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Lessons from the History of Insulin

On my recent trip to Nashville for CSICon, I took advantage of the long hours on the plane to read Breakthrough: Elizabeth Hughes, the Discovery of Insulin, and the Making of a Medical Miracle, by Thea Cooper and Arthur Ainsberg. One of our commenters recommended it. I’m not sure who (was it Chris?), but I want to thank you.

It’s the history of insulin told from the perspective of the scientists and of a typical patient, and it touches on a number of issues that we have addressed on SBM. It shows how science works to save lives, in stark contrast to the empty promises of CAM.

The History

You would have to be a centenarian to remember what diabetes was like before the discovery of insulin in 1922. Type I diabetes in children was a death sentence. They wasted away, grew weak, and suffered indescribably before their inevitable death. They had insatiable thirst and hunger, but trying to satisfy their hunger only made things worse, and they continued to lose weight. The only treatment available was a rigorous diet (on the order of 400 calories a day with minimal carbohydrates), and all that did was prolong life by a few months.  Patients usually had to be hospitalized to control their intake with carefully measured quantities of unpalatable food. Intake was adjusted by testing the urine, which was a complicated procedure at the time. Instead of a convenient dipstick, testing involved Benedict’s solution, test tubes, eyedroppers, teaspoons, a bottle for urine, and an aluminum cup. (Much later, urine testing was discarded in favor of the much more accurate blood testing.)

Earlier animal research had provided clues about the etiology of diabetes. They knew the pancreas was not producing adequate amounts of some unknown substance, and when aqueous extracts of pancreas were injected into diabetic dogs they appeared to have lower blood sugar levels; but research was interrupted by World War I.  A Canadian doctor named Frederick Banting realized that the elusive substance was produced in the islets of Langerhans and that digestive secretions from the rest of the pancreas were destroying it during the extraction process. He devised elegant experiments in dogs, causing the pancreas to atrophy but leaving the islets intact. He succeeded in isolating the substance we now call insulin, and when he injected it into a pancreatectomized dog, all signs of diabetes disappeared.

The Drug Approval Process

In today’s research environment, he could not have progressed to human experimentation as rapidly as he did. There was no time to lose: children were dying daily.  They understood the mechanism and there was strong prior probability that insulin would save those children. There was little to lose, because without treatment those suffering children were as good as dead. So they rushed into treatment with small quantities of a poorly purified product that sometimes caused abscesses and reactions. Dosage was difficult to control, and patients sometimes went into hypoglycemic comas.

If the research were done today, it would qualify for the FDA Fast Track Development Program that accelerates approval of drugs that show promise for treating life-threatening diseases where there is no other good option.

The initial development of insulin took just under two years from the first dog experiments to large-scale production. The cost to the University of Toronto was $1400, and Eli Lilly’s initial investment was $250,000. Today it typically takes 10-15 years to develop a new drug, and the cost often exceeds $1 billion.

Animal Research Is Essential

It’s hard to imagine what would have happened if research on dogs had been prohibited. Insulin might not have been developed at all, or at least it would have taken decades longer. I think we can safely say that animal research saved many lives.

Big Pharma Is Not All Bad

Insulin was in short supply until the Eli Lilly company got involved; they purchased truckloads of animal pancreases and developed a pure, standardized product. An anecdote in the book describes early problems with potency. The featured patient, Elizabeth Hughes, had to take 5cc at a time. Her syringe only held 2cc, so the needle had to be left in place while the glass syringe was unscrewed and refilled twice. The procedure took 20 minutes, and her hip swelled and her whole leg went numb. These symptoms resolved only after an hour of careful walking, but she was happy to accept all this in order to be able to eat real food again.

Eli Lilly was Big Pharma and of course they had a profit motive, but they were generous to those who couldn’t pay, and without their involvement the development process would have been vastly delayed and uncounted lives would have been lost. Lesson: Big Pharma is not the enemy: despite its drawbacks, it does a lot of good.

Genetic Engineering Is Not All Bad

Animal insulin caused reactions in some patients, so in 1982 Genentech marketed genetically engineered human insulin under the name Humulin. Almost all insulin used today is biosynthetic recombinant human insulin. How many of those people who are speaking out against the very idea of GMOs are diabetic, or have relatives who are diabetic?

The Nobel Prize and Financial Motivations

Banting and Macleod were awarded the Nobel Prize in 1923 for the practical extraction of insulin. They were incensed that the other members of their team were not included, and they immediately shared their prize money with Best and Collip. They sold the original patent to the University of Toronto for one half-dollar. They were not looking for fame or fortune; they wanted to keep sick children from dying. They did eventually benefit financially, but that was the last thing on their minds. The anti-vaccine folks have attacked Paul Offit for his role in developing the rotavirus vaccine; but I am convinced that he, too, acted out of concern for patients rather than from any desire to get rich.  I am also convinced that many promoters of CAM care more about their wallets than their patients’ welfare.

