Jan 29 2013

Not the Ducks! – ENT Ain’t Nothing to Fuck With

So why does quackery get a free ride?

Well IMHO the major problem is that especially in the USA, drug companies are allowed to flog non-OTC (over the counter) medications to customers. Quackery is basically doing the same thing.

Now there are two ways to classify quack medicine.

1. It doesn’t work and either does nothing or makes things worse. Homeopathy and things like Lupron would be in this category.

2. It works but not for the reasons given with wild embellishments of efficacy.

The common component of these things is the often wild embellishments of efficacy. Who’s going to check? These aren’t doctors. There is no veracity behind the claims. Let’s take this article from Columbia.

Nasopure is in the latter category. Nasal lavage is a real thing and it’s mainly to clear hardened crusts, thick mucous and help with the healing of sinusitis.

It doesn’t however “cleanse allergens out of your nose”, especially not for any jobs a 10 year old kid does. Unless your child works in agriculture or down a coal mine. You literally have to snort the allergen of your choice like it were cocaine and you are Tony Montana.

It is not an alternative to ANYTHING. It is a real medical treatment being flogged incorrectly.

An Expo like this is perfect for flogging bullshit.

“The idea of doing this wellness program is to give awareness to the people about alternative medicine. Because modern medicine has too many toxins, people are sick of them, and they’re very expensive,” said Ravi Puri, the expo’s creator. Puri, who has a doctorate degree in pharmaceutical sciences, said the biggest benefit of alternative medications is that they are less toxic and have fewer and less severe side effects.

Too Many Toxins is the battlecry of alt. med. because we fear toxins.

I can kill you with oxygen. Toxins are just molecules which have effects on our bodies. Ask a diabetic what glucose (something we need to live) does to his body. Toxins are just molecules that don’t do what we want when we want them to.

And the problem with alternative medicine is that they don’t keep any real statistics on efficacy or indeed “fatalities”. They often piggy back onto real medicine (If you rub your tummy while eating my Asprin you will increase it’s effectiveness!) and take credit for the achievements of medicine. My particular favourite was someone flogging homeopathic medication for reducing her vomiting sensation during chemotherapy to other patients. Her chart said she was getting Ondansetron (A medical anti-emetic), her homeopath just tacked this harmless water onto her list and charged her for MORE money than the Ondansetron.

Okay? Let’s stick to Nasopure. Well Nasopure is a saline (Special no less) lavage.

Jennifer and Michael Griffith, the parents of Matthew as well as his younger sisters, 7-year-old Rachel, 4-year-old Allie and 5-month-old Caroline, have all been using the Nasopure system as an alternative to taking antihistamines.

Unless you can wash out your nose every few minutes it won’t actually do anything because chances are whatever is triggering your allergy is still in the air.

Also? Lavage is contraindicated in children under 5 months. Doctors won’t use lavage because the chance for aspiration and choking is high since babies do not have well developed control of reflexes.

“Studies prove 80 percent of sinus infections won’t require an antibiotic if you just wash,” Hana Solomon, president of Nasopure, said.

Bad bad bad science.

80% of sinus infections are not caused by bacteria. But by viruses. In fact a SINGLE one. This is precisely what I am talking about. 80% of sinus infections get better spontaneously. All the wash is doing is clearing mucous which makes you feel “better”. Inhaling steam does that too but you cannot really make money out of inhaling steam like you can do for this product.

The Rhinovirus to be precise. AKA The Common Cold. Taking an antibiotic for that is like throwing rice at a tank. It won’t do anything apart from waste rice.

Roughly 20% of sinusitis are called by bacterial sinusitis and treatment with an antibiotic is recommended (Even Hana wouldn’t dream of not recommending an Antibiotic there) because the bacteria that cause sinusitis and throat infections also cause a lot more serious infection.

Rheumatic Fever and Rheumatic Heart Disease are linked to the systemic transfer of these bacteria. It is in our interest to use antibiotics to clear bacterial sinusitis.

It is why when you first come to the doctor they ask you “how long has it been” if it is more than 2 weeks of sinusitis then they start antibiotics. If it is less than 2 weeks they tell you to take some rest and come if it gets worse. The MAJORITY of patients never come back after that. Why? Common Cold only lasts 5 to 10 days. This is a simple yet effective way of differentiating between bacterial and viral sinusitis. You COULD take a smear but honestly by the time it comes back you would have wasted good money to find out exactly the same answer.

