Categories
Bad science Medicine Pseudoscience Quackery

Even a pandemic doesn’t stop bad acupuncture studies

Earlier this month, a study claiming to have identified a neurologic mechanism by which acupuncture reduces inflammation was published in Nature. It does no such thing. it’s another bait-and-switch mouse study that likely would never have been published in such a high profile journal if it hadn’t rebranded electrical stimulation as “electroacupuncture”.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit in early 2020, an unfortunately all-too-common topic for me was the proliferation of dubious acupuncture studies from practitioners of what I like to refer to as quackademic medicine. These studies ranged from basic science studies using animal models to clinical trials that were not even really designed to test whether acupuncture works but instead were practically designed to produce a “positive” result, even when the result was negative, while still other studies rebrand “electroacupuncture” as “acupuncture.”

Unfortunately, the fascination with acupuncture in quackademic medicine has been so intense over the last three decades that a disturbing number of doctors appear to believe that acupuncture works (or is at least “worth a shot”). Nearly all of them are unaware of how the history of this “ancient Chinese” treatment (which was, in reality, merely the Asian version of European bloodletting) was retconned by Mao Zedong, producing a narrative that this “ancient treatment” demonstrates a near-miraculous efficacy for, well, just about everything. Never mind that the filiform needles associated with modern acupuncture didn’t exist until around 1930, when a Chinese pediatrician named Cheng Dan’an proposed that needling therapy be resurrected because its actions could be explained through neurology and replaced the previously-used coarse lancet-like needles with the fine needles in use today. Unfortunately, belief in acupuncture has gotten to the point where not only is the director of the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) a “true believer” in acupuncture, but other health regulatory authorities, including in the VA hospital system, in their desperation over the opioid epidemic, have embraced it and other quackery as “nonpharmacological treatments for pain” even though it is no more than a theatrical placebo. You can even find credulous discussions of acupuncture in The New England Journal of Medicine and at the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

Last week, I was reminded that even a global pandemic can’t stop dubious acupuncture studies from being published. However, even I was surprised at where the study that I chose as the topic of this week’s post was published: Nature. As most of you know, Nature is considered one of the premier general science journals in the world, publishing papers on everything from medicine, to biology, to geology, to astronomy, to just about every science under the sun. Unfortunately, as I’ve documented in the past, Nature has alsodemonstrated enough credulity about acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine to have published a large advertising edition promoting them in 2011 and then, in 2015, a full-throated defense of acupuncture and related quackery.

This time around, my Google alerts (and some readers) picked up a news item and a podcast hawking a study in Nature. The titles were quite—shall we say?—promotional, with the podcast being titled “How electric acupuncture zaps inflammation in mice” and the news article “Electroacupuncture activates neurons to switch off inflammation“. The article itself, from investigators at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and from two institutions in China that included the Institute of Acupuncture and Moxibustion, Department of Integrative Medicine and Neurobiology, and Institutes of Brain Science at Fudan University in Shanghai, as well as the Meridians Research Center, Institute of Acupuncture and Moxibustion, China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences in Beijing, is the less promotional but still misleading “A neuroanatomical basis for electroacupuncture to drive the vagal–adrenal axis“.

The first thing I noticed, as I have for so many other papers like this, was that this is not an acupuncture paper at all! After all, electricity, its properties, and how to generate and use it were not known to the Chinese “millennia ago”, nor did the technology exist to produce the fine filiform needles currently used in acupuncture. Moreover, acupuncture “meridians,” the lines along the body through which the mysterious life force (a.k.a., “qi”) supposedly flows, the blockage of which sticking needles into them supposedly corrects, were never based on known human anatomic structures, much less those of mice, which were used in the study by Liu et al. I’ve characterized this sort of thing as a “bait and switch” going back many years. Basically, therapy is described as acupuncture (the “bait”) but is in reality nothing more than transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) clumsily grafted onto acupuncture (the “switch”) because acupuncture itself doesn’t work.

One might not-unreasonably expect that electrical stimulation of certain nerves could produce physiological effects. That’s a no-brainer that has nothing to do with whether acupuncture works or not. For instance, anyone who’s ever undergone a nerve conduction study, as I once did a couple of decades ago when I had the misfortune to develop carpal tunnel syndrome, knows this. (It’s a study that could easily be used as torture, let me tell you.) The very basis of nerve conduction is electrochemical, and it can be influenced by electrical currents. That doesn’t make it acupuncture just because you hook electrodes up to acupuncture needles stuck into “acupoints”. Worse, the insistence of using acupuncture points, instead of nerves that might actually have physiological relevance, only muddies the waters, making it less likely that an actual, useful therapy might be derived from the mix of electricity and the vitalism of traditional Chinese medicine that is “electroacupuncture”.

Basically, “electroacupuncture” is nothing more than a “rebranding” of acupuncture (which doesn’t work) that disguises it using something that might work (electrical nerve stimulation), labeling that something that might work as somehow being acupuncture too. After all, the Chinese people of hundreds (or thousands) of years ago who supposedly invented acupuncture did not have knowledge of electricity, nor did they have the technology to construct batteries or generators to run electricity through anything. Reviewers should not let authors of manuscripts submitted to journals get away with calling electroacupuncture “acupuncture,” because it’s not. The editors of Nature should know that, but apparently do not.

