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LAT: Studying alternative medicine with taxpayer dollars


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Studying alternative medicine with taxpayer dollars

A small branch of the National Institutes of Health has used federal money to study aromatherapy, prayer, energy healing and other nontraditional treatments.

Thanks to a $374,000 taxpayer-funded grant, we now know that inhaling lemon and lavender scents doesn't do a lot for our ability to heal a wound. With $666,000 in federal research money, scientists examined whether distant prayer could heal AIDS. It could not.

The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, or NCCAM, also helped pay scientists to study whether squirting brewed coffee into someone's intestines can help treat pancreatic cancer (a $406,000 grant) and whether massage makes people with advanced cancer feel better ($1.25 million). The coffee enemas did not help. The massage did.

NCCAM has also invested in studies of various forms of energy healing, including one based on the ideas of a self-described "healer, clairvoyant and medicine woman" who says her children inspired her to learn to read auras. The cost for that was $104,000.

A small, little-known branch of the National Institutes of Health, NCCAM was launched a dozen years ago to study alternative treatments used by the public but not accepted by mainstream medicine. Since its birth, the center has spent $1.4 billion, most of it on research.

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I'm sure at some point in history, all medical research was considered to be "alternative methods".

Sometimes the greatest discoveries are revealed in places no one thinks they should look... like bread mold, for example

~Bang

Yeah, we don't agree on a whole lot anymore (I understand and respect why, BTW), but you're absolutely right.

While some alternative medicine research may seem goofy on its surface, what's it worth to stumble upon a cure for a major illness in a place you wouldn't expect? HINT: You probably won't know until you have a close friend or relative with said major illness.

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I'm actually all for govt funding of medical research of homeopathic/naturalist remedies such as herbal supplements. Plenty of the stuff is snake oil but some is undoubtedly effective, and the fact that herbs cannot be patented like pharmaceuticals makes it cost ineffective for private enterprise to conduct objective studies.

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Yeah, we don't agree on a whole lot anymore (I understand and respect why, BTW), but you're absolutely right.

While some alternative medicine research may seem goofy on its surface, what's it worth to stumble upon a cure for a major illness in a place you wouldn't expect? HINT: You probably won't know until you have a close friend or relative with said major illness.

Right on. More good has come out of NIH then most peeps realize. It's really not the gov't agency to be taking pot shots at regarding tax dollar spend.

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I'm pretty negative on alternative medicine.

However, I'm not completely against this, but you also have to think about the costs in terms of the odds of finding something.

The piece points out, there have been multiple studies with respect to accupuncture (poking people randomly with tooth picks does just as well).

How many times do you need to essentially confirm the same thing?

We know that long distance prayer doesn't do much for AIDS, do we also need to check for cancer?

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I'm pretty negative on alternative medicine.

However, I'm not completely against this, but you also have to think about the costs in terms of the odds of finding something.

The piece points out, there have been multiple studies with respect to accupuncture (poking people randomly with tooth picks does just as well).

How many times do you need to essentially confirm the same thing?

We know that long distance prayer doesn't do much for AIDS, do we also need to check for cancer?

That's where I'm at. I'm fine with research, but make the research some what credible. 664K for long distance praying? Really?

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I don't know about long distance praying.

But I think if everybody had massages and acupuncture a few times a month....it would make other medical expenses cheaper in the long run. I don't care about "Fire" and "Water" points......but I know that a pin on my left foot has made my stomach feel better....and one in my wrist has made a headache go away. 2000 years of practice has plenty of results.

The whole country needs to rethink medicine to be more preventative than responsive. Why wait till you feel sick? Get in front of that!

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I think it's a good idea to investigate if certain compounds can be used as medicine, if there's a plausible basis for it. Otherwise it's a random shot in the dark and you have no idea about the volume, frequency, strength etc of any test.

Try **** at random isn't appropriate.

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I'm sure at some point in history, all medical research was considered to be "alternative methods".

Sometimes the greatest discoveries are revealed in places no one thinks they should look... like bread mold, for example

~Bang

These are different times. Science has expanded it's base of knowledge a million times over since penicillin was discovered. $374,000 to study aroma therapy and $666,000 to find out if prayer can cure aids is an incredibly stupid way to waste taxpayer money. I've said a thousand times that capitalism is not a cure all for every problem, but this is a perfect example for the proper application of private enterprise and the private sector. If candle makers cant find enough incentive to fund an aroma therapy study of their own that would boost sales 1000 fold, we damn sure don't need to waste government money on it. And churches have been trying to prove the power of prayer for thousands of years. If you think $666,000 (what an odd number for this specific study) is going to change the results now, You may have just lost your mind.

