Alberta buys quackery @ $500/vote

estled amongst the initiatives outlined in the 2012 Alberta PC election platform is the following gem – ironally just before the “Eliminate Waste” section:

Alternative medicine plays an increasingly important role in preventative health, and needs to be considered in a holistic approach to wellness – especially in cases where naturopathic, homeopathic, chiropractic and other therapies help patients attain personal health goals. Qualified patients will be able to claim up to $500 per year for these treatments starting in 2013. – The PC Party of Alberta Election Platform 2012 (emphasis theirs)

Do you know what alternative medicine that works is called? Medicine. The chaff are ineffective bad ideas re-packaged, re-branded and marketed to patients consumers by the very profitable $CAM industry. There’s so much wrong with that quote it makes this post a wee schlong.

The wording of that healthcare plank is interesting in that it vaguely specifies preventative health for “holistic wellness”, industry buzzwords natch, and nothing at all about it playing an increasingly important role in recovering health. IOW as a treatment for ailments. This is vaguely qualified further to cases where the quackeries listed, or any other, helped consumers attain personal health goals, a common industry spin.

So, it would seem a consumer would get up to $500/year for $CAM products if it helps them attain preventative personal health goals and nothing for the treatment of ailments, either existing or acquired, or if the $CAM product doesn’t help.

I doubt it will play out this way, but consider an example. Someone into acuquackture mentions they are going to take up tennis to their snake oil specialist. This graduate of Chinwarts suggests a puncture pattern to prevent tennis elbow. The consumer already considers believes the superstition is preventative and makes regular visits, so it is unlikely it would be refused.

At first, apres tennis was enjoyably tired muscles. Quelle surprise, up pops the duff elbow as it quite often does for noobs. How would this claim be qualified? Would the claim form indicate:

Puncture Pattern GW – general wellness, $$$
Puncture Pattern PEU – prevent elbow un-wellness, $$$
Puncture Pattern REB – restore elbow balance, $$$

When submitted, the first item is approved while the last two are declined? Or are all three turned down because the elbow still hurts like hell, impinging general wellness?

As I said, I doubt they’ll not be approved rubber stamped. Acuquackture is already covered by many health plans and this vague, thoughtless policy is going to be extended to any equally superstitious hornswoggle.

Naturopathy

Naturoquackery is an umbrella term covering an industry selling superstition in many forms, including acuquackture and homeoquackery, amongst the other voodoo they do. Chiroquackery predates x-rays which the industry embraced with a fervor, at least until the magic beams didnt find their mythical source of all ailments, subluxations. Homeoquackery is just sugar-pills that cost waaay more than a 2Kg bag of sugar.

All these industries claim to treat and cure ailments not just prevent. Holistically, natch, and without any sense of irony. At all. Holistic simply means one should examine the whole of something while considering the interdependence of the parts. The irony being the superstitions sold by the $CAM industry shred the holistic nature of the universe by contradicting the interdependence of the parts used to suss medicine.

Or anything else for that matter.

That would be physics, chemistry, biology, physiology, neurology and anatomy backed by the scientific method as a prophylactic for personal bias or gain, ideology and errors in observation, judgement and methodology.

The whole $CAM industry is based on entirely un-holistic anti-holistic ideas aboot the universe as claimed wholly natural alternatives to “western” medicine. Warm and fuzzy ideas, often expressed as ancient wisdom, that fail to measure up when their interdependence with the other parts is considered in a rational, logical and consistent manner.

That would be placebo controlled, Randomised Clinical Trials (RCTs) or animal studies for surgeries and the like where a human RCT is impractical or unethical. Again, as a prophylactic for personal bias or gain, ideology and errors in observation, judgement and methodology.

The $CAM industry calls this allopathy, another derisive term for “western” medicine. Coined by the father of homeoquackery back when medicine was a worse mess of humourous bloodletting, today it serves to set itself apart by rejecting the evolution of modern medicine. And embracing medicine’s primitive roots. Holistic?

Anti-allopathists are apart alright. Naturoquackery is comprised largely of what was once all the rage in “western” medicine, vitalism. Expressed as qi, chi, ki, or prana in places that apparently don’t have “western” biology or vascular systems, it underlies much of what passes for education at their college, Natwarts – homeoquackery, acuquackture & other forms of TCM like moxi-bustion (waving a burning mugwort around) or cupping (ever had a hickey? same concept using glass but not nearly as fun)…

Homeoquackery is a big part of the curriculum. Michael Coren did a show on alternative medicine featuring two naturoquacks, one of whom oversees the 2nd year curriculum at their Hogwarts in Ontari-ari-ario. While there to represent alt-med, they refused to speak for anything other than naturoquackery and their own practice. However, when Coren expressed his doubts about chiroquackery, both naturoquacks laughed along with him as he lumped it in with such other giggle worthy treatments as crystal healing and homeopathy.

