Respectful Insolence

After having returned from TAM, I was pumped up by how much interest was shown in the case of Stanislaw Burzynski. More importantly, I was heartened to learn while I was there that the Texas Medical Board had submitted an amended complaint against him containing 202 pages worth of charges. Sure, the descriptions of the violations Burzynski committed in the care of seven patients cited got a bit repetitive, but that’s Burzynski. His MO has been consistent for 37 years, the only change being that in 1997 he decided to use and abuse the clinical trial process as a means to an end, that end being treating any patient he wants with his antineoplastons.

Yes, I was happy to read that the Texas Medical Board was going after Burzynski hard. Then, as I arrived home, I saw this depressing article by David Koeppel in The Fiscal Times entitled Millennials Embrace Alternative Medicine, a $32 Billion Business. Millennials, as you might know, are generally considered to be the generation cohort following Generation X. Although, unlike the case for Baby Boomers and Generation X, there isn’t as tight an agreement over what birth years define the Millennial generation, Millennials were born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s. So we’re talking about people ranging in age from their teens to their early 30s. Of course, these whole named generations are almost entirely arbitrarily defined, but for purposes of this discussion it doesn’t matter. What we’re talking about are teens and young adults, and, if this article is to be believed, young adults are seriously into woo:

Young people are generally healthy. But when 36-year-old Jessica Rich was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis earlier this year, she didn’t choose the conventional medical treatment and prescription drugs that would have attempted to slow the disease’s progress, prevent disability, and control pain. Instead, she opted for alternative treatments.

Rich’s traditional Chinese doctor prescribes herbs, and she’s also seen other alternative medicine experts, including a naturopath, a medic intuitive, and an energy healer – all at a whopping cost of $5,600. Her parents paid for most of this.

OK, it’s really tempting to make jokes about a 36-year-old needing her parents to pay for her basic needs. Or at least it would have been before the financial crash of 2008. I could also point out that, technically, she’s a Gen Xer. But that’s just me being pedantic. In any event, here is a relatively young woman with a serious disease, and, instead of choosing effective medicine, she’s choosing the purest quackery. Yes, this is just an anecdote. We can easily find examples of older people making the same sort of bad health care choices. However, if this article is to be believed, there really is a major increase in the use of alternative medicine by young adults. While Koeppel prefaces his next observation by pointing out that most in their 20s and 30s don’t chare Rich’s distrust of conventional medicine, a lot of them are into the woo:

Unlike Rich, most millennials more often use alternative medicine to prevent illnesses and maintain wellbeing – rather than to actually cure existing sicknesses. Rich was only recently diagnosed with MS; there is no way of knowing what path her illness will take or whether alternative medicine will be able to sustain her in the decades ahead.

Roughly 11 percent of millennials used homeopathic medicine in 2013, up from 4 percent in 2009, according to a 2013 report by the Natural Marketing Institute, a consulting firm in Harleysville, Penn. By comparison, only 6 percent of baby boomers and 7 percent of Gen Xers reported using homeopathic medicine in 2013.

My first thought was: Is this true? The reason, of course, is the source, a company called Natural Marketing Institute, which is a company that specializes in surveys looking at “wellness” (a term I absolutely loathe, given how meaning-free it seems to be), supplements, and the like, using it to maintain syndicated databases on health, wellness, healthy aging, and sustainability. These proprietary databases include a Health & Wellness Trends Database®, Sustainability Consumer Sustainability Trends Database®, Healthy Aging Database™, and Supplements/OTC/Rx Database™.

Be that as it may, assuming that this company relies on the accuracy of its databases in order to sell its services, it is worth looking at what it found. Unfortunately, to get access you have to pay; so it’s back to the article:

Millennials were also the largest growing segment of people to use supplements: In 2013, 68 percent reported that they took some type of supplement in the last 30 days, compared to 50 percent in 2009. The supplement industry is an approximately $32.5 billion business, according to the Nutrition Business Journal.

“Because they’ve been constantly exposed to new, new, new and different, different, different, this generation are early adopters and they are more likely to be accepting of newer ideas and certainly alternative medicines and alternative products,” says Maryellen Molyneaux, president of the Natural Marketing Institute.

New ideas? Not so much. Most “alternative medicine” is based on prescientific vitalism that’s been around decades, if not hundreds of years, or on pseudoscientific ideas that have been variations on a few common themes dating back, again decades, if not hundreds of years. It only appears new because it goes against science-based medicine, and science doesn’t matter for alternative medicine. Homeopathy is a perfect example, and it’s truly depressing that homeopathy use appears to be nearly double among Millennials compared to baby boomers and Gen Xers and that it’s more than doubled among young people since 2009. Of course, when I read this, I wondered what the trend lines in the comparison groups were. Is use of homeopathy increasing among boomers and Gen X at a similar rate as it appears to be doing among Millennials? Or is it fairly stable?

