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Psycasm is the exploration of the world psychological. Every day phenomenon explained and manipulated to one's own advantage. Written by a slightly overambitious undergrad, Psycasm aims at exploring a whole range of social and cognitive processes in order to best understand how our minds, and those mechanisms that drive them, work.

My posts are presented as opinion and commentary and do not represent the views of LabSpaces Productions, LLC, my employer, or my educational institution.

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Friday, February 18, 2011

So this is an exchange I had with a local business. They make the claim that the guy who runs the place specializes in 'Fertility, Gynaecology and Pregnancy'. Good for him, he cites his qualifications here. He credientials include being a Chef and having obtained a Bachelor's in Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine. You make the judgment which entitles him to be an expert with your vagina and reproductive system. He also is 'responsible for designing & formulating the ConceptShen range of clinically advanced Fertility and Gynaecological Formulas'.

He makes a number of bold claims, all without citation:

For instance:

Chinese Medicine is about treating the cause, not just the symptoms and relies on a series of treatments to balance the body and maintain health. The following statistics are a review of seven previous studies on acupuncture and fertility –

  • Acupuncture increases the chances of conceiving via IVF by 65%
  • Acupuncture increases the chances of maintaining a pregnancy by 87%
  • Acupuncture increases the rate of maintaining a pregnancy to full gestation by 91%
  • Acupuncture when combined with Chinese herbs increases the chances of conception up to 80%


Here's a study he conducted himself:

Shen Therapies Success Rates

102 women with fertility issues participated in a recent study conducted by Andrew Orr and his team at Shen Therapies

The results were:
  • Ages at conception ranged from 23 to 45 years with a mean age of 34.4 years
  • Overall only 3.9% of women treated did not get pregnant at all
  • The interval between commencing therapy and conception was between 1 and 29 months, with a median of 4 months. Over 44% of women conceived within the first 2 months of therapy, while 65.6% conceived within 6 months
  • 14.0% of women miscarried, 57% of whom were older than 34 years;
  • 35.6% of women were concurrently on IVF while being treated by Shen Therapies
  • 95.1% of patients were treated with acupuncture and herbs while 4.9% had only herbal treatment
  • Although the number of women choosing to use herbs alone is very small, no apparent differences in pregnancy outcomes seem apparent
  • 86% of pregnant women at the time of this analysis were either pregnant or had successfully given birth to their baby
  • Of those using IVF, 79.4% had a successful outcome while 20.6% miscarried
  • Those who conceived naturally had a lower miscarriage rate of 10.4%

Women aged less than 33 years had slightly better outcomes – 88.9% were either pregnant or had given birth.

Women aged 40 years and older has slightly worse outcomes - 81.8% were either pregnant or had given birth.

While there were slightly more older women having IVF, this was not statistically significant.

Women who fell pregnant quickly (within 3 months) were less likely to miscarry than those who took longer than 3 months: 6.8% compared to 16.3%. Interestingly, those who took quite a long time to conceive (more than 12 months) had no increased risk of miscarrying compared to those that conceived in the first 3 months – the risk seems highest for those taking 6 – 12 months to fall pregnant.


Besides the fact there is no citation, his stats appear under a number of headings, which include 'IVF' and their own list of therapies.

Here's an exchange I had with him (a front-of-houser?) just before years end [sorry for the small text].


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Things like this can be upsetting. I think taking advantage of women desperate to concieve is wrong. If there are little "facts" supporting this and they are questionable how can they make the claim? I think there is some merit to homeopathic remedies but this seems ridiculous especially with an n=105 and no normalization of populations.

Lab Mom
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This pisses me off to the ends of the earth.  I suffered secondary infertilitiy and have met many hundreds of woman who are desperate to do ANYTHING to improve their shot.  Even moronic (sometimes dangerous) things which have no basis in fact.

