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Complementary therapies

Any topic related to science can be discussed here.
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getreal
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Re: Complementary therapies

#501 Postby getreal » April 13th, 2012, 7:55 pm

Latest post of the previous page:

I thought there were legal requirements on the safety of herbal medicines and am appalled to discover were not. Some herbal medicines do seem to have a good evidence base behind them (evening primrose oil and benign mastalgia and St John's wort for depression) and should have to comply the same with safety regulations and requirements as real medicine. As far as I am aware, Napiers don't sell homeopathic potions, only herbal ones. I have purchased their starflower cream in the past as it seemed to help (who really knows?) my daughter's excema. It smells nice too. I would say at least it's better than steroid cream, but then, I have no idea what it contains, do I? Could contain 1% hydrocortosone for all I know.


What I don't understand about the advocates of herbal treatments is why they don't just isolate the good stuff from the plant, get rid of the nasty stuff, measure the remaining active ingredient and then sell it....Oh, wait, that's proper medicine, isn't it?

I prefer my digoxin in carefully calibrated doses courtesy of the lab and my Foxgloves to be left to grow in the garden.
"It's hard to put a leash on a dog once you've put a crown on his head"-Tyrion Lannister.

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Alan H
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Re: Complementary therapies

#502 Postby Alan H » April 13th, 2012, 8:44 pm

getreal wrote:I thought there were legal requirements on the safety of herbal medicines and am appalled to discover were not. Some herbal medicines do seem to have a good evidence base behind them (evening primrose oil and benign mastalgia and St John's wort for depression)
The evidence for evening primrose oil is pretty scant with many earlier trials that were positive being contradicted by more recent ones. For one of the usual uses, PMS, the evidence is that it of little value. The results for a range of other conditions is largely negative or ambiguous. The only conditions for which it appears to be 'promising' are diabetic neuropathy and uraemic pruritus. Like many of these herbal products, the evidence frequently isn't as great as the marketing might suggest.

...and should have to comply the same with safety regulations and requirements as real medicine. As far as I am aware, Napiers don't sell homeopathic potions, only herbal ones. I have purchased their starflower cream in the past as it seemed to help (who really knows?) my daughter's excema. It smells nice too. I would say at least it's better than steroid cream, but then, I have no idea what it contains, do I? Could contain 1% hydrocortosone for all I know.
Apparently, it contains "starflower, chickweed, chamomile infused herbal extracts".

What I don't understand about the advocates of herbal treatments is why they don't just isolate the good stuff from the plant, get rid of the nasty stuff, measure the remaining active ingredient and then sell it....Oh, wait, that's proper medicine, isn't it?
Quite - non-natural couldn't possibly be as good as natural, could it?

As David Colquhoun, professor of pharamcology at UCL, puts it:
Herbal medicine: giving patients an unknown dose of an ill-defined drug, of unknown effectiveness and unknown safety.
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

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Dave B
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Re: Complementary therapies

#503 Postby Dave B » April 13th, 2012, 9:16 pm

I was once tempted by gingko biloba, all I could find indicated that it was beneficial for improving cognition and memory (this was about the time that I was concerned about certain side effects of my heart medication). Then I was advised that it was not a good idea if I was already on nitrates since part of its action is to dilate the blood vessels. Too much dilation would not have been a good idea with my already low blood pressure!

Are there any herbal remedies that are scientifically recognised as efficacious I wonder. Trouble is most of what the web carries is not reliable on this subject in my experience.
"Look forward; yesterday was a lesson, if you did not learn from it you wasted it."
Me, 2015

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Alan H
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Re: Complementary therapies

#504 Postby Alan H » April 13th, 2012, 9:29 pm

Dave B wrote:I was once tempted by gingko biloba, all I could find indicated that it was beneficial for improving cognition and memory (this was about the time that I was concerned about certain side effects of my heart medication). Then I was advised that it was not a good idea if I was already on nitrates since part of its action is to dilate the blood vessels. Too much dilation would not have been a good idea with my already low blood pressure!

Are there any herbal remedies that are scientifically recognised as efficacious I wonder. Trouble is most of what the web carries is not reliable on this subject in my experience.
Yes, there are some of course, but I'm not sure if there is one reliable site where you could find a summary of the scientific evidence, but Cochrane would be a good place to start.

Edzard Ernst's The Desktop Guide to Complementary and Alternative Medicine: An Evidence-Based Approach is a good 'bible' for all sorts of alt med (but it costs £30!). He has also published several other books on herbals and other treatments.

