Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Prognosis Negative

My brother just got diagnosed with a viral infection - seeking to learn more about how not to catch this affliction from him, I decided to do some research.

Top result - seems like a safe bet, right?

After a quick skim, everything seems in order, let's continue on to the 'therapies linked to this health conidition...:

Herbal Medicine? Aromatherapy? For a viral infection? Oh sweet Jesus, what the hell is going on? Where am I?

Strewth! In my haste to get to the info, I didn't realise that I was on a 'Complementary and Holistic Healthcare' website.

This right here? Dangerous. Credulous people want real advice on how to deal with their health concerns, and instead they're getting directed towards sugar pills and magic needles.

'Viruses do not respond to antibiotics' - the page informs me. Seems like Western Medicine has been defeated! Score one for the healing crystals!

Of course, it should read that 'viruses do not respond to most antibiotics' - my brother was prescribed Amoxicillin, which "is used to treat many different types of infections caused by bacteria" according to drugs.com, which apparently includes the one he was diagnosed with this morning.

Perhaps I'm being a little dramatic - they do have a rather helpful "I-wash-my-hands-of-this-business" style disclaimer:

The Healing Web Ltd accepts no responsibility or liability whatsoever with regard to the information on this site. In no way are any of the materials presented within this site meant to be a substitute for professional care or attention by a qualified medical practitioner, nor should they be construed as such. You are encouraged to consult with your own Doctor to discuss any course of treatment presented or suggested.

Out of interest, I thought I'd check out the same part of Drugs.com:

Drugs.com provides free, accurate and independent advice on more than 24,000 prescription drugs, over-the-counter medicines & natural products.

Data sources include Micromedex™ [Updated 22 July 2009], Cerner Multum™ [Updated 16 August 2009], Wolters Kluwer™ [Updated 31 August 2009] and others. To view our editorial policy, content sources and attributions please click here.

'Accurate'? 'Data sources'? 'Editorial policy'? 'Content sources and attributions'? A little bit more reassuring than soothing green graphics and pretty buzzwords.

Curse you, evil search-engine-optimised shillers of wishy-washy nonsense!


Sully said...

It's a small part of what I've written here, but I'm just going to stress once more that I'm aware of the general mantra that "antibiotics don't treat viral infections", as pimped by this poster from the CDC.

However - the type of viral infection in question does apparently fall into that minority group treatable by antibiotics, which isn't entirely heard of, if sources like this are to believed.

"Antiviral antibiotics are available for some types of viral infections — but not all."

See that 'some'? That's the area we're operating out of with here, and the alternative medicine website neglected to mention the 'some', undermining any incentive to go see a real doctor.

Jason said...

I wonder how many people have died or become severely ill because they bought into the “western medicine is teh evil” idea.
Though that reminds me, there's some interesting research being done nowadays in the name of Darwinian medicine, and the results strongly suggest that physical responses such as fever and iron-poor blood are evolved defenses against infections- and we perhaps shouldn't be taking drugs to mitigate them because this dicks up our bodies' natural abilities to get rid of the underlying problem.

Apparently this information has been around since the 70s but few physicians and pharmacists actually know about it, and they go about prescribing drugs to reduce fever and add iron back into the bloodstream (and potentially exacerbating the problem).

But anyway, as many other have pointed out, alternative medicine wouldn't be "alternative" if it actually worked; it would just be "medicine".

Jason said...

A sort of off-topic point, swinging it back to religion:

No one really talks about how viruses and evolution play into the wishful thinking that a god directed evolution.

Microbes and lethal viruses operate through natural selection, like we do. Viruses are not some aberration of nature, or something inherently evil; like us, they just are. They're programmed by natural selection to survive and replicate, and they do so by infecting us and jumping from host to host – often with the incidental consequence of severely fucking us up or killing us.
Rubella, syphilis and AIDS, for example, have come up with a nasty trick: they evolved the ability to spread from mother to foetus, damning the child before it's even born.

These are problems that require some serious dissonance-salving by theologians to maintain their fictional worldviews. You cannot say that a magical being called God directed human evolution but not viral evolution.

Anyone who objectively analyses the evidence (i.e. without an ulterior motive) comes to unavoidable conclusion that the evolution of life is a pitilessly indifferent process. A guiding hand is nowhere to be found, no matter how desperately you look.

But then again, evidence is rarely enough to break the trance – that requires an open mind and a little courage.
Ok, I'll stop spamming your blog now.