General Question

trudacia's avatar

Do you believe in alternative or holistic medicine?

Asked by trudacia (2508points) September 30th, 2008 from iPhone

If so, please give details.

A friend, previously diagnosed with breast cancer, has been living cancer free for many years. She has turned away from all treatments recommended by US doctors and regularly visits a treatment facility in Germany, which prefers alternative treatments not used in the US.

Do you agree/disagree?
Why do you think the US is against alternative medicine?

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22 Answers

nikipedia's avatar

In general I don’t, but having participated in a similar thread I think it’s important to specify the kind of alternative or holistic medicine and the kind of illness. Prayer (or meditation, or positive thinking, or similar) is probably more useful in curing depression than, say, cancer. But it’s also probably less effective than CBT+antidepressants.

I think people who are against against alternative medicine maintain that belief because it has rarely been proven to work, and I can’t think of a single circumstance in which it has been proven to work better than empirically-based, scientifically-studied Western medicine.

gailcalled's avatar

I wish your friend all the best; my choice was both traditional Western Medicine, meditation, yoga, losing weight,exercise, changing my attitudes and eating habits. But as I have said, I had “garden-variety” breast cancer, thank heavens.

I have tried and enjoyed:
MInd-body 8 week course’
Tai Chi Chi Gong
Inheriting a cat (that was the best.)

But I still chose surgery, chemo and radiation in 1996–97.

deaddolly's avatar

I’ve tried acupuncture and it does work. I think the US government/FDA and the drug companies are a little too close for comfort. What would happen to profits if alternative medicines were avaialble, let alone if they worked. I find it hard to beleive that we don’t have more cures for diseases…but we have aisles and aisles full of drugs that do the exact ame thing.

gailcalled's avatar

Oh, I forgot to add Osteopath (didn’t like) and Chiropractor (who I thought was wonderful.)
But it all came out of my own pocket. I think that NYS may cover some alternative medicine but am guessing…too lazy to do the research.

@dd: what did you have the acupuncture for? I went for a bad back and the
Chinese Doctor told me to try 8 sessions. Then she told me to swim in a warm pool and see a psychotherapist instead.

PupnTaco's avatar

There is something to be learned from thousands of years of traditional medicine that “modern” practice ignores, pills are prescribed recklessly – but for the most part – “alternative” medicine is a dangerous scam.

deaddolly's avatar

@gailcalled I had it for my knees and for the bone spur in my heel. I went for a total of 8, then another follow up of 2. I was told, after the first 2 sessions, if I didn’t notice anything, it wouldn’t work for me. It did help my knee a bit. Also the bone spur “moved” a bit, so is a bit less painful. I would go again… Swim in a warm pool (as opposed to one with ice water?) and psychotheraphy? WTF?

trudacia's avatar

@Nikipedia, to be specific, this particular facility believes in radical treatments for all types of cancer and is not a fan of chemo as the one and only treatment.

Maybe my question should have been, “do you believe that US Doctors are excluding alternative medicine because they won’t get as much money from Pharma companies?”

gailcalled's avatar

@dd: A lot of soft tissue back problems are associated with stored anger and stress; like migraines, irritable bowel, neck and shoulder problems. The warm pool was in opposition to the spring fed ponds here. Both pieces of advice helped me and my back..

@Trudacia; My team of oncologists were happy to have me fool around on my own as long as I did the traditional stuff, for which I was very grateful.

And I do take a weird little natural statin called Chinese red rice yeast, but I have to have blood work done every six months as I would for a medical statin. I also have to take CoQ-10, because any kind of statin depletes that. My young internist is interested in anything that might work. (He even has “my” tick in alcohol to show his other patients.)

Salty's avatar

I think that Alternative Medicine is a good thing. It seems that when you take a drug prescribed by a doctor, you have more side effects, and possible more problems occurring. I seldom go to a doctor, as my personal research and alternative medicine treatments seem to help.
Recently used Biofeedback as a tool in getting better, and it helped immensely. I think all doctors should be using this as part treatment. . I had to fork it out of my own pocket, but that is okay, as I can afford it. I feel sorry for the people that can’t and have to suffer. (Canada)
As for Germany, they actually use the alternative medicine first before they use the man made drugs. They are trained in alternative medicine with the regular medical. So it is good to have both I would think. If one does not work, maybe the other will. I will continue using alternative or holistic medicine as I know that the drug companies are not gaining from it. IT IS ALL ABOUT THE MONEY.

shilolo's avatar

I participated before in the thread that Nikipedia linked to, so I won’t revisit my arguments. Suffice it to say that when the holistic followers have a serious infection (or other, major life threatening event), I wonder what you will turn to? Hmmm, will it be, say, the bark of a tree, or, perhaps, a strong antibiotic? I wonder….

tinyfaery's avatar

I’ve found alternative therapies good for treating chronic ailments. It’s not like I’d forego traditional treatments for major diseases or trauma, but when it comes to my chronic conditions, I have had a lot of success with acupuncture and hypnotherapy. Headaches, dysmonorrhea, my “trick” knee, asthma, they have all been helped by these therapies. I think Western medicine is beginning to incorporate many “alternative” therapies into traditional therapies. I think they work well in conjunction.

