Cervical radiculopathy is a common condition that is usually due to compression or injury to a nerve root by a herniated disc or other degenerative changes of the upper spine. The C5 to T1 levels are the most commonly affected. In such cases local and radiating pains, often with neurological deficits, are the most prominent symptoms. Treatment of this condition is often difficult.
The purpose of this systematic review was to assess the effectiveness and safety of conservative interventions compared with other interventions, placebo/sham interventions, or no intervention on disability, pain, function, quality of life, and psychological impact in adults with cervical radiculopathy (CR).
MEDLINE, CENTRAL, CINAHL, Embase, and PsycINFO were searched from inception to June 15, 2022, to identify studies that were randomized clinical trials, had at least one conservative treatment arm, and diagnosed participants with CR through confirmatory clinical examination and/or diagnostic tests. Studies were appraised using the Cochrane Risk of Bias 2 tool and the quality of the evidence was rated using the Grades of Recommendations, Assessment, Development, and Evaluation approach.
Of the 2561 records identified, 59 trials met our inclusion criteria (n = 4108 participants). Due to clinical and statistical heterogeneity, the findings were synthesized narratively. The results show very-low certainty evidence supporting the use of
- cervical manipulation,
- low-level laser therapy
for pain and disability in the immediate to short-term, and thoracic manipulation and low-level laser therapy for improvements in cervical range of motion in the immediate term.
There is low to very-low certainty evidence for multimodal interventions, providing inconclusive evidence for pain, disability, and range of motion. There is inconclusive evidence for pain reduction after conservative management compared with surgery, rated as very-low certainty.
The authors concluded that there is a lack of high-quality evidence, limiting our ability to make any meaningful conclusions. As the number of people with CR is expected to increase, there is an urgent need for future research to help address these gaps.
The fact that we cannot offer a truly effective therapy for CR has long been known – except, of course, to chiropractors, acupuncturists, osteopaths, and other SCAM providers who offer their services as though they are a sure solution. Sometimes, their treatments seem to work; but this could be just because the symptoms of CR can improve spontaneously, unrelated to any intervention.
The question thus arises what should these often badly suffering patients do if spontaneous remission does not occur? As an answer, let me quote from another recent systematic review of the subject: The 6 included studies that had low risk of bias, providing high-quality evidence for the surgical efficacy of Cervical Spondylotic Radiculopathy. The evidence indicates that surgical treatment is better than conservative treatment … and superior to conservative treatment in less than one year.
Menopausal symptoms are a domaine of so-called alternative medicine (SCAM), not least because many women are worried about hormone treatments and therefore want ‘something natural’. TCM practitioners are only too keen to offer their services. But do their treatments really work?
This study aimed to analyze the effectiveness of acupuncture combined with Chinese herbal medicine (CHM) on mood disorder symptoms for menopausal women.
A total of 95 qualified Chinese participants were randomly assigned to one of three groups:
- 31 in the acupuncture combined with CHM group (combined group),
- 32 in the acupuncture combined with CHM placebo group (acupuncture group),
- 32 in the CHM combined with sham acupuncture group (CHM group).
The patients were treated for 8 weeks and followed up for 4 weeks. The data were collected using the Greene Climacteric Scale (GCS), self-rating depression scale (SDS), self-rating anxiety scale (SAS), and safety index.
The three groups each showed significant decreases in the GCS, SDS, and SAS after treatment (p < 0.05). Furthermore, the effect on the GCS total score and the anxiety domain lasted until the follow-up period in the combined group (p < 0.05). Within the three groups, there was no difference in GCS and SAS between the three groups after treatment (p > 0.05). However, the combined group showed significant improvement in the SDS, compared with both the acupuncture group and the CHM group at 8 weeks and 12 weeks (p < 0.05). No obvious abnormal cases were found in any of the safety indexes.
The authors concluded that the results suggest that either acupuncture, or CHM or combined therapy offer safe improvement of mood disorder symptoms for menopausal women. However, the combination therapy was associated with more stable effects in the follow-up period and a superior effect on improving depression symptoms.
Previous reviews have drawn conclusions that are far less positive, e.g.:
- the observed clinical benefit associated with acupuncture may be due, in part, or in whole to nonspecific effects.
- the evidence gathered was not sufficient to affirm the effectiveness of traditional acupuncture compared with sham acupuncture.
- For natural menopause, one large study has shown acupuncture to be superior to self-care alone in reducing the number of hot flushes and improving the quality of life; five small studies have been unable to demonstrate that the effect of acupuncture is limited to any particular points, as traditional theory would suggest; and one study showed acupuncture was superior to blunt needle for flash frequency but not intensity.
- Sham-controlled RCTs fail to show specific effects of acupuncture for control of menopausal hot flushes.
It seems therefore wise to take the conclusions of the new study with a pinch of salt. The intergroup difference observed in this trial may well be due to residual biases, multiple testing, or coincidence. And the reported intragroup differences are in complete accord with the fact that the employed therapies are mere placebos.
