Friday, July 17, 2009

Alternative Medicine

The LDS Science Review (a blog from a scientist/Mormon) writes on alternative medicine--something our government has spent a ridiculous amount of money trying to validate, with almost nothing to show for it. The political power behind it, a Senator from Iowa, said, "One of the purposes when we drafted that legislation in 1992 . . . was to investigate and validate alternative approaches. Quite frankly, I must say it's fallen short. I think quite frankly that in this center, and previously in the office before it, most of its focus has been on disproving things, rather than seeking out and proving things."
Science is science. It doesn't care what your purpose was when you drafted that legislation. It cares about reality. And really, most of this stuff is not that hard to disprove. "Take this...it might be a herb or it might be a placebo." Then analyze the results. I'm sorry the good Senator is surprised the evidence all comes back negative. Or that fake acupuncture actually works better than real acupuncture. Or that any number of herbs work no better than a sugar pill.
Looks like Republican politicians aren't the only ones that are a little slow on understanding science--this Senator is a Democrat. If I ever again hear someone saying we shouldn't be spending money on some scientific endeavor--how about we cut this project first?
Sigh.

4 comments:

JorgenMan said...

That is SO typical of scientists, isn't it? - spending money on research that might not give the results they want. It's almost like they don't know what's going to work until they do the research!

Another super genius in the Senate, I see.

Mommy Bee said...

Interestingly, a number of European countries (notably Germany) have done test with a variety of popular herbs in much the same way as the FDA tests new drugs. It's not all hocus pocus--some of them do have fairly powerful medicinal uses. As a scientist yourself, surely you know that more than a few medications are plant-based (foxglove/digitalis being used in heart medication comes most readily to mind...)

I personally feel that if there is an herb/plant that will do the trick (and sometimes there is) then I would prefer to use something from God's laboratory than to take a chemical concoction from man's laboratory. This is not to say that I'm anti allopathic medicine--I have ibuprofin and childrens tylenol in my cabinet alongside my red raspberry leaf and cod liver oil. But I'm not going to utterly discount something just because it originated in nature rather than in a laboratory. I believe there are people who push it too far the other way, certainly, but I guess I just feel like it's pretty silly to make sweeping judgments about things when (as is usually the case) there are aspects of truth on both sides.

Tim said...

MommyBee,
I'm not talking about plant-based medicines. I'm not sure I'd give plant-based medicines a higher status than man-made medicines, but I'm not putting them lower either. As long as there's evidence they work (ie--a double-blind study comparing the herb with a placebo) I'm all for using them.
The problem is, there are way too many things out there that people take that are not any more helpful than a placebo. They haven't been tested (or they have, and the tests were negative). They don't work (well, at least not more than a placebo works).

alternative medicine said...

Something what i need to learn thanks for sharing friend i like it.