Harp's avatar

I grew up with parents who each had their own take on alternative medicine. My mother was (and still is) the willing disciple of whoever has written the latest book attacking conventional medicine and offering some “system” in its place. I remember one period in my youth when she was convinced that cayenne pepper was the secret of good health; I had to open up my balogna sandwiches at lunch period and try to scrape away as much of the “medicine” as I could (it did do wonders for my spice tolerance).

My father’s idea of alternative medicine was much more DIY. I can’t recall him ever going to any doctor other than the dentist. He was generally in good health, but was prone to getting skin lesions, which might have been skin cancers. We’ll never know whether they were or weren’t, because hie self-treatment consisted of getting a nail red hot on the stove and using it to burn the offending spot away.

I didn’t find either of these models of alternative medicine especially compelling, so I’m a pretty happy customer of my local AMA members.

gailcalled's avatar

@Harp: Is your father still alive? Covered with burn scars? What a story. And isn’t there a sub-culture today who volunteer to be branded, as another form of self-expression or rebellion from the current establishment?

And I do remember movies and books about the British Navy in the early 1800s and the US during the early wars – Revolutionary, French and Indian -where wounds were cauterized by something heated in the campfire. Anesthesia was whiskey, biting on a stick and being held down by four friends.

“Chestnuts roasting in a open fire” must have a big back-story for you.

Harp's avatar

My Father died at 71, but not of cancer, for what it’s worth. He fell from a tree while trimming branches, refused to see a doctor (of course), and died of a coronary embolism. He was a glutton for hard physical labor, so he had developed a natural patchwork of scars into which the nail burns blended quite inconspicuously.

gailcalled's avatar

@Harp; I hope that you are writing down your memories of family history for the next generation. Just those two stories alone need to be memorialized. I treasure the autobiographies that both my grandfathers wrote (each an immigrant from the Ukraine and Lithuania.) I have been able to unearth amazing amts of genealogical info to be passed on to the fifth generation…our childrens’ children.)

emilyrose's avatar

I totally believe in holistic and alternative therapies. I myself can often find or understand the mind/body connection with various physical ailments. I’ve previously suffered from depression, and found an amazing book written by a doctor (which I have mentioned on fluther many times) that showed case studies (that’s for you shilolo!) of patients responding better to natural methods such as Omega 3 (a specially formulated one for mood) and exercise than to typical anti-depressants.. Patients with severe depression such as bi-polar or being suicidal saw drastic improvement from the omega 3 as well. I can say for myself that my depression has pretty much gone away entirely, which is amazing considering I suffered my entire life until now. I now take the omega 3s and exercise regularly and overall I feel great!

In addition I have used acupuncture for various ailments and I love it.

shilolo's avatar

@Emily. Thanks for the information. Case studies are not what one would consider the gold standard for determining the effectiveness of any treatment (be it osteopathic or holistic). A double-blind randomized study is ideal, and, I don’t think that has been done for omega-3 fatty acids (or for that matter, for the majority of so-called alternative or holistic treatments). Until the day when the practicioners of those arts are willing to subject their therapies to rigorous study, I will continue to view them with skepticism. As I’ve said before, they have no incentive to do so. Why kill the goose that lays the golden eggs?

Harp's avatar

Despite my skepticism, I do have one “success” story involving alternative medicine:

We lived in France when our daughter was born. For her first several months she had blocked tear ducts; not at all uncommon, but annoying because it led to constant infections. Some aggressive treatments involving opening the ducts with a wire probe were tried, but didn’t work.

The doctors themselves suggested we consult a naprapath. This practice involves manipulating the connective tissues of the skeleton, and claims to address a long list of ailments this way. The docs said that almost all of their claims were BS, but that they did have a high degree of success with blocked tear ducts.

The manipulation consisted of the naprapath applying very firm pressure to the roof of the mouth, maneuvering the bones of the hard palate with the fingers. That was the end of the tear duct problems.

I would generalize that experience to other unconventional medical practices. I’m willing to believe that most are effective in treating certain disorders, but it seems that all yield to the temptation to overstate their applicability.

emilyrose's avatar

@shilolo——man—you are TOUGH!!! : ) I don’t think the practitioners aren’t willing to have it studied, it seems more that no one is willing to pay for it. Anyway—I don’t need a study. The alternative therapies that I have used worked for me, and that is all the evidence I need!!!

shilolo's avatar

Precisely what I mean. You are the golden goose….

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