Q: I’m a graduate medical student. I don’t trust alternative doctors because they don’t base their advice on scientific studies, right?
|Your suggestion that some alternative medicine studies aren’t scientific implies that modern medicine is based on such studies. However, I’m sure your teachers discuss the fact that pharmaceutical companies control the research process, resulting in many unreleased “file drawer” studies that don’t back up their focus on drugs and surgery. This monetary approach results in treating drug side effects with more drugs and neglect of holistic medicine as taught by Dr. Andrew Weil at the University of Arizona and in his books and newsletter (drweil.com). Naturopathic doctors learn less invasive remedies widely used by European physicians, such as homeopathy. It’s backed up by over a century of well-documented studies and was used in the US until overridden by Big Pharma. Ayurvedic medicine has been used successfully in India for thousands of years. A scientific medical education would include exploration of non-harmful medicine that works over the centuries, including acupuncture and herbs.|
Your teachers probably also discuss the fact that the main cause of US hospital morbidity is physician error. See Gary Null, Ph.D., et. al. “Death by Medicine.”[i] The researchers report the number of deaths caused by conventional medicine is 783,936 per year. They conclude the American medical system is the leading cause of death and injury in the US! The US spends more on health as a percentage of gross domestic product than every other country, but in 37th place, it ranks near the bottom of industrial nations in healthcare effectiveness. A recent study found that 85% of new prescription drugs are of little or no benefit to mental health patients.[ii] See a book by a local doctor, Jeff Loboski’s It’s Enough to Make You Sick.
If we just look at the track record of women’s health care, in the 1940s mothers were routinely drugged and unconscious at the birth of their children and told it’s more scientific to use formula rather than breast-feed their babies. Then we had DES and thalidomide babies, Dalkon Shield IUDs, over-prescribing hormone replace therapy for maintaining a youthful appearance, overuse of radical mastectomies, the painkiller Vioxx, artifical food dyes’ impact on ADD in children, etc.
The National Institutes of Health finds alternative and complementary medical (CAM) treatments worthy of study because they treat the underlying imbalance rather than just the symptom of dis-ease. Respected university hospitals such as Harvard, Duke, Tufts, Scripts, Stanford and UCSF’s Osher Center for Integrative Medicine treat the whole person in their holistic health centers.[iii] Select a doctor who is informed about CAM and study it yourself, as the health insurance system doesn’t leave MDs much time for research (nccam.nih.gov). For the sake of your future patients, my hope is that you will explore holistic medicine after you graduate and provide them with information about it. It would be interesting to look at the texts used at Bastyr college that trains naturopathic doctors (http://www.bastyr.edu/continuing-education) or the University of Arizona. (http://integrativemedicine.arizona.edu/). Prescription for Natural Cures is a good overview by James F. Balchand Mark Stengler (Jan 18, 2011)
[ii] David Freedman, “The Triumph of New-Age Medicine,” The Atlantic, July 2011, pp. 96-97.
CURRICULUM IN INTEGRATIVE MEDICINE: <http://www.ahc.umn.edu/img/assets/20825/CURRICULUM_final.pdf>
Reply from my niece: I do not disagree that our health care delivery system in the US has its flaws. There are many things that I would love to change, but of course it’s not that easy. We have many medical errors (not just doctors though) as well that cost patient lives and have made recommendations that were not actually the healthiest choice. But, the younger generations are working on safer health care practices/quality improvement and better communication amongst the different health care providers. AND, that is why we pride ourselves on practicing evidence-based medicine, so that our recommendations are well studied and we recognize when more research is needed (check out US preventive services task force). Unfortunately, many providers do still practice based on personal experience.
I fully support the use of holistic medicine. If a patient believes it works and they say it helps them, great, and why not try a non-prescription option first? But the DEA requires drug companies to do extensive and expensive research before the drugs are available. There are no requirements for OTC supplements/vitamins – they can put whatever they want in each bottle and each bottle does not have to be the same. For all we know, there could be harmful materials in some of those supplements. They are only taken off the market AFTER they are proven to be harmful. Those companies understandably don’t typically do double blind randomized control trial studies becasue they don’t have to and they are expensive. So, it bothers me when they make statements that are inaccurate and unsupported by good research. I’m sure you learned during your masters and doctorate training that most studies have flaws and must be looked at very closely for quality and accuracy. The one study that came out about MMR vaccine causing autism has been completely torn apart, de-published, and every author took their name off but one, but yet people still talk about it!
Anyway, it’s a difficult topic because either approach needs improvement. I am going to do my best to care for my patients as a whole which is why I’m chosing primary care. It’s my goal to help my patients prevent disease as much as possible.
Dear NaturalNews readers,
In the name of “evidence-based science,” we are all being killed by GMOs, vaccine additives, processed food chemicals and other threats to life on Earth.
I’m not an opponent of genuine, humble science and the search for answers in our universe, but what we’re seeing today is the mass poisoning of us all under the false label of “science.”
In a special 10-part article series, I take a look at the top 10 “scientific” threats to our lives: