Now, there are “fake” pills for kids!

By Terry A. Rondberg

Placebos for kidsIn recent years, researchers have piled up the proof that many of the prescription and OTC pills sold to “treat” colds and flu in kids are ineffective. Even worse, they all have potentially negative side effects. One study, conducted by researchers at Penn State, found that placebos were just as effective as OTC drugs in suppressing coughs due to colds.

“Consumers spend billions of dollars each year on over-the-counter medications for cough,” said Ian Paul, assistant professor of pediatrics, Penn State Children’s Hospital, Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. “Our study showed that the two ingredients used in most over-the-counter medications were no better than a placebo, non-medicated syrup, in providing nighttime relief for children with cough and sleep difficulty as a result of upper respiratory infection… The desire to ease symptoms is strong for both parents and clinicians. This study, however, questions whether over-the-counter medications have a place in the treatment of these illnesses for children.” (“Effect of Dextromethorphan, Diphenhydramine and Placebo on Nocturnal Cough and Sleep Quality for Coughing Children and Their Parents,” July 2004 issue of Pediatrics.

Another study showed a significant percentage of children with attention-deficit-hyperactivity disorder improved when placebos replaced some of their daily meds.

“In ADHD, you can reduce the dose of the real medicine, substitute placebo pills and get the same effect on ADHD,” Walter Brown, MD, Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Brown University and Tufts University School of Medicine, stated.

One theory is that the caring and hopeful attitude of the parents or caregivers has a powerful effect on the child. If the parent and child have a strong belief in the efficacy of the remedy, it will work. In the tests, participants had no more “faith” in one pill over another, so they all worked about the same. That’s the very definition of placebo effect.

You’d think that, given this evidence, parents — and their medical doctors — would be convinced that grabbing the pill bottle isn’t the best response to sniffles and sneezes.

But that’s not the way some people see it. Now, there’s a new pill being marketed to parents for use on their kids: a chewable, cherry-flavored tablet called Obecalp. You guessed it: that’s placebo spelled backwards, and the pill is nothing but sugar.

Giving a child a sugar pill is definitely an improvement to giving them chemical medications. But this still teaches the child that health can be delivered in pill form from outside. Why not skip the pill altogether and try activities such as yoga or meditation, both of which can be presented as a game or healing action? Health comes from INSIDE and the sooner we truly understand that, and share that understanding with our kids, the sooner they’ll take control of their health and wellness.

Eating healthy — a new disease?

Allopathic medicine has a long history of “inventing” diseases and giving them fancy Latin names — all in order to come up with a pill or treatment to “cure” it.

Healthy foodsBut this one gets the absurdus maximus award — a Californian doctor, Steven Bratman, has “medicalized” a strong conscious desire to eat healthy, nutritional foods as a mental disorder! And, of course, he’s given it a name: orthorexia nervosa.

These poor demented souls are, as reported in The Guardian, “solely concerned with the quality of the food they put in their bodies, refining and restricting their diets according to their personal understanding of which foods are truly ‘pure’.”

They follow crazy behavior, like trying to eliminate refined sugar, salt, caffeine, alcohol, or other food groups from their diet. And they rebuff foods that have been in contact with pesticides, herbicides or contain artificial additives.

Granted, there are people who get a bit neurotic about food safety and base their dietary choices on fear rather than good sense. But the idea of turning food concerns into a mental health disease is just one more instance of medical manipulation.

While an anti-orthorexia drug hasn’t been developed — yet — Bratman quickly cashed in on his “disease” by writing a book called, “Health Food Junkies.”  I’m gratified to see it didn’t make much of a blip on the sales lists and got a dismal review score on Amazon.com (just 3 stars out of 5, with one person echoing my own feelings, saying, “So it is now a fixation to ‘obsess’ about healthy food? This is the most stupid, irresponsible drivel I have ever heard of. Ok, let’s NOT obsess about food, let’s keep eating meat, and dairy, and preservatives, and chemicals, let’s eat genetically modified food, let’s NOT read labels, let’s NOT think about what’s in our food, let’s keep getting diabetes, cancer and heart disease which NO DOCTOR has ANY CURE FOR!!! Just treatment, NO CURE. Let’s do that. Because doctors are so good at curing diseases. That’s why we are such a healthy nation! Mind-numbingly irresponsible, for a physician to write this.” I swear, I didn’t write that (but wish I had!). Here’s the Amazon page, just so you can read some of the other scathing reviews!

Not surprisingly, Bratman’s ideas have been picked up by the British medical community, which seems intent on destroying everything that isn’t totally aligned with the allopathic paradigm, be it homeopathy or, now, healthy eating!

Ursula Philpot, chair of the British Dietetic Association’s mental health group, told The Guardian: “The issues underlying orthorexia are often the same as anorexia and the two conditions can overlap but orthorexia is very definitely a distinct disorder. Those most susceptible are middle-class, well-educated people who read about food scares in the papers, research them on the internet, and have the time and money to source what they believe to be purer alternatives.”

