Big surprise here (not). A 10-year study funded by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine to the tune of $2.5 billion has found that glucosamine and chondroitin, black cohosh, saw palmetto, and shark cartilage fair no better than placebo
in treating their targeted ailments, much as echinacea
had previously been found to be no help in getting over colds. Only ginger (specifically for chemotherapy nausea) and stress/tension relief treatments (such as accupunture and yoga) offered marginal advantage over placebo.
Not exactly a comfortable finding for the multibillion dollar snake oil business, though I have no doubt the alternative medicine companies will protest these results and will continue to expand their product lines for years to come despite little to no proof of efficacy.
Critics on both sides of the issue point out the Center's numerous issues, including funding research for faith-based treatments, such as distance healing, as well as an advisory board filled with propoenents of alternative treatments. Other problems include the wide-range of components making up the various compounds tested:
There are 150 makers of black cohosh "and probably no two are exactly the same, and probably some people are putting sawdust in capsules and selling it," said Norman Farnsworth, a federally funded herbal medicine researcher at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
So long as consumer continue to have 'faith' in alternative medicine and buy billions of dollars of the products and treatments each year, and so long as the government refuses to regulate the products and producers, the alternative medicine business will continue to flourish despite the lack of proof of efficacy, and often in spite of contradictory evidence. In an age where adults still believe in a mythical, magical imaginary friend called Jesus, can we expect any more rational behavior. Of course not...
(posted on my blog: davenichols.net