This, of course, begs the question of whether SCAM has anything else to offer for women suffering from menopausal symptoms. To answer it, I can refer you to one of our systematic reviews:
Some evidence exists in favour of phytosterols and phytostanols for diminishing LDL and total cholesterol in postmenopausal women. Similarly, regular fiber intake is effective in reducing serum total cholesterol in hypercholesterolemic postmenopausal women. Clinical evidence also exists on the effectiveness of vitamin K, a combination of calcium and vitamin D or a combination of walking with other weight-bearing exercise in reducing bone mineral density loss and the incidence of fractures in postmenopausal women. Black cohosh appears to be effective therapy for relieving menopausal symptoms, primarily hot flashes, in early menopause. Phytoestrogen extracts, including isoflavones and lignans, appear to have only minimal effect on hot flashes but have other positive health effects, e.g. on plasma lipid levels and bone loss. For other commonly used CAMs, e.g. probiotics, prebiotics, acupuncture, homeopathy and DHEA-S, randomized, placebo-controlled trials are scarce and the evidence is unconvincing. More and better RCTs testing the effectiveness of these treatments are needed.
Hemiparesis is a severe impairment following a stroke that affects the majority of stroke patients. Rehabilitation is usually at least partly successful. But might results be improved with homeopathy?
This trial tested the efficacy of individualized homeopathic medicines (IHMs) in comparison with identical-looking placebos in the treatment of post-stroke hemiparesis (PSH) in the mutual context of standard physiotherapy (SP).
A 3-months, open-label, randomized, placebo-controlled trial (n = 60) was conducted at the Organon of Medicine outpatient departments of the ‘National Institute of Homoeopathy’, West Bengal, India. Patients were randomized to receive IHMs plus SP (n = 30) or identical-looking placebos plus SP (n = 30). The primary outcome measure was Medical Research Council (MRC) muscle strength grading scale; secondary outcomes were Stroke Impact Scale (SIS) version 2.0, Modified Ashworth Scale (MAS), and stroke recovery 0-100 visual analog scale (VAS) scores; all measured at baseline and 3 months after the intervention. Group differences and effect sizes (Cohen’s d) were calculated on the intention-to-treat sample.
Although overall improvements were higher in the IHMs group than in the placebo group with small to medium effect sizes, the group differences were statistically non-significant (all P>0.05, unpaired t-tests). Improvement in SIS physical problems was significantly higher with IHM than with placebo (mean difference 2.0, 95% confidence interval 0.3 to 3.8, P = 0.025, unpaired t-test). Causticum, Lachesis mutus, and Nux vomica were the most frequently prescribed medicines. No harms, unintended effects, homeopathic aggravations, or any serious adverse events were reported from either group.
The authors concluded that there was a small, but non-significant direction of effect favoring homeopathy against placebos in treatment of post-stroke hemiparesis.
Considering the fact that homeopathy has become the holy cow of India which led to the phenomenon that almost no negative homeopathy trials are being reported by Indian researchers, this article is a happy surprise. Its authors clearly report that IHM had no effect on the primary outcome measure.
But who had the bizarre idea that it might?
I have heard many outlandish claims by homeopaths but the one about PSH was a new one to me.
Equally puzzling is, in my view, the design of this study: it was an “open-label, randomized, placebo-controlled trial”. The reason for having a placebo group is to blind the patients, i.e. not let them know whether they receive the verum or the placebo. In an open-label trial, however, the patient is given exactly that information. I totally fail to understand the logic of this. Can someone enlighten me, please?
I had come across them so often that I had almost stopped noticing them: the ‘little extras‘ that make ineffective so-called alternative medicines (SCAMs) seem effective. Then, recently, during an interview about detox diets, the interviewer responded to my explanation of the ineffectiveness of these treatments by saying: “but these diets include stopping the consumption of alcohol, cigarettes, and other harmful stuff; therefore they must be good.” This seemingly convincing argument reminded me of a phenomenon – I call it here the ‘little extra‘ – that applies to so many (if not most) SCAMs.
Let me schematically summarise it as follows:
- A practitioner applies an ineffective SCAM to a patient.
- Because it is ineffective, it has little effect other than a small placebo response.
- The ineffective SCAM comes with a ‘little extra‘ which is unrelated to the SCAM.
- The ‘little extra‘ is effective.
- The end result is that the ineffective SCAM appears to be effective.
The above example makes it quite clear: the detox diet is utter nonsense but, as it goes hand in hand with effective lifestyle changes, it appears to be effective. A classic case. But SCAM offers no end of similar examples:
- Acupuncture is useless but it involves touch, time, attention, and empathy all of which are effective in making a patient feel better.
- Chiropractic is useless but it involves touch, time, attention, and empathy all of which are effective in making a patient feel better.
- Homeopathy is useless but it involves a long, empathic consultation and attention which are effective in making a patient feel better.
- Osteopathy is useless but it involves touch, time, attention, and empathy all of which are effective in making a patient feel better.
- Reflexology is useless but it involves touch, time, attention, and empathy all of which are effective in making a patient feel better.
