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Rebuttal to Skepchick’s youtube Homeophobia rant
Posted: 27 November 2011 06:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 181 ]
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To be fair, doctors often make recommendations that are not evidence-based. The evidence for a benefit from multivitamin or Vitamin C supplementation is very weak and there is some small evidence of potential harm for multivitamins in some populations (e.g. 1,2, 3,4,5). There is better evidence for benefit from some Vitamin D supplementation. Echinacea is probably a waste of money (1,2, 3. I don’t know much about the evidence concerning garlic, so I’ll pass on that.

My point is just that we have to be careful of falling into the argument from authority fallacy. MDs are on average undoubtedly better sources of science-based healthcare information than practitioners of unscientific approaches (e.g. naturopaths, chiropractors, TCM practitioners, etc). However, as individuals it is not unusual for doctors to be misinformed or to hold unscientific beliefs (look at Dr. Oz, Deepak Chopra, etc!). When possible, it is a good idea to seek and evaluate healthcare information critically and then to talk with your doctor about the state of the evidence and their rationale for recommendations that may not have especially strong research evidence to back them up. Ultimately, a doctor-patient relationship requires trust, and I certainly give my doctor’s opinion great weight and acknowledge they have knowledge and expertise I don’t. But I also don’t assume they are always on top of the evidence in every possible area, since that wouldn’t be humanly possible.

[ Edited: 27 November 2011 08:22 PM by mckenzievmd ]
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Posted: 27 November 2011 08:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 182 ]
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I agree with Mackenzie. Unfortunately I have seen a fair number of my colleagues fall into the same trap as lay people. Some of their recommendations stem from practices that were developed before evidence based medicine was a standard part of practice and have become accepted practice. These treatments are gradually being reviewed and when they arent supported by the evidence they are discarded. This is a slow process though. Another reason that doctors sometimes give advice that is poorly supported by the evidence is because some issues just haven’t risen to a level of importance that would trigger an investment of time or money to research. An example would be night time leg cramps. As a result, doctors are left giving advice based on their best theory of the problem and possible treatments. Then there are the physicians like Oz, that have let their ego get the better of their good sense. They are so sure of their opinion that they dont believe they need any science to back up their opinions.

Unfortunately some physicians are just not scientists at heart. They fall prey to the same pitfalls as anyone else. They believe the hype of alt med. They foolishly assume that these things are safe as well. Like Mac said, its important to have a physician you can trust but its just as important to do your homework and get information from reputable sources.

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Posted: 27 November 2011 08:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 183 ]
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macgyver - 27 November 2011 02:58 PM
Mriana - 27 November 2011 08:28 AM
George - 24 November 2011 12:05 PM

You would have to be a millionaire, traveler, to overdose on the homeopathic water.  grin

Not so with some homeopathic herbs.  I listed about 3 of them and I can list more.

Mriana your points are well taken but you need to be careful to not confuse herbal remedies with homeopathic remedies although the terms are often used interchangeably in the media. Homeopathic remedies as doug stated are generally significantly diluted preparations that have little to none of the original substance left in them. If they are truly diluted to where there is not a single molecule left in the preparation then they will have no effect and no side effect either.

Moreover, homeopathy also uses live organisms, apparently in the belief that when you make a person more sick than they already are, they will somehow be cured. Their motto is “Kind cures kind”, i.e. “That which won’t kill you will make you stronger”. Not to be confused with vaccination, which is a preventive procedure on healthy individuals, with “dead” organisms to stimulate the production of anti-bodies against that particular disease.

[ Edited: 27 November 2011 08:59 PM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 27 November 2011 09:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 184 ]
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Write4U - 27 November 2011 08:56 PM
macgyver - 27 November 2011 02:58 PM
Mriana - 27 November 2011 08:28 AM
George - 24 November 2011 12:05 PM

You would have to be a millionaire, traveler, to overdose on the homeopathic water.  grin

Not so with some homeopathic herbs.  I listed about 3 of them and I can list more.

