Posted: Jun 17, 2010 2:00 pm
by TMB
Shrunk, you said,
Not really. All of the effective interventions you identified above are part of "allopathic" medicine, and you have not provided a single instance where "alternative" diagnostic or therapeutic techniques were helpful.

In fact I did, the useful diagnoses of most was either by myself asking for confirmation, or getting an issue with an organ diagnosed by iridologist, unless you are suggesting that iridology is allopathic medicine. In which case perhaps we are talking at cross purposes. To diagnose that a bacterial infection exists if my sinus is blocked and has green discharge, and I feeling unwell, I don’t classify as diagnosis.

It's fortunate that the alternative practitioners you encountered were well-versed enough in conventional medicine to be able to identify the possible correct diagnoses and refer to the appropriate specialists,

No I took myself to the correct specialists. The alternates were effective in their treatment of symptoms, presumably without side effects, and were better able to integrate their treatment once an underlying cause was identified. You are correct that none of them was able to identify a root cause, and even my own diagnosis that the root cause I have found (and had confirmed) is celiac disease. I am assuming there is a good chance that something underlies this pathology.

Your account is very revealing, however, of how "alternative" medicine manages to thrive. If we look at what treatments have been helpful for you in your own account:

Let me expand and make this clearer then.

Treatment of acute bacterial infection with antibiotics.

Although this was prescribed, I did not use antibiotics (expect perhaps for one early infection), instead I used herbals and homeopathic treatments as I did not want to carry the damage associated with excessive use of antibiotics. Also note that steroid sprays are prescribed for nasal congestion in allergy, something I avoided. Consequently I did not suffer issues caused by repeated use of steroids (ie. mucous membrane dependence). Instead I looked for causes, not symptoms.

I will add that prior to the acute attacks, I also had one drawn out (3months), chronic malaise that never progressed past low grade fever and general weakness, similar to mild ME. The allopathic diagnosis was just to let it pass as it must be due to an untreatable virus. It was only severe enough to stop me playing competitive sport, but I was OK to function otherwise. Iridology diagnosed a stressed liver, which was treated with herbs and homeopathic pillules My liver was struggling to get rid of the toxins produced by the allergens. Whatever they gave me cleared it up in dramatic fashion, in a few days I was bouncing with energy. I also had severe bout of hepatitis as a 18 year old. Allopathic treatment was bed rest, no alcohol for 12 months and go easy on fatty foods. As I learned later alternative treatments would have given me herbs to boost liver function and possibly avoid liver reactions later when allergies. The point here is that allopathy looked at the pathogen, in this case the hepatitis virus, and did not diagnose or look for any way to fix collateral damage – ie. my liver.

Identification of dust mite allergy, and interventions to reduce exposure to allergen.

Actually allergy was once alternative medicine, and only repeated pressure from people who worked hard to show that non pathogens can cause illness, something conventional medicine could not understand. Conventional medicine has opened its eyes somewhat since then, but it illustrates the same issue. As recently as 30 years ago many MDs considered asthma reactions to dust mites as being psychosomatic.

Identification of celiac disease, implementation of dietary modification with resolution of symptoms.

The same applies to food intolerances as allergy. This was all alternative a few years ago, and some older conventional practitioners still struggle to understand illness in the absence of pathogens. I accept this is an issue of education on making sure knowledge is socialised, but it also illustrates a narrow approach that makes this education very difficult. The idea that disease of pathogen based instead of something that needs addressing in the patient is still an issue in conventional medicine.

All of the above are evidence based, "allopathic" interventions.

Like I said, only time has saved these from being alternative, and note that each system wastes precious health in trying to educate the established medical systems.

On top of these, you make references to herbal remedies and iridology, but with nothing to suggest that these have actually produced any benefit beyond your conviction that they have.

You are not in a position to judge this. Based upon my experience of the symptoms, and granted I could be delusional, or perhaps even have been abducted by aliens. I doubt that having an iridologist look into my eyes and note a stressed liver, prescribe something, feel better within days might be placebo, but I also tried allopaths because I believed they were capable of diagnosing me – so why no placebo effect? If I did not believe, I would not have gone to them in the first place. Yet they had no idea of how to diagnose this.

