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fyrelight74

"Essential Oils" and other alternatives fascination

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Have you guys been seeing more and more "alternative" patients coming in with the "I don't believe in medicine, but I will use anything herbal I can find" philosophy?  From the essential oil fascination to the women thinking every symptom they have is because their "hormones are off", despite having normal menses and normal labs.... It's getting frustrating.  When the patients go off on a tangent of their theories, I've gotten to the point I just ask "Ok, so what can I do for you?  You won't take medication, so what do you need me to do for you?"  One lady told me she already knew what was wrong with her (hormones are off balanced, even though my labs are normal), to which I responded "Well, what do you need me for then?"  Ok, rant over... for now.

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We practice what is known as wesrtern biomedicine. If a patient is not interested int hat they should find a different type of healer. I explain this in polite terms.

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I used to get the "...it's natural, therefore it has to be good for me..." thing all the time.  I'd point out 3 things - first, that I could kill them stone dead with a boat load of natural substances; second, that a large number of our drugs are derived from nature; and lastly, I'd point to a calligraphy project I'd framed and strategically placed so that patients would see it.  It is one of my all time favourite quotes, from Paracelsus: "All substances are poisons. There is no substance that is not a poison.  The dose differentiates a poison and a cure."  I'd be willing to be bet you won't see that in any ND's or other voodoo provider's office.

 

SK

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This is my life every day. While I live in the San Juans of Washington, it is really the same as "Portlandia" if you have ever seen it.  It is the number one reason  patients don't get better here.

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I had a patient the other day who came in with a headache that was present since last June, altho it would resolve after a few days, then return and was worse at night, better in the morning, gone during the day, returned when he got home.  He lives in the woods.  Told me he knew he was being poisoned and wanted to be tested for arsenic and cyanide poisoning.  Also knew he had Lyme disease because of the headache.  

 

Tests: No lyme disease and tick borne panel all negative.  I did not order any heavy metal poisoning studies or anything else. I felt he should have a head CT but....NOOOOOOOO!  He would treat the headache naturally.  

 

When he told me the FBI agent that investigated a case of his eventually died from arsenic and cyanide poisoning  and the patient knew someone was watching and spying on him and was now poisoning him,  I realized he definitely has some psych issue.  

 

 

My theory now is the headache is caused from mold from his damp old cabin.  Mold is natural, right?

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P.S.  I have a sister who loves all the natural stuff.  Just stopped using fluoride toothpaste and using coconut oil as a mouth wash to prevent gingivitis.   When I told her to let me know how many cavities she develops over the next year she got a little testy.  One cannot argue with family.

 

Sooooo......I told her to look up all the natural stuff she is using on WebMD.  I told her the site has unbiased information and tells the public if there is evidence for effectiveness of the herbs, vitamins, minerals, oils, colon cleanses, etc.  I recommended that she look at it and can determine if she is wasting her money or not and to choose wisely which supplements she will take. 

 

I will refer my patients to the site for their own education and they can decide on their own.  Some of the stuff does work for particular complaints. 

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jmj - being from Victoria, BC, I hear you pain...but then I started practicing in southern Manitoba, where I'd have to say that the Mennonites have the hippies out there in the Pac NW beat when it comes to various voodoo medicine tales and charms. 

 

SK

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Many natural supplements have the potential to help PREVENT diseases (ie antiangiogenic supplements).  However, if there is no profit to be made then there is not going to be much research to prove effectiveness.  I know you guys are just ranting but are patients who want to be natural really that bad?  I would prefer them as opposed to the patient refusing to take self resposiblity and wanting a pill for every problem. 

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There's a whole movement right now that "natural = good", especially in the PNW and more progressive western states.

 

The way I deal with them is I tell them what they are dealing with (or what I think it is), and what the standard of care is for said condition. If they get all righteous with their "drugs are bad, mmmmkay" rhetoric then I tell them they always have a choice, and this is why specifically I am recommending this treatment for you. Here are the risks and potential benefits. Then let them decide. If it is something more acute like a surgical problem or whatever, then I tell them in no uncertain terms what they are risking if we do not intervene. But usually when the problem is surgical people's "natural" sensibilities go out the window and they just want it fixed.

