A recent news item spoke about a Broken Arrow clinic that was sued for offering a supposed cure for cancer using heat and light therapy. The plaintiffs have been ordered to be paid $2.5 million in damages because the supposed treatment did not do what was claimed by the clinic.
The plaintiffs, like a lot of people out there, wanted to go the ‘Alternative’ way for cancer treatment.
And so it is with a lot of people who want to try out alternative and/or complementary medicines either because they are worried about potential side effects of Western medicine or because there is not definitive treatment for a given condition so that they are tempted to try out other options.
In this regard, experts recommend that individuals need not wholly disregard other therapies, but that a comprehensive program be worked out in consultation with the physician so that the patient gets the best and most effective care possible.
Factors such as track record of efficacy and safety of an alternative treatment, its availability and its quality should be assessed before being used.
And even after this, if a complementary treatment is initiated it should be monitored to gauge possible side effects, real progress if any, and requirement for continuation of the treatment.
Also experts recommend that rather than use ‘alternative’ medicine, ‘complementary’ therapies should be used – for instance a childhood condition can be treated using conventional therapy, and in addition, other complementary treatments such as acupuncture or massage therapy can also be used.
However it may be dangerous and perhaps even counterproductive to shift to alternative treatments and to use only those instead of mainstream therapies – for instance if only herbs were used to treat a problem such as depression, this could cause the problem to not receive adequate or effective treatment, thereby potentially worsening the situation.
Another important point to be considered is the adverse impact that such alternative therapies can have on children. This was seen when children with chronic illnesses received alternative treatments – for instance a child with epilepsy was treated with alternative medicine rather than conventional anticonvulsant medicine and the child actually died from the lack or appropriate care.
To avoid such tragic consequences, it is vital not only for parents looking for treatments for their children, but also adults looking to treat their own ailments, to actually consult with their doctor. This is important to do before stopping the use of prescription medication or restricting food and fluid consumption.