Tink
Lv 7
Tink asked in HealthAlternative Medicine · 1 decade ago

Do you guys ever use PUBMED to research alternative medicine(s)?

To see if peer reviewed studies have been done on a paticular herb, vitamin, etc?

I see a lot of folks say that X,Y or Z has never been studied, and then I go on there and often there have been a number of thme done...and you can refine searches by adding terms*....say, for a specific herb and a specific condition.

Anyhow, I just wondered. Also, if you don't use this, does your country have an equivalent of this?

PUBMED: A service of the United States Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/

*For those who have never seen this search engine, use the latin or chemical name for an herb or vitamin/mineral.

Update:

I happen to like proquest, science direct, etc...but pubmed is well, public....

7 Answers

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  • dave
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Just to establish some facts first:

    PUBMED is simply a database of journals (like an online library), some are academic, some not so academic (i.e. their quality varies dramatically). While it contains high quality journals (The Lancet, JAMA etc) it also contains some low quality, 'throwaway' journals (mainly full of advertising, summaries of others' studies and are normally posted out free) as well as journals that contain complete nonsense (paranormal activity, talking to the dead etc).

    Unfortunately therefore, inclusion solely in PUBMED is not a guarantee of quality. Want some proof? How about this recent article from the journal 'Explore':

    "CONCLUSIONS: The results suggest that certain mediums can anomalously receive accurate information about deceased individuals. The study design effectively eliminates conventional mechanisms as well as telepathy as explanations for the information reception, but the results cannot distinguish among alternative paranormal hypotheses, such as survival of consciousness (the continued existence, separate from the body, of an individual's consciousness or personality after physical death) and super-psi (or super-ESP; retrieval of information via a psychic channel or quantum field)."

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17234565?itool=...

    ..and yes, when they say 'Mediums' they mean as in talking to the dead! Of course other low quality journals such as Homeopathy, Alternative Medicine Review (and a few others with 'Alternative' and 'Complementary' in the title) are also included in PUBMED too. Unfortunately, as the alt med community is small and their research background is limited to say the least, 'peer review' in this context (i.e. studies only reviewed within this tight knit community) and not offered out to medical doctors, tends to produce results which are not really peer reviewed at all and poor practises like small sample groups, unsuitable statistical tests, incorrect interpretation of data etc cannot be filtered out so easily (hence conclusions such as people talking to the dead!) Obviously the chances of getting an article published in these journals is far higher than one with rigorous standards, hence their appeal.

    Though ensuring that the article you've found is credible isn't easy, the fact it's published in a well respected medical journal will go a long way towards this. Other journal articles citing the original or expanding on the research is another indicator, though there are plenty of correct methods such as Jadad Scoring if you're interested.

    Unfortunately there's no control over how people choose to interpret these articles, so it's not surprising that a study entitled: "Herbs may show protective cancer effect" is taken by some as being absolute proof that herbs DO show a protective effect!

    There are many other databases such as Scopus, Elselvier, Web of Science etc (and to a far lesser extent Google Scholar) that should also be used by anyone serious about researching.

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Reading studies is one thing, judging their quality, understanding how to interpret them and putting them into context with the rest of the literature, is another.

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  • 1 decade ago

    I use PubMed and Cochrane to do quick searches and find out if a topic has ever been published. If it's not in one of those two listings, then it must be very very obscure. If someone claims Goji juice cures cancer, it is pretty easy to see if a study has ever actually been done.

    However, as others have pointed out, both PubMed and Cochrane will list all comers. (Great answer Dave !!!) They don't take into account the quality of research or the credibility of researchers. Cochrane in particular can have a very politically correct approach usually with the very safe "more study is needed before X can be recommended" So, one still has to read at least the Abstract of the article. However, for many topics it is actually important to read the entire article as the Abstract can seriously mislead you as to what the paper really did say.

    This makes it really really tedious to try and track down claims. Real science isn't easy.

