For decades, complementary healthcare practices and practitioners have been disparaged by mainstream medicine. The public is warned that alternatives to the status quo are unscientific, a waste of money and dangerous. In the last few weeks, more of the same has arisen, as the media reported the concerns of a group of Canadian neurologists regarding chiropractic manipulation and potential stroke occurrence. Some medical camps have recently suggested a ban on the sales of certain herbs because of the risk they may have to people when they are used inappropriately. Many of these plants have been used by humans for medicinal reasons for greater than 5000 years. When a rare adverse reaction to a natural medicine or treatment occurs, it makes the headlines and conventional wisdom points a finger in the usual judgmental way. So lets take a look at the mainstream medicine report card.
A landmark article was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) on July 26, 2000. It was a huge statement of fact because the JAMA is the largest and most respected conventional medical journal in the world. The lead author, Dr. Barbara Starfield, of the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health, states that doctors and hospital based care account for over 225,000 deaths annually in the United States. Her well-referenced statistics include the following reasons for the deaths:
7,000………..medication errors in hospitals
20,000……….other errors in hospitals
80,000……….infections in hospitals
106,000………non error, negative drug effects
Dr. Starfield offers several warnings in interpreting these numbers. First, most of the deaths are derived from statistics in hospitalized patients not outpatients. Second, these estimates are for deaths only and do not include negative effects that are associated with disability or discomfort. These numbers may be significantly higher if these points are taken into consideration. Even at this lower estimate of 225,000 deaths per year, this constitutes the third leading cause of death in the U.S., following heart disease and cancer.
Some experts defend these numbers by stating that the benefits of modern medicine still outweigh these risks. This is true, except if you are one of the 225,000.
My report on this topic is not intended to stop people from consulting their doctors or undergoing conventional medical treatment. Most doctors work hard and in the best interests of their patients. However, science based natural healthcare is safe, effective and time proven, regardless of what headlines make the news.
Before orthodox medicine berates the practises of other medical disciplines and philosophies, perhaps it should first take a closer look at its own.
Copyright © 2003 by Dr. Garrett G. Swetlikoff