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BMJ Blog: Edzard Ernst: The “natural” equals “safe” fallacy

Discussion in 'Other Health News and Research' started by Firestormm, Aug 26, 2012.

  1. Firestormm

    Firestormm Guest

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    What bugs the hell out of me with 'alternative medicine' is the marketing of some of them. The way in which they are sold particularly to desperate people who are locked into a long term medical condition for which conventional medicine has not provided a 'cure' or light at the end of the tunnel.

    Any such promoter of said 'medicinal alternative' should have any licence or ability to ply his wares revoked until such time as he can prove said 'remedy' or indeed any 'therapy' can be validated.

    There are several 'remedies' associated now with ME that I would dearly love to have analysed by an independent laboratory and McDuff GcMaff is one. I'd also like to see any ME 'doctor' who 'tests' his patients in his own laboratory, checked out far more thoroughly than presently occurs.

    As regards marketing and the remedies themselves there is some evidence that the 'powers that be' and indeed 'science' are taking far more of an interest that perhaps they did previously.

    Echinacea came up again the other day, and then we had the Advertising Standards Agency ruling against the promotion of the Lightening Process. Trouble is if the advertising originates overseas, then your home regulator can't do too much I don't believe.
    wdb likes this.
  2. Firestormm

    Firestormm Guest

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    Trouble is Valentijn, you are not always aware of how safe they are. Who advises you? It's a 'suck it and see' approach that can of course cost you a lot of money. You don't always know what's in the 'stuff' and if it's bought from an untrusted source you could be buying anything - and probably are.
  3. alex3619

    alex3619 Senior Member

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    Hi barbc56, I agree this should be the case, but the issue is about politics not science. I will be shortly detailing examples of how and why this does NOT happen - credible evidence is routinely ignored. Professional lobby and advocacy organizations exist that oppose specific interests, and they label everything as alternative and quackery that does not fit their agenda, and they are well funded. Its not science that is failing, its the politics that is causing the failure.

    Bye, Alex
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  4. alex3619

    alex3619 Senior Member

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    Alternative medicine is indeed sometimes marketed irresponsibly. Companies selling products, or practitioners who own franchises all trained under their auspices, are prime examples. Like most of us I have had all sorts of stuff pushed at me by salesmen, especially those on commission. They make any old claim, and if you don't buy they bring out the "don't you want to get better?" card.

    However, consider this. Many psychiatric drugs are of dubious value. Many do work. Some probably work very well. However the marketing machine is pushing them, and the legal machine is waiting to jump on anyone who steps out of line in targeting the psychiatric pill pushing. We are both over-psychologizing and over-medicating people. Not in all cases though - I do understand that some benefit greatly from such drugs. Its the marketing machine, and the bias in science from profit agendas that worry me.

    Then again, I have talked to a reputable scientist in one of the "alternative" health supplement companies. He told me the research findings about their product, in great detail, a lot of which was not published (though some was pending publication at the time). His comment about their own marketing: "don't listen to anyone in the sales department, they can't be trusted".

    Its not the product in many cases that is dubious, its the irresponsible claims made by those who stand to make money from it. The problem is, this can also apply to pharmaceutical companies or even medical practices. Individuals stuff up, and corporations stuff up, but the products they sell need to be evaluated for their own merit or detriment. Conflating bad business practice with bad product only confuses the issue.

    I do agree with Hope123 that conventional medicine is much better regulated, and so has a somewhat better standard as a result. However it is the failure in regulation, and the way it pursues its agendas, that are part of the major issues in not getting due recognition and appreciation for ME and CFS, as well as similar diseases. Why are there not dozens of drugs to treat us, all approved, including Ampligen? The tactics against Ampligen by the FDA, rightly or wrongly, probably sent a very stark message to venture capitalists in the pharmaceutical game: here be dragons.

    Similar arguments can be raised against the substantial failure of medical regulators to regulate the psychiatric industry effectively. Approval of drugs is one thing, but how do you regulate who they are given to if the diagnostic protocols keep expanding the patient base?

    Bye, Alex
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  5. natasa778

    natasa778 Senior Member

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    Very well said !

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