In Search of the Silver Bullet in Treating Asthma

Could time spent in these salt mines cure your asthma? Not likely.A silver bullet can be defined as a quick solution to a difficult problem[1]

We all know that asthma is a difficult problem. It can be a nasty disease. Modern day treatment may seem complicated and requires persistent effort to control. It is no wonder therefore that many people are in search of a quick solution to this problem. In effect, they are searching for a silver bullet.

Recently two such solutions have appeared in the news. The first involved an event in India where thousands gathered to swallow live fish covered with a secret coating in promise of curing their asthma. The second is the practice of sitting in Himalayan salt caves. This is said to be beneficial, not only for asthma, but also arthritis, psoriasis as well as nervousness, poor concentration, sleeping disorders, and ADHD among other maladies[2].

Give me a break.

The problem with these and myriad other silver bullets is that they lack hard scientific evidence of their effectiveness. I have no doubt that you can find individuals who will honestly testify to their effectiveness, but anecdotal evidence and testimonials do not make something true. 30% of people given a placebo will report that it is effective. Keeping this in mind, I like to see hard scientific evidence that a therapy is more effective than placebo, and has an acceptable safety profile before recommending its use. This typically involves reproducible results in double blind, placebo controlled clinical trials.

These take time, money, and effort, but are the only way to get the proof needed.

[1] Silver bullet. (n.d.). Unabridged. Retrieved June 24, 2012, from website: bullet


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