Heather L Eastwood, PhD, BA(Hons), Lecturer writes in Medical Journal of Australia 2000; 173: 95-98 about complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) by Australians. Eastwood notes findings that 1 in 5 Victorian GPs are using CAM in their practice. This was supported by earlier data of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners that 1 in 6 Australian GPs employed some form of CAM. That CAM is a billion-dollar industry in Australia and a multibillion-dollar industry globally.
Eastwood says that there is an increasing consumer demand for these therapies because of their clinical success. She points out that data from her research shows that GPs acknowledge that, regardless of the deficit of scientific evidence for how or why, CAM does achieve clinical results. You can read the full story here: http://www.mja.com.au/public/issues/173_02_170700/eastwood/eastwood.html
An article by Steve Silberman titled; “Placebos Are getting More Effective. Drugmakers Are Desperate to Know Why”, talks about a country doctor, William Potter, 64 drug developer.
Siberman says, as head of Lilly’s early-stage psychiatric drug development in the late ’90s, Potter saw that even durable warhorses like Prozac, which had been on the market for years, were being overtaken by dummy pills in more recent tests. The company’s next-generation antidepressants were faring badly, too, doing no better than placebo in seven out of 10 trials. You can read the full story here: http://www.wired.com/medtech/drugs/magazine/17-09/ff_placebo_effect
The internet has changed our perceptions around health care. With the affordability and availability of more computers people are able to search for knowledge on a wide range of topics, including health care. When we have a health issue a lot of us look for information on the internet to gain knowledge about our problem and what options are available to us.
Access to information allows me as a therapist, to take the trouble to inform myself about the possible side effects of my client’s medicines and of course that information is available to the consumer as well. The internet has changed our perceptions around health care. Access to information allows the consumer to validate for themselves the type of healthcare options they want. And this has increased demand for alternative solutions as more evidence becomes available of alternative choices that do the same job with little or no side effects.
Articles from medical researchers ask us to realise that any therapy has the potential to cause harm, and that any pharmacologically active product is likely to have an adverse effect. Moreover, that we need to consider wider public safety issues and levels of acceptable risk. The critical issue here they tell us is that the hard data with exact figures is available outlining the number of individuals experiencing an adverse event versus the number of people achieving a benefit with scientifically researched drugs, and this same research into CAM is not available to us for a proper evaluation. Also, that some people intermix both orthodox medicine with alternative medicines that may produce an even more lethal cocktail of adverse effects. However, consideration to the second article above poses the question, how much can we actually rely on the accuracy of this hard data in the first place?
Another interesting consideration is the nocebo effect. It has been documented that people who take placebos don’t always get better, and in some cases, they actually feel worse. People who take placebos sometimes develop the side effects of the drugs they think they’re taking. (“Nocebo” is Latin for “I will harm”; “placebo” means “I will please.”)
There are many more articles on both CAM and the Placebo that substantiates and confirms the same outcomes as the two articles above. The reasons for these outcomes are as yet to be validated as more than just conjecture. What we do know is that the brain can heal the body and change what it feels both emotionally and physically, and it all starts with a thought.