Late last year, I was interviewed on your show as a finalist for the Business Accelerator programme. While introducing me, although you didn’t use the word ‘woo-woo’, I could tell that that is what you were thinking.
I listen to your show a lot and I know your attitude to the alternative side of the health industry. Surprisingly, perhaps, I am often in complete agreement with you. There are plenty of ‘snake oil’ salespeople out there. And plenty of naive people only too willing to be taken for a ride.
But I want to let you know that I don’t deserve to be lumped into that section of the industry. (I should’ve told you this on the radio that morning, but the truth is, I was way too nervous to think straight.) I also want to let you know that there is a large section of the alternative health industry that bases their products on solid, significant scientific research.
Although there is obviously far less money spent on researching herbs and vitamins than there is on researching patentable drugs, it does happen. (Actually, the favourite part of my job is trawling through research papers to see which studies in my field make the most sense.)
To be believable, a study must:
- be placebo controlled (This is where two parallel groups of patients receive either the herb or an identical placebo. The placebo consists of something that looks identical to the herb in question, but is an inert substance, with no effect.)
- be a double blind study (This means that neither the patients nor the researchers know who has received the herb and who has received the placebo.)
- be large enough (In fact, the bigger, the better. A five person test doesn’t prove anything. But 5000, that you can work with.)
Health Library puts it well: “The purpose of this kind of study is to eliminate the power of suggestion. It is true, although hard to believe, that people given placebo (fake) treatment frequently report dramatic and long-lasting improvements in their symptoms. However, if the people in the real treatment group fare significantly better than those in the placebo group, it is a strong indication that the treatment really works.”
And, yes, John, there have been many, many studies of this calibre done on natural remedies, which have shown statistically relevant positive results. In fact, if a natural substance has not been researched in this manner, it won’t find its way into my products.
The result is that good natural alternative remedies DO exist and are often as effective and sometimes even more effective than pharmaceutical drugs for the same condition.
This really is ‘cutting edge nature’.