It’s fairly instructive to look at another source, the National Health Interview Survey. We know from that survey that homeopathy use was reported by 3.7% of the population then. Unfortunately, the data were not broken down by age, and the report is a few years old. In any case, if it’s true that 11% of Millennials have used homeopathy, that’s a truly depressing bit of information. After all, health habits and attitudes toward medicine are usually developed and solidified during young adulthood.

There is, of course, the mandatory “tell both sides” segment by the token skeptic. In this case, it was Steve Salzburg. It’s a lonely job, one that I’ve done before, too; so I’m not denigrating what Salzberg said for this article. Rather, I’m once again complaining about the brain dead “tell both sides” narrative, which in this case paints alternative medicine and supplement use as growing in popularity based on a single survey from a marketing group whose profits depend in part on providing data regarding supplement and “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM) use. Salzberg does what he does quite competently, as usual, pointing out how most CAM has no evidence to support it and is generally placebo medicine, while conceding that some modalities, like yoga, meditation and massage can be “helpful.” He also points out why he opposes teaching pseudoscience in the medical curriculum, as I do.

Unfortunately, the increasing openness to pseudoscience among young adults appears to mean that medical students and younger doctors are also susceptible to quackery and pseudoscience, and that’s a real problem. Here’s why:

Despite such skepticism, however, millennial devotees continue to use alternative medicine to address their overall wellbeing, particularly for prevention, and some medical schools are taking note. Harvard University, Boston University and Duke University are increasingly offering electives in mind and body practices.

Richard Nahin, the lead epidemiologist of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (part of the National Institutes for Health), says that training physicians in these practices helps make them more sensitive to their patients’ needs when it comes to alternative therapies.

“Younger physicians are more likely than older physicians to recommend complementary medicine,” he says. “There’s also the gender effect. Female physicians are more likely to recommend and support CAM use than are male physicians.”

Yes, NCCAM is touting how younger doctors are more “open” to alternative medicine. I notice, however, that Nahim posits yet another false dichotomy of which CAM promoters are so fond. In this case, the implied claim is that you can’t be sensitive to their patients’ needs when it comes to alternative therapies without actually embracing those therapies. Let’s just put it this way, you can be sensitive about patients’ desires for pseudoscience without actually embracing that pseudoscience. You might even be able to make them understand why it is pseudoscience and quackery. Of course, that’s not what NCCAM and companies like the Natural Marketing Institute want. They want people to embrace CAM, protestations otherwise (particularly by NCCAM officials) notwithstanding.

One also notes that Harvard University and Duke Universities, at least, offer electives on far more than “mind and body” practices. Duke, for instance, offers lunch conferences on topics including acupuncture and other alternative therapies, various other electives, and an integrative medicine fellowship. offers an integrative medicine fellowship and continuing education courses that teach acupuncture to physicians.

If there’s one thing that I’ve realized, it’s that medical students and residents (and even fellow attendings) know very little about what alternative medicine really claims. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve explained to medical students and/or residents what homeopathy really is. They’re virtually always astounded when I tell them that its two main principles state that you treat symptoms with compounds that cause the same symptoms in healthy people and that diluting a remedy makes it stronger. They’re particularly astounded when I take them through how a typical 30C homeopathic dilution is the equivalent to a dilution of 1:1060, which is more than 1036-fold greater than Avogadro’s number and means that the chances of a single molecule of the original remedy remaining to be infinitesimal, contamination aside. Before my explanation, nearly all of them think that homeopathy is just herbal medicine.

I hope this survey is just self-serving data from a company that sells such data to natural health companies, but it’s possible it could be correct. If it is, we have a real problem in this country that will only get worse with time.

Comments

  1. #1 Denice Walter
    July 15, 2014

    If younger ( read, newer) and female physicians are more likely to fall into the bucket of woo, I mean *recommend CAM*, could it be because they are more likely to bend to patient demand and less likely to oppose patients’ stated wishes or beliefs?

  2. #2 Eric Lund
    July 15, 2014

    Before my explanation, nearly all of them think that homeopathy is just herbal medicine.

    This is evidence of massive failure of education. Before they get to medical school, would-be doctors are supposed to take high school and college chemistry. At least once, and presumably more than once, they come up against Avogadro’s number. But they don’t see the straightforward implication that homeopathy is bunk.

