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Scotty, The Naked Time, stardate 1704.3, Episode 7

Archive for the ‘Supplements’ Category

Keen on neem?

Posted by apgaylard on August 2, 2010

Neem [Azadirachta indica A. Juss] is a tree of the mahogany family.  Various claims have been made for its health-giving properties.  As the Abha Light organisation seems keen on neem as an anti-malarial, I decided to do a brief review of the literature.  What follows is a commentary based on searching PubMed for ‘neem and malaria’, and doing some additional searches.

I don’t claim that this is exhaustive and I have not been able to locate any information on some of the papers cited*.  For articles behind paywalls, I have only been able to consult the abstract.

A Review

One of the first things that I look for, when I’m researching a new topic, is a review article.  A recent publication by Anyaehie (2009) seemed to provide a good starting point. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted in herbs, homeopathy | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »

Cooking up arthritis treatments

Posted by apgaylard on July 17, 2009

hands_xrayOne of the things about the complimentary and alternative medicine industry I like least is spurious claims to be able to treat arthritis.  Several of my nearest and dearest are severely afflicted with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).  I have seen them exasperated by people who, usually with the best of intentions, tell them that their problems would be a thing of the past if only they would take Comfrey (or some other herb) or wear a copper bracelet. 

It’s not so much the intrusion that’s annoying: it’s the often not-so-subtle sub-text.  The implication is usually that they have access to some wisdom that is beyond the ken of the humble local GP or consultant rheumatologist.  You see, for all their years of training, medics have somehow managed to remain ignorant of herbal cures and magic jewellery.  In more extreme cases there is the distinct implication that such powerful, natural and kindly measures are being deliberately withheld by evil medical professionals in thrall to the robber barons of ‘Big Pharma’.  Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Naturopathy, Supplements | Tagged: , , , | 18 Comments »

Alternative Memory?

Posted by apgaylard on June 5, 2009

bigstockphoto_Don_t_Forget_325211George Lewith has an interesting letter in the New Scientist this week, in which he criticises David Allen Green’s* excellent article “Don’t criticise, or we’ll sue“.  One of his objections is that he is, “unaware of anybody prior to the chiropractors” threatening critics with libel in the UK. 

He seems to have missed Drs Alan Lakin and Ann Walker threatening defamation proceedings against University College London and Professor David Colquhoun over the latter’s criticism** of, herbal medicine practitioner, Dr Walker’s views on the ‘blood cleansing’ properties of red clover and the benefits of vitamin supplements. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in chiropractic, homeopathy, Supplements | Tagged: , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Mail menopause myths

Posted by apgaylard on March 26, 2009

bigstockphoto_hand_outstretched_with_a_pile__1993865It is no great surprise when the Daily Mail gets it wrong on health (or other scientific) issues.  They have a long and inglorious record in this regard.  A recent article on the menopause continues this fine tradition. 

Neither is it unusual to find therapies of no, and even disproven, worth promoted for the treatment of the symptoms of the menopause.   This topic seems to provide rich pickings for people promoting treatments ranging from the sensible but speculative through to downright outrageous quackery.  The confluence of a condition which potentially affects more than half of the world’s population, self limiting symptoms and the difficulties associated with weighing the risks of HRT make for a potent mix.  The market is large, the media are generally credulous, efficacy is difficult to establish and there are fears to play on.  In many ways an ideal target for so-called CAM. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Logical Fallacies, Pseudoscience, Supplements | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

The ASA change tack on ginkgo biloba

Posted by apgaylard on January 3, 2009

bigstockphoto_ginkgo_biloba_and_pills_planne_1859585It seems that the ASA has changed its position on Gingko Biloba.  This is a good thing and speaks well of the organisation. 

 In 2001 the ASA commissioned a, “report by an academic in the field of Pharmacognosy” which concluded that, “most research appeared to suggest that there was sufficient proof Ginkgo Biloba was likely to improve short-term memory and blood-flow in healthy individuals.” 

On the basis of this work the ASA told me that they had, “… accepted that this particular product can, in the short term, help with the maintenance of memory in healthy individuals.”   Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Science Journalism, Supplements | Tagged: , , | 3 Comments »

Novogen and the RCN’s placebo pushing algorithm

Posted by apgaylard on December 15, 2008

a-conservative-clinical-approach-for-treatment-of-menopausal-symptomsIn part three of my two-part series (here and here) on The Royal College of Nursing’s “Complementary approaches to menopausal symptoms – RCN guidance for nurses, midwives and health visitors” I pursue a niggling doubt about the evidence base for red clover isoflavones: the RCN seemed keen on them around the same time the NIH was saying, “studies suggest that it is not effective in reducing hot flashes.” 

The RCN’s evidence centres on a 1996 paper published by Nachtigall and co-workers.  I was so intrigued I bought a copy from the British Library. 

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Supplements | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Holland and Barrett promise to behave

Posted by apgaylard on December 5, 2008

bigstockphoto_hand_outstretched_with_a_pile__1993865The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has let me know that they have concluded two of the three complaints I raised about a recent flurry of e-mailed advertising from Holland and Barrett.  I was concerned that the adverts in question directly associated particular herbs and supplements with implicit unfounded health claims: improving mental healh and beating the menopause to be specific.

Holland and Barrett have reportedly assured the ASA, “that these emails will not be used again and that in future campaigns they will not use headings or product categories that imply health benefits for the listed products.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Supplements | Tagged: , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

The RCN, CAM and the menopause – Part one – The herbs don’t work?

Posted by apgaylard on November 18, 2008

complementary-approaches-to-menopausal-symptomsI’ve recently stumbled upon the Royal College of Nursing’s “Complementary approaches to menopausal symptoms” and I’m not overly impressed.  So I’ve decided to review it in two posts.  This post looks at some of its introductory sections and then focuses on what it has to say about herbs and the menopause. 

Part two will look at its inadequate treatment of the remaining complementary therapies (acupuncture, aromatherapy, reflexology and homeopathy)

Don’t get me wrong, the document has its strengths: a good discussion of the placebo effect and information on possible side-effects from herbs, to name two. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Supplements | Tagged: , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Ginkgo biloba …what is it good for?

Posted by apgaylard on November 16, 2008

holland-and-barrett-ginkgo-bilboa-addHolland and Barrett have recently taken the opportunity to pitch me the idea, via an e-mail, that Ginkgo Bilobahelps the maintenance of good cognitive function.”   Their web page contains a more detailed and specific claim: 

“Today nutritionists are taking a closer look at this wonderful herb because it has been used for many years throughout Europe. Supports the maintenance of good cognitive function and healthy circulation which helps to maintain memory with age decline.”

Interestingly the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) tells me that they have, “… accepted that this particular product can, in the short term, help with the maintenance of memory in healthy individuals.”  This acceptance seems, to me to extend beyond the “age decline” claim of Holland and Barrett. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Supplements | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 9 Comments »

Holland and Barrett hit the menopause

Posted by apgaylard on November 7, 2008

Holland and Barrett 'support' World Menopause DayAnother Week, another charitable day to target, and another set of dubious promotional claims from Holland and Barrett.  This time they have been piggy-backing (somewhat belatedly) on World Menopause Day.  That an event designed to bring some reliable advice to women facing this natural, and unavoidable, transition is used to advertise products of no clear worth seems distasteful to me.

A mail shot improbably entitled, “Beat menopause naturally – save up to 50% on menopause supplements” implies that a range of products can beat the menopause.  The menopause, of course, can’t be beaten; it’s a fact of life.

So much for the advertising strap-line, what of the products that it promotes? Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Supplements | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »