Several hundred years ago, The New York Times had a science and health section that actually provided some pretty good information. Today, as the paper becomes the official whoopie cushion of the liberals, this too has gone bye-bye. Or perhaps, woo-woo.
Take the astonishingly crappy piece of writing by Jane E. Brody entitled A Breathing Technique Offers Help for People With Asthma.
Within, Ms. Brody reveals the medical breakthrough mainstream science doesnt want you to know! Actually, she begins her piece by saying that she usually avoids writing about alternative medicine, but then leaps right into advocating it with the same fervor of an informerical on the upper cable channels after dark.
She describes the Buteyko method, named after an obscure Ukrainian doctor from the 1950s who developed it. Soviet medicine during the Stalinist era was quite a bit like Soviet science: they were obsessed with psychic energy fields, UFOs, astral projection, and ESP. The fact that no undisputed recent medical studies exist to support this Buteyko method are immaterial.
The method, which you can read all about on the Internetnot on medical or scientific sites, but on commercial websites that promote the illustrious Dr. Buteykois used when a person suffers a particularly painful asthma attack. You basically fight the urge to suck wind, and instead breathe slowly and gently through the nose.
Ms. Brody dismisses the lack of scientific evidence for this methods effectiveness with three all-too-familiar explanations: its harmless so why the heck not try it, it costs nothing unlike conventional medicine, and it worked for a friend of hers! OMG, srsly!
The problems, Ms. Brody, are as follows: short-cycling the breath can help reduce the constriction of airways, but COPD breathing is better for that because it does not deny the victim badly needed oxygen, as countless, peer-reviewed studies have confirmed; the Buteyko method costs nothing to do, but costs plenty to learn in one of their specialized clinics; and a statistical sample of one miracle means jack shit in the real world. The Czar knows a guy who believes, earnestly, that eating a banana once a day makes you invisible to mosquitos. What do you think? The Czars sample pool is just as solid as yours.
For someone who claims she normally uses stringent research criteria, Ms. Brody has clearly taken the day off from that aspect.
She waxes on about her friend, who genuinely suffered to the point of near death, but no longer needs steroids because of this method. Or, perhaps, because her friend has changed lifestyle habits and now avoids the stimuli that triggered asthma attacks. Although, it could be because he continues to use medication, as she mentions casually in another paragraph. Simpler, plausible explanations need not apply here.
But no, she reasons, it works for her! She has tried the Buteyko method and found, omigosh, that it has real value. No, Ms. Brody does not appear to suffer from asthma. Rather, she uses it while swimming, which is about as far from an asthma attack as swimming is from, well, drowning. If Ms. Brody elects to return to the Library of Common Sense for stringent research, she can look up rhythmic breathingoften used by sprinters, swimmers, and cross country skiersand decide for herself if, maybe, that is what shes doing.
Of course, Ms. Brody will likely insist its her self-taught Buteyko method, which (she mentions in the third paragraph) really requires instruction by a well-trained therapist. One is not certain she is the best person to give out advice on the method, since she doesnt seem to follow rule number one.
Ms. Brody interviewed one of those well-trained therapists, who threw out this incredibly undocumented gem of human physiology: People don’t realize that too much air can be harmful to health. Almost every asthmatic breathes through his mouth and takes deep, forceful inhalations that trigger a bronchospasm….We teach them to inhale through the nose, even when they speak and when they sleep, so they don’t lose too much carbon dioxide. Right. Because the last thing you would want is to have too little of a toxic waste product in your bloodstream. Paramedics will therefore cease intubation immediately to avoid poisoning trauma victims with too much air.
Evidently, being well-trained in the Buteyko method does not require being even marginally trained in respiration physiology. The therapist quoted, by the way, is not a doctor.
Ms. Brody does omit one frequent caveat that the Buteyko method should not be used in isolation, but in cooperation with regular asthma treatments, according to the Buteyko groupies. Of course, one is inclined to ask… why not then simply go with the regular asthma treatments? This reminds the Czar too much of the weight loss supplements that promise the pounds will melt away with a combination of the pill, diet, and exercise. See, its the diet and exercise that melt the poundsthe pill does nothing.
The Buteyko method takes multiple visits to the clinic over a three-to-sixth month period in order to learn the fundamentals of the technique. The COPD method we mentioned above can be learned in minutes for free, without a therapist, and generally provides near-immediate relief and positive improvement within ten seconds. Of course, an inhaler helps, just as it does with the Buteyko method.
See where this is going?
But what does science say about it? Because of the complexities of learning the method, it is effectively impossible to subject it to honest double-blind trials. The victim cannot learn it without anticipating what its supposed to do, spoiling the results. All studies that support its positive benefits were conducted well overseas, are inconclusive when subjected to modern tests, and at least one Australian study was debunked. No independent American studies have been conducted with formal peer review. Not one.
Does it work? Well, it might for some asthma sufferers, but so could drinking water, holding ones breath, curling into a fetal ball, or any number of immediate responses. When you suffer from asthma and lack an inhaler, you might try anything. The theory behind it, as well as the justification for the costs, are utter nonsense.
Next time, Ms. Brody might endorse chakra healing or the Filipino dudes who pull chicken-gizzards out of your stomach without leaving a scar. Those should not be a problem for your rigorous research methods.
Does anyone else believe theres a liberal guerilla war on science?
Божію Поспѣшествующею Милостію Мы, Дима Грозный Императоръ и Самодержецъ Всероссiйскiй, цѣсарь Московскiй. The Czar was born in the steppes of Russia in 1267, and was cheated out of total control of all Russia upon the death of Boris Mikhailovich, who replaced Alexander Yaroslav Nevsky in 1263. However, in 1283, our Czar was passed over due to a clerical error and the rule of all Russia went to his second cousin Daniil (Даниил Александрович), whom Czar still resents. As a half-hearted apology, the Czar was awarded control over Muscovy, inconveniently located 5,000 miles away just outside Chicago. He now spends his time seething about this and writing about other stuff that bothers him.