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"Alternative" medicine

Posted: Tue Oct 14, 2008 8:20 pm
by ballophun
Alright I'm new here but I'm taking up an argument that I wanted to start in another thread but restrained myself. It could be helpful for some of you.

A few of you guys seem to be pretty against "alternative medicine".
I suffered from Nephrotic Syndrome for 15 years. It's a disorder that makes your immune system attack the kidneys, and as a result your kidneys leak protein. A kydney transplant won't help becuase the immune system will just bugger those ones up to. It kills you in a couple of weeks if it goes untreated. My specialist, who is the best children's kidney specialists in Australia, had me on prednisone (quartersone) for 15 years, because that is the only way they knew how to treat it. Prednisone is an immune depressant, so I was sick all the time. They assured me I'd grow out of it.
When I was in year 9 I relapsed 4 times, which means they have to rip up the meds and I get sick, chubby, and a ridiculous apetite. A teacher recommended a doctor who specialised in Traditional Chinese Medicine who'd been treating her for a sore shoulder.
I'd relapsed probably a total of 20 times since I had the disorder (basically I retain fluid all over my body, including my lungs at one point which was pretty uncool), and from the day I started recieving accupuncture and taking his herbs (seriously it's pretty insane. Like bark and leaves and $h1t. You boil it all down and drink it. EEhhhhh....), I never relapsed again, and he was able to ween me off the prednisone altogether over the course of a year. My specialist said "well it looks like you've grown out of it!" Yeah coincidence!

My father was treated by the same doctor when he was diagnosed with throat cancer. It was VERY serious too. He started recieving accupuncture and taking herbs about a week after diagnosis, and was reviewed by the specialist about 2 weeks later. I kid you not, the secondaries in his neck had "shrunk". That's what his specialist said. He actually told dad to keep seeing the Chinese doctor.

My family is the most cynical family in the world. We are fairly open minded, but we wouldn't believe it unless we saw it with our own eyes or experienced it ourselves.

A couple of times I have experience pain in my shoulder for no apparent reason. It's lasted days. Both times I've seen the Chinese doctor, hes put accupuncture needles in it (which don't hurt going in, but seem to aggravate the pain while they are in), left them in for about half an hour, and about an hour after he takes them out, the pain is gone. It came back about a year later but I saw him again and it's gone again.

Even after he seemed to have "cured" me of my Nephrotic Syndrome, I was still fairly sceptical. It does seem a bit crazy boiling up a pot of herbs and drinking the water, and all this discussion of Qi (pronounced "chi"), a life energy which flows through our bodies, seems a bit voodooish. Since he's helped my dad though as well, and seems to be able to cure all sorts of aches and pains (he claims to be able to help anxiety, depression, and psychological issues too), I swear by him.

Next time you experience some sort of ache in your body, go to an accupuncturist. Maybe its just that mine is particularly good (he actually has a degree in Western medicine as well), but it's worth giving it a go. It's helped my family and the friends our family has recommended him to, to no end.
If I hurt myself somehow with my new routine, I'd see him before a physiotherapist for sure.


Posted: Tue Oct 14, 2008 8:31 pm
by ballophun
By the way I'm not saying I won't use Western medicine. Western medicine is great for curing colds and stuff, Chinese medicine is used more as a preventative tool. If I hadn't been on prednisone I would have died, so y'know, it's best to do both at the same time.

Posted: Tue Oct 14, 2008 10:25 pm
by TheHeb
I've got Crohn's disease/ulcerative colitis. It's similar to what you're describing in that the immune system basically acts stupid and attacks the large intestines, causing them to become inflamed. I was diagnosed about 3 years ago (freshman year of college). They gave me prednisone. It sucked. It didn't work. Maybe that was the problem. When they gave me a different medication things started to get better. I mean I weighed 150 lbs in HS, at 5'8, and when I started getting sick I lost 20-25 pounds. That's one of the big reasons I got into weight training. Thanks to the combination of weight training and medicine I weight 180 pounds now, more than I ever weighed before I got sick.

So they assured you that you would grow out of it, and they gave you prednisone to stop you from dying (fortunately, it seems to have worked), and the you grew out of it? It could be that there was some other treatment that would have made things more pleasant for you, but it also could have been worse.

I think people here are skeptical (as a generalization) of alternative medicine because a lot of it hasn't been proven scientifically effective, whereas modern medicine has.

My friend has told me stories of crippled people getting up and walking thanks to the power of prayer. I'm not saying that's not what happened, but I have no reason to believe it because prayer has not been scientifically shown to cure people.

Hope that helps explain where some people are coming from, despite your experiences.

Posted: Wed Oct 15, 2008 2:15 am
by Rik-Blades
People often scoff herbal medicines forgetting that certain plants contain many ingredients that are effective in treating conditions. Man has been using them for thousands of years, long before large pharmacuetical companies came along.

