Taking the naturopathic option

If you had the choice between the “standard” option for insurance or the naturopathic option, which would you choose?


(Click to see the full cartoon; it’s a bit old. But I hadn’t seen it before; so it’s new to me.)

Of course, this is the very reason alt-med boosters don’t want anyone to have to choose. They want to “integrate” their quackery into scientific medicine.


  1. #1 TakeResponsibility
    June 27, 2009

    You guys are always talking about how alternative medicine is dangerous.

    It wasn’t alternative medicine that killed Michael Jackson.

    What does it feel like to know that one of your fellow doctors of your field of medicine, killed one of the most famous men in the world?

    Alternative medicine did not kill Michael Jackson. Your medicine and your poisonous drugs killed Michael Jackson.

  2. #2 David Lee
    June 27, 2009

    Even an incompetent doctor doesn’t negate evidence-based medicine.

  3. #3 Henry
    June 27, 2009

    Lucid TV is one of the funniest strips on the web. Thanks for reminding me!

  4. #4 V.
    June 27, 2009

    Ya know, the subtext there might not be what you think it is–fact is that the vast majority of the time, it’s the fact that “holistic” whatever is CHEAP, and insurance isn’t. I don’t think that the quacks would be nearly as busy these days without the health care problems in this country. I mean, if I get cancer, my standard medical options are entirely comprised of “Go home and die.”

  5. #5 Roland Branconnier
    June 27, 2009

    Oh pardon me but the jury is still out on Michael Jackson’s cause of death. Maybe, he was taking other drugs that were not prescribed for him. Or perhaps, he tried something at a health food store that didn’t agree with him. Before we start slinging mud at evidence-based medicine, let’s see what the final autopsy results reveal.

  6. #6 Fannin
    June 27, 2009

    No, it appears that alternative medicine did not kill Michael Jackson.

    But really, is “Alternative medicine: there are some people we don’t kill!” the sort of publicity you want? Really? Serial killers didn’t kill Michael Jackson either, but that doesn’t mean parents should entrust their kids’ welfare to the likes of Ian Brady and Myra Hindley, does it?

    Even if there are more doctors than quacks who do harm, there are vastly more doctors than quacks who do good. And that means that anyone who knows anything about critical thinking can see that quackery is not worth the cost.

  7. #7 Cat
    June 27, 2009

    Commenter 1, let’s wait for the toxicology report. The autopsy seems to have found no physical cause of death. We can hold off for eight weeks, right?

    That said, medicines can have bad effects because they HAVE effects in the first place. This includes anything herbal that has a drug-like effect. Correct dose = effect. Incorrect dose = poison. That goes for practically anything that has an effect in the body. Water. Salt. Vitamin A. Aloe vera juice. Demerol.

  8. #8 Brian X
    June 27, 2009

    How exactly can mainstream medicine be blamed for Michael Jackson’s death? If this was an Anna Nicole/Elvis sort of situation, it seems pretty likely that the only thing medicine had to do with it was the actions of some Dr. Feelgood.

    Don’t forget, Deepak Chopra is an MD too…

  9. #9 b.
    June 27, 2009

    I’m totally on board with the overall message, but that cartoon is bothersomely reminiscent of Chick tracts. *shudder*

  10. #10 Anthro
    June 27, 2009

    It seems to me that the alternative to medicine is a “natural” death. I think the cartoon will be blown off by the faithful because even the devoted wooers give credit to standard medicine when it comes to “emergencies” such as broken bones, bleeding and other such injuries. It’s in the area of the unseen that they feel their approach is “suited”. God help you if you tell one of them that you are “fatigued”.

  11. #11 Researching Options
    June 27, 2009

    I don’t know how Michael Jackson’s death is even relevant to this post, so I’m confused about the first comment?

    That said, I get annoyed sometimes that alternative medicine even is the terminology. There is medicine, and some of it uses unrefined, unprocessed or less processed drugs — and some of it doesn’t.

    I’m stepping outside the paradigm of “quacks” and “western doctors” here, because I have met plenty of “alternative” medical professionals who are clueful about research studies and double-blinded, control and tested pharmaceuticals and their profiles as well as western medicine doctors aka “allopaths” and I have met plenty of allopaths who have neither a clue about natural herbs nor the very pharmaceuticals which they prescribe.

    Either you are a knowledgeable skillful person who cares about the well-being of your patients or you are not.

    “Natural medicine” and “allopathic medicine” are both medicine and intertwined. The WHO recommends the treatment of malaria (esp where there are resistant strains) with Artemisia annua, an herb that is made into tinctures and teas. It has a higher side effect profile than the more refined drug made from it, but in high doses is effective against malaria. Is it not scientifically proven medicine if it is “natural”? Not so… where do you think all the drugs CAME from that you use? Many are derived from natural substances — the drug researchers just try to isolate the most effective ingredient in the substance to concentrate its potency and also remove ineffective or toxic components of the drug when putting it into pill form. That said, sometimes the natural substance from which it was derived sometimes has a component that is lost that would have been beneficial in a different and untested way for another condition. You don’t know.

    Atropine is from nightshade. Nightshade is toxic and can kill you by eating 5-10 berries. But atropine can also save your life under certain circumstances. Digitalis comes from foxglove, which has beautiful purple flowers on a tall stalk… Digitalis can kill or save a life.

    We can also pull out Warfarin/Coumadin which comes from sweet woodruff/coumarin derivatives and thousands of other substances from nature and see that they have a good side, and they all have side effects we don’t want. But we use them because most of the time, the good outweighs the bad.

    I guess I’m saying I put more faith in an MD-trained naturopath who has a scientific mind and does their homework than an allopathic doctor who doesn’t care about their patients and brushes off their concerns in a 10 minute appointment. I also put more faith in an MD who knows about herbs and their properties and can work with a patient who uses them, rather than ridicule them immediately. I put no faith whatsoever in someone who touts “miracle cures” or treatments that are completely unproven, or solely resorts to palliative/symptom treatment when more can (and should) be done to improve a patient’s health.

  12. #12 Mark P
    June 27, 2009

    Researching Options: how do you distinguish the naturopath that has a scientific mind? How do you distinguish the allopath that doesn’t care?

    To get a proper MD one needs to be fully trained in science. They are watched practicing. They are struck off if they are naughty (or even excessively clumsy). People therefore have a good chance that their MD is both scientifically minded and careful.

    None of these apply to a naturopath. Training is weak to non-existent. They are never observed in operation. They are never struck off. Never, no matter how many they kill. Your chance of getting a loony is tremendous.

    Your little story about getting the best care bears no resemblance to the real world. In the real world, you will get scientifically based thought if you go to a real doctor, and woo if you visit non-conventional medical “experts”.

    An analogy. You might get better tax advice from your gardener than from your accountant. Which would you actually choose though?

  13. #13 Chris
    June 27, 2009

    Researching options:

    I’m stepping outside the paradigm of “quacks” and “western doctors” here, because I have met plenty of “alternative” medical professionals who are clueful about research studies and double-blinded, control and tested pharmaceuticals and their profiles as well as western medicine doctors aka “allopaths” and I have met plenty of allopaths who have neither a clue about natural herbs nor the very pharmaceuticals which they prescribe.

    Take note that anyone who used the term “allopath” to refer to a real doctor, needs to do more research.

    “Allopathy” is a derogatory term invented by Samuel Hahnemann to describe anything that was not homeopathy. “Allopathy” can refer to herbalism, Traditional Chinese Medicine, naturapathy, and anything else that is not homeopathy.

    If you have issues with any particular doctor’s personality, then go find another doctor. If you have issues with their knowledge of pharmaceuticals, it may not be them, it might be you.

    I say this because your examples of plants being turned into pharmaceutical drugs as example of naturapathy shows you need to research it a bit more. It has always been common to find that what was an herbal medicine had real pharmaceutical properties.

    Yes, there now research on how to treat malaria with artemisia annua, but the trick is getting enough and making it so it works consistently. It still needs real research. Just like the research to turn foxglove into digitalis — which requires proper dosing so the patient is not poisoned (making tea out of foxglove can make you very sick), or in finding ways to turn the chemicals in willow bark into a form that did not harm the stomach (hello, aspirin!).

    That is not naturapathy: it is the type of real research done by this guy:

    Also, you might be interested in this historical pharmaceutical garden, that was used as source and research material many decades ago: Medicinal Herb Garden (this is the index, click on the link above the official Dept. of Biology for more information, including some history and the hope for future information).

