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Western versus Eastern Medicine
Lane Simonian
Posted: Wednesday, March 13, 2019 10:38 AM
Joined: 12/12/2011
Posts: 4491

I don't think I have ever seen the difference between "western" and "eastern" perspectives on the use of non-pharmacological treatments of Alzheimer's disease stated more starkly:

The FDA action is most welcome. Alzheimer’s disease may be the single most feared disease in the aging population, and approved therapies, while modestly effective, are inadequate. So naturally millions of people seek alternative therapies, creating an enormously lucrative market for companies and practitioners to sell unproven remedies. Many people decide to spend money to try such therapies, believing that the touted benefits justify the cost and risks. In my opinion, it is very likely that virtually all such remedies are useless and some are potentially hazardous. (An exception would be the treatment of an individual with a documented deficiency, for example B12 deficiency, known to be associated with cognitive impairment.) In my view, the FDA and other regulatory bodies should move toward requirements that marketing claims for supplements be backed by rigorous clinical studies similar to those required for prescription drugs.

There is a Chinese saying well-known in Japan: "Medicines and foods come from the same sources." Indeed, hundreds of effective Chinese medications are being prescribed in Japan under health care, although the essential ingredients remain elusive in many cases. Chinese medicines are said to have survived 2,000 years of real-life "clinical trials." It is therefore possible that some diet-derived supplements may be effective.

There are, however, some problems: the ingredients of the Chinese medicines may differ depending on the site and timing of harvesting the source materials despite improvements in quality control.

Both for Chinese medicines and for commercial supplements to become relevant remedies, we need statistically significant evidence in experimental paradigms that correspond to such conditions as preclinical AD, subjective cognitive decline, pre-AD MCI, and AD. Obviously, use of pertinent animal models and recruitment of appropriate human populations must be practiced.

In addition, plasma biomarker(s) that can be used for presymptomatic diagnosis and for prognosis will accelerate our quest for answers.

You can start with the presumption that nearly all supplements are worthless and some are potentially dangerously  or you can start with the knowledge that some herbal medicines have been used for centuries with certain beneficial effects.  The only overlap in the comments is the need for clinical testing, but the goal of the first researcher seems to be to confirm that supplements do not work whereas the goal of the second researcher seems to be to find out what works and what does not.  The second approach will get us closer to an effective treatment for Alzheimer's disease.

Posted: Wednesday, March 13, 2019 10:45 AM
Joined: 11/13/2014
Posts: 2117

Thanks Lane

I 100% agree. BP hates the competition. I called a senator way back in the early 80's and told him to leave our supplements alone. This isn't the first time they were after them. WE have NOTHING to lose by trying alternative. Within reason of course. There are some ineffective waste of money things being marketed to the elderly. I purchased some , looked it up, and returned it. 

Posted: Wednesday, March 13, 2019 7:07 PM
Joined: 3/8/2018
Posts: 703

I have no issues with supplements IF they are standardized dosage/strength, safety/efficacy tested with double blind randomized trials NOT funded by pharma. Buying a bottle of something where you don’t know what’s in it, or variation in strength by tablet is troubling
Posted: Wednesday, March 13, 2019 7:19 PM
Joined: 2/29/2016
Posts: 1268

Americans have the most expensive urine in the world, thanks to OTC supplements.
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