Thursday, October 18, 2012

Straddling David Gorski's Line In The Sand

David Gorski's blog, "Science-based
Medicine," is a true asset to field of
functional medicine. Gorski is funny,
making his hard science topic wry,
and gaffing the snake oil salesmen
of 2012 with some academic kindness.
Of course, there are plenty of puns
utilizing the word "quack."

After you read it for some time, you can
understand how Gorski and company's
language separates itself from some
weaselword language used in quack

For myself, I found some happiness
in the fact that Gorski doesn't consider
Tai Chi so gawd-awful, and he boldly
places Tai Chi on the opposite side of
"alternative medicine" because it is
simply a form of gentle exercise--
and gentle exercise is scientifically-backed
to benefit people, medically speaking.

I like believe Gorski likes Tai Chi:

"As I pointed out at the time, let’s say that tai chi is the greatest thing since sliced bread and that it alleviates fibromyalgia pain and stiffness better than anything we’ve yet come up with. Let’s assume all of those things are true, just for the moment: what thought comes to mind to you? I know what thought comes to mind to me. What on earth is “alternative” or “complementary” about such a finding? In reality, such findings would simply indicate that certain forms of low-impact exercise could help fibromyalgia symptoms, which is not anything particularly surprising at all, given what we already know about fibromyalgia."

Gorski points out that some clinical tests
of Tai Chi are somewhat valuable, and that
all the "woo" of Qi theory and Traditional
Chinese Medicine should not necessarily
need to be associated with such a decent
little set of isometric Chinese exercises.

But Tai Chi is not isometric. By definition,
isometric exercise is strength training,
and real Tai Chi forbids the use of strength.
That's funny too because I've been asked
many times after giving a demonstration,
"so are you clenching up all your muscles
when you do Tai Chi?" No, no, no. One
must relax the body far beyond the reaches
of clenching, pushing, pulling or any use

So in this way, Gorski thinks Tai Chi is
okay because it's just exercise that can
be broken down to its important parts,
and even mockingly replicated as a sham
control in a better-designed research study.
But he's missing a lot of info in that sequitur.

Let's get back to me and Gorski in a minute.
Let's talk about my teacher, Victor ShengLong Fu.
Master Fu is arguably the best exercise
instructor in the world. He says, "Tai Chi
is like first grade. BaGua is like tenth grade.
Most people cannot go to tenth grade without
first learning grades one through nine."
And trust me, BaGua is way over your head.

Master Fu also says,
"More than 90 percent of all tai chi is bad. What it mean—‘bad,’ that when you see someone do tai chi, they don’t follow the principles. You don’t know the principles yet, but you can look for yourself if the tai chi is good or bad. When you look, look at the waist. When the tai chi is good, (they) always turn the waist. When the tai chi is bad, the arms move but the waist doesn’t turn, or the waist only turns sometimes. That’s principle. In good tai chi, the waist always turns."

Master Fu's diligent students tend to be
amazing. They win martial arts competitions,
just as the students of both his father and
his grandfather did.

But Master Fu does not teach "Qi" theory.
He tries to be practical and scientific in his
teaching methodology. In nine years of
private study, I've never heard him frame
any lesson inside the woo of Qi (sounds cool).
He will show you how to posture your body;
and how breath deeply; and how to step
ten different ways.
But he doesn't talk about Qi.

What has trickled down from Master Fu's
high-level teachings is Healing Exercise,
a set of super-gentle, breath-centric exercises
for seniors, sedentary, injured and infirmed.
It's backed by peer-reviewed studies and
it works. We simply show people how to
help themselves.

I think David Gorski needs to meet my
friend Dr. Liu. She was a pharmacist; then
an M.D. for some 20 years; then she went
back to school to become a Traditional
Chinese Medicine doctor. Several members
of her family also share the dualistic
M.D. / O.M.D accolades. Dr. Liu's daughter
has kids attending Harvard, Princeton and
Stanford simultaneously.

If your lying eyes did deceive you,
Dr. Liu is a quack at first glance. She is 80
years old, but you would guess her at 50.
She walks funny and talks funny, so her
placebo-effect rating should be low; but
she knows everything about everything.
David Gorski and company might find it
impressive that she wrote a thesis on
herbal treatments for HIV, and demonstrated
that cellular cAMP and cCMP are analogous
to yin and yang.

Dr. Liu is the most powerful doctor I've ever
known, and I grew up in the business of
western medicine. Her prowess with
pharmacology and her implementation of
needles fixes everyone I take to her.

Dr. Liu's son won a prestigious award of
innovation in 2008 for developing a software
package that probability-diagnoses over 9000
diseases from 9500 symptoms, and offers
thousands of science-based medical treatments
from the combined knowledge of 41 M.D. specialists.
Oh yeah, it also offers thousands of Traditional
Chinese Medicine treatments, including where
to put the needles.

Back to me and Gorski. Without a single credential,
I call myself a scientist. It'd be easy for him to say
that I am not. But maybe he would lend some
tiny shred of scientific credence to my university
level study of kinesiology; or maybe to my abstract
published by the University of Salzburg for
The International Congress on Science and
Skiing. Skiing might not be David Gorski's cup
of tea, but he does live in Michigan and I know
Michiganders do ski in that miserable mess.

Applying the principles of Tai Chi to alpine skiing
created an "alternative" method of direction change
by posturing the body and turning the waist horizontally.
Panting and the use of strength are both forbidden.
I wear a tee shirt that says, "Disposable thumbs
make me specialer than most animals." Many
scientists and coaches in the alpine ski universe
think I'm a quack. But now, some Austrian
aficionados are claiming that all the World Cup

Where Traditional Chinese Medicine shines is
functionality. Master Fu says 90 percent of all
Tai Chi is junk. It might be safe to correlate and say
that 90 percent of all acupuncture is junk too--
because there are few O.M.D.s like Dr. Liu.

I would like to see bright people like David Gorski
and company create double-blind research studies
on high-level masters like Master Fu and Dr. Liu.
I always say "the proof is in the puddin'," so if it is,
they should be able to extract that proof.