Musings of a Dinosaur

A Family Doctor in solo private practice; I may be going the way of the dinosaur, but I'm not dead yet.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Real Chinese Medicine

I saw an interesting little article in the newspaper today about health care reform in China. (Original source article here.) Here are their goals:
By 2020, China will have a basic health-care system that can provide "safe, effective, convenient and affordable" health services to urban and rural residents...
What is it they want to do?:
The government will improve the public health network for disease prevention and control, health education, mother and infant health care, mental health and first aid service...
Sounds good to me. Anyone notice what's not mentioned anywhere?
  • Acupuncture
  • Herbal medicine
  • "Traditional Chinese Medicine"
Gee, why could that be? China rejecting its own "traditions"? Perhaps because once you have access to medicine that actually does something, you no longer have any use for magical-life-force-based placebos.

In China, acupuncture and herbal medicine are for those who are poor and do not have adequate access to real medical care. In this country, they are for people who are too stupid to know any better, or to appreciate what they have (ie, medicine that works!)


At Tue Apr 07, 10:08:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Long time reader, first time commenter (I think)...

I usually agree with the vast majority of what you say, but feel that I have to speak up on this one and ask a question.

What do you do when the Western Medicine doesn't work for your patients? Do you throw your hands up in the air and say, "I don't know"? or do you try alternatives?

I have had several (very intelligent) friends who for whatever reason didn't benefit from the standard treatment for what ails them - but have found comfort, healing and help with some of the Chinese ways.

I would think (and I could be wrong) that as a doctor, you'd want to help your patients even if it meant referring them on to an alternative medicine practitioner.

I would implore you on behalf of your patients and other readers not to be so closed minded to discount something that has worked for many just because you don’t believe in it.

At Tue Apr 07, 12:48:00 PM, Blogger Dk's Wife said...

I am not a fan of alternative medicine. I have known a couple of people (FIL, friend) get sucked into taking vitamins, herbs, etc. that are suppose to cure everything (specifically cancer in both individual's cases). Sadly enough, those are typically the ones who are facing a life and death situation. Needless to say, both of them passed on. Nothing like taking advantage of a terrible situation. IMO, that is just like an ambulance chaser.

Would I try alternative treatments as a last ditch effort? Very doubtful.


At Tue Apr 07, 07:01:00 PM, Blogger Shay said...

Somebody please send this to that nincompoop Senator Tom Harkin.

At Wed Apr 08, 12:58:00 AM, Anonymous Nick P. said...

"I would implore you on behalf of your patients and other readers not to be so closed minded to discount something that has worked for many just because you don’t believe in it."

Just because a placebo can sometimes have positive effects doesn't mean it's ready to be prescribed to fight cancer.

At Wed Apr 08, 03:00:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

PhD/almost MD here : I hate those people who replace real medicine with goji berries and meditation, BUT I do believe in role of alternative medicine, based on evidence.

Even if it is just placebo, increased [desirable outcome] from [seemingly random stuff] with minimal side effects still may offer some hope.

At Wed Apr 08, 02:30:00 PM, Blogger John A said...

While I disapprove of "alternative medicine" I do think some should be investigated. I.e., tested under controls. No, I do not believe testing will show that ingesting powdered rhinoceros "horn" inreases progeny-generating potency. Or peach pits cure cancer. But there may be another aspirin out there, somewhere.

But when a co-worker refused an aspirin because it was "manufactured" and "not natural" I just considered him a fool.

At Wed Apr 08, 11:16:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Completely agree. Japanese health insurance companies pay well for western type medicine only, for acupuncture they pay cents. Japanese Health Authorities claim that acupuncture (as well as other similar methods) has -sic!- psychological effect ONLY.
If someone is not getting right help from real medicine he/she need to consider to change his/her doctor at once. BTW, American Health Care System sucks, that's why the alternative 'medicine' is on the rise here.


At Thu Apr 09, 12:58:00 PM, Anonymous Dr. Val said...

The question is whether or not it is ethical to prescribe placebo treatments. I believe it is not ethical, others (including alternative medicine practitioners) don't agree. Let the patient beware.

At Sun Apr 12, 01:11:00 PM, Anonymous red rabbit said...

Hear hear, Dino.

Local chiropractors are saying they can get my patients off their bp meds. There is an acupuncturist here who "treated" my patient's type 1 diabetes (and promptly put him in the ICU with DKA). A number of patients have come to me with "detox" formulas prescribed by their naturopath for made-up ailments (for which the patients themselves have no complaints) and have asked my opinion. I read the ingredients and said this is a multivitamin plus a laxative (it was in these cases).

This is practicing medicine without a license and should be prosecuted. It is preying on the layperson, for whom there is too much health "information" out there to know what's useful and what isn't.

It's depressing because either the "professional" knows they're screwing people, or they are genuinely ill-informed.

At Mon Jan 04, 10:37:00 PM, Blogger Amy said...

So what do you do when there *is* no good 'Western' alternative here? For example, low milk supply in nursing mothers. Reglan has nasty side effects in a large portion of the population, only works as long as you are taking the drug, and is contraindicated for many, especially women with postpartum depression. Until something safer and better (like domperidone) is readily available in the US, the herb fenugreek is a better alternative to trial for many women (who do not have blood sugar or allergy issues.)


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