Against bacterial infections? Lavage is quite likely to spread it around. Do not do it.

Matthew said he uses the system once a day during allergy season and it works so well that the family has become a demonstration team to spread the word about the product.? 

Again. This clears any mucous in your nose.

You see horrible mucous falling out (Clean mucous is still dirty green) and think “Oh man! My insides feel so much better now! Look at all those toxins!”. When you have just basically picked your nose with water.

Oh don’t get me wrong, we use it too. We just don’t make such a big fuss about it. This is the perfect demonstration of the placebo effect. There are things for which we use lavage. Things like cleaning crusts in atrophic rhinitis or in antral lavage, but we don’t use it to wash your nose unless we are about to do something to it.

Want to know something terrifying? There are at least 2 deaths linked to the home practice of nasal lavage. Both due to a single opportunistic pathogen called N. Fowlerii (It’s an amoeba. Want to see what it does? Watch the first season of House. It’s got a fatality rate of 98%).

Want to know how much of a rip off it is?

Isotonic Saline (what they are claiming to make) is 0.9% sodium chloride. Or 9 grams of sodium chloride in a Liter of water (I am like Obi Wan Kenobi. I avoid Imperial Entanglements).

The Biggest Bulk Buy of the “Nasoclear” formula is $62 to make up a whopping 19 litres (okay just under 19 litres) of fluid.

I can beat that. Both for price and quality. If you must insist shooting water up your nose to clear out mucous when you are healthy then I must insist you do so like a sane human being not some dumbass.

Firstly? You need some equipment. A squeezy bulb syringe is good because most humans have shake hands when it comes to plunger syringes. It should cost you a few dollars (Fuck if I know, it costs me like half a quid for one) and is washable and more importantly, medical grade plastic can be BOILED sterile (I am not sure about theirs). You can get awfully big syringes for awfully cheap prices.

Secondly? You need the solution. I assume the “secret ingredient” is baking soda. I know for a fact that you have tasted nasal mucous. It’s a fact of life. Admit it. Think back to it’s taste.

Why does it taste of “soap”? It tastes like mild soap does it not? Because nasal mucous is alkaline just like soap. So if you use a salty alkaline wash you get better results. The cheapest alkali we have is baking soda. It’s also the “natural” composition of our mucous alkali so it has no toxic effect unlike actual soap.

The main ingredient though is saline. The importance here is NOT using table salt. That’s fortified, you need pure sea salt. I am sorry but a quarter of a kilo of sea salt is around £2. In order to make up 19 litres of water you would need to dedicate 171 grams of salt.

And finally the water. Do not use unboiled tap water. Boil the water for at least 7 minutes then place in an airtight and sterile container and then place it in the fridge. Cool in fridge till the appropriate temperature of choice is reached then use the sterilised syringe to squirt it up your nose.

You have spent FAR less money, have a far safer treatment and ultimately are getting the same benefits for FAR far cheaper. IF there are special minerals in the Nasopure lavage kit then you should know that the epithelium of the nose is very very bad at absorbing minerals when compared to our digestive system.

The total cost for mine is less than $10 (I assume around $5). The total cost for the Nasopure kit of equivalent capacity is nearly $80.


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  1. 1

    Beware of dihydrogen monoxide.

  2. 2

    I hate these bastards. I always looked at the alternative medicine crowd as well meaning idiots until I had a child. I had this narrative in my head that they were just crazy hippy types trying to do the best they can. Turns out, I can be a real fucking idiot at times.

    One night, my daughter got sick. We were taking her to the doctor in the morning, but we were panicking. So I rushed to the drug store to look for anything I could give a small child. Fortunately, I chose this time to not be a real fucking idiot. I read the labels, looking at everything. I must have picked up at least three different items, all next to the real medicines, labeled as homeopathic. Right there, all costing money. All for parents to give to their sick children.

    The feeling of disgust and revulsion is still clear in my mind. Having a child as been a gateway for me being much less of a complete fucking idiot.

  3. 3
    Marcus Ranum

    the epithelium of the nose is very very bad at absorbing minerals when compared to our digestive system.

    Why do coke-heads snort coke, then? I’ve always wondered that…

  4. 4

    It’s actually absorbed via the sinuses and does a fairly large amount of damage to them. Also? Coke is a fine powder while water is not aerosolised.