 

It's a spectrum of belief. Most people would prefer a natural remedy if it will be just as efficacious as a refined drug. And this is fine, if it works and they are aware of the risks. But like any belief system, people become emotionally invested in it for any number of reasons, and it can become so intense that you cannot even reason with them on some issues. Statins are a good example. Let patients make their own decisions. Document the hell of an encounter where they refuse the standard of care, and make sure they know the consequences.

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It's not "belief."  Check out all the research Vanderbilt is doing on EOs, and then check back with us.  Notice Vanderbilt is also advocating their use clinically in university hospitals and that many "natural" household cleaners contain EOs rather than chemical disinfectants.  It's hard to call them "alternative" or "placebo" when the FDA is behind them, whole hog, for certain uses.  Obviously they're not going to cure your fear of close spaces or long-standing back pain, but they sure seem to have their place, if used appropriately (like freaking-anything out there)...

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One lady told me she already knew what was wrong with her (hormones are off balanced, even though my labs are normal), to which I responded "Well, what do you need me for then?"  Ok, rant over... for now.

 

 

 By far this approach by patients is one of my biggest pet peeves also!

There is not only a huge trend against big pharmacy drugs but also an alarming group of individuals who claim "expertise" in treating some very serious medical conditions with herbal and homeopathic treatments. These claimed "experts" are usually found in health food stores and have a high school degree with training that consists only of anecdotal observation…and yet,way too many  people put their faith in their potions and pills.

Then there is the wealth of information placed on the internet that claims alternative therapies can prevent/cure cancers , protect from influenza and a myriad of other miraculous cures.

 

For some conditions dabbling in alternative therapies will do no harm…but there are the serious conditions such as hypertension and diabetes that can be devastating without the proper drugs used in western medicine prescribed by professions actually trained in medicine.

 

I found it quite helpful to learn a little bit more about the alternative therapies my patients were using so I could be better informed and hopefully be an advocate for their lack of evidence based therapies that could result in potential harm.(The "expert" at the health food shop just doesn't know how dangerous some of these therapies can be to some individuals.)

I have found that many patients appreciate a fact based approach to their alternative therapy choices even if I am the one who burst their bubble of the effectiveness and safety of their choices. Likewise, I have an excellent acupuncture referral for people with conditions that are known to respond to this type of therapy.

 

Inevitably I will have the occasional patient who resists FDA approved medication in lieu of going "the natural route". I can't help but  point out that death is also a "natural" process that has been around for a very long time that we are having  great success in delaying with some evidence based  medications & therapies. ;>)

 

This is a very useful index of some herbal therapies that are being used frequently by some folks .

Herbal Medicines :  http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/herbalmedicine.html

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I had a female patient who, with high-normal testosterone levels, was put on testosterone by an endocrinologist.  Somewhat frustrating for me.  She has no indication, not even off label such as menopause, oopherectomy, etc, but apparently told her doc she has been a bit down lately and the doc thought this would be a sure fire fix.  Perhaps I am not up to date on this literature, but personally I found this irresponsible as the patient was young, not even near menopause.  Around the time she was put on it, she had alleviation of some significant stressors in her life, but of course the patient swears it is the testosterone that has been oh so helpful.  Nevermind that she didn't even know it may be linked to heart disease.  I'd rather have her on an essential oil.  And meanwhile the endocrinologist is cashing their check at the end of every month, unabated I'm sure.

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In surgery we don't see this quite as often as other specialties, but we do see it. It's very difficult to reason with a lot of these patients pre-operatively. Strangely, after they've had surgery we often find them more ready to accept Western biomedicine.

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 By far this approach by patients is one of my biggest pet peeves also!

There is not only a huge trend against big pharmacy drugs but also an alarming group of individuals who claim "expertise" in treating some very serious medical conditions with herbal and homeopathic treatments. These claimed "experts" are usually found in health food stores and have a high school degree with training that consists only of anecdotal observation…and yet,way too many  people put their faith in their potions and pills.

