Re: Alternative medicine

James Rogers (
Fri, 03 Jan 1997 18:10:26 -0800

At 10:37 PM 1/2/97 -0500, you wrote:
>And today's quackery is often tomorrows allopathy. How many shamans
>herbs are now big profit drugs?

The vast majority of shaman's drugs which are tested fail miserably under
scientific scrutiny. You are on a slippery slope. In most societies there
are remedies which have cultural significance but no real medicinal
significance. The list of "cultural" remedies is long and distinguished and
includes famous ones such as powdered rhino horn for virility (Africa), and
powdered sea corral among the Pacific Islanders (which is supposed to cure a
wide range of ailments).

>> The nature of most alternative medicines is mysticism. Authorities
>> are revered over results--the older the authority, the better.
>Maybe thats because they have centuries of anecdotal evidence that in
>sum adds up to a statistical analysis.

Anecdotal evidence does not add up to statistical analysis. Cultural
remedies, like mentioned above, will provide all the anecdotal evidence you
want, but not a shred of scientifically valid evidence. If long-term
anecdotal evidence is equivalent to a scientific statistical analysis, then
Extropianism as a whole will have to seriously modify its position on a
great many issues.

This is basically saying that a meme that survives must be true. If I am
not mistaken, this list has discussed the longevity and propagation of false
or destructive memes at length.

>how many drugs are indtroduced which have more harmful side effects.
>Here's some shocking statistics for you: Over 10,000 people die each
>year due to prescribed drugs conflicting, inducing allergic reactions,
>or being switched. Guess how many people died from nutritional
>supplements, herbs, marijuana use, and natural hormonal supplements: 2
>and they were both from Ma Huang taken in overdose.
>WHich is more harmful?

You seriously misrepresent the statistics.

1) Most of those 10,000 people died taking drugs for which there is no
equivalent "nutritional supplement, herbs, marijuana use, and natural
hormone supplement". Apples and oranges.

2) More than two people have died from Ephedrine (Ma Huang). There have
been many deaths and hospitalizations caused by the mixing of Ephedrine with
other drugs. I personally know of a death where Ephedrine was implicated.

3) You don't represent the number of people who died because they *only*
took "nutritional supplements, herbs, marijuana use, and natural hormone
supplements" when they should have been taking one of the above
criminalized-but-effective pharmaceuticals.

4) Herbs in natural form contain far more allergens, toxins, and otherwise
potentially damaging long-term components than pharmaceutically pure drugs.

5) Many popular herbs contain identical bioactive components to
pharmaceuticals (pharmaceuticals having the advantage of eliminating (4) ).

-James Rogers