However, because of the type of interactions you have had with the "alternative" practitioners, you are inclined to give them credit for your improvement, while suggesting that allopathic treatments only succeeded despite themselves.

If you consider allergy diagnosis and food intolerance as conventional, then fair enough, but even they were only able to take a thin slice and their remedies were very limited. The allergy avoidance measures they offered were initially inadequate. It was only after I educated myself and bought books that I understood just how to make the avoidance effective. I am not suggesting any practitioner needs to take responsibility for my health, but when I offer advice to similar sufferes I provide plenty more that I was given.

In my experience, where alternative practitioners do tend excel, in comparison to conventional doctors, is in interpersonal skills and "bedside manner", the ability to make a client feel that they are being listened to and that their problems are being taken seriously and given individual attention.

I would say this arises because they are trying to look deeper than the symptoms, they are looking for causes. By asking about a person dietary habit, bowel habits, reactions to various things, and not just the external symptom, of course they develop better empathy. However, I have worked with iridologists who although personable only take a few minutes and get all they need from the eyes without drawn out discussions. Still they are effective.

Take another personal example in skin reaction. My health causes skin rashes and itching. Conventional medicine will prescribe topical steroid creams, that certainly work. They also damage the skin, and perhaps do internal damage as well, and make the patient reliant and dependent upon them, and do not look for a cause. Most MDs will look no deeper, while alternate practitioners will recognise that the skin is just reflecting a deeper problem. Their topical treatments wont be as effective as steroids, but they have more chance of finding the cause.

Your are quite right to suggest that modern medicine's emphasis on high tech interventions and funding models that reward high-volume practices have increasingly tended to render such traditional values as anachronistic. That's a real problem and an unfortunate situation, but it is not an indictment of "allopathic"medicine as a whole, so much as of the social, political and economic conditions under which it is currently typically practiced.

I think its all related. The idea that treatment of symptoms are sufficient is an ethic that appears imbedded in medical practice. I have been treated by a sports doctor for a broken foot, and when I noted that I was having pain elsewhere in my lower limbs after the bone had been set, he dismissed them as not being his reason to treat me. As it was I had to get physio to rebalance to muscles following this, I thought it typified the narrow approach that seems endemic in conventional medicine.

I have no issue making use of medical treatments from either side of the fence, I do have an issue with the medical establishment not looking deeper into causes, or side effects of their treatments. The surrounding industry and ethic just seems to feed of the basic approach.

I applaud your generosity and courage in sharing your personal story with us, and am genuinely happy that you have at least been able to have some resolution of your illnesses. However, I think your story only serves to further demonstrate that the successes of "alternative" medicine are ones of marketing and persuasion, not of actually efficacy.

Like I said earlier, I do not think you are in a position to judge how I have been affected by the various treatments, except to take at face value my own judgement. Its possible that I am delusional, or keep getting abducted by aliens who feed me these ideas, but I don’t see the evidence that either happens. I would add that I have not found every homeopathic treatment has helped, and some practitioners have been downright weird.

Conventional medicine is evolving and better testing is available for allergy and food intolerances, however conventional medical are often limited by their tools and protocols, and have difficulty setting them aside in the face of evidence to do so. I have worked with some that have, but they are rare.

I have personal experience of our gynae who followed a protocol for a possible premature birth for my wife. He insisted on the steroid treatment for lung development in the foetus as it was standard protocol. However when we pushed back hard, he did find a way that allowed us to get the best of both worlds. This is more a reflection on human nature to be blindly compliant to protocol, but conventional medicine is more subject to this. I also accept that such protocols are required in the mass consumptions of standardised training and treatments. The problem with this is that it treats societies and not individuals, but if you do not protect the health of individuals, you will end up with a sick society. There is evidence to suggest that its not just environmental issues that create allergy epidemics, but also conventional medical practice, and simple behaviours like excessive hygiene not allowing infants to develop strong immune systems. Measles vaccinations create issues with immune systems that seem to rewire after infection. Steroid jabs for premature foetus appear to cause diabetes in later life.