Tag Archives: Evidence Based Medicine

Incredible! Research on Raw Cat Food

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When I lecture to veterinarians (and especially veterinary students) about raw food for pets I often get the question, “Where’s the research?” The push for “Evidence-Based Medicine” strongly resonates with many veterinarians, especially those with little real-world experience. They tend to think that unless there is a validating study, the idea must be wrong.

The problem with this way of thinking is that the vast majority of pet food research is sponsored by the pet food industry. Heck, Science Diet has “Science” right there in its name. Surely, you can’t get any more evidence-based than that.

Research into raw pet food is lacking because research costs money and only the major pet food companies have that kind of cash. I don’t think Hills will be doing any studies on the benefits of raw food any time soon. But, raw food enthusiasts don’t despair. There is hope for us.

Looky here. Wow, a real live study comparing raw-fed kittens to processed food-fed kittens. And, the study resulted in positive conclusions about raw food!

I guess the first finding that may have surprised the conventional community is that the kittens didn’t all die (as many raw feeders are told by their vets). The main thing this study was looking at was the digestibility of the diets. Well, raw food diets came out on top. The kittens being fed the raw food absorbed more nutrients and unloaded firmer, healthier stools than the kittens fed processed food.

These results are nothing new to those of us who feed raw food. But don’t be too discouraged by the wimpy findings. This study is a first step in the right direction. It was published in a mainstream journal and will get the attention of conventional veterinarians. Maybe soon the controversy over feeding raw food will be forgotten and everyone will be doing it. (A fella can dream can’t he?)

What’s so Alternative about Alternative Medicine?

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There are many names that have been given to holistic medicine. These therapies are often known as Complementary and Alternative Veterinary Medicine or CAVM. “Complementary” sounds nice. It’s nice to think we can all get along and work together. But, what about alternative? What’s that about?

Well, for some people alternative medicine means that they employ holistic therapies as a replacement of, or alternative to, conventional medicine. These folks simply reject all conventional medicine treatments and go natural.

The more common use of the term “alternative medicine” refers to modalities and practices that have are not accepted by the conventional veterinarian community. If holistic medicine is so great, why aren’t the majority of vets on board with it?

If you ask the skeptics they will respond, “Where’s the research showing these treatments are helpful?” I freely admit that there is not enough research into holistic modalities. I can give 2 reasons for this problem.

  1. Money! The studies required to “prove” the validity of alternative medicine cost $300-500 thousand dollars each. The majority of biomedical research is paid for by the pharmaceutical industry. That’s because they can patent the result and make lots of money. Since you can’t patent a natural substance, there’s no money to be made and nobody to pay for the research.
  2. Editorial Bias – One study found that medical journal reviewers (research gatekeepers) were 3 times more likely to favor a study if it showed the success of a drug than if it showed the success of a homeopathic remedy. So, the studies of alternative medicine never see the light of day.

And then there is confirmation bias. That’s a condition we all suffer from. People tend to stick to their current beliefs and look with suspicion on new ideas. Confirmation bias means that we judge information that we agree with as being more valid than information that we disagree with. Skeptics of alternative medicine will never be convinced that it works even when they see valid research.

So, there you have it. Alternative medicine will most likely remain alternative for years to come, or until conventional companies figure out how to make money off of it. That’s why probiotics are now acceptable in veterinary medicine. Purina discovered a good bug and patented their product made with it. The good news is that now conventional vets no longer look at me as if I have 2 heads when I talk about the benefits of probiotics.

Do you believe in alternative medicine?

Do You Believe in Magic?

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The materialistic view that the mind is a product of the brain leads to some unacceptable consequences. For example, if our brains are calling all the shots, then we are not responsible for our actions. Think about it; if all we are is an intricate arrangement of cells, then the brain is formed strictly by the combination of genetics and experience. Since we are not responsible for the DNA we were born with, nor for what others have done to us, then we are not liable for the resultant actions of our brains and bodies. We have no free will. “My neurons made me do it.”

In fact, Frances Crick (co-discoverer of DNA’s molecular structure) summed this attitude up well when he stated that “…‘You,’ your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules.” What a pathetic view of human experience.

When confronted by this materialistic point of view, Einstein said, “No, this trick won’t work…. How on earth are you ever going to explain in terms of chemistry and physics so important a biological phenomenon as first love?” Another Nobel Prize winning physicist, Niels Bohr, similarly stated, “We can admittedly find nothing in physics or chemistry, that has even a remote bearing on consciousness.”

Let’s take a look at research that may shed some light on the brain-mind problem. Since the 1950’s there have been over 150 studies on a phenomenon called Distant Mental Influences on Living Systems (DMILS). These studies looked into people using their intention to affect organisms from bacteria and yeast to small mammals and humans. This research often involved an agent who directed either a calming or arousing intention toward a target person. According to 2 meta-analyses (one looking at 19 studies and the other looking at 37 studies), in the vast majority of these investigations there was an appropriate response by the target’s autonomic nervous system as determined by changes in their skin conductance.

In these studies the target and agent were isolated in separate rooms with no sensory contact. Intention and non-intention periods were randomly interspersed automatically and the target responses were recorded automatically. Furthermore, since the targets’ responses were not under their conscious control, the experiments eliminated the possibility of the target influencing the results due to expectation or guessing, further assuring unbiased results.

An interesting subset of these DMILS studies investigated the effect of being stared at. For these, the agent simply stared at the target (who was in a different room) via a video monitor. Again, the staring periods were random and the target’s electrodermal reactions were automatically recorded. According to the same 2 meta-analyses mentioned above, almost all of the trials proved there was a significant effect. Doesn’t that make your hair stand on end?

The concept that conscious intention (such as prayer) can make physical changes at a distance is scoffed at by the skeptic EBMers. They call it “magical thinking.” The materialistic view has no explanation for how this could happen therefore they conclude that it does not (ignoring valid research).

Well, according to the most authoritative research that these folks worship (meta-analyses), magical thinking is as real as it gets with a level of certainty that puts drug validation studies to shame. The mind is more than a biological computer. The power of the mind’s intention is only supernatural if you don’t understand nature. Let’s face it, they may be able to program a computer to beat humans at chess, but that computer will never experience the thrill of victory.

Have you experienced the “magic” of positive intention?