Last week, I introduced 21st Floor readers this column and said that it will be filled with articles about alt-med claims of cures for the otherwise incurable. I illustrated the column last week with the true story of a fictitious couple. Since, I’ve continued research into false claims of cures for retinitis pigmentosa, the disease that caused my blindness.
Today, I will describe a few web sites from the huge population that describe acupuncture based cures for RP. As my research for this column continues, I will take on various asks to improve the information I will write about here. Meanwhile, I will try to focus on different sorts of things as I encounter them.
Acupuncture as a cure for retinitis pigmentosa is near and dear to my heart. I spent a huge amount of money on treatments that did absolutely no good. The acupuncturists I tried, though, all told me that they could cure me and, with the hope of youth, I impetuously chose a treatment program that would cost a lot in both dollars and emotion and do no good at all.
This morning, when I googled “retinitis pigmentosa acupuncture cure” it returned saying that it had found “About 2.4 million” results,” a remarkably large number for a relatively obscure disease that has no known remedy. These sites are located all over the world but their claims seem remarkably similar to each other. I will be writing to a lot of these vendors directly asking for real patient results and will try to publish such in future articles.
The top hit in my Google search was an article called, “Acupuncture Treats Retinitis Pigmentosa – New Research,” that cites articles from what I consider to be dubious sources like The “Journal of Clinical Acupuncture and Moxibustion” and the, “The Chinese Journal of Integrated Traditional and Western Medicine.”
[Author’s note: I will comment on issues regarding the efficacy of remedies described by alt-med proponents. I am not in any way a health care professional but I will be basing my opinions on things I have read by experts from mainstream medicine and alt-med criticism.]
Interestingly, this article says that the acupuncture cures RP by, “protecting the optic nerve from damage caused by intraocular pressure.” Such pressure is a problem for people with glaucoma but, in years of reading about RP and other retinal disorders, I’ve never heard it mentioned as contributing in anyway, good or bad, to the degeneration of a retina. RP is the gradual degeneration of the cells in one’s retina – intraocular pressure has no effect on this degeneration or, I would assume, that conventional ophthalmologists would prescribe medication to reduce the pressure as they would for a glaucoma patient.
A web site describing itself simply as, “The Acupuncture Center,” says,
“Macular Degeneration and Retinitis Pigmentosa are now being treated with acupuncture and the Microstim 100i. The new technology allows patients to treat themselves in their own homes.” Then the site explains that acupuncture is part of a total regime of Chinese medicine that includes herbs and other questionable approaches to disease.”
If you haven’t guessed, the Microstim 100i is indeed a product that this web site sells. It claims that some form of “micro-current” can provide remediation for people with retinitis pigmantosa or macula degeneration.
Acupuncture Center says on its web site,
“The micro current generator that we use at our office involves a very precise, low-current electrical stimulus that can be used to treat specific points on the body. The micro-amperage is adjustable between 20 microamps to 800 microamps. A microamp is one millionth of an ampere. The advantage clinically of being able to use microamp devices is that this corresponds more closely to the human nervous system than stronger currents used in other devices.”
This is a case where “less is better.” When I drilled down a bit further, I found the following,
“There has been some unpublished research and clinical studies done on the use of micro current stimulation for the eye. It may be a few years before they are published and ophthalmologists would not be familiar with this research.”
I will assume that this means that I won’t find anything “real” about this procedure until they get something published in a real peer reviewed journal as I don’t expect it will
ever demonstrate efficacy, I won’t be holding my breath.
A site titled, “Treating Retinitis Pigmentosa with Traditional Chinese Medicine,” the site of the Wellspring Clinic for Holistic Medicine states about RP, “There is no effective treatment for this condition.” and I thought I had found an honest practitioner. Unfortunately, the site continues, by saying that the following list of potential treatments have been tried, “with limited success,and lists a pile of what sound like a king woo taking attendance of all potential quackery.
The site, after stating the above, which suggests that there is no cure the says,
“Although the effectiveness of Traditional Chinese Medicine remains to be established in further, better designed, clinical trials, it is safe to say that TCM is a valuable treatment option to be explored or tried by RP patients and medical researchers.”
Maybe I’m stupid but I don’t understand how anyone could read the top of the web site and still decide to go to Vancouver to visit this treatment center.
The site continues by telling us that they have treated a total of 118 RP patients and observed, “Night vision improvement: one patient couldn’t see and walk at night before treatment,” then it describes the outcome,. After 11 months treatment, she could walk at night in her house without turning on the lights.” I don’t know whether I should laugh at this statement or not. I don’t know of any blink who can’t find her way around her own home no matter how bad her vision may be. But, this is the sort of patronizing nonsense that we blind people deal with daily.
On many sites offering miracle cures for various diseases, including RP, there are a terrific amounts of accessibility problems. If you are trying to sell something to blind people, I suggest you make your web site in a manner that they can read.
So, my research into the woo that pretends to cure major disabilities continues. In my next article , I will start discussing stem cell treatments for RP and other diseases that lead to blindness. This is the one area where real progress seems to be happening but it is also the language used in some of the most egregious scams aimed at people with disabilities.
I will be publishing more information that I’ve gathered on this subject in my own web site: http://www.hofstader.com.