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Science-Based Medicine

This year I had a course called Evidence-Based Medicine. The point of the class was to educate us on how to use the medical literature to determine the best treatments. Medicine has definitely come a long way from bleeding patients as a form of treatment. Now, we have evidence to lead the way.

But I recently overheard my parents talking about drinking EPSOM salt as part of an alternative to surgery for removing gallbladder stones. The treatment involved drinking fresh-squeezed apple juice for a number of days, drinking a 1/2 cup of Virgin Olive Oil, and then drinking an EPSOM salt and water mixture.

The treatment is supposed to flush out your liver/gallbladder and cause gallstones to be excreted with your stool. The site Curezone.com has a page dedicated to this treatment with a list of the various different “recipes” for the treatment. (Click here to see the liver flushing page.) Oh, and for all the skeptics, the pages come complete with pictures of gallstones people removed from their own stool!

Well I was a skeptic. I realize I’m just a medical student. But the idea didn’t sit right with me. Then I found a website called Science-Based Medicine that contained an article titled “Would you like a liver flush with that colon cleanse?

The author, a surgeon, rips apart this treatment. If I were to paraphrase him: The treatment is absolutely ridiculous. You can check out the details at his post.

Even in this day and age, there are still plenty of strange treatments that are blindly followed without any evidence to support it. My parents heard about this treatment from a church member who was told that she had gallstones and needed a surgery to remove them.

I wish we could educate the public. Maybe a course on evidence-based medicine should be taught at the high school level. I mean, reading a site like the one listed above (Curezone) can be very convincing. You see all these testimonials by people who have “flushed” their livers. You see pictures of these supposed gallstones that were fished out of the toilet. And you think, hey, that’s proof it works!

I guess this was one moment where I saw the value of my Evidence-Based Medicine course — a value I failed to appreciate at the time I took it.

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  • Kettie

    It a nice site collecting all info about Colon cleanse.
    I want to know more about colon cleanse because my friend is suffering from the same problem and i need this information.
    Thanks for your time to post this article.

  • Kettie

    It a nice site collecting all info about Colon cleanse.
    I want to know more about colon cleanse because my friend is suffering from the same problem and i need this information.
    Thanks for your time to post this article.

  • Mike

    Yes unfortunately the Internet is absolutely chock full of self appointed experts making outlandish claims based on little more than hearsay. Many of the pictures you refer to have indeed be doctored and created simply to sell products.

    I don’t suppose we’ll be seeing evidence-based medicine being taught in schools any time soon but there sure should be some kind of education in taking an objective view and verifying information by cross-referencing reputable publications edited by industry professionals.

    A rumour can turn into supposed solid fact within days of the Internet especially with all the social networking going on. So I’m totally with you on that one!

  • Mike

    Yes unfortunately the Internet is absolutely chock full of self appointed experts making outlandish claims based on little more than hearsay. Many of the pictures you refer to have indeed be doctored and created simply to sell products.

    I don’t suppose we’ll be seeing evidence-based medicine being taught in schools any time soon but there sure should be some kind of education in taking an objective view and verifying information by cross-referencing reputable publications edited by industry professionals.

    A rumour can turn into supposed solid fact within days of the Internet especially with all the social networking going on. So I’m totally with you on that one!

  • http://www.justlabcoats.com/ laboratory coat

    I don’t think they ever said “scientists aren’t allowed to voice certain opinions” but implying it is another matter…
    Would “In Chapter 8 of Unscientific America—just 12 pages of a broader book–we argue that an entire movement attached to “science” today is not really much invested in effectively reaching the U.S. public, but rather, has become radicalized around the counterproductive project of blasting other Americans’ religious faith.

  • http://www.justlabcoats.com/ laboratory coat

    I don’t think they ever said “scientists aren’t allowed to voice certain opinions” but implying it is another matter…
    Would “In Chapter 8 of Unscientific America—just 12 pages of a broader book–we argue that an entire movement attached to “science” today is not really much invested in effectively reaching the U.S. public, but rather, has become radicalized around the counterproductive project of blasting other Americans’ religious faith.