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CAM or sham? Let’s get the facts straight on vitamins and supplements

Australia’s complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) industry is worth about A$4 billion annually. Around two thirds of Australians use CAM – which includes therapies such as chiropractic and naturopathy…

How can you tell what products might be of use and which ones will only lighten your wallet? Image from shutterstock.com

Australia’s complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) industry is worth about A$4 billion annually. Around two thirds of Australians use CAM – which includes therapies such as chiropractic and naturopathy, traditional Chinese medicine, vitamins, minerals, nutritional supplements, as well as homoeopathic and aromatherapy products – and there appears to be no sign of this declining.

In many cases, the evidence for CAMs having significant beneficial effects is scant. And recent studies have even found that some supplements can be harmful.

Though this is not true for all CAMs and, as a critic, I must be careful not make sweeping generalisations about efficacy – each CAM modality must be examined at face value. It is now well accepted, for example, that folic acid can prevent some birth defects and St John’s Wort is effective for mild to moderate depression.

But, as a consumer, how can you tell what products might be of use and which ones will only lighten your wallet? The task of sorting the wheat from the chaff is not made easy by unscrupulous pharmacies selling what is essentially snake oil alongside drugs for which efficacy is well established.

Can you trust the government to regulate products and only license those that work? You’d think so, but you’d be wrong. Indeed, the government is largely to blame for misleading consumers when it comes to CAMs.

How are medicines registered?

In Australia more than 10,000 drugs and medical devices are listed on the Australian Therapeutics Goods Register (ATRG). There are two arms to the ARTG:

  1. Listed products. These products are considered low risk and include complementary medicines such as herbs, minerals, vitamins and sunscreens. Listed products are identified with an “AustL” number.

  2. Registered products. These products are high risk because they have a known effect and include prescription drugs and painkillers. Registered products are identified with an “AustR” number.

The degree of assessment and regulation required to gain registration (AustR) is rigorous – sponsors are required to provide comprehensive safety, quality and efficacy data.

This is not the case for AustL. Under the current system, you can get your CAM product stamped with an official-looking number by simply applying online. You should hold evidence that your product works as described and you can explain this in a “free text” box which is provided when you apply for listing.

And therein lies the problem. Back in 2010, TGA auditors conducted a spot check on about 400 AustL products and found nine out of ten breached regulations.

The breaches were largely relating to false claims of curative powers on labels and as a result, a “significant number” of products were removed from the ARTG. Which products were removed and precisely why, was not revealed by the TGA.

The TGA does not check any AustL products to see if they work or even if they are safe. Clean Wal Mart

Time for change

Recently, the TGA announced it was finally putting a stop to the “free text” option when applying to list a product. As TGA manager Dr John Skerritt told a Senate estimates committee, this is supposed to be part of “the most sweeping reforms of complementary medicines regulations for many years in this country”. The proposed changes mean sponsors will have to select from a list of indications, the aim being to prevent spurious claims of cures or miracle treatments.

But this is not the first time the TGA has announced an overhaul of the CAM listing system. In 2012, it proposed the introduction of an Expert Report that would require sponsors to conduct a review of the scientific literature in support of their product’s claims.

Following a call for public consultations, this proposal was quietly scrapped, apparently as a result of pressure from the CAM industry which protested it was prohibitively expensive and would force many small suppliers to close down. Or maybe it was the lack of published evidence for their claims that was worrying them. Curiously, it appears this idea was recently resurrected with a second round of consultations on the same issue closing on February 18, 2013.

The removal of the free text option is also not new, being first proposed following a transparency review commissioned in 2010 by the Honourable Catherine King.

But even if these changes are implemented (and there’s some suggestion that in an election year, there may not be enough time to modify the relevant legislation) they miss the point, in my opinion. What consumers should be made aware of is that the TGA does not check any AustL products to see if they work or even if they are safe. This needs to be stamped on the side of all AustL products in great big letters.

And while consumers are free to make complaints about what they believe to be false or misleading claims made by AustL products, don’t expect anything to happen, even if the TGA rules in your favour. In approximately 30% of cases, orders to publish disclaimers or remove misleading material are ignored by sponsors and the TGA has never in its history prosecuted a sponsor for non-compliance. Ever.

Adding a warning to a product may not change consumer behaviour, but it at least increases transparency, thus enabling consumers to make an informed decision about what they purchase. Although homoeopathy doesn’t always come under the ARTG (because some preparations are too dilute to be considered of any risk), a sticker saying “this is not medicine” or “there is no evidence this works better than placebo” would make me think twice about handing over my 20 bucks.

So, the TGA can jump up and down all it likes and make announcements about proposed changes and new legislation, but until it actually instigates meaningful change, then it’s just lip service. While I was encouraged to see the removal of several products from the ARTG recently, much more needs to be done.

Join the conversation

144 Comments sorted by

Comments on this article are now closed.

  1. Tim Allman

    Medical Software Developer

    Are you sure about St. John's wort? Taken from the web site you referenced:

    St. John’s wort may help some types of depression, similar to treatment with standard prescription antidepressants, but the evidence is not definitive.

    St. John’s wort is not a proven therapy for depression. Do not use St. John’s wort to replace conventional care or to postpone seeing your health care provider.

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    1. Katie Lee

      Medical researcher and sometime journalist

      In reply to Tim Allman

      Well, that's why it's called "complementary" medicine - it's to complement your more mainstream treatment.

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    2. Tim Scanlon

      Debunker

      In reply to Katie Lee

      By complement you surely mean, take away money that should have been spent on real medicine, don't you?

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    3. Matt Stevens

      Senior Research Fellow/Statistician/PhD

      In reply to Katie Lee

      you should not take St John wort with other forms of anti-depression medicine - NOT SAFE

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  2. Tim Scanlon

    Debunker

    I agree, it is time that the Sham/CAM industry was required to make it known that they haven't undergone any legitimate testing to become medicine. All too often we hear of people who have not accessed proper medicine in time because they have been fooled into thinking Shams/CAMs were medicine.

    Given the size of the industry and its lobbying power, I'd be surprised if anything is done. Another example of $$ over science.

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  3. Trevor Kerr

    ISTP

    Are you sure folate doping is better than broccoli at preventing NTDs?

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    1. Mike Cowley

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Trevor Kerr

      In the real world where many people don't eat broccoli, or in some hypothetical world where you can compare imaginary scenarios?

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    2. Mathew Taylor

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Mike Cowley

      If they won't eat Broccoli, what makes you think they are going to buy a folate supplement?

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  4. Mia Masters

    person

    "a sticker saying “this is not medicine” or “there is no evidence this works better than placebo” would make me think twice about handing over my 20 bucks."
    As long as similar warnings are featured on antidepressants as on CAM about efficacy, (esp. long term studies taken into consideration), and with special emphasis on the long list of side-effects when it comes to antidepressants, thorough labelling of both should be fine. The label should also contain statistics and credibility/independence of studies on antidepressants and what percentage of trials/studies have been made public. Let's make it an even field and than we can pose similar demands on both.
    For devotees of ..science based medicine, recommended (compulsory) reading should be: Bad Pharma: How drug companies mislead doctors and harm patients by Ben Goldacre (for some reality check)

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    1. Geoffrey Edwards

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Mia Masters

      Given that one requires a prescription and the other doesn't, the labelling issues you bring up seems a little irrelevant.

      The primary responsibility for discussing the effects and potential side effects of PRESCRIPTION ONLY medication falls on the medical practioner doing the prescribing.

      It is here that the major problem arises due to misleading practices in the Pharmaceutical industry.

      Somewhat different to the "medicines" available without subscription or even the intervention of a medical professional.

      From my understanding, Dr Goldacre's book was well received by the advocates of science based medicine due to the fact that it highlighted the practice of Bad Science - which happens to be the name of his previous book and regular blog.

      As with Dr Rachael Dunlop, Dr Ben Goldacre is well respected in the skeptical community and his works consumed with that particular delight for science that is charcateristic of said community.

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    2. Mark Amey

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Mia Masters

      Mia, prescription drugs always contain a patient information leaflet, with every record side effect for that drug, as well as common interactions with other drugs, and, sometimes foods. Yes, it's already an uneven playing field, and CAM products are the ones getting a free hand from the ref.

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    3. Pat OBrien

      Activist

      In reply to Mia Masters

      In my view the only thing of value in this article is the criticism of the TGA and ARTG.

      As a longtime herbalist, every day I hear amazing stories of people who have beaten diseases such as cancer with alternative medicinal practices.

      It's no wonder alternative medicine is so popular, these stories get around the community, but probably never make it to academia, and to scientific forums. These forums mostly just seem to dismiss CAM therapies as nonsense.

      There is place in health and medicine for both modalities, and always will be.

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    4. Gary Cassidy

      Monash University

      In reply to Mia Masters

      "a sticker saying “this is not medicine” or “there is no evidence this works better than placebo” would make me think twice about handing over my 20 bucks."

      Yes, I like that idea.

      And perhaps a big sign above the vitamin shelves that says "You can get all this and more from real food (actual REAL food - not the highly processed stuff in the next isle!)"

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    5. Mark Amey

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Pat OBrien

      Yes, good one, Pat, what about the many who have died after shunning conventional medicine, and seeking herbs, homeopathy and irradiated water for their cancers?

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    6. Michael Julian

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Pat OBrien

      Mia - there is "hearing amazing stories of people..." Etc, and there is proper evidence for efficacy. I have friends who work in health outside the mainstream, yet they speak the same language when it comes to evidence. Maybe familiarise yourself with this http://www.cebm.net/index.aspx?o=1025 and see where your anecdotal evidence fits in...

      Yes there is room for CAM, but in the immortal words of Tim Minchin, "what do you call alternative medicine that has been demonstrated to work? Medicine!"

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    7. Mia Masters

      person

      In reply to Geoffrey Edwards

      Ben Goldacre's book exposes the fact that routinely dispensed/precribed drugs (antidepressants!) have a quesitonable track record in regards to effectiveness and safety and that the evidence available is flawed/biased. The main argument here (one would think) is in regard to effectiveness,- in both cases: CAM and prescription drugs. So on that subject, I will refer back to Goldacre.

      "It is here that the major problem arises due to misleading practices in the Pharmaceutical industry."
      The Pharmaceutical industry was able to do what it did, because the medical community signed off on many of the publications that were used by the drug industry as evidence, so the book paint a sad image of the medical profession, and not just the practices of 'big pharma'.
      Information leaflets of prescription drugs are based and sourced from flawed research/publications.

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    8. Mia Masters

      person

      In reply to Mark Amey

      Can you direct me to the source of this research of are you just making this up?

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    9. Geoffrey Edwards

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Mia Masters

      "The main argument here (one would think) is in regard to effectiveness,- in both cases: CAM and prescription drugs."

      No. The main argument is in relation to the effectiveness of certain classes of prescription drugs and the methods that have been used in getting them into the market - and a special mention for new drugs measured against placebo as opposed to being measured against existing drugs already shown to be effective.

      Ben's previous work has thouroughly skewered most of the claims…

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    10. Joel Mayes

      Bicycle Mechanic

      In reply to Mia Masters

      Mia writes:
      "For devotees of ..science based medicine, recommended (compulsory) reading should be: Bad Pharma: How drug companies mislead doctors and harm patients by Ben Goldacre (for some reality check)"

      And don't forget Goldacre's other book "Bad Science" which is highly critical of the non-evidence base medicine industry.

      No one in the science based medicine claims the system is flawless, it is how ever the best we have and many people, like Ben Goldacre, and the author of this article are actively trying to improve what we have.

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    11. Rachael Dunlop

      Post-doctoral fellow at University of Technology, Sydney

      In reply to Mia Masters

      Mia, all these things are in the product insert. I recently had boosters for diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough) and poliomyelitis (4 in 1 vaccine) and the product information sheet was 8 x A4 pages in about 8 point text. Everything you ever wanted to know about the vaccine was in there.

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    12. Pat OBrien

      Activist

      In reply to Mark Amey

      True Mark, but what about the 88% of chemo recipients who have also died?

      I've just endured two years of intensive chemo, and with the help of alternative modalities, so far I'm okay, even tho the cancer I had was a difficult one to deal with, having usually a 12 month survival rate....I've made four years so far. I'm not in the 88% yet......

      But as I said, there is definately a place for both modalities. I've been there....been thru it.

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    13. Sue Ieraci

      Public hospital clinician

      In reply to Pat OBrien

      Pat O'Brien, the real tragedy occurs when a "CAM" practitioner convinces a cancer patient to abandon their medical therapy, such as in the tragic case of Penny Dingle.

      As I'm sure you know from experience, modern oncology embraces the type of complementary approaches that adds to well-being, including meditation and good nutrition - not so much "therapies" as techniques.

      Of course many chemotherapy recipients die - almost always later than they would have died without chemotherapy. For patients with little chance of cure but a strong desire to be around with their families for as long as possible, that's a rational choice.

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    14. David Maddern

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Gary Cassidy

      I think it is salient here to look at what a placebo effect is.
      It is real effect that confuses scientific testing and it has to be ruled out there, so an effect under test can be given a clean test.

      Placebo does not mean zero.

      To do this the conductor of the test, the subject, and virtually anyone else can not know what the test substance is and if a particular person is getting it.

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    15. Sue Ieraci

      Public hospital clinician

      In reply to David Maddern

      Of course placebo is an effect, David Maddern. That's why it's called "placebo effect".

      To be judged as efficacious, medications have to be shown to be MORE effective than placebo.

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    16. David Maddern

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Sue Ieraci

      Thank you Sue, I didn't write it for you but for people who don't know it.
      And I got the photo from my camera.

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  5. foibles58

    logged in via Twitter

    the anti CAM lobby reminds me a bit of the square world society - fearful of their status and clinging onto anything that would help them stay in power. Because I suspect this is what it is all about (and of course money - think of novel compounds, dna etc being registered and patented). Rather than accepting that there is more than one way of looking at the world, and that your way may not be the only way, they will use every thing they can to throw at CAM - there are shonky cam practitioners just as there are shonky GPs, physicians, pharmacists etc and statistics and evidence is usually manipulated to your cause. Both types of practices have their (useful and effective) place in curing people

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    1. Geoffrey Edwards

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to foibles58

      "there is more than one way of looking at the world."

