Monday, July 20, 2015

Medicine's scientific rigor

Dr. Vikram Reddy, a director at Henry Ford Macomb Hospital, wrote a local commentary essay that appeared in the editorial section of last Sunday's Detroit Free Press. This essay takes a look at functional medicine (what I'm doing with my nutritionist) and traditional medicine, such as what my dad is getting at the hospital.

Practitioners of functional medicine describe their differences with traditional medicine this way:

* Traditional medicine is divided into specialties (cardiology, etc.) without treating the whole patient. I've seen this several times when dealing with my dad's treatment.

* Traditional medicine treats symptoms, not underlying causes.

* Functional medicine tailors the treatment to the individual. Two people with the same complaints may be given two quite different treatment plans.

Reddy agrees with most of these charges, though he insists doctors do search for underlying causes. I've seen both sides of this since my dad became ill. His primary care physician (whom Dad no longer trusts) didn't see past the symptoms. Once Dad was in the hospital the underlying cancer was quickly found. But the standard treatment for Dad's type of cancer seems to have done as much harm as good.

Reddy says what is lacking in functional medicine is scientific rigor. He knows that when each person is treated differently it is difficult to create that scientific validation. But not doing so means functional medicine is no different than alchemy or hucksterism. Online commenters say the scientific study has been done. My nutritionist would likely say the research wasn't published because the peers doing the reviewing were from traditional medicine and saw it as threatening (as did their Pharma, Food, and Diet Industry backers).

Reddy admits that much of traditional medicine doesn't have that scientific rigor either. He does things, such as surgery, a certain way because that is how he was taught. I add the unproven assertion that thinness equals health that I've discusses several times.

Functional medicine attracts those who are dissatisfied with traditional medicine (that includes me). My frustration was the Heart Healthy way to lose weight, which I found impossible to follow. Others say it is the severe headaches that persist even after all the fancy tests doctors can devise.

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