Physician Finds Experimental Cure For Poisoned Family On Google Scholar

from the nice-to-see-it's-useful dept

A few weeks ago, I was a little surprised in talking to a friend of mine who is a surgeon, when he explained to me that before he goes into a surgery for something he hasn't done in a while (or has never done), he'll often poke around on Google for a bit to refresh his memory of how such surgeries are supposed to go. He pointed out that his expertise is in surgery in general, and Google is often the fastest and best way to refresh his memory on specific situations he might encounter. Apparently, he's not alone among the medical profession in going to Google when a physician isn't sure what to do in a specific situation -- and it may have saved some lives recently. Over the last week or so here in Northern California, the press has been reporting on the case of six family members admitted to the hospital for eating poisonous mushrooms. The oldest person in the group eventually died, but the rest were saved. That, obviously, isn't much of a technology story, but Search Engines WEB writes in to point us to a more detailed article in a local paper that notes that the doctors working on the case found something of an experimental treatment by searching the literature on Google Scholar, and then plowing through tremendous red tape involving pharmaceutical companies, the FDA and local hospitals in order to treat the patients successfully. There are plenty of sources that medical professionals can use these days, so it's interesting that Google is turning out to be so useful. For all the talk about how the web may be full of bad medical information, it appears that even doctors (and some healthy patients) are finding out that it can be pretty useful at times.


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  1.  
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    dorpus, Jan 15th, 2007 @ 11:12am

    Silicon Valley Parochialism

    So we have a couple of bay area newspapers touting the wonders of Google? The fact remains that Pubmed, Medline, and other search engines offer more reliable information than Google Scholar. Because Google Scholar was built by ignorant Silicon Valley engineers who make no distinction between crystal-swinging "alternative medicine" cures and real science, Google Scholar searches are plagued with worthless articles from those kind of "journals".

     

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    Chronno S. Trigger, Jan 15th, 2007 @ 11:19am

    Google rocks

    I guess Dorpus is a doctor

    I was just commenting yesterday that you could find anything on Google.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2007 @ 11:19am

    Re: Silicon Valley Parochialism

    Wow. You've sure got one of those holy doctor attitudes. Google engineers build search engines that index whatever information is available. They don't claim to be the engine of truth or some other retarded claim. They are successful because they are the best that is out there. If you think you can beat them at anything, you arrogant prick, you ought to try.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2007 @ 11:21am

    Re: Silicon Valley Parochialism

    You dont think a doc knows the difference between alternative medicine and real science? This is the spirit of the web: all humanity spewing its detritus into the common pool--and also its wisdom.

     

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    ryan, Jan 15th, 2007 @ 11:27am

    so?

    So what if they dont make a distinction? Its a search engine. An experienced doctor would be able to tell right away if the page he was reading was false. He is using it to refresh his memory. Second of all if it found an experimental procedure that worked thats a good thing. Now medicine has benifited because the experimental procedure is now a proven one.

     

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    William, Jan 15th, 2007 @ 11:30am

    Greater berth of information on Google

    I bet that Pubmed, Medline, and other search engines don't include crystal waving or experimental treatments so they would have been no use to the poisoned family. The essence of good research is being able to wade through the BS so find the gems and that will never change no matter what reference you use. So if you are looking for the definitive long established answer use Medline but if there is no answer you might need to use something else.

     

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    dorpus, Jan 15th, 2007 @ 11:30am

    Re: Re: Silicon Valley Parochialism

    That is the problem with pseudoscientific search engines like Google. Consumers like yourself justify their ignorance by finding "scholarly articles" to back their beliefs.

    I guess if I wanted to be Jim Jones, I could write a scholarly-sounding article that talks about the "therapeutic" effects of poisonous mushrooms. The alternative medicine industry is ahead of me there -- it has fooled millions of people into taking toxic "natural supplements", destroying their own health so that they have to see real doctors later.

     

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    Amerin, Jan 15th, 2007 @ 11:37am

    remember this...

    Doctors PRACTICE medicine, cause they haven't got it right yet, they are always still learning, a fact they ignore quite frequently, They all have "GOD" complexes, but their learning system breeds them, Ive worked in an around the Health-care industry in multiple countries, the US Doctors are pricks, but they are still better than most other "developed" countries by 10 fold, If my doc take the time to refresh his frame of reference with Google, before slicing me up, Hey more power to him, at least that one know hes not perfect and bothers to refresh his memory before slicing and dicing..

