Saturday, July 26, 2008

Alternative Medicine

Can I use this Ayurveda Medicine along with what you had prescribed for me for Diabetes?
Can I use this 'Insulin leaf' for controlling my blood sugar?
Can I use this homeopathy medicine to prevent getting Chikungunya fever?
I hear such questions again and again.The popularity of Alternative Medicine is ever increasing.As long as there are illnesses there will be Alternative Medicine.
Recently I read an interesting article in The Guardian' titled 'A bad week for alternative medicine' by Rose Shapiro.I agree with most of her points. For those who do not have time to read the article in full here are some excerpts that I liked.

Alternative medicine users are apparently prepared to suspend all normal critical faculties when they encounter an alternative practitioner

Quacks often use language that is abstract and subjective but is ultimately meaningless. Words such as "quantum" sound impressive to those of us with only a weak grasp of theoretical physics, but are in fact nothing but pseudo-scientific window dressing designed to lure a gullible public.
Quacks will often tell you that feeling worse is a sign of getting better. Most detox regimes describe symptoms such as spots, bad breath, headaches and nausea as proof that the detox is working. Such a notion is central in homeopathy, which enables practitioners to rationalise away the worsening of their patients' symptoms

The orthodox doctor treats what you have, and the alternative practitioner says you have what she treats

Quacks are flattering and will appeal to your vanity. They tell you that you are unique and extraordinary and not like other people. On the rare occasions that they find nothing wrong they say you need maintenance treatment "in order to keep your energies in balance

Many alternative practitioners sincerely believe in what they are doing and want to help their clients. But there have surely been enough cases now of blatant recklessness if not outright deceit to confirm that practising alternative medicine is very often the last refuge of the scoundrel

I live in an area of India were ancient Indian Medicine [Ayurveda]have strong roots. Even the name Charakan, I chose in respect of a great ancient Indian Physician called Charaka who lived about 2000 years ago. At that time Ayurveda was one of the most scientific of all medical systems, but it stagnated and went into decay as Scientific medicine within a few hundreds of years. Still, the Ayurveda practitioner used to uphold ethics of high standard. Now in the 21st century, Ayurveda is also fast deteriorating into a money-making business exploiting gullible public like all other Alternative Medical systems.
How do I answer the the above questions of my patients regarding Alternative Medicine?
I just answer 'I don't know'.
Then I explain saying, 'I have not studied Alternative Medicines. And as far as I know they don't have any scientific basis. So if you want to experiment on yourself you may take them.Otherwise don't take them.'
Then they will ask 'as there are no''side effects''what is the harm?'
My reply will be 'I have seen many patients who suffered from severe side effects due to Alternative Medicines.Also such medicines may interact with the medicines I have prescribed.'

Hearing all this most of my patients wont dare to take Alternative Medicine.


Anonymous said...

Hello Mr. scientist doc.

I dont think that alternative medicine is always bad. It depends on the sickness. And if it is helping the pts. to believe in it, why shouldnt it go hand in hand with the "normal med.?". The believe in something can even heal someone. Yes, as u wrote, u are not an alernative doc., but also the science is making mistakes and is not always 100%right. Everything what helps a pts to be healthy again, should be good. I am not talking against the science, but I am (as I mentioned already) for a good "hand-in-hand"-way.
Take care, all the best.
One of your patients.

Anonymous said...

Dear doctor,
I strogly resent what you have said about alternative systems of medicine. First of all, you should go into the public and ask them who is fleecing money from them in the name of unwanted tests and dichtomy and not to say about the corporate hospitals who go the extent of even treating the DEAD. Secondly, your knowledge of altenative system of medicine is big ZERO, and a medical dictum is that whenever you dont know about anything please dont talk about it rather modifying the facts, which suits your convenience. The way you shelded yourself in DESTRUCTIVELY CRITICIZING THE ALTERNATIVE SYSTEM by placing some article is deplorable.
I strongly advise you to get your facts right before making a comment.

Charakan said...

Thank you for the anonymous comment.
Science is only one if it is truly scientific.We do not teach our children different types of Physics or Chemistry.Similarly there should not be different scientific explanations for what happens inside the human body in health and disease.
If a therapy is scientifically proven useful in most of the patients and if the success could be repeated again and again it forms the part of scientific medicine.
Randomised double blind placebo controlled trials are now considered as the benchmark in Scientific medicine.If alternative practitioners can prove the worth of their therapy in such a trial it will be accepted as scientific medicine.Until then I will not be able to accept alternative system of medicines.
I do not completely rule out the role of alternate medicine.As an experimental therapy in conditions where there are no scientifically proven therapy it may be tried.

Anonymous said...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Charakan said...

Thank you Sarah for visitng my blog and commenting.