    It’s an old problem. In his memoirs, Richard Feynman tells of the day in his mechanical drawing class at MIT that somebody wondered aloud if there was a special formula for a French curve. Feynman replied yes: it was constructed such that no matter what orientation you held it in, the tangent to the lowest point is horizontal. The other people in the class were amazed to verify for themselves that Feynman’s statement was true. Of course, if you have taken calculus (as all MIT students do no later than freshman fall), you learned that for any smooth curve, the derivative at a minimum is 0, which is just another way of saying what Feynman said. He found many other examples in his career of people not really knowing what they supposedly learned in class.

  3. #3 KayMarie
    July 15, 2014

    Well if you see a homeopathic remedy in the store it really does kinda look like it could be any other herbal remedy. They list a bunch of ingredients and it is on the shelf next to the herbs.

    Maybe if they had to list the active ingredient as magic water and not list all the things that aren’t in it that the water might have touched at some point. Or that touched water that touched something.

  4. #4 afeman
    July 15, 2014

    I’ve seen users of homeopathy unaware of its principles, and an apparent confusion with herbal remedies. For example, using “homeopathic camomille” to calm one’s children on long drives.

    Informing them (with examples) produces some interesting ways of resolving the cognitive dissonance. The above example produced the reply that there were “different theories” of homeopathy. I’ve also heard of people insisting that you just made it up. It’s kind of fascinating if you remain detatched about it.

  5. #5 Denice Walter
    July 15, 2014

    I wonder what age cohorts predominate on AoA, TMR and the Vaccine Machine…
    I’d purely guess that the last is the youngest, TMR brags that they’re raising a whole new generation of Thinkers.

  6. #6 Fragmeister
    July 15, 2014

    “Using “homeopathic camomille” to calm one’s children on long drives.”

    Since camomile is meant to make people calm and homeopathy assumes like cures like, wouldn’t homeopathic camomile make the children hyperactive?

  7. #7 Chadwick
    July 15, 2014

    I’ve run into plenty of folks that mistake homeopathy for ‘home remedies’; essentially referring to something like chicken soup as a homeopathic remedy. 0_o

  8. #8 Chet Morrison
    Lancaster PA
    July 15, 2014

    This is perhaps the downside of some of the attributes generally laid on these ‘millenials’: their disdain of heirarchy and organization…for that you can sometimes read ‘traditional medicine’…their staking out of their own identity, and frankly the intellectual plasticity of the young who get into various things before really thinking long and deep about their limitations. In a way it reminds me of me, back when I read Ayn Rand and called myself an ‘Objectivist’ for awhile before really thinking through the limitations inherent in such a simplistic world view. We should also frankly acknowledge the limitations of traditional medicine; I for example, have very little to offer a patient suffering from chronic abdominal paiin in the abscence of a surgical cause.

    One more thing is on my mind here…thought about after seeing 50/50, that overall silly movie about a young man with cancer…our portrayal in the media (that is, establishment physician characters) is generally negative and has been for some times, and I sometimes think is getting worse. So perhaps it is a bit of a media generated phenomena as well

  9. #9 KayMarie
    July 15, 2014

    @fragmeister

    So I held my nose and dived into a google search of the proving for chamomile.

    See if you give way too much of it to someone it then makes them irritable so the calming effect of a normal cuppa is just proof it’ll be even more calming at lower doses. most of the site warn against using Chamomile tea as you might get too much and be a do it yourself proving which would be bad, or something.

    One wonders what is the toxic level you have to use as a proving, does anyone know. Surely they are stopping before the LD50 in humans dose looking for whatever side effect they want to use for any given herb.

  10. #10 Eric Lund
    July 15, 2014

    Well if you see a homeopathic remedy in the store it really does kinda look like it could be any other herbal remedy. They list a bunch of ingredients and it is on the shelf next to the herbs.

    The one time I almost bought a homeopathic remedy (I was about to take it to the cash register when I noticed the words “homeopathic remedy” on the package), it was among legit products for the sort of condition it was purported to treat (cold and cough, in this case). The product I really wanted (and actually did buy, once I found it) was there on the same set of shelves.

    The store in question was a Walgreen’s in downtown San Francisco. I don’t know if this stocking pattern was specific to this store, or more general within Walgreen’s or other chain drug stores in the US.

  11. #11 Derek Freyberg
    July 15, 2014

    @Eric Lund:
    My local Safeway (not that far from San Francisco) does the same thing. Homeopathic “remedies” mixed in with the real stuff.

  12. #12 Politicalguineapig
    July 15, 2014

    Homeopathy is a perfect example, and it’s truly depressing that homeopathy use appears to be nearly double among Millennials compared to baby boomers and Gen Xers and that it’s more than doubled among young people since 2009.

    To be fair, real medicine is expensive, and the ACA will be gone after the next election. Most young people either don’t have insurance or only have insurance through their employers, which covers as little as possible.

