Helping & Not Helping

You’re better off just having a Scooby snack
Have you or a loved succumbed to polio lately? Been exposed to a town riddled with small pox? Have you ever seen someone decimated by Rubella? The odds are staggeringly in favor of the answer being no to all of those. The reason behind each and every negative answer is science. At one time or another scientists tested, retested, and then vetted the results through peer reviewed research. Once that was done, and patients were living as opposed to not, then the public was invited to join in. When there was a sincere national or global threat, governments would jump in and make the cure compulsory, with rare exceptions. Fatal disease after fatal disease fell into the dustbin of history.

But, now, thanks to the efforts of the ignorant and the greedy, they’re all making comebacks. Today, since I’m a masochist with a blog, I’m going to try and sort through some of the bullshit and keep you from dying a stupid death.

Of all the current “stem cell” cures that populate the internet there is one, I hope you can count that high, that has been shown to work.

Bill Selak, at IFL Sicence, explains.

Imagine if a trip to the dentist to treat a cavity didn’t involve a filling, root canal, or crown. What if a simple light treatment could actually get your teeth to regrow themselves using stem cells? That’s the aim of a group of researchers at Harvard’s Wyss Institute, led by David Mooney, who have found success in regrowing rat teeth in this manner. The researchers have developed a technique using a low-power laser to coax stem cells into reforming dentin, which could have implications for dentistry, wound healing, and bone restoration. The results of the study have been published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

Proteins known as growth factors are what cause stem cells to differentiate into whatever type of cell they are bound to become. Introducing different growth factors force the cells to develop the desired type of tissue. Unfortunately, it isn’t quite as simple as it sounds. Most of the developments in using stem cells in regenerative medicine have regrown tissues in vitro and later need to be transplanted into the person. This involves a lot of technical care and is a highly regulated process, which slows down progress. Mooney’s team claims they have come up with a new technique that could streamline the process, making it a viable clinical option much more quickly.

The team set up a miniature dentist office-like setting for the rodents used in the study. They drilled holes into the rats’ molars to simulate tooth decay. Next, adult stem cells were applied to the pulp of the tooth and a non-ionizing, low-level laser was used to stimulate the growth factors. The teeth were then sealed with a temporary cap to be worn over the next 12 weeks. The follow-up x-rays and microscopy analysis showed that the dentin, the layer under the visible enamel, had indeed begun to grow back due to the laser/stem cell therapy.

In essence, nothing new is introduced into your body. They’re your stem cells and the laser is barely more powerful than the annoying pointer your boss uses in Powerpoint presentations. So, hooray for happy teeth!

But for every coin there’s another side.

Dennis Thompson, over at Health Daily News, takes a look at the hundreds of “arthritis cures” using stem cells and comes up wanting.

A same-day injection for one knee costs thousands of dollars at these centers, according to a consumer survey taken of clinics across the United States.

People are paying that kind of cash because two-thirds of stem cell clinics promise that their treatments work 80 to 100 percent of the time, researchers report.

But there’s no medical evidence suggesting that any stem cell therapy can provide a lasting cure for knee arthritis, said study lead researcher Dr. George Muschler, an orthopedic surgeon with the Cleveland Clinic.

“There are claims made about efficacy [effectiveness] that aren’t supported by the literature,” Muschler said. “There’s a risk of charlatanism, and patients should be aware.”

Stem cells have gained a reputation as a miracle treatment and potential cure for many ailments. The cells have the potential to provide replacement cells for any part of the body — blood, brain, bones or organs.

As a result, a wave of stem cell centers have opened up around the country, offering cures for a variety of diseases, Muschler said.

“It’s very sexy to market yourself as a stem cell center, so there’s been a boom of centers, probably close to 600 now in the United States offering this therapy,” Muschler said. “But the truth is that the medical literature hasn’t quite caught up to the enthusiasm in the marketplace.”

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has expressed extreme skepticism over these centers, and in November the agency announced that it would crack down on clinics offering dangerous stem cell treatments.

The “pie-in-the-sky” dream for knee arthritis patients is that a stem cell injection will produce fresh new protective cartilage in their joint, said Dr. Scott Rodeo, an orthopedic surgeon with the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City.

“The reality is they don’t do that. There is zero data to suggest that,” said Rodeo, who wasn’t involved with the study. “The idea these cells are going to regenerate cartilage — there’s zero data.”

At best, these injections might temporarily reduce pain and inflammation by prompting the release of soothing chemicals in the knee, Rodeo and Muschler said.

If you’re going to spend thousands of dollars on temporary pain relief you may as well just stock up on Ibuprofen.

since I could go on for days about various scams (quit drinking your own pee, quit eating the fucking copper pills, and leave seawood to do what God itended, wrap sushi) the nice people over at e-Health came up with a nice list of basic things to avoid.

Alternative Therapies
to Avoid

Cure-All Products

If one pill promises to cure your diabetes, Lyme disease and seasonal allergies all at once, it’s probably a scam. Science is far more precise than that, and evidence shows that many conditions are unrelated and must be treated individually.

Quick Fixes

Beware of any product that makes claims such as “30 days or less” or that promises a cure for a complicated health problem in short order. There are rarely quick fixes in life, and if one existed, it’s likely your doctor would have prescribed it for you already.

All Natural

This is a phrase that has been terribly abused. It has been used to convince people that natural is the same as safe, which is misleading. Many natural things are not safe for humans, such as arsenic. Just because something is labeled “all natural” doesn’t mean you should take it or use it.

Miracle Cure

Even if you’ve grown mistrustful of conventional medical care, you can be certain that if a miracle cure were discovered, it would be widely reported and confirmed by medical professionals, scientists and all the major news outlets. If that’s not the case, be wary.

When holistic care is done well, it can be very effective. If you decide to go down this road, do it wisely. Get a recommendation from someone you trust before choosing a practitioner. You can also contact well-respected medical associations for a list of holistic care providers in your area.

Once you make an appointment, do all you can to research the education, training and track record of the doctor you’ve chosen. When you meet the doctor, pay attention to how you’re treated. Are you seen as a whole person and not just a problem to solve? Does the physician use any of the phrases mentioned above? If so, find a new doctor immediately.

Now, all that being said, holistic therapies, when used in conjunction with modern medicine, can be beneficial. Marijuana, for example, has been shown to ease pain, reduce seizures, and calm persistent anxieties. What it does not do, and has shown no ability to do, is cure cancer, diabetes, liver disease or anything else. I recently lost a friend who rejected traditional treatment in favor of THC based therapy. All I can say is she was calm when she died. But, like Steve Jobs before her, there was no reason for her to have died. The cancer was caught early enough that the odds were close to 95% she would have lived a full life.

A complete list of “alternative therapies” that either do no good or can kill you can be found by clicking this link.

In short, get your kids vaccinated, stay away from shit on the internet that has no medical support or, worse, just one doctor who claims he or she has found something millions of others have missed, and think for a minute before you act. There is no reason for “big pharma” to let you die. There is zero benefit in it for them. Odds are you’ll get sick from something and you’ll need to buy something they sell. They can’t sell to dead people.

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