Another thing about this article that really disturbed me. Let’s take a look at the abstract and then compare it to actual experimental models used to see. First, here’s the abstract:

Somatosensory autonomic reflexes allow electroacupuncture stimulation (ES) to modulate body physiology at distant sites1,2,3,4,5,6 (for example, suppressing severe systemic inflammation6,7,8,9). Since the 1970s, an emerging organizational rule about these reflexes has been the presence of body-region specificity1,2,3,4,5,6. For example, ES at the hindlimb ST36 acupoint but not the abdominal ST25 acupoint can drive the vagal–adrenal anti-inflammatory axis in mice10,11. The neuroanatomical basis of this somatotopic organization is, however, unknown. Here we show that PROKR2Cre-marked sensory neurons, which innervate the deep hindlimb fascia (for example, the periosteum) but not abdominal fascia (for example, the peritoneum), are crucial for driving the vagal–adrenal axis. Low-intensity ES at the ST36 site in mice with ablated PROKR2Cre-marked sensory neurons failed to activate hindbrain vagal efferent neurons or to drive catecholamine release from adrenal glands. As a result, ES no longer suppressed systemic inflammation induced by bacterial endotoxins. By contrast, spinal sympathetic reflexes evoked by high-intensity ES at both ST25 and ST36 sites were unaffected. We also show that optogenetic stimulation of PROKR2Cre-marked nerve terminals through the ST36 site is sufficient to drive the vagal–adrenal axis but not sympathetic reflexes. Furthermore, the distribution patterns of PROKR2Cre nerve fibres can retrospectively predict body regions at which low-intensity ES will or will not effectively produce anti-inflammatory effects. Our studies provide a neuroanatomical basis for the selectivity and specificity of acupoints in driving specific autonomic pathways.

This sounds pretty benign, doesn’t it? Now let’s look at how inflammation was induced in these mice:

Activation of the vagal–adrenal axis can suppress systemic inflammation induced by lipopolysaccharide (LPS), a bacterial endotoxin10,11,20. Without LPS treatment, proinflammatory cytokines, including tumour necrosis factor (TNF) and interleukin-6 (IL-6), were barely detected in serum (Extended Data Fig. 6a).

As a news report on this study notes:

Neuronal networks have evolved to control organ functions. A technique called electroacupuncture, in which specific points on the body called acupoints are stimulated electrically, has long been used to activate these networks and thereby modulate the functions of certain organs to treat various disorders. It is a key part of an emerging medical field known as bioelectronic medicine1,2. However, little is known about the neuronal networks that mediate the effects of electroacupuncture at specific acupoints1,3Writing in Nature, Liu et al.4 show in mice that a set of neurons expressing the protein Prokr2 are needed for electrical stimulation of a hindlimb acupoint to rein in the unbridled inflammatory responses that characterize lethal sepsis.

That’s right. The model used in the experiments involved using electroacupuncture in a mouse model of the inflammatory effects of sepsis. Basically, the authors tortured mice in the name of rebranding electricity as a form of acupuncture by injecting one of the main mediators of bacterial sepsis, lipopolysaccharide (LPS, a bacterial endotoxin), applied electroacupuncture to the mice at the leg Zusanli (ST36) acupoint, located about 2 cm below the knee in humans. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you have, whether you remember it or not, encountered at least two discussions of studies using this acupoint before, for example, a study that was misinterpreted and one that claimed that adenosine was the common mediator of acupuncture effects. I also like to cite another such study in which the levels of various cytokines were measured after applying differing voltages of “electroacupuncture” to this acupoint. As Dr. Mark Crislip put it in his own inimitable way about this last study:

So they stuck a needle in the ST36 Zusanli point of mice. Which is in the leg, below the knee. Who knew that mice and humans had the same meridians and acupoints? Then they cranked in some voltage and measured various cytokines and other inflammatory mediators under various conditions to see what happens.

The ever-inimitable Dr. Crislip then wrote:

They did not use a random peripheral site to apply the voltage or another acupuncture point as a control. As best I can tell, the study actually had nothing to do with acupuncture. What they demonstrated was electrical stimulation of peripheral nerves or the vagus nerve had anti-inflammatory effects. The use of the specific acupuncture point was, well, pointless.

This is the kind of study that drives me nuts. You could remove all the references to acupuncture and the results would be just as applicable. I suppose it would then lack the sexiness that acupuncture adds. Without acupuncture as a hook, I wonder if it would have been published in Nature Medicine or get the notice it did.

He’s right, the rebranding sells the study, as none of this has anything to do with the prescientific vitalistic quackery that is acupuncture. It’s somewhat interesting neuroscience, but could easily get lost in a whole lot of other somewhat interesting neuroscience, hence the acupuncture hook.

Basically, the Zusanli acupoint seems to be one of the favorite go-to acupoints on one of the magical meridians that acupuncture believers like to study. In any event, it should never be forgotten that inducing the physiological effects of sepsis is in mice is never something that should be undertaken lightly, and doing it in the name of trying to make acupuncture seem to have a scientific basis is incredibly unethical, in my book. I can see why work like this could be done in China, but where was Dana-Farber’s IACUC to protect the interests of the experimental animals and minimize their suffering, given that the Methods section leads me to believe that most of the animal experiments were done at Dana-Farber? Moreover, even the Nature podcast seems to acknowledge the bait-and-switch, albeit unknowingly, by characterizing electroacupuncture as delivering electrical current to nerves (at around 2:45), which has nothing to do with acupuncture, meridians, or qi. The announcer even says:

Although the evidence supporting conventional acupuncture is controversial, electroacupuncture has been shown in several studies to decrease inflammation in mice, if the mouse body is stimulated in just the right way.

