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A better brand of snake oil
About the author: 
WDDTY Team

Recently, a well known allergist had his hands slapped by the General Medical Council for breaking its rules against advertising

Recently, a well known allergist had his hands slapped by the General Medical Council for breaking its rules against advertising. The British Medical Journal took this as a golden opportunity to condemn not only the doctor himself but the kind of m

One A B Kay (not surprisingly, a conventional allergist) had a field day ripping into environmental medicine. "Clinical ecologists . . . attempt to diagnose and treat a disease which conventional doctors believe does not exist," he wrote.

Kay concluded that the GMC was failing in its duties if it did not root out all doctors practising this brand of witchcraft and, while they were at it, censor all forms of diagnosis and treatment which by reasonable standards have failed to show that they work.

This high minded, burden of proof position concerning unorthodox (read: non drug based) treatment particularly amuses me. How many time honoured techniques bypass surgery immediately comes to mind would be standing if we applied the same criteria to conventional medicine?

Indeed, even John Garrow, chairman of HealthWatch, whose purpose appears to be mainly hacking away at clinical ecology, has had the grace to admit that ". . .more than half the forms of care offered in pregnancy and childbirth were judged to have "unknown effects" or need to be "abandoned". "There is no reason to suppose that care in other branches of medicine has been more thoroughly validated."

This is not meant to be a defence of the desensitization/neutralization techniques for allergies, which may, like supplementation, be a primitive crutch on which some people must lean until we fully understand the effect of bombarding ourselves with processed foods and chemicals. But at very least, these and many other new techniques should be given the chance to undergo rigorous testing.

Furthermore, many important studies have already been published pointing to diet and environment as major causes of illness. There are important pieces of the puzzle already on the table. It's just that the medical establishment is disinclined to put them together.

The point here is about prejudice parading around as science. Many conventional doctors are especially vicious in their dismissal of important work by innovators while they uncritically embrace many surgical or drug based solutions that are little more than medical voodoo.

I guess it all comes down to who's making up the snake oil.


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