Do I need to continue?
The ‘little extras‘ are often forgotten or subsumed under the heading ‘placebo’. Yet, they are not part of the placebo effect. Strictly speaking, they are concomitant treatments comparable to a pain patient using SCAM and also taking a few paracetamols. In the end, she forgets about the painkillers and thinks that her SCAM worked wonders.
Even ardent SCAM proponents have long realized this phenomenon. Here, for example, is a paper entitled ‘Acupuncture as a complex intervention: a holistic model’ by ex-colleagues of mine at Exeter looking at it but coming up with a very different perspective:
Objectives: Our understanding of acupuncture and Chinese medicine is limited by a lack of inquiry into the dynamics of the process. We used a longitudinal research design to investigate how the experience, and the effects, of a course of acupuncture evolved over time.
Design and outcome measures: This was a longitudinal qualitative study, using a constant comparative method, informed by grounded theory. Each person was interviewed three times over 6 months. Semistructured interviews explored people’s experiences of illness and treatment. Across-case and within-case analysis resulted in themes and individual vignettes.
Subjects and settings: Eight (8) professional acupuncturists in seven different settings informed their patients about the study. We interviewed a consecutive sample of 23 people with chronic illness, who were having acupuncture for the first time.
Results: People described their experience of acupuncture in terms of the acupuncturist’s diagnostic and needling skills; the therapeutic relationship; and a new understanding of the body and self as a whole being. All three of these components were imbued with holistic ideology. Treatment effects were perceived as changes in symptoms, changes in energy, and changes in personal and social identity. The vignettes showed the complexity and the individuality of the experience of acupuncture treatment. The process and outcome components were distinct but not divisible, because they were linked by complex connections. The paper depicts these results as a diagrammatic model that illustrates the components and their interconnections and the cyclical reinforcement, both positive and negative, that can occur over time.
Conclusions: The holistic model of acupuncture treatment, in which “the whole being greater than the sum of the parts,” has implications for service provision and for research trial design. Research trials that evaluate the needling technique, isolated from other aspects of process, will interfere with treatment outcomes. The model requires testing in different service and research settings.
I think the perspective of viewing SCAMs as complex interventions is needlessly confusing and deeply unhelpful. The truth is that there is no treatment that is not complex. Take a surgical treatment, for instance, it involves dozens of ‘little extras‘ that are known to be effective. Should we, therefore, try to use this fact for justifying useless surgical interventions? Or take a simple prescription of medication from a doctor. It involves time, empathy, attention, explanations, etc. all of which will affect the patient’s symptoms. Should we thus use this to justify a useless drug? Certainly not!
And for the same reason, it is nonsense to use the ‘little extras‘ that come with all the numerous ineffective SCAMs as a smokescreen that makes them look effective.
Atopic dermatitis (AD) is a common condition that often frustrates all attempts of treatment. This is an ideal situation for homeopaths who claim to have the solution. Yet the evidence fails to support their optimism. The two systematic reviews on the subject are not encouraging:
- There was insufficient evidence to make recommendations on maternal allergen avoidance for disease prevention, oral antihistamines, Chinese herbs, dietary restriction in established atopic eczema, homeopathy, house dust mite reduction, massage therapy, hypnotherapy, evening primrose oil, emollients, topical coal tar and topical doxepin.
- The evidence from controlled clinical trials therefore fails to show that homeopathy is an efficacious treatment for eczema.
But now, a new study has emerged and it seems to contradict the previous conclusions. This study compared the efficacy of individualized homeopathic medicines (IHMs) against placebos in the treatment of AD.
In this double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial of 6 months duration (n = 60), adult patients were randomized to receive either IHMs (n = 30) or identical-looking placebos (n = 30). All participants received concomitant conventional care, which included the application of olive oil and maintaining local hygiene. The primary outcome measure was disease severity using the Patient-Oriented Scoring of Atopic Dermatitis (PO-SCORAD) scale; secondary outcomes were the Atopic Dermatitis Burden Scale for Adults (ADBSA) and Dermatological Life Quality Index (DLQI) – all were measured at baseline and every month, up to 6 months. Group differences were calculated on the intention-to-treat sample.
After 6 months of intervention, inter-group differences became statistically significant on PO-SCORAD, the primary outcome (−18.1; 95% confidence interval, −24.0 to −12.2), favoring IHMs against placebos (F 1, 52 = 14.735; p <0.001; two-way repeated measures analysis of variance). Inter-group differences for the secondary outcomes favored homeopathy, but were overall statistically non-significant (ADBSA: F 1, 52 = 0.019; p = 0.891; DLQI: F 1, 52 = 0.692; p = 0.409).
The authors concluded that IHMs performed significantly better than placebos in reducing the severity of AD in adults, though the medicines had no overall significant impact on AD burden or DLQI.
I was unable to access the full paper, or more precisely unwilling to pay for it (in case someone has access, please post the link in the comments section below). From what can be gleaned from the abstract, this study is rigorous and clearly reported.
So, why is the outcome positive?
