Caution urged in - NCBI

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visits by his family and his lawyer, and we want to be certain that he will either ... to Dr. Thomas L. Perry, Sr., De- partment ofPharmacology and. Therapeutics ...

medicine is prescientific by definition, since its arrival predates the scientific age. Both my articles describe the theoretic framework of ayurvedic medicine in some detail. Although Dr. Chopra presents circumstantial evidence to support the viability of the concepts, even he would admit that, from the present state of scientific knowledge, the concepts are difficult to verify and therefore remain speculative. Nevertheless, it is possible to scientifically evaluate ayurvedic therapies. Bodeker states that the articles do not describe the full range of scientific studies either completed or in progress; he is undoubtedly correct. On the other hand, they more than adequately convey a sense of the depth and breadth of scientific study of ayurvedic treatments. For that reason the articles can hardly be described as "a substantial imbalance in reporting." Bodeker seems to have difficulty in grasping the difference between in-vitro and in-vivo studies. There have been numerous in-vitro studies on the effects of certain ayurvedic compounds but few double-blind placebo-controlled studies involving humans suffering from the diseases ayurvedic medicine purports to correct. As pointed out by Dr. Victor Herbert, professor of medicine at Mount Sinai Medical Center, New York, such in-vitro studies have "no relation to human disease. What happens in a test tube has nothing to do with what happens in a real, live person." Some of these problems will be ironed out as a result of clinical trials. Such studies have not been completed and the data not yet analysed; until then the jury of scientific opinion is out. To say otherwise would do a great disservice to CMAJ readers. Dr. Kubacki's comments are those of a true believer in ayurvedic medicine. At this time, 12

CAN MEDASSOCJ 1991; 145(1)

however, it would take a transcendental leap of faith to accept the points he raises as the unvarnished truth. Brian Goldman, MD Contributing editor, CMAJ

Letters of support needed W r e are appealing to the x members of the CMA to help in a campaign to remedy an apparent case of human rights abuse involving a

physician.

From several unofficial sources we understand that a young Cuban neurologist, Dr. Julian Aranta, has been imprisoned without charges being laid at the Combinado del Este prison in Havana since Oct. 26, 1990. We have not established what charge is to be laid in this case, but some unconfirmed reports state that it could be involvement in attempting to set up a human rights group among Cuban physicians; other reports state that the charge will be involvement in a plot to overthrow the government. The latter charge, especially, seems totally preposterous to those of us who knew Arana when he worked at the University of British Columbia in the laboratory of the Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics. Between 1987 and 1988 Arania was on a Pan-American Health Organization Fellowship to learn new biochemical techniques that he could implement at the Institute of Neurology and Neurosurgery in Havana. Arafna was a diligent medical scientist and a caring, sensitive individual. He was proud of the educational and medical standards of his homeland and of the accessibility of these services to the people of Cuba as a whole. We never heard him criticize or com-

plain about conditions in Cuba. Indeed, he was anxious to return home to his family and to begin working with his newly acquired skills at the institute. We - his friends and colleagues in Canada - are dismayed that Arafna has been held for over 6 months without formal public charges being laid. We wish to be assured that he is allowed visits by his family and his lawyer, and we want to be certain that he will either have a fair and open trial in the near future or, if not charged, that he will soon be released. We hope that Canadian physicians will take a few moments to write a letter in support of Julian Arania. Such letters should be sent to Dr. Thomas L. Perry, Sr., Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, Faculty of Medicine, University of British Columbia, 2176 Health Sciences Mall, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z3. We will forward them to officials in Cuba by some means other than the postal service, which is exceedingly slow between Canada and Cuba. We thank those physicians who take the time to respond to our request for letters and CMAJ for the opportunity to publish our plea for help. James G. Foulks, MD, PhD Charles Krieger, MD, PhD Bernard A. MacLeod, MD Thomas L. Perry, Sr., MD Thomas L. Perry, Jr., MD David M.J. Quastel, MD, PhD Morley C. Sutter, MD, PhD James M. Wright, MD University of British Columbia Vancouver, BC

Caution urged in use of restraints I have recently received two mailings of a glossy flyer ..about the Olympic Papoose Board (Olympic Medical Corp., LE lerJUILLET 1991