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If it won't help, won't it hurt?

Alternative medicine: is there really no harm in it?

By: Michael Shermer, Scientific American, issue 10 (in Hebrew)

The doctor rummaged through your veins, scanned your body, drugged and irradiated you, and in the end said he could not cure your disease. If so, why not try what alternative medicine offers? If it won't help, it certainly won't hurt.

I began to ponder this question in 1991, when my mother - a wise woman these days - presented to the psychiatrist symptoms of cognitive confusion, emotional instability and memory loss. Within an hour it was determined that she was suffering from depression. I did not get it. My mother was not depressed, but was behaving strangely. I asked for a second opinion from a neurologist.

A CT scan revealed a tumor (meningioma) the size of an orange in her brain. After it was removed, my mother returned to her lively and cheerful self - a testament to the brain's miraculous healing power and flexibility. Unfortunately, within a year two new tumors developed in my mother's brain. After three more rounds of the cycle - surgical removal of the tumor and its reappearance - and two doses of radiation with a "gamma ray knife" (sharp and precise rays that destroy cancer cells), the diagnosis we feared was finally given: nothing would help.

Well, what's a skeptic to do? With all due respect to the ideological commitment to science, we are talking about my mother! I started looking through the literature, and with the help of Abram Blooming, a brilliant oncologist and a human being in every sense of the word, it was decided that my mother should join the experimental treatment with mifepristone, a synthetic substance that blocks the activity of the female sex hormone progesterone and is better known by its designation 486-RU and its use as a means of preventing pregnancy of " The morning after." Research on a small sample suggested that it may have the power to inhibit the growth of tumors. For my mother, it didn't work. She tended to die. We couldn't lose anything by trying alternative cancer treatments, could we? Not true.

The choice is not between scientific medicine that doesn't work, and alternative medicine that might work. The clarification is between scientific medicine that has been tested and passed the test and all the other things ("alternative" or "complementary" medicine) that have not been tested. A few reliable authorities examine and test the evidence for the unity of the claims - particularly worthy of mention are Stephen Barrett's "Pagan Doctors Guard", William Jarvis's National Council Against Health Fraud and Wallace Sampson's statement "The Scientific Review of Alternative Medicine".

And yet, most alternative approaches escape scientific peer review. Therefore, it is shocking to discover that, according to the American Medical Association's data, the number of visits to those who practice alternative healing is greater than the number of visits to those with a Doctor of Medicine degree; The sums of money that people spend on medicinal herbs and nutritional healing exceed half of all sums paid to doctors; And what is most worrying of all, 60 percent of the recipients of the alternative treatments do not give this information to their doctors - a serious and possibly even fatal problem, if herbs and medicines are mixed incorrectly.

For example, the December 17th issue of the American Medical Association Bulletin reported the results of a study conducted on an extract extracted from the flowers of the St. John's wort plant (Hypericum perforatum). The extract enjoys enormous popularity (and generates millions of dollars a year) in alternative medicine, as an antidote for any disease. It turns out that it can severely damage the effectiveness of dozens of drugs, including drugs used to treat high blood pressure, heart rhythm disorders, high cholesterol, cancer, pain and depression. The authors of the study show that the drug affects the liver enzyme cytochrome 4A3 450P, which is essential for integrating half (at least) of all drugs in the body's metabolic process. This damage accelerates the decomposition process, and the patients who took the drugs to save their lives are damaged.

But there is a deeper problem with the use of alternative medicines whose benefits are not proven. Each of us has several decades of meaningful life and love at our disposal. Time is precious, and passes like a passing shadow. When we were faced with a choice, to shake my mother from one end of the country to the other in a vain pursuit or to spend with her the little time she had left, my father and I chose the latter way. She died a few months later, on September 2, 2000. I am writing this column on the third anniversary of her passing.

Medicine works wonders, but at the end of the day, life is about the love of the people who are most important to us. For their sake, especially, we must add and hold to the same old-fashioned principle of medicine, Primum non nocere - wisdom first, do no harm.

SCINTIFIC AMERICAN in Hebrew is a joint production of Ort Israel, the largest scientific-technological education network in Israel, and the highly reputable American magazine SCINTIFIC AMERICAN. The magazine is considered the world's leading scientific journal in the fields of science and technology for 157 years, and is distributed in about 15 countries in a variety of languages. The Israeli edition of
Scientific American is published every two months and contains articles, columns and the latest news on science and advanced technology. Each issue includes original materials translated into Hebrew, accompanied by graphics and colorful illustrations, which appeal to a wide readership and not only science seekers. Yes, there is a reference to recent studies and developments in Israeli research institutions, which reflect the progress of science and technology in Israel. Publisher: Ort Israel; Editors: Dr. Eli Isenberg, VP for R&D and Training at the Ort Network and Dr. Alexander Manes.

8 תגובות

  1. Now I skimmed through the article and saw that they are talking about "research", without reference to parallel worlds and the "next" world after time reversals, without the appropriate knowledge it will be difficult for you to discover this statistically "scientifically"

  2. I will give an example about myself that happened to me, but I have seen many other examples, one day someone came and shot me in the stomach/chest, after repeating some time I put a piece of iron where I would be shot in the future and it stopped the shots, have a good day and respectfully blowing water

  3. Since you saw how a dead person, in cooperation with souls, revives him and brings him back to life after time reversals, I would say that going to things like homeopathy are a bit of a request from the souls and maybe in cooperation with humans to correct
    (and they have the knowledge, believe me)
    Respectfully blowing water

  4. Nadav
    Don't be naive. On pubmed you won't find any research showing that homeopathic substances, or bach flowers, or any other nonsense work.

  5. I'm sorry about your mother.

    I do not come to judge, but only to set things straight:

    1. To say that complementary medicine is an unscientific and unresearched field? Open pubmed and learn. There is a lot of research on complementary medicine. Not everyone is a fan, not everyone supports, not everyone ultimately recommends running and using treatment X or substance Y.
    2. If you do read studies, you probably know that even in conventional medicine, things are similar: medicines go up and down, recommendations change following studies, etc. There is no need to bring examples simply because all conventional medicine works this way..
    3. Regarding cancer treatments that are not in the first or second round - you also know that there are not enough studies. There are a lot of experiments and a lot of intuition of the doctors. Really really not neat protocols.

    It's a shame you mislead the readers who may not know the simple things I mentioned.

  6. It's just disgusting to see this disdain. Complementary medicine is successful and not for nothing. Are you saying that so many people are wrong. How many drugs have been found after a considerable period of time to be not only useless but very harmful? Some treatments that passed the scientific process eventually turned out to be wrong. If the treatment helps, it helps point. The fact is that pain treatment of all types as well as rehabilitation from many diseases, even severe ones such as stroke, are gaining great success and popularity and not for nothing.

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