Both of them laughing their asses off at homeoquackery, a huge part of what they are taught is medicinal and a core of their practice. Laughing at it. Holistically, no doubt, and with good reason. Most people have no idea how it works. They can find it available in many pharmacies without prescription and with gov’t approval. Therefore there must be something to it.

Homeopathy

For many, once the premise and mechanics of homeoquackery is explained, my mocking tone seems more apt than offensive.

Take the marketed as preventive/curative flu potion ocillococcinum. $camufactured from the “20 million dollar duck“, it involves a dilution so massive you would need to drink a volume of water greater than the number of atoms in the visible universe – 1 x 10**80 – to even have a chance of consuming a single molecule of the original concoction. In quackchat, this powerful medicine is a 200C dilution. If you thought maybe dilution is being misused, it isn’t. In this topsy-turvy whirled, less is more. Dilution is strength!

According to chemistry and Avogadro, any dilution of 12C and above isn’t likely to have one molecule of the original substance. Diluting to 200C results in the far beyond astronomical number of 1 part in 10**200. That’s a 1 followed by 400 zeros. Two point five times the size of the known universe atom-wise of water to even have a chance of there being a single molecule of gloop. But this diluted gloop will be waaay stronger than it was.

Homeopathic Cocktails

How is this in any way holistic when it turns our drunk driving laws on their heads. The homeopathic memory of water means .05 BAC indicates hammered and .18 mildly intoxicated as shown by mere scientifically calibrated instruments…

Homeoquackery insists the way to cure the flu is to take a substance that causes similar symptoms to the ailment, severely dilute it – the more the stronger – and shake it during the rinsing. That’s important, the shaking. Don’t forget that or it won’t work.

You can use the method for oscillo at home to make really potent potables. Rather than a portion of muscovy duck heart, liver and some glycerin etc., and letting it ferment for a month, use the already fermented things in your local liquor store while following the Korsakov Technique. In these tough economic times, it’s a good way to stretch your pogey cheque. It’s also cost effective for the quackmeisters as they can reuse the same containers. You could almost call it green except for all the water it uses.

Let’s use mmmm, beer. Take a bottle of your favourite brew and pour it out. Don’t waste your time drinking it because what you’re making will BLOW IT AWAY. Fill the bottle with distilled water (use tap if skint) and shake. Spectacles, testicles, wallet & watch. I’m unsure on the details of this, but do know the inventor would slam the potion on a leather bound BuyBull.

Now dump it out and refill with water and spectacles, testicles, wallet & watch. Do this another 197 times. While this sounds like rinsing the dishes, the result is a far, far more potent dilution than the original pint. Use it very carefully when making a drink, one or two drops per 500ml of mix. No more or YOU WILL BE WASTED. Driving? After one of these? Are you insane?

Feel the Energy

One thing they don’t teach at ONwarts is how a nine year old girl got her name in the Guinness Book of Records for being the youngest ever to publish in a major medical journal.

A variation of these vitalistic quackeries is Therapeutic Touch or TT. This particular Americanized variation of Reiki appeared in the 1970s, there are others. Reiki is the ancient energy healing technique, first appearing in Japanese manuscripts in the ’20s. The 1920s. Regardless of timeline or location, all rely on an energy they are trained to find and manipulate. Watch 9 year old Emily Rosa demolish these claims:

Imagine that, 21 trained professionals (being paid handsomely no doubt for such obvious expertise) doing no better than you would if you were guessing . While not in the video, Emily let the pro energy feelers feel hers prior to testing and some thought one hand was more energetic than the other. I don’t remember them all choosing the same one. Yet, any of the eight or nine eyeballs reading this could do better behind a dozen wobbly pops and a microdot.

While Emily only tested TT, the underlying principle is the same and it failed. The $CAM industries say they aren’t TT and or some variation of science doesn’t know everything or can’t measure it. Emily didn’t try to measure TT, that would require something to measure.

That’s what Emily was trying to establish, is there something to measure. Her clever RCT relied only on their claimed ability and their responses to her energy field at the flip of a coin and nothing else. The result is zip, nada, bupkis because of a success rate of 41% for trained professionals when anyone could be lucky enough to hit 50% or even slightly better on a good day. Naturally, any quackticioner of this less aggressive “I HEAL YOU YADDA YADDA(slap to your forehead)” will not come within 20 miles of wee Emily and her simple protocol.

How can you manipulate an energy field and call it healthcare if you can’t feel it?

The paradox of alt-med is this desire for scientific validity whilst disparaging it and the method. This is because the results are of the placebo is as placebo does variety. Like toothpicks work for acupuncture just as well as the not so traditional needles. Phuqqing toothpicks.

Consider a homeopath whose only credentials seem to be his TV show and his 6000 square foot offices. He provided his 21 fave studies supporting his brand of quackery to an enterprising skeptic who took the time to read through all the links:

As Mr. Wylde took the time to respond to criticism with a list of citations that are his favourite, I must assume that he intends this list to be persuasive supporting data for homeopathy, if not the best data available. Given that he prides himself on his evidence-based practice and discusses homeopathy in regular media appearances, I expect that if there’s good data to support homeopathy, he would have it.

and found none support his quackery:

A review of this literature in broader scientific context demonstrates that the efficacy of homeopathy does not match that of available therapeutic interventions and it does not appear to be effective beyond the placebo effect.

