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Study finds Echinacea useless for colds


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39 replies to this topic

#1 of 40 OFFLINE   RobertR

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Posted July 28 2005 - 06:33 AM

http://www.latimes.c....ck=1&cset=true

I have no doubt this won’t dissuade “true believers”, but as the article says, good science speaks for itself and enough is enough.

#2 of 40 OFFLINE   D. Scott MacDonald

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Posted July 28 2005 - 07:56 AM

I thought that a study several years ago already proved this. On the other hand, another study found that zinc provided a small benefit, but only if taken consistently every four hours or so from the time that the cold first starts.
Scott

#3 of 40 OFFLINE   Mort Corey

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Posted July 28 2005 - 08:22 AM

Not registered with the LA Times so couldn't read the article, but that stuff sure does dry up my sinuses (mouth and everything else) for some reason when I've taken it in the past. Haven't had a cold in the last four or so years so I haven't had the occasion to take it in a while. Mort

#4 of 40 OFFLINE   Chris Lockwood

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Posted July 28 2005 - 08:30 AM

You can "prove" anything with a study. Aren't there studies showing cigarettes are good for you?

#5 of 40 OFFLINE   JeremyErwin

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Posted July 28 2005 - 08:37 AM

Here's the abstract from The New England Journal of Medicine (full text costs $10)



#6 of 40 OFFLINE   RobertR

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Posted July 28 2005 - 08:42 AM

Chris, Saying some studies are flawed is far from a sufficient critique of this one. What specific criticisms do you have of their methodology? It looks sound to me.

#7 of 40 OFFLINE   andrew markworthy

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Posted July 28 2005 - 09:02 AM

The short answers - no you can't and yes there are, but I still wouldn't smoke. The long answer: You can only 'prove' anything with a study if the study is badly constructed or downright fraudulent. If a study is properly controlled and the sampling is correct, then it should be accurate. By 'properly controlled' we mean that in addition to the experimental question being asked, other possibile explanations have been addressed. The classic case is studying effects of drug treatments. Suppose you have drug X that is supposed to cure disease Y. The most obvious experiment is to give a bunch of people drug X and see if they get better. Obvious, but wrong. Even if the participants all get better, you haven't proved that X cured Y because the participants could have got better even if they hadn't been treated. So then you run a study where you look at people with disease Y, and only treat half of them with X. Then you see who gets better. If you find that the untreated group don't get better but the group receiving X do, you still haven't proved that X cures Y, because there could be a placebo effect. Therefore, you redo the experiment, this time with a no treatment, a placebo treatment and drug X treatment. Suppose you find that only the drug X group get better. You still haven't proved that X cures Y because perhaps the people observing the patients are biased and so classify the participants they know are getting X as better, even though objectively there is no difference. Therefore, you have to redo the experiment yet again, this time running a double blind procedure (where neither the participants nor the observers know which group anyone belongs to). You will appreciate that I am describing a simple experiment - the more complex ones are of course a lot more convoluted. In many instances you not only have to deal with the experimental variables in front of you but also have to allow for confounding variables. A simple example - suppose that you find that obesity in linked to a disease. Can you say that being overweight is the prime cause of the disease? No - because obesity is associated with many other factors, such as lack of exercise, social class (the lower the socio-economic group, the higher the proportion of overweight people), etc. So obesity may only be associated with the disease, not cause it. And then you have the issue of sampling. You can't usually test the entire population of people with a particular medical condition, so you therefore take a sample and then conduct statistical analyses to see if what you find in the sample is likely to be true of the population from which it's drawn. However, unless your sample is accurate to begin with and also you are good at choosing the right statistical techniques (and in my experience medics aren't terribly good at this) then the results are likely to be faulty. Which all leads to the conclusion that if everything is done properly, then the results should be accurate, but there are potentialy pitfalls. However, that is not the same as saying that you can prove anything with a study. There is also the argument that some people seem to buck the trend. Although a study says one thing for the general population, they are the reverse. This in no way disproves the validity of a study. Statistics usually only tells us what is true for a group. Exceptions to most things can be expected. For example, I have a naturally 'high' temperature - that doesn't disprove statements about what is a normal temperature range.

#8 of 40 OFFLINE   Chu Gai

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Posted July 28 2005 - 11:20 AM

How silly. Everyone knows you starve a cold and feed a fever!