(Interestingly, the main goal of the association appears to be acceptance by the medical profession, and, in the group’s words to “act as a specialist within a multi-disciplinary team … (and) act as a consultant to other health professionals advising on nutritional aspects of care.” Sounds much like those chiropractors and other alternative health providers who used to be willing to medicalize their professions in order to gain the approval of MDs. By now, most of them realize that’s not going to happen!)

Getting back to the dread “orthorexia nervosa” disease, Wikipedia further explains: “The subject may avoid certain unhealthy foods, such as those containing fats, preservatives, man-made food-additives, animal products, or other ingredients considered by the subject to be unhealthy; if the sufferer does not eat appropriately, malnutrition can ensue. Orthorexia sufferers have specific preferences about the foods they are eating and avoiding. Products that are preserved with additives can be considered dangerous. Industrial products can be seen as artificial, whereas biological fruits and vegetables can be seen as healthy.”

So, unless you relish an apple with a thick coating of pesticide residue, a fast food burger with 80 grams of saturated fat, or a TV dinner with a list of unpronounceable (and unidentifiable) ingredients, you may want to make an appointment with the nearest shrink. You could be a very sick mind (although chances are, you’ll have a heck of a lot healthier body than most!).

The friend who sent me this information — a guy who has a PhD in molecular biology and is finishing his last year interning as a psychiatrist — had a novel suggestion: “How about we come up with a term for a syndrome where certain sciences over-classify and are slaves of the pharmaceutical industry? Maybe inservio supervacuus (superfluous slave).”

The power of our touch

Power of touchWhen DD Palmer called our profession “chiropractic” — combining the Greek words cheir (hand) and praxis (action) — he couldn’t have chosen a better name. While there are a few doctors who substitute mechanical devices for their hands, even those practitioners have some hands-on work with patients — palpation, adjusting or just placing the hands on affected areas.

We, and our patients, have always known that the success of chiropractic has a great deal to do with the “personal touch” we provide (metaphorically as well as literally). Surveys on patient satisfaction almost always emphasize the influence of our personal involvement with those under our care, particularly when compared to the cold, impersonal treatment received from many medical providers.

A recent research study, sponsored by the National Cancer Institute and presented at the 6th International Conference of the Society for Integrative Oncology, reinforces our understanding of the importance of true “by hand” practice, whether it’s provided by a health care practitioner or a caretaker.

Researchers found that touch — particularly massage — administered by care partners significantly reduces the effects of cancer and the side-effects from its treatment while providing comfort and improvement in the quality of life.

In the study, 97 family caregivers learned touch and massage techniques from a 78-minute instructional DVD, called “Touch, Caring, and Cancer: Simple Instruction for Family and Friends.” They then used these touch techniques to safely care for people living with cancer. “The magnitude of the impact of family members was unexpected. Our research found significant reductions of pain, anxiety, fatigue, depression and nausea when massage was routinely administered at home by family and caregivers,” lead researcher William Collinge, PhD, revealed.

The study found massage by family members reduced stress/anxiety (44% reduction), pain (34%), fatigue (32%), depression (31%), and nausea (29%).

“The discovery that family members can learn and administer simple massage techniques that can consistently reduce stress is significant. Stress is a constant that negatively impacts the lives and wellbeing of cancer patients,” Collinge wrote. “Both cancer patients and caregivers benefit because massage appears to strengthen the relationship bond. Massage provides the caregiver a way to make a difference.”

This research not only reminds us of the significance of personal touch between doctor and patient, but might be a good incentive to bring a massage therapist into your practice. The synergistic effect of the two disciplines would no doubt benefit many patients and might increase patient volume.

You may even want to provide certain patients with the video used to train the participants in the study (it’s available from Amazon.com). I believe strongly that the “hands on” approach works for all people, regardless of the state of their health. Since it reduces stress — the primary cause of most health issues — it would be effective on most people, not just those with cancer.

Follow the money

By Terry A. Rondberg

Follow the Money - Terry A. Rondberg, DCA new study published by JAMA shows that among patients age 65 years and older, rosiglitazone (a medication for treating Type 2 diabetes) is associated with an increased risk of stroke, heart failure, and all-cause mortality (death) when compared with pioglitazone (another medication for diabetes).

In their conclusion, the authors wrote: “…in a population of more than 227,000 patients 65 years or older who initiated treatment with a thiazolidinedione, we found that, compared with pioglitazone, rosiglitazone was associated with an increased risk of stroke, heart failure, and death and the composite of AMI (heart attack), stroke, heart failure or death.” (JAMA.doi:10.1001/jama.2010.954)

Despite trying to put rosiglitazone in the most “favorable” light possible, researchers had to admit that “analysis showed no differences in the risk for heart attack between rosiglitazone and pioglitazone,” even though the study found that rosiglitazone was associated with a 1.25-fold increase in risk of heart failure compared with pioglitazone.

