Talk:Bach flower therapy

From Citizendium
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This article is developing and not approved.
Main Article
Related Articles  [?]
Bibliography  [?]
External Links  [?]
Citable Version  [?]
Catalogs [?]
To learn how to update the categories for this article, see here. To update categories, edit the metadata template.
 Definition A form of complementary medicine that uses remedies based on extracts from flowers, to improve what it terms vibrations, a class of biofields in the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine taxonomy [d] [e]
Checklist and Archives
 Workgroup categories Health Sciences and Psychology [Editors asked to check categories]
 Subgroup category:  Complementary and alternative medicine
 Talk Archive none  English language variant American English

Term other than pseudoscience?

While I personally consider this concept nonsense, I also would hesitate to call it "pseudoscience", since its practitioners do not seem to use scientific concepts in describing it. Vitalism and Paracelsus' signatures are not remotely scientific.

To quote our current pseudoscience article,

A pseudoscience is any theory, or system of theories, that is claimed to be scientific by its proponents but that the scientific community deems flawed, usually because independent attempts at reproducing evidence for specific claims made on the basis of these theories have failed repeatedly and rarely if ever succeeded. The term is pejorative, and its use is inevitably controversial;[1] the term is also problematical because of the difficulty in defining rigorously what science is.

So, I'd prefer labeling this something more along the lines as something pithier, but along the lines of "healing technique without substantial evidence of efficacy or scientific basis for its action." Howard C. Berkowitz 02:11, 24 January 2011 (UTC)

I don't think your phrasing is pithier -- it's longer. And it's pseudo-science, whether its practitioners call it that or not. Why should we pay attention to what *they* say? They are using "scientific" jargon "sun infusion" to describe their nonsense -- hence it is pseudo-science. Hayford Peirce 02:15, 24 January 2011 (UTC)
You misunderstand; I was looking for someone to pith it. Let's get Gareth's opinion, but I don't think he'd call "sun infusion" particularly scientific. It might be pseudoscience if they claimed that undetectable Z-rays extracted the essence from the flowers. "Sun infusion", however, is a perfectly reasonable term for brewing a very nice slowly extracted tea.
We are not in disagreement that the idea is nonsensical, but let's be precise in our terminology. "Unproven health treatment" any better? Pseudoscience does mean something reasonably specific. Howard C. Berkowitz 02:20, 24 January 2011 (UTC)
Yes, "Unproven health treatment" is fine with me -- it would be useful to stick into ALL of these damn articles. Even better would be "Unproven PURPORTED health treatment" -- so go ahead and rewrite as per this....
OK, unproven health treatment for now, and the EC can address standard terminology.
Sun infusion and related techniques for cooking is quite another matter. Sun definitely seems to help pickle Moroccan preserved lemons. Yum. Howard C. Berkowitz 04:00, 24 January 2011 (UTC)

(unindent)I agree with Howard here about the use of "pseudoscience". I can't see anyone seeing anything remotely scientific about this topic, and calling it pseudoscience is devaluing a useful word. My concern about pseudoscience is when (for example) certain nutritionists (like "Dr Gillian McKeith PhD") poses as a clinical scientist on television and websites, talks about molecules and chlorophyll, and then promotes dietary advice on the basis that spinach is good for you because, as it contains chlorophyl, it "really oxygenates the blood." We see the same kind of pseudoscience extensively in claims for diets, supplements, creams, toothpaste.. and what we need to dispel is the idea that there is any scientific authority behind claims. That in my view is a good target - exposing the masquerade.

But if something makes no claims of scientific foundations we might point out that they are useless if they are, that they have no scientific basis if that is so, that they are inconsistent with known facts, but we shouldn't also attack them for falsely pretending to be science (which looked at objectively is surely the least of the issues, except of course to us scientists who care about the brand). If you apply pseudoscience to any nonsense, it's just lazy and devalues the language.

Having said that, as I think you are both saying, this article can and should be made pithier.Gareth Leng 09:55, 28 January 2011 (UTC)


Nice changes, Gareth. Since I don't have full-text access to the cited articles, however, could you verify if they address suggestion beyond "this is something that might help you?" The very fact of being given anything by a practitioner is, of course, suggestive, but do we have evidence that ritual or description was used in the trials? If informed consent was given, presumably there was discussion.