    Here some books to help with your research:

    Snake Oil Science by R. Barker Bausell PhD (he even has helpful hints on how to find a good alternative medical practitioner)
    Trick or Treatment by Ernst and Singh

  14. #14 Lindsay
    June 27, 2009

    Don’t know if you’ve seen this yet
    NYTimes on Cancer Research

  15. #15 DLC
    June 28, 2009

    “He’s unresponsive, in respiratory distress and his blood pressure is dropping!”
    “Quick! get the Reiki-ologist, Homeopath and Acupuncturist, stat! ”
    “Dammit, he’s crashing! ”
    “Where’s that damn Energy therapist!”
    There was a youtube video along these lines posted by Orac last year sometime.

  16. #16 Patient
    June 28, 2009

    @11 & 12 Going to an “MD” is no guarantee of getting a doctor steeped in “scientifically based thought” or insurance against fraud trickery or woo, as the following personal experience will demonstrate.

    I was looking for a local primary care doctor in my neighborhood, and dialed up my insurance company to find a few candidates. I have a rheumatologist but needed a new primary care doctor. So I found this MD, a graduate of a reputable medical university in the US, and proceeded to make an appointment after doing the usual checks for license, background, etc. She was nice enough, but seemed a little weird for my taste and I also noticed in the office a large closet chocked full of vitamins and herbs presumably for sale.

    After the uneventful exam, the doctor suggested that I get a yeast test, and a few other tests that were not covered by insurance. I declined. She had drawn blood and told me the results would be available on my next visit. The receptionist on the way out kept bothering me about the yeast test, “you should get it, its really good, will help you,” etc. Needless to say, I wasn’t going back there. I called up the blood lab and asked if they would send a copy of the blood work to my rheumatologist, which they did.

    Next week my rheumatologist was all over that blood test –every reading for vitamins, minerals, and other things was out of whack. Upon closer inspection my rheumatologist noted that all the reading were on a PEDIATRIC scale, meaning that this so called “legitimate” MD was looking to show me a blood test with numbers out of whack so I would have to buy all the supplements she was selling. Caveat Emptor.

  17. #17 Mark P
    June 28, 2009

    Going to an “MD” is no guarantee of getting a doctor steeped in “scientifically based thought” or insurance against fraud trickery or woo, as the following personal experience will demonstrate.

    Ah, the old argument of destroying all scientific medicine based on one supposed counter-example. Perhaps you got unlikely, but going to a naturopath is pretty much a guarantee that you won’t get scientific-based thought.

    The solution to bad MDs is proper certification and over-sight. The solution is not to go to a woo-meister.

  18. #18 DLC
    June 28, 2009

    Unfortunately, some MDs, even from “Respectable” colleges (and you don’t really know how much of their training they did there) fall into woo-woo-land or go all ducky on you.
    (quack! quack!) but a so-called “naturopath” doesn’t “Go all ducky on anybody” he starts out there! Going to an MD, at least you have some idea that they’ve been trained in science-based medicine instead of wish fulfillment magic hand-waving.

  19. #19 Kitty
    June 28, 2009

    I travel a mile to my doctor (GP) rather than going to the one next door to me because of his ‘inclusive’ policy on all types of woo. He is just as likely to prescribe homoeopathy for major infections, send you for a course of Reiki for arthritis or to a Chinese herbalist for asthma – all readily available at the centre right across the road. His mantra is “I treat the whole person”, he has it written on the wall in the waiting room. Ha!
    I have a friend who was hospitalised because of pneumonia which he was treating with homoeopathy for over 3 months. She didn’t even know that was the diagnosis as he’d not given her the full test results, despite them being flagged as urgent by the lab. He was treating her for ‘stress’ – you know single mum, money worries, abusive ex – therefore all her woes were stress related, therefore as an holistic doctor he knew better than the lab what was ‘really’ wrong with her.
    He nearly killed her. We are awaiting the outcome of an investigation. I hope he is struck off as an MD but that will not prevent him from carrying on with the woo side of his practice.

  20. #20 Michael Kingsford Gray
    June 28, 2009

    “Alternative Medicine” = “Alternative TO Medicine”

  21. #21 Patient
    June 28, 2009

    Easy there, Mark–I’m on your side. I wasn’t trying to make a case for alternative medicine, I was merely pointing out that where ever you choose to get your care, be mindful of the big closet with the vitamins in it. OK?

  22. #22 Mark P
    June 29, 2009

    Fair enough Patient. Caveat Emptor applies all the time, of course.

