Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Medical Practices, Culture, and Options

An interesting article in today’s Washington Post about one reporter’s ongoing misadventure with Western medicine. My takeaway lessons are: 1) always be wary of surgery, 2) don’t be afraid to question your medical providers, and 3) seek other options, including alternative medicine.

When reading the article, I was struck by how I would’ve reacted differently. After living in Taiwan, I would have also looked into acupuncture, and tuina and baguan (btw, my bruises healed just fine, and I think it was actually speeded along last Friday when I went to get lomi lomi massage, a Polynesian deep muscle massage that I think of as gentle chiropractic treatment). Living here, it's just accepted that one can turn to both Western and Traditional Chinese Medicine for treatment.

Anyways, the article also reminded me of two articles I read in the New York Times yesterday. One article was on this year’s Nobel Prize winners in medicine, the other was about the growing number of parents in the U.S. have a diaper-free baby by training themselves to recognize their baby’s signs that she’s about to go, and then bringing the baby to a sink, toilet, or other appropriate spot.

The common thread I found in both articles is that with the two Australian doctors, they suggested a cause and treatment for ulceritis that was vastly different than accepted medical wisdom at the time. Part of the reason that the medical establishment refused to accept their theories at the start was because most of the conventional wisdom had be funded by pharmaceutical companies, which benefitted from the then status quo (recurring prescriptions for their product that relieved the symptoms, but did not actually solve the problem).These companies had a vested interest in making sure other treatment methods were not accepted, since that would hurt sales.

With the diapers, because of our current media and advertising culture, parents think the only options for their babies are cloth or disposable. There’s not even a question of whether their might be alternatives…even though most of the world’s babies go diaperless. It’s just interesting how culture and business interests makes some practices seem completely implausible.

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