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Train Therapy

Summertime and the living is busy.  Finally we have sun in the Northwest.  While the rest of the country has been melting in heat, this year we have rarely cracked 85.  Global heating has avoided Oregon this year, and I will need some green tomato recipes.  Good weather, work is busy, and it is the last two weeks with my eldest before he is off to Syracuse, so there is little time for writing, so a brief entry this week.

I always wince at the way anything can be called ‘therapy.’ We have music therapy and garden therapy and pet therapy and art therapy.  I do not deny that it is beneficial for people to participate in those activities while in the hospital, although I am never happy to see disease vectors, er, animals in a hospital.   Dinner should be food therapy, reading should be book therapy, and using the internet should be computer therapy.  I guess it is like calling something ‘medical’ grade, and you can bill more for it.

Some ‘therapies’ are a wee bit more odd.  Indonesians are using railroad therapy.  People lie down on electric railroad tracks because “the electricity current from the track could cure various diseases.”  To date no one has been either electrocuted or squashed, but I suppose it is only a matter of time.

Why train tracks?  Why not a tongue in a light socket or other source of electricity?  Evidently rumor has it that “an ethnic Chinese man who was partially paralyzed by a stroke went to the tracks to kill himself, but instead found himself cured.”  Sounds good to me.  It seems as likely as Palmer cracking a neck leading to a cure in deafness as the basis for a therapeutic intervention.

And so others are using train therapy for their hypertension, diabetes, strokes and other medical problems.  Train therapy is evidently a panacea for a variety of diseases and used by those with no other medical options.  Like all alternative therapies, it is effective against numerous diseases, regardless of the underlying pathophysiology. If only antibiotics could cure hypertension, diabetes and stroke in addition to bacteria.

Does train therapy work?  The patients say it does, despite those know it all skeptical MDs who point to a lack of evidence.  And who would gainsay a patient’s response to the therapy?  If a patient says they are better, are they not better?

Medical experts say there is no evidence lying on the rails does any good.
But Mulyati insists it provides more relief for her symptoms — high-blood pressure, sleeplessness and high cholesterol — than any doctor has since she was first diagnosed with diabetes 13 years ago.

I was worried they would forget to tell both sides of the story.  And just who is expert on the medical effects of lying on electric train lines?  They go on to note that

Pseudo-medical treatments are wildly popular in many parts of Asia — where rumors about those miraculously cured after touching a magic stone or eating dung from sacred cows can attract hundreds, sometimes thousands.

It would be easy to be snotty and superior about the Indonesians and their use of train therapy, but really, is it any different than the West?  They eat dung from sacred cows, we have the bullshit from the NCCAM.  We have reiki and homeopathy and Tong Ren healing, and all the other therapies that are subject of this blog,  all equally nonsensical.  I see little difference between the use of train healing and much of the published literature in the SCAM world.  A series of uncontrolled interventions with soft endpoints.

Indonesians have the same rationale for the use of train therapy: anecdotes. Every homeopathy apologist mentions  that the millions who have used homeopathy with good effect can’t be wrong, and neither can the hundreds who are using train therapy.  I suppose we could say the Indonesians are doing a pragmatic, real world trial.  Who needs the old randomized, placebo controlled nonsense?  Lie on an electric train track and you feel better. ’nuff said.

Are the patients who believe they are getting better experiencing a placebo effect?  Is this an example where patient centered outcomes are more important that doctor centered outcomes?  Maybe we should use train therapy for the treatment of asthma.  Conductors and engineers, like doctors, “often dress up in special uniforms that convey power and authority… (and) They have very expensive machines”  Probably less expensive than sham acupuncture and sham albuterol.

Train therapy fits the criteria noted in the recent NEJM editorial;  it should be sufficient to “simply to show that a treatment yields significant improvement for the patients, has reasonable cost, and has no negative effects over the short or long term. This is, after all, the first tenet of medicine: Do no harm.”  The train track users say they are improved, it is free, and as long as they get up in time, should have no negative effects.  I would avoid TGV tracks, just to be safe.  I expect train therapy to be come incorporated in Integrative Medicine programs everywhere, or at those near light rail.

There was a time when I was inclined to think that the people who participated in SCAMs were either stupid or ignorant.  I have long ago abandoned that idea.  Some people, as evidenced by occasional comments in this blog, are apparently deranged, but not most.  I have realized that while most SCAMs are stupid, the people who use them are not.  It seems to be a universal human characteristic to participate in nonsense of one kind or another, but the nonsense varies by culture and opportunity. ‘We’ detox our colons and avoid vaccines, ‘they’ eat dung and lie on train tracks.  All are human. Or are they?

