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 Discussing alternative medicin
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
26016 Posts

Posted - 09/15/2004 :  19:00:35   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message
We appear to be in agreement, on everything but this:

beskeptigal wrote:
quote:
As to the enemas as therapy, 'Western medicine' for lack of a better term, is not defined as how the clinic looks nor what the practitioners present themselves as. It is defined as the practice of medicine usually taught in medical schools. Alternative medicine is taught in naturopathic schools. There is overlap. Some of the rest is just plain quackery.
Unfortunately, to the general population, "Western medicine" is what people tell them it is. The "public mind" has little use for definitions. In fact, the phrase "Western medicine" is used more by those who abhor than by those who practice it, who instead opt for "modern medicine" or "evidence-based medicine." "Western medicine," after all, is opposed to "Eastern medicine," that of Asia and specifically China and Japan.

If a clinic in which enemas are given to "treat" diseases calls its procedures "colonic irrigation" or "colon hydrotherapy," has registered nurses on staff and perhaps even a doctor, and dresses itself up as any other medical clinic, then it is trying to look like the procedures used there are a part of "Western medicine," and many will fall for it. That is the sort of battle that EBM advocates are fighting. You and I may know it's not "Western" or "medicine," but that doesn't really matter. What matters is that there are millions out there who think it is, and who honestly believe that you can't set up a clinic like that without government approval (which is seen as endorsement).

And just saying "it's not Western medicine" is not enough. Supplying a definition is not enough, either. They're not compelling, as it sounds like nothing more than a run-of-the-mill opinion. And given that one can find an increasing number of aromatherapy or Reiki classes taught at medical schools, and that Harvard Medical School has given us the likes of Deepak Chropra, Andrew Weil and John Mills, what one learns where means very little anymore.

Also, "alternative medicine" is taught in many places, only some of which are called "naturopathic" schools. Much is taught in chiropractic or homeopathic schools, both of which distinguish themselves from naturopathic practices. There are also herbal, massage, TCM, acupuncture, ayurvedic and "integrated medicine" schools, among multitudes of others. Alternative medicine is much more than just naturopathy, although a lot of it claims to be natural (though how sticking a hose up your butt is "natural" is beyond me).

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
Visit Dave's Psoriasis Info, too.
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beskeptigal
SFN Die Hard

USA
3834 Posts

Posted - 09/16/2004 :  11:50:17   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send beskeptigal a Private Message
Gee Dave, you're getting a bit carried away there. I used the term Western medicine for lack of a better term. In my circles, that is the common usage definition. Allow me to change my statement, 'Western medicine' for lack of a better term, in the meaning I had intended would not be how the clinic looks nor what the practitioners present themselves as. I intended it to mean the practice of medicine usually taught in medical schools. Colonic irrigation is not included except for some cases of constipation.

I noted overlap with alternative med. because many alternative med. practices are now being incorporated into Western med.

My personal opinion of chiropractic med. is it is bunk but most Western med. practitioners ignore that evidence and go for the placebo evidence in studies.

I was only trying to communicate the importance of evidence based medicine, not give a dissertation on it. As far as, "to the general population, "Western medicine" is what people tell them it is. The "public mind" has little use for definitions", I think you underestimate the public. The folks that go in for a colonic irrigation might be idiots but everyone who passes such a clinic is not going to think it is Western medicine.
Edited by - beskeptigal on 09/16/2004 11:51:42
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Mike D
New Member

1 Post

Posted - 10/15/2004 :  20:56:49   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Mike D a Private Message
After reading this post, I feel compelled to reply. I'm a registered nurse and have worked with people using traditional, Western medicine for many years. However, I don't think anyone should dismiss "alternative" medicine out of hand -- it's not necessarily quackery.

First, let me begin by saying that there are many many claims made under the heading of alternative medicine that are ridiculous and even harmful. Many are just gimmicks. One has to realize, though, that just because a therapy isn't approved and regulated by our government doesn't necessarily mean that it doesn't work. As an example, take aromatherapy. Real practitioners (as opposed to charlatans and marketing people) use essential oils from various parts of plants to act on the body and provide healing. Much of aromatherapy isn't about the aroma at all. It's a method of healing that uses the constituents of these oils in a very physical sense. Chamomile oil, for example, contains azulene, which is a chemical that reduces tissue inflammation when applied topically. This isn't hearsay -- I've seen it work myself.

Herbal medicine, as well, uses chemicals found in plants to create physiological changes in one's body. Many of our traditional medicines have been developed by using people's knowledge of herbs. Aspirin is a prime example: the chemical Acetylsalicylic Acid is found naturally in the bark of a tree. I would hazard a guess that had our Western scientists not noticed native people chewing on said bark to relieve pain, aspirin may never have come about (or at least would not have been developed when it was).

Another thing to consider when talking about alternative medicine is the placebo effect. Even those types of "healing" that ARE quackery could prove to be helpful to someone if they believe it will be. For instance, I think homeopathy (using extremely diluted quantities of a substance, usually a poison, to treat an illness) is a crock. Perhaps the placebo effect can explain the appeal. And when you work in nursing, sometimes watching people get sicker and sicker, there comes a point when it doesn't really matter what turns the tide.

