Double Blind Studies: Convention Vs. Natural – Who’s the Enemy?


by: Black, Dean, Ph.D. PART II

Dr. Dean Black made a lifelong study of nutrition and health maintenance. A graduate of Brigham Young University, he earned his PhD at Penn State University, and served as a professor at Brigham Young University and the University of California. Dean is listed in America Men and Women of Science, the Sigma Xi, a national scientific honorary society. He was a 1979 recipient of the Outstanding Public Service Award form the Provo, Utah Women’s Council. Dr. Black served as president of Naturalife International, Inc. and was president of the Sunrider Corporation from 1982 through 1984. His interest in gerontology spurred Dean Black’s deep interest in natural healing principles. He made the study of health maintenance a life long pursuit.

Science is the pursuit of truth. Isn’t that true? Yet science can literally be used as a barricade to the discovery of truth. Double blind studies have been used and can be used to deceive. I was once on a debate with a man who was the head of a very large “anti-quackery” organization in the United States. I mentioned certain healing methods, and he said he would like to see some double blind studies on this. That’s a very simple request isn’t it? Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as it sounds.

THE DOUBLE BLIND STUDY

In a double blind study, two groups of subjects are matched; they have to be identical in almost every regard. In an ideal double blind study, you would have identical twins and split them into two groups. Then you would administer the substance you are testing to one group, and to the other group you would administer a placebo. The placebo must look, taste, smell, feel, and in every fashion be identical to the drug, so that nobody can tell who is getting what. The fact that the patient does not know what he is getting is the first ‘blindness’. The second ‘blindness’ is that the doctor does not know. You can’t let anybody involved know what they are doing. Why? You might introduce a factor which would confuse and confound the results. It’s called the placebo effect. Now, that’s a very sensible thing to do, but the only reason for doing it is to be able to explain what’s causing the results.

The focus of science is to explain, but what is the purpose of the healing arts? To heal. I am suggesting that to explain and to heal are not the same goal. We make a very serious error when we combine the healing enterprise of medicine and transform it into the research enterprise of science. Let me give you an example. Some doctors are reporting about a patient in a journal article. He was given BCG immunotherapy, which involves giving a type of bacteria to the patient. Unfortunately, the patient died from the infectious condition caused by the therapy. The doctors performed an autopsy after his death, and the autopsy showed that the cancer patient’s tumours had become smaller which they explained as a beneficial effect of the therapy. The patient had died, and yet they were still able to speak of a beneficial effect of the therapy. How can that be? Were they wearing their healer’s hat when they said that? No, they were wearing their researcher hat. For a researcher, cancer is the scourge of mankind, but the healer is concerned about the individual patient. Cancer is a war to the researcher. You have the tumour that is the enemy, and you have the doctors who are fighting the tumour, and the patient is the battlefield! One individual battlefield is of very little consequence in a sense, compared to the outcome of the whole war.

Now, does medicine have a cure for cancer? The fact of the matter is that the death rate for cancer has increased from 130 per 100,000 to 134 per 100,000 in the past 18 years since the United States made a declaration of war against cancer in the National Cancer Act. All cancer therapies are experimental, because there are no therapies today that work. I am suggesting that medicine has no business being primarily a research enterprise. But if we don’t have cures, how can we discover them without research? The problem is that the nature of the research that medicine has set up for itself is not a wise kind of research.

When we establish this double-blind design as the research method of medical science, it creates certain problems. A research project was done at the University of Texas at the M.D. Anderson Hospital, in which they tested Chinese herbs on cancer patients. They found that the Chinese herbs had the effect of restoring a very weak immune system not only back to normal, but above normal in these cancer patients in almost 90% of the cases. This research which was published in the journal, Cancer, led to an interview of the senior researcher of the study in the Los Angeles Times. In this article, the researcher stated: “We have something that works, or at least seems to work.” Now, is there any therapy today that works against cancer? This medical scientist says he has found one that works or seems to work. In the huge effort today to find a cancer cure wouldn’t this be big news? Some preliminary research in Houston has also shown that two herbs may be able to rebuild the body’s natural immunity in AIDS patients. Then, the researcher said: “Unfortunately, we do not know how or why it works, and until we do, we cannot develop this as a modern medicine.” That is the exact quote.

