One of my best teachers during my residency, Bill Arnold, MD, caught me criticizing the alternative medicine that one of his patients was using for her rheumatoid arthritis. Bill explained that when there were no conventional treatments available, I should consider the use of less understood and studied alternatives.
When you are out of options, considering “alternative medicine” makes sense. “Considering” does not necessarily mean using! In considering the use of an approved treatment, your doc needs to weigh whatever evidence exists, the quality of that evidence, the known risks and drug interactions, to list just a few of the things that go into making a therapeutic decision.
In the early days of my practice, Bill’s advice was golden. The internet changed everything. The internet now spews a lot of really good sounding but lousy advice. If you are trained in scientific research, it is easy to assess the quality of the information you are given. To the untrained mind, assessing quality is next to impossible. When dealing with nutraceuticals, assessing risk and drug interactions is also impossible.
Making matters worse, the internet sites pushing alternatives claim that doctors will not tell you about their products because doctors supposedly are shills for big pharma and pharma won’t manufacture their product because there is no profit in “natural” products. Check out the profit statement of some of these “all natural” companies and the number of zeros will amaze you.
None the less, the medical system in our country is screwed up and makes most docs easy targets. Unfortunately, the internet is winning, and more and more people are turning to unproven and sometimes dangerous alternatives when there are perfectly safe, conventional cures to be ad.
My music choice today is ZdoggMD’s newest music parody and its message is really good. Just click on the underlined ZdoggMd above. I’m sure he gets plenty of hate mail in response to his podcast. From a personal point of view, receiving hate mail hurts and the anti-vaxers can dump an avalanche of crap on anyone who calls them out!
Here’s your joke for the day:
Every weekend I say, “Bob, you really need to stop drinking. Luckily, I’m not Bob!”