A Pleasant Surprise

Before I start, I want to get one thing straight. I am a firm believer in the marvels of Western medicine and am staunchly opposed to most types of “Alternative Healing” like supplements, homeopathy, and other so-called miracle cures. Although pharmaceutical companies are evil, patent-manipulating, profit-motivated, soulless corporations, it is these very traits that convince me that they leave no stone unturned when it comes to developing new drugs. What better way to generate new profits than by discovering new cures? With this disclaimer in mind, what I’m about to say next may come as a bit of a surprise: I think Eastern Medicine works.

As you know, I was sick for the better part of the last 2 weeks. When I could no longer bear my cough anymore, I asked my uncle to get me some medicine. He came back with what you see in that vial I’m holding up in that picture. My gut reaction was repressed anger. Where is my NyQuil? There’s no way this hocus pocus potion could have any effect on this rhinovirus… Where’s the scientific evidence behind it? Did someone pour millions into developing it? All this aside, I was desperate to rid myself of this cold so I downed it in one gulp and hoped for the best, expecting the worst. To my surprise, the damn thing worked! Now you might be thinking, “How can this be? If it works, why don’t we have it in the US? It must be placebo!” And you may very well be correct but in all honesty, this has been an eye-opener for me.

I think that this potion derives its potency not from the “active ingredient,” but rather the context of the ingredients. It’s like how they say taking vitamins don’t actually help because your body can’t absorb just raw vitamins. This is probably made from boiling herbs which would mean that it includes not only the drug part, but much of the other plant materials that may very well aid in its digestion and absorption. Now I’m not saying that all Eastern Medicines work, but I will say that I won’t write it all off as bunk in the future as I have in the past.


7 Responses to “A Pleasant Surprise”

  1. 1 deborahmclaren July 24, 2010 at 1:10 pm

    Hi, just glanced at your blog after thumbing through stuff that came up on my WordPress that I don’t normally read. It’s fun to do and I highly recommend it. Your blog on an alt medicine cure for your rhinovirus was interesting. However, I almost didn’t read the full blog when I got to the part about “Alternative Healing” like supplements, homeopathy, and other so-called miracle cures.” Those were pretty poor choices to bring up as homoepathy, also known as homeopathic medicine is a whole medical system that originated in Europe over 200 years ago and has been practiced in the US for over 100 years. Examples of whole medical systems include traditional Chinese medicine, Ayurvedic medicine, homeopathy, and naturopathy. I am from a western medical family with many doctors and nurses. Fortunately, most of them have traveled the world and researched “alternatives” that they are not allowed to discuss or prescribe as practitioners of western medicine, but they know how valuable those systems are. Other systems practice “health” care as opposed to western “sick” care. Also, vitamins are not alternative in any medical practice, primarily western! Medical doctors prescribe vitamins for many things – starting with neonatal to geriatric tretaments. Hopefully you will keep learning about how to keep yourself healthy and value “alternative” systems as much as western (limited) health care. Cheers to you on your blog. Let the discussion and ideas continue to flow.
    Deborah (aka Travel Momma)

    • 2 brainalleakage July 24, 2010 at 5:44 pm

      Why thank you for enriching my knowledge-base! Your comments are greatly appreciated however I hope you won’t be offended if I were to leave my post as is (seeing as Alt Med isn’t really the main point of the article). If you have a chance, I would be honored if you poked around the rest of my virtual abode to see what I’ve already written about. I update several times a week. Cheers!

  2. 3 bredstik July 24, 2010 at 8:24 pm

    I tend agree with your final statements. The West does a great job of attempting to provide the “best” chemical for a symptom/disease/sickness and providing the proof (and generally long list of possible side effects) that it should work as desired, but does a crap job of understanding how multiple chemicals work when taken together. I would also say that the West seems to (at least innately) think that there *is always* a single chemical that will cure x, and that taking a single chemical is always better than taking more chemicals … until you have to treat all the side effects. The west appears to have so much faith (in science/medicine) that it knows what it’s doing that when confronted with the same chemicals “as medicine” in a leaf they intuitively think:
    A: They’re being ripped off. There’s nothing in that leaf.
    B: There’s probably something in the leaf that will harm them. Too many unknowns. Who eats leaves as medicine? Lettuce = food, leaves grown on trees and have no other function.
    C: This leaf has x in it? Hmmm, where’s the pill that has 1,000 x in it. I’m no doctor, but 1000x surely will do a better job than this leaf with a measly x in it.

