We often hear loud protests from the medical community that natural medicine is “unscientific” because many nutrients, herbs, foods and therapies have not undergone the Gold Standard for the scientific industry – the double blind placebo controlled trial.
Natural medicine, because of it’s holistic quality, can never conform to industry standards because you cannot measure all the variables involved in healing. It would be like measuring rainfall with a thermometer – yes they are both related to weather, but you are never going to get the right answer using the wrong instrument.
And so it is with holistic medicine. Ancient traditions such as Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine are dismissed by an ignorant medical community who do not understand that thousands of years of trial and error produces a very sound knowledge of what works and what doesn’t. Science keeps trying to put our remedies into the same box as a drug and measure it the same way, and it just cannot be done. We will get false results, jump to the wrong conclusions, and invalidate legitimate therapies.
Any genuine holistic treatment encompasses the synergy of more than one variable – herbal medicine works best when multiple herbs are given that enhance the effectiveness of each other; whole food has thousands more nutrients that we even know about; the relationship between the practitioner and the patient has to factor into the healing response; as does the lifestyle of the patient, their habits, stress levels, emotional wounds, toxic chemical burden, relationships, exercise levels, whether they have fresh air, sunshine, pure water and supportive people in their life.
You cannot take these apart and measure them one by one against a placebo in a trial. Every human is completely individual and every healing will be an individual journey. Unfortunately until the natural medicine industry develops their own model of measuring the effectiveness of treatment programs, we are just going to keep trying to tag along and fit in with the medical model; which devalues what we have to offer.
We see it already in what I call “medicalised naturopathy” where single nutrients are isolated and given to people in high doses and put through a double blind placebo controlled studies. The positive results then “prove” that natural medicine can fit into the medical model. All this is doing is attempting to turn our healing modalities into another version of the pharmaceutical industry – less harmful, but still viewing the world with a separatist and mechanistic approach. There are some benefits to putting natural medicine through these types of studies, as we now have a huge body of scientific studies to prove the benefit of natural medicine – but we are never going to see the best results for the patient by doing these types of studies, as they can only ever test one variable.
It is as if the natural medicine industry as a whole has a self esteem issue. Until we learn to stand together as a strong unit and reject the version of healing that the medical and pharmaceutical industry tries to impose on us, we may not be respected by the community in our own right, without being labeled as “unscientific”. Part of this is educating the public about the fact that medicine and natural medicine are two very separate industries working in very different areas, and we cannot compare one with the other.
To read about the flaws inherent in the “Gold Standard”, Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride has written an excellent article titled “There is none so blind as the double-blind!”