Contrast Insulin with CAM

Various natural treatments for diabetes are advocated by CAM enthusiasts:

  • Herbal products including bitter melon, cinnamon, fenugreek, ginseng, aloe vera, agaric mushroom, chromium, magnesium, prickly pear, soy, vanadium, oat bran, guar gum, glucomannan, bean pod, psyllium, white mulberry, alpha-lipoic acid, chia, coenzyme Q10, selenium, stevia, and others.
  • Homeopathy
  • Yoga
  • Acupressure
  • Reflexology

These are recommended mainly for type 2 diabetes, but also as adjuncts to insulin treatment in type 1 diabetes. In addition, many websites claim to cure type 2 diabetes.  Diabetes can’t be cured, and evidence for clinical benefit from any of these natural remedies is weak or nonexistent. Even the usually credulous NCCAM warns:

In general, there is not enough scientific evidence to prove that dietary supplements have substantial benefits for type 2 diabetes or its complications… Do not replace scientifically proven treatments for diabetes with CAM treatments that are unproven.

Nevertheless, the NCCAM is funding studies of chromium, yoga, gingko, EGCG, Reiki, vitamin C, glucosamine, and dark chocolate for the treatment of diabetes.

Compare the contributions of CAM during the course of the 20th century with the accomplishments of scientific medicine. Science has conquered a disease that used to be uniformly fatal. It has given us disposable syringes, insulin pens, insulin pumps, pure insulin with measured potency, protamine zinc to slow the action, various long-lasting insulins, sulfated insulin to avoid insulin resistance, human insulin to avoid reactions, several effective oral medications for type 2 diabetes, convenient home blood testing gadgets, etc. And there have been innumerable studies to determine the best management of diabetic patients. CAM looks pretty puny in comparison.

We still don’t know what causes type 1 diabetes and we can’t prevent it; but we know what it is, and we can keep the disease under control with insulin, and we can keep patients alive and feeling well. This is not just “treating the symptoms” as our critics claim; and of course CAM does nothing to “treat the cause.”

The story of insulin is well worth reading. It’s a paean to science. It’s history with lessons for today.

 

 

Posted in: Book & movie reviews, History, Pharmaceuticals

Leave a Comment (63) ↓

63 thoughts on “Lessons from the History of Insulin

  1. Elizabeth Hughes, one of the very first users of insulin injections lived to be 73. That amazes me since most of her life was lived before we could keep close track of blood sugar levels with home glucose monitoring (1980s). She died of pneumonia in 1981. She was a type 1 diabetic since age 11.

    -Steve

  2. nybgrus says:

    Nevertheless, the NCCAM is funding studies of chromium, yoga, gingko, EGCG, Reiki, vitamin C, glucosamine, and dark chocolate for the treatment of diabetes.

    And this is what is meant by no clear definition of CAM. Reiki for diabetes (well, for anything)? CAM and quackery.

    EGCG? Not so much. That is just pharmacognosy and is an extract from green tea. In my post-grad lab where I worked on Rhodiola we also worked on EGCG and a friend of mine in medical school also did a lot of work with it. It is a promising bioactive molecule, but more work needs to be done. CAM, however, it is most certainly not.

  3. Insulin is one of a few discoveries that did more good than harm! and I’m thankful for millions who have benefitted by it. I believe the problem is, conventional medicine and pharmas have gone way overboard with the unnatural toxic chemical creations it comes up with, right down to tylenol, cough medicine, and a host of others..(just listening to the side-effects in any one of the commercials tells me that anyway) that are not human body friendly. Because they created one good thing, doesn’t explain or excuse all the really bad medicines they’ve come up with! When vitamins were discovered, and their effects, far less harming than any medicine, and very effective (being what our living bodies actually process and use from food itself), according to millions who buy them (they wouldn’t buy them if they didn’t work for them too imo)..I certainly wouldn’t buy them if they didn’t, why would I?!

    Someone told me what I have experienced has all been ‘debunked’? Really? yet, without even trying it for himself..and that’s supposed to ‘prove’ to me that I’m wrong ? I then have to question where the conventional ‘science community’ is coming from. How could something, so many things actually, be ‘debunked’ when myself, and many many others have experienced and benefitted by them? It’s nice to see the few good things conventional meds have successfully done, (insulin being one) however, to use them as a endorsement for everything, they are not.

    By the way, I brought this up to Chris last time I was here..I don’t know, I kind of doubt she gave it a second thought, just my impression? :), but, pumpkin extract was being looked into to perhaps have some benefit on Type I diabetes, by actually producing the cells that produce the insulin… perhaps not take the place totally of insulin, so, that would be nice if the conventional science community would look into it too I would think…just a suggestion..here’s the link..:)..

    http://www.healthcentral.com/diabetes/c/114/11209/blood-sugar?ic=1108

    “This is one of coolest, weirdest things about diabetes I’ve heard in awhile. Pumpkin extract could be an alternative to taking insulin. A recent study published in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture found that after feeding Type 1 diabetic rats the extract they had “only 5 percent fewer plasma insulin and 8 percent fewer insulin positive (beta) cells than rats without diabetes.” The extra is believed to have regenerated damaged pancreatic cells responsible for producing insulin. These cells then actually began to make insulin again. The article does state that the scientists involved don’t seem to believe the extract will eliminate insulin injections entirely, but could drastically reduce the amount.”

    I wasn’t sure if I wanted to start another ‘debate’ here since we’ve been through this before..lol..but, I just figured perhaps it would spark someone into looking into it..have a nice day :)

  4. windriven says:

    “Nevertheless, the NCCAM is funding studies of chromium, yoga, gingko, EGCG, Reiki, vitamin C, glucosamine, and dark chocolate for the treatment of diabetes.”

