Natural medicine aka witchcraft

About as scientific as homeopathy.

About as scientific as homeopathy.

Do you know what really pisses me off? Well, a lot of things do. But more than anything, it is things like this:

Utter, dangerous garbage.

Utter, dangerous garbage.

If you go on the health tab on the Reader you see a shed load of these things. Things like this are dangerous. I read one the other day about how drinking water in the morning and not having breakfast is “beneficial” to your health. It listed 5 points that all used one or two scientific words, none of these points were remotely true. However this post is not going to kill you.

This image above might. I agree that people should drink more water, especially in the morning, but not at the expense of skipping breakfast. Your Gran must have told you it’s the most important meal of the day.. and (for once) science agrees with your Gran!

Enough about breakfast; I want to rant about this angioplasty image some more.

While I accept that some “traditional” medicine can be quite effective sometimes (chewing willow bark for headache worked – because it gave you aspirin), it is rarely as effective as modern medical procedures and can have a number of unknown and unpleasant side effects. This means that it can be many times more dangerous. I highly doubt (please though, if I am wrong, show me a link) that this method of treatment for obstructed coronary ARTERIES (not veins) has been subject to a clinical trial. Angioplasty has.

For anyone wondering what angioplasty is; it is a technique used by interventional cardiologists to open up (typically) the coronary arteries after a heart attack or in the case of severe angina. It involves a balloon being fed up the femoral artery into the heart and then through into the coronary artery to the site of obstruction (guided by X-rays) and inflated, widening the artery and restoring blood flow to the heart muscle (myocardium). This is a life-saving procedure. In the UK, if you live in a town or city (basically as long as you don’t live out in the sticks and only have a very small district hospital locally) and you have a heart attack and manage to get to the hospital within 1-2 hours, you will have angioplasty. While there were still doubts about the effectiveness of angioplasty, clot-busting drugs such as streptokinase were used in the ambulance (and still can be used). Angioplasty does have an associated mortality rate with it, but it is significantly lower than no treatment.

As far as I am aware (and again, feel free to correct me), no hospital in the UK, no licensed medical practitioner (with a degree in medicine or nursing) has ever recommended this concoction as a treatment for blocked coronary arteries. This is because they are regulated and checked by the GMC, held to account by the public and required to use “evidence based medicine”. These traditional medicine people have no accountability and no regulation.

This rant might come across that I am against traditional medicine. I am. I am against anything that has not been tested and proved to be safe to use. The cynics amongst you may think that this is because I am a medical student and therefore don’t get paid to use traditional medicine. I don’t get paid to do anything. My over-riding point is this:

People would not take advice from an unqualified person on an anonymous website telling you that putting parrot feathers and garlic into your sink would unblock the drains. Why would you take advice from an anonymous, unaccountable person on the internet regarding your health?

I have a horrible feeling that this all comes down to money, especially in the US, with people turning to these dangerous alternatives because they cannot afford to have real medical treatment. Just another reason why I fear the creation of this style of system in the UK.


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1 Response to Natural medicine aka witchcraft

  1. TrishaDM says:

    I am all for safe alternatives if people want to try them. So long as they do not interact or interfere with evidence-based medicine and do not have harmful consequences. Some natural stuff does work (albeit anecdotally) and I respect people who are well trained and understand that stuff or want to try it as an adjunct or an option when modern medicine is not meeting the mark.

    But, I think people need to know, as you explained that there are many instances where traditional “modern” medicine is the best option and the safer, more effective option. Sometimes people miss the whole evidence thing as a safety net. We really don’t go doing stuff all willy nilly. And natural does not equal safe.

    And yes, I agree, a lot of it is a money game not just in the sense it might be cheaper than other treatments, but also in the sense that people who produce supplements make a lot of money off of them.

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