Tell me, then, what is the exact goal of research? Is it to discover if the herb works, or to explain how it works? It’s just to explain how it works. They’ve already seen that it works. The journal article even points out that clinical evidence in China has shown a very significant result with the use of these herbs. Now, in order to develop modern drugs from traditional Chinese medicine, there are very strict scientific procedures and criteria which must be followed.

THE PATENTING OF A NEW DRUG

The research method used in developing a modern drug means identifying, isolating and synthesizing the active element as the very first step. They must study how they work, evaluate them in clinical use, test their toxicology and so on. You notice the first step in the research protocol is to identify and isolate the active ingredients. When you do that, what happens to the herb? It’s gone! The herb literally vanishes. In the United States, the interesting thing is that in order to get through the research protocol, it will cost you 70 to 120 million dollars. Now, that’s not really so bad, because look at the money you could make if you had a cancer cure. 70 to 120 million dollars is nothing compared to that. For the expenditure that you invest, they give you a patent on your product which is good for 17 years. Do you see the problem this creates for us now? You can’t patent a herb. So if someone wants to have his herbal product approved by the Food and Drug Administration, he spends 70 million dollars on this whole process, and at the end of it he has no patent protection. Anyone can go and sell this herb, and the person will not be able to recover the investment he has made.

I was so intrigued by this situation, that I called the senior researcher who had studied the Chinese herbs and asked him what had happened to his project. The article had come out in 1983 and I called him in 1987. He told me that since the article was published, all the money for the project had been cancelled. He lost his laboratory and had to pay a research assistant out of his own pocket. Finally, he couldn’t do that anymore, and he gave up the project and began something else. I offered to try to obtain private funding for him, but he told me not to do that. He said, “If I try to pursue this any further I’ll lose my job.” So here we have the cancer cure that works, and yet it can’t be pursued because you can’t patent it. The laws are set up to prove a particular kind of product, a patentable chemical that has commercial value. The financial investment is so high that it can’t be done with a natural product. And as a consequence, for ever more, until these laws change, it will always be true that natural products are not approved. The reason there is no scientific evidence for natural products is that no one is going to pay for it. The other problem is that the protocol calls for isolating and purifying the active ingredient. Take the plant and tear it apart. From the natural healing prospective, that destroys something. From the scientific prospective that modern medicine follows, it does not destroy anything because the whole is nothing more than the sum of its parts. From the natural healing standpoint, we say that to break up a whole is counter-productive. You lose properties of the whole substance. The scientific perspective tends to say, if you can’t measure it by an instrument, what have you lost – it doesn’t exist. For example there is a food component called lecithin which contains a molecule called choline. Choline is a critical part of the neurotransmitter, acetylcholine. Pure choline should be better for the person from the scientific standpoint because it is pure. Lecithin, should theoretically be not so good because it is not pure. Nevertheless, lecithin is more effective than choline. The lecithin acts more slowly when it is taken, but its peak effectiveness is 280% above baseline for the lecithin versus 65% for the choline. Twelve hours later, the lecithin is still at its peak, but the choline disappears after only 4 hours.

The claim for the purified chemicals is that they are more accurate, easier to control and more scientific, and yet, from a natural healing prospective something is lost in the process.

VITAMIN C, STRESS AND CANCER

There was a study done on vitamin C and cancer by Linus Pauling. He took 100 patients and gave them 10 grams of vitamin C per day, and matched them with 100 patients to whom he gave no vitamin C, and he compared the two groups. Eighteen percent of the patients who took vitamin C survived the study period. None of the patients in the other group survived the study period. Sixteen percent of the patients who took vitamin C recovered completely. This study was criticized because it was not double-blind. So other people did double blind studies but they did not replicate Pauling’s results. All of the patients died.

