I’ve moved

I’ve moved my blog to my own hosting and can now be found over at badchemist.net. I’m only posting this as certain blogs require me to log on with this username etc in order to post. So if you’ve followed a link to here head over to the new blog.

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New housemate

Got a new housemate on Saturday. He’s called Marco and he’s a rather funky Mexican.

He brought tequila, so at some point it’s going to get messy.

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Writing is tiring

If anyone can suggest a way to make writing papers a less tiring task please let me know. Having spent all day trying to tidy up a review I knackered. This was not helped by having to rewrite most of an endnote* library as one of my coauthors had used the wrong format (if he happens to be reading, sorry mate, I know it wasn’t really your fault).

* For those that don’t know endnote is actually a really good bit of software if the library you are using is made correctly. Unfortunately, when you download citations from certain publishers they don’t format the author names correctly as such screw your bibliography. If you then edit the name of the first author (for example from “Bloggs.J” to “Bloggs, J” it messes with the code used by endnote. The result, you either need to remove your citations from your document and reinsert them, or unformat the citations and manually edit the codes to match the new ones. This is extremely annoying for a 100+ citation document.

PS. This is one of the least interesting things I’ve ever written, but it got it off my chest
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Arnica and Bruising

Following a discussion with a colleague of mine last week and a thread on the the badscience fora I did a little bit of research into the effect of homeopathic Arnica gel on bruising. Basically my colleague, who shall be known as Catherine, was trying to persuade me that Arnica gel definitely aided the healing of bruises as she’d had two bruises on her knee, one which she treated with said gel and one that she didn’t and that one stayed for longer. She wouldn’t accept that this is anecdote, and that maybe that bruise was less severe in the first place etc etc.

Anyway a quick search of PubMed for “arnica bruising” found a grand total of 8 hits. The earliest 2 are general homeopathy reviews[1,2] from Professional Care of Mother and Child (now the Journal of Family Health Care) which not only do I have no access to, but doesn’t even appear in the ISI Journal Citation Reports suggesting it may not be the most well-respected of journals. The 3rd appears to be a well-designed trial,[3] but againI only have access to the abstract which states “The role of homeopathic and herbal agents for recovery after surgery merits further investigation” no more, no less.

The 4th [4] is another randomised, placebo-controlled, double-blinded trial and this time I have full access! This investigated the effect of pre and post-operatively applied arnica gel on bruising caused by facial laser surgery. Unfortunately the groups are very small (9 pre-op and 10 post-op) but the results… “No significant difference was found between topical arnica and vehicle [placebo] in the prevention or resolution of bruising”.

Refs 5-7 were another trial on the effect of homeopathic arnica and subsquent letters claiming the invalidity of the trial (the results were negative by the way). As this involves a lot toing and frowing over statistical methods that I don’t fully understand I will refrain on commenting on these.

The final trial was another trial into arnicas effect on post-operatve bruising from facial laser surgery. [8] Those given arnica were found to have smaller ecchymosis on the days they were examined (1, 5, 7 and 10 days after surgery), but this was only statiscally significant on days 1 and 7. Now this seems odd to me, because if arnica gel does have an effect on bruising why does this effect undulate over time? I would be more willing to accept this if it either had an effect at the beginning and then tailed off, suggesting it could only do so much to help, or if its effects were only seen in the latter stages, suggesting persistent usage was needed to see an effect.

So, from this what can we determine? Not a huge amount really, arnica gel appears to have some effect in some cases, but requires larger, well designed trials to determine if it really does.

Now the thing that really pissed me off with the discussion I had with Catherine was that she ended her side of the argument by stating (I’m paraphrasing here) that “well you’re obviously not going to be convinced whatever I say”. Funnily enough I pointed out to her that she’d offered me know evidence and that’s what I form an opinion from rather than using anecdote and basically a belief system. At the end of the day if she wishes to waste her money on buying something that has no proven efficacy then bully for her, just don’t accuse me of being the one acting on faith, I’ll stick to the evidence available at the time.

[1] Prof Care Mother Child. 1994 Aug-Sep;4(6):185-7

[2] Prof Care Mother Child. 1994 Oct;4(7):212-3.

[3] Altern Ther Health Med. 2002 Mar-Apr;8(2):66-8.

[4] Dermatol Surg. 2002 Aug;28(8):686-8.

[5] J R Soc Med. 2003 Feb;96(2):60-5.

[6] J R Soc Med. 2003 Apr;96(4):204; author reply 206-7.

[7] J R Soc Med. 2003 Apr;96(4):204-5; author reply 206-7.

[8] Arch Facial Plast Surg. 2006 Jan-Feb;8(1):54-9.

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Announcement

Right, I haven’t beenĀ  active on this blog for a good while but last night I decided that was going to change. Basically this blog is going to contain my ramblings, some of which will be related to the debunking of psuedoscience but done with far less panache and pizazz than both badscience and sciencepunk.

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Feeling rejected…

I thought it was about time I udpated you all (I say “you all” like there’s actually somebody reading) on the old Bach Flower Essences fiasco. I have no idea what the result of this trial was or anything else about it as I haven’t been contacted once with regard to it. Consequently I stopped taking the stuff after about a week as if they couldn’t be bothered to follow it up why should I.

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Waiting by the phone

I’ve been taking the essence as instructed for 48 hours now. It cetainly hasn’t helped by apathy as claimed, but this may be more to do with spending 9 of the 10 days since I got back from holiday at work. I’m also becoming rather apathetic towards this trial; today I was supposed to receive my first phone call to check up on my progress but I’ve not heard a thing all day.

Oh well, off to bed, maybe they’ll perk me up in the morning and I’ll be raring to go…

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