Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Probiotics and other Complementary and Alternative Medicines

I first heard a useful audi digest medicine tape a year ago out of California.  The topic was 'probiotics' and the researcher had discussed the pros and cons.  The principle problem was that whatever benefits were gained by change in bowel flora this didn't appear to last.
Further, a major problem with the 'alternative health care' products is lack of 'standardization'.  There is very little 'quality control' in the "health food industry' because they have generally refused accept the rigorous and costly evaluation process that the pharmaceutical industry deals with.  Hence when a 'product' is said to be beneficial all manner of questionable 'knock offs' occur.  The desire of physicians generally is that we have access to the products from reputable sources such as the Germans have where alternative health care products like St. John's Wart for instance are subjected to the same 'quality control' regimens other 'medicinal compounds' are subjected to. Right now the mayhem in the Canadian 'health food industry' has been highly lucrative for the manufacturers though not at all beneficial for consumers and those of us who want to prescribe compounds proven to be benefical.
Professional's Handbook of Complementary and Alternative Medicines, third edition, by C.W. Fetrow Pharm D and Juan R. Avila Pharm D, Lippincott Williams and Wilkins, 2004 was the best resource for my as a physician. Each product is listed with the standard information but with any of the 'scientific evidence' and listing and discussion of studies, double blind or other regarding products.  Previously I'd enjoyed "Tyler's Honest Herbal, A Sensible Guide to the Use of Herbs and Related Remedies, by Steven Foster and Varro E. Tyler , PhD, the Haworth Herbal Press, New York, 2000.  Both and newer studies show products of benefit but the problem is being able to find the equivalent compounds in the local stores given so much quackery and snake oil masquerading as 'real stuff'.  It's been with this history I read the Medical Post today and was delighted to read in the Nutrition section the probiotics article.  Get it.

Dr. Gregor Reid, Professor of Microbiology and Immunology and Surgery, at the University of Western Ontario, London has published a superb article Probiotics, The Medical Post, April 19, 2011.  In this article he delineates each of the various products.  He admits that the clinical scientific evidence is limited but in general puts forward which products by name and specifically are beneficial in a number of clinical conditions. Probiotics have been shown to be benefical in collick, diarrhea conditions, urogenitial infections, even ulcerative colitis (VSL#E, Ferring Pharma, Dried formula in Sachets and Mutaforlor, Medical Futures Inc. Capsules,) .  I was even pleased to see a yogurt I like, Yoplait is beneficial as an adjunct when using antibiotics for Helicobacter pylori.  There is further information on irritable bowel syndrome,  inflammatory bowel disease and vaginosis. Great article.  Well done Dr. Gregor Reid!


Tom Kennedy said...

Hi Bill, this a very interesting post, especially because it suggests that maybe, possibly western medicine is developing the humility to consider the value of traditional forms of medicine. As well it should since traditional medicine is a product of the entire history of human knowledge. A main advantage of systematic (modern) medicine is efficiency in teaching it, out of the book. The problem being that healing is a response to Love and seeking efficiencies and increasingly impersonal methods in teaching, thus practising, love is as unreal as it sounds. The success of systematic medicine has made it an attractive target and the divorce from Love as its center has made it vulnerable.

So we have the systematized insanity of Marxism infecting medicine, where truth is whatever serves the Revolution, and everything else is deluded thinking.

Could I say that more fundamental than bodily health is mental health? Is it fair to say we all need continual reassurance that we are not crazy, that what we perceive is actually reality? Scientific modernism that denies the existence of what it cannot, or cannot be bothered to, measure continually tells us we cannot trust our own experience, and the accumulated wisdom of the race. And if telling us doesn't do the job, then mocking is used, even on questions science is in no position to have an opinion on. The religion of science and its bastard child, progressive thought, seeking to redress bodily want, creates deeper wounds than any it heals.

There is a popular desire for a union, or at least agreement, of science and traditional knowledge. We need a demonstration that science and modernity has enough humility to be safe as a guide to thought and action.We need to feel safe from attacks on our sanity, our soul. And we judge science by what we know to be true, through the shibboleth of wisdom. That modern thought fails this test so often, and its arrogance in saying the problem lies with us, who are made in God's image, makes us desire ancient paths such as traditional medicine.

haykind said...

Well said, Tom. The 'dualism' of modernity and the science of modernity are being challenge in the quantum multiverse of post modern science. Clearly 'science' based on materialism, empiricism, and determinism is limitted in addressing issues of 'quality' and 'soul' and 'tradition'. I don't know that science or real scientists were ever anything but 'humble' as the term the 'hypothesis denotes.. The arrogant generally prefer 'pseudoscience'.

klownow said...

I have tried a variety of natural supplements over the years, but stand by only one- St John's Wort is effective for my seasonal affective disorder, combined with light therapy I now weather the dark season very well. Whether it is better or worse than a "traditional" antidepressant I will never know, as I have never taken one, and my doctor is happy and comfortable with what works for me. That said, I still to the brand that works for me, and never never deviate.