Thursday, June 12, 2008
Credit Where Credit Is Due
Here's a couple of websites commenting on the fact that the state of Minnesota, the liberal bastion, has just passed a law designating practitioners of naturopathy as "doctors." I share their concerns. According to at least one interpretation, they'll be able to admit patients to regular hospitals and manage their care. To the extent that it's even imaginable, I find it frightening. On the other hand, in my state of Washington it's been the case for years that, by law, health insurance must cover such crapola as chiropractic, accupuncture, aroma therapy, massage therapy (yes, to the extent that it's the same as physical therapy, I have no problem, but there's all that other therapeutic touch nonsense...), and, of course, naturopathy. Far as I know, homeopathy, too, which is at the very bottom of the barrel, unproven-bullshit-wise. But that's not my point. My point is to give credit when it's due.
Seattle is home to Bastyr University, the mecca of "natural medicine." They claim the mantle of scientific research. And, contrary to what I'd have expected, it seems they actually do it. In the Seattle Times a couple of days ago were the results of a study they announced, on the efficacy of St. John's Wort for treatment of ADHD. It appears to have been an actual double-blind prospective study, and darned if it didn't show exactly what you'd expect real science to show: bupkis. So I congratulate them on being willing actually to subject their stock in trade to the science it requires.
I applaud Bastyr for doing the study and for publishing the results. I assume they'll continue doing so, even though I'd guess someone there must be worried they'll science themselves out of business eventually. We'll see. Meanwhile, it sets a standard for advocates of homeopathy, chiropractic,* Reiki,* accupuncture,* aroma therapy, etc etc ad nauseum to show the same kind of character and honesty and subject their modalities to the same rigorous and reproducible study. Good job, Bastyr.
*What I'd love to see done for those manipulative therapies is a randomized prospective study where the manipulations were divided into "approved" (or whatever you'd call it) and bogus, with neither patient nor provider knowing which was being foisted... er, sorry: provided. It would be tough to do. If you had actual "practitioners" giving the, uh, therapies rightly or wrongly, they could easily have different behaviors with the patients. So you'd need to have neutral people shown what to do for a given diagnosis and then do it not knowing whether they were shown the "real" stuff or deliberately wrong stuff. And although practitioners would object that only by years of training can they learn their craft, I'd think a single intervention for a single agreed-upon diagnosis could be taught. Stick a needle here, or there. Wave your hands there, or here. Crank on this, or that. Be fun to know, wouldn't it?