Thursday, August 11, 2016

Cures Rule!

What is the true meaning of cure?  Actually, most of us know the meanings of cure, without referring to a dictionary. There are three:
  1. To stop the progression of an illness, by addressing the cause.
  2. To heal the damage caused by an illness.
  3. To prevent future causes of an illness.

Cures Rule:
Every illness has a cause.
Every cure has a cause.
What about Miracle Cures
A miracle cure is a cure that works without addressing the cause of an illness. If a person is suffering from cancer, or arthritis, or diabetes – each illness has a cause.  It is a miracle if they are cured without addressing the cause. If a patient has a disability, is blind, or cannot hear, and the damage is so severe that natural healing cannot repair it – a cure is a miracle. When we look closely at miracle cures, we generally find a real cause of the cure, or that the cure is not really present.
Dictionary Cures
Dictionary definitions of cure are confused and confusing, sometimes to the point of nonsense. Webster’s, for example offers “the act of making someone healthy again after an illness”.  Written as if, first we remove the illness – and then we proceed to ‘cure’ the patient. Oxford’s dictionary, defines cure as to “relieve (a person or animal) of the symptoms of a disease or condition”. Both definitions are simply and clearly wrong.
Other definitions define ‘cure’ as any treatment, or special treatment, for an illness. There are no medical nor scientific requirements for ‘cured’, and no tests for cured – except for illnesses cured by antibiotics. Frankly, this is medical negligence of cures.
Why are dictionaries so confused about cure? Because they do not use the word ’cause’.Webster’s definition of ‘cure’ does not contain the word ’cause’, in any of the four definitions presented. Oxford’s dictionary not only does not use the word ’cause’ in any definition offered for cure. How can you cure, if you don’t address the cause?
Cure: Stop the Progression by Addressing the Cause
If someone has scurvy, or obesity, or depression, or an infection, a cure is something that stops the illness from progressing, by addressing the cause. Finding the cause can be a challenge, but if we can find the cause, and address it – the illness can be cured. However, none of these cures are recognized by modern medical treatment references.
For illnesses caused by deficiencies, whether the deficiency be a nutrient, or a deficiency of rest, like sleep, or a deficiency of exercise, resulting in bedsores, the cure is to address the deficiency.
For illnesses caused by excesses, like a bacterial infection, breathing too much carbon dioxide, or working too hard, the cure is to address the excess. Sometimes the cure is to NOT do something.
There are many deficiencies and excesses that can lead to illness, not just nutritional deficiencies. We might also suffer from imbalances of mind – obsessions, of spirits – depressions, even of community – loneliness.
Many illnesses are caused by deficiency of process, not of ‘things’. Life, and health, is about balancing as much as it is about balance.  Illness can be a result of an inability to balance our food intake with our needs, to balance our rest and exercise, to balance our work and our play.
Sometimes, it seems to be not possible to completely address the cause of an illness. We can always try. It is not possible to prove that an illness cannot be cured.  Don’t give up.
Cure: Heal the Damage Caused by the Illness
Every illness, minor or serious, can cause physical damage to the patient. The health of the patient is always working to heal damage. Once the cause is addressed – or if the cause has gone, healing works to repair the damage. Of course, there are many cases where the damage caused by an illness cannot be healed completely.  What is left, in these cases, is a deficit, or a handicap, not an illness.
It may be possible to cure a deficit or a handicap, but only with more healing, because there is no active cause to address.
Cure: Prevention Of Future Illness
We might not think of prevention as a cure, but most of us are familiar with the concept. The cat was always jumping up on the table. The last time he did it, I threw a newspaper at him – it seems to have cured him of this annoying habit. Preventative cures are seldom perfect, sometimes even risky, but they are important.
When we look at nutritional deficiencies, for example, scurvy was first understood, not by curing it, but by preventing it. When sailors were provided foods that prevent scurvy, doctors learned how to treat and cure scurvy as well. Unfortunately, medical reference books speak about treatment of scurvy, but do not use the word cure.
Cures come from Healthiness
Every type of cure comes from addressing the cause of an illness.
When we look at these three definitions of cure, we can also see that all cures come from and benefit from improvements in healthiness. Improving the healthiness of the patient, or of their environment, – can stop and cure an illness. The challenge is to figure out which healthiness needs to be improved. Improving healthiness in general improves healing, and there are many different ways to improve healthiness that directly relate to healing. Improving healthiness, of the patient or their environment also prevents future illnesses.
The Circle of Cures
It’s useful to view the three types of cures working in a circle.
When we are healthy, we can work to maintain and improve our healthiness. We can develop and use preventative cures to secure the health of our bodies, minds, spirits, communities, and our environment.
When we get an illness, we need to find the cause and address the cause of the illness, and cure it. There are no other cures for active illnesses.
Once an illness has been cured, healing cures repair the damage done by the illness. Healing is, of course, active even before the illness is cured.
When we don’t have any illness, our healing is still active – ready to fight potential illnesses. When we don’t have any illness, we can take preventative actions to avoid illness. Even when we do have an illness, healing is active, and preventative actions are important to avoid other illnesses or to avoid the development of complications. Not every preventative action, not every healing action is a cure.