    I’m currently treating a dodgy tendon with (non-homeopathic) arnica, and that’ll have to last until I can get an appointment. I only get a once-a-year doctor’s appointment. Any more and I risk my insurance getting yanked.

    Chadwick: As a chef’s daughter, I have to point out that if the chicken soup is really homeopathic, the cook is doing something wrong. What did they do, wave a bone in the direction of a pot of boiling water?

  13. #13 Spectator
    July 15, 2014

    “insurance through their employers, which covers as little as possible.”

    In my experience, the employer provided plans were the best. Typically, one could chose a low or high option plan, more at larger companies. Because the covered pool consists of people able and willing to work, the insured pool is at least slightly more predictable than average.

    In further experience, Medicaid was the worst, Medicare second worst although I’ve been able to use the latter due to the generosity of several doctors who’ve accepted Medicare’s reduced fees.

    People generally sign up as individuals only if they expect to be using much more in benefit than the premium’s cost, which makes individual plans expensive so only the sickest buy them: loop and repeat.

  14. #14 Politicalguineapig
    July 15, 2014

    Spectator: In my experience, the employer provided plans were the best.

    Yes, but now you have to take the employer’s religious beliefs into account.

  15. #15 ScienceSophie
    July 15, 2014

    Well, that’s just a depressing observation.
    As a “young adult” myself, think I’m a little insulted to be rolled into that rather wide “millennial” generation designation. Mind you, that’s my dislike of CAM talking.

    I wouldn’t be able to make a general statement regarding millennial gen’s use of CAM, but I can say that I do have friends of friends that “swear by it”. Most of my friends think it is nonsense. I really, really wish I could say the same about my older relatives. (Whenever it comes up in conversation, I can honestly say I steer my friends and family towards actual, science-based medicine and away from woo, as much as possible.)

    I do have a comment about is the higher likelihood of female doctors to be subverted to pseudoscience/ recommend pseudoscientific therapies.. As a (female) medical student, I think that comment is absolutely unfounded nonsense. (In other words, if they can’t prove it, I reserve the right to call it a sexist burning pile of bovine fecal matter.)

    We didn’t cover much regarding “Alternative Medicine” in class– beyond a day spent on (ridiculing) herbal medicine, and discussing serious drug interactions of herbals with various drugs during pharmacology. (This is why we’re specifically taught to ask about herbal remedies/supplements when asking about current drugs patients are using.) I doubt I would know what “homeopathy” is without spending my time reading Respectful Insolence and the like.

    Regarding teaching CAM in medical schools.. How terrifying. What are the administrators thinking?! I can say (with much relief) that the closest thing we have at my school is an M2 elective on yoga, which has a focus on Anatomy and Physiology– and is an easy way to incorporate some exercise into a hectic schedule.

    .. Ok, I’m done procrastinating, back to work.

  16. #16 Jeff S
    United States
    July 15, 2014

    I don’t usually comment, but given that I’m a member of the cohort discussed I may have some unique insights.

    I didn’t really come to doubt sCAM until I was well into my 20s. Before that I didn’t really think about the subject. As a kid I just sort of accepted sCAM, after all, people on sit-coms joked about going to the chiropractor and the evening news had repirted “studies” which “proved” chiropractic. It wasn’t until I started reading skeptic blogs debunking ufos and such that I discovered SBM via debunking of anti-vaxxers.

    I think it is easy to over generalize when it comes to explaining how a generation behaves and why it behaves that way, but I have a couple of ideas based on personal experience. First, many of my generation try to avoid confrontation, so even if I oppose some form of sCAM, I feel awkward confronting someone about it. I don’t how common this aversion to confrontation is, but I see it many of my friends and colleagues. Second, when many of my friends try to make a point about something, they’ll often times begin by saying they heard about a study that shows the effect they’re arguing for. Given that most of sCAM has some type of “study” supporting them, this helps give them the illusion of legitamacy, especially for Millennials.

    The few times I’ve confronted about sCAM I’ve taken the tack of citing contrary studies and not attacking the underlying beliefs and I’ve had some good results. When discussing the benefits or lack there of for those “ion bands”, instead of punching holes in the underlying ideas I just mentioned a study showing no effect and I convinced the person of a lack of efficacy.

    Of course, this is all my own opinion and I don’t have a study toback this up. So please don’t be offended;-) .

  17. #17 Eric Lund
    July 15, 2014

    We didn’t cover much regarding “Alternative Medicine” in class– beyond a day spent on (ridiculing) herbal medicine, and discussing serious drug interactions of herbals with various drugs during pharmacology. (This is why we’re specifically taught to ask about herbal remedies/supplements when asking about current drugs patients are using.)

