1 of 6
1
Theoretical question for those debating vitamins, supplements, etc
Posted: 22 November 2013 02:53 PM   [ Ignore ]
Moderator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  7576
Joined  2007-03-02

Theoretical question for those debating vitamins and supplements and alike:  If one chose or was offered to drink willow bark tea for a fever or a headache, instead of taking aspirin or other such pill, would anyone here have an issue with that?

 Signature 

Mriana
“Sometimes in order to see the light, you have to risk the dark.” ~ Iris Hineman (Lois Smith) The Minority Report

Profile
 
 
Posted: 22 November 2013 04:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2190
Joined  2007-04-26
Mriana - 22 November 2013 02:53 PM

Theoretical question for those debating vitamins and supplements and alike:  If one chose or was offered to drink willow bark tea for a fever or a headache, instead of taking aspirin or other such pill, would anyone here have an issue with that?

If the question is “given the choice would anyone object to taking willow bark tea instead of aspirin” for a fever I would say yes. I would disagree. Granted aspirin is a derivative of a chemical found in willow bark, but Aspirin is a regulated product. When you buy an aspirin tablet you know what you’re getting. When you drink willow bark tea you have no idea what’s really in there. I can’t see any advantage at all to using a mystery product over something which has better purity and quality control and I can’t imagine too many places in the world today where aspirin isn’t readily and cheaply available.

If on the other hand you are stranded in the wild (or live in some impoverished nation with an abundance of willow trees) and you have a fever that is dangerously high and you are sure you can identify the right tree and make the tea correctly then I would not object. I don’t imagine that would happen very often though.

 Signature 

For every complex problem there is a solution that is simple, obvious,.... and just plain wrong

Profile
 
 
Posted: 22 November 2013 04:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
Moderator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  7576
Joined  2007-03-02

It is possible to end up stranded out in the wild, but I don’t think mountain climbers would have access to willow bark trees.  Hunters, campers, and hikers, maybe, but as you said, one would need to be able to identify the tree correctly and know how to make the tea.  Very few of us now days know how to identify various trees and plants, unless our elders took the time to teach us.  My great grandmother enjoyed May Apple soup, BUT you have to catch it at the right time of year AND use the right part of the plant or it is pure poison.

That reminds me, I worked at a day care once and there was poke weed growing all around the play ground.  The staff and owner had no idea what the plant was or that it was poison, even upset that I tried hard to keep the kids away from it, until I told them, along with how to get rid of it, so the children don’t eat the berries.  They didn’t believe me and proceeded to look it up on the internet.  They finally acknowledged I was right and killed the poke weed as I told them to do.  I’m often amazed how little people know about plants and trees in today’s society.

[ Edited: 22 November 2013 04:30 PM by Mriana ]
 Signature 

Mriana
“Sometimes in order to see the light, you have to risk the dark.” ~ Iris Hineman (Lois Smith) The Minority Report

Profile
 
 
Posted: 22 November 2013 06:04 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1397
Joined  2010-04-22
Mriana - 22 November 2013 02:53 PM

Theoretical question for those debating vitamins and supplements and alike:  If one chose or was offered to drink willow bark tea for a fever or a headache, instead of taking aspirin or other such pill, would anyone here have an issue with that?

Not really.

Even if the willow bark was extremely low in the chemical components that relieved headache pain as aspirin does, the placebo effect will have an effect. Unless it’s a dangerous fever or a really severe headache which might indicate some other health problem. Then I’d choose “none of the above. Get professional medical help.”

 Signature 

“All musicians are subconsciously mathematicians.”

- Thelonious Monk

Profile
 
 
Posted: 22 November 2013 06:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
Moderator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  7576
Joined  2007-03-02
TromboneAndrew - 22 November 2013 06:04 PM
Mriana - 22 November 2013 02:53 PM

Theoretical question for those debating vitamins and supplements and alike:  If one chose or was offered to drink willow bark tea for a fever or a headache, instead of taking aspirin or other such pill, would anyone here have an issue with that?

Not really.

Even if the willow bark was extremely low in the chemical components that relieved headache pain as aspirin does, the placebo effect will have an effect. Unless it’s a dangerous fever or a really severe headache which might indicate some other health problem. Then I’d choose “none of the above. Get professional medical help.”

LOL  You do realize that aspirin is willow bark, don’t you?

 Signature 

Mriana
“Sometimes in order to see the light, you have to risk the dark.” ~ Iris Hineman (Lois Smith) The Minority Report

Profile
 
 
Posted: 22 November 2013 07:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4812
Joined  2007-10-05

The problem, as macgyver pointed out, is you have no way of knowing what is in the willow bark tea. The FDA does not regulate alternative medicine, and many studies have found all manner of toxic ingredients in alt meds. If I can’t get my hands on ibuprofen I’ll take aspirin, thank you.