I will admit that the current study is definitely more sophisticated than that study from several years ago to which Mark Crislip applied his inimitable description, but all that sophistication went to support a narrative that seeks to demonstrate that acupuncture works. An example of this more sophisticated approach, the authors produced transgenic mice (mice genetically manipulated to make specific proteins in specific neurons and the nerve tracts associated with them) to test electroacupuncture applied to the Zusanli acupoint:

For this study, the goal was to investigate why ES can drive the recently reported vagal–adrenal axis from the hindlimb Zusanli (ST36) acupoint but not from the abdominal Tianshu (ST25) acupoint, at which ES instead drives spinal sympathetic reflexes10,11(Fig. 1a). We postulated that somato–vagal–adrenal reflexes are driven by sensory pathways that innervate tissues unique to the hindlimbs compared to the abdomen, such as joints, bones and skeletal muscles. One candidate pathway includes DRG neurons marked by PROKR2Cre (in which with Cre-mediated recombination marks neurons with persistent or transient expression of prokineticin receptor 213). These neurons innervate deep limb tissues but not skin epidermis13.

So, for some reason, electricity to the hindlimb can stimulate the nerve pathways that lead to stimulation of the vagus nerve, which inhibits the release of inflammatory molecules from the adrenal glans and thereby decrease inflammation, but stimulation of other mouse acupoints doesn’t. To study this, the authors did this with dorsal root ganglia (DRG) neurons (don’t worry, I’ll explain):

To characterize PROKR2Cre neurons, we generated Prokr2Adv-tdTomato mice, in which the tdTomato reporter was restricted to DRG neurons defined by the developmental co-expression of PROKR2Cre (ref. 13) and AdvillinFlpo (ref. 14)

And:

To study the functions of PROKR2ADV neurons, we generated Prokr2Adv-DTR mice, in which the expression of the diphtheria toxin (DTX) receptor (DTR) was restricted to PROKR2ADVDRG neurons (Extended Data Fig. 5a, b). Four weeks after DTX injections, 98.0 ± 0.5% of PROKR2Cre-marked DRG neurons were ablated (Extended Data Fig. 5c), which led to 44.5 ± 7.0% and 72.4 ± 5.7% reductions in TUBB3+ and NEFH+ fibre densities, respectively, in the periosteum (Extended Data Fig. 5d). Notably, no ablation was observed in the spinal cord or brain (Extended Data Fig. 5e). We refer to these mice as PROKR2ADV-Abl.

I’ll sum it up. The authors used the a method known as cre-lox to introduce the gene for the diphtheria toxin specifically in specific neurons using DNA sequences that drive the expression of two genes specifically restricted to the DRG. In doing so, they noticed that DRG neurons expressing this tdTomato reporter had a higher representation at limb levels than at thoracic levels and did not overlap with neurons that innervate skin epidermis (the outermost layer of the skin). Next, they used mice in which the diphtheria toxin receptor introduced into the mouse embryos in order to similarly restrict its being made to these neurons. They then eliminated these neurons and nerve fibers by treating the mice with diphtheria toxin, which only destroys the cells that make the receptor for the toxin, to observe the effect of lack of these fibers on electroacupuncture through the Zusanli acupoint. The authors observed that eliminating these neurons also eliminated the observed inhibitory effects due to electroacupuncture in decreasing inflammation and concluded that these neurons have a “role in activation of the vagal–adrenal axis by low-intensity ES,” the vagal-adrenal axis being a neurologic pathway and ES being electroacupuncture stimulation.

Using this model, the authors reported:

In LPS-treated control littermates, 0.5-mA ES at the ST36 site caused a 50% reduction in TNF and IL-6 induction and a 40% increase in survival rates compared with sham ES, and these effects were abolished in PROKR2ADV-Abl mice (Fig. 2d–g). We have previously reported11 that 0.5-mA ES of the abdominal ST25 acupoint does not drive vagal or sympathetic reflexes and is unable to suppress systemic inflammation. High-intensity ES of the ST25 site can drive sympathetic reflexes and produce weak (through 1.0-mA ES) or strong (through 3.0-mA ES) anti-inflammatory effects independent of vagal efferents11. These effects were unchanged in PROKR2ADV-Abl mice (Extended Data Fig. 6b–j). High-intensity (3.0-mA) ES of the hindlimb ST36 acupoint also drove spinal sympathetic reflexes and produced anti-inflammatory effects independent of PROKR2ADV neurons (Extended Data Fig. 7a, b). Thus, PROKR2ADVneurons are uniquely required for low-intensity ES to drive the vagal–adrenal anti-inflammatory axis from the hindlimb ST36 acupoint.

Yes, you read that. Stimulation of the Zusanli acupoint led to a 40% increase in survival after systemic inflammation induced with LPS, an effect abolished in the mice in which this neurological pathway had been ablated. In terms of absolute numbers, only 20-40% of the mice in the control groups survived. Again, from my perspective, one might justify an experiment like this for a purpose that isn’t delusional or self-deceptive, such as studying what happens after a certain nerve is stimulated with electricity and determining the mechanism for these effects. While that is sort of what these experiments do, everything is overlaid with the language and pseudoscience of acupuncture, even though what this study shows is nothing more than that there is a nerve pathway in mice that, when stimulated with electricity, can lead to a decrease in systemic inflammation. That’s it.

