and some they have little effect. The difference is the level of toxemia present. There's a lot unknown about germs. People have a whole micro system of pathological germs living harmlessly in their bodies. Germs mutate and behave differently under different conditions. I'm confident in my theory, that its correct. Prove me wrong! You can't!!

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    11. Graeme Hanigan

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Alex John Crandon

      Alex are you familiar with the Dunning Kruger effect? or as a great scientist put it

      "Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge (Charles Darwin)

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    12. Carole Hubbard

      conservationist

      In reply to Graeme Hanigan

      Graeme, have you ever heard of the mineral silica? Silica is one of the 12 essential cellsalts. How come there is no RDA for silica, and why are the deficiency effects more widely known?
      Its all very easy to put down people who challenge your theories, but surely one of the competencies of the medical profession is recognising deficiency symptoms. How confident can any person be in such a system that doesn't recognise deficiencies as one of the prime causes of disease?

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    13. Pip Cornall

      Director Grace Gawler Institute

      In reply to Carole Hubbard

      Carol - Gerson has good PR and positive spin - but they are greedy and deceitful. Just like you say big pharma is

      These are real stories - in 38 years Grace Gawler has seen 100s of cancer patients go there - without success - most died. She helped Ian Gawler do the Gerson diet - it took 18 hours a day - he lost so much weight and had increased pain - they stopped after 3 months when he was nearly dead. Gerson's famous 5o cases have been disproven.
      Following is another true story from a USA friend…

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    14. Carole Hubbard

      conservationist

      In reply to Pip Cornall

      Oh ok pip. Thanks for all your feedback. I might have to do some more research and find out where all these stories about alternative cures for cancer come from.
      However, one thing that keeps me wondering about the integrity of conventional medicine is how many conditions I've been able to cure myself with cellsalts. I hesitate to get into too much detail over my own personal situation, but I can remember once how I had a infection down below with blisters and everytime I had a pee it would sting something bad. A visit to the quack got me some pessaries to treat some bacterial (?) condition. In later years I discovered I could eliminate this condition easily with a few HOMEOPATHIC combination H (for hayfever) tablets. Now since conventional doesn't even acknowledge that homeopathy works, letalone nutritional remedies, that leaves me in a bit of a quandry, if you follow my drift.

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    15. Edward John Fearn

      Hypnotherapist and Naturopath

      In reply to Ian Musgrave

      Ian

      I agree with most of that statement, however in the case of post menopausal women calcium and Vit D may reduce overall risk of cancer.

      American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 85, No. 6, 1586-1591, June 2007
      © 2007 American Society for Nutrition
      ORIGINAL RESEARCH COMMUNICATION
      Vitamin D and calcium supplementation reduces cancer risk: results of a randomized trial1,2
      Joan M Lappe, Dianne Travers-Gustafson, K Michael Davies, Robert R Recker and Robert P Heaney
      1 From the Osteoporosis…

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    16. Edward John Fearn

      Hypnotherapist and Naturopath

      In reply to Carole Hubbard

      Silica has been studied in depth by science, it has shown some benefit in bone density(1), and even in atherosclerosis(2).

      I am afraid that there is no great anti-silica conspiracy.

      Jugdaohsingh R, Tucker KL, Qiao N, Cupples LA, Kiel DP, Powell JJ. Dietary silicon intake is positively associated with bone mineral density in men and premenopausal women of the Framingham Offspring cohort.

      J Bone Miner Res. 2004 Feb;19(2):297-307.Loeper J, Goy-Loeper J, Rozensztajn L, Fragny M. The antiatheromatous action of silicon.
      Atherosclerosis. 1979 Aug;33(4):397-408.

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    17. Edward John Fearn

      Hypnotherapist and Naturopath

      In reply to Pip Cornall

      Thanks Pip, I didn't realize the numbers of people rejecting conventional CA treatment were so high, Before your comments on this forum I would have thought these cases were extremely rare. I have never met anyone who used CAM as a stand alone Cancer treatment and certainly wouldn't recommend it. However I did know one woman that was considering traveling OS for CA treatment with a native Hawaiian healer. I cannot confirm whether she did or not.

      I attended a workshop with both yourself and Grace…

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    18. Carole Hubbard

      conservationist

      In reply to Ian Musgrave

      I've been taking cellsalts for many years (calcium, potassium, sodium, magnesium, silica and ferrum phosphate). Which cellsalt to take depends on prevailing deficiency symptom/s. There is often some guesswork involved as to which cellsalt is appropriate for any condition. For many years I've been experimenting to find which cellsalt for any condition. Eventually I discovered that some conditions don't respond to only one cellsalt but there is a magic combination where most conditions - bacteria, fungal, parasites - vanish. The magic combo is calcium, potassium and sodium basically. Calcium on its own has limited effect, same as potassium and sodium, but together they are magic. Long-term there needs to be included other cellsalts (magnesium, silica and iron).

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    19. Pip Cornall

      Director Grace Gawler Institute

      In reply to Edward John Fearn

      Thanks Edward - It would be hard to put a number on the alt/med related cancer deaths because they will all die in hospital and be recorded as a cancer death. But oncologists such as Alex Crandon and Profs Haines and Lowenthal and others we work closely with report similar experiences to Grace and me.

      Of the 43,000 annual cancer deaths - if alt/med related deaths are just 10% - that's a figure 2.5 times our annual road toll. I think therefore more effort should be directed to reducing the alt/med…

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    20. Ian Musgrave

      Senior lecturer in Pharmacology at University of Adelaide

      In reply to Edward John Fearn

      Note that it is supplemenation with Calcium AND vitamin D, not calcium alone (or calcium with other salts, not vit D), which was what Carole was talking about.

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    21. Carole Hubbard

      conservationist

      In reply to Alex John Crandon

      So are there any studies involving calcium, potassium and sodium?
      Maybe your acceptable levels of minerals is set too low. I need to take about 2grams calcium a day on top of my diet, 2 or 3 doses of potassium (cream of tartar) and same of sodium (bicarb). This is more than what most