 Signature 

“In the beginning, God created the universe. This has made many people very angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move.”
Douglas Adams, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

Profile
 
 
Posted: 22 November 2013 08:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
Moderator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  7576
Joined  2007-03-02
DarronS - 22 November 2013 07:47 PM

The problem, as macgyver pointed out, is you have no way of knowing what is in the willow bark tea. The FDA does not regulate alternative medicine, and many studies have found all manner of toxic ingredients in alt meds. If I can’t get my hands on ibuprofen I’ll take aspirin, thank you.

But what if you were stuck out in the wilderness with someone who knew something about plants and trees (besides someone as blind as Dick Chaney.  Hey, Dick has done it twice now, so it could happen), and didn’t have aspirin, ibuprofen, Alive, etc and near by was a willow bark tree, with no toxic mixes, except for human error.

 Signature 

Mriana
“Sometimes in order to see the light, you have to risk the dark.” ~ Iris Hineman (Lois Smith) The Minority Report

Profile
 
 
Posted: 22 November 2013 08:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  7684
Joined  2008-04-11
Mriana - 22 November 2013 02:53 PM

Theoretical question for those debating vitamins and supplements and alike:  If one chose or was offered to drink willow bark tea for a fever or a headache, instead of taking aspirin or other such pill, would anyone here have an issue with that?

Yes, just as I wouldn’t treat a heart problem by pulling leaves off the foxglove in the front yard, even though it is the same active ingredient. I know the dosage in the pill, what is in the leaf is anyone’s guess, depending on light, soil, water, species….and way too many other variables.

 Signature 

Church; where sheep congregate to worship a zombie on a stick that turns into a cracker on Sundays…

Profile
 
 
Posted: 22 November 2013 08:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1397
Joined  2010-04-22
Mriana - 22 November 2013 06:24 PM

LOL  You do realize that aspirin is willow bark, don’t you?

Aspirin is a small part of willow bark.

 Signature 

“All musicians are subconsciously mathematicians.”

- Thelonious Monk

Profile
 
 
Posted: 22 November 2013 08:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4812
Joined  2007-10-05
Mriana - 22 November 2013 08:00 PM
DarronS - 22 November 2013 07:47 PM

The problem, as macgyver pointed out, is you have no way of knowing what is in the willow bark tea. The FDA does not regulate alternative medicine, and many studies have found all manner of toxic ingredients in alt meds. If I can’t get my hands on ibuprofen I’ll take aspirin, thank you.

But what if you were stuck out in the wilderness with someone who knew something about plants and trees (besides someone as blind as Dick Chaney.  Hey, Dick has done it twice now, so it could happen), and didn’t have aspirin, ibuprofen, Alive, etc and near by was a willow bark tree, with no toxic mixes, except for human error.

Depends upon the person. I have a few friends I would trust in that situation. A complete stranger? I’d have to be in a lot of pain.

 Signature 

“In the beginning, God created the universe. This has made many people very angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move.”
Douglas Adams, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

Profile
 
 
Posted: 23 November 2013 11:30 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
Moderator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4081
Joined  2006-11-28

I’m not sure I see the point of the thought experiment. Do people have to make suboptimal choices when options are limited? Sure. Without access to scientific medicien, or when scientific medicine has no effective treatments to offer, people in desperation reach for alternatives. Perfectly understandable, but also not likley to actually provie much benefit, and sometimes actively harmful to them. The issue is not whether it is right or wrong or understandable why people choose alternatives. There are all sorts of reasons, some sensible and some not, for doing so. The issue is how to we best identify what is really likely to help and what isn’t. As already pointed out, willow bark is a poor substitute for aspirin. There may be circumstances in which it is the only option, but that doesn’t make it any less of a bad option.

 Signature 

The SkeptVet
The SkeptVet Blog
Militant Agnostic: I don’t know, and neither do you!