    This is one of the things I simply don’t understand about SCAM. There are often proven, efficacious, safe scientific medical treatments. In the present instance it is beyond dispute that diabetes is caused by insufficient insulin levels and that properly titrated insulin replacement therapy can manage the disease effectively for a lifetime.

    What precisely is the point of spending even $12 to study the effectiveness of, say, Reiki in managing diabetes? Isn’t this really just perpetuating the illusion that babbling nonsense can be a valid medical intervention?

  5. DugganSC says:

    I remember reading through one of the “Great Brain” books by Fitzgerald which involved them solving a mystery of a stolen rocking horse that was taken by the family of a diabetic kid. As a child, I had a very hard time understanding why the character was doomed to death, especially after my mom pointed out several people in our church who were diabetic. It is amazing how much things change.

  6. The Dave says:

    Dr. Hall,

    Thank you for this timely post. I recently learned from a friend who has a son with diabetes that November is Diabetes Awareness Month.

  7. windriven says:

    @RusticHealth

    “I wasn’t sure if I wanted to start another ‘debate’ here…”

    You needn’t worry, Rusty. Debate presupposes people who share the same language. Yours is not the language of reason, of science, even of basic rationality. There might be some pointless attempts to educate you. There might be some efforts made to ridicule or humiliate you – though these would be destined to fail because you are clearly too clueless to appreciate the depths of your own foolishness.

    But debate with you would be impossible.

  8. Chris says:

    You are welcome, Dr. Hall. That book was over shadowed by The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks because it came out at about the same time. I was taken by it making the story all about the people involved, and was not just about the facts on the science. Because how can you have the science without the persons who are involved? Which is why Immortal Life and The Emperor of All Maladies are also very good reads.

    And the claims for CAM is precisely why I use Type 1 Diabetes as a challenge. Someone on another blog bragged he could find an alternative cure for everything, but all he produced were herbal supplement sales websites that claimed to help Type 2 Diabetes. He crowed like he was victorious, he had no understanding they are two completely different diseases. Fortunately he was banned for being a name-morphing troll after the blog owner disallowed sock puppets.

  9. windriven…when you say “teach” you mean “indoctrinate” and..science would be that you actually disprove something rather than ridicule or humiliate one who isn’t indoctrinated as you are. I know you can’t disprove it, how do I know? because I live it.

  10. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

    Insulin is one of a few discoveries that did more good than harm!

    So people are better dying of smallpox, getting paralyzed by polio and having their bones eaten away by cancer until they die in agony?

    unnatural toxic chemical creations it comes up with, right down to tylenol, cough medicine, and a host of others..(just listening to the side-effects in any one of the commercials tells me that anyway)

    These are used for symptomatic treatment in cases of viral infections, which go away without treatment unless they kill the patient (which most viruses no longer do because of vaccination for the deadly ones).

    that are not human body friendly.

    Can you explain why it’s better if people die due to febrile seizures?

    Because they created one good thing, doesn’t explain or excuse all the really bad medicines they’ve come up with!

    Again – vaccines for smallpox and polio, chemotherapy for cancer, curative chemotherapy for leukemias. Can you explain why it’s better for children with leukemia to die because of it? I don’t see an upside.

    When vitamins were discovered, and their effects, far less harming than any medicine, and very effective (being what our living bodies actually process and use from food itself),

    Do you know who Gary Null is? He’s the vitamin promoter who endured horrible pain and spontaneous bleeding, and whose product led to six cases of severe kidney damage – because of overdoses of vitamin D. Do you know what hypervitaminosis is? Vitamins primarily cause problems due to deficits, they are not a form of treatment.

    according to millions who buy them (they wouldn’t buy them if they didn’t work for them too imo)..I certainly wouldn’t buy them if they didn’t, why would I?!

    Do you know what astrology is?

    I then have to question where the conventional ‘science community’ is coming from. How could something, so many things actually, be ‘debunked’ when myself, and many many others have experienced and benefitted by them? It’s nice to see the few good things conventional meds have successfully done, (insulin being one) however, to use them as a endorsement for everything, they are not.

    You don’t even understand what science is, yet you are criticizing it. On the other hand, it has repeatedly been pointed out how you can incorrectly attribute outcomes to taking vitamins. You never understood, or never listened. That’s the problem.

    By the way, I brought this up to Chris last time I was here..I don’t know, I kind of doubt she gave it a second thought, just my impression? , but, pumpkin extract was being looked into to perhaps have some benefit on Type I diabetes, by actually producing the cells that produce the insulin… perhaps not take the place totally of insulin, so, that would be nice if the conventional science community would look into it too I would think…just a suggestion..here’s the link..:)..

    I hope you try it, should you develop diabetes. That’ll be a real test, won’t it? I, for one, am eager for the outcome.

    …after feeding Type 1 diabetic rats the extract they had “only 5 percent fewer plasma insulin and 8 percent fewer insulin positive (beta) cells than rats without diabetes.”

    Are humans rats? Is there a difference between type I and type II diabetes? Did you notice that article was from 2007? What has been developed since?

    I wasn’t sure if I wanted to start another ‘debate’ here since we’ve been through this before..lol..but, I just figured perhaps it would spark someone into looking into it

    It’s never been a debate, because you always fail to understand and learn from the comments of others. You repeat yourself without understanding the replies.

