Friday, February 03, 2006

In the news: NYT on alternative therapies

NYT's series on being a paient continues. This week, NYT looks at the continued rise in the number of Americans who've turned to alternative or 'complementary' therapies. Snip:
48 percent of American adults used at least one alternative or complementary therapy in 2004, up from 42 percent a decade ago, a figure that includes students and retirees, soccer moms and truckers, New Age seekers and religious conservatives. The numbers continue to grow, experts say, for reasons that have as much to do with increasing distrust of mainstream medicine and the psychological appeal of nontraditional approaches as with the therapeutic properties of herbs or other supplements.

This straying from conventional medicine is often rooted in a sense of disappointment, even betrayal, many patients and experts say. When patients see conventional medicine's inadequacies up close — a misdiagnosis, an intolerable drug, failed surgery, even a dismissive doctor — many find the experience profoundly disillusioning, or at least eye-opening.

I hafta say, after reading this one, I still don't get it. I'm not sure, though, if it's because people who turn to complimentary and alternative medcine (CAM) are beyond explanation, or if it's because the article fails to tell the story in a way that makes sense. Snips:
"I do partly blame the drug companies and the money they make" for the breakdown in trust in the medical system, said Joyce Newman, 74, of Lynnwood Wash., who sees a natural medicine specialist as her primary doctor. "The time when you would listen to your doctor and do whatever he said — that time is long gone, in my opinion. You have to learn to use your own head."

And so ended the relationship. With help from friends, Ms. Paradise raised about $40,000 to pay for the Arizona clinic's treatment, plus living expenses while there. "I had absolutely no scientific reason for choosing this route, none," she said. "I just think there are times in our life when we are asked to make decisions based on our intuition, on our gut instinct, not based on evidence put in front of us, and for me this was one of those moments."

"We pray with patients, with their permission," said Mr. Wood, who also works with local medical doctors when necessary. "If patients would not like us to pray for them, we don't, but it's there if needed." He added, "Our goal here is to help people get really well, not merely free of symptoms."

Maybe I'm missing something.
Link (free reg req'd)

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