The Public's Doubts About "Western Medicine" - page 4

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... Read More

  1. by   chaxanmom
    Quote from firstyearstudent
    Science shows over and over that placebos "work" (in some sense). That's why they do double blind studies to exclude this effect.
    I would attribute most of the effect of homeopathic medicine to placebo effect but herbal remedies are very powerful, potent things. Ask Socrates if hemlock has a placebo effect. Nutrition has also proven to be extremely valuable. I think allopathic and naturopathic remedies complement each other and I think everyone benefits when we open our eyes to that. NIH has an institute devoted to alternative medicine and obviously they set the bar for what is scientific and what is not.
  2. by   firstyearstudent
    I don't think scientists or doctors would disagree that hemlock is deadly. In fact, scientists have studied it and isolated the compounds in it that are responsible. Also, we have a nutritionist that works with the doctors in our hospital as part of western medicine. (On the other hand, I'll believe that nutrition can treat schizophrenia, as some would have us believe, when there's scientific proof of it.)

    Just because a therapy is alternative doesn't mean it doesn't work. It's great that NIH is using the scientific method to evaluate some of these therapies. Western medicine uses maggots and leeches now because studies show they actually work. I wish there was more money available to test some of these therapies. That said, I wish the public would put their faith in science and not in BS. I don't think there is a single legitimate study that uses good science that proves that homeopathic medicines work. Even the rationale about why they are suppose to work does not make lsense to me.
  3. by   chaxanmom
    I totally agree about homeopathics. IMO they are not in the same ballpark as legit alternative treatments. The rationale is ridiculous.
  4. by   Not_A_Hat_Person
    My main beef with "alternative" medicine is that there are too few regulations and too many quacks preying on desperate people. Aryuveda, Chinese medicine, herbalism, and supplements are completely unregulated.

    For example, take chiropractic. Multiple studies have shown that it can be very effective for musculoskeletal problems. My father has osteoporosis, and my sister has scoliosis. Chiropractic treatment has helped them a lot. However, I've seen too many chiropractors who say they can cure anything, including ADD, asthma, allergies, and cancer.

    I tried St. John's Wart for depression. It gave me a rash, but didn't do anything for the depression. I finally improved after I started taking a prescription antidepressant. I've found that if you tell non-believers in Western medicine that an herbal remedy didn't work for you, they assume that you must have done something wrong, or you didn't "believe" enough. If I said I was allergic to penicillin, no one would say it was because I didn't believe in it.

    My local PBS affiliate frequently reruns the "Scientific Frontiers" show about alternative medicines. It talks a lot about the placebo effect, and the fact that something has to trigger it. It was fascinating, and it strengthened my skepticism about alternative treatments. Basically, a lot of alternative therapies work because people believe they will work.
  5. by   nurseman78
    The main thing I'm learning in nursing school is that while some of the alternative medicine has been proven helpful for some, very few approaches have held up in clinical trials.

    I think there are a number of reasons that people tend to hate on Western medicine.

    1. It's the status quo. Some people gain a sense of superiority by being non-conformist, and have this attitude of "enlightenment", thinking they know more than the thousands of qualified pharmacists, physicians and scientists who've run legitimate critical trials on these drugs and treatments. Some people have a real conspiracy theorist mentality and think they know more than the people who have dedicated years and years to studying and research.

    2. The controversial "business" aspect to the pharmaceutical industry. Some folks think if something makes money, it's inherently evil (i.e. socialists). They fail to realize that if a business is unprofitable, it will cease to exist. Naturally greed needs to be curbed, but money has to be made to fund R & D.

    3. The earthy / vegetarian / green / holistic approach is appealing to some.


    There are a million reasons to like Western medicine. For one, we have a longer life span thanks to Western medicine. So do all the non-Westerners that come here when they need it. People are coming here to get the care that their countries fail to deliver. Does that say anything at all? As usual, we Americans don't understand how good we have it. We're spoiled, plain and simple. We breed this culture of "Armchair Authorities".

    I'm not necessarily bagging on alternative medicine, just from what I've read in class, it's effectiveness is not always validated by evidence. Western medicine, while not always yielding the optimal results for every case, has evidence behind it.
  6. by   platon20
    Its a joke when I hear people claim "I dont trust big pharma companies" but then go to a natural supplement store and spend hundreds or thousands on herbs that go to a "big herb company" instead of big pharma.

    Do these people really believe that all these alternative medicine companies are in it just for altruistic reasons? Talk about being gullible/naive.

