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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
25973 Posts

Posted - 10/25/2004 :  11:28:08   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message
Well, I guess I'm just going to have to drop this, Beskeptigal, no matter how much it pains me to do so, since I can't seem to get you to even become aware of the points I'm trying to make. There comes a time when even I, idealist that I am, must admit that communications is impossible. I apologize for having annoyed you these past couple of months.

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
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Starman
SFN Regular

Sweden
1613 Posts

Posted - 10/26/2004 :  00:49:44   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Starman a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Dude
quote:
nor are all alternative medicine folks charlatans.
Yes they are. If what they were doing/selling was real, then it wouldn't be "alternative".
Can't agree with that generalization.

"Alternative" medicine just mean that the practice do not follow generally accepted medical methods and may not have a scientific explanation for its (alleged)effectiveness.

Alternative medicine is not worthless by definition. Some of these practices may in some cases provide a benefit (in addition to placebo) but as the benefit might be small, irregular or most of all not properly studied the practice is not accepted by science.

There are a lot of people that make fantastic claims. These people are definitely crackpots or charlatans, but not all people are like that.

"Any religion that makes a form of torture into an icon that they worship seems to me a pretty sick sort of religion quite honestly"
-- Terry Jones
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Dude
SFN Die Hard

USA
6891 Posts

Posted - 10/26/2004 :  15:48:18   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Dude a Private Message
If "alternative" medicine has value and effectiveness, then it can be proven to be effective.

Once something is proven to be effective, then it's not "alternative".

That said, I never claimed that claims were not worth investigating. If somebody claims to have found a plant or herb that cures something.... bring it down to the lab for a controlled study. Same for new types of therapies, ect...

However, the VAST majority of stuff that is currently included in "alternative" medicine has already been shown to be false. It's labeled "alternative" instead of "debunked snakeoil bullshit" because people want to SELL it to you.

And, again, if something can be proven to work (cure, treat, ect...) then it moves from the realm of "alternative" to "evidence based" medicine.

Ignorance is preferable to error; and he is less remote from the truth who believes nothing, than he who believes what is wrong.
-- Thomas Jefferson

"god :: the last refuge of a man with no answers and no argument." - G. Carlin

Hope, n.
The handmaiden of desperation; the opiate of despair; the illegible signpost on the road to perdition. ~~ da filth
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H. Humbert
SFN Die Hard

USA
4574 Posts

Posted - 10/26/2004 :  19:30:15   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send H. Humbert a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Dude

If "alternative" medicine has value and effectiveness, then it can be proven to be effective.

Once something is proven to be effective, then it's not "alternative".


When I wrote this poll, I struggled to find the appropriate term. I wanted to include all suspect remedies--such as healing touch, crystal healing, naturopathy, homeopathy, etc.--and so I eventually settled on "alternative medicine." My views on the subject mirror yours almost exactly. I do not consider evidence-based medicine to be "alternative."

If I labeled it all "quack" medicine I highly doubted that it would get any votes at all. In retrospect, the very vagueness of the term has generated the most discussion, so in that respect perhaps it was the best choice.

I'm still undecided on things like acupuncture. As far as I know, the jury's still out on just how effective it is and why it works. Perhaps that falls into a borderline area where some component of the treatment is legitimate and some portion of it is quackery. Perhaps the effects are real but the explanations are unsound. Perhaps none of the above.


Oh, and how much would anyone like to wager that the 1 vote for creationism/I.D. was cast by a lurking tk? He's been known to frequent these parts.


"A man is his own easiest dupe, for what he wishes to be true he generally believes to be true." --Demosthenes

"The first principle is that you must not fool yourself - and you are the easiest person to fool." --Richard P. Feynman

"Face facts with dignity." --found inside a fortune cookie
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Starman
SFN Regular

Sweden
1613 Posts

Posted - 10/27/2004 :  01:25:03   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Starman a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Dude

Once something is proven to be effective, then it's not "alternative".

Here you are wrong.
An "alternative" therapy proved effective remains to be alternative until it is properly studied.

Massage is still considered alernative.
(Does anyone have a link to any scentific studies of massage or acupuncture?)

The effectiveness of Homeopathy was tested in a double blind test, were it failed miserably. If the test had been successful and Homeopathy had been shown to be effective, it would still have been an alternative therapy as nobody knew why or how it worked and what the risks were.
(As H. was shown to lack any effect I would not call it A.M. anymore, but rather outright fraud.)


The Skeptic's Dictionary have a lot of information on "alternative" medicine.

"Any religion that makes a form of torture into an icon that they worship seems to me a pretty sick sort of religion quite honestly"
-- Terry Jones
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Dr. Mabuse
Septic Fiend

Sweden
9666 Posts

Posted - 10/27/2004 :  06:47:53   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Send Dr. Mabuse an ICQ Message Send Dr. Mabuse a Private Message
I always figured "alternative" to be "other-than-mainstream".
Like herbal remedies instead of perscription drugs, acupuncture, zone-therapy etc.

Dr. Mabuse - "When the going gets tough, the tough get Duct-tape..."
Dr. Mabuse whisper.mp3

"Equivocation is not just a job, for a creationist it's a way of life..." Dr. Mabuse

Support American Troops in Iraq:
Send them unarmed civilians for target practice..
Collateralmurder.
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
25973 Posts

Posted - 10/27/2004 :  08:13:48   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message
Starman, "properly studied" is, personally, the only thing I would accept for "proven effective." The reasons why "alternative" medicines do not require the same amount of scrutiny as big-name pharmaceuticals to be sold or used (at least in the U.S.) are purely political, not medical or scientific. I see no reason not to hold "alternative" meds and therapies to the same standards we hold the "mainstream," and thereby end the divisiveness.

Here is a five-year-old post I wrote on the psoriasis newsgroup to a defender of acupuncture who spewed a list of 39 "clinical trials for acupuncture." So yes, there are actually lots of published studies done regarding it (at least, not sure about massage), and probably many more since 1999.

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
Visit Dave's Psoriasis Info, too.
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Ricky
SFN Die Hard

USA
4907 Posts

Posted - 10/27/2004 :  09:40:07   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Send Ricky an AOL message Send Ricky a Private Message
I'm curious to hear what you think of this article, Dave:

http://www.itmonline.org/arts/acuintro.htm

Even if it works, I agree that there are treatments that are safer, have better effect, and are probably cheaper. But that doesn't quite mean the same thing as Acupuncture is an alternate medicine.

Why continue? Because we must. Because we have the call. Because it is nobler to fight for rationality without winning than to give up in the face of continued defeats. Because whatever true progress humanity makes is through the rationality of the occasional individual and because any one individual we may win for the cause may do more for humanity than a hundred thousand who hug their superstitions to their breast.
- Isaac Asimov
Edited by - Ricky on 10/27/2004 09:50:35
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
25973 Posts

Posted - 10/27/2004 :  11:43:30   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message
Ricky wrote:
quote:
I'm curious to here what you think of this article, Dave:

http://www.itmonline.org/arts/acuintro.htm
As is mentioned at the start of the second section, nobody has ever dissected a meridian, or bottled qi. They don't exist. The first section of the paper, therefore, is interesting only from a historical sense.

But the real problem is with things like this:
Since the traditional acupuncture approach has been shown to be effective in clinical trials conducted in China (and elsewhere in the Orient), one can rely on the traditional methods.
The author provides not a single reference to support such a huge claim. Not one. (There are two references in the article, but neither are mentioned in connection with that sentence.)

And a huge claim it is. The abstracts referenced in that old post of mine show that there exist people who haven't found evidence to support the general claim, "acupuncture is effective." All over the article are explicit and implied broad claims without apparent evidenciary basis.

On the other hand, acupuncture may be effective for nausea and vomiting, certain kinds of pain relief (though James Randi, if I remember correctly, showed the facts behind the "woman gives birth with nothing but acupuncture for pain relief" myth), and perhaps other things. But, just as with modern drugs, acupuncture needs to be evaluated separately for each possible condition. There's zero evidence it can do anything to treat melanoma, for example (though it might be useful in treating therapy-induced nausea).

Along those lines, according to the article for point LI4, "The dominant uses are to relieve pain and to treat constipation or other bowel disorders." Yet this 1993 study found acupuncture had no effect on constipation (although they didn't use point LI4, so maybe they did it wrong). On the other hand, this 1982 article reports an 80% success rate for constipation (no mention of which points were used), but "[acupunture] [t]reatment in patients suffering from parathymic conditions were unsatisfactory and results in cases of tinnitus were negative."

My point is that the results of acupuncture studies tend to be all over the map. This isn't a good sign, since comparatively, the effects of pharmaceuticals tend to be repeatable.

Problems with acupuncture research abound. In these last two studies, the patients were their own controls, which meant neither study was blind. (The 1993 test also had a very small sample size.) "Sham acupuncture," as a placebo treatment, is "iffy," at best, since (as the article states) people keep finding "new" acupuncture points, and so it's uncertain if any "sham" point is actually a "real" point that hasn't yet been described. The "state of the art" is a mess.

Overall, what I think of the article is that it's obviously written by someone who "believes in" acupuncture quite strongly, and so presents a more rosy image of the practice which the evidence seems to indicate is deserved.
quote:
Even if it works, I agree that there are treatments that are safer, have better effect, and are probably cheaper.
Well, it does seem to work for some things. For others, no. The rest of what you mention are risk/benefit ratio questions to be answered by patients and practitioners on a case-by-case basis (mostly).
quote:
But that doesn't quite mean the same thing as Acupuncture is an alternate medicine.
Acupuncture is an alternative medicine, on the whole. When it is presented as being something alternative to EBM, it's an alternative treatment pretty much by definition, whether it works or not. Some acupuncturists suggest that the practice is not only a valid alternative to mainstream medicine, but vastly superior to it.

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
Visit Dave's Psoriasis Info, too.
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Ricky
SFN Die Hard

USA
4907 Posts

Posted - 10/27/2004 :  14:44:38   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Send Ricky an AOL message Send Ricky a Private Message
quote:
My point is that the results of acupuncture studies tend to be all over the map. This isn't a good sign, since comparatively, the effects of pharmaceuticals tend to be repeatable.


When testing acupuncture, you can't just pop a pill in someones mouth. Acupuncture is basically an art, and if the article is right, you have to be very skilled (as the points are small) to get the desired effects. So how effective acupuncture is, if it does in fact work for some cases, largely depends on the acupuncturist. This would explain why results are all over the map. Of course, if they are all over the map for the same acupuncturist, that isn't a good sign.

quote:
Acupuncture is an alternative medicine, on the whole. When it is presented as being something alternative to EBM, it's an alternative treatment pretty much by definition, whether it works or not. Some acupuncturists suggest that the practice is not only a valid alternative to mainstream medicine, but vastly superior to it.


Now I'm confused. As you are aware, acupunture has passed clinical trials for some cures. Acupunture also has a scientific backing, which since you didn't comment on, I will assume that you agree with. Just tell me if this is wrong. So what exactly makes Acupuncture alternative? That it is just no accepted by a vast majoirty of doctors?



Why continue? Because we must. Because we have the call. Because it is nobler to fight for rationality without winning than to give up in the face of continued defeats. Because whatever true progress humanity makes is through the rationality of the occasional individual and because any one individual we may win for the cause may do more for humanity than a hundred thousand who hug their superstitions to their breast.
- Isaac Asimov
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
25973 Posts

Posted - 10/27/2004 :  18:56:05   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message
Ricky wrote:
quote:
Now I'm confused. As you are aware, acupunture has passed clinical trials for some cures. Acupunture also has a scientific backing, which since you didn't comment on, I will assume that you agree with. Just tell me if this is wrong. So what exactly makes Acupuncture alternative? That it is just no accepted by a vast majoirty of doctors?
As far as I am aware, acupuncture has only demonstrated effectiveness for deadening certain types (and amounts) of pain, for relief of nausea and vomiting, and maybe (I'd have to recheck sources) smoking cessation. There are thousands of diseases in the world, against most of which acupuncture has never been adequately tested, and some few of them show negative results. Should we make general statements like "acupuncture is evidence-based medicine," or should we continue to qualify it with phrases like "for relief of nausea?" For the vast majority of diseases and conditions (I wrote "on the whole" in my prior post), acupuncture is not evidence-based, and in most of that majority, is fraudulent or otherwise quackery (at the moment).

Personally, I'd much rather take a pain pill than have acupuncture for any pains I might experience. Acupuncture, where warranted for pain, is an evidence-based alternative to narcotics, much like Tylenol is an alternative to aspirin for headaches. But acupuncture is seen by many Eastern practitioners as being an entire field of medicine, and not just a treatment for a couple of things, much like chiropractic or homeopathy. These are people who would treat you, from cradle to grave, using nothing but acupuncture. And here in the States, those who also see it that way offer it as an alternative to seeing a doctor (I don't know how prevalent it is over in the Orient anymore - I've heard it's on the decline).

As for its scientific backing, I believe the endorphin thing is a plausible mechanism only for the pain relief, but am not sure. If there is no known mechanism for its effects on nausea, that's fine, since we didn't know the mechanism behind aspirin for many years, either. But simply positing a method of action doesn't necessarily make it a correct method of action, and the author of that article posits several without showing his evidence, which is much like Kent Hovinds' debate style.

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
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Why not question something for a change?
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Starman
SFN Regular

Sweden
1613 Posts

Posted - 10/28/2004 :  02:11:21   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Starman a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Dave W.

Starman, "properly studied" is, personally, the only thing I would accept for "proven effective."
How about gravity?
quote:
As far as I am aware, acupuncture has only demonstrated effectiveness for deadening certain types (and amounts) of pain, for relief of nausea and vomiting, and maybe (I'd have to recheck sources) smoking cessation. There are thousands of diseases in the world, against most of which acupuncture has never been adequately tested, and some few of them show negative results. Should we make general statements like "acupuncture is evidence-based medicine," or should we continue to qualify it with phrases like "for relief of nausea?" For the vast majority of diseases and conditions (I wrote "on the whole" in my prior post), acupuncture is not evidence-based, and in most of that majority, is fraudulent or otherwise quackery (at the moment).

The same goes for any therapy used for something other than its proved use.

I'm interested in the real effects of massage and acupuncture. A lot of critique seems to be aimed at old ideas like chi and meridians which are irrelevant to many modern practitioners. I also find it pretty uninteresting if acupuncture is unable to cure all the diseases that somebody somewhere have claimed.


I have only personal experience with massage but my wife has received acupuncture on several occasions (whiplash injury). No chi or meridians. The needles were applied where she had pain. She experienced both positive(pain relief) and sometimes negative effects(head aches).
quote:
Personally, I'd much rather take a pain pill than have acupuncture for any pains I might experience.
Do you have chronic pains? Are you allergic to most common painkillers?(As asthmatic people are)
Do you have an increased tolerance those you are able to use?

"Any religion that makes a form of torture into an icon that they worship seems to me a pretty sick sort of religion quite honestly"
-- Terry Jones
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
25973 Posts

Posted - 10/28/2004 :  06:41:21   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message
Starman wrote:
quote:
The same goes for any therapy used for something other than its proved use.
Absolutely. Which is why, when ads came out for an unapproved psoriasis treatment boasting "FDA-approved ingredients," I knew it was crap. Yes, the active ingredient was FDA approved for dandruff, but not for psoriasis (and in fact had been specifically banned from use in psoriasis treatments by the FDA).

Unfortunately, due to rules changes, drug companies can now place ads on TV which say "talk to your doctor about thus-and-such," without ever saying what conditions or diseases "thus-and-such" is used for. Of course, these aren't over-the-counter drugs, but prescription medications, and so one's doctor should be able to say "oh, you don't need that" to any unwise consumer who asks about "thus-and-such," but the same doesn't hold true for "alternative" medicines.
quote:
Do you have chronic pains? Are you allergic to most common painkillers?(As asthmatic people are)
Do you have an increased tolerance those you are able to use?
Crap, Starman, I said that I (me, my personal choice) would rather pop a pill than use acupuncture. That wasn't a condemnation of acupuncture for pain relief. And my attitude towards the issue may change in the future. Don't take my statements about myself as personal attacks on your wife.

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
Visit Dave's Psoriasis Info, too.
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Starman
SFN Regular

Sweden
1613 Posts

Posted - 10/28/2004 :  06:57:01   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Starman a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Dave W.

Crap, Starman, I said that I (me, my personal choice) would rather pop a pill than use acupuncture. That wasn't a condemnation of acupuncture for pain relief. And my attitude towards the issue may change in the future. Don't take my statements about myself as personal attacks on your wife.


Sorry Dave!

I didn't mean it in that way, an I should definitely have rephrased that.
I only wanted to show the problem that she faced.

I guess most people prefer popping a pill to acting like a human pincushion.

My wife is much better btw, thanks to better medication.

"Any religion that makes a form of torture into an icon that they worship seems to me a pretty sick sort of religion quite honestly"
-- Terry Jones
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
25973 Posts

Posted - 10/28/2004 :  08:09:52   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message
Apologies from me, also, Starman. I get a little hot-headed when it looks like people are taking what I've said the completely wrong way, especially when it comes to health matters, as that sort of thing happened on a regular basis on the psoriasis newsgroup. Sorry.

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
Visit Dave's Psoriasis Info, too.
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