Alternative Medicine – v – Conventional Medicine

February 3, 2009 at 11:28 pm | Posted in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) | Leave a comment
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A lot of alternative medicine is good. It’s ‘alternative’ because it’s not been proven scientifically in double-blind trials, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t work. It might just mean that no one has enough interest in funding the trials or, more to the point, sees enough profit in doing so. Full scientific investigation complete with clinical trials is an extremely expensive business.

However, a lot of conventional medicine is also good, and that’s something that a lot of alternative medicine aficionados tend to forget … and in fairness vice versa is certainly also true.

The biggest pity, to my mind, is the divide that says the one has to be ‘versus’ the other. Most consultants dismiss any alternative therapies out of hand, and most alternative therapists, in my experience, are pretty keen to dismiss conventional medicine. There are moves to get the two working together, but it’s going to be a long hard slog to get the two practices talking to each other, an then keep them at it, I think.

Something to remember with regard to RA though is that forty or so years ago conventional medicine had no effective treatment. The recommended course of treatment was bed rest, which did precisely nothing to help. Even twenty or thirty years ago, you’d be put on high doses of aspirin and not a lot else. As a rule the patient went from bad to worse, as RA is generally, if left uncontrolled, a progressive disease. In the short time from then to now there are many more or less effective treatments on the market, a large number of RA sufferers have their disease halted in its tracks, and some are even in remission. The medicines might not work for ever, but, for many people, they do work. They might also cause nasty side effects, but it’s important to remember that they might NOT. Reading the list of side effects on a packet of tablets is pretty scary – what it tends not to say is, ‘Only one percent of people get this one’ or ‘only ten percent of people get that one’ and a lot of people assume that if they try the medication they’ll get ‘em all.

Now anti-TNFs have come on to the market too, and the possibilities of treatment, if the costs can be brought under control, look relatively rosy. So, while I’m all for living a healthier lifestyle (if not very good at it myself, she says munching on another chocolate), and it might well have huge benefits for your RA (or rather huge benefits for getting rid of your RA), don’t disregard conventional medicine out of hand!

And finally, conventional medicine doesn’t claim to understand RA fully, know everything about it, or know how to cure it: I think anyone who does make those claims is highly suspect.

(And if you think this is controversial, just wait for the post I haven’t written yet about drug companies and how they’re actually not all a hundred percent evil)

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