From the Desktop Guide on Ginko Biloba, it seems to give a modest increase in pain free walking distance for peripheral arterial occlusive disease, and a Cochrane review cautiously concluded that there is promising evidence for improvement in cognition and function. Most of the rest of the trials done don't show it to be on any use. From the amount of the stuff you find in 'health' food shops, you'd have thought is was a panacea!
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

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Alan C.
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Re: Complementary therapies

#505 Postby Alan C. » April 13th, 2012, 10:49 pm

Dave
I was once tempted by gingko biloba,
I have one growing in my garden :) I'm led to believe it's the oldest known [still] living plant at aprox 5 million years.
No doubt someone will put me right :wink:

I find it odd that you can buy paracetamol, aspirin etc over the counter in a supermarket, yet you cant buy St Johns wart (herbal) without speaking to the Chemist, I wonder why that is?
Abstinence Makes the Church Grow Fondlers.

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Dave B
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Re: Complementary therapies

#506 Postby Dave B » April 14th, 2012, 8:54 am

Alan C. wrote:
Dave
I was once tempted by gingko biloba,
I have one growing in my garden :) I'm led to believe it's the oldest known [still] living plant at aprox 5 million years.
No doubt someone will put me right :wink:

I find it odd that you can buy paracetamol, aspirin etc over the counter in a supermarket, yet you cant buy St Johns wart (herbal) without speaking to the Chemist, I wonder why that is?
Not sure about the oldest but it does seem to be alone, has no living relative, which might indicate a lonnnnnnnnnnng history if all the other have died off!

You have a point there on what one is allowed to buy without advice, Alan. The only thing I can think of is whether the person might be suffering from some complaint that needs a doctor's attention and believes that the herbal remedy will help. But then why not ask the person who buys antacids just in case they really have an ulcer?

I think pharmacists, and their staff, are keyed to ask questions if they see the same person coming in for the same sort of patent medicine, that might indicate something serious - not things like dandruff shampoo, over a long period.
"Look forward; yesterday was a lesson, if you did not learn from it you wasted it."
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Alan H
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Re: Complementary therapies

#507 Postby Alan H » May 22nd, 2012, 12:58 pm

Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

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Alan H
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Re: Complementary therapies

#508 Postby Alan H » August 9th, 2012, 9:27 pm

News on this yesterday on BBC local news in Devon, with Jo Torres of Plymouth Skeptics in the Pub:



and the letter Trading Standards sent to Hopwood:
Trading Standards letter 1st Aug 2012 (2).pdf
(1.46 MiB) Downloaded 110 times
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

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Alan H
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Re: Complementary therapies

#509 Postby Alan H » September 9th, 2012, 12:23 am

Fairy Tale Science and Placebo Medicine by Dr Harriet Hall at the 6th World Skeptics Congress in Berlin:

Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

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Dave B
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Re: Complementary therapies

#510 Postby Dave B » September 9th, 2012, 2:19 pm

I was looking for iodine on Amazon (seems to have fallen of the pharmacists' stock list except in large volumes) and I found one product that seemed a bit expensive:

Nascent Iodine biochemically is consumable iodine in an atomic form rather than a molecular form. It is a highly bioavailable, pure atomic iodine supplement in an energized state. This charged state is held by the atom until diluted in water and consumed, whence it gradually loses energy over a 2-3 hour time span. During this time, Nascent Iodine is recognized by the body as the same iodine that is produced by the thyroid and is absorbed effortlessly by the body. As noted, this particular form of iodine is unique and well known to offer beneficial effects unlike any other form of iodine. Nascent Iodine is the most easily assimilated iodine available today. Benefits of Nascent Iodine:- Increase cellular metabolism Nourishes the thyroid gland Naturally elevates the body's pH levels Aids in the excretion of toxic flouride [sic], bromine, and chlorine Assists chelation of heavy metals mercury, cadmium, and lead Supports healthy breast tissue, prostate, and overies [sic] Increases antioxidant activity and immune system function Assists in regulatig [sic] mood. Dosage: 1-3 drops in a glass of spring water, 3 times daily, or as directed by your healthcare practitioner. Best if taken on an empty stomach. Do not exceed the recommended daily intake. This product should not be used as a substitute for a varied and balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle.

Wow, and only £99-99 for 120ml!

I also notice that Amazon have included the following on the page:
Legal Disclaimer:
Unless expressly indicated otherwise, Amazon.co.uk is not the manufacturer of the products sold on this site. Actual product packaging and materials may contain more and different information than what is shown on our website. We recommend that you do not rely solely on the information presented on our website. Please always read labels, warnings, and directions provided with the product before using or consuming the product. Please see our full disclaimer below.


This disclaimer does not appear on other ads for iodine, like 25ml of tincture of iodine (at £4-44 inc p&p) even though that is offered for "internal" use for sterilising water as well as external.

Amazon playing the careful game it seems.
"Look forward; yesterday was a lesson, if you did not learn from it you wasted it."
Me, 2015

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Alan H
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Re: Complementary therapies

#511 Postby Alan H » September 9th, 2012, 2:27 pm

I would have thought that would be in breach of the medicines regulations. IIRC, you only need tiny amounts of iodine - this look more like a large overdose.
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

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Dave B
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Re: Complementary therapies

#512 Postby Dave B » September 9th, 2012, 3:15 pm

Dose of actual iodine would depend on the concentration of the liquid in the bottle would it not? Perhaps one is paying lots of lolly for mostly water, or alcohol if a weak tincture.