Electroacupuncture diagram
A diagram showing how electroacupuncture at the ST36 accupoint is hypothesized to stimulate DRG cells and result in activity of the vagus nerve.

A number of other experiments were performed. One set of experiments showed that stimulation of PROKR2ADV fibers activates an anti-inflammatory axis controlled by the vagus nerve. Those with some knowledge of neuroscience will recognize that the vagus nerve is important in the parasympathetic nervous system, as opposed to the sympathetic nervous system. In general, stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system results in the “fight-or-flight” reflex and tends to be pro-inflammatory, while the parasympathetic nervous system counters that stimulation and tends to be anti-inflammatory. This is a simple (but hopefully not simplistic) way of describing the systems that boils it down to its essence for a lay presentation will allow you to understand the importance of the vagus nerve.

In another set of experiments, the authors cut the peroneal nerve (a nerve in the leg that contains fibers that innervate the deep fascia) and showed that doing so eliminated the anti-inflammatory effect that they had observed due to stimulating the Zusanli acupuncture point, while they noted that cutting the lateral cutaneous nerve, which innervates the skin, had no effect. There are a number of other experiments that were done for various controls and to rule out other possibilities, but I won’t go into them here. Let’s for the moment, take the findings at face value, with one exception. This is not acupuncture, contrary to how Nature’s accompanying news article and podcast characterize its findings with passages like:

Liu and colleagues’ findings reveal the cellular route by which ST36 ES activates the vagal–adrenal network. The cell bodies of the sensory neurons that express Prokr2 are located in structures called dorsal root ganglia in the lower spinal cord, and have long processes in the sciatic (hindlimb) nerve that innervate the ST36 acupoint.

And:

The ST36 acupoint is situated at the point at which the sciatic nerve splits into the sural, tibial and peroneal nerves that extend down the calf, and it was not known which of these nerves is most effective for stimulation with acupuncture7,11. The location of Prokr2-expressing neurons in the deep tissues below ST36 predicts that the anti-inflammatory effects of low-intensity ST36 ES depend on the deep innervations of the common peroneal nerve, rather than on the more-superficial skin innervations of the cutaneous sural nerves. Indeed, the authors confirmed that cutting the peroneal nerve, but not the tibial or sural nerves, blocks the anti-inflammatory effects of ST36 stimulation.

Personally, I like to think of it more like this. Somehow, one point in one acupuncture meridian as described by acupuncturists who use one system (of several) of acupuncture, by coincidence, appears to correspond to a location (on the mouse, at least), where the application of electrical current can stimulate one nerve that produces a signal along a neurologic pathway that leads to stimulation of the vagus nerve and inhibition of the release of pro-inflammatory molecules by the adrenal glands. After decades of searching, some acupuncture believers, having failed to find an effect on much of anything from just acupuncture, figured out that the electrical stimulation of a handful of acupuncture points (which were never based on physiology or any anatomic structure) could lead to physiological effects, which, as a general concept, should not be a surprise at all given that the entire nervous system works through electrochemical signaling and it would be expected that the application of electricity to certain nerves can affect physiology somehow.

In that vein, let me rephrase the concluding paragraph of the Nature news story about this study, to describe what was really found, and it takes just one relatively minor change in verbiage, which I’ll denote by crossing out one word of the original and inserting a very brief bold italicized phrase:

If electroacupuncture targeted electrical stimulation of a nerve can selectively activate specific neuronal networks, it might be feasible to design ES treatments to induce local effects, similar to pacemakers (electronic devices implanted into the chest to control the heartbeat). Thus, it might eventually be possible to use ES to evoke local anti-inflammatory mechanisms in certain parts of the body — such as an arthritic knee or specific sections of the digestive tract in individuals with chronic inflammatory bowel disorders — without suppressing the whole immune system, increasing the risk of infection or leading to side effects elsewhere in the body.

Notice how little I changed the text. The findings of this study, in fact, have even less to do with acupuncture than the adenosine studies that I wrote about a decade ago. Unlike this new study, those studies, at least, didn’t use electroacupuncture—or even electricity of any kind.

Is the neuroscience interesting? Sure. Nature-level interesting? That’s an interesting thought, which brings me back to Mark Crislip’s question that I quoted above and will rephrase for this study: Without acupuncture as a hook to make it “sexy,” I wonder if this study would have been published in as high profile a journal as Nature or get the notice it did.

Personally, I would bet that the answer would have been “no” to both questions. In fact, I’d bet that this study would never have made it to the pages of Nature if it hadn’t so blatantly rebranded targeted electrical stimulation as acupuncture. (Excuse me, “electroacupuncture”.) If the study had been honest and simply reported its observations that the stimulation of the peroneal nerve at a specific point with low level electricity can produce systemic anti-inflammatory effects in mice through the activation of specific nerve fibers in it that can stimulate a nerve pathway that in turn stimulates the vagus nerve to inhibit the adrenal glands from making epinephrine and other catecholamines, it likely would have been accepted for publication in a perfectly respectable mid-level neuroscience journal somewhere, but, then, that wouldn’t have been a Nature paper, now, would it?