      Yes, but there is only one world to look at.

      The methods of science actually recognise the reality of aspect in the world. It stems from a philosophical tradition that sought to overcome the inherent bias of the subject in relation to the world.

      "Both types of practices have their (useful and effective) place in curing people"

      And if a practice is effective there should be no issue with accumulating a body of evidence to show as much.

      If I make a claim and don't even bother to justify it by appeal to evidence and reason, would you accept it? If so why? If not why not?

      Seriously. This is not complex.

      "and of course money"

      The econmic argument. I like this take on the economic argument:

      http://xkcd.com/808/

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    2. Sue Ieraci

      Public hospital clinician

      In reply to foibles58

      People who invoke the power and money excuse then they are not aware of the power and money of the sCAM industry.

      Via a well-known Australian homeopathy site, you can buy little 20ml dropper bottles of "remedy" for $18 - or $900 per litre - for a substance that can't be verified as containing anything other than water and/or alcohol.

      There may be some shonky GPs and pharmacists (they are regulated and open to discipline and deregistration), but they aren't also working with shonky "cures" that contain no therapeutic substances.

      Purveyors of false "remedies" can wield a lot of power over desperate people who want simple answers and a "remedy" for whatever symptoms they have.

      If you're worried about abuse of power and money, sCAM land is where it's happening.

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  6. Mathew Taylor

    logged in via Facebook

    Putting homeopathy and vitamin / mineral supplements in the same sentence is not a good way to start this article.

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    1. Judith Olney

      Ms

      In reply to Mathew Taylor

      Thank you for pointing this out Mathew, excellent point. I have used several mineral supplements to help with a degenerative condition in my knee, when all conventional medicine could offer were cortisone shots into the joint, and an eventual knee replacement.

      The supplements have been so effective, that I no longer require a knee replacement, and have been pain free for over a year now.

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    2. Judith Olney

      Ms

      In reply to Judith Olney

      I would like to add that I have had ultrasound tests that have shown the efficacy of the mineral supplements on the knee joint. The orthopedic surgeon was very impressed as well. Not only has it saved me from a major operation, it has saved the taxpayer the cost of this and ongoing care.

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  7. David Maddern

    logged in via Facebook

    You mention folic acid as a possible CAM success. On the cover of Lancet a few years ago there was a statistical study of a large group of mothers and the conclusion was that mothers who take folic acid sometime in pregnancy have a huge reduction in Leukaemia in their offspring. Sorry I don't haven reference on me, but I believe it was 60%.
    The CSIRO, looking at blood neutrophils, found that 500mgm folic acid with 50 mgm B12 repair DNA in the body. And to speak to someone else's comment here, you can't get this amount of usable folic acid from broccoli ( in fact you'd likely sample brocolli's toxicity ).
    So before you blast off about CAM I suggest you keep up, instead of citing some artificial divide between drugs and CAM efficiency in cure.
    Further some large proportion of drugs are aimed at lessening symptoms.

    I am looking to doing a PhD on another group of CAMs that go to the causes of disease that will bring them out in the open.

    Watch this space

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    1. David Maddern

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to David Maddern

      There are other things that need addressing here.
      the statement that
      'People can get all their nutritional needs from a balanced diet'
      implying that supplements can't help are touted without any supporting evidence.
      In the US there is roughly 1/100 of the iron in spinach tested, compared to Popeyes wonder food.
      Fruit is harvested in an unripe state and treated with the ripening hormone ethylene. However, the roots pack the fruit with sugars and antioxidants which selectively allow fruit to…

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    2. Sue Ieraci

      Public hospital clinician

      In reply to David Maddern

      "The Western Diet does not what it is cracked up to be and supplementation is a must."

      David Maddern - do you sell nutritional supplements?

      Although organic fruit and vegetables may be gentler on the earth, they do not contain more or better nutrients than conventionally grown fruit and vegetables - this has been well-studied and reported.

      A "Western Diet" (whatever than means), when it contains moderate amounts of meats or other protein sources and enough quantity and variety of fresh, plant-based foods, is perfectly good at supplying the nutrients we need. There are many more dietary iron sources than US spinach.

      Please show us evidence of nutritional deficiency in AUstralians of this century, eating a well-balanced diet of foods readily available in the marketplace.

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    3. David Maddern

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Sue Ieraci

      I am licensed to sell nutritional supplements but I have learned a lot about some

      I take issue with the statement and subject studies about organic and conventionally grown. Those studies, to study the difference between organic and conventionally grown might legitimately only look at the manuring regime and not post harvest techniques,

      Further because they do not consider the sugars that are on protein projections that poke out of the cell wall of all your cells. French researchers found 8 sugars. When we are under stress we can't properly prosecute the high energy conversion of glucose to these, if they aren't in the diet. A constitutional lack of any of these can cause autoimmune disease. If you want I can explain the mechanism of that.

      And they aren't in the Western Diet. Except for glucose and galactose.

      Now the Western Diet I submit the landmark book 'The China Study' by L Colin Campbell. I hope you read it.

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    4. Mark Amey

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to David Maddern

      'When we are under stress we can't properly prosecute the high energy conversion of glucose to these, if they aren't in the diet'

      I don't even know what this statement means!

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    5. David Maddern

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Mark Amey

      When we are under stress or sleep deprived the expensive ( in energy terms ) reactions that convert glucose to these other needed sugars slows down or stops. Although they can be got in some diets when the alpha bonded sugars are in beta bonded packages then they can get through stomach acid digestion, they typically aren't in the Western Diet.

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    6. Mark Amey

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to David Maddern

      My comment was regarding the statement: 'When we are under stress we can't properly prosecute the high energy conversion of glucose to these, if they aren't in the diet', which makes no grammatical sense.

      The universal plea from you naturopathic types is that 'stress' and 'lack of sleep' somehow alter our bodies ability to perform some basic physiological function yet we all manage to glycosolate the proteins on our erythrocytes, i.e our blood group antigens, and produce DNA and RNA hand over fist all of the time (these are also glycosolated), plus a whole heap of other glycoproteins!

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    7. David Maddern

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Mark Amey

      Not just erythrocytes (where the terminal sugar seems to be fructose and the lack of a neighbouring galactose means blood group O, galactose there is A, and n acetylglucosamine is there for group B, and AB is both. A2 is probably a chimeral situation)

      Well if we all do all the complete glycosolation, and poke it through the plasma membrane on all new cell surfaces, build up collagen and the vast number of other functions of sugars, and not get them in the diet then have you a cogent hypothesis why people's immune systems are going awry, like getting allergic to food, which is a huge trend in society?

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    8. Gary Cassidy

      Monash University

      In reply to David Maddern

      After my head stopped spinning......

      What you're talking about is diet science - interaction of food with biological response tested by scientific method.

      If something is CAM then it is invariably untested scientifically - once something is tested scientifically it can be classified under existing sciences, diet science, physiotherapy, medicine, physcology, etc. If it fails the scientific method of proof it goes back to CAM as a sCAM.