  11. Chris says:

    Don’t even bother with the person who will not learn.

  12. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

    Incidentally, the actual source is here and the effect may be caused by pumpkin having large amounts of D-chiro-inositol, a secondary messenger, which the investigators synthesized chemically. Same molecule, one comes from a pumpkin and the other is made in a vat.

    But again, this isn’t a debate – you assert, then ignore countering information. These links are for editors interested in real science, not charicatures drawn by people who do not understand.

  13. WLU….small pox, diptheria, viruses, measles, mumps… even polio..are all actually nutrient deficiencies…babies/children, especially, with low immunities contract them..of course, if they’re living in climates that don’t have all the healthy food they need. Today we have not only the food available, but the vitamins to boost immunity. They’re vitamin deficiencies. Perhaps before the discovery of vitamins..vaccinations (called immunizations) were warranted..not now. Most all your ‘remedies’, conventionals have come up with, can indeed be substituted with much more body-friendly substances..including chemotherapy. Perhaps not all, not really certain, since I don’t know them all, but, I believe so many more safer ways, less toxic ways, can and have been used with great success..and by every day ‘stupid’ people..too ‘stupid’ to not listen to what conventionals say they should, and find other more healthier and safer ways of doing things. I have personal testimonies on my site, with things conventionals say are impossible, and would laugh them off …3 people taking olive oil and lemon juice to get rid of kidney stones, 3 different people..and some after years of putting up with them and conventional ways of dealing with them, yet I’m still told that’s “impossible” by conventionals! So, sorry, but, I don’t believe much of what conventionals say can/cannot be done…especially my own experience alone.

    And you’re right..”it’s never been a ‘debate’..it’s been an “attack and defense”..ridicule and humiliate..as windriven said..not a ‘debate’..and it’s because, you all think I ‘just can’t learn’..but, again, it’s what I experience that flies in the face of all things conventionals are taught.

  14. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

    @Chris, I have responses like that not for those who will not learn, but for those who read and think the unlearned might have a point.

  15. And, as far as over-dosing on vitamins..yes..that is possible, (though in my opinion, doesn’t compare to what conventional toxic meds can and have done)..but, in any case.. my personal belief is they all work together better, rather than a concentration of just one or two. We’re meant to have a good natural supply of them all. Certainly, in ‘extreme circumstances’ they may be warranted..”it’s the dose of the vitamin”… but, that would be in special circumstances, and where expertise is needed..but, still does not do away with the amazing benefits of them without the dangerous side-effects if taken correctly.

  16. Quill says:

    Oh dear. rusticunhealthy is back and now asserts that many things including viruses are not real and “are all actually nutrient deficiencies…. they’re vitamin deficiencies.”

    Denying germs? Really? Denying HIV? Denying even the common cold? Anti-vax, too?

    Might as well bring this up now: do you think the Holocaust of the 1940′s happened or did an entire population just get “nutrient deficient”?

  17. and,…actually, conventional pharmaceuticals are now presenting medications not tested on anyone now, so, people are the ones being used as ‘guinea pigs’ afterall..if you continue to choose to trust them that’s your decision..I personally wouldn’t. If something does work well on animals, even rats, then I would atleast consider the possibility rather than dismiss them simply because, they’re Not toxic substances.

  18. windriven says:

    @RustyThinking

    “because I live it.”

    There are words for those who eschew science. Retrolectual is one of the more amusing neologisms. Luddite is a personal favorite though it suggests more a rejection of technology than of science itself. But irrational is the one that most closely fits.

    Mankind has believed many things, some of them accurate depictions of reality, many of them not. Science can be thought of as the process of testing which are true and which are not. This is not a question of indoctrination it is a question of using the tools of observation and reason to test our conjectures. Without science we would live in a world of penury and disease. We would all be welcome to our own beliefs with no method to separate idiocy for insight. It would be as if ten thousand monkeys banged at a typewriter but even if one of them wrote e=mc^2 it would have no more significance than bltsft.

    Now be a good troll and crawl back into your cavern of darkness and superstition. Tend your cauldron of natural roots and herbs. Leave the rest of us to push back the darkness, to probe the molecular bases of life and disease, to find new ways to feed a still hungry planet, to peer back to the dawn of time and space.

  19. Quill..the 1940′s ..actually, 1930′s was when it all began (I believe), the experimenting on humans with toxic substances..those in concentration camps included, during the holocaust…and, I’m sorry that I even have to address such an accusation that I would be one who denies the holocaust..it’s that horrendous to me, but how despicable you all can be to falsely allege such a thing simply because I believe in natural remedies?? Are you all on meds? btw? just wondering? Anyway, yep, vitamin deficiencies..that’s what boosts immune systems..vitamins, healthy food and non-toxic environment. What conventional meds have done is quite the opposite in fact..produced unhealthy foods,toxic environment and meds, and more people prone to disease.

  20. windriven, it’s the substance that I object to..not the ‘science’..which you all somehow incorrectly think applies exclusively to toxic substances! There’s plenty of good science, or what good science has produced..but it’s because of the Substance used. No one is against ‘science’..yet you all continually dismiss actually facts, and experiences, that can’t be disproven..and continue to deny..without disproving them.