    This is as it should be. The problem is that, as Orac reports, this is increasingly not how it is. It’s a self-perpetuating cycle: the more that young people are exposed to the belief that alt-med treatments are other than ridiculous, the more likely they are to think that alt-med treatments are other than ridiculous. It’s an Overton window of sorts: pushed in the direction of alt-med by a mixture of True Believers (e.g., Jenny McCarthy), grifters (e.g., Mike Adams), doctors who should know better (e.g., Dr. Oz), and politicians who do know better (e.g., Mao Zedong).

  18. #18 Z-one
    United States
    July 15, 2014

    I think one factor for young adults today is that many of their parents have at least “dabbled” with sCAM. I expect such early exposure leads to a greater likelihood of acceptance.

    As a new parent at the time when Andrew Wakefield’s paper was published in the Lancet, I had direct experience of the fear and uncertainty around trusting “mainstream” medicine. Fortunately, my children (and my dignity) survived that period. I applied the same level of rigor in questioning various medical modalities, and found CAM wanting.

    My oldest is now a pre-med student, and she has only benefitted from my questioning of my own beliefs.

  19. #19 Chemmomo
    where the weather went back to June today
    July 15, 2014

    Politicalguineapig @14

    Yes, but now you have to take the employer’s religious beliefs into account.

    Please tell us exactly what percentage of large employers in the United States are affiliated with only one religious group, and chose the health insurances policies offered to all of their employees based solely on that one religious doctrine.

    When you’re done figuring that out, please spend some time figuring out how many employees across the United States work for those companies, and what percentage of people living in all of the USA that includes.

    If you can’t report back on these facts, please keep your pseudo-political generalizations to yourself. We are supposed to be evidenced-based here after all.

  20. #20 JustaTech
    July 15, 2014

    Chemmo @19: Not to support PGP in any way, what I have seen quoted in the news is that 90% of businesses in the US are “closely held” and that 50% of US workers work for one of these “closely held” companies. (I think that the 90% comes from all the small family-owned businesses.)

    On the subject of millenials and CAM: Bah. As a Millenial, I’m irritated at being stuck in a group with these idiots. I was once subjected to a young guy at the next table at a trendy restuarant going on and on (and on) about how upset he was that his insurance wouldn’t cover seeing a nutritionist to “make sure he was on the right diet and didn’t have any intolerances” because he had been “tired”.

    I wanted to scream at the guy that what was wrong was that he drank too much and wasn’t sleeping, he was fine and should stop insisting that his life be perfect.

    And like JeffS @16, I generally try not to be confrontational with co-workers, friends and people I’m generally going to be around a lot. At one party I did go off on a guy who was all about the homeopathy: I told him that he could have homeopathy, or his phone, clean water and the ideal gas laws, because if homeopathy is right, then chemistry and physics are wrong, so pick fast. Never saw him again, but I hope I at least made him think.

  21. #21 Denice Walter
    July 15, 2014

    @ Youngsters** Ms Sophie and Mr Jeff:

    I would take the survey with a grain of salt- and it doesn’t have to be pure Celtic sea salt either-
    - it comes from a group that may be rather biased. I remember Orac discussing a survey/ study (?) which claimed that a significant number of people used alt med ( perhaps it was from a quackademic institute) but when you looked closely,’ alt med’ was defined as taking supplements, being interested in nutrition and exercise, using massage which can all be SB.
    -whether people use alt med methods to replace SBM might be a better way to estimate their conversion.

    I can see alternate hypotheses that might venture that OTHER cohorts would be even more likely to drink the woo-ade:
    -baby boomers are older and have more chronic and/ or serious conditions
    - gen-X- ers currently are more likely to have children at home and they focus on those myriad small ills and problems which might be amenable to altie placebo.( a prime target for AoA and TMR as well as “Fearless Parent”)

    And yes, the woo-meisters use studies to push their prevarication BUT:
    -the studies are often *in vitro*
    -have minuscule numbers of Ss
    -are barely significant
    -are poorly designed
    -are unrelated to the concept being examined
    - are free associated to someone’s pet hobby horse
    eg. Teresa Conrick’s ‘physio’ today and every day.

    Remember: Andy Wakefield did *research*. Need I say more?

    Truly, I’d like to see a meaningful well thought-out study that did look at age differences in woo-centricity.

    ** I hope you don’t mind if I call you that.

  22. #22 LW
    July 15, 2014

    “Richard Nahin, the lead epidemiologist of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine”

    for some reason my brain keeps stumbling over this concept.

