Thursday, February 20, 2014

Problems with the natural health industry...

The biggest problem with the natural health industry is that it is an industry.

It's all about selling some product.

Today in one of my email lists, was a post about getting people help to write their book. Why should be write a book? Because they have something unique to say? Because they have valuable information?

Hell no - they should write a book in order to promote them-self as an "expert."

That's the other problem in Natural Health - everyone is a fucking expert. Coming up with their own fucking brand.

I've been a practicing naturopathic doctor for 4 years now. Plus 4 years in ND school and the previous 3 years doing a ton of self leaning about natural health (along with going to Institute for Integrative Nutrition). And how much of this field is nothing but "experts" with their "brands." Thyroid experts, testosterone experts and on and on and on.

And then all the sales pitches for some special supplement.

For instance, recently I was reading about how acute colds was never the traditional use for Echinacea. Additionally Echinacea is not effective for such head colds as it's marketed. It's marketed well, selling over $100,000,000 worth of product a year for something it's doesn't treat.

What's the rational for this. Well some "scientists" theorized that boosts immune system function. Then comes all the hype and sales.

Ironically, it is a very effective and important herb, but not for the use its' marketed for. Of course, educating people on traditional and holistic use of herbal medicine is not profitable. What is, is hyping up just a few and selling them as miracle elixirs.

But getting back to to Echinacea - while the traditional use is ignored, some bogus use is supposedly supported by "science."

In the world of health (both Natural and Conventional) all it takes to make something "scientific" is to tell someone a biochemical theory. "Echinacea boosts WBC production" "Goldenseal is a 'natural antibiotic'," Red Clover for menopause b/c its has phytoestrogens, or SSRI's block reuptake of serotonin into nerons.

The amount of supplements and drugs sold based upon untrue or partially true theory must be mind blowing, if only we could know. To at least set the record straight:
  • They do not know how SSRIs "work." The Serotonin reuptake thing is unproven. Additionally the idea the the feeling depression is mechanistically caused by an inherit serotonin brain defenct is beyond stupid and unproven - well I have a long page on my website about psychiatry.
  • While Goldenseal does have antibiotic properties, traditionally it is used in low doses to stimulate digestion and other self regulatory systems of the body. That is it's traditional and holistic use. While one could use megadoses as an antibiotic, that's more of a modern use created by people who feel natural health must chase after and be like conventional medicine.
  • Echinacea (like all herbs) doesn't have 1 active ingredient, but has many which work synergistically together. When we follow the traditional use of herbs, we follow the wisdom of people who observed the use and results of the herbs on real people. When we follow unproven biochemical theory, we are following an abstraction - not real world observation.
  • Red Clover has history been used as an alternative and has a strong effect on the lymphatic system. It seems to me that this traditional model is a much better way to understand it's actions, then biochemical theory. You can not reduce Red Clover down to some phytoestrogens.
  • I can write a similiar critique for numerous supplements and medications. 
People need to stop making stuff sound "scientific" by bull-shiting biochemical theory.  The "scientific method" is supposed to be based off of real world observation. Not theory. But people apparently think their drug or supplement is "scientific" if given some poor biochemistry.

The other overused word is "holistic."

All this bad science (in Conventional and Natural health) creates a lot of confusion and noise. People can't find the right information b/c they go online and read nothing by hype.

The greater problem is really the social structure this happens in. A world were everyone (in ALL FIELDS) is running around trying to sell stuff to each other.

Maybe I should write a series on Structural Violence and health. If our social structures create disease how are we to enjoy wellness?

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