Monday, November 28, 2005

$120,000 Placebo

The associated press spread the word of a colossal waste of money in South Korea.

Sons Pay $119,400 for Ginseng to Help Mom

SEOUL, South Korea - A family hoping to cure their mother's weak knees bid nearly $120,000 at an auction for a set of wild ginseng roots that included specimens 110 years old.

The package of six roots sold for 125 million won ($119,400), Yonhap news agency reported Sunday, citing the Korea Wild Ginseng Appraisal Association. An entrepreneur and his brothers placed the winning bid to help cure their mother's ailing knees.

Ginseng is highly valued in Korea for its potent healing benefits.
$120,000 for some old plant roots; I think the lady could have had knee replacement surgery repeatedly for that much money. A search of PubMed for “ginseng healing” only turned up 14 articles, none of which indicated any significant benefits for any kind of knee or joint ailment. Some of the studies indicate that it may have some benefit for the regeneration of damaged blood vessels, and there are some studies showing potential “quality of life” benefits when ginseng is used as a dietary supplement, but there’s absolutely nothing to suggest that ginseng will provide any significant benefit to this lady’s condition.

So we have $120,000 that could have been used for modern medical treatment with documentable benefits wasted on “alternative therapy” instead. The mind boggles.

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