  23. #23 Chris,
    July 15, 2014

    I am a baby boomer, and parent to three millennial adults. The middle child who will graduate from college in a couple of months made the mistake of telling me that he saw a chiropractor.

    I told him to make sure that the chiropractor never touch his neck (stroke), and reminded him that he as scoliosis. While it is mild (10%), it would be an excuse for the chiropractor to claim it causes all sorts of ailments (it does not). Then his grandmother chimed in to defend the poor boy (her back pain was resolved by a real surgeon).

    I told them what I had learned on SBM. Plus I pointed out that they should both check it out.

    Dear son then explained he had a job with health insurance that would cover it. But then a week later quit that job in order to actually finish school. So being a dutiful mother I actually wrote him a snail mail letter that I was peeved that he never made an appointment for the dentist, and did not get a flu shot. Both things that are much healthier than a chiropractor. Plus if we received a bill from a chiropractor, his parents will not pay it.

    I also sent him an email with several links about chiropractors causing strokes in young healthy people. I think he admitted to getting it, especially since I texted him that I had sent it (neither of my younger kids use email much anymore, so I had tell them when I send them links).

  24. #24 afeman
    July 15, 2014

    “Since camomile is meant to make people calm and homeopathy assumes like cures like, wouldn’t homeopathic camomile make the children hyperactive?”

    Well, yeah. Pointing this out prompted the “different theories” comment. Of course I thought “as in, totally opposed to the original one?” but gave up.

  25. #25 Politicalguineapig
    July 15, 2014

    Z-one: I think one factor for young adults today is that many of their parents have at least “dabbled” with sCAM.

    Yep. I got acupuncture and biofeedback, sis got feverfew for migraines. I didn’t mind the acupuncture so much, but I thought the biofeedback guy was a royal creep.

    Chemmomo: Hobby Lobby, Walmart and Conestoga, plus a number of local companies are all affected by the ruling. I’m going to guess that most major US companies are Christian, and Walmart and Koch lean majorly rightwing.

    Not sure about the rest, but my basic choice right now is to either incorporate myself and masquerade as a corporation, immigrate or see whether I could trade in ‘benefits’ for cash. I guess you’re either not a US citizen, ok with not being a legal person, or don’t follow politics at all.

  26. #26 janerella
    July 15, 2014

    And in breaking news, Mike Adams reveals the therapeutic product that is the cumulation of all his totes sciencey researchy-ish work.

    You Need a Defense: Heavy Metals Defense!
    http://heavymetalsdefense.com/

  27. #27 Politicalguineapig
    July 15, 2014

    Kaymarie: Surely they are stopping before the LD50 in humans dose looking for whatever side effect they want to use for any given herb.

    Is there a lethal dose of chamomile? I’d think if you were taking it as tea, it’d be excreted out long before reaching the lethal dose. And most herbs are too strong-tasting to take undiluted- the only way I can manage echinacea is to numb my tongue with an ice cube.

  28. #28 Shay
    July 16, 2014

    “Richard Nahin, the lead epidemiologist of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine”

    for some reason my brain keeps stumbling over this concept.

    Mine does, too.

  29. #29 Lurker
    July 16, 2014

    I wonder about this: break out the Millennial population by country.

    I would hypothesise that the high usage of homeoquackery is in the USA where many people had no access to real medical care until recently. I would also bet that the numbers are much smaller in the UK, Europe, Canada, and so on, where ‘socialist medicine’ has been the norm.

    Re. biofeedback, I actually used it to learn how to relax more and de-stress, and it worked remarkably well for that purpose. Biofeedback actually has a decent amount of science behind it starting in the early 1970s. No doubt there are quacks out there who make wild claims for it. But for a fairly narrow range of applications, it seems to be useful.

  30. #30 Chemmomo
    Apologies for being off topic
    July 16, 2014

    Politicalguineapig @25

    I’m going to guess

    I wasn’t asking for your guess. You guess about a lot of things, and many of your guesses which you post here quite regularly are a long way away from reality.

  31. #31 Daniel Welch
    July 16, 2014

    I’m surprised you let this go by without much comment: “Rich was only recently diagnosed with MS; there is no way of knowing [...] whether alternative medicine will be able to sustain her in the decades ahead.”

    That’s a faux-impartial line that implies that there is some non-zero chance that the alternative medicine WILL sustain her. Which, of course, there isn’t.

    CAM isn’t just stupid, it can be dangerous. My wife and I humorously followed her (fairly traditional Asian) parents’ quest to treat their various ailments with ground up rhino horn or whatever it was that their Chinese doctor recommended. It was all fun, until one of those doctors put my father-in-law on one medication, and another put him on something else that didn’t play well with the first, and my father-in-law’s blood pressure dropped so extremely that he got dizzy even in a sitting position.