Pehaps one clue lies in the origin of the study. Here are the affiliations of the authors:
- 1Department of Materia Medica, Mahesh Bhattacharyya Homoeopathic Medical College and Hospital, Howrah, West Bengal, India.
- 2Department of Pathology and Microbiology, D. N. De Homoeopathic Medical College and Hospital, Govt. of West Bengal, Kolkata, West Bengal, India.
- 3Department of Pathology and Microbiology, Mahesh Bhattacharyya Homoeopathic Medical College and Hospital, Govt. of West Bengal, Howrah, West Bengal, India.
- 4Department of Repertory, JIMS Homoeopathic Medical College and Hospital, Shamshabad, Telangana, India.
- 5Department of Repertory, Mahesh Bhattacharyya Homoeopathic Medical College and Hospital, Govt. of West Bengal, Howrah, West Bengal, India.
- 6Department of Health and Family Welfare, Homoeopathic Medical Officer, Rajganj State Homoeopathic Dispensary, Rajganj Government Medical College and Hospital, Uttar Dinajpur, West Bengal, India.
- 7Department of Pathology and Microbiology, National Tuberculosis Elimination Program Wing, Imambara Sadar Hospital, Hooghly, Govt. of West Bengal, India.
- 8Department of Organon of Medicine and Homoeopathic Philosophy, D. N. De Homoeopathic Medical College and Hospital, Govt. of West Bengal, Kolkata, West Bengal, India.
- 9Department of Repertory, The Calcutta Homoeopathic Medical College and Hospital, Govt. of West Bengal, Kolkata, West Bengal, India.
- 10Department of Health and Family Welfare, East Bishnupur State Homoeopathic Dispensary, Chandi Daulatabad Block Primary Health Centre, Govt. of West Bengal, India.
- 11Department of Repertory, D. N. De Homoeopathic Medical College and Hospital, Kolkata, West Bengal, India.
I have previously noted that Indian studies of homeopathy (almost) never report a negative result. Why? Are the Indian homeopaths better than those elsewhere, or are they just less honest?
It has been reported that Goop founder Gwyneth Paltrow now has taken to promoting the weirdest wellness thing she’s ever done: rectal ozone therapy. ‘I have used ozone therapy, rectally. Can I say that?’ she told Dear Media podcast The Art of Being Well. ‘It’s pretty weird. It’s pretty weird, yeah. But it’s been very helpful.’
The benefits of rectal ozone therapy are said to be reduced pain/inflammation, increased energy, improved metabolism/circulation, stimulated immune system, detoxification, anti-aging, and fighting bacterial/viral infections.
But who am I to criticize an authority like Gwyneth?
Therefore, I better look up the evidence! And if you had speculated that there is none, you would have been mistaken. Here are some of the more recent clinical studies listed in Medline:
Objective: Fibromyalgia is a chronic disorder with a very complex symptomatology. Although generalized severe pain is considered to be the cardinal symptom of the disease, many other associated symptoms, especially non-restorative sleep, chronic fatigue, anxiety, and depressive symptoms also play a relevant role in the degree of disability characteristic of the disease. Ozone therapy, which is used to treat a wide range of diseases and seems to be particularly useful in the treatment of many chronic diseases, is thought to act by exerting a mild, transient, and controlled oxidative stress that promotes an up-regulation of the antioxidant system and a modulation of the immune system. According to these mechanisms of action, it was hypothesized that ozone therapy could be useful in fibromyalgia management, where the employed therapies are very often ineffective.
Patients and methods: Sixty-five patients with fibromyalgia, according to the definition of the American College of Rheumatology (Arthritis Rheum 1990; 33: 160-172), were treated at the MEDE Clinic (Sacile, Pordenone, Italy) from February 2016 to October 2018. Females were 55 and males were 10; age ranged from 30 to 72 years, and the time from fibromyalgia diagnosis ranged from 0.5 to 33 years. Treatment was made by autohemotransfusion in 55 patients and by ozone rectal insufflations in 10 patients, according to SIOOT (Scientific Society of Oxygen Ozone Therapy) protocols, twice a week for one month and then twice a month as maintenance therapy.
Results: We found a significative improvement (>50% of symptoms) in 45 patients (70%). No patient reported important side effects. In conclusion, at our knowledge, this is the largest study of patients with fibromyalgia treated with ozone therapy reported in the literature and it demonstrates that the ozone therapy is an effective treatment for fibromyalgia patients without significant side effects.
Conclusions: At the moment, ozone therapy seems a treatment that, also because without any side effect, is possible to be proposed to patients with fibromyalgia that are not obtaining adequate results from other available treatments and it can be considered as complementary/integrative medicine.
Introduction: The Corona virus disease 19 (COVID-19) has accounted for multiple deaths and economic woes.While the entire medical fraternity and scientists are putting their best feet forward to find a solution to contain this deadly pandemic, there is a growing interest in integrating other known alternative therapies in to standard care. This study is aimed at evaluating the safety and efficacy of ozone therapy (OT), as an adjuvant to the standard of care (SOC).