  21. Harriet Hall says:

    @rustichealthy,
    “you all continually dismiss actually facts, and experiences, that can’t be disproven”

    Here’s what you are failing to understand: no one dismisses your experiences. No one dismisses the fact that you tried something and felt better. We only question the interpretation of those facts and experiences. And it is not up to us to disprove your beliefs. It is up to you to prove them with good science rather than with testimonials and anecdotal evidence.

  22. And we have a record. References to Nazi introduced only 18 comments in.

  23. ConspicuousCarl says:

    rustichealthy on 06 Nov 2012 at 11:16 am

    science would be that you actually disprove something rather than ridicule or humiliate one who isn’t indoctrinated as you are. I know you can’t disprove it, how do I know? because I live it.

    Imagine a world in which some guy takes a bunch of garbage based on rumors, and thinks it is all real because he experiences the miracle of eventually returning to an average state of human health. He is ridiculed because even though he lacks the ability to understand the flaw in this logic, he runs around with an inflated sense of his own knowledge.

    This is that world, and you are that guy.

  24. Dr. Hall, and I would agree with that ..I don’t expect you to only take my word, or other’s word or anecdotal experience…maybe I didn’t convey that correctly. I don’t expect you to ‘believe’ because I say something happened..what I don’t or didn’t expect is the ridicule and animosity for one, (from others.).and wouldn’t you say if you hear what works for someone…”hmmm..well, I will have to look into that” or “try for myself”? ..or something like that. Not instantly attack one, allege one is unscientific, ‘off the wall’, an idiot, a ‘troll’…or the person is uneducated and non-complying..much the way windriven and Quill did already..now I’m a Holocaust denier? I mean, how far does it go? ..it can be amusing to an extent, but, then I can only put up with so much. My sole main argument and objection is, it’s the substance that makes the difference and that matters, not only the ‘science’. Anyway..I’ll go for now! thanks for allowing me on in the meantime…I’ll be back another day, have a good one all :)

  25. ConspicuousCarl says:

    rustichealthy on 06 Nov 2012 at 12:48 pm

    Quill..the 1940′s ..actually, 1930′s was when it all began (I believe), the experimenting on humans with toxic substances..those in concentration camps included, during the holocaust…and, I’m sorry that I even have to address such an accusation that I would be one who denies the holocaust..

    Wow! Refuting a holocaust denial accusation by using the holocaust as a well-poisoning fallacy against medical research! That’s kind of better, I guess. Now tell us about Hitler’s awesome diet, since you are in the mood to entertain us.

  26. agitato says:

    What I like best about the insulin story is the way the researchers were not motivated in any way by fame, and more importantly, fortune.

  27. Conspicuous..it’s not an ‘argument’..it’s a fact?…http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nazi_human_experimentation

    Nazi human experimentations were a series of medical experiments on large numbers of prisoners, mainly Jews (including Jewish children) from across Europe, but also in some cases Roma, Soviet POWs and disabled non-Jewish Germans, by the Nazi German regime in its concentration camps mainly in the early 1940s, during World War II and the Holocaust. Prisoners were coerced into participating; they did not willingly volunteer and there was never informed consent. Typically, the experiments resulted in death, disfigurement or permanent disability, and as such are considered as examples of medical torture. At Auschwitz and other camps, under the direction of Dr. Eduard Wirths, selected inmates were subjected to various hazardous experiments which were designed to help German military personnel in combat situations, develop new weapons, aid in the recovery of military personnel that had been injured, and to advance the racial ideology backed by the Third Reich.[1] Dr. Aribert Heim conducted similar medical experiments at Mauthausen. Carl Værnet is known to have conducted experiments on homosexual prisoners in attempts to cure homosexuality. After the war, these crimes were tried at what became known as the Doctors’ Trial, and revulsion at the abuses perpetrated led to the development of the Nuremberg Code of medical ethics.

    Actually, becoming similar with what is done today..sorry to say. Ok..that’s the last :)

  28. Chris says:

    WLU:

    @Chris, I have responses like that not for those who will not learn, but for those who read and think the unlearned might have a point.

    The problem with rustichealthy is that she is just repeating the same nonsense as before, and it gets quite boring. It is best to ignore her, but perhaps tell the ones who think she might have point that her assertions are both repetitive and wrong. Especially since she has just jumped the shark.

  29. Quill says:

    Rusty, and regrettably, ConspicuousCarl: I asked a question. I did not make an accusation.

    Question: a sentence worded or expressed so as to elicit information.
    Accusation: a charge or claim that someone has done something illegal or wrong.

    So in fact rusty replied to a non-existent thing, which is part and parcel with the rest of rusty’s beliefs, and not only replied but added all sorts of extraneous and gratuitous things including personal attacks.

    I wonder what vitamin would remedy that?

  30. windriven says:

    @rustyhealth

    “[C]onventional medicine and pharmas have gone way overboard with the unnatural toxic chemical creations it comes up with, right down to tylenol, cough medicine, and a host of others..(just listening to the side-effects in any one of the commercials tells me that anyway) that are not human body friendly.”

    Are natural toxic chemical creations OK with you? Alpha amanitin (sp?) comes to mind. It can be found in the beautiful but deadly death angel mushroom. Or how about foxglove. You might use it to treat irregular heartbeat. I guess you could chew on a wad of foxglove leaves; it could help or else it could kill you. It’s hard to control dosage when you’re sucking on leaves.