Mriana your points are well taken but you need to be careful to not confuse herbal remedies with homeopathic remedies although the terms are often used interchangeably in the media. Homeopathic remedies as doug stated are generally significantly diluted preparations that have little to none of the original substance left in them. If they are truly diluted to where there is not a single molecule left in the preparation then they will have no effect and no side effect either.

Moreover, homeopathy also uses live organisms, apparently in the belief that when you make a person more sick than they already are, they will somehow be cured. Their motto is “Kind cures kind”, i.e. “That which won’t kill you will make you stronger”. Not to be confused with vaccination, which is a preventive procedure on healthy individuals, with “dead” organisms to stimulate the production of anti-bodies against that particular disease.

Not all organism in vaccines are dead, Write4U.  Sometimes drs give the live polio vaccine to vaccinate against polio.  Polio vaccine, from what I understand, comes in the live and dead version for vaccines.

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Posted: 27 November 2011 09:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 185 ]
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mckenzievmd - 27 November 2011 06:55 PM

To be fair, doctors often make recommendations that are not evidence-based. The evidence for a benefit from multivitamin or Vitamin C supplementation is very weak and there is some small evidence of potential harm for multivitamins in some populations (e.g. 1,2, 3,4,5). There is better evidence for benefit from some Vitamin D supplementation. Echinacea is probably a waste of money (1,2, 3. I don’t know much about the evidence concerning garlic, so I’ll pass on that.

My point is just that we have to be careful of falling into the argument from authority fallacy. MDs are on average undoubtedly better sources of science-based healthcare information than practitioners of unscientific approaches (e.g. naturopaths, chiropractors, TCM practitioners, etc). However, as individuals it is not unusual for doctors to be misinformed or to hold unscientific beliefs (look at Dr. Oz, Deepak Chopra, etc!). When possible, it is a good idea to seek and evaluate healthcare information critically and then to talk with your doctor about the state of the evidence and their rationale for recommendations that may not have especially strong research evidence to back them up. Ultimately, a doctor-patient relationship requires trust, and I certainly give my doctor’s opinion great weight and acknowledge they have knowledge and expertise I don’t. But I also don’t assume they are always on top of the evidence in every possible area, since that wouldn’t be humanly possible.

Yeah, well I don’t see any problems with taking vitamin supplements.  There is so much controversy on it that I really don’t care anymore.  In a few years, they may reverse the decision again.  The information on it is so flip-flop, that I rather just study Evolution and take my vitamins.  Meh.  Evolution is more reliable and maybe those who have a strong constitution will survive and form a better human, with or without vitamins.  Who knows or even cares?  Personally, I don’t worry about what people waste their money on and IMO, we are not going to make firm conclusion unless some people do use it.  IMHO, the verdict is still out on that.

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Posted: 27 November 2011 10:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 186 ]
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Mriana
Not all organism in vaccines are dead, Write4U.  Sometimes drs give the live polio vaccine to vaccinate against polio.  Polio vaccine, from what I understand, comes in the live and dead version for vaccines.

But do drs vaccinate a person with live polio, when that person is already sick with polio?  As I understand it, it is one of the main procedures of homeopathy. Fortunately, as was stated before, the homeopathic remedy has been so diluted that it probably could not aggravate the existing illness.

http://www.polionet.org/vaccine.htm

[ Edited: 27 November 2011 10:20 PM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 27 November 2011 10:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 187 ]
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Write4U - 27 November 2011 10:17 PM

Mriana
Not all organism in vaccines are dead, Write4U.  Sometimes drs give the live polio vaccine to vaccinate against polio.  Polio vaccine, from what I understand, comes in the live and dead version for vaccines.

But do drs vaccinate a person with live polio, when that person is already sick with polio?  As I understand it, it is one of the main procedures of homeopathy. Fortunately, as was stated before, the homeopathic remedy has been so diluted that it probably could not aggravate the existing illness.

http://www.polionet.org/vaccine.htm

I would hope no one would try to vaccinate someone who already has the illness.  To be honest, this is the first I’ve heard of this and find the idea stupid.  How could anyone think such things?  Of course, I’ve heard of people believing stupider things, such as vaccines causing Autism and alike, which is not true either.