Methods: In the current randomized control trial, 60 patients with mild to moderate score NEWS score were included in two parallel groups (n = 30/group). The interventional group (OZ) received ozonized rectal insufflation and minor auto haemotherapy, daily along with SOC, while the control group (ST) received SOC alone. The main outcome measures included changes in clinical features, oxygenation index (SpO2), NEWS score, Reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction(RT-PCR), inflammatory markers, requirement of advanced care, and metabolic profiles.
Results: The OZ group has shown clinically significant improvement in the mean values of all the parameters tested compared to ST Group. However, statistical significance were only observed in RT-PCR negative reaction (P = 0.01), changes in clinical symptoms (P < 0.05) and requirement for Intensive care (P < 0.05). No adverse events were reported in OZ group, as against 2 deaths reported in ST group.
Conclusion: OT when integrated with SOC can improve the clinical status and rapidly reduce the viral load compared to SOC alone, which facilitate early recovery and check the need for advanced care and mortality as demonstrated in this study.
Introduction: IgA deficiency is a primary immunodeficiency predominantly due to an antibody defect, for which there is no replacement therapy. Treatment consists of prevention and treatment of infections and other associated conditions. Given the immunomodulatory and regulatory properties of the redox balance of ozone therapy in infectious and inflammatory conditions, evaluation of its effect on IgA deficiency is of interest.
Objective: Assess the benefits and possible adverse effects of ozone treatment in patients with IgA deficiency.
Methods: A monocentric randomized controlled phase 2 clinical trial (RPCEC 00000236) was carried out, after approval by the Institutional Ethics Committee of the Roberto Rodríguez Fernández Provincial General Teaching Hospital in Morón, Ciego de Ávila Province, Cuba. Included were 40 patients aged 5-50 years, distributed in 2 groups of 20, after agreeing to participate and signing informed consent. The experimental group received 2 cycles of ozone by rectal insufflation for 20 days (5 times a week for 4 weeks each cycle) with a 3-month interval between cycles, for a total of 40 doses, with age-adjusted dose ranges. The control group was treated with leukocyte transfer factor (Hebertrans), 1 U per m2 of body surface area subcutaneously, once weekly for 12 weeks. Frequency of appearance and severity of clinical symptoms and signs of associated diseases, serum immunoglobulin concentrations and balance of pro-oxidant and antioxidant biomarkers were recorded at treatment initiation and one month after treatment completion. Therapeutic response was defined as complete, partial, stable disease or progressive disease. Descriptive statistics and significance were calculated to compare groups and assess effect size.
Results: One month after treatment completion, 70% of patients in the experimental group experienced significant increases in IgG(p = 0.000) and IgM (p = 0.033). The experimental group also displayed decreased pro-oxidation biomarkers, glutathione modulation and increased antioxidant enzymes, with reduced oxidative stress; none of these occurred in the control group. Complete therapeutic response was achieved in 85% of patients in the experimental group and only 45% in the control group. Mild, transient adverse events were reported in both groups.
Conclusions: Ozone therapy by rectal insufflation is a suitable therapeutic option for treating IgA deficiency because it produces antioxidant and immunomodulatory effects and is feasible, safe and minimally invasive.
Background: Ozone therapy may stimulate antioxidant systems and protect against free radicals. It has not been used formerly in patients with pulmonary emphysema.
Aim: To assess the effects of rectal ozone therapy in patients with pulmonary emphysema.
Material and methods: Sixty four patients with pulmonary emphysema, aged between 40 and 69 years, were randomly assigned to receive rectal ozone in 20 daily sessions, rectal medicinal oxygen or no treatment. Treatments were repeated three months later in the first two groups. At baseline and at the end of the study, spirometry and a clinical assessment were performed.
Results: fifty patients completed the protocol, 20 receiving ozone therapy, 20 receiving rectal oxygen and 10 not receiving any therapy. At baseline, patients on ozone therapy had significantly lower values of forced expiratory volume in the first second (fEV1) and fEV1/forced vital capacity. At the end of the treatment period, these parameters were similar in the three treatment groups, therefore they only improved significantly in the group on ozone therapy. No differences were observed in other spirometric parameters.
Conclusions: Rectal ozone therapy may be useful in patients with pulmonary emphysema.
Background: Pain secondary to chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN) can limit the administration of chemotherapy, cancer-treatment outcomes, and the quality of life of patients. Oxidative stress and inflammation are some of the key mechanisms involved in CIPN. Successful treatments for CIPN are limited. This report shows our preliminary experience using ozone treatment as a modulator of oxidative stress in chronic pain secondary to CIPN. Methods: Ozone treatment, by rectal insufflation, was administered in seven patients suffering from pain secondary to grade II or III CIPN. Pain was assessed by the visual analog scale (VAS). Results: All patients, except one, showed clinically relevant pain improvement. Median pain score according to the VAS was 7 (range: 5-8) before ozone treatment, 4 (range: 2-6) at the end of ozone treatment (p = 0.004), 5.5 (range: 1.8-6.3) 3 months after the end of ozone treatment (p = 0.008), and 6 (range: 2.6-6.6) 6 months after the end of ozone treatment (p = 0.008). The toxicity grade, according to the Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events (CTCAE v.5.0), improved in half of the patients. Conclusion: This report shows that most patients obtained clinically relevant and long-lasting improvement in chronic pain secondary to CIPN after treatment with ozone. These observed effects merit further research and support our ongoing randomized clinical trial.
