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Safety and Effectiveness Issues Raised by "Tradtional Western Mainstream Medical Therapy"
| Medical Issues-Concerns
| Consumer Protection
| Reference Publications & Sites
Editorial Comments: As consumers of a wide range of wellness / therapeutic goods and services, we are obliged to exercise
due diligence. We deal with an ever growing media barrage of advertisements about the effectiveness of
a wide range of alternative and complementary therapies. Here we provide you with some definitions and comments
from the view of traditional western medicine practitioners e.g. medical associations. Other resources to help make health care-enhancement choices range from:
- consulting your personal-family medical doctor or medical clinic;
- consulting your pharmacist, in terms of drugs and health food / diet-nutrition supplements/
- reviewing reference/research information available online on the web or by consulting your local public library
reference librarian for information in the library collection.
Acknowledgements Much of the following information is taken from "Alternative and Complementary Therapies"
brochure seen in many doctors offices and published by the British Columbia Medial Association. The use of this information in
no way implies the BC Medical Assoc.'s support or endorsement of this web site. It is meant to provide
reference information to our viewers as a public service.
Definitions from BC Medical Association
"Alternative" ..."usually means a treatment that is substituted for regular Western mainstream therapy. Examples of
alternative practices are iridology and reflexology. These may not be effective or safe, so they
are difficult for doctors to support."
"Complementary" means an ... "additional therapy, such as massage or nutritional therapy, which may be easy to
include in your care plan if it is both safe and effective.
Sometimes, the person who advises the therapy also sells a
product that is part of the therapy; in such cases, your best interests may not be considered."
"The major concern doctors have about alternative therapies is that
many of them have not been scientifically tested for safety and effectiveness.
so far, the few studies that have been done show little or no benefit. More thorough testing, similar to
that being demanded of mainstream medical treatments, is needed and is beginning to take place."
" Doctors are also concerned that the alternative or complementary therapy may conflict
with other treatments or medications you are already taking. This is why it is so
important for you to tell your family doctor about any alternative or complementary
therapy you are using, no matter how routine or insignificant it may seem to you."
Herbs & Diet Supplements
One question many ask is: "If so much of these herbs or diet supplements are possibly
harmful, how can they be bought and sold so easily in so many different types stores?"
Backgrounder: It has only been within the past 2 years in Canada that the Federal Government has
formally started to review many diet supplements as potential "pharmaceutical drugs i.e. possible prescription drugs".
This is a much more rigorous screening of many items and their bio-chemical ingredients than in the past when most
items were imported or produced under the category of a "food product".
In the Asian community there are anecdotal stories have been told of people taking various herbs/diet supplements to "help their hearts and blood circulation"
[without telling their doctors] then finding that they have experienced clotting problems resulting from
an accident or even during scheduled surgery. Not surprisingly the BC Medical Association states
"Remember that the words "natural", "herbal", and "organic" do not mean 'safe.'
Many natural products--such as ginkgo extracts, lobelia, and St. John's Wort--can have
serious side effects or interactions with other drugs.
Some supposedly herbal products have been found to contain potent Western medicines. Others have
been contaminated with poisons such as lead."
"Try to determine the safety and effectiveness of the therapy. Ask the practitioner [of the
alternative / complementary therapy ] for printed information about the therapy and take it to your doctor to
discuss whether the evidence is reliable. The fact that other patients believed the
therapy helped them does not mean it will be safe and effective for you."
"Ask your doctor or pharmacist how the alternative treatment might interact with any other treatment
, prescription, or over-the-counter drugs you are taking. Some combinations may be dangerous."
Books · Reports · Articles - recommended by Medical Association
The list of books below is unless otherwise noted, taken from the Alternative and Complementary Therapies
brochure mentioned above, published by the B.C.Medical Association, picked up on our family doctor's office and put on this web site 2004.05.29
Note, the comments on the books are direct quotes from the brochure.
- Consumer's Guide to Alternative Medicine. By
Kurt Butler. ISBN 0879757337. Prometheus
Books, 1992. Paperback, 299 pages. Readable
- Tyler's Honest Herbal: A Sensible Guide to the
use of Herbs and Related Remedies. By Steven
Foster and Varro E. Tyler. ISBN 0789007053.
Haworth Press, 1999.
- Consumer Reports on Health. All-around
health newsletter featuring practical advice on
a wide range of topics.
Subscriptions: 1-800-234-1645 or [contact] Consumer Reports on
Health, PO Box 56360, Boulder, C0 80323, USA.
- Dictionary on Medical Folklore. Fact & Fiction in
Wordsworth Editions Ltd., 1994.
- Herbs: Everyday Reference for Health
Professionals. Edited by Frank Chandler, PhD.
ISBN 0920169-41-4. Canadian Medical Association
publication. Call 1-888-855-2555 to order.
- Inside Chiropractic: A Patient's Guide. ISBN
1573926981. Prometheus Books. Hardcover, 220
pages. An Incisive guide to chiropractic's history,
benefits, and shortcomings.
- Magic or Medicine. By Dr Robert Buckman.
ISBN 1550134817. Key Porter Books, Ltd., 1994.
- Power of Hope: A Doctor's Perspective. By
Howard Spiro. ISBN 0300078320. Yale University
Press, 1998. Paperback, 320 pages. Good
referenced discussion of the art and science of
medicine and the placebo effect.
The following is by not means a comprehensive list of health information resourcs on the web, just a
few places to consider.
- Canada Institute of Health Research
CIHR Funding database of information on currently funded researchers including:
- Rare Disease Database
from the National Organization for Rare Disorders .... the database has abstracts on more than
1,100 diseases - full text is on a subscription fee basis
- Clinical Trials in the USA
The U.S. National Inssitutes of Health, through its National Library of Medicine, has developed ClinicalTrials.cov
to provide current information about clinical research studies
- Canadian Health network from the Government of Canada
- Health Canada
reference resources from the Government of Canada www.hc-sc.gc.ca
"MediResource provides credible, physician and pharmacist reviewed health information. MediResource adheres to Health on the Net Foundation Code of Conduct (HONcode) for health web sites"[web site quote 08/13/2002]
- Drugs, medications & prescription reference
Pharmasave Pharmacy sponsored health library
- Information site from a professional trained as a lawyer and pharmacist
Sometimes "things don't work out" and the consumer has spent time
and money for some service or product that has either not been effective or in a worse case
scenario, caused significant physical-mental pain and suffering. What do you do now?
see Consumer Protection & Advocacy section.
N.B. the mention of different web sites above in no way implies their endorsement of this
web site -- nor does it imply the publishers of this web site formally supporting the sites mentioned above.
- Y.Orosa, social work & music therapy consultant for OnWellness.info 040522
This web site is project of a group of health care and health promotion professionals.
The site has a volunteer reference group, including:
a medical doctor, nurse, long-term-care facility director, music therapy, social work and rehabilitation consultants and lawyers
The providers of this site's information reference materials, including links to other resources
on the Internet's Web, or organizations / agencies / facilities - do not accept responsibility for the
accuracy - dependability of the information sources. By use of this site you as the viewer must make your
own informed decision as to the information given and or linked to or referred to.
If you do not wish to accept responsibility for being a consumer of the information or references on this site, please do not
go further into the site.
Thank you for visiting this "work in process"
On behalf of the participating professionals that are contributing to this web site's development
Music Therapy and Social Work Consultant
OnWellness Inc. Vancouver, BC
The photo collage-banner at the top of this page is intended to give viewers an idea of
the conceptualization behind this web project. The concepts of "health and wellness / well-being"
include KNOWLEDGE, having access to reference information; COMMUNICATION, through various medium (as in
music therapy); and SECURITY, the
sense of safety provided by social-political structures and systems to help experience one's well-being e.g. private and public personal-care /
long term care facilities.
The provenance of the photos on this page include:
- Photo of music therapists at work in a residential long term care facility in downtown Vancouver, BC,
collection of Y.Orosa, Music Therapy and Social Work Consultant, recently returned from London, UK work with the British health care
- Elementary school children participate in a demonstration of music therapy activities by Vancouver long term care facility,
directed by Y.Orosa, MT.
- Book shelf photo from Public Library, Reference Department, section on introductory
texts on traditional and alternative medicine, drug dictionaries, treatment guides, taken by N.Chan
- Cartoon character, Anjolico the wireless cat, is provided by Tony Yau, B.F.A, M.V.A, graphic designer and illustrator,
with training from York University in Toronto and the University of Alberta in Visual Arts... This cartoon character is
a regular feature in a number of China web sites as well as Hong Kong print newspapers e.g. the Sing Tao
OnWellness.info Resources-Components of a lifestyle that promotes, strengthens and maintains health and wellness.
© 2002-2004, OnWellness Inc., Vancouver, BC Canada
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