The Public's Doubts About "Western Medicine"

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    Someone I known mentioned that she had dropped out of nursing school because she didn't believe in Western medicine. I'm trying to get a handle on what this is all about and I just started reading this book Denialism by Michael Spector. Personally, I don't blindly put my faith in Western medicine, and I realize that many things are done without solid rationales or evidence or for liability reasons, but certainly there is more scientific evidence for these practices than for alternative medicine. And let's face it, I'm not going to a chiro if I've got leukemia and I don't think acupuncture is going to help with a severed arms. What's up with this the haters? Does anyone have insight into this? Your opinions?
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    Last edit by caffeineRx on Mar 14, '10
    MAISY, RN-ER, Elvish, morte, and 3 others like this.
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    Another good point to be critical of Western Medicine -- medicine is a business, at least in the US. But, the public is now feeling conspiratorial about all of it. For instance, vaccines are one of the instances where Western medicine really got it right: effective, evidence-based, low risk, high benefit, even low cost. And they're getting less and less invasive. Yet people are down on even vaccines?!?!?
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    Kudos to your aquaintance for realizing that her personal beliefs would be in conflict with her duties in the care of her patients.

    I think "hater" is a strong word. I've met few people in my personal and professional lives who were totally against any type of Western medicine, and even so, their beliefs do not interfere with anyone else who wishes to pursue modern American-style healthcare.

    But the older and more experienced I've become, I've realized that closing one's mind to "alternative" medicine may be selling ourselves short. Yes, research is needed. But just as you acknowledged that Western medicine relies on tradition at times rather than evidence based practice, I think it is worthwhile to consider that some ancient practices have value as well.

    As in most aspects of life, a balance is needed.
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    I am all for doing research into alternatives. What I hate are things like people spending all their money on useless Quackery (including the Quacky parts of Western medicine). Plus it devalues science and the scientific method to support therapies/interventions based on beliefs.

    Alternative medicine is also a business.
    Not_A_Hat_Person likes this.
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    Quote from caffeineRx
    Well, it's funny that you ask. I can say that I relate to what she may be feeling.

    Do I *not* believe in Western Medicine @ all? No. I do, and I use it in EMERGENCY/DIRE situations. However, I feel that everything is a big "biz" out here in the west. People are getting FILTHY rich off of prescribing us a pill to pop for everything from sneezing to eyelash growth. It's sort of insane.

    I have had a LOT of success with alternative "medicines", herbs, and therapy. I don't know if I would be much of a believer in that stuff if I had not have tried it for myself. But there are less evasive ways to keep your health at it's optimum peak.

    But in conclusion, there ARE some things that NEED medication and it's good to know the balance between the two.
    But isn't alternative or complementary "medicine" a business as well? I guess I feel that at least with western medicine, for most things, I can understand the evidenced based science behind it. I live in a pretty liberal region, with a lot of access to alternative healthcare options. This practitioner swears by XYZ herb combination that can only be bought from them, another practitioner explains that all I need is a specific kind of massage, and one chiropractor even tried to tell me that they could cure my asthma with manipulation!

    I also have general concerns re: herbs and such, since they're not regulated at all, so there's no consistency for dosage purposes. A tea made with a tablespoon of an herb from one vendor could be a radically different dosage of active properties than one tablespoon of the same herb from another.

    So, while it's not "corporate" it's still business. I don't have "faith" in any of it. I need to know the why's and the how's...preferably with evidence backing it up.

    Now, that's not to say I only go by "western medicine." In fact I dropped the maintenance drug I was on for my UC in favor of daily quantities of high quality (local, with a high live bacteria count), plain yogurt and weekly high quality probiotics. I researched it, brought it to my Doc and then we tried it. It's worked wonderfully with no side effects (unlike the med I was in which the side effects were close to as bad as the symptoms of UC).
    nursel56, Not_A_Hat_Person, Ayvah, and 3 others like this.
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    Quote from firstyearstudent
    I am all for doing research into alternatives. What I hate are things like people spending all their money on useless Quackery (including the Quacky parts of Western medicine). Plus it devalues science and the scientific method to support therapies/interventions based on beliefs.

    Alternative medicine is also a business.
    There are conscientious and reputable practitioners of every profession as well as non-reputable charlatans. I think each deserves a chance to prove him/herself.

    My sister had a long-standing relationship with a chiropractor who she saw for pain relief for a back condition that had not responded to traditional care. He recognized a problem with her upper body strength and referred her to a neuro-surgeon who diagnosed a rapidly-progressing nerve problem. After she was sucessfully treated with surgery, the neuro-surgeon released her back to the care of the chiropractor for pain control and improvement of strength and range of motion. Excellent example of one discipline complementing the other.
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    Quote from Jolie
    There are conscientious and reputable practitioners of every profession as well as non-reputable charlatans. I think each deserves a chance to prove him/herself.

    My sister had a long-standing relationship with a chiropractor who she saw for pain relief for a back condition that had not responded to traditional care. He recognized a problem with her upper body strength and referred her to a neuro-surgeon who diagnosed a rapidly-progressing nerve problem. After she was sucessfully treated with surgery, the neuro-surgeon released her back to the care of the chiropractor for pain control and improvement of strength and range of motion. Excellent example of one discipline complementing the other.
    I agree, and didn't mean to say that all alternative practitioners weren't reputable. My apologies if my response came off that way. I just get concerned with folks stating concerns about western vs alternative medicine because Western medicine is business driven. It's all business driven, as that's how our society works.
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    To me it comes down sometimes to belief vs. science. To me, science winds hands down. If someone is frustrated because Western medicine isn't helping, I guess I'm okay with people trying an alternative. However, lots of practitioners prey on this frustration.
    hotflashion and Not_A_Hat_Person like this.
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    Quote from firstyearstudent
    To me it comes down sometimes to belief vs. science. To me, science winds hands down. If someone is frustrated because Western medicine isn't helping, I guess I'm okay with people trying an alternative. However, lots of practitioners prey on this frustration.
    I think with time, you will see that works both ways.

    Plenty of phyicians "prey" on patients, insisting on immediate treatment with XYZ, when other (less dramatic, less risky, less expensive) alternatives exist.
    Angie O'Plasty, RN likes this.


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