    At which point my wife flew down there and made them go to a real doctor, and lo and behold, these problems that had plagued them for years were suddenly gone.

  32. #32 LW
    July 16, 2014

    Also apologizing for being off-topic but:

    “incorporate myself and masquerade as a corporation”

    Why? Are you under the impression that only a corporation can buy health insurance? No, that is not and never has been the law, and in fact the exchanges were set up to facilitate individual purchase. (Though they are so poorly run that one person I know who lost her insurance thanks to the ACA found it cheaper and easier to go to an insurance agent to arrange new coverage — a suggestion to consider if you need health insurance).

    Are you under the impression that only a corporation can decide whether you are permitted contraception? No, that is not and never has been the law. It is true that there are physicians and pharmacists who will not supply it, but they would not supply it to you masquerading as a corporation either. If that is the problem for you, you need a better physician and pharmacist, which might require moving, though I don’t think so in your case, from what you’ve said.

    What benefit do you think you would get from masquerading as a corporation?

  33. #33 Krebiozen
    July 16, 2014

    Lurker,

    I would hypothesise that the high usage of homeoquackery is in the USA where many people had no access to real medical care until recently. I would also bet that the numbers are much smaller in the UK, Europe, Canada, and so on, where ‘socialist medicine’ has been the norm.

    I looked into this recently – Wikipedia has a decent article on the subject. In many European countries, France and Germany in particular, large numbers of people use homeopathy and it is often prescribed by regular doctors. In the UK it seems to be rapidly going out of fashion, with hardly any doctors prescribing or recommending it. Thanks to campaigns by UK sceptics several universities have dropped courses in homeopathy and other forms of CAM. IIRC in many cases sending a copy of the course syllabus to the dean of the university was enough to get the course dropped, its pseudoscientic nature being so obvious. Perhaps a similar tactic in the US might be effective.

    BTW I have used biofeedback successfully too.Years ago I bought a gadget that uses skin resistance to generate a tone and a series of lights so you can see and hear how relaxed you are. I thought I was good at relaxing, but I quickly found that when I went into what I thought was a deeply relaxed state the machine disagreed, and I had to learn to do it properly. I found it was very useful for meditation, as the change in sound instantly alerts you if your mind has wandered.

  34. #34 tpin8110
    July 16, 2014

    @politicalguineapig

    walmart’s largest stockholder is the vanguard group. it really isn’t a closely held family owned corporation.

  35. #35 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    July 16, 2014

    Examples of closely held large companies might include Mars (though that one’s iffy as there are more than 5 members of the family who might have ownership). However, WalMart is publicly traded so couldn’t really be considered closely held. Conestoga Corporation, maker of the Big-Bang™ Cannon, might be closely held as I don’t immediately find any information about its ownership. Another example often give is the H. J. Heinz Company, but they’re being bought by the publicly traded Berkshire Hathaway.

  36. #36 KayMarie
    July 16, 2014

    @Politicalguineapig

    Well there is usually an LD50 for everything. It is just interesting how they say chamomile tea is going to be so strong as to produce a toxic effect so you better be careful with it because only when diluted will it calm you down. I’ve never managed to OD on chamomile enough to get anything but a mildly soothing effect. However I’m sure there is some way to get enough into someone (probably with an essential oil) that you could get so far past the normal dose range that you’d get some weird effects.

    I just can’t find a good indication for the provings of just how high a dose they will go to in order to get the effect they want to say is the “like” that will cure the “like”.

    With the chamomile sounds like they want to use it for the normal herbal use so had to find some way to get so much in someone they caused them to be hyper (maybe from drinking too much tea and not getting to relieve their bladder??). Especially since all the usual places that list potentially toxic effects never mention drink one too many cups of the tea and you’ll get all hyped up. Other than the homeopaths the main side effect is if you happen to be allergic to ragweed or other plants similar to chamomile you may get a cross reaction and with any allergy anaphalactic shock is a concern.

  37. #37 Politicalguineapig
    July 16, 2014

    LW: What benefit do you think you would get from masquerading as a corporation?

    I’d be legally considered a person for the rest of my life if I continued residing in the United States. As a non-corporate person, there’s no guarantee I’d continue to have the right to vote or own property, not to mention the recent problems with health care.

    Kaymarie: Well there is usually an LD50 for everything. It is just interesting how they say chamomile tea is going to be so strong as to produce a toxic effect so you better be careful with it because only when diluted will it calm you down. I’ve never managed to OD on chamomile enough to get anything but a mildly soothing effect. However I’m sure there is some way to get enough into someone (probably with an essential oil) that you could get so far past the normal dose range that you’d get some weird effects.