  23. #23 Harry Eagar
    June 29, 2009

    Years ago I was at a public hearing about some issue or another — I forget what — where a chiropractor got up and complained that chiropractors could not be reimbursed by Medicaid (I think it was) because they didn’t have emergency rooms.

    I laughed out loud.

    Of course they don’t. Nobody having a medical emergency would go to a chiropractor, naturopath, etc. They go to real physicians and surgeons for that.

  24. #24 wfjag
    June 29, 2009

    Speigel Online International


    German Jews Horrified by Britney Holocaust Role

    “The news that Britney Spears may hit the silver screen as the star of a Holocaust-era romantic tragedy has raised eyebrows in Germany. The plot calls for the pop-star to travel back in time to a concentration camp — and the Central Council of Jews in Germany says the idea is ‘reprehensible.'”

    [Rest of the article at http://www.spiegel.de/international/zeitgeist/0,1518,632338,00.html#ref=rss ]

    Sometimes I think there’s a world-wide conspiracy to provide Orac with material worthy of being snarky about.

  25. #25 Jillbryant
    June 29, 2009

    I don’t understand the point. Who would choose to have naturopathy covered over medicine? Naturopathy costs are minimal compared to conventional medicine. And, I personally don’t know anyone who, in an emergency, would choose anything but to go to their hospital.

    For comparison purposes though, I do know several people who treat their pets with homeopathy because they can’t afford the high costs of veterinary care (there is pet insurance but, unless you get it immediately or well before you realize there are any problems, it pretty much isn’t going to cover anything. My next pet I am definitely getting it right away.) I am treating my dog for an ideopathic nose inflammation using conventional medicine – steroids, antibiotics, antihistimine + the tools of diagnosis have now cost me $1000. An acquaintance happens to have the same problem with her dog and is using homeopathics. Cost – $8. I have already been told this treatment is experimental with no guarantees of success (and with problematic side effects). No side effects with the homeopathy. I am very hopeful for both our dogs because that’s the only way I can be – she has no choice since she doesn’t have $1000 (or enough room on her CareCredit card). I don’t think you want to make this little personal war your waging about money, though.

  26. #26 Jillbryant
    June 29, 2009

    Sorry – make that:
    …this little personal war you’re waging about money, though.

  27. #27 wfjag
    June 29, 2009

    @ Jillbryant:
    Don’t hold your breath on pet insurance. I got it several years ago. One of my cats recently died of a very rapidly spreading sarcoma — and I had the cancer rider on the policy. I’m now fighting the insurer over its denial of coverage for pre-existing conditions (that’s right, the reasoning is that the cat must have had the cancer for several years — although it was of a type that is terminal in a few months at most — because some of the symptoms are similar to some symptoms for other things for which she was treated over the years).

    Pet insurance is fairly expensive (and, the insurer will set up an automatic renewal in a way making it very difficult to cancel the policy — or, if you stop payment, your credit rating will take a major hit), and the policies contain all manner of exclusions and fairly high annual and per procedure deductibles. Further, pet insurance is usually set up as a reimbursement for amounts you’ve already paid, and isn’t like insurance for people that typically pays the provider (less any copayment) and the provider agrees to accept that as payment in full. Further, unlike insurance on people, it is not apparent that the provisions in pet insurance policies are read against the insurer to provide a reasonable scope of coverage.

    You might do better to figure out how much the deductibles and annual premium would be, and to buy a CD or US Savings Bond in that amount each year. When your pet needs treatment, you’ll have the money plus any interest. And, if that doesn’t cover all of the costs by the vet, you’ll be in no worse position than you would be if you had paid premiums for pet insurance over the years, and probably in a better position since you’ll actually have some money to pay the vet — instead of paying both the vet and the premium, and hoping for some reimbursement at some later time.

    Hope it works out for your dog. And, “no side effects of homeopathy” isn’t exactly an accurate statement. Rather, it is “no reported side effects for homeopathy” since as the FDA does not regulate homeopathic treatments, there is no agency to which alleged side-effects can be reported.

  28. #28 Chris
    June 29, 2009


    An acquaintance happens to have the same problem with her dog and is using homeopathics. Cost – $8. I have already been told this treatment is experimental with no guarantees of success (and with problematic side effects). No side effects with the homeopathy.

    Except that $8 is an awful lot of money for something without any active ingredients. The reason there are no side effects to homeopathics is that they are diluted past any point where there is a biologic effect.

    For instance, a 1C dilution means that it is a 1 in 100 dilution. The 2C means that it is diluted again (one part of the 1C bit is put into 9 parts water or lactose, the sugar pill). A typical homeopathic dilution is 30C, which is 1 part in 1060 parts… or one molecule in all the water in the known universe.

    Here is some more information here:

    Plus, there are some veterinarians who are not pleased with animals being denied care, and suffering due to non-treatment with homeopathy, so they created a site expressing their views with satire on “voodoo veterinary” practices:

  29. #29 Eric
    June 30, 2009

    Ahh, the arrogant blog of pseudo-intellectual scum who think they know everything (aka drug-pushing morons), including their little corner of “science” that they believe is true. Sad that I accidently ended up here from an RSS feed. Keep on takin’ those drugs – we need less of you around…

  30. #30 Chris
    June 30, 2009

    Please show us the error of our ways and present the data that shows “insert drug of choice” is killing us versus “insert naturopathic treatment of choice.”

    Thank you.

  31. #31 Orac
    June 30, 2009

    Cue crickets chirping.

  32. #32 Prometheus
    June 30, 2009

    Jillbryant notes:

    “…I do know several people who treat their pets with homeopathy because they can’t afford the high costs of veterinary care.”

    This is an interesting statement. In essence, the people Jillbryant refers to are treating their pets with a non-medicine because they can’t afford real medical care for them. No treatment would be just as effective as homeopathy and a lot less fuss and bother, as well. Not to mention cheaper.

    A “medication” costing $8 sounds like a bargain compared to medical care and medications costing $1000 until you look at what you’re getting for that $8 (i.e. nothing). If homeopathy were only 1% as effective as the regimen Jillbryant was using, it would be a bargain. Is paying $8 for nothing a better “deal” than paying $1000 for something? You do the math.

    Homeopathy is merely a placebo – the pet owners using it are spending a small amount of money in order to feel that they are doing something while watching the natural course of the disease (which may include complete recovery). That may be worth the cost (or it may not), but we shouldn’t kid ourselves that the homeopathic “remedy” is actually doing anything.


  33. #33 Shay
    June 30, 2009

    “An acquaintance happens to have the same problem with her dog and is using homeopathics. Cost – $8.”

    Jill, if your acquaintance would like to stop by my place I’ll be happy to provide her with something that will be just as effective as that homeopathic remedy and won’t cost a cent.

    Comes out of the tap at the side of the house.

  34. #34 jillbryant
    July 1, 2009

    wfjag – re: pet insurance. I’d be interested in what one you used. From what I can tell from the policy I looked at from the ASPCA, both of my dog’s TPLOs would have been covered ($8000+) because it’s not a condition her breed is predisposed toward. I think it would’ve also covered the swallowing of a foreign object ($2200). I don’t know about the aural hematomas (they were only a total of $600 because I didn’t get the surgery). I’ve heard some insurances are better than others. I am very sorry about your cat….

    The point I was trying to make was that I didn’t think people would choose insurance to cover the cost of naturopathics over medical treatments because, from what I can tell (using veterinary medical costs as an example since that’s the only place I know of people using homeopathy) they would rather the naturopathic costs be out-of-pocket
    But, Chris –
    I love that some vets don’t like animals being denied veterinary care by their owners. Yeah – how dare people not pay for veterinary costs…the costs are so manageable. Let’s see – one of my neighbors spent $10K on an operation for her cat (sadly, it died). Another spent $5K(sadly it also died – possibly a victim of the cat food that was causing kidney problem). Another spent $4K in 8 mo. just to get a dog in shape to be adopted. Another spent $6K when her cat swallowed a rubber band (sadly, it died). This one who doesn’t have the money has been helping dogs forever since she lives near a dog dumping ground but, with all the foreclosures, there have been so many dogs, she can’t find homes for them all and, at this point, this is not a life threatening problem. And, since the vet said there are no guarantees for the treatment I am giving my dog either (who, since starting the treatment on Friday has had three heavy nose bleeds – something he never had before – besides being completely lethargic from the antihistimine and steroids…) I am hoping, at the least, I am not making the situation worse.

    So – ignoring my original point, let’s just say the $8 is a placebo for the owner. (There seems to be a little disagreement here as to whether there are unreported possible harmful side effects since there is no reporting body or just no effect at all but, I’m assuming “water” isn’t doing any harm.) Considering the anxiety and stress of being unable to help an animal the way you’d like to, I’d say it’s a pretty cheap anti-depressant to get her through it.

