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The Mayo Clinic Supports CAM
Posted: 20 October 2009 12:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 151 ]
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dougsmith - 20 October 2009 12:24 PM

If you are as worried about “incomplete science” as you claim to be, then you should think that your own claims re. coenzyme Q10 are completely without merit. There is nothing more scientifically incomplete than a single uncontrolled datapoint.

No, my argument is that, modern medicine is not all that it claims to be. It may be very scientific, but it is based on many assumptions that may one day prove to be wrong or at least misplaced. If the whole edifice is based on a faulty foundation, you know what happens. It has been proven again and again - just note all the recalls and scandals. The human body is simply too complicated to understand what effects potent chemicals have on it within a short span of few years, leave alone the entire humanity. The variables are simply far too many.

The “traditional” medicines, such as aspirin, are derived from herbs occurring naturally. The herbs themselves are a complex biochemical phenomena and people have a certain tolerance for them (there are exceptions of course) due to long term use. Purified chemicals such as aspirin are such a relatively new phenomena that human body has no idea what to do with them. So, it is always a bigger lottery with modern “traditional” medicines than herbs. Of course the less said about the even newer concoctions the better. No company has enough money to spend on all possible combinations of people and lifestyles in a clinical study. And they are not even the unbiased party in all of this.

Is there any wonder that some people say aspirin in low doses is good for you and yet there is conflicting research that shows that long term use could hurt your tummy? I know people who take five to ten medicines daily to handle all the problems, side effects caused by drugs and side effects of drugs that are taken to alleviate side effects of drugs and so on. Has anybody studied the effects of taking five drugs at a time?

So when modern medicine says it is scientific, all it is saying is that the methods used to develop treatments and drugs are scientific. However the bigger question remains: have they actually understood how the human body works? That’s why I am a skeptic.

Skeptic

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Posted: 20 October 2009 01:30 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 152 ]
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A couple of problems with your argument, skeptic65.

You seem to be suggesting that “natural” herbal remedies have fewer side-effects because people have some inborn tolerance that we’ve evolved as a consequence of “long-term” use of such remedies (or did you mean individuals have a tolerance from long-term use?). There is no evidence of this, and in fact it isn’t consistent with the very different and constantly shifting pattern of herbal lore and use in the pre-scientific medicine of various cultures around the world. (of course, it could be true for individuals, though it would be just as true of pharmaceuticals and it would be just as likely that adverse effects would increase with chronic exposure). This seems a variety of the naturalistic fallacy that what is found in nature is somehow better or safer than what is produced by deliberate effort, which simply isn’t a reliable general rule.

The fundamental point that the human body is a complex and incompletely understood system is absolutely correct. The problem is with the conclusions you extrapolate from this fact. I would argue that the understanding of science, while imperfect, is better than the intuition, tradition, and mythology that usually underlies CAM, and I think the improvements in human health in the last couple hundred years support that starkly and dramatically. Medical science may not understand everything, but folk medicine understands far less.

Then there is the question of what side-effects are. Because the body is a complex system in which all the parts interact locally and at a distance through multiple channels, anything that affects one element is highly likely to affects others, often in minimally predictable ways. Pharmaceuticals have side-effects, which often can be predicted to a good degree statistically but which canot be determined in advance with certainty due to the complexity of the system and all the possible individual and environmental variables you alllude to. The reason they have side effects is not because they are “unnatural” but because they are changing elements within the complex system. Natural remedies, if they have any effect at all, will also have such side effects for the same reason. There is nothing intrinsically safer about them, and I would argue that in fact they are less safe because we know less about what they are and what they do, because they are not standardized in how they are prepared or what they contain, because they are frequently adulterated with undesirable toxins or even pharmaceuticals, and because they are composed of complex coctails rather than single compounds.

So you seem to apply your skepticism to scientific medicine but give herbal supplements a pass because of an assumption about their safety that isn’t supported by evidence, and you imply that the lack of complete knowledge of science (which I and most medical scientists freely acknowledge) somehow supports the practice of alternative medicine, despite the fact that there is less knowledge and far more untested and unquestioned belief in that approach than in scientific medicine.

[ Edited: 20 October 2009 01:32 PM by mckenzievmd ]
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Posted: 20 October 2009 03:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 153 ]
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skeptic65 - 20 October 2009 12:12 PM

....and even alternative medicine when the claims are extraordinary.Skeptic

ALL claims make by alternative ‘medicine’ are extraordinary, they are ALL unproved, that is why it is call alternative. If it were proved it would be called medicine

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Posted: 20 October 2009 03:54 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 154 ]
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asanta - 20 October 2009 03:28 PM
skeptic65 - 20 October 2009 12:12 PM

....and even alternative medicine when the claims are extraordinary.Skeptic

ALL claims make by alternative ‘medicine’ are extraordinary, they are ALL unproved, that is why it is call alternative. If it were proved it would be called medicine

Which is why I despise the term alternative medicine.  If someone suggested building a bridge for vehicles with cardboard toilet paper tubes would we call it alternative engineering? 
If a therapy demonstrates its efficacy, it is medicine.  It matters not if it comes from gila monster saliva(Byetta) or a yew tree(tamoxifen).

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Posted: 21 October 2009 06:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 155 ]
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This is OT, but a bit of levity can’t hurt.  As I’ve said before I tend to take a fair number of supplements including a multivitamin, C (per my hero, Linus Pauling), Choline, D, Fish oil, Niacin (since my sensitivity to statins showed up), two brewer’s yeast (I like the extra DNA and RNA), two each of Oat Bran, Soy Bran, and Alfalfa (just for bulk to help egestion).  So, that was quite a handful.  I had gone to a CFI discussion meeting at a restaurant where we would have an evening meal then the discussion.  The young waitress came by to fill water glasses just as I had dumped this melange into my hand.  She looked at it and said in a somewhat disbelieving tone, “What is that?!!”

“My vitamins and stuff,” I replied, not wanting to go into an explanation.

With a bit of a condescending snear, she asked, “Do you really think they help?”

“Well, I don’t know but I am 105.”

Occam

P.S. She still got a 20% tip. smile

[ Edited: 21 October 2009 06:25 PM by Occam ]
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Posted: 21 October 2009 06:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 156 ]
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Occam - 21 October 2009 06:22 PM

This is OT, but a bit of levity can’t hurt.  As I’ve said before I tend to take a fair number of supplements including a multivitamin, C (per my hero, Linus Pauling), Choline, D, Fish oil, Niacin (since my sensitivity to statins showed up), two brewer’s yeast (I like the extra DNA and RNA), two each of Oat Bran, Soy Bran, and Alfalfa (just for bulk to help egestion).  So, that was quite a handful.  I had gone to a CFI discussion meeting at a restaurant where we would have an evening meal then the discussion.  The young waitress came by to fill water glasses just as I had dumped this melange into my hand.  She looked at it and said in a somewhat disbelieving tone, “What is that?!!”

“My vitamins and stuff,” I replied, not wanting to go into an explanation.

With a bit of a condescending snear, she asked, “Do you really think they help?”

“Well, I don’t know but I am 105.”

Occam

LOL she probably ran straight to the heath food store!

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