      David, it seems your "planning" your PhD to prove some mystery conclusion you know about. Have you already done some scientific research regarding this, have you published any papers to prove/disprove a thesis, have you tested any hypothesis? Have you even developed a thesis or hypothesis - or is this to mystical to tell us all about yet?

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    9. Trevor Lowe

      Student nurse

      In reply to David Maddern

      Did you actually read what Rachel Dunlop wrote about CAMs and taking each at face value. She actually excluded folic acid supplementation and St John's Wort from the discussion and they were excluded because of evidence; not hearsay or testimony but robust, statistically validated evidence. I would suggest that she actually does "keep up." The point of the article is, as I can see, the need to rely upon evidence and the success of one CAM cannot point to the success of another or support the use of another.

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    10. David Maddern

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Gary Cassidy

      Others have done the tests scientifically and published but not confirmed. I have DVDs of Doctors talking about their patients and lots of people appear to get good results including me so it is prime time to get this in the public domain.
      It seems it went underground when a power that was told some contributors to an AIDS conference 'how could a simple sugar affect the most intractable disease of the 21st Century'

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    11. Trevor Lowe

      Student nurse

      In reply to David Maddern

      You would do well to not explain the mechanism of how some "constitutional lack of these cause you autoimmune disease'" but rather point us to a peer reviewed paper documenting the mechanism you claim. At the end of the day, the discussion is about evidence that has been substantiated and subject to review; not hearsay, anecdotal comments or what you think someone may have said at a science conference.

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    12. David Maddern

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to David Maddern

      I blame the spellchecker but it should be fuctose is the terminal sugar on erythrocytes. Most other cell types have sialic acid as the terminal in humans. Fungi have mannose as the terminal sugar.

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    13. David Maddern

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Trevor Lowe

      She didn't exclude, she rather understated folic acid as people often do to limit it to NTD (neural tube defect) when even one leukaemic kid is a trajedy. It sounded like 2 obscure things perhaps help in two obscure ways.

      I wouldn't put it as a CAM it is a vitamin, and the precursor to thymine one of the DNA bases.

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    14. Trevor Lowe

      Student nurse

      In reply to David Maddern

      What you seem to be missing the point is that there is a need for evidence. A body of evidence, subjected to rigorous examination, supports the use of folic acid supplements and there is some support for the use of St John's Wort in depression. Folic acid, regardless of whether it is a vitamin or supplement has now got more evidence suggesting its use pre-pregnancy is beneficial; a JAMA article which describes an 85,000 person population study suggesting that folic acid reduced the risk of autism. Evidence. There is a lot of Vitamin C that goes down the toilet despite any strong evidence of benefit in megadosing; fortunately now women of gestational age can be reassured that folic acid supplementation is safe and potentially beneficial. To reiterate, the writer's contention does not appear to me to be anti CAM per se but rather pro evidence. Unfortunately much CAM fails to provide it and when called upon to provide it, cries out "persecution."

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    15. David Maddern

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Trevor Lowe

      I don't know that the discussion is about peer reviewed papers. Some of this is way past that. For instance the build up of collagen, the glycolation of proteins copied from RNA, the passage through the Endoplasmic Reticulum and Golgi Body be budded off to join the Plasma Membrane is in glyconutrient text books used by some doctors in the US who are learning about this technology.

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    16. Trevor Lowe

      Student nurse

      In reply to David Maddern

      The discussion is about evidence. Consumers should be able to know whether something being sold has the evidence to do what has been claimed that it will do. I have no idea how you have diverged onto basic cellular processes that many of us are well aware of from our studies. If you believe that there are substances available to facilitate these processes then there needs to be evidence provided that indeed they do facilitate it and also that the facilitation is beneficial.

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    17. David Maddern

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Trevor Lowe

      Well there were papers presented to the Jenner Conference on Glycobiology that showed that plant fragments ingested changed the glycolation on IgG so that was pivotal evidence, with big implications.
      As I said I am looking to do a big PhD to bring this stuff into the light of day,

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    18. Trevor Lowe

      Student nurse

      In reply to David Maddern

      Regardless of any implications, until the evidence is actually in that ingestion of plant fragments has been replicated and then is of actual benefit, there is no ethical basis for selling any product that may or may not impact upon IgG glycoslylation.

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    19. Sue Ieraci

      Public hospital clinician

      In reply to David Maddern

      "I am licensed to sell nutritional supplements". Thought so. Follow the money, as they say.

      David Maddern - you have a long way to go before you understand human physiology. You won't be able to "explain the mechanism of that" - because it's nonsense. You could start by reading up about the structure of the cell membrane.

      I've read a lot of books about the human body - starting with anatomy and physiology. I;ve read pathology, histology, embryology, statistics, pharmacology, electrocardiology, clinical signs...so many books I can;t remember them all.

      That;s how I know that your stuff is nonsense.

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    20. Sue Ieraci

      Public hospital clinician

      In reply to David Maddern

      David Maddern - what other sugars is glucose "converted into"?

      (Pro Tip - you are way off the mark)

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    21. Sue Ieraci

      Public hospital clinician

      In reply to David Maddern

      "Well if we all do all the complete glycosolation, and poke it through the plasma membrane on all new cell surfaces, build up collagen and the vast number of other functions of sugars, "

      That sounds like a parody put together by a clever teenage boy with a medical dictionary and a sense of humour. Well done, "David". Where did you get the photo from?

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    22. Sue Ieraci

      Public hospital clinician

      In reply to David Maddern

      AIDS is invoked!!

      Is there some sort of variant of Godwin's law for HIV?

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    23. David Maddern

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Trevor Lowe

      Rubbish, these are foods and therefore able to be taken without ill effect, if someone has a situation that is resolved by taking these then there is a good basis for someone else with the same condition to try them.

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    24. Sue Ieraci

      Public hospital clinician

      In reply to David Maddern

      Interested readers who want to know about this stuff can read up on red blood cell membrane structure - for example, here http://www.scribd.com/doc/13659089/RBC-Membrane

      The red blood cell membrane structure does not change with "stress" or "lack of sleep."

      David Maddern has read stuff that he has not understood, and regurgitated some nonsense. Much like I might do if I tried to explain how computers work from first principles.

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    25. Sue Ieraci

      Public hospital clinician

      In reply to David Maddern

      David Maddern - the biochemical structure of cell membranes is undergraduate stuff. It is not a magical new discovery.

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    26. David Maddern

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Sue Ieraci

      It is dead easy to explain on what I have already written about the cause of autoimmunity.

      Terminal sugar is sialic acid and if that is removed by a lectin, or not actually capped because of a lack of sialic acid and a macrophage slides over it and interrogates, it will mark that cell for destruction, and in the same way that immune reactions are mounted other cells remember the pattern, and all other cells with that pattern will be attacked.

      Have you got a more parsimonious hypothesis?