Now, again, I want to affirm that NOT all types of alternative medicine are even worth looking twice at. And I would never want to deny someone proven Western medicine if they were ill. But I can think of many situations where paying $100 to go to the doctor would be unthinkable -- and who's to say that if a little home remedy can make that person feel better, as long as they're educated enough to know what they're doing, it's a bad thing?
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Ricky
SFN Die Hard

USA
4907 Posts

Posted - 10/15/2004 :  23:32:36   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Send Ricky an AOL message Send Ricky a Private Message
Hi Mike D, and welcome to the forums.

I agree, you absolutely can not dismiss all of alternate medicine, you must dismiss it claim by claim.

quote:
This isn't hearsay -- I've seen it work myself.


Sorry, still hearsay. Anything which says, "I've seen it" is hearsay. If you don't want it to be hearsay, you must provide scientific tests in which it has passed. And this must include a placebo control.

quote:
Another thing to consider when talking about alternative medicine is the placebo effect. Even those types of "healing" that ARE quackery could prove to be helpful to someone if they believe it will be. For instance, I think homeopathy (using extremely diluted quantities of a substance, usually a poison, to treat an illness) is a crock. Perhaps the placebo effect can explain the appeal. And when you work in nursing, sometimes watching people get sicker and sicker, there comes a point when it doesn't really matter what turns the tide.



However what one must consider is the amount of money going into it. If you really want to give someone a placebo, make them pay a little bit of money for a sugar pill. People are forking out a lot of money for something just as effective as a sugar pill, and big companies are making money off their ignorance. That just isn't right.


Why continue? Because we must. Because we have the call. Because it is nobler to fight for rationality without winning than to give up in the face of continued defeats. Because whatever true progress humanity makes is through the rationality of the occasional individual and because any one individual we may win for the cause may do more for humanity than a hundred thousand who hug their superstitions to their breast.
- Isaac Asimov
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beskeptigal
SFN Die Hard

USA
3834 Posts

Posted - 10/16/2004 :  13:23:49   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send beskeptigal a Private Message
Hi Mike the nurse. I'm a nurse too. Actually, I've been a nurse practitioner for the last 20 years, (oh jeez that sounds old). Anyway, stop with the, "I've seen it work" and get with the, "there is research to support it". We really need to encourage professionalism among nurses. And, evidence based medicine and now that I think of it, evidence based nursing, is the best way to determine the effectiveness of treatments and other interventions.

I've used many a thorough research report to end an argument with a doctor. Best power tool in the world in this profession.

Learn what is good and bad research if you don't already know. We need to teach patients how to interpret research as well.

Hope I'm not offending you as I don't know if you already do this or not. We may all be jumping on your one statement and you didn't mean it that way.
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
26016 Posts

Posted - 10/16/2004 :  14:49:23   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message
Mike D wrote:
quote:
Chamomile oil, for example, contains azulene, which is a chemical that reduces tissue inflammation when applied topically. This isn't hearsay -- I've seen it work myself.
Not to gang up, but the first thing I did after reading the above was go hit the PubMed search engine, and the latest clinical research I could find which mentioned both was from 1957, and about using extracts from chamomile to retard the growth of tumors in mice.

If something works, the research doesn't end. But nobody has published any serious research into the health effects of chamomile-derived azulene in 47 years.

Ah, because it's not azulene. It's chamazulene and guaiazulene which appear to be interesting. And according to this report, it is synthetic azulene analogues which appear to have anti-inflammatory activity, which means you won't find 'em in natural chamomile oil.
quote:
One has to realize, though, that just because a therapy isn't approved and regulated by our government doesn't necessarily mean that it doesn't work.
I don't think anyone in this thread is being so daft as to think that. After all, Prozac had to go through years of testing before it was approved and regulated. It didn't suddenly just begin to work - POOF - on the date the FDA approved it for sale.

No, it is certainly my opinion that any so-called "alternative" medicine should, instead, be subject to the exact same standards as government-regulated medicine. In other words, it can't be sold or used until it has demonstrated its safety and efficacy in several properly-run clinical tests. There is absolutely no reason to not to impose the same medical standards on all things purporting to be medicine.

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
Visit Dave's Psoriasis Info, too.
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Dude
SFN Die Hard

USA
6891 Posts

Posted - 10/16/2004 :  22:05:43   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Dude a Private Message
<----Also a RN.



I believe somebody else said this once.... but there is no such thing, really, as "alternative" medicine, or whatever you want to call it.

If something works, and can be proven to work, then it becomes part of the "standard" practice of medicine.

All else is quackery until proven otherwise.

I will say this, from experience, that nurses AND doctors are often more credulous than they should be.

Ignorance is preferable to error; and he is less remote from the truth who believes nothing, than he who believes what is wrong.
-- Thomas Jefferson

"god :: the last refuge of a man with no answers and no argument." - G. Carlin

Hope, n.
The handmaiden of desperation; the opiate of despair; the illegible signpost on the road to perdition. ~~ da filth
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