You would know better than I if this skates on thin legal ice, Alan.

On re-reading I wonder who qualifies as a "healthcare practitioner"?
"Look forward; yesterday was a lesson, if you did not learn from it you wasted it."
Me, 2015

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Alan H
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Re: Complementary therapies

#513 Postby Alan H » September 9th, 2012, 3:18 pm

Dave B wrote:On re-reading I wonder who qualifies as a "healthcare practitioner"?
Anyone. There is no legal definition, but it might be deemed misleading by the ASA.
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

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Fia
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Re: Complementary therapies

#514 Postby Fia » October 9th, 2012, 11:42 am

A woo friend sent me this link http://downloads.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2012/841315.pdf with this comment:
A double blind placebo controlled trial showing the benefits of echinacea against some enveloped viruses. Worth reading.


I'm not very clever at decoding this sort of thing, but what I've read seems to not be directly comparing echinacea with the placebo as they reckoned both groups were not identical in their susceptibility to colds. If anyone has the time / inclination I'd be grateful for some more focussed thought on this so I can respond, but understand if this is too big an ask. Cheers.

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Alan H
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Re: Complementary therapies

#515 Postby Alan H » October 9th, 2012, 12:57 pm

After a quick scan through it, it seems to be a reasonable study of a herbal preparation (certainly not homeopathic and any conclusions cannot be extrapolated to homeopathy!).

I can't find any discussion on this, so difficult to criticise it - I would have a few questions about dropouts (see the CONSORT diagram, Figure 1) and the clinical significance of the results, but I'm not really qualified!

Given the reasonable prior probability of a herbal product having some effect, the result isn't exactly surprising. What was your friend claiming about it?
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

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Fia
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Re: Complementary therapies

#516 Postby Fia » October 9th, 2012, 5:08 pm

Thank you very much Alan. I realise this is a herbal product.

The back story is my friend - we have many other areas we agree on :) - tests me from time to time: after she posted 'Bloomin Nightingale Collaboration' a few months back (after NC dissed her herbal medicine course :shock: ) and I wheeked back with 'Oi, I know them, good people doing good work'. I've weaned her off homoeopathy and have managed to rebutt almost all else she says but this one stumped me. She's encouraging all her friends to take echinacea to protect against colds and I called her for evidence :)

I'll read it again, look at the dropouts and see if I can get my head more round it. Thank you.

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Alan H
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Re: Complementary therapies

#517 Postby Alan H » October 9th, 2012, 5:36 pm

Hey! Thanks for the support and kind words!

I'll ask Edzard if he's seen any criticism of it or if one is planned.
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

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Alan H
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Re: Complementary therapies

#518 Postby Alan H » October 9th, 2012, 5:46 pm

Sorry to make the point about it being herbal, rather than homeopathic - you'd be amazed (or not) the number of times a homeopath has cited a trial in favour of their quackery, when it turns out to contain very significant amounts of a herbal substance!

The latest Cochrane review I can find is 2006

Echinacea for preventing and treating the common cold.:
Echinacea preparations tested in clinical trials differ greatly. There is some evidence that preparations based on the aerial parts of Echinacea purpurea might be effective for the early treatment of colds in adults but results are not fully consistent. Beneficial effects of other Echinacea preparations, and for preventative purposes might exist but have not been shown in independently replicated, rigorous randomized trials.


But of course, if this new trial is robust, Cochrane's conclusion may have to be revised!
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

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Alan H
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Re: Complementary therapies

#519 Postby Alan H » October 11th, 2012, 10:31 am

As might have been expected, the trial wasn't quite what it seemed: Echinacea cold study claims analysed

That is well worth reading in its entirety!
This randomised control trial was well designed and had a good sample size (755 participants), however, there are a number of oddities in the reporting of the study findings that cast a shadow of doubt over the results, such as:

no declaration of funding and only partial disclosure of conflict of interests
no results table
limited reporting of unpleasant side effects
no estimates of error around the results reported
selective reporting of results
the applicability of the results to the general population

Many of these basic problems would usually be picked up by the peer review process or journal editors. The lack of such quality standards may leave the reporters and editors a little red-faced. This news story should stand as a warning to journalists of the dangers of taking research at face value without bringing any critical faculties to bear.

In conclusion, based on this study alone, it is not clear whether taking Echinacea prevents cold episodes, though it does suggest it may reduce their duration. Further research is needed to confirm or refute these findings and also to see if they also apply to people with long-term health conditions such as asthma.
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

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Fia
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Re: Complementary therapies

#520 Postby Fia » October 11th, 2012, 4:32 pm

Wow, well worth reading indeed, thank you so much Alan :kiss:

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Alan H
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Re: Complementary therapies

#521 Postby Alan H » October 11th, 2012, 5:07 pm

Lots to make your friend pause and think!
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?


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