Most biologic characteristics have variability. Height, strength, intelligence all vary about the infamous bell shaped curve.  I have also wondered about more intangible characteristics: the ability to think rationally or empathy or a sense of humor.  Like jumping or math, some people seem to be better at these tasks than others.  It does not, I hasten to add, make them better people, except for the task at hand.  I wonder if the uber-rational, the skeptics, are mutants, given what appears to be the relative rarity of rational/scientific thought.  And to judge from the vitriolic response towards the scientific/rationally inclined, the rational must be mutants as they are feared and hated by those they were sworn to protect.

I don’t know.  Idle speculation caused by vitamin D deficiency.  I am going to lie in the sun, not on the Max line. I know this will make me feel better, although I doubt it will cure any illness.

Posted in: Energy Medicine, Faith Healing & Spirituality, Science and the Media

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28 thoughts on “Train Therapy

  1. Tell it like it is says:

    Maybe chatting to the dog brings the answer.

    http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=236385049724832

  2. Jojo says:

    Laying on train tracks is the last thing I would do to treat hypertension. I suspect having a train barreling toward me might slightly elevate my blood pressure. Just a smidgen at least.

  3. windriven says:

    Train therapy could easily be shown to prevent measles, rubella, influenza and a host of other communicable diseases. Here’s how it would work: a mass train therapy event for anti-vaxers. You assemble the luddites. I’ll bring the train.

  4. daedalus2u says:

    What you need for your tomatoes is some ethylene. I had the problem of tomatoes not ripening a few years ago, fortunately I know someone who works with ethylene and was able to get some from him. I covered the plants with a polyethylene drop cloth in the evening (to contain the ethylene), dosed them, and then removed it in the morning (to prevent overheating). The ethylene worked like a charm. The tomatoes started ripening immediately and as they were still on the vine, they were “vine ripened”.

    Nitric oxide will do the opposite, it will prevent ripening.

    You might be able to use acetylene instead. The easiest source of that is an acetylene tank for welding, but acetylene can be quite dangerous. Calcium carbide is a convenient source of acetylene, and is used for carbide lamps and also Big Bang cannons (because it is so easy to make explosions with). People who explore caves used to use carbide lamps, but they are now obsolete with LED lamps being much better and better for the cave. I suspect that the infectious disease that bats get, White Nose Syndrome may be due in part to use of carbide lamps in caves inhibiting ammonia oxidizing bacteria (acetylene irreversibly inhibits ammonia monooxygenase). This leads to the metabolic syndrome in bats and they are unable to survive the winter.

    Ethylene can also be made by dehydration of ethanol and by thermal cracking of hydrocarbons.

  5. Angora Rabbit says:

    “I suspect that the infectious disease that bats get, White Nose Syndrome may be due in part to use of carbide lamps in caves inhibiting ammonia oxidizing bacteria (acetylene irreversibly inhibits ammonia monooxygenase). This leads to the metabolic syndrome in bats and they are unable to survive the winter. ”

    Best evidence indicates it’s actually a fungus brought about 10yrs ago from European cave visitors. http://www.fws.gov/whitenosesyndrome/ Attended a seminar on this at our local DNR’s “bat day” where we also were trained to use GPS and ultrasound detectors to create a “bat map” before WNS sweeps thru our state. This ain’t decimate, it’s genocide.

    Carbide lamps? Leave the 1970s and join the new millennium. All the wild caving I’ve done in recent years uses plain old battery lamps. Why on god’s earth would one use carbide given today’s technology?

  6. The WSJ has a good slideshow of people doing this.

  7. Composer99 says:

    Train therapy has a great way of getting out of its lack of effectiveness:

    “That dismembered feeling you get from being smashed into by a train shows that the medicine is working!”

  8. daedalus2u says:

    Angora, I think for the steampunk effect.

    If WNS were just an infection by an newly introduce fungus, why does it affect so many species? Usually pathogens are pretty specific in the species that they affect.

    There may be other factors that are contributing to the metabolic stress which makes bats susceptible to WNS.

  9. ConspicuousCarl says:

    Mark Crislip said:
    To date no one has been either electrocuted or squashed, but I suppose it is only a matter of time.

    “Time?” How can you people claim to be all scientific while using such a vulgar term. I believe you meant to say “temporality therapy”.