     

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    nick, Jan 15th, 2007 @ 11:38am

    Google has its uses

    Without google work would suck.

     

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    dorpus, Jan 15th, 2007 @ 11:39am

    Re: so?

    So what if they dont make a distinction? Its a search engine. An experienced doctor would be able to tell right away if the page he was reading was false. He is using it to refresh his memory.

    No, an "experienced" doctor (in the clinical sense) does not necessarily have the ability to distinguish a good paper from a bad one. Researchers with MD/PhD's know when a "discovery" is circumstantial and needs a lot more investigation, but MD clinicians are eager to jump on fads from preliminary findings. Until a few years ago, clinicians used to tell women that they should all take estrogen supplements, based on a few papers that found a positive effect in some categories of women. Today, we know it is harmful, and should only be done for women that meet very specific conditions.

    In another case, a very poorly designed, small study in Lancet found a link between MMR vaccination and autism. Researchers immediately spotted the poor design, but clinicians jumped on the fad and went on TV saying that "vaccines cause autism". The medical research community is still undoing the damage from that one.

     

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    dorpus, Jan 15th, 2007 @ 11:55am

    Re: Greater berth of information on Google

    I bet that Pubmed, Medline, and other search engines don't include crystal waving or experimental treatments so they would have been no use to the poisoned family.

    I bet that Pubmed has this to say about amatoxin poisoning:

    "Specific treatments consisted of detoxication procedures (e.g., toxin removal from bile and urine, and extracorporeal purification) and administration of drugs. Chemotherapy included benzylpenicillin or other beta-lactam antibiotics, silymarin complex, thioctic acid, antioxidant drugs, hormones and steroids administered singly, or more usually, in combination."

    If this doctor did not read this on Pubmed, and just went by a quack milk thistle treatment on Google that killed one of the patients, then he is guilty of homicide. The newspaper article does not say he tried to do anything else.

     

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    Dave, Jan 15th, 2007 @ 12:06pm

    C'mon you guys are surprised?

    while I am not a doctor, I have played on on TV :-)

    Seriously, tho. As a programmer, I find that Google is a more useful tool to search for help on problems I am having, mainly because I don't have to search each site and forum individually for a topic. Why should we be surprised that a doctor figured the same thing out...

     

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    The infamous Joe, Jan 15th, 2007 @ 12:18pm

    Just the facts, ma'am.

    Dorpus, do you ever get tired of being a troll? I mean, really, come on. Where do you get this crap? I stuggle to even figure out what you're arguing against... I think it's that google allows 'New Age' medicines and treatments, and shouldn't be considered a reliable source for doctors.

    I challenge you to search for 'meditation' on Pubmed.com and see what it turns out. Seems pretty new age to me. Not to mention that the "New Age' medicine this doctor found has been used in Europe *and* can be found on Pubmed.com. Medline.com, as far as I can tell, sells medical supplies-- which I hope wouldn't help a doctor much when brushing up on a surgery technique.

    You spout out information as if they were facts without any proof to back them up...

    It really just gets old.

     

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    Brad, Jan 15th, 2007 @ 12:26pm

    Oh please...

    Don't blame a search engine for all the crap on the internet. Google has nothing to do with the content you find, and is not responsible for any idiotic actions you might take based on that content. Google is an extremely powerful search engine, which has numerous beneficial uses to people in many different walks of life.

    Being a computer technician, my job would be miserable without a good search engine to find information. I myself am a "computer doctor," and I am constantly looking for help on how to fix problems I run across, as there is no way ANYBODY can know everything there is to know about a particular subject. While trying to find the right combinations of keywords to find what I'm looking for, I sometimes run through numerous pages of search results full of nothing but crappy, useless, and irrelevant information. A good technician (or doctor) will know what to look for and how to properly use what he/she finds. An idiot will take everything he finds at face value and do stupid stuff because of it.

    So again, quit blaming Google for something they are not in any way responsible for. There is always going to be crap everywhere you look. Everytime I walk past a news stand with newspapers and magazines that are full of crap. Instead of idiotically blaming the sellers for trying to offer my lousy content, I simply exercise my rights to NOT buy any of it and just keep on walking. If you don't like what's on Google, then don't use it. It's as simple as that.

     

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    2nd year Med student, Jan 15th, 2007 @ 12:36pm

    Scientific paper search engines = animal research

    One of the biggest problems I've found with the scholarly search engines is the same problem that people have with Google (or any search engine for that matter): you have to wade through tons of irrelevant material (or crap when using non-scholarly search engines) to find what you are really want. The scholarly search engines also have many, many restrictions on them unless you have full subscriptions to all of them.

    You also have to look at the fact that searching in Google for a answer to a scientific question almost always show up with results linking to papers in scholarly search engines, and also that sometimes the methods that have been proven by science don't work so you have to try some that haven't been proven yet (ie FDA approved).

    Western medicine is so closed minded, the only thing considered medical treatment are surgery and drugs (the insurance companys are just now catching on to preventitive medicine) and is only starting to consider alternative medical treatment as a viable option.

    To close off, I'm not sure of people who graduated college 15 years ago but I do know that I can definitely tell the difference between a credible and a non-credible source, and I think that most people who graduated a four year college with a science degree around the time I did (post 2000) knows how to recognize a credible source.

     

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    dorpus, Jan 15th, 2007 @ 12:36pm

    Re: Oh please...

    Don't blame a search engine for all the crap on the internet. Google has nothing to do with the content you find, and is not responsible for any idiotic actions you might take based on that content. Google is an extremely powerful search engine, which has numerous beneficial uses to people in many different walks of life.

    So what you're saying is that Google should act proud when "Google Scholar" sounds respectable, but take no responsibility when the information there turns out to be harmful.

    While trying to find the right combinations of keywords to find what I'm looking for, I sometimes run through numerous pages of search results full of nothing but crappy, useless, and irrelevant information. A good technician (or doctor) will know what to look for and how to properly use what he/she finds. An idiot will take everything he finds at face value and do stupid stuff because of it.

    So what you're saying is that we should encourage the dissemination of harmful misinformation, and depend on the doctor to have the good judgement to sort it out. I could start posting "scholarly articles" advising physicians to inject children with deadly toxins as "antidotes". We know physicians couldn't possibly have impaired judgement from being overworked, could they? Many medicines sound alike, but we know doctors can't fooled by a scholarly paper into prescribing the wrong one.

     

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    Gabriel Tane (profile), Jan 15th, 2007 @ 12:41pm

    Oh here we go again.

    "If this doctor did not read this on Pubmed, and just went by a quack milk thistle treatment on Google that killed one of the patients, then he is guilty of homicide. The newspaper article does not say he tried to do anything else."
    -dorpus


    Because heaven forbid that the family be responsible for their actions. Heaven forbid a human doctor make a mistake and not use the most absolutely perfectly perfect solution available.

    Doctors are there to try to heal people. When they aren't successful, they aren't guilty of homicide.

    If you read the article, it wasn't an attempt to save lives as though this were a triage situation where he just on-the-fly opted for an experimental solution while a life was on the line.

    He used the (already successfully in-use in other countries) solution to try to minimize the reliance on a transplant for survival. He had already administered the "standard treatment for liver poisoning" as per the article. (Read the first link)

    Damn dorpus, I'm a cynical bastard, but you don't see me going on the warpath against all things "alternative". What's your beef with this?

    "That is the problem with pseudoscientific search engines like Google."
    -dorpus

    Since when did Google become any in way scientific? Funny, I thought it was a search engine... as in you search for stuff. I don't remember them claiming that their results are only the scientifically-founded matches to your search.

    And finally... my new favorite for the day...
    "I bet that Pubmed has this to say about amatoxin poisoning:

    'Specific treatments consisted of detoxication procedures (e.g., toxin removal from bile and urine, and extracorporeal purification) and administration of drugs. Chemotherapy included benzylpenicillin or other beta-lactam antibiotics, silymarin complex, thioctic acid, antioxidant drugs, hormones and steroids administered singly, or more usually, in combination.' "
    -dorpus

    Hold on folks... this one is fun...

    "Chemotherapy included benzylpenicillin or other beta-lactam antibiotics, silymarin complex,..." (from dorpus' quote from Pubmed)

    The active ingredient, or liver-protecting compound in milk thistle is known as silymarin.

    Oops! Looks like Pubmed is giving the same "chrystal-swinging alternative medicinds" that Google did.

    Damn. That's gotta hurt.

     

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  18.  
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    dorpus, Jan 15th, 2007 @ 12:42pm

    Re: Scientific paper search engines = animal resea

    What you demonstrate is a perfect example of the sophomoric attitudes of 4-year college graduates. Those of us who have pursued more advanced degrees in health fields know that there is so much more to Western medicine than surgery and drugs. Furthermore, we know how easy it is to fool most people (even doctors!) with papers that sound credible. MD's are routinely fooled by papers that would be laughed at by first-semester students in epidemiology or other public health fields.

     

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    dorpus, Jan 15th, 2007 @ 12:56pm

    Re: Oh here we go again.

    Because heaven forbid that the family be responsible for their actions. Heaven forbid a human doctor make a mistake and not use the most absolutely perfectly perfect solution available.

    Doctors are there to try to heal people. When they aren't successful, they aren't guilty of homicide.


    If the doctor neglected to look up the standard treatments on poisoning, then yes, he IS guilty of homicide.

    He used the (already successfully in-use in other countries) solution to try to minimize the reliance on a transplant for survival.

    Germany is notorious for approving ineffective or even harmful drugs, because of its powerful alternative medicine lobby. Thalidomide was invented by Germans and eagerly promoted for "curing" morning sickness in pregnant mothers, giving birth to 10,000 children with severe malformities.

    Oops! Looks like Pubmed is giving the same "chrystal-swinging alternative medicinds" that Google did.
    Damn. That's gotta hurt.


    Yes, you should feel the hurt. "Milk thistle extract" is not the same thing as silymarin. Some compounds found in tiny amounts in snake venom show promise as chemotherapeutic agents, but we would not want to inject cancer patients with gallons of snake venom as a "natural cure".

     

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  20.  
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    Luke, Jan 15th, 2007 @ 1:02pm

    Hehe. Dorpus a doctor?

    If Dorpus is a practicing doctor then the whole world may just fall in on itself. No wonder I'm more comfortable trusting my health to an engineer than I am to an MD.

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2007 @ 1:16pm

    Re: Re: Scientific paper search engines = animal r

    Hmmm, I think I'm a 4-year college graduate AND a second year medical student. My point is that many doctors in the recient past have only thought inside the box and refused to consider anything experimental or non-traditional, and have only reciently (within the past five to ten years) started to consider anything past what they consider "medicine".

    Also, most doctors aren't "fooled" by papers that sound credible, they are scared into following the crowd because if they did something outside of the norm and hurt someone they would be more open to a malpractice suit than if they were "just going by the book"; whenever you deal with patient directly there is more chance of being sued when something goes not quite right (even if it is no one's fault).

    Medicine is an evolving science, what is correct/the best now won't be in five years (for the most part).

     

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  22.  
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    Gabriel Tane (profile), Jan 15th, 2007 @ 2:01pm

    Re: Re: Oh here we go again.

    "If the doctor neglected to look up the standard treatments on poisoning, then yes, he IS guilty of homicide."
    -dorpus

    But that's not the case here. Read both articles again. The family was treated with the standard treatment for poisoning. The silymarin was a treatment to help avoid the need for transplant. The family's lives were already saved by the standard treatment (except the grandmother).

    Now, if the treatment worsens their condition, then yes, the doctor could be found guilty of malpractice. If that negligence leads directly to the death of the patient, then you could be looking at negligent homicide.

    "Germany is notorious for approving ineffective or even harmful drugs, because of its powerful alternative medicine lobby. Thalidomide was invented by Germans and eagerly promoted for "curing" morning sickness in pregnant mothers, giving birth to 10,000 children with severe malformities."
    -dorpus

    So? That doesn't mean that every "alternative medicine" is a harmful snake-oil that's going to detract everyone from "true medicine". Did you miss the point where it was said that this treatment was "successfully" used in Europe? Unless I lost all grasp of the English language, "successfully" means that it worked. Maybe not all the time, but then even "mainstream" medicine doesn't work all the time.

    And who's talking about Germany exclusively anyway? The first people this doctor talked to was a pharm in Belgium... you know... not Germany.

    Yeah it sucks that Thalidomide didn't work like they thought. Yeah it's horrible what happened because of that... but what does that have to do with silymarin?

    "Yes, you should feel the hurt. "Milk thistle extract" is not the same thing as silymarin."
    -dorpus

    No pain here... well, except a razor cut from shaving this morning. But thanks for asking.

    Yes, silymarin is the same thing as milk thistle extract. Read the line I wrote, and then click on it, since it's a hyper link. You know what... here: CLICK ME Now you don't have to scroll back up.

    "Some compounds found in tiny amounts in snake venom show promise as chemotherapeutic agents, but we would not want to inject cancer patients with gallons of snake venom as a "natural cure"."
    -dorpus

    oooh... a Red Herring. Too bad I don't like seafood.

    I don't know what snake venom has to do with silymarin, but I'm glad you're not going to be injecting it by the gallon into anyone.

    Now, if it's found that small doses of snake venom have healing value, then good for it. Snake venom in small doses isn't always fatal. And I'm sure there are peoples of the world that have found it a functional cure for some ailments.

    But then, that's an "alternative medicine" so anyone who believes it could work must be a fool.

    Anyway, my final point still stands that your vaunted Pubmed spat out the same info that the much-maligned Google Scholar did.

    You still haven't answered my question. What is this beef you have with "alternative medicine"? If a doctor recommends it and people go with that option, and it works, what does it matter to you?

     

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  23.  
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    wolff000, Jan 15th, 2007 @ 2:33pm

    Dorpus Is A Troll

    He makes such comments cause he likes to argue. he almost always refuses to look at any other facts besides the ones he spewed. He likes to argue and his posts here showcase that well. So rememeber people if you don't feed the troll he won't come back for more. Besides when did google claim that any info they find is 100% accurate, I think I missed that announcement. Google is a nice tool and people should remeber that a good tool can be used to do good or bad.

     

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    misanthropic humanist, Jan 15th, 2007 @ 2:52pm

    magic crystals

    Well, I can refute that nonsense in one. You won't find this on Google apparently, but I bought one of these immortality bracelets , and it's worked perfectly well for me (so far).

    http://www.alexchiu.com/index.htm

    And you get a money back guarantee. "If your immortality bracelet fails for any reason, just send it back with proof of purchase and a copy of your death certificate for an instant no quibble refund"

    And people knock alternative medicine. Tssk.

     

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    Beavis & Butthead, Jan 15th, 2007 @ 3:26pm

    hehe, hehe...

    they're surfing for porn...

     

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    wikidoctor, Jan 15th, 2007 @ 3:30pm

    wiki it!

    My doctor gets all of his information from wikipedia. Sometimes, for fun, I change the medicinal remedies to get all sorts of hilarious results. The fun never stops when lives are on the line!

     

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    Another 2nd year medical student...., Jan 15th, 2007 @ 3:42pm

    I second that opinion....

    Scholar is great because it is quick. Sure, if you wanted to write a research paper you may have to do additional research on Pubmed, but you will likely spend the better part of the morning searching. Some invalid articles do pop up, but in the end its better than nothing, (and almost Pubmed). As for doctor's misinterpretation of good from bad studies, that did happen seemingly with the MMR vaccine (it was never really shown to cause autism), but I think those doctors had ulterior motives.

     

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    mark, Jan 15th, 2007 @ 3:50pm

    I was under the impression that as far as toxins, they were pretty well covered in the literature due to the time factor often involved. Mushrooms, and some other toxins, often have little or no treatment depending on what was ingested and the time from ingestion. When you're up against those factors, sometimes its "Try something or watch the patient die." I'd prefer they at least try.

     

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  29.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2007 @ 5:17pm

    dorpus roped a lot of you into his troll nonsense.

    don't pay attention to him and maybe he'll go f..k himself

     

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  30.  
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    dorpus, Jan 15th, 2007 @ 8:24pm

    Re: Re: Re: Scientific paper search engines = anim

    Hmmm, I think I'm a 4-year college graduate AND a second year medical student.

    Your med school will be very interested in your cavalier attitude toward ethics. If you really are a med student, that is.

    My point is that many doctors in the recient past have only thought inside the box and refused to consider anything experimental or non-traditional, and have only reciently (within the past five to ten years) started to consider anything past what they consider "medicine".

    Sure, why not have every ER doctor, obstetrician, pediatrician perform "creative" treatments on car crash victims, mothers giving birth, babies with meningitis? Why not "think outside the box" by performing an arbitrary amputation here, injecting a random drug there?

    Also, most doctors aren't "fooled" by papers that sound credible, they are scared into following the crowd because if they did something outside of the norm and hurt someone

    More likely, doctors like yourself are easily fooled by papers into fad treatments that harm patients, and get themselves sued out of medicine later. The reality is that most experimental treatments that sound good in a small trial turn out to be harmful later.

    Medicine is an evolving science, what is correct/the best now won't be in five years (for the most part).

    Really? Do you know anything about the way clinical trials work? I don't think you are a med student.

     

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  31.  
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    dorpus, Jan 15th, 2007 @ 8:40pm

    Re: Re: Re: Oh here we go again.

    But that's not the case here. Read both articles again. The family was treated with the standard treatment for poisoning. The silymarin was a treatment to help avoid the need for transplant. The family's lives were already saved by the standard treatment (except the grandmother).

    If the "family's lives were already saved by the standard treatment", then the doctor acted unethically by introducing an unnecessary experimental treatment. What if the silymarin causes problems years later, causing all 6 survivors to get liver cancer? Medicine is rife with case histories like this, where a publicity-hungry doctor made himself into a hero by performing an unnecessary experimental treatment, only to have his patients die later.

    So? That doesn't mean that every "alternative medicine" is a harmful snake-oil that's going to detract everyone from "true medicine". Did you miss the point where it was said that this treatment was "successfully" used in Europe? Unless I lost all grasp of the English language, "successfully" means that it worked. Maybe not all the time, but then even "mainstream" medicine doesn't work all the time.

    Thalydomide was very successful in stopping morning sickness. Years later, it also turned out to be very successful in producing severely deformed babies. Doctors embraced an "outside the box", "experimental", and "progressive" treatment, only to suffer severe consequences later.

    Yeah it sucks that Thalidomide didn't work like they thought. Yeah it's horrible what happened because of that... but what does that have to do with silymarin?

    What if silymarin turns out to cause terrible health problems later, and the family would have been better off with liver transplants?

    Yes, silymarin is the same thing as milk thistle extract.

    Nope, silymarin is just one chemical inside the hundreds that make up milk thistle extract. It sounds like you have never learned basic chemistry?

    http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-milkthistle.html

    "Anima l studies suggest that milk thistle may interfere with the way the body processes certain drugs using the liver's "cytochrome P450" enzyme system. As a result, the levels of these drugs may be increased in the blood, and may cause increased effects or adverse reactions. Many types of drugs may be affected. Milk thistle may lower blood sugar levels. Milk thistle may interact with hormonal agents. "

    You still haven't answered my question. What is this beef you have with "alternative medicine"? If a doctor recommends it and people go with that option, and it works, what does it matter to you?

    So should doctors recommend sham treatments to patients? Should cancer patients be told to drink more herbal tea? Should a child with meningitis be told to just hold a crystal and meditate?

     

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    Dosquatch, Jan 16th, 2007 @ 5:02am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Oh here we go again.

    What if silymarin turns out to cause terrible health problems later, and the family would have been better off with liver transplants?

    What if, what if. What if I call you on the carpet as a troll who would be foisting the same arguments if the alternative treatment was tap water?

     

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  33.  
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    Gabriel Tane (profile), Jan 16th, 2007 @ 5:25am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Oh here we go again.

    "What if the silymarin causes problems years later, causing all 6 survivors to get liver cancer? Medicine is rife with case histories like this, where a publicity-hungry doctor made himself into a hero by performing an unnecessary experimental treatment, only to have his patients die later."
    -dorpus

    You like to throw out a lot of what-if's and then back them up with broad generalizations yet offer no examples. It would be just as easy for me to say that medicine is rife with examples of medical miracles where doctors opted for an experimental treatment that turned out to the only viable solution. Without examples, my statement holds as much meaning as yours.

    And besides. If this treatment doesn't work, who says they can't get transplants later? Who says the doctor hasn't already put them on the list (even though they'd probably die waiting anyway).

    So instead of seeing that happen, the doctor is doing something.

    "Thalydomide was very successful in stopping morning sickness. Years later, it also turned out to be very successful in producing severely deformed babies. Doctors embraced an "outside the box", "experimental", and "progressive" treatment, only to suffer severe consequences later."
    -dorpus

    At least in this one, you gave an example. But you gave one example that shows "experimental" medicine is not perfect. No surprise there. Nothing is perfect. But that does not mean that all experimental drugs are bad and that all doctors who use them are the evil, unethical killers you make them out to be.

    "What if silymarin turns out to cause terrible health problems later, and the family would have been better off with liver transplants?"
    -dorpus

    Again with the what-if's. ::sigh::... fine. What if the doctor said "no, we're going to wait for the transplant" and no suitable donors are found in time and the whole family dies? What if weeks after the last member dies, another doctor tries this treatment on another liver-poison patient and it turns out to work just fine?

    See? What-if's really don't make for good arguing. You can paint any pretty picture you want to support your viewpoint. That's the wonderful thing about hypotheticals: they are wide open.

    "Nope, silymarin is just one chemical inside the hundreds that make up milk thistle extract. It sounds like you have never learned basic chemistry?

    http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-milkthistle.html

    'Anima l studies suggest that milk thistle may interfere with the way the body processes certain drugs using the liver's "cytochrome P450" enzyme system. As a result, the levels of these drugs may be increased in the blood, and may cause increased effects or adverse reactions. Many types of drugs may be affected. Milk thistle may lower blood sugar levels. Milk thistle may interact with hormonal agents. '"
    -dorpus

    Never took chemistry. But I do know how to read. Congratulations though, you managed to find, cut and past the drug interaction section.

    Most drugs (even "mainstream" ones) have interactions that can inhibit some bodily functions. Haven't you heard any of those commercials for new drugs? The wonderful list of side effects that make you wonder if the original condition is better? You're little list up there about the side effects of milk thistle pales in comparison to some of the lists those drugs rattle off. And those aren't some witch-doctor native cure. Those are new drugs that are pumped out by pharms to get into the mainstream.

    But, back to defending my point about whether milk thistle and silymarin are the same. Did you not read the first part of that very article to which you linked? Allow me:

    "Milk thistle has been used medicinally for over 2000 years, most commonly for the treatment of liver and gallbladder disorders. A flavonoid complex called silymarin can be extracted from the seeds of milk thistle, and is believed to be the biologically active component. The terms "milk thistle" and "silymarin" are often used interchangeably."

    You had originally posted a quote from Pubmed as an example of what you considered reliable reference material as opposed to Google Scholar. I was pointing out that your quote included (as an "approved" treatment) silymarin, which is the same thing as milk thistle extract.

    "So should doctors recommend sham treatments to patients? Should cancer patients be told to drink more herbal tea? Should a child with meningitis be told to just hold a crystal and meditate?"
    -dorpus

    I love how you dance around an issue, make (what you may consider noble and grandiose) statements without actually answering a question.

    Who said silymarin was a sham treatment (other than you... sorry, you're not proof)? Your own linked document that you brought forth as backup of
    your statements says: "Milk thistle has been used medicinally for over 2000 years, most commonly for the treatment of liver and gallbladder disorders."

    2000 years? That sounds like a long time, especially in our modern medical world, for a "sham" treatment to still be around. If it didn't work, why would people still be using it?

    "Should cancer patients be told to drink more herbal tea? Should a child with meningitis be told to just hold a crystal and meditate?"
    -dorpus

    As a way to relieve the pains involved in cancer? Yes, drink more tea. But I don't know of any doctor that says "here, drink this. It'll cure your cancer."

    Are you proposing that we just sit back and watch these patients die without trying anything? Who's unethical now?

    You're dragging out these hyperbolic, hypothetical examples that are so far removed from reality that you're doing nothing more than shooting your argument in the foot.

    What we're talking about here is a doctor that has said "take this treatment. It may help avoid a transplant". Not "take this and you're cured!"

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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