Background: Medical ozone is more bactericidal, fungicidal, and virucidal than any other natural substance. Some studies proved that ozone infused into donated blood samples can kill viruses 100% of the time. Ozone, because of its special biologic properties, has theoretical and practical attributes to make it a potent hepatitis C virus (HCV) inactivator, which suggests an important role in the therapy for hepatitis C.
Aim: The study aim is to evaluate the role of ozone therapy in decreasing HCV ribonucleic acid (HCV RNA) load and its effect on the liver enzymes among patients with chronic hepatitis C.
Methods: This study included 52 patients with chronic hepatitis C (positive polymerase chain reaction [PCR] for HCV RNA and raised serum alanine transaminase [ALT] for more than 6 months). All patients were subjected to meticulous history taking and clinical examination. Complete blood count, liver function tests, and abdominal ultrasonography were requested for all patients. The ozone group included 40 patients who received major autohemotherapy, minor autohemotherapy, and rectal ozone insufflation. The other 12 patients (conventional group) received silymarin and/or multivitamins.
Results: There were significant improvements of most of the presenting symptoms of the patients in the ozone group in comparison to the conventional group. ALT and aspartate transaminase (AST) levels normalized in 57.5% and 60% in the ozone group, respectively, in comparison to 16.7% and 8% in the conventional group, respectively. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) for HCV RNA was negative among 25% and 44.4% after 30 and 60 sessions of ozone therapy, respectively, in comparison to 8% among the conventional group.
Conclusions: Ozone therapy significantly improves the clinical symptoms associated with chronic hepatitis C and is associated with normalized ALT and AST levels among a significant number of patients. Ozone therapy is associated with disappearance of HCV RNA from the serum (-ve PCR for HCV RNA) in 25%-45% of patients with chronic hepatitis C.
Oxidative stress is suggested to have an important role in the development of complications in diabetes. Because ozone therapy can activate the antioxidant system, influencing the level of glycemia and some markers of endothelial cell damage, the aim of this study was to investigate the therapeutic efficacy of ozone in the treatment of patients with type 2 diabetes and diabetic feet and to compare ozone with antibiotic therapy. A randomized controlled clinical trial was performed with 101 patients divided into two groups: one (n = 52) treated with ozone (local and rectal insufflation of the gas) and the other (n = 49) treated with topical and systemic antibiotics. The efficacy of the treatments was evaluated by comparing the glycemic index, the area and perimeter of the lesions and biochemical markers of oxidative stress and endothelial damage in both groups after 20 days of treatment. Ozone treatment improved glycemic control, prevented oxidative stress, normalized levels of organic peroxides, and activated superoxide dismutase. The pharmacodynamic effect of ozone in the treatment of patients with neuroinfectious diabetic foot can be ascribed to the possibility of it being a superoxide scavenger. Superoxide is considered a link between the four metabolic routes associated with diabetes pathology and its complications. Furthermore, the healing of the lesions improved, resulting in fewer amputations than in control group. There were no side effects. These results show that medical ozone treatment could be an alternative therapy in the treatment of diabetes and its complications.
What does that tell us?
That rectal ozone therapy is a panacea?
No, I don’t think so.
In my view, it tells us that strange journals publish a lot of dodgy research from strange research groups that use dodgy methodologies to confirm their odd belief that bogus treatments work for everything.
I wonder which orifice Gwyneth will employ next to get the attention of the public.
So-called alternative medicine (SCAM) is widely used in Arabia. One of the commonly used methods is camel urine alone or mixed with camel milk. Camel urine is a liquid by-product of camel metabolism. Urine from camels has been used as prophetic medicine for centuries, being a part of ancient Bedouin practices. Camel urine comes out as a concentrated, viscous syrup because the kidneys and intestines of a camel are very efficient at reabsorbing water.
Camel urine is consumed and used for treating numerous ailments. Some employ it as a treatment for hair loss, for instance. The camel urine from a virgin camel is priced at twenty dollars per liter, with herders saying that it has curative powers.