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    27. David Maddern

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Sue Ieraci

      You want a list from my head.....xylose, fucose, mannose, n acetyl glucosamine, n acetyl galoactosamine, galactose, sialic acid, ribose

      All but ribose were found by French researchers on the protein extensions on the outside of cells, forming the antigenic arrays

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    28. Trevor Lowe

      Student nurse

      In reply to David Maddern

      Coincidence is not evidence by any logical application of Evidence Based Medicine. It may be pertinent to investigate any association if something was out of the usual but the occurrence itself is not evidence. A doctor prescribed an antibiotic to one patient with a condition and they took it and recovered in a week; another patient with the same condition declined the script and recovered in 7 days; which coincidence will you run with?

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    29. David Maddern

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Sue Ieraci

      If I can sink to flaming I didn't say red cells change with stress, although I have seen asterocytes, I said the production of these sugars which our ancestors got in their diets, from glucose is a energy hungry process that occurs in sleep and is affected by lack of sleep, dur and stress.... Perhaps it is you who doesn't understand what you read, and your ascribing immaturity to me takes the cake, and you seen to think pushing down someone else elevates you.

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    30. David Maddern

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Sue Ieraci

      Is that to say you done believe that protein extensions on all our cell walls push through the cell wall ?

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    31. Trevor Lowe

      Student nurse

      In reply to David Maddern

      That is a postulated cause, a hypothesis that you are suggesting, based on what trials or clinical papers I don't know as you seem to reluctant to provide evidence. If this is actually happening in the human body (not cell cultures, not animal studies, not just hypothesised) then there is somewhere to move from. Until you or someone else shows that it is more than a suggestion/postulate again, it would be unethical to sell anything on the basis of this suggestion.

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    32. David Maddern

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Trevor Lowe

      Understood but when it comes to food, and the aim is resolution a suspicion can be all you need.

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    33. Trevor Lowe

      Student nurse

      In reply to David Maddern

      All you need or all YOU will go by. If the pharmaceutical industry applied the same standard that you seek to legitmise for your self (and your supplement sales?) I would hypothesise that you would be amongst those leading the charge against the legitimacy of that standard of "evidence."

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    34. Sue Ieraci

      Public hospital clinician

      In reply to David Maddern

      David Maddern - enough of the gobbledegook. You have no idea how this stuff works. Maybe you're not immature (I don't know you) - but just plain ill-informed. Your "explanations" are like word salad out of a dictionary - without even correct transcription.

      I get that you want to sell stuff - just don't pretend to be informed about it because it's too easy to see through what you say.

      You have seen "asterocytes" (sic)? Where - in the sky?

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    35. Sue Ieraci

      Public hospital clinician

      In reply to Trevor Lowe

      This stuff is all basic science - already documented in every physiology text book. David Maddern has just misquoted it by mixing up the words and concepts. There won't be any "evidence" for the model he describes because he's got it wrong.

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    36. David Maddern

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Sue Ieraci

      I haven't been near a dictionary for a whle
      asterocytes. down a microscope, they are red cells under osmotic or heat stress
      Who is spouting gobbledegook? What evidence have you for a statement that I am wrong... certainly not a Scientific stance.

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    37. David Maddern

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Sue Ieraci

      I am not allowed to write about the guy in Launceston who has alpha-1-anti trypsin deficiency, on oxygen and experimental drugs exhausted, gave him $200 worth of product on spec but not allowed to tell you what happened, and I haven't a hypothesis on how that could work. Or any number of cases that I know about.

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    38. Trevor Lowe

      Student nurse

      In reply to David Maddern

      Astrocytes are a type of brain cell; there is nothing else similar that I am aware of. I did 2 units of haematology and can't recall anythiing similar. It would be interesting what stains or microscopic technique you were using; was it live blood analysis?
      As a pointer; when you make a claim it is up to you to prove you are correct (with evidence). When that claim is inconsistent with the body of knowledge and you fail to provide that evidence, expect to be called out and some to refer to your statements as "gobbledegook."

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    39. Trevor Lowe

      Student nurse

      In reply to David Maddern

      When you are equally as fervent as reporting your treatment failures then maybe you can garner some respect for being fervent about mentioning your "successes." In Australia, it is very unusual for patients to be on "experimental drugs." Patients may be enrolled in clinical trials but there is no guarantee that they will be on the drug being trialled; they may well be on the placebo arm. Special access schemes sometimes allow a patient access but this involves major barriers, so to have done this more than once (as you say...drugs) lacks credibility. I may not be able to disprove your claim, however your story lacks credibility and again is sans evidence.

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    40. Trevor Lowe

      Student nurse

      In reply to Trevor Lowe

      Perhaps you mean acanthocytes (also known as burr cells) but the variance is more than just a spelling error. Also, they don't arise due to "osmotic or heat stress"

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    41. Sue Ieraci

      Public hospital clinician

      In reply to David Maddern

      There is no such cell as "asterocyte"

      Red cells under osmotic or heat stress? What osmolality? What temperature?

      Or are you just making this up, again.

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    42. Sue Ieraci

      Public hospital clinician

      In reply to David Maddern

      "I am not allowed to write about the guy in Launceston who has alpha-1-anti trypsin deficiency,..."

      Can we guess? He went on to have a lung or liver transplant by highly skilled surgeons, saving his life?

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    43. David Maddern

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to David Maddern

      Actually I can say what the result was he came good.. as I say I don't quite know how that happened .... I haven named the product so I am in the legal clear.

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    44. David Maddern

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Trevor Lowe

      He had been given what he described as experimental drugs, and I am sure that happens when they come up against something intractable, and can't prescribe steroids, it happens

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    45. David Maddern

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Sue Ieraci

      No I am not making it p.. although the name might be wrong... these were sometimes seen in SIDS kids as if the kid had cooked.

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    46. Trevor Lowe

      Student nurse

      In reply to David Maddern

      David, it is time to provide references...ie evidence ..for your claims. Saying something was so just doesn't cut it.

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    47. David Maddern

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Trevor Lowe

      Well the Pharmaceutical Industry should well have a more stringent regime where they are dealing with proved poisons (in drugs at least) whereas foods are presumably safe especially when taken together

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    48. David Maddern

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Trevor Lowe

      Well as I say I am planning a significant PhD and there is a paucity of Scientific papers accessible on the web, the Science is slowly catching up and explaining how it happens, and I have only talked about the sugars so instead of that I can give you foods that contain these sugars under beta bond covering (so they get through the stomach acid, but released in the bowel by bacteria )
      they are kelp powder, shiitake mushroom, shark cartilage, fenugreek, psyllium seed, and lecithin is thought to assist absorption. These can be obtained on the web and/or health food shops.
      A bar can be made, even with fresh berries and honey and should be frozen and used uncooked so that 1 tablespoon is consumed of this material a day.

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    49. Trevor Lowe

      Student nurse

      In reply to David Maddern

      It is good to see, David, that you are having to resort to two of the old stock standards that are used when you are unable and possible unwilling to be able, to support your claims:
      The pharmaceutical industry and its "proved poisons"; please also take note of the definitely proven benefits. Yet to see a body of evidence supporting "proved poisons" as applying to the majority of the pharmacopoeia.
      As for science catching up: hello; science explains phenomenon. If you can't explain how something happens nor prove something happens then it as good as has not happened.
      Your PhD will be judged for its significance when it survives it defense and is published.