#9 of 40 OFFLINE   BrianW

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Posted July 28 2005 - 12:30 PM

Actually, my understanding is that this is not a recipe for treatment, but an admonishment: If you starve a cold, it will get worse, and you'll end up feeding a fever -- much like, "A minute on the lips, a lifetime on the hips." In other words, it's not what you should do, it's what you should avoid.

In any case, I doubt whether this admonishment is worth heeding. Everyone knows that all such sayings are just made up stuff that never works. Posted Image
-Brian
Come, Rubidia. Let's blow this epoch.

#10 of 40 OFFLINE   RobertR

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Posted July 28 2005 - 01:38 PM

Posted Image That reminds me of Fonzi's flawed logic in a Happy Days episode:

Fonzie: My fiance is a virgin.

Richie: How do you know?

Fonzie: She told me.

Richie: Maybe she lied.

Fonzie: Virgins don't lie.

#11 of 40 OFFLINE   Chu Gai

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Posted July 28 2005 - 11:32 PM

There was a Virgin's Day parade in New York but no one showed up. One girl was sick and the other didn't want to go without her friend Posted Image

#12 of 40 OFFLINE   John Alvarez

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Posted July 29 2005 - 04:03 AM

Was this a Plackett Burman D.O.E. with full factoral and no confounding factors? What were the factors and how many variables?

Please someone give me some answers.....Posted Image
Just send me the Minitab files.

#13 of 40 OFFLINE   Garrett Lundy

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Posted July 29 2005 - 04:07 AM

Cigarettes may cure Alzheimers! read more HERE
"Did you know that more people are murdered at 92 degrees Fahrenheit than any other temperature? I read an article once. Lower temperatures, people are easy-going, over 92 and it's too hot to move, but just 92, people get irritable."

#14 of 40 OFFLINE   Ted Lee

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Posted July 29 2005 - 05:41 AM

this is very interesting news to me. when i start getting a sore-throat, i go on a super-ech regimen -- taking about two full dropper-things with a small amount of oj (or water if i don't have anything else) every 4 hours (or so). it has worked so well in the past that i don't plan on stopping anytime soon. within a day or two, my sore throat is gone. now, i've always known it could be a psycho-somatic (sp?) response, but do i care? nope...not one bit. as long as the end result is a non-sore throat, then i'm a happy camper. but now knowing about this test ... it'll be interesting to see what happens next time.
 

#15 of 40 OFFLINE   Dome Vongvises

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Posted July 29 2005 - 07:59 AM

Scientific study gives me a headache. That's why I don't do research. I applaud all the scientists out there who are willing to take up the task of publishing papers. Too many damn loops to jump through. On the other hand, they do use slave labor aka graduate students. Posted Image

Back on topic, I'm still looking for that scientifically sound alternative medicine fad. I don't think it's going to happen soon.

#16 of 40 OFFLINE   MarkHastings

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Posted July 29 2005 - 08:15 AM

Try the clam strip routine and bet the headache goes away in 2 days. p.s. Ted, I hope you don't take the above as a personal attack. I was just talking in general.

#17 of 40 OFFLINE   Ted Lee

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Posted July 29 2005 - 08:39 AM

but then i'd be tired of clams! Posted Image
 

#18 of 40 OFFLINE   D. Scott MacDonald

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Posted July 29 2005 - 10:32 AM

I certainly understand the sentiment. Many studies are poorly done, or start with a premise and then pull whatever "data" they can out of their butts to prove it. However, it appears that this study is not one of them - it has been well documented, peer reviewed, and published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Certainly no "cigarettes are good for you" studies can say this.
Scott

#19 of 40 OFFLINE   andrew markworthy

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Posted July 31 2005 - 06:14 AM


... and grad students are what give us academics a headache. Posted Image

#20 of 40 OFFLINE   TheoGB

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Posted July 31 2005 - 08:15 PM


Why do you care, though? Is your wife spending $4000 a year on the stuff? Placebos can work so in that sense there's little wrong with someone using it if they believe that it will work, especially when we're talking about something as trivial as a common cold. Posted Image

I'd rather see the quacks from L'Oreal, Clinique, et al. driven out with their 'anti-ageing', 'free-radical'-blocking crap at 50x the cost of echinacea, to be honest... Posted Image




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