Profile
 
 
Posted: 24 November 2013 02:50 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
Moderator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  7576
Joined  2007-03-02

OK, so a synthetic form of salicylic acid ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aspirin ), found in willow bark, which was used for centuries for treating pain and fevers, and found to be the possible cause of increased death of the 1918 pandemic flu epidemic ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aspirin#History ), mostly due to overdose, and lists other ingredients, that allegedly are inactive ( http://www.livestrong.com/article/67606-ingredients-bayer-aspirin/ ), is better than a natural form, even in an emergency when there is no access to the modern day pain medicine (and I did say it was theoretical question).  I’ll keep that in mind, esp since I have an allergy to aspirin, probably in both natural and synthetic forms, and see no benefit in either form of the drug either, due to having an allergic reaction to it.  I find ibuprofen works better, without the allergic reaction, for fevers,as well as general pain, and Imitrex works very well for my migraines, despite them both being a creation of man, rather than nature.  However, I suspect they could cause just as many problems and try to avoid using either of them (as well as other drugs) unless I absolutely have to, which is good, in respect to my migraines, because Imitrex can be taken at any point during the migraine- though it is more difficult once one is puking from a migraine.  Aspirin doesn’t do jack when it comes to migraines, one of the worst pains next to childbirth.  However, it seems to me, that many such “folk remedies”, such as willow bark, that have been used for centuries and even used in some of today’s medicines, don’t get the respect I think they should get for contributing to modern medicines.  Some, like willow bark, even get pushed aside as being useless, when the ingredient in them is the main ingredient found in today’s medicines, such as aspirin.  If they are so trivial, then why is the main active ingredient the synthetic version of what humans used for centuries?  Oh sure, willow bark is only part of aspirin, but the very component that makes it a pain and fever reducer is the main active ingredient, albeit now in a synthetic form now days, of which I’m not so sure of either, along with inactive ingredients in the form of fillers and alike to make it into a pill, that seems to be helpful to those who don’t have an allergy to salicylic acid and/or the other inactive ingredients in aspirin.  Even American Indians found there were some members of their tribes who could not tolerate the pain and fever relieving properties found in willow bark.  The father of modern medicine, Hippocrates, even left notes about how to make it and how it works for pain and fever.  Things that make one go “humm…”

Plant extracts, including willow bark and spiraea, of which salicylic acid was the active ingredient, had been known to help alleviate headaches, pains, and fevers since antiquity. The father of modern medicine, Hippocrates, who lived some time between 460 BC and 377 BC, left historical records describing the use of powder made from the bark and leaves of the willow tree to help these symptoms.[137]

I apologize for the links, but they were the best ones I could find on the subject, which leaves me with the one question, concerning why people put down some of the medicines, which contributed to modern medicine and still used today, albeit in synthetic form, in many cases.  Salicylic acid, found in willow bark, is still used today and it is the main active ingredient in aspirin, yet willow bark, once crushed and used to distribute the medication salicylic acid to the sick and now derived and/or created synthetically, is so put down, even in an emergency.  Maybe I’m wrong and I’ll be glad to admit it if I am, but it seems to me it should be one “folk remedy” that is praised, much like penicillin is, even though there are millions, like myself, who can’t take that either and in some case, the drug is obsolete for some illnesses due to bacteria evolving and becoming resistant to it.  I suspect, one day, there will people saying much the same things about penicillin as some/many people do today about willow bark, pushing it aside to the dark shadows of what will then be modern medicine and calling it a “folk remedy”, if history is any indication of anything.

I’m not trying to support alternative medicine, for salicylic acid is not alternative medicine, in this case.  I’m just saying it seems to me, people are supporting synthetic versions of it over natural versions, when we’ve been using it for centuries, which makes no sense to me, when the father of modern medicine left notes/historical records about it.  Then again, if we go cutting down all the willow trees for medicine, there won’t be any left to use, so synthesizing it is our best and only option, but I’m not 100% certain that a synthetic, modern day version of the drug is necessarily better.  I know it’s not worse, but I’m not absolutely certain it is necessarily better.  Even with modern medicine, we still end up saying, “Oops, we were wrong” and I think, as far as the being wrong part goes, the recent information we have on trans fats are a good example of that.  I just can’t think of an example of a modern drug, at the moment, unless it was a particular IUD women used during the 70s, which caused the ban of many, if not all, IUDs in the U.S., until recent years.  However, except in the 1918 pandemic flu, Rye Syndrome, and other illnesses, as well as allergies, go, we have not yet said, after many centuries of use, we were wrong about the active ingredient in willow bark, salicylic acid, because it is now and has been the active ingredient in aspirin since the late 19th century.  The late 19th century!  At the same time, modern medicine has advanced significantly since then, but yet we still use it and the main natural source seems to be foo-foo as alternative medicine, junk medicine, and even “folk medicine”.  Seems to me, our ancient ancestors must have gotten something right if we are still using it as medicine today.

As Freud, the father of modern psychology, would say, “Very interesting.”  I wonder, if he were still alive today, if he’d be just as puzzled as I am.