A recent paper offers more information:
Camel is one of the important livestock species which plays a major role in the pastoral mode of life by fulfilling basic demands of livelihood. Traditionally, camel urine has been used in the treatment of human diseases. With regard to the health benefits of drinking the urine of camels, it has been proven by modern scientific researches. Camel urine has an unusual and unique biochemical composition that contributes to medicinal values. The chemical composition of camel urine showed the presence of purine bases, hypoxanthine, sodium, potassium, creatinine, urea, uric acid, and phosphates. The nano-particles in the camel’s urine can be used to fight cancer. Camel urine has antimicrobial activity against pathogenic bacteria. Its chemical and organic constituents have also inhibitory properties against fungal growth, human platelets, and parasitic diseases mainly fasciollosis in calves. The healthy status of the liver can be restored through ingestion of diet and minerals in camel urine. Camel urine is used by the camel owners and Bedouins as medicine in different ways. The Bedouin in the Arab desert used to mix camel urine with milk. Recently; the WHO has warned against drinking camel urine due to the modern attempt to limit Outbreaks of Respiratory Syndrome (MRS) in the Middle East. There is no scientific dosage for camel urine to be applied as medicine for different diseases and the ways of camel urine formulation and utilization for the care of patients varies from country to country. Therefore, the purposes of the present review describe the biochemical composition of camel urine will be scientifically extracted and formulated as a therapy rather than drinking raw urine and people’s health impact.
Researchers from the Medical Oncology Department, Comprehensive Cancer Center, King Fahad Medical City, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia wanted to determine whether camel urine shows promise in the treatment of cancer. The aim of their study was to observe cancer patients who insisted on using camel urine and to devise some clinically relevant recommendations.
The authors observed 20 cancer patients (15 male, 5 female) from September 2020 to January 2022 who insisted on using camel urine. They documented the demographics of each patient, the method of administering camel urine, the reasons for refusing conventional treatment, the period of follow-up, and the outcome and side effects.
All the patients had radiological investigations before and after finishing treatment with camel urine. All patients used a combination of camel urine and milk, and treatment ranged from a few days up to 6 months. The average amount of urine/milk consumed was 60 ml/day. No clinical benefit was observed and two patients developed brucellosis. Eleven patients changed their minds and eventually accepted conventional antineoplastic treatments but 7 were too weak to receive further treatment and died from their disease.
The authors concluded that camel urine had no clinical benefits in cancer patients, and may even have caused zoonotic infection. The promotion of camel urine as a traditional medicine should be stopped because there is no scientific evidence to support it.
I fear that, yet again, ‘ancient wisdom’ turns out to be just ‘old bullshit’.
It has been reported that King Charles refused to pay Prince Andrew’s £ 32,000-a-year bill for his personal healing guru. The Duke of York has allegedly submitted the claim to the Privy Purse as a royal expense having sought the help of a yoga teacher.
However, the claim has reportedly been denied by the King, who is said to have told Andrew the bill will need to be covered using his own money. It comes after sources claimed Andrew has been using the Indian yogi for a number of years for chanting, massages, and holistic therapy in the privacy of his mansion. The healer has reportedly enjoyed month-long stays at a time at the £30 million Royal Lodge in Windsor.
Previously, the Queen seems to have passed the claims. But now Charles is in control. A source said: “While the Queen was always happy to indulge her son over the years, Charles is far less inclined to fund such indulgences, particularly in an era of a cost-of-living crisis. “Families are struggling and would rightly baulk at the idea of tens of thousands paid to an Indian guru to provide holistic treatment to a non-working royal living in his grace and favour mansion. This time the King saw the bill for the healer submitted by Andrew to the Privy Purse and thought his brother was having a laugh.”
How is he going to cope without his guru?
Will he be able to recover from the mysterious condition that prevents him to sweat?
Will his ego take another blow?
How will he be able to afford even the most basic holistic wellness?
How can Charles – who knows only too well about its benefits – be so cruel to his own brother?
Should I start a collection so that Andrew can pay for his most basic needs?
Yes, these are the nagging questions and deep concerns that keep me awake at night!
I have just been asked if, by any chance, the yoga teacher is a 16-year-old female. I have to admit that I cannot answer this question.
Norbert Hofer is the former leader of the Austrian right-wing FPÖ party who almost became Austria’s President. Currently, he is the 3rd member of the National Council. Hofer is a man full of surprises; he stated, for instance, that the Quran was more dangerous than COVID-19 during a speech held at a 2020 campaign event. As a result, he was sued for hate-speech.
Hofer’s latest coup is not political but commercial: Hofer is launching his own dietary supplement on the market. It is called “Formula Fortuna” and contains:
- L-tryptophan; a Cochrane review concluded that “a large number of studies appear to address the research questions, but few are of sufficient quality to be reliable. Available evidence does suggest these substances are better than placebo at alleviating depression. Further studies are needed to evaluate the efficacy and safety of 5‐HTP and tryptophan before their widespread use can be recommended. The possible association between these substances and the potentially fatal Eosinophilia‐Myalgia Syndrome has not been elucidated. Because alternative antidepressants exist which have been proven to be effective and safe the clinical usefulness of 5‐HTP and tryptophan is limited at present.”
- Hydroxypropylmethylcellulose, a common delivery system.
- Rhodiola rosea extracts; human studies evaluating R. rosea did not have sufficient quality to determine whether it has properties affecting fatigue or any other condition.The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued warning letters to manufacturers of R. rosea dietary supplement products unapproved as new drugs, adulterated, misbranded and in federal violation for not having proof of safety or efficacy for the advertised conditions of alleviating Raynaud syndrome, altitude sickness, depression or cancer.