  10. Calli Arcale says:

    Woo is definitely bigger in Indonesia than it is in America. This has nothing to do with a snotty sense of superiority; instead, it has something to do with why woo is gaining traction in the US — in Indonesia, most of the population has minimal access to conventional medicine at best. The article I first read on this topic interviewed a few of the “patients”, some of whom acknowledged they weren’t really getting much in the way of relief, but they were desperate and it had the distinct advantage of being free. Even herbal remedies and booze cost money; anyone can lie on the train tracks if they’re able to dodge the security guards, which is fairly easy given how many people ride the train for free by climbing on top of it or clinging between the cars. The root problem isn’t naive natives; it’s crushing poverty and government indifference. Many would go to doctors if they could afford to.

    Of course, as we see here in America, access to doctors doesn’t guarantee use of them. But most people will go to a doctor first, no matter where they are in the world, and only turn to alternatives if they feel they have no other option (either their condition wasn’t treatable, or they can’t afford doctors).

  11. Jayhox says:

    If one lies on the train tracks long enough, one’s BP will drop dramatically.

    SUCCESS!

  12. aeauooo says:

    “I will need some green tomato recipes.”

    I own a copy of “The green tomato cookbook.”
    http://www.amazon.com/green-tomato-cookbook-Paula-Simmons/dp/0914718088/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1313171617&sr=1-3

    My advice: avoid the green tomato wine.

    I have heard shopping referred to as “retail therapy.”

  13. Calli Arcale says:

    Retail therapy — it works, but the side effect is that you develop Credit Card Bill Syndrome. :-D

  14. S.C. former shruggie says:

    I love the tie-in to patient centered subjective endpoints. Those could excuse just about anything.

    Calli Arcale

    Many would go to doctors if they could afford to.

    There is another thing that makes educated people use CAM: advertising. The grocery stores, coffee shops, library and campus student center here are choc-a-bloc with magazines with no purpose but promoting CAM products and circumventing Canadian laws regulating product labels. And then there’s the emotional power of seemingly all-explaining conspiracy theories that tie together every little disappointment, crime and villainy imaginable and pin them all on your local family doctor. Even when real treatment is covered by OHIP (provincial health insurance) people will pay thousands out of pocket for woo if it’s a well advertised hip lifestyle choice that resists “evil MD fascism” (fight the power!)

    Did I forget to mention CAM advertising bills it as super-spiritual?

  15. Jan Willem Nienhuys says:

    I don’t believe at all that there is any electricity involved. Those rails are well connected to the ground and hence to each other, so there is no way you can get difference in voltage between the rails or between the rails and the ground, let alone a voltage difference with any physiological effect.

    Already in the time of Mesmer it was known that imaginary magnetism could have impressive effects on people. There is no difference between imaginary magnetism and imaginary electric current.

  16. DBonez5150 says:

    @ JWN
    I don’t agree. I suspect there is some voltage on those rails including a potential between the rails. Here’s why: The trains are electric with a single high-tension line overhead delivering anywhere between 1,400 and 14,000 volts AC. The current passes through the wiper on the roof of the train, then through the motor controllers, then through the motors, then out the metal wheels to the rails and ultimately to ground. Given the currents involved, being in the hundreds to thousands-of-amperes, there could be voltage drops on and around the rails including to ground. Plus, there would be some variability, i.e. pulsing (hence their twitching) as the train’s wheels clack along from track-interface to track-interface equating to brief changes in impedance. Plus, the gentle rocking of the train, along with wheels clacking, and the surface contaminants on the rails, there is probably all sorts of noise, voltages, and currents flowing a long ways down the tracks in both directions. I don’t know this for sure, but it was my guess when I saw this same, ridiculous story on the evening news last night – with the same, predictable, “Wow, that’s amazing. You just never know. . .” from the ditzy news-casters. Sadly, I have also seen the video of the Indian man on the roof of a train reach up and touch the high-tension wire whereupon he popped, fizzled, and burst into flames. Looked to be 10+KVAC to me judging from the current arc that resulted.

  17. LMA says:

    Carbide lamps yield a beautiful, soft yellow light without harsh “spots” or, alternately, dark shadows, in the center. And there’s something dare I say “magical” about dripping water on a rock and producing fire. Plus, old caver trick; if you become chilled from getting too wet or sitting still too long, you can punch a hole for your head in the bottom of a black plastic garbage bag, pull it over your head and set your carbide lamp between your feet. The heat will warm you up; something an LED light will never be able to do. Don’t dis the carbide ;D

  18. daedalus2u says:

    LMA, but the acetylene from carbide lamps very likely perturbs the ecosystem of caves, especially caves with bats. A single episode of carbide lamp use in a cave might perturb the ecosystem for months or even longer. If the contents of a carbide lamp or excess carbide is discarded in the cave it might be years before the cave recovers.

  19. Kultakutri says:

    However much I like trains and I greatly appreciate living across a street from a railway, as a useless alternative non-therapy, I’m sticking to my own disease vector aka Teh Cat. Compared to railway tracks, the cat is soft and warm and pleasant to touch.

  20. hippiehunter says:

    Maybe touching the tracks on my toy train set would be homeopathic train therapy?

  21. Tell it like it is says:

    Good morning everyone

    To revitalise this topic on crackpot potions and horses – I administer the answers to my quiz for your delight and delectation.

    1 What did the Ancient Egyptians try to cure with a potion made from pigs’ eyeballs? Why – blindness of course – did you see it coming?

    2 What was drilling a hole in a persons’ skull an Ancient French cure for? Headaches – it takes your mind off the pain!

    3 The Frenchman Antoine Lavoisier is recognised as ‘The father of modern chemistry’. He brought comprehension and rigour to chemistry and gave us the Law of ‘conservation of mass. How did he die? On the guillotine – so French – oo la la! (he was accused of crimes he did not commit).

    4 Which scientist created ‘germ paintings’ using living bacteria? Alexander Fleming the man who discovered penicillin – the most efficacious life-saving drug in the world. The word-root is penicillium a word which means ‘painters brush’.

    6 Why did women in the 1930’s swallow live tapeworms whole? So as to lose weight. Left inside of the body for long periods, the ‘pork worm’ larvae eventually migrates to the brain – causing migraines and seizures. The worms can be killed using Niclocide and the longest one retrieved is recorded to be over 108 feet (33 metres) in length.

    7 The dead horse arum plant gives off the smell of decaying horse to lure which creature to pollinate it? Blowflies. Interestingly, horses often chew at something that lives on their legs – horse-fly eggs.

    And on green tomatoes: unless you are residing in Madagascar and you like zebra with your tomatoes – try this:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2009/oct/04/nigel-slater-green-tomato-recipes

  22. Tell it like it is says:

    @Jan Willem Nienhuys

    DBonez5150 is correct.

    On ‘Third rail’ systems used throughout the London Underground and also on the ‘over-ground’ railway system used in the South of England, the ‘third rail’ is mounted on insulators that isolate the DC ‘traction feed’ rail from the Earth.

    This ‘third-rail’ carries a DC voltage that permits a controllable ‘traction-current’ to flow between the ‘live’ ‘third-rail’, through the control-circuits and traction motors, and then ‘return to earth’ via either ‘running’ rail.

    If you stood on the ‘live’ rail then no harm would come to you. But – should you create an electrical path between the ‘live’ rail and the Earth – for example by sitting on the ‘live’ rail and then placing your feet on the ballast – two things would happen a) a current would pass through your legs and bottom – which you would certainly feel; and b) the current would seize your leg muscles solid – effectively ‘freezing’ you to the spot.

    You would have to be a balm-pot to do this.

    Should you visit London (2012 Olympics perhaps?) and travel on its superb underground railway system, you will observe that the rails at the station are mounted on 3 feet high pillars. This is a preventative measure to reduce injury to ‘jumpers’ – a word used to describe a person who elects to throw themselves onto the live rail to commit suicide.

    The jumper would land in the ‘pit’ so an approaching train is unlikely to hit them; and should they grasp the live rail, the ‘earth-leakage’ is detected and the ‘traction current’ is instantly switched off. This does two things a) prevents electrocution; and b) stops all trains – which automatically brake when traction current is lost.

    I wouldn’t recommend putting the safety system to the test – just be thankful its there and it works.

  23. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

    I’d say the big difference between CAM and train therapy is the justification – for CAM it’s a superficial veneer of science where as for train therapy it’s the magic of technology.

    As for why skeptical thinking is difficult – it takes time and humility. Claiming conspiracy is easy. Thinking critically about the flaws in an argument requires general critical thinking and in a lot of cases specific knowledge about the intervention as well as the ability to admit you don’t know everything and might be wrong.

  24. When you physicians begin taking patient outcomes seriously, you will be on track to figure out why no one adheres to your interventions.

