Thursday, July 15, 2010
Even More Bad Medcine...
As you know, I watch a lot of television, and one of the things that I hate about TV nowadays are the constant advertisements for all sort of drugs to treat a barrage of complaints and medical problems that somehow warrented billions in R&D and commercials to treat, but which in days past people simply tolerated. I am especially disturbed by the commercials where the voice-over lady spends half the commercial reciting the list of side-effects that come with taking this Godsend Pill (some of these side effects which will make you wonder about the current state of science, and the masochists who are apparently employed in it' service). I find those commercials to be a) funny, and b) disturbing, and then I get curious and do some research on these things, just to see what sort of a desperate asshole you'd have to be to even consider taking some of these drugs.
You can read everything in this series by clicking on the Bad Medicine tag at the bottom of the page.
Recently, there has been an increase in the number of "holistic" or"natural" cures for everything from bad breath to brain tumors on screen, although the usual big-ticket prostate or osteoporosis drug still makes an appearance. The big selling point for these patent medicines is that they do not require a doctor's prescription. I think the increase in the ads for non-traditional and non-prescription stuff is a direct response to ObamaCare; people are looking for options that don't involve dealing with doctors and insurance companies. That may not be smart, but it is kind of easy to fall into the "It's all natural and has no side-effects" trap, and take something you think is helpful and harmless but which might not be either.
This week, my television poured forth a shitload of drivel about New Age Medicine, Psychology-and-drug-based weight-loss disguised as a diet plan, and weight-loss "secrets" that makes me despair of Mankind ever returning to any worthwhile endeavor. Without further ado, I give you:
1. Alli -an over-the-counter weight-loss aid. It's selling point is that Alli is "FDA-approved". Then again, the FDA has also approved drugs that have killed and caused birth defects, so why this should mean much of anything is beyond me.
Alli claims to be able to help you "break the cycle of emotional eating" where people use food as a drug to assuage what is basically a range of psychological problems. We're all familiar with the term "comfort food", a concept which recently has been under attack in many culinary and nutritional circles as bad juju, because these foods are often rich in sugar, saturated fats, "bad" carbs, salt and high-calorie. Modern psychological theory about many people's eating habits (and the stigma of gross obesity) pretty much begins with the view that we're all mentally-damaged goods (the better to sell you Zoloft), and that these innate mental illnesses cause us to eat the whole fucking pint of Chunky Monkey instead of stopping at a reasonable, human portion.
If you take Alli -- and follow the complimentary diet plan -- you'll supposedly lose 50% more weight -- and your psychological baggage will melt away with the pounds, too! -- than would be the case by simple dieting and exercise alone. Alli will -- it's never explained how -- put you in a "happier state of mind" that will help you to stop binging on Devil Dogs and Oreos, you Fat, Mentally-Deficient Bastard. How does Alli achieve this remarkable feat? Well, the Alli website doesn't actually say HOW the stuff works -- it only says that it'll block some of the fats you ingest from entering your system. Many statin drugs do this too, by making certain that anything you eat doesn't actually stick around long enough to affect your waistline. What Alli really seems to be selling is an online eating re-education program along with a super-laxative that'll make you shit like a shark; it makes claims and assumptions about your mental state that it doesn't even bother to back up on it's own website, and that most "mental health professionals" wouldn't attempt without at least two office visits.
According to this article, Alli really works by embarrassing the hell out of you whenever you stray from the plan. So, now you can go from solving the problems of emotional eating to a fear of shitting yourself in public as a weight-loss program. Under different circumstances, this sort of thing might see someone convicted of deliberately inflicting gross psychological harm upon another. Fifty dollars a month will also buy you severe vitamin deficiencies, and the dreaded problem of "oily spotting" in your undies. This video was quite informative about the side effects. Alli then has the nerve,incidentally, to call this all "a revolution in weight loss".
2. Australian Dream - I find it peculiar that a product called "Australian Dream" should have been invented by a Redneck. This is a topical cream which is used by those who seek relief from Arthritis, sore muscles and the aches and pains of what used to be called "Getting Old". The commercial is aimed at Baby Boomers, and makes no bones about it, so they at least get some points for honesty.
The selling point is that Australian Dream is not as harsh as some liniments which are Capsacian-based. Capsacian is the main ingredient in chilli peppers. If I have this right, Capsacian works by triggering a histamine response -- the release of natural anti-inflammatories -- into the body. This is why your eyes water and your nose runs when you eat peppers. These histamines then go to work on expanding your capillaries and veins, increasing blood flow and getting some white blood cells into the inflamed area to help defeat infections and speed healing. Increased blood flow is a major component of pain relief (see: Aspirin).
Australian Dream doesn't use Capsacian because, a) it often smells, and b) it often results in discoloration of the skin in the affected area (redness and swelling). So, really what Australian Dream seems to be selling is that you can get the pain relief you need without the embarrassing smells and unattractive welts associated with most over-the-counter analgesic cremes, which is exactly what self-absorbed, horny Baby Boomers -- all hopped up on Viagra and Hormone Replacements -- really want! Those welts and smells are a definite turn-off, and there's already enough obstacles to sex-after-60.