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

54 replies on “Even a pandemic doesn’t stop bad acupuncture studies”

But why are alties so fascinated with proving that acupuncture is valid that they will twist and distort the basics any way they can to show its supposed efficacy?

Because, I’ll venture, that acupuncture maintains a model of life dependent upon an energy – qi– that is unmeasurable and unobservable directly but is imagined to exist and is
necessary for life. Note that this is not the energy of chemical reactions or electrical activity that we can demonstrate easily but something inherently spiritual and mystical that infuses living organisms. It’s a pre-scientific explanation that underlies pre-modern ideas in biology and psychology. Practitioners of martial arts such as taichi and qigong discuss such concepts
like lower energies being transformed into higher ones through meditation and physical exercises ( I used to practise the physical exercises and read about their philosophical bases- there are books about this, believe me, and highly creative explanatory diagrammes of Dr Yang and others).

As far as I can tell, several varieties of woo, find ways to integrate spiritual issues into their “science”.

I’ve thought about this a lot over the years. There really is something to the internal “Will” or “Spirit.” What that is? I have no idea. I saw people gravely wounded in war hang on through sheer force of “will” while others who were less-seriously injured withered away and passed. Climbing mountains? Same deal-some really fit and strong climbers just gave up while those of us who were doggedly determined made the summit despite all the damage the military had done to our knees and the like.

Throughout my time in medicine I have seen a few cases of people who should be long gone remaining neurologically intact long enough to receive a loved once or to hear that loved one’s voice one last time. It’s bizarre. Every so often, you’ll see a patient who is demographically, physically, clinically, and otherwise completely similar to another patient who is just doing better with whatever condition than the other due to what seems to be his/her “outlook” or “willpower.”

I’ve talked with other doctors over the years and they all have similar stories. Some will state that it is “God” or give some other spiritual explanation. I usually just see it as a curiosity. I think it is things like this that give an opening for stuff like acupuncture to walk through. If we better understood the, almost-certainly, neurochemical basis for these happenings…well, it would go a long way.

Have you accounted for selection bias? There is a human tendency to remember the brave soul who survived X and not the one who died, or the sorry ass who died and not the one who survived. There may a kernel of truth to what you say, but I would defer to a statistical analysis. I have a vague recollection that it has been studied.

“Every so often, you’ll see a patient who is demographically, physically, clinically, and otherwise completely similar to another patient who is just doing better with whatever condition than the other due to what seems to be his/her “outlook” or “willpower.””

Or biochemical/physical anomalies that you just didn’t identify.

Invoking “willpower” has an unpleasant odor. We commonly hear stuff like this about patients who supposedly beat cancer because they weren’t willing to give up and tried a slew of alt med remedies, unlike others who supposedly folded their tent when evidence-based cancer drugs failed to arrest the tumor.

Pharma takes advantage of such beliefs in marketing drugs. There are numerous TV ads showing people who are “fighting back” against psoriasis/diabetes/whatever and giving their disease what for. The idea is apparently that you’re supposed to feel guilty if you aren’t tough enough to demand the latest, greatest and most expensive drug, in spite of it not being shown to work any better than older cheaper meds, not to mention being associated with potentially grievous side effects.

” the, almost certainly, neurochemical basis for these happenings..”

Agreed.

Interestingly, also, wasn’t there a brain region that produced feelings of the “uncanny” or presence of g-d?

Woo believers might just say ” It’s g-d” and not look any further.

Oh I fully expect there is much more to this than I have laid out but I do think it’s kind of fascinating.

There’s a kind of mind which deeply wants there to be something above and beyond scientific understanding. True mystery yet not absolute mystery. Not absolutely beyond -just beyond science.

There are many things beyond scientific understanding. The answer is to use science to improve our understanding. Those that persist regardless are likely sufferers of a reality dysfunction.

(It’s a study that could easily be used as torture, let me tell you.)

I’m pretty sure I have my second EMG in my near future — I seem to have done a number on the right ulnar nerve. Couldn’t do a Vulcan salutation if my life depended on it.

But anyway, I was amused by the University of Iowa’s “answer” to one of a series of presumably made-up** FAQs:

Why can’t I let someone else try my TENS unit?

“Just as you would not let others take a medicine that was only prescribed for you, you should not let others use your TENS unit.”

Okey-dokey. I can see where this might make a glimmer of sense, if not for the stated reason, but in that case, they probably oughtn’t to be doing this:

Tips for buying

“There are many TENS units you can buy at local retail stores and on the internet. TENS units and electrode patches can be found on Amazon, EBay and retailers’ websites, as well as at local retailers and medical supply stores. You can also choose to ship to a retailer or your home.”

Personalized right down to having a credit card.

** The fact that the device is not waterproof is but a secondary reason for not wearing it in the shower.

Yeah…those were in vogue for a while but I never heard a good thing from a single patient about them. Does yours provide any relief? The sad reality is that we are really bad at managing chronic back pain. It’s one of the few things I still do OMT for because it seems to be one of the only places OMT consistently works but it isn’t lost on me that this may simply be because the patients are desperate for something, ANYTHING to be done.

I don’t actually have one of those gadgets; I was just slowly drawn into different ads for them. I’d let you crack my back in an instant, though — I’m no longer flexible enough to do it myself, and my body could use a break from the ibuprofen.

