Friday, 7 December 2012

The Burden Of Proof

Again, an old chestnut for me about herbalism, and for the second time recently an on-topic blog entry:  the burden of proof and herbalism:

Basically, my argument here is that the claim that herbalism is ineffective and/or dangerous is extraordinary and that it makes sense to assume that it is relatively safe and effective.  This is not, incidentally, that tired old argument about "all modern medicine is originally from herbs", which is a considerable distortion of the truth.  No.  My main points are as follows:

  • Herbalism blends into nutrition.  If we accept that plants are a source of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients, we accept that they can be used to promote health.
  • Herbs used in everyday experience, such as tobacco and coffee, have a marked physiological effect in spite of tolerance having developed to them.  Many other medical herbs are rarely taken and can therefore be expected to have stronger physiological effects.
  • Many plants are universally agreed to be poisonous, i.e. to have a toxicological effect.  The same is true of many conventional drugs.  Sibstances toxic in larger doses will usually be non-toxic but have pharmacological actions in a lower dose, and those actions are likely to be useful on occasion.
  • People come through my doors (or today i more often go to them) with often intractable complaints and i examine them in various ways, such as measuring their peak flow, blood pressure, rate of peristalsis and compile easily quantifiable data.  In most cases, these measurements improve measurably and reliably after treatment.  If i read about findings which claim that this is not the case, i am unsurprisingly sceptical and wonder about the research methods.  In many cases, i do more than wonder and read the papers which are not squirrelled away behind paywalls, and on those occasions i don't think i've ever encountered a paper whose research methods are actually good.  However, i'm not very interested in pursuing that right now.

In other news, i've finally come up with an intro, which is here:

For those of you with quotas in place, this is a three-second video which was about 644K when i uploaded it, and presumably a lot smaller at 240p - i would estimate about 40K.  If you set your preferences on YouTube to 240p, this page will probably be bigger than that video.

Ironically, it took all afternoon to make!  I also had to squash the photo.  Anyway, you'll be seeing a lot more than that in future and i also have an outro planned.