Dont forget of course, that you cant place a patent on a plant, but you can place a patent on a man made pharmacuetical 'equivalent', which then you can make bucket loads of money from.

Posted: Wed Oct 15, 2008 4:22 am
by ballophun

Although this guy charges quite a bit. And has like 4 patients going at once, because you have to lie there with needles in you for half an hour. He'd be raaaaking it in.

Still, if it works, it works.

Oh by the way I shouldn't have called this "alternative" medicine. My doctor calls it "complementary" medicine. You should have it treated with western medicine as well as get accupuncture and take herbs.

Posted: Wed Oct 15, 2008 5:11 am
by Ironman
It is just the benefit of relaxing and the placebo effect. There is no proof any of that stuff works, and plenty of proof that it does not. Most of the time the claims are obviously impossible because they violate the laws of physics.

Herbal usually means crap, but there are some real drugs derived from plants (usually requiring refining though). Things that are tested and proven, rather than some untested crap some witch doctor gives you.

All those problems are nothing a good massage or some meditation or other stress relief wouldn't cure. Sometimes people just get better. Sometimes the problem is in the persons mind, which is why it is ok if the cure is there as well.

Doctors use "complementary" medicine more than you would think (or tell you). They are called placebos. The mind is an amazing thing.

The reason for this is people evolved to see patterns in things, even when they were not there. ... study.html

so in other words, I took that, then I got better, becomes, I took that and it made me better.

Posted: Wed Oct 15, 2008 5:21 am
by Ironman
Rik-Blades wrote:People often scoff herbal medicines forgetting that certain plants contain many ingredients that are effective in treating conditions. Man has been using them for thousands of years, long before large pharmacuetical companies came along.

Don't forget of course, that you cant place a patent on a plant, but you can place a patent on a man made pharmacuetical 'equivalent', which then you can make bucket loads of money from.
Pharmaceuticals are not just plant in a bottle. There is much more involved. You are making your lack of knowledge VERY obvious. You can put a patent on a plant, just put a couple of them together and make up dumb name like "All natural herbal donkey crap" or whatever you want to call it.

Also have any of you heard of snake oil? It was real alternative medicine and now it is a derogatory term.

You should also visit this place.

Posted: Wed Oct 15, 2008 9:31 am
by ballophun
Yeah I do see what you're saying but the placebo effect doesn't reverse the growth of cancer. Particularly an aggressive form of cancer like throat, lung, or tongue cancer. And I think it would be a little too coincidental that I grew out of my Nephrotic Syndrome from the day I started receiving accupuncture, just after relapsing 4 times in one year.

The problem with it all is because so little is known about it, the doctors practicing it might be bogus. So I could suggest you "go and see you're local accupuncturist for your sore shoulder", and the guy might not know what he's talking about. I have faith in my bloke though.

Also, I've had it all. Quartersone, chemo, test drugs that made me violently ill for weeks, two bags of grass, 75 pellets of mescaline, five sheets of high-powered blotter acid, a saltshaker half-full of cocaine, and a whole galaxy of multi-colored uppers, downers, screamers, laughers.

No seriously though. After taking medicine that destroys you as badly as chemo does (although I had a worse reaction to one of the test drugs, Levamasole), you'll try almost anything else. Traditional Chinese Medicine just happened to work though (they've been at it for 5000 years or something so you'd hope it would).

I suggest you give it a try. If it doesn't work, then there's your answer.

Posted: Wed Oct 15, 2008 9:43 am
by ballophun
Also, yeah I agree with the comment about the power of prayer. Someone can tell you it worked but you wouldn't believe it unless you saw it or experienced it for yourself. Hell, my parents are Christian, I'm agnostic. (How awesome is that last sentence by the way). I'm agnostic because I haven't experienced the power of prayer for myself, and I've thought about religion enough to come to my own conclusions.

But if you don't TRY it, you can't make an educated decision. If scientists came out and said they'd tested the herbs used in Chinese medicine, the effects of accupuncture and meditation, etc. and there is no difference from the placebo patients, then I'd change my tune. But that research hasn't been conducted, and I'm enjoying the benefits of Chinese medicine, or at least it's placebo effect.

Posted: Wed Oct 15, 2008 1:38 pm
by Ironman
Sometimes the diagnosis is wrong. So the cancer growth wasn't reversed, it just wasn't as bad as they thought.

The thing is alternative medicine is like religion. It requires belief with no proof. I also will never be able to change your mind no matter what I say.

This works with religion too. Suppose I told you there is a teapot orbiting the sun out in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Could you prove there is no teapot? No. But is it really reasonable to say maybe there is a teapot and maybe there isn't? It is much more reasonable not to believe in the teapot at all because there is no evidence, and it is so unlikely it's chances of possibility approach the impossible.

I can't take credit for the teapot though. That is the work of Bertrand Russell.