    We’re all made of star stuff Rusty. You can let plants or bacteria be the little factories that combine the elements made by those long dead stars or you can combine them in a laboratory. It isn’t the setting that makes something ‘good’ or ‘bad’, it is the balance of useful versus dangerous characteristics of the resulting molecule. You can chew on willow bark to get acetylsalisylic (sp?) acid or you can pay the evil Bayer company to provide you with perfect little 5 grain doses. Your choice.

  31. BillyJoe says:

    Here we go again.
    Time and again it has been patiently explained to RH what’s wrong with her thinking. But time and again, she comes out with exactly the same nonsense, phrased in exactly the same way. It doesn’t seem to matter. Put the record on again. And sooner or later someone gets sufficiently frustrated to throw a few insults and she has a little victory. Round and round the mulberry bush.
    I think she has outlived her usefulness here.

  32. Quill says:

    Indeed, BillyJoe.

    I shall now take the pledge: I shall not respond to rustichealthy’s infernal nonsense.

    (Unless she claims Elvis is dead when everyone knows he just went home as per the movie Men in Black.)

  33. windriven says:

    @agitato

    “What I like best about the insulin story is the way the researchers were not motivated in any way by fame, and more importantly, fortune.”

    Sometimes it takes a hammer and sometimes it takes a rose. And sometimes it takes a wad of cash.

    It’s a great story and I love that they toiled with the purest of motivations. But it took Eli Lilly to commercialize their breakthrough and they have a board of directors and a bunch of stockholders who may want to do good … but definitely want to do well.

  34. windriven says:

    @Chris

    ” It is best to ignore her…”

    Indeed. Mea culpa, mea culpa. I will cap my pen. But WLU does have a good point about using her nonsense as a teaching opportunity for less intractable types.

    BTW, where is the Thing? Or does she only weigh in when we’re polluting her precious bodily fluids with vaccines?

  35. Alia says:

    Dr Hall, thanks for the interesting article.
    And on a side note about animal research – in this case it has saved many human lives but in a longer run it has also helped animals. A friend of mine has a diabetic cat, who is still very much alive and quite content with his life – thanks to regular insulin injections.

  36. and..Quill….

    Denying germs? Really? Denying HIV? Denying even the common cold? Anti-vax, too?

    Might as well bring this up now: do you think the Holocaust of the 1940′s happened or did an entire population just get “nutrient deficient”?

    conjecture:. the inference or conclusion so formed

    1. I don’t deny any of those..I only know what causes them..and
    2. how does “Holocaust Denier” even relate to any of it?

    and 3. It was Lillady last time who also accused me of being one on here….that’s why I’m aghast at such b.s. actually…maybe you missed it..but, still..explain why you would even ask it?

  37. The Dave says:

    windriven:

    I think what you said bears repeating:

    “We’re all made of star stuff. You can let plants or bacteria be the little factories that combine the elements made by those long dead stars or you can combine them in a laboratory. It isn’t the setting that makes something ‘good’ or ‘bad’, it is the balance of useful versus dangerous characteristics of the resulting molecule. You can chew on willow bark to get acetylsalicylic acid or you can pay the evil Bayer company to provide you with perfect little 5 grain doses. Your choice.”

  38. Calli Arcale says:

    Sounds like one I definitely need to put on my “to read” list.

    Regarding stevia, I don’t know what CAM proponents have been saying about it, but it does have at least one respectable use for diabetes: as a sugar replacement. I’ve tried it; it’s not bad at all. Better than some of the artificial sweeteners, which have that weird aftertaste. I still prefer Splenda, though.

  39. Janet says:

    I saw a movie (PBS, I think) many years ago, starring John Ritter (!) as Banting. It was a wonderful film and Ritter (who was best know of course for the fluffy “Three’s Company”) was, to my surprise, very good in it. But based on Chris’ recommendations (I also loved Henrietta and Emperor) and your review here, I will get this book and review the topic.

    RustyHealth harps on a theme I have noted in a lot of my former altie acquaintances: “It’s the EXPERIENCE”. They see this as a method of “proof”. If you “experience” something, it is, ergo, valid! Experience trumps all is the mantra for them, and science something only to be casually dismissed as something that tries hard but just doesn’t meet the spiritual guidelines of “real life experience”.

    Today at the drugstore I turned all the homeopathic “rememdies” backwards while I was waiting in line. It’s my birthday, after all, and what is more unfair than having to sweat out a nail-biter election on your birthday? This atheist/skeptic has promised to put a large sign on the lawn that says, “Thank you Jesus” if the best man wins.

  40. agitato says:

    @windriven

    “But it took Eli Lilly to commercialize their breakthrough and they have a board of directors and a bunch of stockholders who may want to do good … but definitely want to do well.”

    I realize this and am glad Eli Lilly found a way to mass produce insulin. However, I’m reading Bad Pharma by Ben Goldacre right now and at this point in time, pleasing those stockholders seems to be doing a lot of harm. Maybe back in Banting’s day, pharmaceutical companies and society in general wasn’t quite so profit driven.

  41. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

    The problem with rustichealthy is that she is just repeating the same nonsense as before, and it gets quite boring.

