Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The alternate medicine hoax

A large number of alternate medications are available these days for every medical condition imaginable. Practitioners claim to have prevention and cures for things ranging from cancer to AIDS to chikungunya. How true are these claims?

The biggest problem is that the entire alternate medicine industry is not regulated. So, you can actually be selling plain water and claim that it can cure cancer and nobody can touch you. A large number of gullible people are taken in by these claims and spend fortunes on these medicines with no results.

Medical problems are such that you like to take a shot at anything that has some hope of solving your problem. Especially chronic problems. There are many conditions for which modern medicine only has supportive treatment. There are no cures available. These are usually the conditions which these alternate therapies claim to cure.

Allopathic medicine (a term not used by allopathic practitioners) or the regular stream of medicine which is widely used and practiced is governed by stringent rules, approvals and peer reviews that make it very difficult for false claims to be made. This is not the case in most alternate streams of medicine.

I am not making the case that all these alternate streams of medicine are hoaxes. But I definitely believe that most are. Without regulation, they take innocent people for a ride.

It is not only the financial aspect that bothers me. Take a person who is afflicted with a chronic disease. He will clutch at every straw that is available. When he comes across an alternate therapy that people claim can cure his condition, his hopes are raised. He follows the strict diet regimen that usually accompanies these therapies and he starts dreaming of a 'normal' future. Only, within a few weeks his hopes start dwindling. Just like the last thing he had tried a few months back.

The mental aspect of this can only be understood by someone who has gone through this.

The general public is usually more sympathetic towards practitioners of alternate therapies. The methods are never questioned. The educational background of the 'doctors' is never verified. Most 'doctors' are anyway not qualified to treat patients. The treatment they give is also not backed by any formal education in the subject.

Most people decide to try these therapies based on hearsay. 'Someone became totally ok after just two weeks of that treatment'. That sentence is enough for them to go rushing to the 'doctor' to try out the same treatment.

It is entirely possible that alternate therapies like Ayurveda or Unani medicine might actually have some benefits in certain diseases. Even yoga could help in some cases. But the claims which are made these days by quacks without any basis needs to be checked immediately.

Then there are things like Reiki, Pranic healing, faith healing and similar crap. These people claim to cure chronic diseases. Like fuck they will. By putting their hands on my stomach or by moving their hands in the air, do they really think they are going to get my kidneys to start working? Am I an imbecile?

Regulation is really, really required. This is an area where government is required. Arrest people making such claims. Advertise against these people. Educate people and prevent them from falling prey to such unholy practices. This really must stop.

No comments: