Incomplete and Inaccurate Research Reports

Scientific Validation of Herbs Part 3

Read part 1Read part 2.

3) Incomplete and Inaccurate Research Reports
Let’s consider the study design we were talking about earlier regarding Cimicifuga and hot flashes. Perhaps someone decides to run that study and finds out that a standardized extract of Cimicifuga (30 mg three times a day) does not reduce the number of hot flashes in Caucasian women that have just undergone a hysterectomy. By the time the results hit the news all you learn is that the study demonstrated that Cimicifuga doesn’t work. However, this doesn’t mean that a woman undergoing natural menopause wouldn’t see a reduction in hot flash intensity with using half that dose. The results of the study are interesting, but may not apply to you unless your situation is identical.

In addition, many people rely of scientific summaries or research abstracts for information. Unfortunately, these are often designed to be sensational or intriguing. Even if they are accurate, they are written with a world limit and a lot of information has to be left out. I have found that upon reading the full article the results are not really as clinically relevant as the abstract would lead one to believe.

Why don’t people read the full article? It is an access issue. Researchers and students have access to the full scientific reports as part of their institutional perk. For a private individuals one article can sometimes cost more than $30. There has been a shift in recent years to require research done with public funds to be accessible to the public, but it doesn’t really solve the problem of restricted access to other research. Hard to make an educated decision when you are unable to get access to the full report.

4) Research bias
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