    I’d never seen the “diseases are vitamin deficiencies” argument before. Funny, I thought scurvy was a vitamin deficiency, one that is well-studied, easily treatable and totally unrelated to curing polio. Nice to know that I can still be surprised.

  42. windriven says:

    @Janet

    ” “Thank you Jesus” if the best man wins.”

    The better man might win but the best man isn’t running. WA is a safe state for president Obama so I registered my general unhappiness with both candidates with a write-in vote for Pat Paulson.

    @agitato

    “Maybe back in Banting’s day, pharmaceutical companies and society in general wasn’t quite so profit driven.”

    I think we share the same concern but might think about it differently. Those who run businesses have a legal and ethical responsibility to shareholders to earn a profit. Unfortunately, in recent years many executives have come to see managing a company profitably as their sole legal and ethical responsibility. But there are exceptions! I think it was Costco co-founder Jim Sinegal who, when challenged about Costco’s policy of paying employees a living wage and providing health insurance, suggested that if an investor saw that as a problem they should move their investment dollars elsewhere.

  43. Xopper says:

    @Janet

    I cannot find any record or John Ritter playing Banting, but there was a Canadian made for TV movie, “Glory Enough for All” (1988) that I well remember. It starred a Canadian fixture – R.H. Thompson, who has a striking resemblance to Dr. Banting. It’s not a great film, but it hits all the “movie of the week” highlights.

  44. Chris says:

    WLU:

    I’d never seen the “diseases are vitamin deficiencies” argument before.

    Right here is one example. Enjoy.

  45. agitato says:

    @ windriven

    Make that : “Maybe back in Banting’s day, pharmaceutical companies and society in general WEREN’T quite so profit driven.”

    I did not know Costco’s founder said that and it makes me love Costco even more. I may even buy some Costco shares.

  46. lilady says:

    @ Chris: Didn’t “Rusty” post last week, that she was going to leave the country, if President Obama was reelected?

    Do you need any help Rusty, packing up your belongings, for your relocation?

  47. Scott says:

    RustyHealth harps on a theme I have noted in a lot of my former altie acquaintances: “It’s the EXPERIENCE”. They see this as a method of “proof”. If you “experience” something, it is, ergo, valid! Experience trumps all is the mantra for them, and science something only to be casually dismissed as something that tries hard but just doesn’t meet the spiritual guidelines of “real life experience”.

    Yes, that’s very common. I think it has a great deal to do with a lack of appreciation for the myriad cognitive distortions to which the human brain is subject. If it “makes sense” and “feels right,” that must mean it’s correct. You have to understand things like confirmation bias and motivated reasoning to realize why experience is so fallible a guide.

    I see significant parallels to ancient Greek philosophy, perhaps best exemplified by Plato. In particular the belief that the correct way to understand how the world works is simply to think about it. Quackery has never gotten beyond that point to embrace empiricism.

  48. Well, if someone tries olive oil and lemon juice for their kidney stones, and then tells how much better they feel having gotten rid of them after nine years, in a much more non-painful manner, and then when 2 more people say the same thing, I’d call it conclusive that olive oil and lemon juice work very well on kidney stones, and it’s not only in their imagination. When people are taking the meds, and still in pain, would you all say that’s their ‘imagination’ too because study after study says it’s supposed to work and they should not be in pain or have kidney stones?

    ———————————————

    01/07/2006: Cyndi from Durham, NC writes: “I have suffered intermittently from kidney stones for nearly 9 years. One was so bad I had to have surgery to remove it. Later, my grandmother was hospitalized with a kidney stone and told me about a home remedy given to her by a nurse and believe me, this really works! Mix 2 oz of olive oil and 2 oz of lemon juice, drink it straight down and follow with a large glass of water at the first sign of stone pain. The stone(s) will pass within 24 hours. I have eliminated at least 8 stones with this remedy and have not gone back to the urologist since I started taking this.”

    and one responded:

    I did this last month with a 7 mm stone and the 01/16 15:22:23

    urologist was a little upset that it dissolved the stone. He was going to do a very expensive procedure on me that would have been both invasive and painful.

    https://forums.craigslist.org/?ID=205117084

    then one other referred to and posted this:

    https://forums.craigslist.org/?ID=205117084

    I read this on here last year when my son was dealing with kidney stones and it worked. Sure can’t hurt.

    Sorry you’re going through all this, my son said it was pure hell.
    ——————————————-

    I’m wondering what you all think of the above, and if you had kidney stones, would you possibly try it also.

  49. Calli Arcale says:

    I’d say that three anecdotes is still three anecdotes. Kidney stones are common enough that I’d expect you could find three people who were wrong in the same way about them without a great deal of difficulty. Kidney stones can certainly resolve on their own. Doesn’t mean that you should credit whatever you were doing at the time. It takes systematic research to ferret out the cures from the coincidences.

  50. Calli Arcale says:

    BTW, while I like a nice vinaigrette, I see no reason to believe it would cure a kidney stone. It would likely trigger my GERD to swig four ounces of vinaigrette, though. So I’ll have to respectfully disagree on the “sure can’t hurt” part.

  51. lilady says:

    @ Calli Arcale…beat me to it. :-)

    I add dried oregano, fresh-ground black pepper for an excellent vinaigrette atop Greek salad.