 Signature 

Mriana
“Sometimes in order to see the light, you have to risk the dark.” ~ Iris Hineman (Lois Smith) The Minority Report

Profile
 
 
Posted: 24 November 2013 05:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2190
Joined  2007-04-26

Mariana your post is long and winding and I am not sure I understand the exact point you were trying to make but let me address a couple of your comments

1) You seem dismayed that Willow Bark treatment was not given credit - What type of credit would you like willow bark to get? It is listed in medical history books as the herbal treatment that preceded the discovery of aspirin. That’s all this substance deserves.

2) You raise a suspicion that “synthetic aspirin” may not necessarily be any better than willow bark. This is a comment that derives from lack of understanding. Willow bark is not a pure product. Willow bark tea and other willow bark preparations contain a mixture of substances of which one is salicylic acid. Aspirin is acetylsalicylic acid which was developed in germany in the early 1900’s. It became a big hit because it was absorbed better than salicylic acid and did not cause far less gastrointestinal distress than salicylic acid. So to answer your question, yes aspirin IS a better product than willow bark for those reasons alone.

3) You commented that willow bark is not alternative medicine. That’s not true. It is. Alt med is anything which has not been tested for safety and efficacy. As I mentioned above, willow bark products are not pure salicylic acid. These preparations are a mixture of known and unknown substances of varying potencies and concentrations. They are not standardized or regulated and have not gone through testing for safety or efficacy. By any definition willow bark preparation ARE alt med.

 Signature 

For every complex problem there is a solution that is simple, obvious,.... and just plain wrong

Profile
 
 
Posted: 24 November 2013 06:27 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
Moderator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  7576
Joined  2007-03-02
macgyver - 24 November 2013 05:37 PM

Mariana your post is long and winding and I am not sure I understand the exact point you were trying to make but let me address a couple of your comments

1) You seem dismayed that Willow Bark treatment was not given credit - What type of credit would you like willow bark to get? It is listed in medical history books as the herbal treatment that preceded the discovery of aspirin. That’s all this substance deserves.

I meant from the public, in the form of knowledge concerning what medications they are given by a doctor or take OTC.

2) You raise a suspicion that “synthetic aspirin” may not necessarily be any better than willow bark. This is a comment that derives from lack of understanding. Willow bark is not a pure product. Willow bark tea and other willow bark preparations contain a mixture of substances of which one is salicylic acid. Aspirin is acetylsalicylic acid which was developed in germany in the early 1900’s. It became a big hit because it was absorbed better than salicylic acid and did not cause far less gastrointestinal distress than salicylic acid. So to answer your question, yes aspirin IS a better product than willow bark for those reasons alone.

water and willow bark to make a tea seem better than than the questionable substances I read as inactive ingredients in aspirin.  However, I wasn’t talking about purity when I made the comment about synthetics v non-synthetic, besides if it “did not cause far less gastrointestinal distress” then how did it become a hit?  I think you meant it did cause far less gastrointestinal distress, but I would beg to differ due to my experience with it.  It doesn’t cause less stomach issues in some people nor does it cause less of allergic reaction from it, so it’s not that great for all people, despite whether or not it is more pure.

3) You commented that willow bark is not alternative medicine. That’s not true. It is. Alt med is anything which has not been tested for safety and efficacy. As I mentioned above, willow bark products are not pure salicylic acid. These preparations are a mixture of known and unknown substances of varying potencies and concentrations. They are not standardized or regulated and have not gone through testing for safety or efficacy. By any definition willow bark preparation ARE alt med.

OK, so you say, but the problem is, modern medicine isn’t necessarily safe for all people either, ie penicillin, aspirin, some people can’t take sulfa drugs, others can’t take other various drugs. Pregnant women, due to the developing fetus can’t take many different types of drugs.  Elderly patients need adjustments or not take certain medications at all.  So no, not all modern medicine is safe and efficacy for some people is questionable any more than older outdated medications are.  Even my own dr, who is an internal medicine dr, when I asked her while my mother was being treated for breast cancer, said that it is possible that the radioactive iodine my mother had to drink for her Grave’s Disease back in the 70s caused her to be the first known case of breast cancer in my family, according to my grandmother, who was alive when my mother had breast cancer.  To say that modern medicine has been tested for safety and efficacy is, IMO, a bit naive, for it is possible that it is no more safe than past medicines.  IF my grandmother, who was born in 1913 and died 6 years ago, as well as in her early 80s when my mother got breast cancer, was right and my dr’s reply when I asked her is correct, then the radioactive iodine my mother took in the 70s could be attributed to her getting breast cancer roughly 14 years ago.  Due to stage 3 cancer, she lost a breast.  Besides cutting off her breast, she received radiation, but not chemo, not because she refused it, but the dr’s saw no need for it.  My mother’s still alive and cancer free now, but I wouldn’t say that all modern medicine has been tested for safety and efficacy either, esp when I pull an honest answer out of my dr concerning radioactive iodine possibly causing my mother breast cancer, given she was the first known case in my family.