    Again, getting water into your sinuses is bad if you have chronic sinusitis.

  5. 5
    Nathaniel Frein

    I get the occasional bacterial sinus infection. I’ve never had a problem telling the difference. My mucus starts looking bluish, and then turns a very dark brownish-orange, and at that time my sinuses just sort of lock down.

    It’s a very odd sensation. It not longer feels like I’m blowing my nose. It’s more a sensation that something wants to crawl out of my nose and I’m just helping it along. At any other point, my nose simply doesn’t work.

  6. 6
    Nosy guy

    After a few years with bad allergic rhinitis, I ended up having a polypectomy. The 4 different ENT doctors I had (in two different cities), all recommended daily nasal lavages (+nasal steroids). I wonder if it is just a medical fad or if it has a good reason…

    I have to admit that I ended up buying the pre-mixed packages at a huge markup, just because measuring the right amounts end up being an annoyance…

  7. 7
    Tsu Dho Nimh

    I use the small squeeze-bottle nasal saline dispensers fairly often because this is a dry climate.

    The cheapest way to refill them is to buy a large container of contact lens rinsing solution. It’s sterile buffered isotonic saline, and if it’s safe for your eyes, it’s safe for your nose.

  8. 8
    Lee Turnpenny

    I consider a marker of where CAM apologists’ so-claimed well-meaning-ness becomes exploitation of the gullible is provided by the absurd practice of ear-candling (or ‘Thermal Auricular Therapy’ to give it its pseudoscientific guise), which is also often marketed as a treatment for sinusitis. I’m offering up my
    finger as a more (cost-)effective cerumen removal device.

  9. 9

    The market place here in the US is filled with products that do nothing, apart from transferring wealth from you to the purveyors of this snake oil. By posting a disclaimer in agate size type for 30 nanoseconds on the tele screen, these products escape any real regulation. I like the Imperial Entanglements line, BTW.

  10. 10

    @Nathaniel frein

    I get the occasional bacterial sinus infection. I’ve never had a problem telling the difference. My mucus starts looking bluish, and then turns a very dark brownish-orange, and at that time my sinuses just sort of lock down.

    Ooh, I had one of those as a kid. I’d wake up every morning with my nose entirely blocked by massive blocks of dark orange stuff that seemed to grow from the outer wall of my nostril over night. It was completely solid. I took a leaf out of Lee Turnpenny’s book and used my finger to remove the gunk, blew my nose a bit, used this nasal spray that I’d been given which I assume was some sort of antiseptic, and carried on with my day. I remember when I blew my nose it came out really thick and dark orange :-/ ugh. I got it just before we went to Italy for the family holiday too, and had to endure the entire first week and a bit of the second not being able to breathe through my nose.

  11. 11

    Here’s a fun fact: most cocaine is sold as the hydrochloric acid salt. When it contacts the water in your nose and sinuses, it releases hydrochloric acid into your flesh. You know, that industrial-strength acid that they use to dissolve metal. There’s a reason that heavy coke users have to get Teflon plates put into their nasal passages or sinuses, where the acid has burned holes through.

    If you have enough money for coke, get yourself a bottle of Nasopure as well, and rinse out your nose when it’ll really do you some good.

  12. 12
    Nathaniel Frein


    The first time I caught it, I let it go almost three weeks, the last few days of which I basically spent in bed watching One Piece fansubs and drinking watered down gatorade cuz that was the only stuff I could keep down. I finally gave up on the idea that “the fever is breaking” and struggled down to the clinic for some antibiotics.

    Since then, once the brown stuff starts leaking out I give it a week and if it hasn’t cleared up I go to the clinic.

  13. 13

    :-/ I’ve only had it the once and, while it was fairly terrible, I didn’t have a fever or anything. I can’t imagine getting it regularly. You have my sympathy, sir.

  14. 14
    Kaufman Fields

    I think that there are some quacks out there, and there are some people that are really trying to bring out a positive change. I think probably the most relevant recent topic that came up for me at least is the fact that, the medical industry for the most part does not promote health. The medical industry and medications are there to treat the symptoms of poor health. I know my doctor never told me how to be healthy. I was asked to cut back on the red meat because my cholesterol was high. That’s it. Cut back on the red meat! This is not how to be healthy. Health is achieved through nutrition. The body will heal itself in many instances if it has access to the raw materials to do it.

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