What “They” Don’t Want You To Know About Alternative Medicine

By Seppo | Critical thinking

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Getting a bit cheeky with the title there, but on to the very serious business that is this short post. The Point of Inquiry podcast recently interviewed Dr. Paul Offit regarding his latest book Do you Believe in Magic?: The Sense and Nonsense of Alternative Medicine (affiliate link). While I have yet to read the book in the various interviews about the book Dr. Offit brings up many of the same concerns regarding alternative (to) medicine I’ve talked on this blog.

Alternative medicine, like any other business or interest group, only gives you part of the story. After all, they want you to believe and invest into their products and services. In the interest of keeping an open mind, it’s healthy to also hear that other side of the story. The things various health bloggers and book authors may have left out. This interview is a nice introduction into the subject, and when you have about 30 minutes, I highly recommend you take the time to listen to it.

You can either listen to it here (there should be an audio player on this page), or download the mp3-file from the episode page.

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Because of his visible and active role in defending science and evidence in medicine and his questioning of alternative to medicine modalities, Dr. Offit tends to get a lot of hate, just look at all the 1-star reviews on the book. In all the interviews I’ve heard, Dr. Ofit rarely goes on all-out attack against alt-med, in fact sometime ago he mentioned he started changing his views on acupuncture as, despite being placebo, seems to offer relief for some people. This Amazon review seems to capture the essence of my experience with Dr. Offit.

Before reading this book, I had read some articles condemning the author and the book, so I expected the worst. Of course, those who condemned this book were involved in the alternative medicine business, so could hardly be expected to be objective.On the other hand, I use a lot of nutritional supplements myself, and have been writing about nutrition and exercise for over 30 years. I was pleasantly surprised in reading this book to find that, contrary to expectations, the author was not out to blindly attack alternative medicine. In fact, the book is well researched, and the author’s conclusions make a lot of sense.

As with in all polarizing topics, neither side has the full story and all the facts on their side. I’m not saying that Dr. Offit is 100% correct in everything. I’m sure he has his own biases that creep into his message. All I’m saying is listen to both sides of the story and then come to the conclusion that you believe best represents the facts at your disposal.

I’m interested to hear what you thought of the interview or book. Please chime in with your comment.

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About the Author

Seppo Puusa, a.k.a. AcneEinstein shares rational advice about natural and alternative acne treatments. Read more about me and my acne struggles at the page.

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(4) comments

Lauren December 30, 2013

Can you do a post on retention hyperkeratosis of the skin (the true cause of acne).

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    Seppo December 31, 2013

    Lauren, I have no idea what’s ‘retention hyperkeratosis’. I’ve never seen it mentioned in the 1000+ papers on acne I’ve read. They talk about hyperkeratosis, but no paper talks about retention hyperkeratosis.

    Reply
Nellie McPherson January 2, 2014

I’ve been meaning to comment for a while, just to thank you so much for what you do, and this post seemed like a good place to do it. I’ve had super oily skin since I was 11 and cystic acne since 13. The acne didn’t start leaving permanent scars until after 30 (I’m 34 now). I’ve been to 5 or 6 dermatologists, and so far as I can tell, there have been no advances in the treatment of cystic acne in decades. None.

I’ve been living a super healthy lifestyle for over 5 years that all began as part of trying to treat this condition. I also wasted more time and money than I care to admit on Chinese medicine and acupuncture. Much more. I let people take full advantage of my complete desperation. You literally changed my life by speaking out against the fear mongering surrounding benzoyl peroxide. Thank You. I follow your recommendations for how to use antioxidants to mitigate any damage from the BP, and I feel great about it. I finally had to face the fact that these natural acne treatment health bloggers I was following had not dealt with the level of acne I was facing and could therefore not promise that what worked for them would work for me. In case this helps anyone:

I use a salicylic acid facewash every morning, followed by exfoliating with 20% alpha, beta, gamma peel pads. Rinse and follow with moisturizer with sunscreen. (Note: I’m guessing that only people with severely oily skin like mine need or can get away with this much exfoliation daily with no irritation.)

I use 10% BP facewash every evening, followed 30 min. or so later by green tea lotion.

I continue to eat a whole foods, gluten and dairy free, low sugar diet. I drink lots of loose-leaf green tea w/ vitamin C powder, as you recommend. More recently, I have seen even more improvement by adding magnesium to my cache of supplements. I still get anxious sometimes, worried that it will all come back, but I try to focus on the improvements and have faith that they will just continue if I stay the path.

Now about the scars… All laser treatments scare the crap out of me, even fractionated ones, because of reviews from people claiming they wound up with the fat in their faces breaking down and sagging badly (RealSelf has a lot of these reviews), even with reputable plastic surgeons. I’m thinking more along the lines of some type of needling therapy. I do notice that the scars get better with time, probably due in part to healthy lifestyle factors, and I suspect no one notices them quite like I do.

Wow, this is a long post! Well, thanks again, Seppo, so very much, and I hope something in here can help someone who is struggling. Feeling like your face is just being eaten away, and there’s nothing you can do about it, is a horrible, gut-wrenching feeling. There IS hope.

Reply
    Seppo January 3, 2014

    Thanks for sharing your experience, and I’m really glad I have been able to play a small part in helping you get over acne.

    I wouldn’t say that the problem is natural health bloggers haven’t dealt with severe acne, I’m sure some of them have. The problem is their understanding of reality is divorced from reality itself. Dr. Mark Crislip over at Science-Based Medicine blogs quips how we have evolved to survive reality – not to understand it.

    The problem with many natural health bloggers is they fail to understand the role of genetics and the myriad ways things can and will go wrong in the human body. Among the natural health crowd there’s this erroneous assumption that the human body is perfect and the problems we experience are due to us ‘abusing’ the body. So it follows that we need to ‘return to our natural ways’ if we want to get over our health problems. To some degree that’s true, but anyone who understand evolution can plainly see the human body is anything but perfect.

    Anyway, do keep up the good work and keep us posted of your progress.

    Reply
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