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    50. David Maddern

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Trevor Lowe

      You are right Science describes phenomena and it manipulates system to test things, to exclude confusers and describes the results and seeks to explain them.

      But things still happen and if for instance a man has an inoperable brain cancer takes buckets of product and comes good or a child is born with a blind oesophagus and surgeons sew a bit of bowel in but it isn't too successful, and then the mother hears about some food technology, and a bud forms on the oesophagus and grows up, then Science should take notice, eh?
      But to define that as good as not happening is errant bullshit.

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    51. Trevor Lowe

      Student nurse

      In reply to David Maddern

      Manipulates? Puts in controls to ensure only one thing is being examined at a time and to ensure that nothing else could have caused the effect. In both of your hypothetical instances, it would be quite convenient to claim that the intervention caused the benefit without even acknowledging the possibility of confounders. How is it someone that is claiming to be about to do a PhD has yet to grasp the basics and also not even see the contradictions in their own post. If either of your "cases" were real, they would very likely have been written up as case studies somewhere; that would be a start in the process of substantiation; something you have constantly avoided.

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    52. David Maddern

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Trevor Lowe

      There are hundreds of cases that have been unofficially presented to a State Senate in the US, or on Doctors testimonial DVDs and there is also uninformed speculation by people who should know better (like Sue and the 'this wont work ' ) and criticisms that have been overtaken by Science but persist on the web.
      I am planning to reproduce, confirm and extend work done in the 1980s, and do population studies.

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    53. Trevor Lowe

      Student nurse

      In reply to David Maddern

      If there are hundreds of cases, then there will be records; dates, times, which Senators heard the "cases" etc.
      Please provide the details. Senates don't have unofficial hearings. Bottom line is evidence and you have not provided one iota.

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    54. David Maddern

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Trevor Lowe

      Unless you are privy to the workings of a US State Senates I would thank you not to revisionistically try to change history, as I have a DVD of that presentation, and I know hat is on it.

      May I reiterate, I am planning a PhD to bring this into the public domain, confirmation, evidence, testing, papers, talks etc

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    55. Trevor Lowe

      Student nurse

      In reply to David Maddern

      You can reiterate: when and if it happens then the PhD may become something of substance; certainly not beforehand.
      If a DVD was made, (of "unofficial hearings") then you should be able to cite those involved (senators if not individuals). I am certainly not convinced that I have engaged in any revision of history; as the evidence stands you have.
      Until such an event, I will join with Sue and be satisfied that a great bulk of what you have written, you have made up as you have made no effort to substantiate any of it. Saying something is so, does not make it so.

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    56. Sue Ieraci

      Public hospital clinician

      In reply to David Maddern

      "to exclude confusers"? I think you mean "confounders".

      "a child is born with a blind oesophagus and surgeons sew a bit of bowel in but it isn't too successful, and then the mother hears about some food technology, and a bud forms on the oesophagus and grows up, then Science should take notice, eh?"

      What on earth are you talking about?

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    57. David Maddern

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Sue Ieraci

      o, Sue, you think I mean.... Sorry if I am not spouting the jargon, but anything that confuses the experiment must be removed for a clear result, n'est pas!

      It is a safe bet that I was talking about was the normal ontology of the oesophagus that normally occurs in utero, but somehow was delayed, and the stem cell release stimulated by macrocytes stimulated by the product actually fulfilled the life saving development.

      Or I could have talked about an achondroplasia that a child was developing, but went on products and the growth centres at the top of the long bones organised, from a confused picture and the child grew to normal height.

      Stem cell release that was discovered in the 80s that I intend to replicate ( or is it confirm ) and then do population studies, so there will be peer reviewed papers for all you people.

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  8. David Maddern

    logged in via Facebook

    This idea about complementaties being tested to become real medicines requires some enlargement.
    In being worked up for a drug the first thing is to establish its toxicity aka LD50 or lethal dose that kills 50% of test animals.
    Anything that fails that assessment is defined as food and cannot be ascribed as doing anything by law. In the US you can't publish that water cures dehydration.
    So in effect only toxic things can be said to do anything. So your definition 'real medicine' is a bit sus.

    Btw the woman and the peaches is from1953 but if you feed your peach tree (supplement it with manures ) you can be fairly sure it relates to tree ripened.

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    1. Geoffrey Edwards

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to David Maddern

      "Anything that fails that assessment is defined as food"

      I am not sure what you even mean by"fails this assessment"

      Water has an LD50, Sucrose has an LD50. So does Vitamin C, table salt and ethanhol.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LD50

      There seems to be pretty sound reasons why you would first establish the lethal dose of any given compound as this would be pretty important if you want t use it to help people.

      But I cannot see how any of this might negate the simple request that complimentary therapies provide some evidence to support their claims.

      A substance has an effect or it is bilogically inert.

      If someone claims it does X it seems entirely reasonable to ask that they produce evidence that supports this claim.

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    2. David Maddern

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Geoffrey Edwards

      well I know of some stuff that did fail that assessment ( the only rat that died was stuffed with it and died of asphyxia), but I won't tell you what as it alludes to the later part of your statement and the PhD I am planning
      I have no problem with there being an LD50 test, just that it is not compliant to say that something that is a food can help you, even if it does.

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    3. David Maddern

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to David Maddern

      I know of another case of regulation overload, Stem cells were shown to be released by a product and the regulators said 'you can't advertise that it produces stem cells as stem cells are associated with disease. '!
      I consider that simpleminded. Of course we all came from stem cells.

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    4. Geoffrey Edwards

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to David Maddern

      "I won't tell you what as it alludes to the later part of your statement and the PhD I am planning"

      That's okay, your silence would be just as informative as the rest of your rambling.

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    5. Sue Ieraci

      Public hospital clinician

      In reply to Geoffrey Edwards

      Mr Maddern must be "planning" a PhD in the marketing of nutritional supplements, it seems.

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    6. David Maddern

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Sue Ieraci

      No Sue, although I will not tell you specifically I will be confirming some work done in the 80s and doing population studies.

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    7. Sue Ieraci

      Public hospital clinician

      In reply to David Maddern

      Considering the level of your understanding of cellular biology, David Maddern, you are a long way from a PhD. I'd suggest doing high school chemistry first.

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  9. Edward John Fearn

    Hypnotherapist and Naturopath

    I agree each CAM modality must be examined at face value, in science the evidence is often conflicting even in standard drug therapies. Over time our understanding changes as more studies are done, especially in regards to benefit verses harm. We all also have our cognitive distortions and may even interpret the current evidence in different ways to match our own world view. The actions of a young pregnant woman who avoids folic acid supplementation due to an anti CAM world view may lead to harm…

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    1. Geoffrey Edwards

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Edward John Fearn

      "While assessing effectiveness of CAM is important, it can take some time and often when we think we have the final answer whether positive or negative"

      - And while pharmaceutical companies get hammered for doing insufficient research before going to market. Alternative therapists keep on cashing in with no effort to establish efficacy at all!

      I would be more impressed by such statements if there was a willingness to withdraw these products and the provision of treatment until this lengthy process is conducted.

      Chances of this happening are...