Then there is the wealth of information placed on the internet that claims alternative therapies can prevent/cure cancers , protect from influenza and a myriad of other miraculous cures.

 

It was on the internet so it must be true ;-)

 

I think some people do not pay attention to the source of their information on the internet, or realize that people use the internet as a marketing/advertising tool. Anyone can write a page about whatever they want (fear mongering, bogus therapies, hot alternative topics) just to be able to post google pay-per-click ads or sell their snake oil.

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It was on the internet so it must be true ;-)

 

I think some people do not pay attention to the source of their information on the internet, or realize that people use the internet as a marketing/advertising tool. Anyone can write a page about whatever they want (fear mongering, bogus therapies, hot alternative topics) just to be able to post google pay-per-click ads or sell their snake oil.

 

 It just baffles me how people can put faith in nontraditional therapies and ignore the potential harm by using the internet as a valid point of reference !

 

Case in point: I was alarmed to come across a posting on Facebook by an acquaintance who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. Her post boasted about her decision for forgo the recommended western therapy and embark on the use of a "black salve" to treat the cancer. She referenced the endorsement of others who had used this therapy with good results and cited Suzanne Somers as a celebrity reference who treated breast cancer successfully with alternative therapies.( Mind you, Suzanne Somers is a cancer survivor and banking money from her book on the topic to anyone who will buy it. I have no idea what is in her book as I don't  support celebrities playing the role of health expert by virtue of their celebrity status. Steve Jobs is another celebrity case that used alternative therapies for his choice of treatment and we all know how that worked out for him)

With the best of intentions I added a comment suggesting it would be valuable to first explore what she is dealing with in terms of  staging of the breast cancer and then discuss her options with her oncologists. In reply there  was a flurry of links that  cited the efficacy of black salve all of which were blogs, anecdotal tales from people who were probably paid to market this product and support from other lay people who acted quite confident in dishing out information to this person whose life depended on sound cancer treatment options. This woman was using the internet as her trusted "reference" of treatment !

 

I have great respect for personal choices concerning our health decisions however, I find closed minds are primed for making some dangerous choices when it comes to choosing alternative therapies at the exclusion of  evidence based  treatments.

 

Just as an FYI for anyone who doesn't know about "Black Salves"

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It just baffles me how people can put faith in nontraditional therapies and ignore the potential harm by using the internet as a valid point of reference !

 

Case in point: I was alarmed to come across a posting on Facebook by an acquaintance who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. Her post boasted about her decision for forgo the recommended western therapy and embark on the use of a "black salve" to treat the cancer. She referenced the endorsement of others who had used this therapy with good results and cited Suzanne Somers as a celebrity reference who treated breast cancer successfully with alternative therapies.( Mind you, Suzanne Somers is a cancer survivor and banking money from her book on the topic to anyone who will buy it. I have no idea what is in her book as I don't support celebrities playing the role of health expert by virtue of their celebrity status. Steve Jobs is another celebrity case that used alternative therapies for his choice of treatment and we all know how that worked out for him)

With the best of intentions I added a comment suggesting it would be valuable to first explore what she is dealing with in terms of staging of the breast cancer and then discuss her options with her oncologists. In reply there was a flurry of links that cited the efficacy of black salve all of which were blogs, anecdotal tales from people who were probably paid to market this product and support from other lay people who acted quite confident in dishing out information to this person whose life depended on sound cancer treatment options. This woman was using the internet as her trusted "reference" of treatment !

 

I have great respect for personal choices concerning our health decisions however, I find closed minds are primed for making some dangerous choices when it comes to choosing alternative therapies at the exclusion of evidence based treatments.

 

Just as an FYI for anyone who doesn't know about "Black Salves"

 

Had a pt yesterday who had fever malaise and cough/congestion x3 days. Pt says "is this menopause?" I say, "No, it's just a cold." husband who is holding a little boy with no shoes and playing with a stick... Not a broomstick but a tree branch from

outside... But i digress, hubby says "it's probably from the 'CON trails." I said "probably not." Handed pt the plan and walked out.

 

They exist ya'll and this is in The SF Bay Area."

 

 

 

Sent from my S5 Active...Like you care...

 

 

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