It may be a small number in the over all budget debate but funding for the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine should be the first cut on the table. Ax this moronic bull****.

---------- Post added December-13th-2011 at 05:13 PM ----------

I'm actually all for govt funding of medical research of homeopathic/naturalist remedies such as herbal supplements. Plenty of the stuff is snake oil but some is undoubtedly effective, and the fact that herbs cannot be patented like pharmaceuticals makes it cost ineffective for private enterprise to conduct objective studies.

The problem is that there are plenty of people already selling herbs and vitamins. If they can prove that a given herb or supplement is effective, they stand to make millions, if not billions in increased profits. I would say they have PLENTY of incentive without using federal money.

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It's a very small amount of money with the potential for big returns. I have no problem with this.

Also, I suspect that the reason they did the study on long distance prayer was not because they thought it would work, but because they needed a definitive study to demonstrate that it does NOT work. In order to convince certain people not to rely on it, and to use therapies that do work, they are going to want to see evidence. Reliance on faith healing causes a lot of deaths every year.

(I have no idea if this is true, but it makes sense to me)

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Mike - a company cannot make enough on an herb or a vitamin to get a return on investment because those things can never be patented, which means anyone can make or distribute them regardless of who discovers/researches its benefits. Do you think the pharmaceutical industry would bother developing any new drugs if patent protections didn't apply and the moment something was FDA approved it became available to anyone to manufacture and sell?

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Yeah, we don't agree on a whole lot anymore (I understand and respect why, BTW), but you're absolutely right.

While some alternative medicine research may seem goofy on its surface, what's it worth to stumble upon a cure for a major illness in a place you wouldn't expect? HINT: You probably won't know until you have a close friend or relative with said major illness.

Actually, i think we've just found the lines where we disagree. I'm sure we agree on far more than we disagree, pal ;)

I'm not sold on most homeopathic or alternative cures. I think I'd put my trust in science first,, but if they do find scientifucally that there are some benefits to some of these things, then it's money well spent. And even if it manages to debunk them all once and finally, then we won't worry over wasting more money on what was studied.

My wife has a great number of herbs and plants and powders she gets from various chinese and asian markets in the area, and she brews up these teas for all sorts of little household ailments, and i'll be damned if some of them don't work.

~Bang

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I think this is small peanuts compared to the R&D that DOD does. I am sure a lot of that stuff is crazy and never leads to anything, but it also leads to the internet and cell phones. The Fed has crazy projects all over the place and if they weren't spending the money we could miss out on something.

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There are people out there that believe in this stuff and understanding that belief as well as looking into the results of this "treatment" may prove valuable. We might find some actually cause harm and that is in the public interest. We also might find some do have positive effects. Some examples seem absurd but I think that's more a product of studying alternative medicine in general. If that the goal then you can be assured that some or most of the items on the list are going to seem ridiculous to a lot of people.

It's worth looking into and the amount of money isn't substantial. I'm completely on board with the government funding this.

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That is not the model here in this country. If you do not have a symptom, you are not sick. Period.
However you may not FEEL sick and be symptomatic, which is what the OP was referring to.

A symptom is experiential. You can't "Feel" sick and have no symptoms. They are mutually exclusive.

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This money should not be just handed out as it appears it does. That money could go to something like say our national debt. If spending must be cut this would be a good place to start because much of this research money goes to special interests anyway.Let's use the money to build the insfrastructure we need, not government funded prayer research. If money is needed to research those things, they could like many organizations and do fundraisers. Let the market demand where the money goes, not the government.

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Could I get $660K to study whether playing video games can cure cancer? Maybe I'll retire early and study that for the rest of my life! Can't believe there are people sticking up for this...

The reputation of the organization helps. NIH does a lot of good, and there is an underlying reason for why it is somewhat necessary to experimentally test these 'alternative medicines'. They have a huge market, and a lot of people are getting scammed. To prove its validity experimentally and clinically, it gives doctors, scientists and healthcare organizations valid data to dismiss the nonsense spread by a lot of 'alternative medicine' advocates. Otherwise, it's just one persons word against the other.

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There are people out there that believe in this stuff and understanding that belief as well as looking into the results of this "treatment" may prove valuable. We might find some actually cause harm and that is in the public interest. We also might find some do have positive effects. Some examples seem absurd but I think that's more a product of studying alternative medicine in general. If that the goal then you can be assured that some or most of the items on the list are going to seem ridiculous to a lot of people.

It's worth looking into and the amount of money isn't substantial. I'm completely on board with the government funding this.

You said it better than I did. I suspect that people here are not realizing that there is a value in disproving bogus things as well as in finding scientific support for things that turn out to have some merit.

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