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A Tale of Two Remedies: Alternative Medicine versus Modern Medicine

When a 12-year-old girl arrived at the hospital with acute abdominal pain, doctors needed to look no further than the cornucopia of alternative medicines that filled her mother's purse. The young girl was suffering from acute pancreatitis, which doctors say was brought on by more than 80 supplements that her mother administered to her daily. The girl's mother says that she was merely treating her daughter for "chronic Lyme disease", a condition that medical experts say doesn't actually exist. However, this story is but one example of the dangers of alternative medicine and the drive towards alternative healing practices as consumers grow increasingly frustrated with modern medicine.

Alternative Therapy Industry: Highly Profitable and Loosely Regulated

While this particular girl's story may be forgettable, doctors say that it isn't the first time they've witnessed a child suffering from an overdose of alternative medicine supplements. In fact, in a new book entitled Do You Believe in Magic? The Sense and Nonsense of Alternative Medicine, Paul Offit, chief of infectious disease at Children's Hospital, lays out the highly profitable industry of alternative medicine which includes everything from supplements to crystal healing. He notes that although consumers tend to think of alternative medicine as more altruistic and home-spun, it is actually a loosely regulated industry with a strong lobbying component. It's also a highly profitable industry with profits of about $34 billion per year.

Consumers Frustrated With Doctors, Hospitals

However, proponents of alternative medicine are also quick to point out that there is a reason why consumers are turning away from modern medicine. Specifically, frustration with mainstream doctors and people's desires to have more control over their health have drive some to look elsewhere for help. Deepak Chopra, well-known doctor and advocate of mind-body healing also adds that: "Doctors spend more time filling in charts than they spend on seeing patients. The average doctor stands in the door and does a ritual of examining patients for one or two minutes, then moves on to the next patient." In addition, patients are looking for a fulfillment of their emotional and spiritual needs while addressing sometimes life-threatening or life-altering diseases and ailments and doctors have lost their bedside manner. Nevertheless, patients who put their health into an alternative medicine provider without going to a modern medical doctor for assistance are taking a huge gamble with their health and should be advised.

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