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Monday 10 May 2021

What is the difference between Medical Science and the Real World?

Conventional medical science is usually based on 'Randomised Controlled Trials' (RCT's), often described as by conventional medical practitioners as "the Gold Standard" of scientific investigation. What this means, in essence, is that medical scientists seek to fix two criteria, for example:

  • on one side, the condition - obesity or weight loss, 
  • on the other side, the medicine(s) used by complementary medicine for the treatment of obesity or weight loss.

The problem with this method is that in real life these two variables cannot be so easily 'fixed'. And when medical science tries to fix them, the method they choose usually has more to do with the outcome they want to achieve than any kind of scientific objectivity. (I have explored the bias of conventional medical science in more detail on this link). 

That's look at an example. BBC News has recently reported that a recent Australian study has found that complementary medicines for weight loss are 'not justified'. The story can be told simply, in the words of the BBC.

            "The first global review of complementary medicines for weight loss in 16 years suggests their use cannot be justified based on current evidence. Researchers found that while some herbal and dietary supplements resulted in marginal weight loss compared to a placebo, they did not benefit health."

In other words, the medicine's used by complementary, or natural medicine, do not work; yet (it emphasises) people are spending lots of money on them.

To come to this conclusion, the RCT studies that were reviewed would have (i) fixed the medicines, and (ii) the weight loss. They would have tried hard to eliminate all other external factor.

So the over-weight patient takes the medicine; and the study finds he/she does not lose weight.

What this ignores is the consultation, the skills of the therapist, and the 'holistic' nature of natural medical therapies. The RCT's studies might reflect the practice of pharmaceutical medicine (where usually 'the problem', once diagnosed, leads to the prescription of a pharmaceutical drug), but it does not reflect what happens in real life. The consultation, and the ingredients of the conversation between therapist and patient, cannot be eliminated. 

I have treated many overweight or obese patients and the process is much more complex, much more varied than than the selection of a 'medicine'. The consultation would take in account many factors, many 'variables' that medical science, and 'gold standard' RCT's, have to exclude. For example,

  • Lifestyle
  • Mental health factors
  • Diet and nutrition
  • Exercise

each one, in themselves, very complex, and very individual to the patient. The therapist would seek to clarify these factors, provide advice, and respond to the patient's response to this advice.  

This is what a 'holistic' approach is all about. 

It does not focus on medicines; it focuses on the patient. It takes into consideration a variety of complicated factors. After this, and only after this, does the therapist recommend a 'medicine' that might assist the patient in the process of losing weight. Yet the 'medicine' is only a small part of the treatment, compared to the patient making lifestyle changes in all the factors outlined above.

Homeopathy treats obesity, and can help patients lose weight. This website gives a detailed explanation of how homeopaths set about the task, and the variety of factors they take into account. Yet you will notice that the remedies commonly used with patients come last; and that the choice of remedy has more to do with the patient, the individual, than the condition. Obesity is not a simple, single condition.

This is what holistic medical therapies do. It is not just about 'medicine'. Conventional medicine does NOT do this; certainly it is not done in medical science or via RCT studies. Natural therapy focuses on the individual, in all his/her complexity; it does not impose any 'controls' on what is considered important. It is holistic. It takes everything into account; and only at the very end comes up with medicine.

Conventional medicine fixes the condition (that is, obesity is the same problem with each and every individual), and then fixes the medicine (an 'off-the-shelf' solution to the over-simplified, over-generalised condition).

What this piece of conventional medical 'science' indicates is just confined and restricted conventional  medical science is. It explains why conventional medicine has little or no medical solution to the problem of obesity; and perhaps why, to cover up its inadequacy, it wants to dismiss 'complementary medicine'. It seeks to make the point that it natural medicine is no more effective than pharmaceutical medicine.

And for obesity, any other illness/disease can be substituted - the same general principle applies. 

The successful treatment of any sickness or disease is not simple or straightforward; it cannot be simplified by 'scientic methodology'.

Medical treatment must always be measured in terms of 'patient outcomes' - not medical science.