Let me give you an explanation why Linus Pauling’s study worked. Hans Selye, the great stress researcher, says there are three stages to stress. The first is the stage of alarm. Then you go into the stage of adaptation. In this stage you are coping. Eventually, if the coping is unsuccessful, the patient goes into what he calls the stage of exhaustion in which the patient gives up. In the alarm stage and the exhaustion stage, something happens physiologically that is very intriguing. The body’s level of cortisol becomes very high. Cortisol is a chemical that depresses the immune system. So, when we are in any kind of state of uncertainty, or when we are exhausted emotionally, cortisol becomes elevated, and the immune system becomes depressed. There is a condition called uncontrollability, or helplessness in which we feel we do not have the capacity to control our environment. If you put a patient in a condition in which he feels he has no control, he will physiologically go into a state that depresses the immune system. Selye says the state of exhaustion precedes death. If cancer patients are in the state of exhaustion, they will be high in cortisol. The higher the cortisol, the worse the cancer.

In Pauling’s study, the patients were encouraged to improve, and 16% did return back to normal. It is possible the belief and inspiration they received from their doctor took them out of the stage of exhaustion back into the stage of adaptation, raised their immunity and they healed. In the double-blind study, what’s the purpose? By deliberate design, it keeps the patient helpless. Its purpose is to cancel any effects of the mind. Presumably, that leaves the patient in a normal state. No, there is no such thing as a neutral state of the mind. Either the patient’s mind is engaging in the challenge or the patient has given up. In natural healing, we enroll the patient’s mind in the healing process. We capture the hope of the patient. In medical literature there are 754 articles on cancer and vitamin C. I sampled at random 65 of those articles. Of those 65, 57 had positive results and 8 had negative results about the effect of vitamin C on the immune system. So the evidence is so overwhelming that vitamin C has an effect on the immune system, for anybody to deny it, he has to be ignorant or totally deceiving. We now have a situation that has been set up literally to use science as an effort to keep us from learning the truth and we have to make an effort to have clinical research and therapeutic settings become acceptable as investigating tools.

Dr. Black has written a few books including: Health at the Crossroads: Exploring the Conflict Between Natural Healing and Conventional Medicine

This short, well-researched book takes a look at the problems of traditional medical treatment that fight the body’s natural healing efforts versus natural medicinal protocols such as herbal remedies and homeopathy that work with the body to overcome illness. A lengthy historical background precedes easily understood discussions of health-related topics of interest to the general population. Coverage includes the controversial Vitamin C experiments, chemotherapy treatments for cancer, the fallacy in using double-blind testing for new medications. Dr. Black raises interesting points with regard to the scientific method as it relates to medical treatment. He explains how the healing principle does not require scientific explanation. For exarnple, many Chinese herbal remedies have been known to be successful for thousands of years although never “proven” via classical scientific experiments; thus, Western medical authorities ignore them. Dr. Black warns of the dangers of overly restrictive health laws that limit products and treatments outside the medical model and maintains that laws should not take sides in scientific issues. He purports that “natural healing is neither more nor less fraudulent than medicine” and advises on how to deal with fraud in either system. The most important feature of the book is Black’s championship for merging the two system instead of wasting so much effort in fighting. He maintains that “natural healing and medicine together form a more complete system than either forms alone.” An appendix of natural healing lists resources ranging from Alcoholics Anonymous and the La Leche League to the Center for Chinese Medicine. Black’s promotion for support, coordination, and synchronization of natural healing and traditional medicine make this book an excellent choice for public and medical libraries as well as for bookstores serving alternative-lifestyle clientele. Highly recommended.

Visit and read his work at http://www.jlgnet.com/dean/index.php

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~ by 619 on October 31, 2010.

One Response to “Double Blind Studies: Convention Vs. Natural – Who’s the Enemy?”

  1. Some herbal products on the market are using some herbs that are GRAS certified by the FDA. –

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