Angry Doctor

Sunday, June 18, 2006

You decide

K and I went for a talk on integrative medicine yesterday afternoon.

One of the speakers made angry doc's spidey sense tingle, and I googled up his name last night.

Here's one article 'for' him.

Here's one article 'against' him.

And here's an abstract of the study which was referred to in the talk and also the interview linked to above.

You decide.



  • Theere is an interesting study titled "Sham devices. inert pill: randomized controlled trial of two placebo treatments".

    Medical researcher Ted Kraptchuk pitted two types of fake medicine - sugar pills and pretend acupuncture - against each other to see which one worked better. He recruited 266 volunteers suffering from chronic arm pain, which they rated at least a 3 on a 10-point pain scale.

    133 subjects who received acupunture with trick needles whose tips retract so they don't penetrate the skin. The other 133 were prescribed blue corn pills that resembled amitriptyline, an antidepressant often prescribed for repetitive strain injury.

    25% of the acupunture group experienced side effects from the non-existent needle pricks, including 19 people who fel pain and 4 whose skin became red or swollen. 31% of the pill group experienced side effect from the make-believe drug. Dry mouth and fatigue were the most common side effects, and 3 subject withdrew from the study after reducing the dosage failed to control their symptoms.The reported side effect exactly matched those described by the doctors at the beginning of the study.

    After 10 weeks, subjects taking sham pills said their pain decreased an average of 1.50 on the pain scale. After 8 weeks, those receiving fake acupuncture treatment reported a drop of 2.64 points. In other words, not receiving acupuncture reduces pain more than not taking drugs.

    Kaptchuk says that the rituals of medicine explain the difference: Performing acupuncture is more elaborate than prescribing medicine. Other rituals that may make patients feel better include "White coats, and stethoscopes that don't necessarily use, picture on the wall, the way you reassure a patient and the secretaries that sign you in."

    Careful manipulation of such rituals could make all types of treatment more effective, kaptchuk suggests.

    By Blogger PufferFish, At June 18, 2006 5:33 pm  

  • Your title "You decide" perhaps sums it up.

    In any trial or study, there is never a 100% efficacy or success or failure of any treatment. What we do is take some numbers and read into them.

    Some patients may get much success in being treated one way and they will swear by it. Sometimes it can't be proven scientifically.

    Some of these "CAM" doctors are people who may have had personal experiences with "CAM" and then swear by it. Some may be doctors who have seen patients recover after seeing "CAM" doctors and then they get interested.

    Some of course don't see any results and condemn it.

    Well you decide.

    By Blogger Dr Oz bloke, At June 19, 2006 10:51 am  

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