  52. BillyJoe says:

    Calli Arcale,

    Kidney stones don’t dissolve.
    The most likely explanation is that this 7mm stone passed down the ureter into the bladder and out through the urethra.
    Stones 5mm or less usually pass spontaneously.
    Stones 5-10mm pass 50% of the time.

  53. @lilady: I use Dijon mustard instead of black pepper. It gives it more kick. Here’s an issue that rustichealthy’s home remedy cured for me: bored taste buds.

  54. Jacob V says:

    Oooh, olive oil and lemon, love’em; no wonder I’ve never had any kidney stones!!
    I wonder if it’s the Scotch that’s been keeping the stroke and brain cancer at bay?

  55. elburto says:

    @RustyHeadcase -

    ” revulsion at the abuses perpetrated led to the development of the Nuremberg Code of medical ethics.

    Actually, becoming similar with what is done today..sorry to say. “

    Right, that’s the limit. As somebody whose family members were tortured to death in Block 10 – F*CK YOU.

    You’re a germ theory denying, woo-infested, brainless dolt. You are absolutely deranged. Your pathetic little anecdotes about fellow idiots who think they’ve “cured” health problems with sCAM (when in actuality they’re just going through the typical course of self-limiting conditions) mean nothing. Nada, zip, zilch.

    This is a place of SCIENCE, we’ll never, ever take your woo seriously. Got it?

    Mods/Docs – sorry for the outburst, but comparing modern doctors and scientists to Mengele was the last straw. It not only minimises what actually happened, but makes a mockery of everything scientists are working for.

  56. Calli Arcale says:

    BillyJoe — I didn’t say “dissolve” I said “resolve”. There’s a difference. ;-) I have several people in my life who’ve struggled with kidney stones. Only one of them actually required treatment (unless you count the narcotics one was prescribed to cope with the pain until it passed). My friend who required treatment has had to get ultrasonic treatments several times., and on one occasion got a stent. He was utterly miserable. If swigging lemon juice and olive oil worked, you can bet he’d have used it.

  57. Narad says:

    (Unless she claims Elvis is dead when everyone knows he just went home as per the movie Men in Black.)

    Please. Elvis died after he and JFK killed the mummy in Bubba Ho-Tep.

  58. elburto says:

    Calli – exactly. The only time I’ve needed treatment for stones is when one became impacted in my kidney, due to infection.

    The rest I’ve had resolve on their own. I’m on Tamsulosin off-label. It is sheer magic.

    Its intended purpose is to relieve benign prostatitis, but my urologist prescribes it to help stones pass, and it works brilliantly. It saved me from surgery! If it’s OTC where your friend lives, maybe he could try. it.

  59. norrisL says:

    Herbal products including bitter melon, cinnamon, fenugreek, ginseng, aloe vera, agaric mushroom, chromium, magnesium, prickly pear, soy, vanadium, oat bran, guar gum, glucomannan, bean pod, psyllium, white mulberry, alpha-lipoic acid, chia, coenzyme Q10, selenium, stevia, and others.
    Homeopathy
    Yoga
    Acupressure
    Reflexology

    While it may be possible that, let’s take chromium as an example, may reduce your blood glucose (not saying it does or does not, only that it may be possible), IF it does so, then by how much? Enough to provide some degree of real treatment, or just a tiny little bit that won’t make any difference to the health of any diabetic relying on chromium as any degree of a treatment.

    This is the difference between an effective treatment and an ineffective treatment.

    So the WOO mob get all caught up with, “OOOH, chromium reduces glucose by 1.1% (just my made up figure there, I actually doubt that chromium has any effect on hyperglycaemia), let’s all take chromium and cure our diabetes because it is SOOO effective and is not made by big pharma and it’s natural and it’s a vitamin and we know what dose rate to use even without any trials to prove efficacy and safety, so there you sciencey dudes”

    A note on the use of Tamsulosin vs ureteral uroliths:

    Spontaneous passage of ureteral stones at 14 days (the primary outcome) did not differ significantly between the tamsulosin and conventional-therapy groups (77% and 65% of patients, respectively). In addition, no significant differences were noted between groups in time to stone passage, self-reported pain scores, number of colicky pain episodes, unscheduled return ED or primary care visits, number of missed workdays, amount of analgesic used, or incidence of adverse events.
    Comment: This is not the first time that a therapy that had been shown to be effective for a subspecialty outpatient population fails to show similar results for ED patients with apparently comparable disease. Routine use of tamsulosin for ED patients with renal colic caused by small (4 mm) distal stones likely has no value. More study is required to determine its usefulness in ED patients with larger or more-proximal stones.

    — Richard D. Zane, MD, FAAEM
    Published in Journal Watch Emergency Medicine October 9, 2009
    CITATION(S):
    Ferre RM et al. Tamsulosin for ureteral stones in the emergency department: A randomized, controlled trial. Ann Emerg Med 2009 Sep; 54:432.

    May all non crazy people here have a lovely day :)

  60. BillyJoe says:

    CA,

    “BillyJoe — I didn’t say “dissolve” I said “resolve”. There’s a difference.”

    Yep, I read “dissolve” (D

  61. elburto says:

    Thanks for the ref Norris. Interesting stuff.

    I may just be very lucky. It may also have something to do with my anatomical weirdness, although another woman on my ward also found relief from the drug.

    I would have tried anything to get off that ward though, even the free morphine couldn’t make the place bearable.

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