    Alternative medicine is just as big a business as "big pharma" is. Alternative medicine companies pay their CEOs millions of dollars and have public stock ownership the same way the regular pharma industry works. So dont give me this BS about how you "trust" alternative medicine companies but dont trust big pharma. Its the SAME industry!
  7. by   morte
    Quote from firstyearstudent
    I don't think scientists or doctors would disagree that hemlock is deadly. In fact, scientists have studied it and isolated the compounds in it that are responsible. Also, we have a nutritionist that works with the doctors in our hospital as part of western medicine. (On the other hand, I'll believe that nutrition can treat schizophrenia, as some would have us believe, when there's scientific proof of it.)

    Just because a therapy is alternative doesn't mean it doesn't work. It's great that NIH is using the scientific method to evaluate some of these therapies. Western medicine uses maggots and leeches now because studies show they actually work. I wish there was more money available to test some of these therapies. That said, I wish the public would put their faith in science and not in BS. I don't think there is a single legitimate study that uses good science that proves that homeopathic medicines work. Even the rationale about why they are suppose to work does not make lsense to me.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18208598?ordinalpos=1&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez. Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_SingleItemSupl.P ubmed_Discovery_RA&linkpos=4&log$=relatedreviews&l ogdbfrom=pubmed
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1...m&ordinalpos=1
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1...m&ordinalpos=2
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1...m&ordinalpos=4
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1...Panel.Pubmed_R

    and these were found on PubMed (which we should have a link to, here at allnurses) under "gluten schizphrenia"
    i would think there might be more under the more general heading of nutrition....
  8. by   CuriousMe
    Quote from morte
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18208598?ordinalpos=1&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez. Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_SingleItemSupl.P ubmed_Discovery_RA&linkpos=4&log$=relatedreviews&l ogdbfrom=pubmed
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1...m&ordinalpos=1
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1...m&ordinalpos=2
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1...m&ordinalpos=4
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1...Panel.Pubmed_R

    and these were found on PubMed (which we should have a link to, here at allnurses) under "gluten schizphrenia"
    i would think there might be more under the more general heading of nutrition....
    So, I can only pull up three of the full articles (even after using my University's library....my school doesn't carry a subscription to psychiatria danubina).

    One is a case study on one patient from 1986 (and in spite of it's advanced age, I only found three folks who had sited this paper), another is a double-blind study with an N of 24 pts....and they concluded that removing gluten didn't impact these patients.

    I don't feel these support the conclusion that a gluten free diet is an effective treatment for Schizophrenia.
  9. by   firstyearstudent
    I do go crazy for some biscuits straight out of the oven, if that proves anything...
  10. by   elkpark
    Quote from platon20
    Its a joke when I hear people claim "I dont trust big pharma companies" but then go to a natural supplement store and spend hundreds or thousands on herbs that go to a "big herb company" instead of big pharma.

    Do these people really believe that all these alternative medicine companies are in it just for altruistic reasons? Talk about being gullible/naive.

    Alternative medicine is just as big a business as "big pharma" is. Alternative medicine companies pay their CEOs millions of dollars and have public stock ownership the same way the regular pharma industry works. So dont give me this BS about how you "trust" alternative medicine companies but dont trust big pharma. Its the SAME industry!
    Not only that, but the "regular" pharmaceutical companies are required to conduct testing and document to the FDA that their products are "safe and effective." The companies that make "supplements" can just slap a label on a bottle and see how many suckers will bite. The FDA and its approval process are certainly not perfect, but at least they are something.

    My problem with all the "supplements" and "alternative" treatments is not that they have nothing to offer, but that, because of the lack of any regulation/oversight/etc., you really have no idea what you're getting when you buy a bottle of something. It might contain what the label says, it might not, it might contain something entirely different ... CSPI, Consumer's Union, and other public advocacy groups periodically conduct and publish studies where they buy a bunch of supplements and analyze them in their own labs, and the results are always the same -- you buy three or four different brands of (for example) St. John's wort, and one bottle will contain only half the amount of St. John's wort per tablet that the label says, another might contain twice as much per tablet, another contains none at all but has something else in it that could be dangerous, etc. You have no way of knowing when you purchase the product (unless you have your own analytical chem lab at home in your basement ...) -- it's completely a matter of "buyer beware."
  11. by   zahryia
    Quote from elkpark
    Not only that, but the "regular" pharmaceutical companies are required to conduct testing and document to the FDA that their products are "safe and effective." The companies that make "supplements" can just slap a label on a bottle and see how many suckers will bite. The FDA and its approval process are certainly not perfect, but at least they are something.