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    2. David Maddern

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Geoffrey Edwards

      I don't know that Pharma gets hammered for insufficient they certainly do with fraudulent research, but we all have different phenotypes and that diversity has served us well in the past (not everyone has died in epidemics ) and the necessarily expensive but limiting testing of new drugs means that the quaternary testing can only happen out in society.
      Unfortunately, a lot of people think that drugs are the only thing that can help them, but Nixon has a war on cancer!
      An immune system review paper said the race is on for natural killer cell exciters in promising areas. I know of one discovered in the 80s but not scientifically reproduced. Hence my intended PhD

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    3. Rachael Dunlop

      Post-doctoral fellow at University of Technology, Sydney

      In reply to Edward John Fearn

      A warning has been issued by the TGA re: Black salve

      http://www.tga.gov.au/safety/alerts-medicine-black-salve-120203.htm

      "Both black and red salves are corrosive and essentially burn off layers of the skin and surrounding normal tissue. They can destroy large parts of the skin and underlying tissue, and leave significant scarring."

      Also see Quackwatch for some pretty awful images of the results.

      http://www.quackwatch.org/01QuackeryRelatedTopics/Cancer/eschar.html

      It amazes me that people claim BS can diagnose cancers and will selectively kill cancer cells. It burns all tissue. There's a reason why it's banned.

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    4. Edward John Fearn

      Hypnotherapist and Naturopath

      In reply to Geoffrey Edwards

      Thanks for the reply Geoffrey

      Strange I didnt think my last post was so controversial.....

      I think we might be discussing slightly different subjects. For example I have had some concerns about calcium supplementation for some time. However the evidence either way is not conclusive. I was thinking of calcium as I wrote my last post.

      https://theconversation.edu.au/can-calcium-supplements-cause-heart-disease-7282

      Do you think that all calcium supplements should be taken off the market?

      Or are you taking about something else, you were not being specific as to which products concerned you.

      Also the main point of my last post was the concern about black salve. I had hoped that by discussing this product, it may deter others from using it.

      Finaly I dont tend to make any money from supplement sales, I mostly use hypnotherapy, dry needling, trigger point massage and if I do recommend herbal tinctures ect I send them elsewhere.....

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    5. Edward John Fearn

      Hypnotherapist and Naturopath

      In reply to Rachael Dunlop

      Thanks Rachael

      I hadn't read the TGA alert, I will attempt to find out who supplied it to my client and try to stop it at the source.....

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    6. David Maddern

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Edward John Fearn

      I personally don't think Calcium supplements are contraindicated because Western Society overloads on animal protein, which , amongst other things, acidified the body. The body responds by putting Ca into the blood from the stores aka bones.
      So all you big meat eaters would be advised to keep up the Calcium lest you get osteoporosis in old age.

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    7. Pat OBrien

      Activist

      In reply to Rachael Dunlop

      Rachel, I would never use or recommend black salve, but I know 5 people who have used it. One used it on his face and he has significant facial scarring. The other four are women, one used it on skin cancer on her arm, with little scarring, and the others used it on their legs, with significant scarring.

      Some said they wouldn't use it again, it was a horrible experience, but in spite of that, some swore by it, and said they would use it again. I've never had skin cancer, but if you've got it, I guess you may be tempted to try anything, especially if the oncologists say they cant help you.

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    8. Sue Ieraci

      Public hospital clinician

      In reply to David Maddern

      Mr Maddern - what do you mean by "acidified the body"?

      The human body is kept within a very tight range of pH (7.35 - 7.45) by the action of the lungs and kidneys. IF disrupted, very serious illness results. One can ingest acid foods (cirtus, tomatoes) or alkaline substances (antacids), but the body will compensate through the exchange of CO2 and ion exchange in the renal tubules.

      Your posts sound more and more like you are marketing nutritional supplements. Are you part of this huge industry?

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    9. Sue Ieraci

      Public hospital clinician

      In reply to Pat OBrien

      Pat O'Brien - superficial skin cancers are mostly managed by dermatologists - they can be excised, or treated with laser or liquid nitrogen.

      By the time an oncologist is needed, you are talking about malignant melanoma or perhaps SCC with spread (metastases). No amount of black salve will salve you then.

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    10. Pat OBrien

      Activist

      In reply to Sue Ieraci

      You're quite wrong Sue, all of the people I mentioned that used black salve had biopsys that showed cancer....malignant melanomas.....I've spoken to them and seen the scars. You shouldn't be so critical and so negative of something you know nothing about, it brings all your arguments into doubt.

      You may not be aware, but Black Salve is obtainable at most stock food suppliers for use with animals only, but of course humans use it too....as they do 'animals only' liniments etc....because they work, often better than TGA "approved for human" products.

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    11. David Maddern

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Sue Ieraci

      One of the modes of homeostasis is release of Ca , it seems well known that this happens, and I guess that it is under hormonal control

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    12. Michael Julian

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to David Maddern

      Seriously David, you are just making yourself look sillier with each post. You are talking with a bunch of people who appear to understand a whole lot more physiology than you. As Sue Ieraci has already pointed out, the body is not "acidified" by eating animal protein. Yes, it constitutes a load of fixed acid (excess hydrogen ions), which is buffered in the first instance by bicarbonate ions. The fall in bicarbonate in extra cellular fluid is then addressed in the kidney by generation of new bicarbonate…

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    13. David Maddern

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Michael Julian

      Well if the body turns over every 8 years it would appear that the Ca is somewhat labile

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    14. Michael Julian

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to David Maddern

      So? Of course it's 'labile' if by labile, you mean it turns over in response to various hormonal stimuli, mainly PTH. Which has what to do with the topic exactly? You proposed that carnivores require Ca supplementation - I say that is rubbish and have told you why, in physiological terms. You reply with non-sequiturs.

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    15. Michael Julian

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to David Maddern

      Again, not sure what this has to do with anything we were talking about. Do you understand the difference between fixed and volatile acids in human physiology?

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    16. Sue Ieraci

      Public hospital clinician

      In reply to Edward John Fearn

      Edward - folate supplementation for pregnancy is not "CAM" - it is an evidence-based medical recommendation. If one wanted to look at the evidence, it is well-documented.

      Why shouldn;t we apply the same standards to all supplementation?

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    17. Sue Ieraci

      Public hospital clinician

      In reply to Pat OBrien

      Pat O'Brien - you shouldn't post unsubstantiated anecdotes about what apparently happened to people you know - it brings all your examples into doubt.

      Who did the biopsies? Did they recommend the Black Salve? Did they re-biopsy the edges to see that the entire melanoma was removed? Where are these cases written up?

      Your story sounds highly dubious.

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    18. Pat OBrien

      Activist

      In reply to Sue Ieraci

      Dear me Sue, Ive been enjoying reading most of these responses, but not yours. You are a very aggressive and negative responder, just criticising every other response that doesn't agree with your views.

      I believe you should quietly sit down and have nice cup of herbal tea, it may give you a better and more sympathetic outlook on other people's views and experience....and on what works and what doesn't work.

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    19. Trevor Lowe

      Student nurse

      In reply to Pat OBrien

      Pat, Sue raises a very valid point concerning anecdotal evidence/comments. "The people said they had melanomas and showed you the scars." Some people may hear they had a skin cancer and then take that to mean they had a melanoma whereas the informant kept it simple and they had a BCC or SCC. The issue with melanomas (or for that matter, any skin cancer but especially melanoma) is the issue of complete excision. Without that knowledge there is no predictor of recurrence and no extra action taken if necessary.

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    20. Sue Ieraci

      Public hospital clinician

      In reply to Pat OBrien

      Pat O'Brien - this is not about my "views" - it is about objective reality.

      Again, the story you gave is highly dubious, whether you said it nicely or not. I'll reserve my sympathetic outlook for the vulnerable people who get scammed and then need genuine health care, thanks.

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    21. Sue Ieraci

      Public hospital clinician

      In reply to Trevor Lowe

      Well said, Trevor. I't highly unlikely that these people had malignant melanoma.

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    22. Edward John Fearn

      Hypnotherapist and Naturopath

      In reply to Sue Ieraci

      Point taken Sue, I may if fact be mistaken on this count, it is however still listed on the NCCAM. website

      http://nccam.nih.gov/news/2013/021313?nav=gsa

      I will attempt to clarify my point in a little more detail.

      Current evidence for reducing risks of neural tube defects and orofacial clefts
      would seem to indicate the following recommendations:
      Healthier maternal dietary patterns, fortification of foods and encouragement of periconceptional multivitamin use.

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21969361

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    23. Pat OBrien

      Activist

      In reply to Trevor Lowe

      Hi Trevor, I take your point, but "evidentuary data" from those who have successfully used CAMS is not likely to happen, they are too busy living their lives that they thought may be cut short. Previously I mentioned 5 people I know who have successfully used Black Salve. I know of many more cases of those who have also successfully used other CAMS therapies, sometimes in conjunction with Chemo or other conventional therapies. I am only one of them, and I work in the health field.

      One of the problems…

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    24. Sue Ieraci

      Public hospital clinician

      In reply to Pat OBrien

      Pat O'Brien - I don't see a community demanding that treatments are used on the general public on the basis of anecdote - I see constant demands for more and better testing.

      Good luck with all that tea - I hope it;s not one of the toxic ones.

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  10. Chris Turner

    logged in via Facebook

    The author(s) of this article suggests that "What consumers should be made aware of is that the TGA does not check any AustL products to see if they work or even if they are safe. This needs to be stamped on the side of all AustL products in great big letters." If this is the case then the TGA (or the FDA in the U.S) should "stamp on the side of all AustR/FDA-approved products in great big letters" that these products "have been checked by the TGA/FDA to see if they work or if they are safe" but regardless of these claims, the aforementioned products kill a mountain of people each year while dietary supplements kill one or a handful of people at most (read http://www.supplements-and-health.com/health-risks-dietary-supplements.html ). THAT type of labeling would actually truthfully reflect reality as it is from which consumers are in the best position to make reasonable decisions, in favor of their health.

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  11. Sue Ieraci

    Public hospital clinician

    Thanks for the article.

    I am constantly astounded by the proliferation of "supplements" stores, selling not just vitamins and minerals but the type of protein supplements that go into building a "gym body" - much more about appearance and perhaps performance than health and well-being.

    I suspect that some of the principles used by sports scientists and coaches to maximise the performance of elite athletes have leaked out in the general community, with non-athletes now consuming rehydration drinks and nutritional supplements that have little to do with good health.

    Anyone looking a the profits and marketing methods of the pharmaceutical companies should also take a critical look at how supplements are developed, promoted and sold.

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    1. Mark Amey

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Sue Ieraci

      Yes, I'm amazed at the fact that the raw material for protein powders is usually whey protein isolate, which retails for about $25 per Kg, yet they can repackage it and sell it for about $70/Kg!

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    2. Trevor Lowe

      Student nurse

      In reply to Sue Ieraci

      I have to agree, Sue. It baffles me how a product can be sold simply on the basis of "This in your body does this; therefore more of it will enable you to do more of...."..when no evidence that some of these compounds actually survive the digestive process, let alone get into the target cells where they are claimed to have have their effect. One or two person testimonials does not constitute rigor or science.

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    3. Tim Scanlon

      Debunker

      In reply to Mark Amey

      Depends what has been done to it. Some actually have put some effort into the product, like flavourings and digestion aids, etc, but a lot haven't or charge too much for what they have done.

      @Sue and Mark, the research on protein supplements for sports training is very extensive. While there isn't much of difference between whey isolate, whey concentrate and milk powder, in terms of benefits, there are definite benefits to recovery and muscle synthesis. Kevin Tipton did a lot of the early work in this area, his papers are pretty much the basis for protein supplements in sports science. Creatine is the other substance that is proven, which means most other "supplements" are dubious or not beneficial.

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    4. Trevor Lowe

      Student nurse

      In reply to Tim Scanlon

      Tim, what is the population profile that actually benefits though? The hard core professional athlete or muscle builder or your average person going to the gym trying to maintain a fitness regimen as part of their health lifestyle.

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    5. Tim Scanlon

      Debunker

      In reply to Trevor Lowe

      It all depends on the goals, Trevor. If you take your training seriously or are competitive at sport there is a definite benefit. If you just do general fitness or the like, not much point, as your normal diet is more than enough.

      See, the protein and carbs acts to switch metabolic states so that you recover and take in quality nutrients. From a protein shake these are absorbed quicker and thus the switch is quicker and so on. For someone who plays competitive sport or wants to look like an athlete, this is important. For the average person who isn't pushing themselves as hard, a standard meal would suffice.

      But the problem I see with all of those supplements is the grossly exaggerated claims on the packets and in the marketing. 300% GROWTH, the steroidal model, etc, is just plain rubbish. It sucks some people in, but savvy trainees know it is just marketing spin.

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    6. Trevor Lowe

      Student nurse

      In reply to Tim Scanlon

      Tim, I hope you forgive me for what was always intended as a leading question. At a guess, the greatest potential market would be the "average person." Hence some of the marketing hype and exaggerated claims.

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    7. Tim Scanlon

      Debunker

      In reply to Trevor Lowe

      No problems with the leading questions. Teen boys who want to be huge, that's the target market for the hype.

      I was a moderator on a weightlifting/bodybuilding forum and teen boys would join up to try and get information, protein and nutritional supplements were always top of the list. We put together pages that addressed the common questions, hoping to bust the myths and marketing.

      Although, I have noticed that there are some lower quality supplements that are being targeted at women and the average people wanting to lose weight. The fraudulent way they promote the products as weight loss supplements when they are quick consumption calories and relying on the satiety index of the various protein types, is just annoying. But then again, I am yet to attract women by drinking Coke.

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  12. Trevor Lowe

    Student nurse

    Thanks for a great article Dr. Dunlop. I use your title to reinforce to some readers that you are in a position to write such an article because you have demonstrated through a rigorous process the ability to research and critically analyse information. Those who are critical of your writings should perhaps take note of that rigorous process and whether they have ever been subjected to similar.
    It is interesting that some of the comments have taken the form "what about the pharmaceutical industry…

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