    So what I prefer are for people to have already done that work for me, and ideally if I can find a meta-analysis or a systematic review on a topic.

    http://researchcore.org/faq/answers.php?recID=5

    They too are not perfect, but for example there have been some excellent ones in the last few years in BMJ and The Lancet which have thoroughly and completely debunked homeopathy...not that any homeopaths paid attention.

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  • Tony I
    Lv 5
    1 decade ago

    Good question Tink. I use PubMed constantly. In some instances I find that herbs and other natural healing items have been lightly studied and in others none at all. But in many instances they have been studied significantly and in some instances there are literally hundreds of PubMed linked studies and articles which vouch for a herbal or natural healing item, even though those items are often rejected as ineffective by some who seem to not like alternatives in general. Sadly, we see such rejection here in this section even when the proof is furnished.

    I sometimes chuckle when alternative med opponents ask me for proof when I know that it exists. Yet, when I have furnished such proof, they often still reject it. So by and large I have decided to let them do their own research if they really want to find out. Anyone can do so, and it is something I recommend everyone do when they see someone rejecting an alternative without providing their own proof:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/

    As Dave correctly points out, a listing or two in PubMed does not equate to absolute verification of something's benefit or in some instances absolute verification of its lack of benefit. So it is a good idea to look at the studies to see what the conclusions were and in what scholarly journal, if any, they may have appeared. A very good indication though, is when you find a great number of listings - because that usually happens when other studies have found indications or proof of benefits.

    "May have benefits" is not proof of benefits, but it is almost always an indication that apparent benefits have been found that warrant further study.

    Here's a tip: When it comes to herbs, you may get many more results if you use the scientific name (for example, use "mormordia charantia" instead of "bitter melon" or "bitter guord").

    When you search for bitter melon, you get 128 listings, which is certainly a very substantial number However, when you search for mormordia charantia, you get 428 items listed. It does not take long, btw, to look throught those studies to see that there has been a substantial body of work proving benefits from bitter melon that goes far beyond "may have benefits".

    Oops, I feel a soapbox coming on here, because I note that inspite of all those studies and scholarly articles, there are still those who claim it has no proven effectiveness. Even worse, to demonstrate the lengths the FDA will go to in order to suppress alternatives to mainstream drugs, they infamously conducted a raid, confiscated supplies, computers and other equipment and shut down a company in Florida who sold bitter melon products because they dared list some of the PubMed studies which indicated health benefits. But then they also warned Washington cherry growers to not dare advertise any health benefits from eating cherries.

    Not accepting anything as proven to have health benefits unless it has gone throught the full FDA trial procedure at a cost of several hundred million dollars (which is not feasible for non-patentable items and nature is not patentable) serves as a very effective barrier against alternatives for the drug companies who can afford such tests - though it didn't prevent 60,000 deaths with Vioxx or many other thousands with drugs like Avandia, Fosamax, Bextra, Alleve and many more. On the other hand no one has ever been even harmed seriously by bitter melon or cherries.

    Sorry for the editorial, but it is a truth that should be known.

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  • 1 decade ago

    No, I don't use those BIASED numbers from the corrupt US government that takes all it's money from the boys in big pharma!

    I don't need any more government lies... I have all the information I need here in my brain...

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Yes of course. Cochrane is quite a good database too.

    The problem is people not being able to interpret data correctly.

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  • 1 decade ago

    Of course I do. I practically live there :-)

    I am a naturopathic physician and as such I practice what is called "evidence based medicine". That means that the things I prescribe/advise all have scientific evidence of efficacy. I also write articles for both medical journals as well as for "regular people" to read and I use pubmed studies to research my information.

    I am rather amazed by the several people who post here who want people to think that they know something about medicine but who insist that all herbs or vitamins are woo or bunk or whatever. These people obviously cannot read medical studies or don't know how to use a computer well enough to find pubmed and they seem to have some agenda that just makes them end up looking very foolish instead of knowledgeable.

    And yes, my country has an equivalent of pubmed but it is a translation [and therefore unfortunately only a subset] of pubmed studies so I stick with the original.

    Source(s): Naturopathic physician
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