August 5th, 2008


Alternative Medicine and Nutraceuticals.

Ever since Devon's lab work came back showing he had abnormally low platelets, I've been doing as much research as I can to learn as much as I can about his condition. In my searching I came across this site, which I found very interesting.

In the interest of full disclosure I have to admit that my education and training are as a clinical laboratory scientist and that I'm a born skeptic.  I should really have a tattoo that says "Prove It" since I don't really accept anything I read or hear about the value of alternative medicine unless it's effects have been found to be reproducible using scientific methods. 

My husband is the exact opposite. He tends to believe that taking a pill or herb or smearing on an ointment can be beneficial even though it's never been tested and he only has someones belief or someones claim that it works to go on. He takes glucosamine every day for his knees even though it's never been proven to have any better effect on osteoarthritis than a placebo. I know a lot of people feel that "Well, it can't hurt and it *might* help so I'll take it", but I think that tends to convince many others that it must work since so many people are taking it. And so you have a sort of vicious cycle which only benefits the makers and sellers of nutriceuticals.

It seems amazing to me that some people would actually rather swallow a completely untested and unregulated  herbal capsule than a thoroughly tested, well proven pharmaceutical. And yet that same person wouldn't dream of eating anything but organic food. But then again, that same person really doesn't appreciate having the contradictory nature of their choices pointed out, either. They want to believe what they believe and don't want to have their beliefs challenged.

But I'm not here for some kind of rant against alternative medicine, to each her own. I do have to wonder, though, that there aren't more people who are as skeptical of nutraceuticals as they are of pharmaceuticals. Any other manufacturer of ingestibles is subject to regulation and full disclosure and punished when their products don't live up to their claims, why not the people who make and market all the stuff people are taking and giving their kids and dogs.