  3. 5 Reedie Lizzy July 24, 2010 at 11:38 pm

    “Although pharmaceutical companies are evil, patent-manipulating, profit-motivated, soulless corporations, it is these very traits that convince me that they leave no stone unturned when it comes to developing new drugs. What better way to generate new profits than by discovering new cures?”

    No stone unturned, maybe, but they make more money by generating new uses for old drugs or old drug ideas, especially superfluous drugs which make a lot more money (such as this new eyelash-growing “medicine” Latisse). Developing new drugs, especially “cures” for devestating diseases, is not really in their business plan.

    Commenter bredstik said that the West often does the best job of creating drugs and then providing backing “proof” for their effects–I have to disagree. I find that Western medicine is usually considered “successful” when it can silence side effects (with more drugs to silence those drugs’ side effects), or when it eradicates the illness while also damaging other areas of the body in the process.

    While even I have a difficult time accepting Chinese medicine etc;, the way they approach medicine seems a lot more healthy. At the very least, they don’t accept the Cartesian view of the body and mind, which opens up their medicine a lot more to psychosomatic problems…something I find we completely ignore in the West.

    Just my two cents…great blog, by the way!!

    P.S. The comment box text is like 5pt, in case you didn’t know.

    • 6 bredstik July 25, 2010 at 2:28 am

      I will concede to the “providing proof” point above. My intent was less of “proof this works” and more in the realms that there is an FDA to evaluate drug companies claims, and the companies do a lot of research in order to determine what effects new/old drugs have in order to weed out the compounds they can sell that work “as advertised”. In addition to that, you generally get a 4 foot long piece of parchment paper that has all the things you need to know about the active ingredient (in 4 point, lawyer approved font). While much of the system leaves much to be desired, at least there are some roadblocks in place to attempt to keep someone from putting chalk dust in a pill and claiming (on the box) it cures cancer.

      However: With the ability to fund “studies” and publish “research” in journals that may not necessarily be as peer reviewed as one would like to believe, companies can pretty much run the show all the way up to the FDA.

      However: The FDA is paid off as well (in my opinion, as well as things I have read. Aspartame and other artificial sweeteners approval history comes immediately to mind). From what I’ve read a majority of FDA funding (nowadays) comes from the companies wanting the drugs tested/approved…so I’ve heard there’s not much protection here either.

      So I guess the end result is: You have “x”? How do you know? oh, you saw an advertisement. Hmm, Ok: I’ll prescribe it or one of the new samples my pharma rep has given me to try as “chemical a” for “x” as it’s proven to work. (time passes). It didn’t work? Well, hopefully you didn’t get any nasty side effects we knew about and list on pretty much everything, like death, blindness, or liver failure. Try another pill for “x” as you know, it’s been proven to work in some cases where people don’t respond to “chemical a”. Repeat and hope for the best.

      Until genetic testing/fingerprinting is cheap/complete in humans (so we can determine the problem through genotype and not phenotype/symptom diagnosis) I don’t think the system will ever deviate from the above model.

    • 7 brainalleakage July 25, 2010 at 8:28 am

      Thanks, Lizzie! I’m aware that drug companies are pretty much the root of all evil and I know they flip their old drugs around with new patents all the time but this post was more about how I thought eastern medicine has credit and less about how evil drug companies are so I decided not to launch into too long of a tirade. As for the comment box, I don’t think there’s anything I can do about that and I’m definitely not ponying up the money for an “edit CSS” upgrade lolz.

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