Perfect, Absolute Cure
Life is not perfect. No cure is perfect nor absolute, but every type of cure is important.
Preventative cures are not perfect, because they work by restricting life, restricting activities, opportunities and freedoms. It’s possible, sometimes easy, to push preventative actions too far, causing other illnesses. We’ll never get a cold, if we never visit anyone, but we might get depression or even dementia as a result of the preventative action. Preventative actions must always balance potential benefit vs potential harm.  Because they are preventative, there is no specific active benefit with any action.
Causal cures are not perfect, because the illness is advancing, creating damage – some of which might not be repairable. Removing the cause, if possible, stops the progress of the illness. Sometimes it is not possible to completely remove the cause, and the progression is only slowed, not stopped.
Healing cures are seldom perfect, because damage that occurs from an illness is often to severe to be cured. Healing can also go wrong, becoming to active, becoming a cause of a new illness.
Curing improve Cures
Searching for cures, focusing our attention on cures helps us to learn more about cures, and to develop better, more effective cures. Ignoring cures, suggesting that an illness is incurable, that the patient should ‘learn to live with their disease’, ensures that cures will not be found, not be improved.
We develop causal cures by studying the causes of illness and using actions against those causes to stop the progress of an illness. When we identify a common causal cure, we can use it to develop more effective causal cures, and also preventative cures.
Preventative cures can reduce the need for causal cures, by raising healthiness. When we are healthier, it becomes easier to determine the cause of an illness, because fewer illnesses are present.
The study of healing cures help us to develop rehabilitation techniques, to heal and cure illnesses that – in the past – could not be cured.
Many Medicines are Not Cures
Many medicines treat the symptoms of illness, but make no attempt to cure. These are symptomicines. Most medicines are symptomicines. Symptomicines are commonplace, because they produce measurable results – measured by signs and symptoms, even when they make no attempt to cure the illness, no attempt to address the cause.
What about placebo cures?
Placebos seldom cure. If they do, we’ve probably made a mistake.  If it cures, it is not really a placebo, it’s a cure. Most placebos are symptomicines – addressing the symptoms of the illness, making the patient feel better, but not actually addressing the cause of the illness. Many medicines, also being symptomicines, are just fancy placebos.
Clinical Studies
Most clinical studies do not test for cures. Most clinical studies do not defined ‘cured’ for the disease being studied, and thus cannot test for cures, cannot document cures if they occur. Most medicines are symptomicines, and in clinical studies, they are tested against placebos – also symptomicines.
An illness is what the patient has, a disease is a name used by the doctor to classify the illness and develop a prognosis, treatment plan, and cure. The disease, the classification system, cannot be cured. Only the illness can be cured.  Illnesses can only be cured one at a time.  Every cure is a story.  Every cure is an anecdote.
Nature Cures
It is often claimed that there is no cure for the common cold.  In truth, even modern medical science describes the common cold – and many other illnesses like influenza, measles, etc as ‘self limiting’. A self limiting illness is one that is naturally cured by health.  Our bodies are always actively working to cure many simple illnesses – sometimes even before they become a problem.
Nature cures work faster when we are healthier, slower when we are less healthy. Even natural cures can be improved, by improving healthiness.
But… don’t people sometimes die from measles, from influenza, and even from the common cold?
Actually no. In medical terms they die from ‘complications’ of measles that leads other illnesses, or from influenza or a cold that leads to pneumonia. These are new illnesses that arise because the person is not healthy enough to cure the first illness, or because the first illness was not cured.
Wrong Cures
There are several types of ‘wrong’ cures. Treatments that claim to cure, but simply do not.
Symptom cures: taking an aspirin for a headache does not ‘cure’ the headache. The headache is a symptom of an illness, not an illness.  However, in many cases of a simple headache – our health cures the illness. It’s easy to claim a cure when the body’s natural cures work so well – but we don’t distinguish between them.
Chronic cures: any medicine or treatment that must be taken every day, or even every week forever – is not a cure. Chronic cures convert illnesses into chronic illnesses, by avoiding actions that can cure. We can do better.
Chronic preventatives: Many of today’s preventatives are ‘wrong cures’.  They act by reducing healthiness, on the pretense that this prevents disease. Taking a medicine every day does not make the patient healthier and can easily lead to illnesses caused by taking an medicine every day.
Cures Rule!
Cures Rule! is a recognition that cures are more important than treatments.  Cures come from improvements in healthiness.  Cures end illnesses by addressing causes, repair damage caused by disease, and prevent illness by preventing causes.
to your health, tracy
First published on 

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Understanding Placebos 101

There are two fundamental types of placebos, although this is seldom recognized in any literature. Even though there are thousands of articles about placebos, and possibly hundreds of books, most of them are based on the confusing foundation, attempting to explain two types of placebo with one logic, resulting in nonsense.