Posted: Wed Oct 15, 2008 5:47 pm
by ballophun
Yeah but if I told you there is a teapot in the backyard of the old woman who lives next door, a much more likely scenario, you'd need evidence to the contrary to know it's definitely not true.

What I'm trying to say is the success of Chinese medicine is far more likely than the existence of a teapot orbiting the sun, and far easier to prove. We actually have the opportunity to prove it for ourselves.
Just because scientific research hasn't been conducted into it's effectiveness doesn't mean it's not worth trying. And the existence of it's medicinal effectiveness certainly isn't approaching the impossible.

I'm gonna go and make a pot of tea.

Anyone else want to get involved here? Have I got any supporters? The teapot in the backyard? Anyone?

Posted: Wed Oct 15, 2008 5:56 pm
by ballophun
Sometimes the diagnosis is wrong. However the secondaries in the right side of my fathers didn't exist at this initial checkup, and two weeks later, when he was diagnosed, the lymph node in the right side of his neck had increased in diameter by about 1cm, and the other was slightly larger too.
He still underwent extensive radiotherapy and chemotherapy, because we obviously didn't want to take the chances of the Chinese medicine not working. But apparently it had already started doing something before the chemo and radio, according to his specialist (who was actually pretty surprised and quite open minded about the whole thing).

I know this is all hearsay as far as you're - and everyone else here - is concerned, but aaaallllls I'm saying is, it's worth a try, because it might help with something Western medicine regards as uncurable (such as Nephrotic Syndrome).

Posted: Wed Oct 15, 2008 7:27 pm
by Ryan A
So a few things.

As far as the teapot in the backyard. Ironman does not need to prove the teapot is not there. You have to prove it is there, which in this case, is quite simple. You throw a rock at it and it breaks and now you know it is (was) there.

This is a fundamental premise of logic that many people fail to grasp. Nothing exists unless it is proven to exist. The reverse, everything exists until it is proven to not exist, is automatically taken to be false because of the extreme difficulty in proving something like that. For one, to prove everything does not exist, you would have to know what everything is, and since you only know what things we have found (and it is hard to imagine a lot of things) we wouldn't even know what it was that we were trying to disprove.

A lot of research has been done to check whether or not some of these "complimentary medicines" work or not. If they work, they are usually made into something we would call western medicine and sold for big dollars. If they do not work, then they are left for people to take at their own risk.

What you also have to realize is, cancers are incredibly diverse conditions (seeing as how they are genetic malfunctions to do with a human's enormous genome). Basically, for every different person, there could be a different cancer.

This means that when designing a treatment, people (researchers and businessman) make the drugs that treat the largest populations. You can take this as some combination of (1) This helps the most people most efficiently and (2) This minimizes their costs and maximizes their profits.

Finally, things like the power of prayer and placebos are very likely due to the brain's chemical processes (due to the evidence that says NOTHING is being done by the medicine or no laws of physics permit external prayer to help internal conditions of another). There was a study about prayer recently. The people who were prayed for by others and knew it, actually got worse than those that were not prayed for and those that were prayed for and did not know it. These last two groups faired statistically the same, meaning prayer does nothing. This part about those who knew they were being prayed for getting worse was chalked up to performance anxiety. Anyway, things like this indicate how complex our bodies are and your mental state (which I mean in the most physical way possible, not some mind/body thing) can have a profound effect on the chemicals/nerves/etc in your body.

For instance, there has been scientific study of meditating monks that shows they can raise/maintain their body temperatures in conditions that would cause a normal man to freeze to death. This is done with solely thinking or processes internal to all humans (unless these monks are genetically altered in some way).

I am not saying science understands everything, but I am saying it understands what does not work. Taking in the caveats about the way drugs are designed as I mentioned above, I would say, if science says it does not work, it does not work. Now keep in mind, and this is a crucial point, scientists are not trying to prove medicine A does not work. Following our logical premises, we try to prove it does work. If we come up short, we are forced to conclude, it does not work. This leaves room for error, but, sometimes the evidence is incredibly conclusive.

That said, the world is complex, and there is always something we don't completely understand.

Posted: Wed Oct 15, 2008 10:54 pm
by Jungledoc
Why did the lady put the teapot in the backyard? Makes no sense to me.

Re: "Alternative" medicine

Posted: Wed Oct 15, 2008 11:44 pm
by Stephen Johnson
ballophun wrote:A few of you guys seem to be pretty against "alternative medicine".
I'm not opposed to alternative medicine myself. It's just that I won't let my dissatisfaction with conventional medicine cause me to write alternative medicine a blank check.

In the end, there are effective treatments to ailments and there are ineffective treatments. If a treatment is giving you relief from an ailment, go with it, whether it's conventional or alternative medicine. But replacing an expert with a guru doesn't cut it if the ailment persists.