Most people consider holistic and alternative medical practices somewhere between voodoo and quackery. Herbs, roots, seeds, extracts, oils, leaves, needles and (gulp) invisible energy work and prayer. DEFINITELY NOT SCIENCE.
I have news for you my friends:
No, I don’t have news for you, the NEWS has news for you. WSJ Monday March 28, 2016, Page A15.
“Ending the Prescribe-Don’t-Tell Charade for Off Label Drugs” by Josepf V. Gulfo
Even if the print is too small to read, the HIGHLIGHT:
73% of off-label drug medications had little or no scientific support.
What is an off-label drug? Let us say that the FDA approved a pill for type II diabetes, however, your doctor prescribes it to you for your arthritis. This is legal as long as they don’t advertise it. While diabetes and arthritis may have some similar biochemical pathways, this kind of try-and-see approach is ______ (fill in the blank with an adjective).
Supporters say that this accelerates finding new treatment options, but this is a dicey non-consented medical situation. Studying a drug in people in vivo like this has NOT been approved by the human subjects board (IRB), making this off-label usage a few shades of grey away from the ethical mis-steps that our dear government took not too long ago in the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment (1932-1972).
Even if the ethics of off-label drug use were clear, I can’t help but wonder if profit margins are at the center of this extreme explosion of non-approved drug prescriptions . Why do I propose this idea ? In 2001, 21% of the 150 million prescriptions were for off label use. It is probably higher now.
Of these off-label drugs, 73% had little or no scientific support.
Let us do the math: .21 (150,000,000)= 31.5 million off-label prescriptions in 2001
of those: .75(31,500,000)= 23.6 million prescriptions had NO SCIENTIFIC BACKING
Is off-label drug usage the cash-cow of Voodoo Science?
Which of the pharmaceutical agents that you, your spouse, grandmother or child take are off-label? Are you even aware that it is off-label?
This infographic shows the rise in OFF-Label ADHD medication, meaning people who DON’T have ADHD, but get the drugs prescribed anyways!
Given that the placebo affect can improve symptoms in up to 20% of the afflicted individuals, I’m not going to negate the possible benefits of treatments that have no real scientific basis, but let us stop PRETENDING that pharmaceutical drugs are “safer” and more SCIENTIFIC than alternative options. You are their guinea pig and don’t even know it.
While I could easily get off my soap box now, and let you ponder all of the above (maybe even put in a call to your doctor to ask about your medications), allow me to take you down another level into my rabbit hole, because it is related to the science of our bodies.
My shift to holistic/alternative health care was multi-factorial. Not only do some of these practices have centuries, if not millenia of historic evidence (long before the scientific method was invented), but I have come to understand that our bodies are not the mechanistic machines that modern medicine makes them out to be. Alternative treatments may not target a specific metabolic pathway or malignant cell types, but that is the beauty. Alternative, holistic therapies may never offer a clear and good “scientific explanation”, but that is because our lives and our health is complex, not mechanistic. Watch this:
Science, specifically the pharmaceutical industry, is stuck in the mechanistic, band-aid model. Happy to replace your brakes, without wondering about the true SOURCE. Of course we have come leaps and bounds to understand cellular activity, and gene signaling etc, and yet I dare say all of it is rudimentary. We are barely waking up to recognizing the environmental, emotional, psychological and spiritual impacts on physiology, and this is where the rubber meets the road.
Does this mean that all modern medicine is wrong or bad? No. I agree with Pete Seeger that there is a time and season for every purpose, but all too often the pharmaceutical industry dictates the time and purpose, even if it is completely mechanistic, and even unscientific.