- Ginseng root extract. Although ginseng has been used in traditional medicine for centuries, modern research is inconclusive about its biological effects. Preliminary clinical research indicates possible effects on memory, fatigue, menopause symptoms, and insulin response in people with mild diabetes. Out of 44 studies examined between 2005–2015, 29 showed positive, limited evidence, and 15 showed no effects. As of 2021, there is insufficient evidence to indicate that ginseng has any health effects. A 2021 review indicated that ginseng had “only trivial effects on erectile function or satisfaction with intercourse compared to placebo”. The constituents include steroid saponins known as ginsenosides, but the effects of these ginseng compounds have not been studied with high-quality clinical research as of 2021, and therefore remain unknown. As of 2019, the United States FDA and Federal Trade Commission have issued numerous warning letters to manufacturers of ginseng dietary supplements for making false claims of health or anti-disease benefits, stating that the “products are not generally recognized as safe and effective for the referenced uses” and are illegal as unauthorized “new drugs” under federal law. Concerns exist when ginseng is used chronically, potentially causing side effects such as headaches, insomnia, and digestive problems. Ginseng may have adverse effects when used with the blood thinner warfarin. Ginseng also has adverse drug reactions with phenelzine, and a potential interaction has been reported with imatinib, resulting in hepatotoxicity, and with lamotrigine. Other side effects may include anxiety, insomnia, fluctuations in blood pressure, breast pain, vaginal bleeding, nausea, or diarrhea.
- Zinc gluconate which has been used in lozenges for treating the common cold. However, controlled trials with lozenges which include zinc acetate have found it has the greatest effect on the duration of coldsInstances of anosmia (loss of smell) have been reported with intranasal use of some products containing zinc gluconate. In September 2003, Zicam faced lawsuits from users who claimed that the product, a nasal gel containing zinc gluconate and several inactive ingredients, negatively affected their sense of smell and sometimes taste. Some plaintiffs alleged experiencing a strong and very painful burning sensation when they used the product. Matrixx Initiatives, Inc., the maker of Zicam, responded that only a small number of people had experienced problems and that anosmia can be caused by the common cold itself. In January 2006, 340 lawsuits were settled for $12 million.
- Pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6) is usually well tolerated, though overdose toxicity is possible. Occasionally side effects include headache, numbness, and sleepiness. Pyridoxine overdose can cause a peripheral sensory neuropathy characterized by poor coordination, numbness, and decreased sensation to touch, temperature, and vibration.
‘Formula Fortuna’ allegedly is for lifting your mood. If I, however, tell you that you need to pay one Euro per day for the supplement, your mood might even change in the opposite direction.
I think I might design a dietary supplement against stupidity. It will not carry any of the risks of Hofer’s new invention but, I am afraid, it might be just as ineffective as Hofer’s ‘Formual Fortuna’.
Alzheimer’s is a devastating disease against which conventional healthcare has little to offer. No wonder, therefore, that so-called alternative medicine (SCAM) claims to have a wide range of effective treatments. But how good are they really? The present review aimed to explore the role of SCAM in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease (AD).
Literature searches were conducted using Ovid MEDLINE, CINAHL, Cochrane, and PubMed databases and reference lists up to November 30, 2021. Only randomized clinical trials were included and appraised using the National Institute of Health framework. Data analysis showed that herbs like Gingko Biloba, Melissa Officinalis, Salvia officinalis, Ginseng, and saffron alone or in combination with curcumin, a low-fat diet, NuAD-Trail, and soy lecithin showed significant positive effects on AD. Moreover, the combination of natural and pharmaceuticals has far better effects than only allopathic treatment. The authors concluded that different herbal remedies in combination with FDA approved drugs are effective and more promising in the treatment of AD.
To these findings we need to add a study that is too recent to have been included in the review:
The aim of the randomized clinical trial (RCT) was to investigate the effects of fenugreek seed extract on memory, depression, quality of life, blood pressure, and serum malondialdehyde (MDA) and total antioxidant capacity (TAC) levels in adult AD patients. The study participants included 82 AD patients with mild-to-moderate memory deficits. Patients in the intervention group received 5 cc of fenugreek seed extract for 4 months and subjects in the control group received a placebo. Memory, depression, quality of life, and BP levels, as well as serum MDA and TAC, were assessed before and after the intervention.
There was a significant increase in serum levels of TAC (p < 0.001) and a reduction in serum MDA status (p < 0.001) after 4 months of fenugreek seed extract supplementation. In addition, increasing levels of memory (p < 0.001) and quality of life (p < 0.001), as well as reduction of depression (p = 0.002), systolic BP (p < 0.001), and diastolic BP (p < 0.001) levels were detected in the intervention group compared with baseline.
The authors concluded that Fenugreek seed extract supplementation in AD patients shows promising positive effects on memory, quality of life, BP, and selective oxidative indices levels.
So, there is hope! Some of the evidence is promising but far from convincing. What we need – obviously – is more and better research.