    My problem with all the "supplements" and "alternative" treatments is not that they have nothing to offer, but that, because of the lack of any regulation/oversight/etc., you really have no idea what you're getting when you buy a bottle of something. It might contain what the label says, it might not, it might contain something entirely different ... CSPI, Consumer's Union, and other public advocacy groups periodically conduct and publish studies where they buy a bunch of supplements and analyze them in their own labs, and the results are always the same -- you buy three or four different brands of (for example) St. John's wort, and one bottle will contain only half the amount of St. John's wort per tablet that the label says, another might contain twice as much per tablet, another contains none at all but has something else in it that could be dangerous, etc. You have no way of knowing when you purchase the product (unless you have your own analytical chem lab at home in your basement ...) -- it's completely a matter of "buyer beware."
    Elk,

    I agree somewhat with your second point/paragraph, but the your first point, while well taken, is a joke. It's no secret that the FDA is in bed with these companies. Does Avandia ring a bell? That's one example of many.

    Again, even the IOM-well respected, no?-says that thousands and thousands of people DIE when they take their medications as prescribed. Let's not even talk about people who have to take medications for the side effects of their primary medications.

    No lie, I know a girl who has Lupus who takes four medications. The first medication is for her condition and the three others are for the side effects of the primary and secondary medication. If she looked heathly and vigorous it'd be one thing, but the poor girl never feels well. And half the time it's not because of the lupus, it's because of the meds.
  12. by   CuriousMe
    Quote from zahryia
    Elk,

    I agree somewhat with your second point/paragraph, but the your first point, while well taken, is a joke. It's no secret that the FDA is in bed with these companies. Does Avandia ring a bell? That's one example of many.

    Again, even the IOM-well respected, no?-says that thousands and thousands of people DIE when they take their medications as prescribed. Let's not even talk about people who have to take medications for the side effects of their primary medications.

    No lie, I know a girl who has Lupus who takes four medications. The first medication is for her condition and the three others are for the side effects of the primary and secondary medication. If she looked heathly and vigorous it'd be one thing, but the poor girl never feels well. And half the time it's not because of the lupus, it's because of the meds.
    I don't think that's terribly fair. There will always be risks associated with medicine. People die from taking aspirin! But how well would this young lady be without medication? The medications might not make her feel great, but have they inhibited the immune response that's destroying her body?

    My asthma can be really severe, I can go from zero to pneumonia in a matter of just a couple days when flared up. Because of this I need to start on high-dose oral steroids right away, and there have been seasons of my life that I've had to stay on them for more than 6 months. Between the beta agonists and the steroids, I feel lousy. I'm grouchy, totally devoid of energy, shaking with fine tremors and have insomnia for days after I finally stop the meds. I need to take sleeping pills (generally ativan) to sleep. Do the side effects suck? Of course they do, but they're better than not breathing.

    It's true that people have unexpected severe reactions to medication.....but it's also true that far more people's lived are saved by medication. Before any medication is given to anyone (that includes, prescription, OTC, and even natural herbs and supplements) the risk/benefit ratio needs to be looked at. Because no matter what you ingest, there will always be a risk
  13. by   elkpark
    Quote from zahryia
    Elk,

    I agree somewhat with your second point/paragraph, but the your first point, while well taken, is a joke. It's no secret that the FDA is in bed with these companies. Does Avandia ring a bell? That's one example of many.

    Again, even the IOM-well respected, no?-says that thousands and thousands of people DIE when they take their medications as prescribed. Let's not even talk about people who have to take medications for the side effects of their primary medications.

    No lie, I know a girl who has Lupus who takes four medications. The first medication is for her condition and the three others are for the side effects of the primary and secondary medication. If she looked heathly and vigorous it'd be one thing, but the poor girl never feels well. And half the time it's not because of the lupus, it's because of the meds.
    I'm well aware of the problems with the FDA and their approval process (while the GOP controlled everything during the Shrub administration, they pushed through a new "fast-track" approval process through which pharmaceutical companies can basically buy FDA approval of new drugs, and we are now starting to see the dangerous results of that process) -- which is why I qualified my statement to begin with. However, the FDA approval process is, at least, something. Alternative treatments and supplements have no approval process, no oversight, no regulation, no accountability whatsoever. And that's somehow better? Why, because the people hawking "natural" treatments are so pure of heart and trustworthy? Yeah, right. Sure, lots of people die from taking their medications as prescribed and intended. How many people die from "alternative," "natural" treatments? Does laetrile ring a bell? That's one example of many. But, of course, we don't really have any idea what the real number might be, because there's no mandate or system for reporting deaths and adverse effects with alternative treatments.

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