thanks! the health industry is growing and that includes the natural health industry. there are an especially large number of people and companies taking advantage of the publics hunger for more products that fall under the 'herbal' ...'natural' buzz names and there is an increasing number of new things to be diagnosed with things that in the past were considered rather benign and not worth the risk of treatment or whose appearance on the health scene are a result of excessive narrowing of the definition of 'normal'. essentially creating problems out of thin air! the popularity of products and treatments marketed this way and for these reasons is growing. many people don't have the time or education to be able to identify some of the frauds in the health industry. It takes careful analysis to understand the conclusions of trials, to decide whether evidence is real or cococted and to even use anecdotal reports coming from companies and even friends in a positive objective way. simply being a friend or aquaintence isn't qualification for giving health advice!
because there is little regulation of some products and treatments and some drugs are often approved due to their ability to fill someones pockets. it is imperative that everyone keep their skeptical hats on to keep from being taken. frauds are especailly rampant int he natural/herbal industry. standard medicine with all its flaws and recalls and oopsies at least is held accountable to some extent.. we often don't hear of the problems with the polar opposite side of the health industry because there are simply few organizations keeping track of them and reporting side effects and negative outcomes to mainstream media outlets. often these treatments are relatively harmless in themselves and their danger comes in that they create a delay in the use of effective treatments. therefore it is very difficult to attribute worsened illness and death with them. the can get a free ride.
they way I see it there are several steps when trying to find treatment.
1. get a diagnoses
some things can be self diagnosed fairly easily. others need specific tests or experience eyes and ears. there can be no help if there is not some certainty about what the problem is. and validity of reports of a treatment being helpful rides entirely on whether there was a problem that needed helping to begin with. some things resolve on there own irregardless of treatment. and a flippant diagnoses coupled with a 'cure' is a recipe for empty pockets and exposes you to the possible side affects of the treatment. and anecdotal reports of cures without diagnoses can spread devastating falsehoods.
2. decide whether it needs treatment!
this sounds simple but can be very difficult. some very scary looking things and symptoms are benign or more likely to resolve on there own with the tincture of time or are likely to never cause anything more then cosmetic or comfort problems. not that those aren't legitimate reasons to seek treatment but it is important to put the problem in context so that you can weigh the risks and benefits of treatments. some doctors are anxious to try out new treatments. often simply inquiring about a problem to your doctor indicates that you want a solution and they feel obligated to do something. this is especially a problem when the you leave the decision based on cost/benefit analysis of a treatment to your doctor. they are often all too happy to cause problems as long as they feel that those problems can also be treated easily. all drugs, both standard and natural have potential side affects. some of them, maybe most of them, especially in the context of long term consequences, are unknown.
3. understand the health problem.
often a little research into the details of a health problem can give clues as to what treatments might be effective. for instance a bacterial infection would seem to logically benefit from products that have antibacterial qualities. likewise understanding that a wart is caused from a virus is crucial to finding things that might be helpful and reckognizing things that are unlikely to help. understanding that cancer is a proliferation of our own mutated cells and how that can alter how our immune systems react to it can be important in understanding how to treat it. understanding the difference between prevention and treatment is also essential. something that prevents illness by promoting general health doesn't neccesarily mean it will have any use in treating an acute health problem.