Do I believe radioactive iodine caused my mother’s breast cancer?  Yes, I do, esp if my grandmother was correct about family history.  Do I think all modern medicine on the market has been tested for safety and efficacy?  No, I do not and I think it is possible some patients are guinea pigs, with some of us fooling ourselves to the contrary, and it behoves us to ask our drs questions every time they Rx a new medication for us, even ask the pharmacists questions, do our own research on the medication, AND have an up-to-date pill book at home, as well as keep up with medical science as much as possible as lay people.  We must not even accept modern medicine on blind faith, just because a doctor tells up to take this medicine or do this treatment.  Too many medications drs Rx me have made me sick one too many times to accept medicine on blind faith- this means any medicine, whether it is ancient or modern.

[ Edited: 24 November 2013 06:34 PM by Mriana ]
 Signature 

Mriana
“Sometimes in order to see the light, you have to risk the dark.” ~ Iris Hineman (Lois Smith) The Minority Report

Profile
 
 
Posted: 24 November 2013 07:30 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
Moderator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  7576
Joined  2007-03-02

As you see, I get quite frustrated when people insist that alternative medicine is all bad and modern medicine is all good, alternative medicine is not safe, but modern medicine is, alternative medicine has no efficacy, but modern medicine does… The problem with having such faith in modern medicine is that it’s not necessarily true and what we view today as safe and all, will probably be tomorrow’s “folk medicine” and I really do hope radiation and chemo are some of treatment that become a thing of the past for treating cancer, Grave’s Disease, and alike illnesses, because in my mind, their safety and efficacy are questionable and have been for a long time, esp after my mother got cancer.  Of course, alternative medicine was not the answer for my mother’s Grave’s Disease either, because it wouldn’t have relieved her of the problem either and might have caused her death for sure.  I say “it wouldn’t relieve her of the problem” because even though the radioactive iodine killed her Grave’s Disease, she has no functioning thyroid (and no they didn’t remove it with surgery either).  It’s just a dead thyroid in her body, if her body didn’t absorb it, and she has had to spend the rest of her life on thyroid replacement, just like she would if they had surgically removed it, which may or may not have spared her the cancer years afterwards.

 Signature 

Mriana
“Sometimes in order to see the light, you have to risk the dark.” ~ Iris Hineman (Lois Smith) The Minority Report

Profile
 
 
Posted: 24 November 2013 08:30 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2190
Joined  2007-04-26

Mriana there are so many misconceptions in your comments I don’t really know where to begin. First you are correct.  I Misstyped. I meant to say that Aspirin became popular because it caused LESS GI distress than salicylic acid. You can not use your experience as evidence to contradict that statement since you have nothing to compare to. All salicylates can cause some GI distress. My comment on the degree of side effects was a relative one not an absolute one. Yes aspirin can cause GI distress but salicylic acid caused this problem far more often.

Its obviously sad when a family member gets cancer and its human nature to look for answers but you can not draw a link between a treatment for thyroid disease at one point and breast cancer that developed later. First, the amount of radiation a person gets from I131 is relatively small compared to our total lifetime exposure and while there is some increased risk of cancer the increased risk is extremely small and is mostly thyroid cancers not breast cancer. The decision about whether to use surgery or I131 to treat someone with graves disease is made based on a risk benefit analysis. Generally someone who is young and a good surgical candidate will have a partial thyroidectomy. Older patients will more often have I131 treatment but again the decision is made on an individual basis. Not treating this condition would leave the patient at risk for serious side effects as a result of untreated hyperthyroidism.
Also to make another point concerning this, the lack of a family history is of no consequence here since the majority of women who get breast cancer do NOT have a family history of breast cancer.

I agree that not all traditional medical treatments are 100% safe or 100% effective. I never claimed they were. What I said is that traditional medical treatments have been studied to show that they are safe and effective. That means that they have an acceptable safety margin and are reasonably effective when used properly. Of course there will be people who have unintended consequences even with the most extensively studies treatments but I don’t see how that leads to the argument that we should therefor open our minds to less tested or completely untested treatments which is essentially what Alt Med is.

 Signature 

For every complex problem there is a solution that is simple, obvious,.... and just plain wrong

Profile
 
 
   
1 of 6
1