Sweet SCAM – Part 2
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So Dr Prasad has treated about 100,000 diabetic patients with the ‘unconventional treatment’, laddu! He claims that if sugar is included in the diet, it can rejuvenate the pancreas damaged by conventional treatments like insulin. So you just have to eat a laddu and go for jogging to cure diabetes. Our honourable MP Mr PT Thomas took no time to realise that diabetes being an incurable disease is a myth and started eating laddu. The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation alone contributes $110 million for diabetes research every year. So if laddoo was missed by them, then it is a very costly mistake indeed!
So Is this an an all too familiar combination of a placebo effect and over emphasized anecdotal evidence?
I will discuss my (philosophical) views on this (in short) but I don’t claim that I am right. It is a well known and accepted fact that mind has a profound effect on health and disease states. But unfortunately modern medicine is designed to ignore this effect. Our clinical research protocols are designed to ignore/nullify this effect by introducing the concept of ‘double blind placebo controlled trial’.
But we have successful systems of alternative medicine like homeopathy that depends entirely on placebo effect. Yoga, as per my knowledge is a very well designed system to augment this placebo effect. So it could have a beneficial effect on many (almost all) ailments. I think Indian Yogi’s were infact the first proponents of the philosophy of idealism that we now attribute to Kant. But if we try to test these systems of ‘medicine’ all trials will fail because of the intrinsic ‘weakness’ of clinical research.
To enhance the placebo effect these alternative systems adopt two strategies.
1. Give a very complicated and sometimes irrational explanation for the effect which nobody can understand and hence perceived as plausible.
2. Give a ridiculously simple explanation that everybody can identify with.
Homeopathy adopts the first strategy with the principle of ‘dilution augments potency’ while Yoga and Wayanad treatment adopts the second strategy of ‘massaging the pancreas’. There is nothing wrong in this approach as long as it gives favourable results. But it may not work for me since I can think of more direct ways of pancreatic massage. Now will it work for you?
- Michael Specter on the Placebo Effect (sciencebasedmedicine.org)
- Complementary and Alternative Medicine: What is it, and should we fund it? [Greg Laden’s Blog] (scienceblogs.com)