Be Careful with ‘Alternative’ Therapies
Due to adverse reports about modern allopathic medicines, many people are moving towards alternative therapies and healing techniques. But have you ever wondered how effective these are? The point to be noted is that almost everyone wants to make money by exploiting the fears of others. This is a sad but a bitter truth.
 
In their attempt to find a solution to their problems, people start believing in alternative therapies without bothering to verify their effectiveness. They forget that they may not be moving towards healing or getting cured, at all. People who get swayed by all the positive feedback and heaps of praise on social media about a service are often gullible. 
 
Let me narrate my own encounter with alternative therapy when I was struggling for months trying to correct a ruptured heel (it is a condition called plantar fasciitis). An ayurvedic centre in Pune, that follows a Kerala-style ayurvedic treatment, sent me on a wild goose chase for close to 65 days. The doctor's charges were nominal (Rs100 for consultation) but what is the point if the medication prescribed is useless? I spent close to Rs3,000 on different types of oils, painkillers and a diet that restricted all milk and milk products.  
 
When there were no results, despite religiously following the treatment prescribed, I approached an allopathic doctor in the neighbourhood. He scoffed at my decision and questioned me about why was I skating on thin ice by running after alternative therapies without knowing whether they would be effective or not.  Luckily for me, I was in the liminal stage of my ayurvedic treatment and so I had no reservations about dumping all those oils and painkillers and embracing allopathy. Now, two months later, I am relieved. My pain has vanished and I am in the pink of health.
 
Readers, please do not think I am undermining the alternative healing techniques. No, I am definitely not. Nor am I suggesting that allopathy has all the answers. It does not. However, I am only trying to caution—for every one therapist who is earnest and genuine, there are 10 others who make a fast buck, comfortable under the thought that they are accountable to none. 
 
Out of curiosity, I approached the same ayurvedic doctor again. He was smart as ever. He put the blame on me saying, “Madam, you are not following the diet that I prescribed. Sometimes, ayurvedic treatments may take 6-8 months to show a positive impact. I shall do one thing. I will write you one more ‘kashayam’ that is priced only at Rs850 and I am sure that this will work well for you.” Needless to add, I ran away from there as fast as I could.
 
Sound therapy, bell therapy, flower therapy, salt therapy, water therapy, fish therapy - innovations like these are not bad per se. But, when they are untested and the orientation is skewed more towards extracting money and less towards recovery, the problem begins. I have begun aerobic exercises now. I have been training for yoga under a gentleman who collects only Rs300 for a three-month course in yoga, read a lot and listen to music. I meditate whenever I have the time and I have come to believe that self-healing is the best form of healing.
 
The experience of one of my cousins with hypnotherapy in Mumbai was also not so great. These people seem to be taking money for talking to you and not ‘counselling’. They market their services very well using testimonials from a few customers to lure new prospects. After you pay through your nose, will these people even refund half of your money in case their treatment is ineffective? 
 
So, dear readers, be aware and beware. There is no need to drain your hard-earned money for these, so-called, experts who have no basis for their pricing. Often, there is a cartel and each one of them has a quid-pro-quo kind of arrangement. There is a nutritionist near the Mumbai-Pune highway who supposedly follows a 'holistic' approach. She charges Rs12,000 for a 45-minute consultation and promises that further consultation can be provided on Skype or WhatsApp. How has she arrived at this price? No idea. If her treatment fails, she will conveniently blame the patient and move on to another patient. 
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COMMENTS

Hemant Gedam

3 months ago

Hi
Good article.
I am also suffering from plantar fasciitis since many years and have consulted many doctors without any improvement.
Is it possible to provide additional details of the treatment which has relieved your heel pain?
Thanks
Hemant

REPLY

Girija Santhanam

In Reply to Hemant Gedam 3 months ago

Hello Hemant, Plantar Fascilitis is a painful condition however you can do regular cold pack/ hot pack before sleep. Gels are available in medical shops; you can refrigerate this pack and tie it on the heel area; then you can sit and watch TV serials; after 20 minutes, tie this cold pack on the other heel area; Do this regularly; Check for Vitamin D (D3), Serum calcium, Vitamin B12 deficiency; these are actually blood tests and any pathological center will do this; Then your general physician may prescribe supplements; I am still taking Vitamin D supplement every week; One advise is that don't over exert yourself while walking; I switched over to wearing soft shoes that are priced upwards of Rs 3000/-; while walking, do not rush. If you are a diabetic then do minimum walking that is needed; if you are not, then avoid strenuous exercises for a few days; Keep telling yourself that you are getting better and better every day; a good physio therapist may treat for heat treatment called IFT. You should remember that plantar fascitis is painful because of the inflammation of the nerves from the heel to the toes;
For almost three weeks, I used to keep my feet in a bucket of hot water for 20 minutes and then afterwards keep my feet in cold water for 20 minutes'; now i am regularly keeping cold pack; it is good to listen to music/ watch TV while you are doing this to avoid boredom.
Believe me, plantar fasciitis is only a temporary condition and if you take proper care, you will be healed quickly; but check the credentials of any doctor whom you visit.

