Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Jeeeez! Idiots refuse to recognize recognize a placebo effect when they see it

A study which was designed with a placebo control -- and got results no better than placebo -- is being hailed as if it told us something more than the power of a placebo. They have proved that acupuncture does not work but are pretending that they have shown the opposite. Would it be coincidence that the US National Centre for Complementary and Alternative Medicine funded the trial? They are not going to let ANY evidence change their minds

Using acupuncture to treat chronic back pain is more effective than standard treatments alone, a leading scientific study has found. Trials involving 638 back pain sufferers have suggested that acupuncture is successful in relieving discomfort, although how it works remains unclear. A “fake” version also produced results, indicating that belief in the therapy may have played a key role in its success.

In the project, known as Spine (stimulating points to investigate needling efficacy), patients were divided into groups to receive standard care alone, with one of two variants of genuine acupuncture or with a placebo.

The simulated acupuncture involved mimicking needle pricks using tooth picks hidden inside guide tubes that did not penetrate the skin. Patients were treated twice a week for three weeks and then weekly for a month. At intervals of eights weeks, six months and a year, the researchers measured back pain symptoms and their impact on quality of life.

Both types of genuine acupuncture — either individually tailored or a standardised treatment — produced a substantial improvement in symptoms and the ability of patients to cope with their condition at eight weeks. By contrast, patients on standard care were only slightly better. The beneficial effects lasted for a year, although they waned over time. However, the placebo “toothpick” treatment turned out to be just as good at combating back pain as real acupuncture.

The findings were published yesterday in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine. Daniel Cherkin, the trial leader from the Group Health Centre for Health Studies, in Seattle, said: “We found that simulated acupuncture produced as much benefit as needle acupuncture. That raises questions about how acupuncture works.” Dr Cherkin said the results had important implications for patients who found conventional treatments ineffective. “The reduction in long-term exposure to the potential adverse effects of medications is also an important benefit that may enhance the safety of conventional medical care,” he said.

Karen Sherman, also a member of the research team, said that, historically, some types of acupuncture have used non-penetrating needles, possibly explaining the success of the placebo treatment. “We don’t know why people got back pain relief from the simulated acupuncture,” Dr Sherman said. “Maybe the context in which people get treatment has effects that are more important than the mechanical effects.”

At the eight-week stage, 60 per cent of patients receiving any type of acupuncture had a clinically meaningful improvement in their level of functioning, compared with 39 per cent of those receiving regular care. At the one-year point, 59 to 65 per cent of those in the acupuncture groups experienced an improvement, compared with 50 per cent of the standard care group.

Back pain is the largest single cause of work-related absence in Britain. Lower back pain, also known as lumbago, affects seven out of ten people at some time in their lives.

Josephine Briggs, director of the US National Centre for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, which funded the Spine trial, said: “The findings add to the growing body of evidence that something meaningful is taking place during acupuncture treatments [There sure is. A big placebo effect]. Future research is needed to delve deeper into what is evoking these responses.”


Allergy sufferers may benefit from folic acid

The antibody findings give this report some credibility but whether there is some third factor behind the correlation with folates is unknown. This is grounds for a proper double blind study but no more

Folic acid, also known as vitamin B9, may suppress allergic reactions and alleviate the severity of allergy and asthma symptoms, according to a new study.

Scientists from the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center arrived at this conclusion after reviewing the medical records of more than 8,000 people aged two to 85 and tracking the effects of folate levels on respiratory and allergic symptoms. They also looked closely the levels of IgE antibodies which rise in response to an allergen.

The researchers found people with higher blood levels of folate had fewer IgE antibodies, fewer reported allergies, less wheezing and lower likelihood of asthma. Lead investigator Dr. Elizabeth Matsui, a pediatric allergist at Hopkins Children’s says the findings indicated that folic acid may help regulate immune response to allergens and reduce allergy and asthma symptoms.

They furthermore add to mounting evidence that folate can help regulate inflammation. Folic acid is also essential for red blood cell health and has long been known to reduce the risk of spinal birth defects.

According to the CDC, asthma affects more than 7 percent of adults and children in the U.S. is the most common chronic condition among children.


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