The whole website is a horrible, manipulative joke.  Photographs of happy smiling babies, the picuture of the "good doc" with his family.  It is like selling a dream.. "Look what you can have.. Trust me. I promise."  But those are promises he can't really deliver.  But we aren't talking about crappy used cars here... we are talking about HUMAN BEINGS. It is a slap to the faces of those woman who desperately long to hold a child, THEIR child in their arms.

He is preying on the fact that they are only going to see what they want to see with those numbers.  They trust him and he knows it.

It infuriates me and my heart breaks for all those women who will never get that promised baby..

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Hey all, the last part of my email jpg is not missing. I was just doing all my editing on paint and the quality is not great.


If this pisses you off half as much as it does me, let other people know. If there's a good list of damning comments, I'll go drop this link off at half a dozen choice places and make sure this post gets linked to any other info.


@alchemy, with regards to your homeopathy comment - what merits do they have, and in what form?

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I think that taking care of your body is important, as Americans we sort of take the band aid approach, let it get bad then fix it but not hit the underlying problem. We need to take care of our bodies. We need to eat well and balanced, this can vary from person to person no "diet" is one shoe fits all. I think taking a multi vitamin, and maybe even fish oil or some form of omega-3 does some good. Our bodies are really good about getting vitamins from food etc but we don't always eat balanced enough or enough food to cover all bases. It IS much better to get vitamins from food but not always possible.Feeding our bodies the right nutrition is so important. I am not saying don't ever eat another bad thing in your life, please do enjoy life but don't abuse it, like with anything moderation is key. I think promise of potions and cures are ridiculous there is a reason we have medecine but I also think that taking care of ourselves before we fall apart is so very important.


We need to find ways to relax whether its running in the woods or yoga or meditation or watching south park. We need time for ourselves. Getting massages have proven to relax and de-stress people and even help people with injuries. My little brother is a physical therapist and I take great merit in what he advises to do to take care of oneself. There are all sorts of really neat therapies coming out that are based in science that are helpful. One is using electric current, another heat, etc. I don't know them all but I can ask. He helps me do little exercises and is able to take out muscle knots in my body so easily. I am quite amazed by him he can tell what ails you, what you do for work most likely etc by how you walk and so forth. He really helps people, and a lot of his work when doing clinicals for school was helping elderly move around so they could be self sufficient. He said the saddest cases were when older folk just didn't take care of themselves and truly got old before their time. Most things he sees are preventable. Some of his work ist very obese people. They need about the same amoount of care sometimes just to be ambulatory and they have extra aches and pains. There are the people that truly need it after injury or surgery or accidents etc. I am not trying to disount that in any way. But I guess my point in this is once Physical therapy is considered kind of "homeopathic" My brother went thru so much rigourous schooling, he is almost done with his Doctorate in PT. The program has a board test he has to pass and to be certified and its intense.


Things like leeches are still used in medecine, pain managements I think have some successes but of course like with anything you will have the snake oil salesman preying upon these things that could potentially do good, and they taint it.


I have used some lotions for rashes that were made by I suppose an herbalist would be correct term and she has extensive knowledge of plants (The Masters Degree in Plant physiology doesn't hurt either) but with things like that agin you really have to know what you are doing and know some science not hey this looks cool. There are plants in this world that are helpful harmful and medecinal. I see no problem in harnessing natures power as we try all the time in other ways but we have to do it systematically and scientifically. Understand how things work before we use them. I mean for Christ's sake people are selling pentawater and trying to say it better hydrates you. As a chemist reading this it turned my stomach and frankly infuriates me. This is another example of people taking advantage of lack of knowledge. I first found out about it in 2004 I think when I got an ad in the mail. I showed it to my Organic Chemistry professor and she was floored. This nonsense needs to stop. I think there is merit to explore some of these ideas we discovered many cool things looking to nature but I guess my take home message is that we need to explore it scientifically like any new drug or therapy on the market. I hate the peddling of fiction as fact.



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I have come to the conclusion that alt-med woo can be best described as a sort of cargo cult, in which they use language that real science uses without practicing real science.

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The best link for info about how homeopathy works

Brevity is the soul of wit, said somebody far wittier than me.

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