Self-experimentation May Be The True Driver Of Progress In Medicine

haidut

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This is a very good overview that makes a number of good points that Peat has also touched upon in some of his articles. Apparently, there was a lot more self-experimentation in the medical and other scientific fields going on before 1950s. In the vast majority of cases, these experiments produced very valuable data in support or rejection of a hypothesis, and in 2.5% (12 out of 465) of the cases led to winning of Nobel Prize. That track record, especially the Nobel wins, is unheard of in any of the current "scientific" fields relying on mass-research. Which is probably the study's most salient point - advances in science rarely occur through consensus of experts. If that is true, then we can't really expect much from modern mass-scale science except powerful lobbying for more funding.

"...In a remarkable 89% of instances, the self-experiments obtained positive results in support of a hypothesis or valuable data that had been sought. In the remaining studies in which results were either negative or inconclusive, some of the negative results could be viewed as beneficial in directing investigators into more fruitful avenues of research."

"...It turns out that 12 actually received one type of Nobel Prize or another, the most recent one going to Barry Marshall in 2005 after his ingestion of a Helicobacter culture to demonstrate in his own stomach how it might cause gastrointestinal disease (Table II). Five of these Nobel recipients won for work unrelated to their self-experimentation. These were Ramsay, who exposed himself to various gases to determine their anesthetic properties; Metchnikoff, who injected himself with blood containing relapsing fever spirochetes; Lawrence, who drank a solution containing radioactive sodium; de Hevesy, who drank a solution containing heavy water to monitor its elimination from the body; and Schweitzer, who submitted himself to an unproven yellow fever vaccine to determine any side effects."

"...The trend in recent years toward collaborative studies, often on a massive scale, makes self-experimentation by a single individual, tucked away in his laboratory, seem almost quaint, a relic of the past. However, advances in medicine are not often made by panels of recognized “experts.” Rivers5 has called this “gang or group research.” He goes on to say, “Great discoveries are not made by committees or groups of workers; they originate in the minds of single individuals … I know of no important discovery in medicine or biology in the last hundred years that evolved out of gang research. You can do a hell of a lot of scut work by gang research, but the ideas for discovery are still going to come from the ideas in one man's mind. In other words, you can hire men but not ideas.”

"...Perhaps as we progress into a new era of molecular biology, which is characterized by the development of increasingly complex methods of research, the need for self-experimentation will vanish. My own conclusion is that, despite some unwise decisions in the past to indulge in this activity, many self-experiments have proved invaluable to the medical community and to the patients we are seeking to help. Therefore, rather than scorn such intrepid colleagues in their search for truth, I am inclined to salute them."
 
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AretnaP

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The only problem is the placebo effect, the main reason SSRIs haven't stopped being prescribed altogether.
 

haidut

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The only problem is the placebo effect, the main reason SSRIs haven't stopped being prescribed altogether.

Right, but placebo effect usually does not result in a 2.5% hit rate for Nobel. So, whatever they were doing seems to have worked pretty well. I am not discounting the placebo effect but I think the article looked at results in terms of actual problems solved, so the placebo effect should be relatively small.
 

Pointless

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"ingestion of a Helicobacter culture to demonstrate in his own stomach how it might cause gastrointestinal disease (Table II). Five of these Nobel recipients won for work unrelated to their self-experimentation. These were Ramsay, who exposed himself to various gases to determine their anesthetic properties; Metchnikoff, who injected himself with blood containing relapsing fever spirochetes; Lawrence, who drank a solution containing radioactive sodium; de Hevesy, who drank a solution containing heavy water to monitor its elimination from the body; and Schweitzer, who submitted himself to an unproven yellow fever vaccine to determine any side effects.""

Sign me up!!!

Today, the Nobel Prize is awarded to Pointless, whose daring work would not be possible if he had not ingested radioactive, GMO tapeworms that spew lava. WE SALUTE YU!!!!!!1
 

Thoushant

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Roger Altounyan and the first mast cell stabilizer, cromoglicic acid.
He had Asthma and tried different extractions of khrelin plant, til he found the one. He was told not to. So it was off the record, while on vacation, the lab would send him different compounds.
 

Dan Wich

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The only problem is the placebo effect
Seth Roberts had a good point about placebo that I've found useful in my self-experimentation: if you've excitedly tried 5 different approaches, and only the 5th one works, it's unlikely it was placebo.

In a remarkable 89% of instances, the self-experiments obtained positive results in support of a hypothesis or valuable data that had been sought
I liked these two recent stories of people "taking over" research on their disease, though neither are particularly Peat-ey:
The second one has a line that demonstrates Peat's ideas about how "medical culture" affects how you look at health:
First on the list is figuring out the cause: Is the disease genetic, a form of cancer or caused by a virus?
 
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