Thursday, December 23, 2004
1. ACUPUNCTURE: RESEARCHER FINDS THE HAYSTACK IS FULL OF NEEDLES.
Huge breakthrough? A University of Maryland researcher, who has been touting acupuncture for the last 17 years, now reports it may actually work - sort of. Here's the picture: a few thousand years before it was known that blood circulates or germs cause disease, doctors who had never dissected a frog, claimed that yin and yang could be balanced by inserting needles into the right points, among the hundreds of points strung along 12 meridians. They called it "acupuncture," from the Latin acus, needle and punctus, prick. Which is odd, because they were Chinese. But if they figured out acupuncture, they must have been smart enough to learn Latin. Scientists today can't even find the meridians. A Maryland study of 570 elderly patients who suffer from arthritis of the knee, found that 6 months of acupuncture modestly reduced pain and improved agility. Six months? Why not take an aspirin? Scientists suggest the needles stimulate release of endorphins. Jalapeno peppers do the same thing. So it wouldn't matter where you stick the needles would it? Then who needs an acupuncturist?
2. PAIN: CAN YOU BALANCE YOUR YIN AND YANG WITHOUT GETTING STUCK?
It's been a great holiday season for the purveyors of alternative cures. First there was a flu vaccine shortage. In addition to Oscillococcinum, (WN 10 Dec 04), olive leaf extract, grapefruit seed extract, African ginger, and ionic silver were being sold along with supposed immune-boosting multi-vitamins to treat or prevent flu. All of this stuff is sold under the Dietary Supplement and Health Education Act of 1994, which means it doesn't require FDA approval. Then Merck recalled its popular painkiller Vioxx, on the basis of a slight increase in heart attack risk. That led to similar concerns about the other big COX-2 inhibitor, Celebrex, and finally, it got down to Aleve, an over-the-counter drug, for which the risk was barely significant. WN believes most chronic pain sufferers will insist they are fully willing to accept the small risks.
3. NASA: EVERY CANDIDATE TO REPLACE O'KEEFE IS "THE FRONTRUNNER."
Last Friday WN mentioned two "frontrunners" to replace O'Keefe as NASA chief: Gen. Kadish, head of the Missile Defense Agency, and former member of Congress Bob Walker. Well, it's getting pretty crowded at the front. Early Saturday morning Bob Park debated retired Marine Major General Charles Bolden on BBC World News. BBC described Bolden as "the frontrunner." CQ Today reported that Sen. Brownback (R-KS), Space Subcommittee chair, is pushing retired Air Force General Pete Worden, who headed the Office of Strategic Influence (WN 22 Feb 02). All former astronauts are also frontrunners. The litmus test is a conviction that the most important goal is Moon/Mars.
4. MISTLETOE: WN WENT SEARCHING FOR A HOLIDAY-CONNECTED STORY.
Used by the druids in exotic sacrificial ceremonies, mistletoe injections are the latest quack cancer cure in Europe.