Hemant Gedam

In Reply to Girija Santhanam 3 months ago

Hi Girija, Many Thanks for the reply.

archana_rahatade

3 months ago

I agree with you. I have same experience with ayurvedic treatment from one of the known brand. I have spent almost 5000 Rs. but no cure. As usual doctor blamed me for not following diet properly.

REPLY

Girija Santhanam

In Reply to archana_rahatade 3 months ago

Very sorry to know about this Archana. There are so many ayurvedic centres that have cropped up in every nook and corner; Ayurveda is in principle a good alternative therapy; but quacks and money minded practitioners have made it into a business to exploit people.

Anand Vaidya

3 months ago

Here's how you decide which one to choose: For acute illnesses (eg: need a surgery, severe pain, bleeding, infections etc) choose allopathy.
For Chronic illnesses(high BP, asthma, allergies, obesity, T2 diabetes etc), alternative med and methods (including diet/exercise/mediation) may have better treatment than pill pushers of the Big Pharma.
Use your judgement. Don't use a razor to chop down a tree.

REPLY

Girija Santhanam

In Reply to Anand Vaidya 3 months ago

Dear Anand, I agree with you. Let me share an example of a friend who took a second opinion when he had pre-diabetes like condition and he was having HbAc ie glycosolated haemoglobin of 6.8; he was taking Patanjali's drugs and juices regularly; however he admitted that he wasn't careful about his diet; this is the problem; people think by taking diabetes drugs, diabetes will be under control; but unless you supplement this with proper diet and regular exercise, controlling diabetes is going to be a challenge.
Coming back to the friend, he took second opinion from a MD in cardiology and self styled diabetes consultant (almost every MD in cardio seems to be making hay while the sun shines by calling themselves diabetes specialists). For a five minute consultation, the doctor charged Rs 800 and may to be justify his charges, he recommended my friend to double the dosage of the Metformin drug that he was taking.
Why I am writing this is because medical opinion is highly subjective; some doctors adopt a minimal approach; some are extremists in that they recommend high dosages; It is upto the patient to take care of his health and do what he feels is right; If you wish to avoid metformin, then first your blood sugar should be under control and then you can experiment with Patanjali or other drugs/nature cure; without this, the patient is putting himself under grave risk. Let us accept that diabetes is hereditary and is a life style disease; if you watch what you eat and actually count your calories, then 50% of the problem is solved then and there; self diagnosis is harmful; diagnosis under the care of a trusted medical/ alternative healing practitioner is recommended; but one thing is for sure - please don't go for hypnotherapy as it can turn counter productive if the therapist is not adequately trained.

Anand Vaidya

In Reply to Girija Santhanam 3 months ago

Madam, I agree whole heartedly with you. The "western" medical system educated doctors for whatever reasons fail in the following. My list is from actual observations during treatment:
Prescribed anti-hypertensive drugs and statins for my relative and when we checked her blood test readings , both were normal and healthy range!!!
Some of them don't even listen to the patient and ask about food/stressors/other hidden causes etc, They want to spend 3 mins max , scribble a prescription and get rid of the patient.
I have scolded one doctor for using a faulty BP measuring device (for my mother)... Ultimate!
My suggestion is , for lifestyle ailments we can't r/ should not rush to an allopathic doctor. The medicines they irresponsibly recommend will cause more harm than good. We must google, read, understand and cross question the prescription.
I am sure Dr. B.M.Hegde would agree!

Anand Vaidya

In Reply to Anand Vaidya 3 months ago

Now for small problems (cough, fever, upset stomach etc) we have standardized on a neighborhood Ayurvedic doc whose treatment with empathy and minimal pharma drugs + herbals (usually, ginger, tulsi etc based pills)
But if I were to see some one with a heart attack, I will definitely rush to ER of an hospital, no doubt

Rajnish Bahuguna

3 months ago

Same is the case with most of private big hospitals even in allopathy, they charge you exorbitantly without any logic or ask you to get operated even if you don't need. These type of people exist in all industries, not just "alternative therapies." Even the so called specialists have also been found to be "fake," so customers beware
https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/20-specialists-found-to-have-fake-degrees-80-more-under-scanner/articleshow/63635033.cms

REPLY

Girija Santhanam

In Reply to Rajnish Bahuguna 3 months ago

Rajnish, this is indeed scary; we all know about the unholy liaison between medical fraternity, pharma companies, Third party administrators and health insurance companies; if I am not mistaken, then ML has covered this in the past; we as consumers fail to look at the elephant in the room. The Hippocrates' oath has long been forgotten - so it appears considering the credibility of the medical professionals today; Doctors seem to be becoming impatient and lacking empathy; if you have built a multi speciality clinic and purchased expensive equipments, then you have to trap patients to undergo those tests whether they are needed or not. God help us in the future!

One in Fifteen Americans Detect Phantom Odours
Imagine smelling something that is not there. Now imagine if these smells were always around, persisting through everyday life without any apparent reason. These ‘phantom odours’ occur when someone smells something, but there is nothing in the environment that corresponds to those, often unpleasant, odours. Though it may seem like a minor irritation, a persistent problem with smells can come with some risks and indicate other health issues, according to a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) titled “Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery”.
 
The study reports that one in fifteen people (or 6.5%), from more than 7,400 people over 40 years old, smelt phantom odours. Researchers from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) looked at National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) records between 2011 and 2014. The study was led by Kathleen Bainbridge, of the epidemiology and biostatistics programme at the NIDCD. 
 
“Problems with the sense of smell are often overlooked, despite their importance. They can have a big impact on appetite, food preferences, and the ability to smell danger signals such as fire, gas leaks, and spoiled food,” said Judith A Cooper, acting director of the NIDCD. Dr Donald Leopold, one of the study’s authors and clinical professor in the department of surgery at University of Vermont Medical Center, Burlington, added that patients, who perceive strong phantom odours, often, have a miserable quality of life and, sometimes, cannot maintain a healthy weight. 
 
Phantom smells are especially problematic for those who work in places that rely on their sense of smell, such as those in the food and service industries. To explore the correlation between phantom odours and participant characteristics, the researchers looked at participants’ age, sex, education level, race/ethnicity, socio-economic status, certain health habits and general health status. 
 
The study found that the ability to identify odours tends to decrease with age. However, phantom odour perception seems to increase with age. A previous study conducted in a community in Sweden, showed that 4.9% of people over the age of 60 experience phantom odours, with a much higher prevalence in women than men. The new study has also found a similar prevalence in the over 60 age group; but, after further examination, there is an even higher prevalence in ages between 40 and 60. A particularly striking finding is that twice as many women as men reported phantom odours; this was more so for females under the age of 60.
 
Earlier research suggested that women are generally better than men at naming odours and are, more often, negatively affected by odours around them. They may also have a heightened sense of smell and are more likely to report a problem with phantom smells. The new study points to other risk factors for the onset of phantom odours, such as head injury, dry mouth, poor overall health and low socio-economic status. Researchers have hypothesised that people with lower socio-economic status may more commonly be exposed to environmental pollutants and toxins, or have health conditions that contribute to phantom odours, either directly or because of medications needed to treat their health conditions.
 
After analysis of the data, this new study has shed further light on the problem of phantom smells. Yet, it has not been able to provide a clear answer about why it occurs. “The causes of phantom odor perception are not understood. The condition could be related to overactive odor sensing cells in the nasal cavity or perhaps a malfunction in the part of the brain that understands odor signals. A good first step in understanding any medical condition is a clear description of the phenomenon. From there, other researchers may form ideas about where to look further for possible causes and ultimately for ways to prevent or treat the condition,” said Dr Bainbridge.
 
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Older Patients Seem to Get Into Dementia From Dialysis
A new study has uncovered a higher rate of dementia among older patients after the start of hemodialysis. Mara McAdams-DeMarco, PhD (Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health) and her colleagues analyzed information on 356,668 US hemodialysis patients aged around 66. The 1- and 5-year risks of being diagnosed with dementia after initiating hemodialysis were 4.6% and 16% for women and 3.7% and 13% for men. The risks of being diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease were 0.6% and 2.6% for women and 0.4% and 2.0% for men. The study, which is scheduled to appear in the next issue of the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (CJASN), also indicates that dementia in dialysis patients is linked with a higher risk of early death.
 
A previous research had suggested that the 10-year incidence of dementia is 1.0-1.5% in those who are 65 years of age and 7.4-7.6% in those around 75 years. Dr. McAdams-DeMarco and her team estimated that the 10-year risk of a post-hemodialysis dementia diagnosis is 19% for patients aged 66-70, rising to 28% for those 76-80. Also, older hemodialysis patients with a diagnosis of dementia or Alzheimer's disease had a two-fold higher risk of dying. According Dr. McAdams-DeMarco the study “wanted to shed light on the high burden of diagnosed dementia in older patients with kidney failure who initiate hemodialysis.” While the team was able to study diagnosed dementia, “there is a great need to also identify patients with mild cognitive impairment as well as undiagnosed dementia,” said Dr. McAdams-DeMarco.
 
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