Tuesday, December 12, 2006

I am wrong

I am wrong. Brilliantly, repeatedly and gloriously wrong. Today I wrote this. Today, less than 24 hours later, I will contradict myself. Because, sometimes 'traditional' knowledge does tell us something new.

I rather enjoy browsing DissectMedicine, Nature's equivalent to Digg. It's a nice idea however, it is sometimes taken over by spammers, those that want to pursue their own flakey agenda. So, when I see a story about a herbal extract that can treat obesity, submitted by a user with the name of the extract, linking to a page that sells the extract, I assume it's bunk.

However, I am uptight enough to dig a little deeper. First off, pubmed. Which returns absolutely nothing. Not a good start but it's always worth digging a little deeper. So, off to google. The first hit (that isn't an advert) is a BBC news story. The story is entirely uncritical and mentions that the rights have been licensed to a British pharmaceutical company that specialises in natural products, Phytopharm.

On their site is a Q&A sheet about their developement of Hoodia extract, which mentions a clinical trial. So, if a clinical trial has been performed, it may be on the register. But it isn't. If it isn't on the register, then it's not likely to be published because a lot of medical journals now insist that trials are registered before hand as a pre-requisite for publication. So, no chance of getting the results that way.

So, am I wrong? I want to believe that there's something in it. I tend to trust authority (a minor failing of mine probably), so I tend to believe Phytopharm when they say positive results were achieved. But I can't be sure without seeing the numbers. So, if anyone from Phytopharm is reading this, do drop me a line, I'd love to know more. Also, if you are reading this, do you want to give me a job? I'm looking for a new job at the moment, and it's a quick and easy way to shut me up!

As an aside, I'm trying out a footer that should allow this post to be submitted to DissectMedicine, let's see how it works.