Mud slinging (Part 1)

Listening is a fastrack to learning. Time spent with arthritis sufferers in Moree thermal pools informed me of the benefits of medicinal marijuana after hearing how an elderly couple inadvertently spent too long in a pungent smoke filled café at Nimbin. Indeed, the largest number of reviewers at cast an overwhelmingly endorsing vote for the weed. The side-effects preclude living a normal life, however reality has always been overrated and opt-out for many. Winfried Häuser led an investigation into evidence-based interdisciplinary guidelines across Germany, Israel and Canada but cautiously advised undertaking research by clinical trial of cannabinoids before addressing licensing. Mineral springs or balneotherapy were recommended though, an idea which was extended by researchers at the University of Pisa who compared the short-lived relief of a thermal treatment with the enduring benefit of a mudbath, in the journal of Clinical and Experimental Rheumatology.

IMG_1745Bazzichi and Lucacchini et al didn’t rely on subjective opinion of symptoms, rather going so far as to apply salivary protein analysis to differentiate an improved therapy. Justification enough for a trip to the murky sulphurous pools of Ngawha in New Zealand – their ‘Doctor’ being pictured. Not only have this team listened to their patients’ stories, but they’re cognizant of expert skepticism and the demands of evidence base. To no avail unfortunately, since founder of the Arthritis Research Centre Prof Fred Wolfe in his blog derides the study as about as useful as a Chianti/Riesling comparison… “Really! Does anyone really think that mud baths are a truly useful therapy for FM? What also caught my eye was all of the ‘sophisticated’ and expensive tests that were done and what it all costs.” A cost benefit analysis requires a crystal ball for evaluating future returns from the pioneering work in proteomic salivary analysis. Thus far it’s proven useful in distinguishing Sjogren’s syndrome from other sicca syndromes such as presented by fibromites.  Relief from this discomfort of dry mouth compounded by the nuisance of a runny nose (non-allergic rhinitis) is one of the attractions of guaifenesin as a treatment, besides its neurological effects. Again lampooned on fmperplex as “Quackery”, but another unfortunate discard of babe with the dirty bathing water. Arif Donmez and team from Istanbul Dept of Medical Ecology concede that their clinical trial of a balneotherapy course, showing a diminishing improvement during 9 months of followup may have been influenced by residual benefit of a break from the daily grind. Pain was objectively measured by inflicting it with a dolorimeter however, which would have erased pleasant memories! Ouch!!

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