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Posted: 27 November 2011 10:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 188 ]
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Mriana - 27 November 2011 10:24 PM
Write4U - 27 November 2011 10:17 PM

Mriana
Not all organism in vaccines are dead, Write4U.  Sometimes drs give the live polio vaccine to vaccinate against polio.  Polio vaccine, from what I understand, comes in the live and dead version for vaccines.

But do drs vaccinate a person with live polio, when that person is already sick with polio?  As I understand it, it is one of the main procedures of homeopathy. Fortunately, as was stated before, the homeopathic remedy has been so diluted that it probably could not aggravate the existing illness.

http://www.polionet.org/vaccine.htm

I would hope no one would try to vaccinate someone who already has the illness.  To be honest, this is the first I’ve heard of this and find the idea stupid.  How could anyone think such things?  Of course, I’ve heard of people believing stupider things, such as vaccines causing Autism and alike, which is not true either.

I believe that was Skepchick’s main point of her presentation.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jJEYaVPdTK0

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Posted: 28 November 2011 01:24 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 189 ]
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Mriana - 27 November 2011 09:52 AM

Exactly. Gatorade and alike sports drinks should not be something one drinks like water.  8 glasses of Gatorade in a day is not the same as 8 glasses of water in day and could potentially be problematic or worse- lethal.  By the same token, as you pointed out, 8 glasses of water in a very short period of time could be lethal too.

No, drinking a gallon of water quickly will kill you. Drinking a gallon of gatorade quickly may cause electrolyte imbalance, and will make you pee a lot, but probably will not kill you. It has to do with the salts in the fluid. Plain water has none, gatorade is closer to the 0.9% salinity of the blood. ( I would not advise drinking a gallon of anything quickly). I have seen people drink a gallon of liquor quickly, but alcohol is diuretic, and that keeps you from dying of brain swelling, but you may well die of respiratory depression from the alcohol in your blood.

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Posted: 28 November 2011 01:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 190 ]
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Mriana - 27 November 2011 08:12 AM
StephenLawrence - 24 November 2011 10:19 AM

Amongst the benefits of homeopathy is that it has no side effects and that it is impossible to take an overdose.

Stephen

Stephen, that isn’t exactly true.  St. John’s Wort is said to be good for mild depression, but if mixed with depression medication, it can cause adverse effects and one can take too much of it, but I forgot what the problems were..

Mriana, you are confusing Homeopathy with herbal medication. They are two different things. Herbal medication has active ingredients, homeopathy ordinarily does not, unless the manufacturer is pulling one over on the publicv, which has happened.

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Posted: 28 November 2011 01:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 191 ]
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Mriana - 27 November 2011 05:56 PM

[
However, the vitamins I use was suggested my physician and not done at a whim.  Even when I pregnant, I had to take a multivitamin, again Rx by my dr. I think there is a difference, esp when one is low on certain vitamins or a woman is pregnant and a dr recommends it, even recommending a specific brand or a Rx for a specific brand. 

Doctors routinely prescribe a mulivits high in folic acid to pregnant women. Ideally, you should begin taking them a few months before you plan to become pregnant. The addition of folic acid via multivitamins has been shown to dramatically reduce neural tube defects such as spinal bifida, in newborns. This is one instance where vitamins have a proven value. Routine multivitamins have not been shown to be of any use, except to empty the pockets and make the manufacturers wealthy.

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Posted: 28 November 2011 04:15 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 192 ]
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macgyver - 27 November 2011 08:22 PM

Unfortunately some physicians are just not scientists at heart.

And I even think they should not be. They must be good technicians, people that apply science. Technicians (doctors) profit from the results of science, therefore must also always be updated to the latest news from medical science, but they are not scientists themselves.

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Posted: 28 November 2011 05:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 193 ]
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GdB - 28 November 2011 04:15 AM
macgyver - 27 November 2011 08:22 PM

Unfortunately some physicians are just not scientists at heart.

And I even think they should not be. They must be good technicians, people that apply science. Technicians (doctors) profit from the results of science, therefore must also always be updated to the latest news from medical science, but they are not scientists themselves.

I didnt mean to imply that they should be lab scientists, but that they should have a good understanding and a solid repsect for the scientific method. In addition they SHOULD be scientists in the way that they evaluate and apply data. Physicians do not have aright to substitute personal opinion for solid scientific evidence and yet I see some of my colleagues do this.

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Posted: 28 November 2011 07:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 194 ]
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Mriana - 27 November 2011 10:24 PM
Write4U - 27 November 2011 10:17 PM

Mriana
Not all organism in vaccines are dead, Write4U.  Sometimes drs give the live polio vaccine to vaccinate against polio.  Polio vaccine, from what I understand, comes in the live and dead version for vaccines.

But do drs vaccinate a person with live polio, when that person is already sick with polio?  As I understand it, it is one of the main procedures of homeopathy. Fortunately, as was stated before, the homeopathic remedy has been so diluted that it probably could not aggravate the existing illness.

http://www.polionet.org/vaccine.htm

I would hope no one would try to vaccinate someone who already has the illness.  To be honest, this is the first I’ve heard of this and find the idea stupid.  How could anyone think such things?  Of course, I’ve heard of people believing stupider things, such as vaccines causing Autism and alike, which is not true either.

You are right Mariana. In general we do not vaccinate someone who has already been infected with a bacteria or virus but primarily because the incubation period for the infectious agent is so short that the vaccine will not allow the body to produce antibodies in time to effectively fight off the infection. There are exceptions though. Rabies for example. Except for veterinarians and a few other high risk situations we usually dont vaccinate people prior to exposure. The illness just isn’t common enough to justify vaccinating everyone. We usually dont vaccinate patients who have been bitten by a suspected rabid animal until after the virus has already been introduced to the system by the bite, but even so the vaccine is almost universally effective.  The same approach would not work for the flu and would be too risky for other serious and more common illnesses.

[ Edited: 28 November 2011 07:16 AM by macgyver ]
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Posted: 28 November 2011 11:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 195 ]
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Yeah, well I don’t see any problems with taking vitamin supplements.  There is so much controversy on it that I really don’t care anymore.  In a few years, they may reverse the decision again.  The information on it is so flip-flop

Well, as I said the evidence for active harm is small, and confined to certain groups, so there is certainly room for argument about specific supplements and their risks and benefits, unlike homeopathy for example. However, I don’t agree that the evidence or the conclusions of science have flip-floped. That is a common complaint about science-based medicine, and it comes from a misperception generated by the media and how they cover science, and from a small percentage of scientists who publically oversell their results.

Often, I’ll read a news report about a study that claims a groundbreaking, revolutionary discovery, and when I read the actual paper, the conclusions are much more modest and qualified. When susequent research accumulates and it becomes clear the original hypothesis was wrong, the media reports it as a dramatic reversal in the previous groundbreaking discovery, but the scientists view it as the natural process of science leading gradually to greater and greater confidence in ideas which are almost always still sen as provisional at some level. The initial hype about vitamins was mostly based on low-quality pre-clinical evidence and anecdote, like so much alternative medicine. The data now accumulating from higher-level clinical trials is showing the hype to be unfounded, but again that is more about public perception than a true reversal in established scientific conclusions.

Vitamins, like any other substance which influences health status, have to be used when there is a clear and evidence-based indication for them. And if they have enough of an effect to have benefits, they are likely to have side-effects too. The problem is not with the vitamins themselves or the uncertainty in the data, since such uncertainty always exists to some degree. The problem is with the perception that vitamins must be safe, that since a little is good more must be better, and all of the other assumptions that underlie so many unscientific health practices.

I certainly wouldn’t say the data is clear enough or that I personally have the expertise to make specific recommendations about what vitamins a person should or shouldn’t take. I just feel like sometimes there is a bit of a double standard among skeptics, who are quick to dismiss alternative therapies based on unscientific thinking or weak data, but then seem to find the same kind of thinking and data sufficient to justify more traditional supplements like vitamins.

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