A disturbing new trend around here has been to get “Medical clearance” for acupuncture in, I suppose, an apparent effort to get it paid for by insurance.

“One might not-unreasonably expect that electrical stimulation of certain nerves could produce physiological effects. That’s a no-brainer”

But nerves are bursty and they prefer thin pulse width and small duty cycle from long pulse repition period. From the graphic (ok never mind the cool graphic) and mention of “current” I get the idea that the nerves are being treated like longitutinal high voltage transmission lines with the additional noisyness of transverse “currents” as well.

I hope they don’t ruin the concept by making it so sexy they look like a female Trump with a fat injector, lip stick, and essential tremor. Whatever they may have shown as an aside would probably work better if they were doing it right.

It has now been established that in humans the auricular branch of the vagus nerve is close to the surface in the ear, particularly the middle-third and lower-third area of the medial surface of the auricle

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5509631/

135. Liu RP, Fang JL, Rong PJ, Zhao Y, Meng H, et al. Effects of electroacupuncture at auricular concha region on the depressive status of unpredictable chronic mild stress rat models. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2013;2013:789674.

Well, damn. It’s all ruined. I’m not eating that now. When people might be looking.

to the yeti

we disagree on much but there is a lot of wisdom and truth to what you posted, scientist/science are/is just not advanced enough to understand the body and the mind and the “soul/human spirit” we as a species, are arrogant and we know less than we think we do,we think we know the mechanics but……

I have seen people who have come in to the facilities that I have worked at, that we all would bet would never survived but lived to walk out a few weeks later. Then there were some that came in with wounds that only needed stitched that were dead one or two days later, with no infection no other symptoms nothing that we could find even the autopsy could find no reason for death.

I’ve seen soldiers with burns and missing limbs and so low on blood that the bleeding had stopped, that no human should have survived but they lived, while others with a single gunshot wound or shrapnel cut would die before they left the unit, no infection or any other medical reason.

I would caution you in posting your opinion about this on this site as poster here are skeptical of will power or the soul or god or some others powers intervention ( I don’t know what to call it or) and they would question your ‘science ?’ (Invoking “willpower” has an unpleasant odor…. There is a human tendency to remember the brave soul who survived X and not the one who died, or the sorry ass who died and not the one who survived”.). Sometimes a belief/faith in something works better than all the medicine humans can provide.

Sorry for you knees, jumping with 70 pounds is wearing, H-

I would caution you in posting your opinion about this on this site as poster here are skeptical of will power or the soul or god or some others powers intervention

Oh, Kay, do kindly stuff your opinion of what the readers want here up your backside.

We don’t object of people asking sincere questions, or sharing the weirdness the universe is throwing at us.
We get upset when they think they have all the answers and cannot sustain their position, even a little.

I just got from another blog, following a discussion about how we all tend to project our own cultural imprinting onto other people’s beliefs. Seeing a distorted version of others’ beliefs through the lens of our own religious beliefs/cultural environment. By example, Christian people will tend to look at Jewish people as Christians without Jesus. Or, US White Christians and US Black Christians don’t have the same cultural bagage.
It’s not about one being superior to the others or wrong. It’s just about misunderstanding the other’s beliefs, by assuming them as a mirror of one’s.
Quite enlightening.

Athlic

That was quite a bit of straw that you used to construct all those words.
You even cut and pasted my sentence and then, you managed to combine racism, religious bias and religion and some kind of supremacy and told me to shove it up my “backside”.

My post was in support of Medical yeti and what he had observed in treating the wounded/sick and those that died and those that didn’t for unknown reason and add my own experience.

I never brought any of your assigned religions into the post nor did i mention race, I did say “god” but that was only to describe a list of thing we assign to recoveries that we as rational humans can not explain. I did not claim to have the answers In fact I stated “Sometimes a belief/faith in something works better than all the medicine humans can provide.” as you can see I said a belief/faith in SOMETHING,

with your post you just provided proof as to why I cautioned the yeti or anyone who post here about posting the things he stated.

“and missing limbs and so low on blood that the bleeding had stopped”

Extreme shock can do that.

Perhaps the most famous example is that of Rick Allen, the Def Leppard drummer.

The way I remember the tale is that they had a horrific crash and somebody who just happened to be a medic (I don’t recall if he also just happened to be black) came upon him sitting just off the curb and imploring “I’m a famous drummer, I’ve lost my arm, can you help me find it? I think it may still be in the car (it was, still tangled in the seat belt).”

Arm pretty much ripped out at the socket. Not bleeding. Strength of Will.

https://inthe1980s.com/def-leppard-drummer-rick-allen/

Cripes, the Larry Meiller Show again has someone who acupuncture for dogs. And slippery elm. She seemed to be put off by the question whether the UW-Madison clinic would go in for her shtick.

But the acupuncturists have to be “really well trained.”

[email protected] For how much longer is #LMeillerShow going to give exposure to cranks such as @McConnellWrites, who espouses acupuncture and random herbal “therapies” for dogs, things that aren’t even within the scope of her CAAB?

I once went out to a private rescue shelter looking into adopting a cat, only to learn that most of the animals were unavailable for viewing as they were undergoing a session of Reiki. I guess that makes a certain kind of sense, as I doubt cat acupuncture or chiropractic would go well… ;- )

Sadmar, is that acupuncture administered to the cat or acupuncture administered by the cat? – though I expect that unless the cat were well-restrained, the first would rapidly be followed by the second: the acupuncturist would become the acupuncturee.

