Archive for the ‘ Personal ’ Category

Ignorance Is Damaging

I’ve been most wonderfully blessed to be on a service with a consultant who blatantly insults any and every thing to do with natural medicine. I can’t help but wonder if it’s even more so given my family history (he knows my Dad!) in natural medicine. He can’t possibly think that I’d have no influences from it…can he? Two weeks into this surgery clerkship and I’m well versed with the fact that this great doctor doesn’t even seem to believe in the importance of vitamins (a concept that baffles me, as medical students are taught about vitamins, their structures and importance to health in biochemistry during the first year).

Oftentimes one hears “Ignorance is bliss” but in the medical profession, ignorance is damaging.

We had a patient who we took to surgery to have her gallbladder removed due to gallstones. Her file said that she takes Cod Liver Oil everyday and my great consultant proclaims “she could avoid surgery if she just stopped swallowing oil and her symptoms would just go away!” She could’ve honestly avoided the whole experience if she just did a liver and gallbladder detox. To clarify, cod liver oil isn’t going to make more gallstones and worsen the problem. In fact, they help prevent them. They’re the good fats containing omega 3 fatty acids that we need and, unlike regular cooking oil, does not need bile to be broken down so the gallbladder is just fine. But before you take cod liver oil for the goodness of omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin A and vitamin D, you’d need to get rid of the gallstones first, safely and effectively by cleansing the liver and gallbladder.

Remember, good oils to consume for supplementation are fish oils and cod liver oil (the difference between the two is that fish oils do not contain vitamins A and D like cod liver oil). The most popular good cooking oils are extra virgin olive oil and coconut oil. We use macademia nut oil in my household. Oils like canola, vegetable and peanut are heavily worked on by the gallbladder which must produce lots of bile to break down the complex fats so that they can pass through the digestive tract safely.

Had he known this, that patient could’ve been saved from the pains and dangers of unnecessary surgery. It’s a little sad but it happens all the time. Many doctors too often choose to avoid natural or alternative therapies so they choose not to know anything about it. Due to his belief that cod liver oil makes gallbladder problems worse, he tells his patients and that’s what the patients learn. It is the duty of a doctor to teach, a principle shared with medical students of all facilities, natural and conventional. But to lend the wrong information to keen ears can result in unnecessary actions for a patient.

Ironically, my surgery consultant’s favourite saying is “You don’t know that you don’t know.” Teach what you know not what you don’t know. Clearly, he doesn’t know that he doesn’t know. Just like how he told us that coconut water has no healthy property to it. Seriously? Well, that’s another story for another day.


The Irony of Man

I find it funny how some people boast about being old-fashioned in thinking but trust modern medicine and drugs more than the traditional natural ones. Don’t get me wrong, many things have advanced in a great way in modern medicine. Diagnostic tools and surgical techniques have improved giving many people better diagnoses and prognoses but what about the healing part of modern medicine? Pharmaceutical drugs are riddled with negative effects on the body and temporarily aleve symptoms rather than solve the problem. Hundreds of years ago these things didn’t exist but we’re here, aren’t we? All the natural and traditional medicines used before obviously worked since our race hasn’t died away from some disease so why do so many seek to ignore them, discard them and call those who practice this form of medicine “quacks”? I’d say themedicine men, magic healers and quacks back in the old days must’ve done something right and should be praised rather than ridiculed.

It’s ironic too that some people who claim to be very religious and believe in a higher power will also say that they don’t trust alternative medicine because there’s no scientific research to back them up so that must mean they don’t work.

Research requires an astronomical amount of funding to be properly conducted. Who funds this research? The grand pharmaceutical companies that earn bundles of cash from every pain killer you buy or every oral contraceptive or every statin or every vaccine purchased. They fund the research projects that benefit them the most. Besides, research is being done all over the world in natural health science, you just need to open your mind, open your eyes and look for it.

Thousands upon thousands of persons have studied disease. Almost no one has studied health.

~ Adelle Davis

Patient-Centered Medicine

As a third-year medical student in a five-year degree programme, I begin clinic work from January. In preparation for such, I’ve been reading Macleod’s Clinical Examination to brush up on many things I once learned as a first year student along with educating myself about clinical practices and how to examine a patient. I can’t help but realise the irony that has become of modern conventional medicine. Maybe it’s just me, with the mindset of complementary medicine, but so much of the Hippocratic Oath has been lost over time as conventional medicine has evolved into what we know it to be today. The Hippocratic Oath, which we recite from a piece of paper upon graduation, has become just that. Much like The Lord’s Prayer said during full assembly at primary and secondary school means little to the young students these days as they learn it by rote.

The section on general examination in the text speaks of patient-centered care in which communication with the patient is important. On the following page, it goes on to say that an average of 13 minutes is enough time for proper patient-physician interaction in a private practice, 5-10 minutes in the hospital setting. I often wonder, how many does one learn about a person in less than 15 minutes? We’re taught that asking the right questions and observing the person is all one really needs but, are patients really satisfied with rushed routine examinations? A greeting, a quick scan of the file, a few questions and the jotting of a prescription and doctors move on to the next patient. Hasn’t this become unsatisfactory? Even medical students who get sick and pay a general physician a quick visit sometimes complain about the lack of time they spend with doctors. Or, at least, that’s how it used to be in first year. Since then, students have been conditioned into believing that the right questions take you on the right track, despite the number of misdiagnoses and wrong prescriptions.

Maybe I’m a little biased, but I don’t quite think that rushing patients into and out of an office makes things patient-centered. This is what medical students are taught and how they are trained. These are the kind of doctors that are bred. I’ve always known that I wanted to be involved in complementary and alternative medicine but I was never sure about which aspect of it I was most interested in. It was only this year, after a bit of learning, that I’ve decided on going into naturopathic medicine. People often ask me, “If you’re interested in doing alternative medicine, why are you in medical school instead of studying alternative medicine.” I personally think the experience I have gained and will gain in medical school is invaluable. I understand the training and mindset of doctors better having to go through it myself. That’s the simplest answer.