Positive effects are generally found in studies of poor quality that suffer from multiple methodological and analytical issues and these effects do not persist in higher quality studies. No evidence has been provided, nor does any appear to exist, to suggest that homeopathy is an appropriate or necessary intervention for either first-line or co- treatment among self-limiting, acute, or chronic conditions.

The lack of evidence isn’t surprising, nor is the misrepresentation of the data. That’s typical of the industry:

“Everyone’s a critic. But homeopathic drug makers don’t seem especially eager to fund any large-scale studies to gauge their products’ effectiveness. “Some of our products have been used successfully for so long that an academic study would be of little use and could only be used by our critics,”Jay Borneman, a spokesman for the American Homeopathic Pharmaceutical Association.”

Holistic Schmolistic

Interesting that, a homeoquack who prides himself on his evidence based practice and goes out of his way to provide academic studies that kinda appear to support his 6000ft2 offices, but really don’t. Don’t think this guy went outta his way to provide that misinformation either. He cut and paste the first 21 from a larger list he has on his website, which isn’t in any particular order. One of the studies listed, is Shang et al, a meta study of 110 homeopathic and 110 medicinal trials. It isn’t a favourite but still supports homeoquackery as it concludes:

Biases are present in placebo-controlled trials of both homeopathy and conventional medicine. When account was taken for these biases in the analysis, there was weak evidence for a specific effect of homeopathic remedies, but strong evidence for specific effects of conventional interventions. This finding is compatible with the notion that the clinical effects of homeopathy are placebo effects.

It’s obvious the homeoquack is oblivious to the results of the studies or ignores them. Maybe he’s saying placebos are effective, when medicine has to discard them as a placebo is basically doing nothing as a treatment. Holistic? His list is nothing more than a shiny distraction for the rubes whom he counts on as being satisfied with these plaques on the wall, and not curious enough to read further.

And then there’s the industry rep (from US, no matter). He says academic study is a waste of time for two reasons. The first is the ol’ argument from antiquity, although in this case “used successfully for so long” is only the two hundred years since Hahnemann started rinsing the dishes and slapping his magic leather book. True, the idea of vitalism, which the sugar pills are supposed to influence, is much older.

The second reason is that they could only be used by our critics. Really? What if the studies were positive and not just placebo as they are now? That would silence the critics, I would think, not give us more ammo. If Emily Rosa’s little experiment had shown a 71% hit rate, rather than the piss poor 41%, what could be said other than bravo, Vitalism, it’s alive! Oh, and here’s your Nobel prize.

Is this a tacit admission of the ineffectiveness of homeoquackery or is it the science can’t measure it gambit? I’m guessing the latter. The former jives with a holistic universe while the latter goes completely against the grain when considering the interdependence of the parts as shown by science.

Several studies have shown that garlic does not lower low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, St John’s wort does not treat depression, ginkgo does not improve memory, chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine do not treat arthritis, saw palmetto does not treat prostatic hypertrophy, milk thistle does not treat hepatitis, and echinacea and megavitamins do not treat colds.

Moreover, some studies have found that megavitamins increase the risk of cancer and heart disease.

Because the vitamin and supplement industry is not regulated by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), negative studies have not precipitated FDA warnings or FDA-mandated changes on labeling; as a consequence, few consumers are aware that many supplements have not delivered on their claims.

In 2010, the vitamin and supplement industry grossed $28 billion, up 4.4% from the year before.

The thing to do with [these studies] is just ride them out,” said Joseph Fortunato, chief executive of GNC Corp. “We see no impact on our business.” – Paul Offit, MD “Studying Complementary and Alternative Therapies”

Why fund this crap when the alt-med industry obviously has nothing but disdain for their marks patients consumers and considers evidence of efficacy to be a waste of time. Britain can see this as they no longer fund public homeoquack hospitals, much to Prince Chuckles chagrin. Chiroquacks in Britain withdrew their libel suit against Dr. Simon Singh. He called much of what they claim to do “bogus”. They realised they’d have to show the way to treat asthma, or anything else, is crack your spine.

We don’t need to go to down this road. Require anything that trades on being healthcare to adhere to the same standards as required of medicine. It’s holistically that simple. The things that pass can be considered for coverage by any health insurance. Covering things that don’t will only drive up premiums and needlessly end a few lives prematurely.

Those who believe can still visit Allardyce T. Meriweather, wasting their own austerity bucks, not ours. What are the chances of this happening when The Minister of Industry, Science and Technology is a chiroquack with a side of quackupuncture.

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One Response to Alberta buys quackery @ $500/vote

  1. Rugrat says:

    Those TT practitioners are full of shit AND unlucky – too funny 🙂

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