    Well, I have heard that consistently drinking chamomile tea has a bad effect on the liver. As for pills vs. tea, well, I can kind of see why you wouldn’t want small children drinking tea right before a long drive, but there must be other, less expensive ways to calm kids down. I hadn’t thought about essential oils, but again, most of them are pretty strong smelling and tasting.

    Yeah, anaphalactic shock would be a problem. I’d hope parents would google stuff like that if they knew their children were allergic to certain plants. (Ragweed is a fairly common allergy, after all. I hadn’t known it was related to chamomile though.)

  38. #38 KayMarie
    July 16, 2014

    Ragweed cross reacts with a fair number of things.

    http://www.aafa.org/display.cfm?id=9&sub=20&cont=728 has some common pollen allergies and some of the foods that can be an issue for some people.

    I’m moderately reactive to ragweed, and that may be why they only food allergy in the skin test that popped up a tiny bit (my pollen ones bloom all over the place) was cantaloupe. Funny enough chamomile nor cantaloupe seems to increase any of my allergy symptoms. I usually have some baseline symptoms all the time for being so reactive to dust mites it isn’t even funny.

    Especially when the docs start looking at your back like some kind of inkblot test and discuss what the blob shapes look like. It wasn’t funny then, and it hasn’t been enough time to become funny to me now.

  39. #39 Denice Walter
    July 16, 2014

    I always found it funny that echinacea is similar to ragweed and might cause allergic reactions in a fair number of people yet it’s a woo panacaea. I’m allergic to ragweed and grasses but the foods don’t seem to bother me at all.

  40. #40 LW
    July 16, 2014

    “As a non-corporate person, there’s no guarantee I’d continue to have the right to vote or own property, not to mention the recent problems with health care.”

    Ah, I see. Do let me know who is running on a platform that human beings are not persons. I will donate to that candidate’s opponent.

  41. #41 LW
    July 16, 2014

    By the way, a corporation is not an identity you assume; it is property that you own. Therefore if you were not allowed to own property, you would not be able to own a corporation. All is lost.

  42. #42 Politicalguineapig
    July 16, 2014

    DW: I always found it funny that echinacea is similar to ragweed and might cause allergic reactions in a fair number of people yet it’s a woo panacaea. I’m allergic to ragweed and grasses but the foods don’t seem to bother me at all.

    Weird. Maybe the processing changes the food somehow.

    LW: Do let me know who is running on a platform that human beings are not persons.

    The Supreme Court. Sadly, they can’t be elected or impeached.

  43. #43 Denice Walter
    July 16, 2014

    @ PGP:

    Probably not, because the foods are things like tomatoes, cantaloupes, melons- eaten raw.

    But soy ( not the same allergen) can give me GI problems.

  44. #44 Krebiozen
    July 17, 2014

    When I contracted infectious mononucleosis (aka glandular fever aka mono) as a teenager, the only thing that relieved my extremely painful sore throat, apart from aspirin, was very strong chamomile tea, as advised in a book about medicinal herbs I had acquired. By ‘very strong’ I mean strong enough to be dark yellow and bitter, nothing like the stuff people drink for pleasure – I bought the dried flowers by the ounce from a health food store.

    Since the effects of the aspirin ran out over an hour before I was allowed another dose I was very glad for the chamomile. Maybe it contains salicylates or some other anti-inflammatory, or maybe it was a placebo effect. I used to dose female friends and family with the same concoction for period pains, and it seemed to help. It’s one of the very few CAM remedies I have found to be at all useful. Others in the same book, such as meadowsweet which is supposedly a sovereign remedy for diarrhea, were useless.

    There are two types of chamomile, by the way, German (Matricaria chamomilla) and Roman (Anthemis nobilis aka Chamaemelum nobile) of different families but of the same tribe (Anthemideae). Ragweed is a different tribe (Heliantheae) so I would have thought cross-allergenicity is unlikely.

    Finally, I think it’s comfrey tea, not chamomile, that can affect the liver.

  45. #45 Damien
    July 17, 2014

    Just to be clear here, it doesn’t matter if the corporation is traded publicly or not; as long as fewer than five people hold MAJORITY control, it counts as “closely-held.”

  46. #46 Jopari
    July 17, 2014

    I’m covered under the definition of millenials.
    I used to wonder if anecdotal evidence was sufficient, then I joined my high school debate team, and started to seriously consider claims based on real evidence.
    I suppose there are some people who believe in CAM (I’ve talked to some people in the Chinese debate team who believe in the alkaline diet against cancer), but generally I don’t see a trend where they adhere to it more than others.
    I think that this may simply be a method of making ‘millenials’ think that it is common practice, and thus truly make it happen.