From Google’s Define Feature:
- medicine: the science or practice of the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease
- alternative medicine: any of a range of medical therapies that are not regarded as orthodox by the medical profession, such as herbalism, homeopathy, and acupuncture.
Harmless, or Dangerous?
The saying, “Physician, heal thyself” comes from the Bible Luke 4:23 (King James Version) but has since morphed into “Patient, Heal Thyself.”
This wording (changed from “physician” to “patient”) was popularized by an alternative medicine practitioner who has had several products removed from the marketplace by the FDA and been fined $225,000 by the FTC.
The wording is catchy, but dangerous when problems are serious.
Medical professionals are well equipped to deal with serious problems, but “alternative medicine practitioners” aren’t.
That’s why we pay experts the big bucks in the first place… for their expertise.
Non-accredited, unlicensed, alternative medicine practitioners like Dr. Hulda Clark (doctor of zoology – not a medical doctor) who practice medicine and are forced to flee the country on accounts of negligence and fraud… are at one end of the spectrum.
There are also fully qualified medical doctors in research settings who are experimenting with new modalities of treatment that are not yet available to the general public.
This is not alternative medicine per se, but rather medicine that has not yet been shown to be safe and efficacious for the medical practice… which is why it’s not yet available to the general public.
No secrets, no conspiracies, just regular old medical research as usual.
Somewhere in between are most of the alternative medical practitioners – doing things that aren’t accepted by the medical community because the treatment is either:
a) Not effective above placebo (like psychic surgery and faith healing)
b) More likely to cause harm than help (like chelation for autism)
“Alternative Medicine” isn’t Medicine.
If alternative medicine were medicine, it would be called medicine…
So if alternative medicine isn’t medicine, what is it?
It may be:
- Magical Thinking
- Traditional treatments that haven’t been shown to be efficacious
- Treatments that may be more harmful than beneficial (new or traditional)
- Anything else that pretends to be, but isn’t… medicine.
Which raises the questions:
- Would you rather be treated by something that’s been shown to work (science), or something your alternative medicine doctor believes to work (faith)?
- Would you rather take a potion where you know the risks vs. benefits (science) or one where the claimed benefits are not backed by convincing evidence (pseudoscience) and the risks are unknown and will vary in severity (from benign to deadly)?
The alternative medical treatments given as examples by Google range from:
- Benign (homeopathy if not preventing treatment of a serious disorder)
- Dangerous (collapsed lungs from acupuncture)
- Deadly (herbal medicine)
Thanks to the media and the multi-billion dollar self-help industry, many people seek-out “alternative medicine practitioners” for any and all minor ailments.
However, when the problem is more serious, people usually come to their senses and seek out a qualified medical practitioner… because doing anything else can be extremely dangerous.
Life vs. Death…
Steve Jobs might still be with us today if he had gone in for immediate medical treatment of his cancer instead of going to a well-known alternative medicine practitioner (for a diet-based intervention…).
Jobs may have still died anyway… but if he’d seen a proper medical doctor, at least he would have been rolling with better odds.
Modern medicine definitely has its limits, but when your life’s on the line, you want to gamble with the treatment that has the best odds of saving it.
To do otherwise is just plain stupid.
Stack the Odds in Your Favor.
Don’t just choose the best odds when you’re faced with a serious problem…
Choose the best odds every time you can!
And skip “alternative medicine” altogether.
I’m in South Korea, and I’ve been recommended acupuncture for every minor ailment imaginable… guess what – if it’s minor, there’s no need to see a doctor!
All of my problems have gone away by:
- Getting more rest
- Moving more
- Improving my lifting technique
- Alternate ice and heat
- Doing more mobility work / stretching / foam rolling
Oh, and let’s not forget that most problems will go away on their own with time.
If it’s a minor problem, stop looking for the quick fix. Most minor things, like the common cold, just take a few days to heal.
More persistent problems, like back pain from sitting on your ass 12 hours a day with poor posture on a regular basis for the last 12 years, can’t be fixed by a few needles.
That may require several lifestyle changes to cure – and if you listen to your MD, you may still be able to do something about it.
When to Consider Alternative Treatments
Leonardo Da Vinci said:
“The man who discredits the supreme certainty of mathematics is feeding on confusion,
and can never silence the contradictions of sophistical sciences,
which lead to eternal quackery.”
Qualified Medical Researchers are the people paving the way to the efficacious alternative medical treatments that will someday become orthodox medical practices… NOT the Deepak Chopras of the world.
The way the Deepaks have scammed people out of their money hasn’t changed for millennia because our brains haven’t evolved in a long time. That’s why the same tricks work over and over again:
- Make an elixir, prayer, voodoo-ish practice or feel-good ritual
- Promise subjective/intangible cures for common problems
(or do the classic “false diagnosis” where you falsely diagnose a terminal disease that isn’t there, treat it with your nonsense, and then proclaim “YOU’RE CURED!”)
- Profit by selling your liquid/prayer/voodoo/feel-good ritual to the ignorant masses
Qualified Medical Researchers aren’t feeding on the general public’s confusion by showing-up on Oprah to tell you about the power of positive thinking, how to cure your child’s autism, the magic of crystals, or simple cures for cancer…
With quacks and cons freely parading around TV, radio, blogs, magazines and everywhere advertising is present… your mind is assaulted by eternal quackery.
Da Vinci would not approve.
I’m not saying science and medicine are perfect… if they were, people wouldn’t be seeking alternative forms of healing.
And it’s perfectly reasonable to seek a cure when you’re suffering…
But Einstein makes a pretty good case for putting science before woo-woo when he says,
“One thing I have learned in a long life: that all our science, measured against reality,
is primitive and childlike — and yet it is the most precious thing we have.”
Not perfect… but it’s the most precious thing we have.
So remember this, treatment is always, to some extent, a gamble…
Choosing medicine before “alternative medicine,”
is the safest bet you can make.