Placebos (real placebos)
are medications or treatments prescribed by a physician with the intent to help the patient, when the physician does not know how to help the patient. The physician might believe that the prescription has no 'physical benefit' to the illness - but prescribes because they do believe it will benefit the patient in some way. The physician's beliefs might prove right, or wrong.  If the physician is wrong, there is little consequence. Physicians often make incorrect prescriptions - and items chosen as placebo prescriptions are generally very low risk. If the physician is right, or if any other factor causes an improvement in the patient, both the patient and the physician benefit. The physician benefits because the patient believes the doctor's action provided the benefit. Of couurse, correlation does not prove causation.

Note: The benefits resulting AFTER (not necessarily because of) the placebo prescription have real causes. In many, perhaps all cases, assigning them to the placebo causes much confusion and avoids actual investigation  Calling them "placebo effect" is navel gazing, when the challenge is to understand what is going on outside of the medical system, outside of the treatment prescribed.

Clinical Placebos (fake placebos)
are false medicines or treatments.  They are not prescribed by a physician and there is no intention to provide any benefit to the patient, nor is there any intent to deceive the patient about the administration of the placebo.  There is an active attempt to deceive the patient, and the administering physician, in the design and delivery of the placebo, eg. who gets a placebo and who gets the medicine being studied. Clinical placebos are used in scientific experiments to provide a statistical measure of the so called 'placebo effect'. So called, because clinical placebo 'effects' are not 'real placebo effects'.

Note: The benefits resulting AFTER (not necessarily because of) a clinical placebo is administered also have real causes. Ignoring these causes, naming them "placebo effects" assigning them to 'the mind of the patient' is simplistic nonsense, avoiding true investigation of the facts. Correlation between administering the fake placebo and changes in the mind (or the body) of the patient does not prove causation.

There are many fundamental difference between a real placebo and a clinical placebo. Unfortunately most references do not notice, much less attend to this distinction. The result is total nonsense and confusion in much that is written about placebos and placebo effects, more so when results from one, a clinical placebo for example, are used to support analysis about the other, a real placebo.  It's as if we used the same name for bears and teddy bears, and then did scientific experiments on teddy bears, to draw 'scientific' conclusions about real bears. Here's a comparative list of some differences:

Placebo (real placebo)
Clinical Placebo (fake placebo)
prescribed by a doctor
Patient decides to take, or not.
administered by a scientist physician.
Patient agrees to take. 
doctor doesn't know what is best
researcher believes that the placebo is useless
doctor intends to improve the health of the patient
researcher has no intention to improve the health of patients who receive a placebo
prescribed to sooth the patient, and perhaps the physician, who feels frustrated.
administered to measure statistically, the effects of medicine, by subtraction of 'clinical placebo effect'. 
can be active or passive. Active are more effective. Deliberately chosen to help the patient.
often specifically designed to simulate the activity of the drug or treatment being tested. Chosen to deceive the patient and the study physicians.
when a real placebo works, patient and doctor are happy. The data is ignored.
when the clinical placebo works, the research has failed. The data is ignored.
patient believes they are getting a medicine
patient hopes they are NOT getting the placebo

When we assume that clinical placebos are the same as real placebos, we create nonsense because the assumption is nonsensical.

Because of this fundamental difference between real placebos and clinical placebos, it is very difficult to measure the effects of real placebos in a clinical study. As far as I am aware this has never been accomplished - and I have looked for research studies. To create the real life placebo, it would require the doctor to be allowed to decide when to prescribe a placebo, and to choose the placebo being prescribed. To maintain a double blind externally controlled trial, another entity would be required to determine if the patient gets the placebo prescribed, or ... ?what?

Not only are real placebos fundamentally different from clinical placebos, 'real placebo effects' are quite different from 'clinical placebo effects', but that's another blog post, maybe someday....

Until this distinction between a real placebo and clinical placebo is recognized, we will continue to publish nonsense about placebos, because we simply don't understand the fundamentals.

to your health, tracy
ps. Cures Rule!
It is important to be aware the clinical placebos, the medicines they are being tested against, and real placebos do not, in general 'cure' any illness. They provide relief from symptoms. Most medicines, and most placebos are symptomicines. When a real placebo is claimed to 'cure', a thorough investigation is likely to produce the real reason for the cure. When a clinical placebo or a medicine being tested produces a cure - the cure is ignored, because clinical studies in general do not define and do not test for cured.