TREAT A NON-EXISTING CONDITION
IT MUST GET WORSE BEFORE IT GETS BETTER
IT’S DUE TO THE POISONS YOUR DOCTOR GAVE YOU
A CURE TAKES A LONG TIME
Now it is time to disclose three more.
Alternative therapies are hugely diverse, but they nevertheless have a few characteristics in common. One is that many of their practitioners try to persuade their patients that they are being poisoned. This sounds odd, however, it is true.
Most alternative therapists tell their patients sooner or later that they need to ‘detox’ and, as it happens, their type of treatment is ideally suited to achieve this aim. Detox is short for detoxification which, in real medicine, is the term used for weaning addicts off their drugs. In alternative medicine, it is used as a marketing slogan.
Yes, detox, as used in alternative medicine, is nothing but a marketing slogan. I have several reasons for this statement:
- The poisons in question are never accurately defined. Instead, we hear only vague terminologies such as metabolic waste products or environmental toxins. The reason for that lack of precision is simple: once the poison is named, we could be able to measure it and test the efficacy of the treatment in question in eliminating it from the body. But this is the last thing these ‘detoxers’ want because we would soon establish how bogus their claims are.
- None of the alternative therapies claimed to detox our body take any toxin from us; all they do take from us is our cash.
- Our body has powerful organs and mechanisms to detoxify (skin, lungs, kidneys, liver). These take care of all the toxins we undoubtedly are exposed to. If any of these organs fail, we do not need homeopathic globoli or detoxifying diets, or electric foot baths or any other charlatanry; in this case, we are more likely to need an A&E department’s intensive care.
My advice is, as soon as you hear the word ‘detox’ from a quack, ask for your money back and go home.
THE TEST OF TIME
Another thing that many alternative therapies have in common is their age. They have almost all been around for hundreds, if not thousands of years. To the enthusiasts of alternative medicine, this means that these interventions have ‘stood the test of time’; they argue that acupuncture, for instance, would not be around any more, if it were not effective. They tell their patients, write in books and argue in debates that the age of their therapy is like a badge of approval from millions of people before us, a badge that surely weighs more that modern scientific studies (which tend to cast doubt on the effectiveness of the treatments in question).
This line of thinking has always puzzled me. We are talking of TECHNOLOGIES, health technologies, in fact. Would we argue that a hot air balloon is an older technology that an aeroplane and therefore better suited for transporting people from A to B? The fact that acupuncture was developed thousands of years ago might just mean that it was invented by relatively ignorant people who understood too little about the human body to create a truly effective intervention. And the fact that blood-letting was used for centuries (and thus killed millions), might teach us a lesson about the true value of ‘the test of time’ in medicine.
My advice is to offer leeches, blood-letting and mercury cures to those who try to persuade you that the test of time has meaningful therapeutic implications.
TREATING THE ROOT CAUSE OF THE DISEASE
Alternative practitioners often claim that, in conventional medicine, doctors only treat the symptoms of their patients, whereas they treat the root causes of the illness. I have often wondered where this assumption and the fierce conviction with which it is so often expressed come from. I have to conclude that the explanations are quite simple.
- This notion is the mantra that is being taught over and over again during the practitioners’ training. It even constitutes a central message of most ‘textbooks’ for the aspiring alternative practitioner.
- More importantly in the context of this post, the notion is a clever sales-trick. It sounds profound and logical to many consumers who lean towards alternative medicine. Crucially, it kills two flies with one stroke: it denigrates conventional healthcare and, at the same time, elevates alternative medicine.
The idea that alternative practitioners treat the root causes is based on the practitioners’ understanding of aetiology. If a traditional acupuncturist, for instance, is convinced that all disease is the expression of an imbalance of life-forces, and that needling acupuncture points will re-balance these forces thus restoring health, he must automatically assume that he is treating the root causes of any condition. If a chiropractor believes that all diseases are due to ‘subluxations’ of the spine, it must seem logical to him that spinal ‘adjustment’ is synonymous with treating the root cause of whatever complaint his patient is suffering from.
These are concepts that are deeply engrained into the minds of alternative practitioners. And they have one embarrassing feature in common: they are false! Some practitioners surely must know that; yet I have so far not met one who therefore would have stopped using it. The reason must be that, as a trick of the trade to increase his cash flow, it is invaluable.
My advice is to use your abilities for critical thinking, explain to the practitioner who tells you that he is going to treat the root causes of your condition that he is a quack, and look for a proper physician.