Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Nazi Science Sneers at Complementary and Alternative Medicine

First, I have to explain the title: It comes from the webcomic called "Irregular Webcomic". It is always used as a plot device when the Nazis in the comic have figured out to do something impossible like overcoming the boundary between life and death or aerodynamic implausibility. Oh what wacky fun ze Nazis are!

Cut to real life. The actual scientific inquest of the german fascists isn't so far away from this, albeit a lot more idiotic and barbaric. The fascists usually started from some pseudoscientific non-sense bullshit and tried to prove it (cf Josef Mengele). Very seldom they were right – that is the case when you start with wacky pseudoscientific BS.

Part of the fascist BS believe was a variant of the "Nature is good" meme. While for religious groups this has its roots in the believe that everything in nature was created for us humans, the german fascists believed that they were the most adapted to nature, and therefore a "rooting" in nature was almost all they needed. It was some sort of pseudoscientific nature religion, with christian and nordic elements, if you want to put it that way.

The one thing they got right was smoking: They viewed smoking as against nature and I have it at good authority that the german fascist researchers were the first to prove that smoking causes cancer.

Falling squarly into "Nature is good" meme, the fascists did some research into herbal medicine. There wasn't much until the fascist germany surrendered in 1945, but research continued in west-germany. Until 1978,  when the "Commission E" was founded, over 300 herbal drug preparations have been cataloged. Until 1994, when the commission E was dissolved, the number rose to 380. In 1998, the commission E monograph were translated into english. The result? Apart from lacking the scientific rigor needed, there is little usable, maybe the list of disapproved herbal drugs being the exception. The era of Opium, Aspirin, Digitalis or Chinin had long gone, useful herbal substances are few and far between.

So if ze Nazis failed, maybe others will prevail? Today there seems to be some research in India, with its Ayurvedic tradition, and possible China with its Traditional Chinese Medicine. But both Ayurveda and TCM are deeply rooted in pseudoscientific concepts and the artificially designed substances stand a much bigger chance of having a desired spectrum of effects.

Nature is no magic bullet for our woes, but we sure could learn some more about the nutrition we had in evolutionary (pre-neolithic) times.

1 comment:

  1. Spam removed: Legal herbal incense, shop4herbalincense, herbal-incense-store


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