Friday, 14 August 2009

Alternative Medicine

Today I will try to explore the multi-million dollar industry that is Alternative Medicine.

What is Alternative Medicine? Well, there are so many different kinds of Alternative Medicine, that to try to box all of them in one category is quite impossible. There are:

* Herbal Treatments
* Homeopathy
* Acupuncture
* Eastern Medicine
* Massage Therapy
* Chiropractic

and so forth.

First question to ask is: Why are these called ALTERNATIVE medicine? Well, they are alternative as oppose to SCIENTIFIC TESTED MEDICINE. That is the main difference. In the traditional, scientific world of medicine, the simplest medicine can take over ten years from the day it is produced to the day it hits the markets. Rigorous testing, publishing in scientific journals, fierce examination and testing by unbiased experts are all requirements for a substance to be approved as medicine. Alternative Medicine has no such process. Whenever the proponents of Alternative Medicine have been approached to publish their claims in peer-reviewed journals, they have either refused or been debunked by scientific tests.

The supporters of Alternative Medicine always have anecdotal stories about how a relative or themselves were helped by choosing the nontraditional cure. Well, this is just not good enough, and it actually has a very simple explanation.
Say for example that you have a cold. You don´t want to go to a doctor, because you expect the cold to last for couple of days, and then pass. But after a few days, your cold is worse, and you visit your doctor who assures you that it will be better soon, and that you don´t need any medication. On your way home from this disappointing experience you pass a Alternative Health Shop that advertises remedies for anything from cold to cancer. You, in your desperation, walk in and the store clerk recommends a substance that the Chinese have been using for centuries. You feel hopeful, take out your cash and start using the medicine. Couple of days later, you start feeling perfectly well. The alternative medicine worked! Well, not really... Your bodies immune system worked, just as the doctor you had visited told you it will. But since you started taking the alternative medication on the PEAK of your illness, just as it was about to start declining, you credit your well-being to the cure you bought.

Most of the deceases we encounter in our daily life are self cured. Our bodies immune system is something extraordinary, and it will fight most germs and bacterias by itself. And we rarely seek a doctor the instant we start feeling ill, we usually wait until we can´t stand it anymore, which is when whatever it is we are struggling with is at its peak, right before it starts loosing the battle against our white blood cells. Taking Alternative Medication and claiming it was what defended our bodies is just not good enough.

Don´t you want the medicine you put in to your body to be a product that has undergone years of meticulous, punctilious examination? Is this not a requirement we should DEMAND of those claiming to sell us products that will help us improve our health? Is this not the logical path to take? I don´t mind people shunning traditional western medicine, but I truly hope that on this point we agree!

One of the favorite claims of the Alternative Medicine Industry is a version of the following:

"The Chinese have been using this substance for centuries!"

Aaah, the Chinese! Yes, include "Oriental" or "Chinese" in your sales pitch and you can´t go wrong! Because we rarely think about the average age of the Chinese just a few decades ago was approximately 40, and their health standards are, according to the WHO much lower than us in the affluent world. But there is something mysterious and fascinating about the worlds fourth largest country, an idea that has been fed to us through media over decades. Truth of the matter is that the Chinese are crying out for westernized medicine. Just compare Hong Kong, with their modernized health care system, and China, with its primitive dito. Where do you think you find the healthiest people? On average?

I could go on and on attacking the Alternative Medicine movement, especially Homeopathy (which I claim is run by charlatans), and dissect one after the other, but I feel that it would be better to recommend these wonderful sources that confronts it much more eloquently than I ever could:

For further reading, look up Simon Singhs fantastic book on the subject "Trick or Treatment".

All the best!

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