Obviously, BOTH medications have serious negative side effects, but the report’s wording seems somewhat biased to me so I delved a little deeper. Within the past five years, the study’s head researcher, Steven E. Nissen, MD, has received research support from numerous drug companies, including AstraZeneca, Atherogenics, Novartis, Pfizer, Resverlogix, Daiichi-Sankyo, Sanofi-Aventis and — most importantly — Eli Lilly and Takeda.

The drug that fared better in this study (branded name Actos) is manufactured by Eli Lilly and Takeda. Avandia, the branded version of rosiglitazone, is made by GlaxoSmithKline, a name curiously absent from the list of Nissen’s financial benefactors.

Probably just a coincidence, right? Yet, only this month, the BMJ (which used to be called British Medical Journal) published a report that explored a possible link between authors’ financial conflicts of interest and their position on the association of rosiglitazone with increased risk of myocardial infarction in patients with diabetes.

The research abstract noted: “Of the 202 included articles, 108 (53%) had a conflict of interest statement. Ninety authors (45%) had financial conflicts of interest. Authors who had a favourable view of the risk of myocardial infarction with rosiglitazone were more likely to have financial conflicts of interest with manufacturers of antihyperglycaemic agents in general, and with rosiglitazone manufacturers in particular, than authors who had an unfavourable view (rate ratio 3.38, 95% CI 2.26 to 5.06 and 4.29, 2.63 to 7.02, respectively). There was likewise a strong association between favourable recommendations on the use of rosiglitazone and financial conflicts of interest (3.36, 1.94 to 5.83)” (BMJ 2010;340:c1344)

In another, even more chilling report (also published in BMJ), the author writes: “Casually following the fortunes of the blockbuster diabetes drug rosiglitazone (Avandia), you can’t help but imagine a Hollywood thriller. There is the scene where a leading scientist secretly records a meeting with drug company executives, a high powered congressional investigation, and a bitter legal battle waiting in the wings. Yet when you look more closely, the facts are even stranger than fiction. An expensive new drug shown to raise the risk of heart failure and suspected of increasing the chance of heart attacks has been taken by millions of people around the world and is being kept on the market by an industry funded regulatory system, despite calls from senior safety experts to withdraw it.” (BMJ 2010;340:c1848)

I took a look at one other factor as well: pricing. The most common price I could find for Avandia — the drug touted as “safer” by the research paper — was $3.32 per pill (for 30 pills of 8mg, which is considered the normal dose). For Actos, the price was $1.34 per pill (for 30 pills of 30mg, again, considered the normal dose).

When it comes to this type of medical drug research, the saying “follow the money” seems to apply. Perhaps it’s also time to follow the advice of “X-Files” character Fox Mulder: TRUST NO ONE.

About Terry A. Rondberg, DC
Terry A. Rondberg is founder and CEO of the World Chiropractic Alliance. He is an ardent advocate for drug-free chiropractic care not just for back pain, but total body wellness. He has spoken globally on the issue of alternative care and the abuses of our current “health care” system.

Study shows non-drug techniques reduce pain in hospitalized patients

In a study published in the Journal of Patient Safety, non-medical therapies were shown to relieve pain among a wide range of hospitalized patients as much as 50 percent. However, chiropractic was not among the approaches tested. Instead, researchers focused only on acupuncture, acupressure, massage therapy, healing touch, music therapy, aromatherapy, and reflexology.

Massage TherapyThe study showed that allowing patients to have access to drug-free care that reduces stress can have a significant impact on pain major challenge and eliminate the risk of negative side effects associated with the drugs normally given to patients.

“Roughly 80 percent of patients report moderate to severe pain levels after surgery,” said Gregory Plotnikoff, MD, one of the study’s authors and medical director of the Penny George Institute for Health and Healing at Abbott Northwestern Hospital.

“We struggle to provide effective pain control while trying to avoid the adverse effects of opioid medications, such as respiratory depression, nausea, constipation, dizziness, and falls.”

The study included 1,837 cardiovascular, medical, surgical, orthopedic, spine, rehabilitation, oncology, and women’s health patients between January 1, 2008, and June 30, 2009. They scored their pain verbally on a zero-to-ten scale before and after treatments.

“Earlier studies narrowly focused on whether specific integrative therapies manage pain in either cancer or surgical patients,” said Jeffery A. Dusek, PhD, research director for the George Institute. “Our real-world study broadly shows that these therapies effectively reduce pain by over 50 percent across numerous patient populations. Furthermore, they can be clinically implemented in real time, across, and under the operational and financial constraints within an acute care hospital.”

Lori Knutson, RN, BSN, HN-BC, executive director of the George Institute stated: “I think we will find that integrative approaches to pain management during the hospital stay will improve patient satisfaction and outcomes, and we will see cost savings from patients using fewer drugs and experiencing fewer adverse events.”

SOURCE: “The Impact of Integrative Medicine on Pain Management in a Tertiary Care Hospital,” March 5, 2010. Journal of Patient Safety.