Monday, January 23, 2012

Science vs Acne: followup

Some time last year, I talked about doing "an affectionate parody of science" by half-assing an experiment with acne treatments.

On one side of my back, I tried using hot pads.  On the other side I used some acne medication.

So it turns out that hot pads might be effective, but they're too much work!  I'd have to heat up some water, then pour it on the pad, and hold it against my back for the small window of time when the pad was neither too hot, nor too cold.  This window was shorter than three minutes, so I'd have to repeat a few times.  And then I'd have to do it again for each pad-sized unit of area on my back.  In practice this meant that I gave up on hot pads entirely after a few weeks.

The acne medication, on the other hand, appears moderately more effective than hot pads (or no treatment).  The medication I was using was tea tree oil.  That sounded really dubious to me, so I didn't expect it to work, but it did.  Apparently, it's a legitimate acne medication, shown to be about as effective as benzoyl peroxide.

As I said before, I drank some "skin detox" tea so that I could later find some excuse to credit the tea instead of crediting the actual acne treatment.  It seems hard to believe that drinking this tea could continue to have an effect for two months, (but only on the side of my back with the tea tree oil, and not during the winter break when I stopped using tea tree oil).  But the facts speak for themselves!  A single empirical observation trumps all the theoretical arguments in the world.  It's herbal tea, man.  Goodness is real nature, or so the tea told me.

More seriously, I drink a lot of herbal tea, but not because I think it's healthy.  Technically speaking, herbal tea is just tea that's not made from the herb Camellia sinensis.  It's made from other plants, such as chamomile or chrysanthemum.  Chrysanthemum tea is great.  In an alternate universe, we would call chrysanthemum tea tea, and all other teas herbal teas.


BragonDorn said...

This is very interesting but could you dumb it down a bit.. :) Most of us are simple folk.

Mike Walden Program said...

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