We've done it again! This time we biked from Petra in Jordan up to Nazareth in Israel, to raise money for the Nazareth Hospital CT Scanner appeal. Nazareth is the largest Arab town in Israel, but they still don't have a dedicated Stroke Unit to cope with this devastating condition and major cause of death. Click here to find out more, and please help this fantastic cause. Thanks!

23 October 2011

Alternative Medicine that WORKS - Taking WCTB Therapy into the mainstream

We know that Homeopathy works no better than placebo. We know that for many people a placebo effect can be helpful. Crazily, and completely counter-intuitively, we also know that placebo effects can persist, even when the patient KNOWS that what they are receiving is a placebo (Ben Goldacre has a great line in this stuff). Each year the NHS in the UK spends over TEN MILLION POUNDS on homeopathy - that very specific, very deceitful, entirely pointless placebo, when we know that a/ we don't need to lie to our patients to get a placebo effect (and homeopaths are either deluded or they do lie - we know there is no active principle involved in homeopathy), and b/ there are other forms of therapy that are *at least* as likely to engender a response as homeopathy, and indeed are likely to have a much greater and more beneficial long term response. The general population, gulled into shelling out their hard-earned cash, spend far far more - homeopathy is big business, and it's all wasted. Something needs to be done. Something CAN be done.

Ladies and gentlemen, after a very useful Twitter discussion with some learned colleagues (and helpfully storified and blogged by my inestimable colleague @anarchicteapot), I introduce WCTB Therapy.

WCTB is intended to replace all forms of "alternative medicine" - it is indeed an invaluable alternative to the alternatives. WCTB has all the advantages claimed for alternative medicine, with none of the side effects. You don't have to interact with a bunch of New-Age crystal-hugging Earth drongoes; you don't have to sing silly chants or sell your soul to Zuul or believe stuff that your brain is screaming at you for even contemplating. You don't have to sacrifice your intelligence, you don't have to shell out loads of money for fake remedies. Yet this radical new programme of treatment holds enormous promise at a number of levels:

  • Individual wellbeing
  • Improved mental health
  • Interaction with others
  • Social cohesion
  • Economic regeneration
  • World Peace
What is this new miracle treatment? What portal to the fundamental life-force of the Universe has been opened to be accessible to mere mortals? How can these grandiose claims be made for a complementary medical therapy? And what IS WCTB? Let me explain.

Wee Cup of Tea and a Biscuit (WCTB):
It is our contention that many disease symptoms and psychological issues can be resolved by sitting the feck down with someone prepared to listen and to care, and to share a wee cup of tea and a biscuit. Our initial research suggests that the precise brand of tea and type of biscuit may not be terribly important (further research is needed). But after a programme of WCTB therapy, we feel (see the Twitter link above for my co-authors in this) that many patients will experience significant benefit in a wide range of acute and chronic disorders.
We do not propose WCTB as a cure for all ills, but there are very few conditions where WCTB is not likely to be a helpful adjunct, whether administered to the patient, or a worried relative. WCTB is cheap, requires minimal training to deliver, and, in fact, wonderful health practitioners and caring individuals in society have been delivering it for years with great effect.
Indeed, it is an indictment on our society that WCTB is not more widely available. If the government were to sink *half* the amount of money into WCTB that they flush down the drain in wasteful nonsense such as homeopathy, we predict that it would save the NHS vast sums of money - fewer complaints, more rapid recovery, greater community cohesion, improved mental health and general fitness - there is no downside.

So throw away those stupid homeopathy pills. Close down the various homeopathy hospitals and convert them into fully funded WCTB units where people can come in free for a regular dose of WCTB. Create WCTB Units in areas of social deprivation and unemployment, as well as major transport interchanges. Teach WCTB principles in schools and universities. Encourage people to offer their services as WCTB Therapists - all they need is a listening ear and a caring and compassionate nature. Stop wasting money on insane crap like homeopathy and Reiki and crystals etc.

And, you know what? We might just change the world.


  1. Much flattered at the "colleague" compliment, but I chickened out of studying genetics because I was scared of physics (true story).

    However, yes! My thoughts entirely. Although WCTB specialists already exist: social workers and psychologists, for example. Sadly, these are professions that tend to be looked down on.

    Anyone can do it though. A friend or neighbour is ill, overworked or has worries? Greet them with a smile and offer a WCTB. Guaranteed effect.

  2. I'm afraid you've been scooped. There is a large ongoing research project on the subject:

  3. That site really only talks about the choice within the WCTB range, without actually addressing the use of this revolutionary adjunctive therapy.

    (pause to boggle: I'm getting over 60 hits per day on that post alone)

  4. Thanks chaps - it is a useful site, with many resources that relate to this important paradigm shift in the wellbeing debate...

  5. Finally a post that Slicer can agree with :-D
    If you go private can you escalate the therapy to WGOW?

  6. If only medical profession could do a course in WCTB (aka bedside manner in hospitals). After much medical interface recently leading to hip replacement, during and post-op and recovery - all I was offered was painkillers. No advice, no support. Found online support forum, fortunately, which provided virtual WCTB. Part of alternative 'therapy', the part that works, is the hour long consultation you pay for. Sure beats five minutes in the surgery, most of the time spent watching GP keying in your prescription. There now. Feel better for that. Thanks for this post.

  7. Most excellent. Pleased to report that the health tent for the Festival de Insoumission et Désobéissance in Treffieux, Loire-Atlantique 2009 was organised as a "tisanerie" serving traditional French herbal teas 24/7 for the duration. Alhough the services of a doctor, nurses, and naturopaths were all available, we saw our main role as animating conviviality through the service of tea. Highly effective, and a much nicer way to be on call at such an event.

  8. Sorry, misread the post and tried a Tea Cup of Wee and a Biscuit: nice chat but ruined a perfectly decent digestive.

  9. Thanks folks - nice to see some new faces :-)
    mchankins - you have identified a potential issue that I think will need to be addressed on the Patient Information Pack!
    Douglas - a fine point, and one that I think we could trial at any number of venues. Indeed, #WCTB stations could be set up in proximity to "altmed" venues, and we'll see which is more popular...

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