If possible, I'd like to get this to a short but approvable article that does, indeed, objectively suggests that the topic is nonsense. Such an article could be a prototype for others where there is rather clearly no evidence or coherent explanation. We presumably still need a disclaimer that "description in no way implies CZ approval" or words to that effect; there is a motion before the EC to consider a task force to develop one. Howard C. Berkowitz 10:36, 28 January 2011 (UTC)

I'll go through the cited articles carefully to look at this.Gareth Leng 11:12, 28 January 2011 (UTC)

Ernst E (2010) Bach flower remedies: a systematic review of randomised clinical trials Swiss Med Wkly 140:w13079. doi: 10.4414/smw.2010.13079 PMID 20734279 added

Halberstein RA et al. (2010) When less is better: a comparison of Bach Flower Remedies and homeopathy Ann Epidemiol 20:298-307 PMID 20097577 (Extensive testing has produced mixed or equivocal results regarding the efficacy of both of these health care systems. While a variety of positive outcomes have been frequently recorded with Homoeopathy and BFR treatments, it is likely that the placebo effect operates to a significant extent in both approaches.) Added to article

(Whalley B, Hyland ME (2009) One size does not fit all: motivational predictors of contextual benefits of therapy Psychol Psychother 82:291-303 PMID 19288979 "Our results show that a person’s value system predicts which therapy vignettes they believe will be effective for them", added to refs in article)

Howard J (2007) Do Bach flower remedies have a role to play in pain control? A critical analysis investigating therapeutic value beyond the placebo effect, and the potential of Bach flower remedies as a psychological method of pain relief. Complement Ther Clin Pract13:174-83 PMID 17631260 Valueless in my view, from the Bach centre, small uncontrolled study and not a critical analysis in any sense I can see.

LaTorre MA (2006) Integrative perspectives. Integrating Bach flower remedies into a therapeutic practice. Perspect Psychiatr Care 42:140-3 PMID 16677139 Descriptive anecdotal account of what it is.

Hyland ME et al. (2006) Spirituality predicts outcome independently of expectancy following flower essence self-treatment J Psychosom Res 60:53-8 PMID 16380310 "Our study provides evidence, contrary to the dominant view, that there is a placebo-responding personality, but the personality dimension we found is not predicted from our current understanding of placebo mechanisms, namely, expectancy theory. Our data do not explain why, independently of expectations, some people experience benefit from pharmacologically inert substances." This is an interesting article, and I think is worth citing but not discussing in detail - essentially it supports the view that the ritual aspects of BFR might have enhanced placebo-type benefits for spititually inclined patients. Added'

Pintov S et al. (2005) Bach flower remedies used for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in children--a prospective double blind controlled study. Eur J Paediatr Neurol 9:395-8 PMID 16257245 No effect. But a single study, rather leave it at the two meta analyses already cited

Long L et al. (2001) Which complementary and alternative therapies benefit which conditions? A survey of the opinions of 223 professional organizations Complement Ther Med 9:178-85 PMID 11926432 Survey of CAM organisations, don't think anything to add here in main article but adding to bibliography

OK I've looked at the full texts of all the above, and added several. haven't seen anything suggesting anything but placebo effects with the interesting suggestion that the placebo effects will be stronger in those with a personality type that makes them particularly open to certain types of ritual. I think this is what I'd expect and is in the article. I think I'm done here, leaving this now to wiser eyes.Gareth Leng 12:30, 28 January 2011 (UTC)

Thanks. Some of this may be appropriate for placebo and complementary and alternative medicine as well. I think I'll add CZ: Psychology Workgroup. The US PUBMED site is giving error messages on everything, so I'll check the references this afternoon. Off to get my pacemaker checked; color me cyborg. Howard C. Berkowitz 12:41, 28 January 2011 (UTC)
Yes, PubMed is dysfunctional but I found all these articles directly on the webGareth Leng 13:13, 28 January 2011 (UTC)