So I am guessing that testing vaccines on dogs is now out of favor? Now we are using human children as guinea pigs to test our vaccines.

FDA advisor Dr. Eric Rubin:

“We’re never going to learn about how safe this vaccine is unless we start giving it.”

I am sure someone at GM said, “we’re never going to learn how safe the Corvair is until we sell it.”
Or someone at Ford said “we’re never going to learn how safe this Pinto is until we sell it.”

At least GM and Ford could be sued.

That “It is not safe at any speed” is not quite correct. My mechanic buddy has five of them parked around his trailer and they have been parked there for 30 years. So far, no loss of control except for several generations of unbeknownst kittens.

I think I am ready to take the big leap, kill my friend, take his prize non-running 1964 Corvair, and electrify it. With a drop-in kit not of my own design no less.

Cars are tested by driving them and by crashing them. This should pick up the majority of issues, depending on how good your test procedures are.

In other words, cars are tested in use.

Vaccines are tested, in use, in small numbers of people first, followed by larger groups. If no serious safety signals are detected then they can be put out for use by everyone.

Much like cars, there could be rare issues that only show up once serious numbers have been real world tested.

1) Since when are dogs the model animal species for vaccine trials? (Obviously except for vaccines for dogs.)

2) For the nth time, you can sue vaccine manufacturers. For some vaccines there is an easier option, but you can sue vaccine manufacturers in the US. Whether or not you win is up to the courts.

3) What is the relevance of two failed cars from forty and fifty years ago? Are you trying to say that the car design and testing process has not changed in 40 years? Are you trying to say that biomedical science hasn’t changed in 40 years?

Pintos were wrongly blamed for causing fiery accidents.

What really happened was that drivers in those cases had recently been vaccinated, and experienced spontaneous human combustion (SHC).

It’s all detailed in VAERS if you know where to look.

I can think of one known design flaw that went into production anyways with GM knowing full well how toasty some of their consumers would get.

The GM trucks of the early mid ’70s with the ginormous tanks outside the frame rails on both sides of the truck. But, even with the gas crunch, people still were more than willing to purchase passenger trucks but did not want to sit in gas lines so often.

There’s a good run-down here of animals used in trials of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines. No dogs are mentioned.

And of course there were trials of COVID-19 vaccines on children, just as there were trials on adults and adolescents. How else would the vaccines get approval?

justa tech.

No they didn’t use dogs the used rhesus monkeys. (all 6 of them)

biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.05.13.093195v1.full.pdf

No you can’t sue drug companies over covid vaccines.

cnbc.com/2020/12/16/covid-vaccine-side-effects-compensation-lawsuit.html

“In February, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar invoked the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act. The 2005 law empowers the HHS secretary to provide legal protection to companies making or distributing critical medical supplies, such as vaccines and treatments, unless there’s “willful misconduct” by the company. The protection lasts until 2024.”

I really don’t think anyone at GM or Ford ever said we have to sell a car to see how safe it is, but the FDA did just that with the vaccine. That little bit of irony went over your head.

Your irony is irrelevant. Whether anyone at Ford or GM said anything or not is irrelevant. The same thing applies in both cases. There are potentially flaws in any product that might only show up after real world testing. The point is to complete whatever is determined to be acceptable testing before product release.

In the case of covid vaccines, they were granted EUA by the US government. I would assume that the legal status of the manufacturers liability is different due to the EUA. No manufacturer is going to ‘warp speed’ production and testing, at government request, and then find that they get sued into the ground for putting themselves at risk. I’d be pretty sure that, at some point, the covid vaccines will join the rest of the herd and you’ll be able to sue your heart out. In the meantime, you can direct your ire at your government, they are the ones who decided to fast track vaccines under the misguided opinion that saving lives was a good thing.

In anti-vax news…

( I’m surprised that no one here is talking about the US’ approval of a Covid vaccine for children age 5-11)

RFKjr, Mike Adams, Gary Null, Del Bigtree and lesser luminaries are already predicting untimely death, inevitable chaos and widespread devastation due to vaccinating children against Covid. It is “child abuse” and will lead to catastrophic consequences including the wrath of G-d ( Adams). Few will survive.

If someone at GM or Ford had made those comments about their cars (or any manufacture for that matter). There would be questions of criminal liability. That was the point nobody can sue the FDA (for that reckless statement) nobody can sue the manufactures. What a great vaccine.

“I’d be pretty sure that, at some point, the covid vaccines will join the rest of the herd and you’ll be able to sue your heart out.”

I would defer to someone with more legal education. but I believe there is a statue of limitation of 2 or 3 years after the incident of harm, in federal court. so the year 2024 would limit who could actual sue, if we are all mandated to get the vaccine before the end of 2021.

Sorry, I wasn’t really paying much attention. Eric Rubin doesn’t work for the FDA as far as I can tell. He sits on an advisory board which, amongst others, the FDA consult. So no. The equivalent situation for Ford or GM would not be admitting criminal anything since no member of Ford or GM would have said such a thing.

PS if you use the red button below your post then you won’t keep moving to the bottom of the list.

For vaccine court, the statute of limitations is three years, starting from when the alleged medical problem(s) first appear.

