Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Book Review 10

Confessions of an Rx Drug Pusher by Gwen Olsen.

As more provinces in Canada, and states in the U.S.A., grant naturopathic doctors prescription rights, and after seeing several patients after only 2 months in clinic with side effects from prescription medications, I decided to read another book on the topic of pharmaceutical drugs.

This book is an autobiographical account of how drugs, both pharmaceutical & recreational, have permeated society with nearly a complete disregard to their consequences. As a former pharmaceutical sales rep for 15 years, Gwen Olsen discloses enough inside knowledge about the pharmaceutical industry to put the broad spread dependence on prescription drugs, especially those for depression and other mental illness, into serious question. The book is very well referenced with an abundance of evidence including heart wrenching patient cases and scientific research.

As an autobiography, the author openly recounts the horrific events in her life, including messy family dysfunction and mental illnesses, that gave her a first hand experience on the receiving end of many of the medications she was trained to believe would help people. Her ultimate conversion to a traditional view of wholistic medicine, and occasional moments of over disclosure, may give some ardent Big Pharma believers an illegitimate excuse to discard the authors' perspective based on character weakness. However, the book still stands on its own as another beacon of light uncovering the damaged path left by years of unabated over prescribing and the lack of public safety with regards to medications.

Another book outlining some of the corruption in the pharmaceutical drug industry is, The Truth About Drug Companies by Marcia Angell, MD. This book, in contrast, is written from a MD's perspective in completely unemotional prose by the former editor in chief of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Schooled by an MD!

I recently watched a debate on the effectiveness, safety and merits of complementary medicine. The panel included a medical doctor and a scientific sceptic on the con side, and two naturopathic doctors for the pro side. It was apparent to me early into the debate that the conventional medical community has a serious lack of understanding of what ND's actually do. ND's know what MD's do, and for the most part are familiar with the conventional medical school of thought, but so much of the time MD's really misunderstand what naturopathic doctors do.

There are some explanations for this. Certainly, there are some naturopathic doctors who muddy the waters and represent the profession in a way not typical of the profession as a whole. But, what makes naturopathic medicine most complicated is that the scope of practice is so large that some ND's may have an entirely talk-therapy based practice and on the other end of the extreme, some ND's may do primarily a sports medicine based practice.

One interesting point made by one of the naturopathic doctors was that, currently (because of the relatively few ND's by comparison), the largest population of doctors that practice natural medicines and therapies are actually medical doctors. This hit home when Dr. Lawrence Palevsky, MD came up from New York and gave a guest lecture on Pediatrics at CCNM earlier this week. It was fascinating to hear his perspective on the antecedents to conventional medical thought and its methodology for the treatment of childhood diseases. It was almost shocking to hear a Medical Doctor use every naturopathic tactic possible to avoid prescriptions of antibiotics, acetaminophen (Tylenol) and even present an informed choice on vaccines. I was reminded of the necessity of childhood fevers and shown, in tremendous detail, the great harm in handing out fever suppressing drugs like candy - and I learned this from a medical doctor! There is hope for much more integration of conventional and naturopathic medicine in the near future.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."
Michael Pollan - In Defense of Food