  25. hippiehunter says:

    MedsVsTherapy said

    “When you physicians begin taking patient outcomes seriously, you will be on track to figure out why no one adheres to your interventions.”

    What (other than big pharma conspiracy theories) makes you think that physicians do not take patient outcomes seriously OR that no one adheres to thier interventions?

    MedsVTherapy … When you Alt Med practitioners start taking evidence seriously, you will be on track to figure out why train therapy is such a good analogy for homeopathy, reiki, iridology and other associated fraud.

  26. Tell it like it is says:

    Thanks to the genius of people such as Louis Pasteur who made remarkable leaps forward in the causes and prevention of disease, ‘blind trust’ should be replaced with ‘scientific certainty’.

    Why then are millions of people still led astray? Is it a lack of education? Is it delusion? Or are such people, and the perpetrators of scams, in ’self-denial’?

  27. Tell it like it is says:

    On train therapy – electricity truly is a technological wonder and the Victorians harnessed electricity in a crude way to allegedly cure all sorts of ailments.

    With a better comprehension of electromagnetic phenomena, we now harness this phenomena in very sophisticated ways to do everything from microwaving food to scanning our brains – and there is much more to discover.

    What you are about to read may seem at best ‘far-fetched’, and at worst a scam. It is on Nikola Tesla’s ability to extract power directly from the ether.

    The Serbian Nikola Tesla was responsible for giving the world the electric power grid, and he demonstrated that POWER could be ‘transmitted’ through the ether via the natural electromagnetic layers (Appleton, Kennelly-Heaviside, etc.)

    The event took place near Niagara Falls (on the American side). Standing in the middle of a field, Tesla screwed several of his ‘coiled coil’ lamps into the earth. As he screwed each lamp into the earth, each lamp illuminated at full brilliance. Homage is paid to this feat in the film ‘Prestige’ which features David Bowie – who plays the part of Nikola Tesla.

    Shortly after this event took place Tesla mysteriously ‘disappeared’, and his secret disappeared with him until it was rediscovered in 1996. Now you can power your laptop without the need to ever directly connect it to any power source to charge the battery.

    Here is a little précis of how it works.

    Basically, the power grid is a monstrous very powerful radio transmitter operating at a very low frequency (50 Hz here in the UK – 60Hz in the USA).

    Irrespective of whether power is ‘consumed’, the generators must constantly remain turning to provide electrical power 24-7. So much for the argument to use low-energy lamps – move to halogen lamps – same brightness as a filament lamp for 70% less power consumption; or around 40% more brightness than a filament lamp for the same power consumption.

    The power cables act as aerials, and these aerials radiate electrical power from every single cable. This can be seen by observing the blue corona on the cables of the Very High Tension (VHT) super-grid cables when it is teeming down with rain.

    Normally, about 45% of the energy generated goes directly down the cables to feed the consuming electrical devices connected at the other end – which include: machinery, stadium and street lamps, hospital equipment, and home appliances.

    During the ‘off-peak’ periods, without an electrical ‘sink’ to absorb the ‘unused’ energy being generated, because the power cables themselves are carrying megawatts of energy, as much as 16% of the massive surplus of energy that is ‘not’ being consumed radiates from the cables.

    By deploying ‘tuned power resonators’ that resonate at specific frequencies related to the electrical grid frequency, power is ‘wirelessly’ extracted directly from the grid via the ether – in the same way that a ‘tuned radio circuit’ extracts from the ether tiny amounts of power radiating from a local cell-phone transmitter to deliver voice and other information to your cell-phone – but on a much grander scale.

    The extracted power is rectified – a word here which means converted from an alternating current into a polarised or ‘direct’ current, and used to ‘top-up’ a local battery so that the local power source is ready for use as and when required. This is not ‘power imperpetua’ (we wish) – but so long as we continue to deliver electrical power as we do at present – it’s pretty darn close – and – like Bluetooth technology – its free to the end user.

    An American actor called Marvyn Roy, who plays the part of a ‘magician’ who goes by the name of ‘Mr Electric’, has globally toured a double act with his wife Carol for over fifty years. Their act is based upon producing and illuminating various lamps without connection to any obvious power source.

    Is he using a high frequency transmitter to ionise mercury vapour, which would then excite a fluorescent coating on the inside wall of his lamps – or has he discovered what Tesla knew – and proved – that may have cost Tesla his life. Watch the clip in its ‘entirety’ and see what you think.

    http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=mr+electric&aq=f

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