So if we get to see the long-term vaccine effects that Mike, Del and the rest of the gang warn us about (cancer, heart failure, polydactyly, demon sperm), there will be a few years in which to file for compensation.

For vaccine court, the statute of limitations is three years, starting from when the alleged medical problem(s) first appear.

SARS-CoV-2 vaccines are not within the ambit of the VICP (yet), so CICP and one year from receipt of a covered countermeasure, as I reckon. Somebody page Prof. Reiss.

I would defer to someone with more legal education.

You should have done this before pressing “Post Comment.” The Not Even Wrong was strong in that one.

Dr. Bacon

so now you are a lawyer or legal expert in addition to your duties as a researcher or doctor????
You don’t believe these problems won’t show up in the next 3-4 years, the Europeans have already flagged the Moderna vaccine for heart inflammation (myocarditis and pericarditis) and stopped it.

To the “WANG”

It was a video conference. Someone that posted here claimed to have watched all 4 hours and could probably confirm this statement, but it is now public record.

i am well aware of how this website functions.

“In the virtual meeting, a temporary voting member on the Committee named Eric Rubin of Harvard said that “But we’re never going to learn about how safe the vaccine is unless we start giving it.”

“a temporary voting member on the Committee”

And exactly my point no person at GM or Ford ever would make a statement like ‘we’re never going to learn about how safe (something is) the vaccine is unless we start giving it.”

does your search engine not work ?

It was a video conference. Someone that posted here claimed to have watched all 4 hours and could probably confirm this statement, but it is now public record.

I take it that you have some memory issues. Check the backflow valve.

i am well aware of how this website functions.

No, you really don’t. Instead, you know how you behave and expect everything else to try to mold itself around that mess.

“i am well aware of how this website functions.”

Ahhh. So you are deliberately posting answers in a different place? Fair enough. Linear discussions are so last year anyway.

I was going to continue our debate about whether a comment from Eric Rubin was equivalent to a comment from the FDA, but it suddenly struck me that I didn’t care. Generally I like a good nitpick but life’s too short sometimes.

I’m getting annoyed with our local public library for its failure to stock the latest and greatest antivaccine books.

For instance, much as I’d love to read Christopher Shaw’s Dispatches From The Vaccine Wars, which has been out a couple of months now, I can’t see spending $29.99 on a copy.

True, it covers a lot of familiar, antivax droppings-laden ground, including greedy Pharma, Bill Gates, coverups, vaccinology-as-a-cult-religion, Covid-19 isn’t really so bad, and heroic opposition figures like RFK Jr. (who wrote the foreword) and Del Bigtree. But there’s also chapter 9, which takes on the evil Bloggers (subheadings: “Dr. David Gorski, Here to Save Us All from Pseudoscience In Medicine” plus “And Now, the Orac “Wannabes””). Sounds like fun.

I did not see anything in the book sample revealed on Amazon suggesting that Dr. Shaw defended the much-maligned papers he co-authored relating to vaccines (including the ones that wound up being retracted), or that he’s had second thoughts about his announced decision not to “dabble” in vaccine science any further. It would be a pity if he deprived the good folks at PubPeer and Retraction Watch of the opportunity to evaluate his work.

Anyway, if someone can point me to a cheap used copy (I’m willing to pay up to $1.99), it would be appreciated.

“So you are deliberately posting answers in a different place?

Generally I like a good nitpick”

So I guess it matter who’s nit it is.

“Moderna vaccination is paused for some age groups”

The under 30 age group is the largest age group of un vaccinated….

I respond by making a new statement/post as I can not respond via this website to the individual poster. My way saves my time. I do notice that the regular posters here, don’t offer counter arguments but post weird stuff, of course none contain cites or factual information.

Was Mr Rubin a voting member or not, simple question

“Eric Rubin doesn’t work for the FDA as far as I can tell. He sits on an advisory board which, amongst others, the FDA consult. So no.”

You can’t even get that answer correct.

“a temporary voting member on the Committee”

“Posting answers in a different place.” really, is your attention span that short or are you too lazy that you can’t remember or review what other people post?

I do notice that the regular posters here, don’t offer counter arguments but post weird stuff, of course none contain cites or factual information.

Myself? I don’t yet contain the knowladge to answer your question. I’m just here for the quipes. However, I suspect that some here do but if one comes in playing dumb, and I’m starting to suspect that boxes, in general, get alot of that, they may react. Which is why I’m here. At the moment, at least. For the LuLs. At this psuedo-singular point in time. With You.

“You can’t even get that answer correct.”

Well, he’s probably definately sitting on something, if not the advisory board.

About the car safety analogy….Years ago I briefly worked at NASA’s impact acceleration lab at Michoud outside New Orleans. They were designing better crash helmets. I asked the director once why they weren’t using their data to work with car companies to design safer and more crash-resistant cars or other vehicles. He thought that was a ludicrous question and said the car companies had zero interest in using their data until the cost-benefit numbers made sense. As in aviation, until enough people die and it’s worthwhile to make design changes rather than face increasing liability, the car companies would have zero interest. He said they weren’t actually interested in safety until the liability numbers looked bad enough.

Want to respond to Orac? Here's your chance. Leave a reply! Just make sure that you've read the Comment Policy (link located in the main menu in the upper right hand corner of the page) first if you're new here!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.