Does Australian Dream work? Who the fuck knows? I couldn't find many complaints online, and I didn't find much in the way of really bad side effects (except for people who may have severe allergies -- all that histamine may be bad for you). But, at $29.95 for a 4-ounce jar, you could probably get the same effect with cheaper Vitamin B, store-brand ibuprofen or plain, old aspirin, if you can't stand the smell of Ben Gay. Unlike many of the drugs I rail about here, this one might actually work -- if you have money to burn.
3. Celedrin - I was very wary about posting this one. This is another patent medicine, sold over-the-counter. Celdarin says it's provides relief for those with arthritis and various sorts of joint pain, by providing a lot of fatty acids that "lubricate" your cell membranes and joints. The reason I was wary of it is because the website is full of claims that are contained within "quotation marks" and usually followed by many an asterisk. This is a warning sign that the infamous statement "This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease" is sure to follow, and as sure as Muslims mutilate their daughter's private parts, it most certainly did.
What's in it? Well, there's a lot of talk on the website about "innovative, targeted and proprietary cetylated fatty acid esters and other active synergists" that was just a bit too thick for me to bother looking up just what the heck that all actually means, but it appears to imply that the active ingredient is simple fish oil. But, finding complaints about Celadrin wasn't quite as difficult as wading through euphemisms for "fish oil" was. You'll also be happy to know that Celadrin is the favored drug amongst veterinarians treating dogs with hip dysplasia and arthritis, too. Hey, if it's good enough for Fido...
As for the complaints (which were many!) most seem to revolve around unwanted hair growth, a long lead time before any effect is actually felt (usually measured in weeks), and that the actual relief you get doesn't seem to last very long (in some cases, just a few hours, regardless of dosage). In any case, Celedrin will set you back $21.99 for 150 softgels at your local Costco, and you'll need about three a day, but you don't need a prescription, so that makes it all hunky-fucking-dory, right?
4. i Renew Bracelet - The "Energy-Balancing Bracelet". This has been one of my favorites because it is indicative of the stupidity of Man that he continues to fall for the same scams over and over. I now know why Bugs Bunny was able to use the same gags over and over on Elmer Fudd, and he never saw it coming. This is New Age "Medicine" at it's very best! Every claim is followed by an asterisk and three-paragraphs of very small print, indeed, which is par for the course. Summing up the webpage, it seem that the stress of everyday life is fucking up our "natural energy fields", also known as "the Biofield". The Biofield is supposed to be an aura of unseen, natural "energy" that surrounds and permeates our beings, which is badly influenced by electromagnetic radiation of the sort transmitted by your computer, television, cell phone, wrist watch, and so forth -- not to mention the bullshit you get from the Wife, Kids, Boss and the Donut-eating-jerk-with-a-badge who ticketed you for doing 43-in-a-40 zone.
All this talk of Biofields smells of the ancient Chinese concept of "ki", one of the foundations of Martial Arts training and acupuncture, and both of those are complete bullshit.
The claims made by the iRenew folks are reminiscent of those made in the days when people eagerly bought love potions, the bones of saints, pieces of True Cross, and other nonsense without question and when complete quacks were applying leaches, acids, poisons and sharp blades randomly in the belief that "balancing the humors" by bleeding people could cure warts, leprosy, toothache, acne. and fucking plague. The same dolts who fell for that drivel back in the day, would line up to buy iRenew bracelets.
iRenew promises to restore "balance" to your "Biofield" which will improve your mental condition, physical performance, restore your natural immunity to stress, and give you an enhanced sense of well-being with it's "Energy Balance System" and "Biofield Technology". You'll be happy to know that a "Biofield" is, and I quote, "a New term adopted by the National Institutes of Health" (yeah, nothing like basing a therapeutic product on a term invented last week, and which is really a recycled centuries-old Oriental scam) and describes a growing body of research that purportedly identifies a subtle human energy field that permeates and extends beyond the physical body". You'll also be interested to know that when I tried to copy/paste that gibberish so that I wouldn't have to type it, I got a computer message that stated this piece of text is protected by strict copyright laws! Ooops.
So, what is an iRenew Bracelet? The website calls it "proprietary quantum-based technology" that further states "the Process is beyond magnetic technology and ionic jewelry", but nothing describes what the bracelet is made of, or why it should do what it claims to do -- except in the most confusing, esoteric and ephemeral terms that probably won't make sense to anyone who doesn't smoke hash, studied yoga for 400 years, or doesn't "belong" to the world of Far-eastern religions. So, I had to do some digging to figure out what all that meant -- in plain English. And I still haven't found anything that tells me what the fuck this thing really is (probably just a bracelet made of recycled stainless steel wrapped around a cheap, copper core).
There's an awful lot of impressive-sounding terms being tossed about here: Biofields, Energy-balancing, Quantum-based technology, magnetic and ionic. Quite frankly, it's a pretty basic scam which which attempts to sell you a Good Luck charm, or Amulet that Wards off the Evil Spirits, and attempts to make you feel better about being duped by implying that the whole thing is based upon sound, scientific principles. iRenew appears to be nothing more than a $19.99 placebo. If you think it'll help you, it probably will, but it certainly won't hurt you.
But someone is probably going to jail in the very near future. Here's the commercial with really bad actors in it.