  35. #35 Chris
    July 1, 2009

    But is the $8 for a placebo going to be a an antidepressant if the pet gets sicker?

    There is harm is you are sold a worthless “remedy” (and make no mistake, despite its vocal fan club, homeopathy is completely worthless), and miss an opportunity to heal someone quicker, instead of waiting too late:

  36. #36 Prometheus
    July 1, 2009

    As Chris (above) mentions, the low up-front price of homeopathy often conceals the harm that is done by using it in place of real medical care.

    However, if you can’t afford to give your pet real medical care (and veterinarians have to eat, too), then you have to ask yourself if $8 for homeopathic remedies – and the self-deceit necessary to believe that they will work – is worth the price.

    If your pet’s illness is self-limiting, then the $8 homeopathic “remedy” might save you from having to pay the veterinarian to tell you that your pet’s illness will resolve on its own.

    If your pet has a chance (not 100%) of getting better on its own (say, from an infection), then the $8 might allow you to feel as though you’re doing something (even though you’re doing nothing) as you “let Nature take its course” (note: “Nature” is neither benign nor merciful).

    The fact is that this is all about money. You don’t see the naturopaths or homeopaths or chiropractors or “natural healing” gurus giving it away, do you? That $8 homeopathic pet “remedy” cost less than $1 to make, package and market. Think about how many people used it instead of (or before) going to the veterinarian and you get a glimpse of how profitable homeopathy is.

    In a way, my objection to homeopathy and naturopathy (and chiropractic, etc.) is also all about money. I don’t want my tax dollars or insurance premium dollars spent/wasted in remedies that can’t work (homeopathy) or haven’t been shown to work (the rest of CAM).

    Every dollar spent on “CAM” is either a pure waste (“treating” a self-limiting or non-existent disorder with remedies that have no real effect) or represents a delay in appropriate diagnosis and treatment that will end up costing even more to treat a condition further along in its natural progression (see: increased taxes and insurance premiums) and may well end up costing someone their life.

    “CAM” is a bad idea on many levels.


  37. #37 Skemono
    July 1, 2009

    To pile onto the points that Chris and Prometheus have already made, I would like to direct you to this post of mine. Or, I’ll sum up the points here:
    Dan Fleschner put up a post on allDAY, the blog for MSNBC’s TODAY show, about somebody uses “alternative” practices on animals. Fleschner took his dog, who had bone cancer, to this man. The dog was given herbs to battle the cancer. Sounds cheap!

    Of course, the herbs didn’t help. The dog’s tumor grew so bad that it fracture the poor animal’s leg, and so the leg had to be amputated, in addition to getting the chemo that actually cured the cancer. Getting the herbs didn’t make things any better, nor any cheaper in the long run.

    (And of course, true to Orac’s law, Fleschner extolled that horrible fraud of a veterinarian as a “miracle worker”, crediting him with curing the dog’s cancer even though he did nothing but make things worse)

  38. #38 Bronze Dog
    July 1, 2009

    One real kick the dog moment I read about in the UK that added to my anti-homeopathy hostility: Dog with an ear infection gets treated homepathically. It spreads out the ear and starts covering the dog’s face until it’s so painful the vet has to put it to sleep to alleviate the suffering.

    And it would have been quite easily cured by a round or two of antibiotics in just a few days.

    Animals being victimized upsets me because their lack of intelligence makes them so helpless much of the time. It’s often quite frustrating when human victims of woo refuse to use their brains to see that they’re being hurt in one fashion or another.

  39. #39 Autodidactyl
    July 1, 2009

    “Dog with an ear infection gets treated homepathically. It spreads out the ear and starts covering the dog’s face until it’s so painful the vet has to put it to sleep to alleviate the suffering.And it would have been quite easily cured by a round or two of antibiotics in just a few days.”

    In economics, this phenomena is known as opportunity cost; the cost of what “you don’t do”–meaning that purchase and use of alternative treatments can cost more in terms of making the patient worse, having outcomes that could have been prevented, as well as adding additional funds to an industry that should be run out of town on a rail.

    People using these “treatments” don’t realize the money spent on “trying something” to see if it “works” is money that would be better spent elsewhere–ideally on treatments that actually work. People are “trying” these remedies every day—one may think that there is no harm in “trying” something, but on the macro level it is the very engine that keeps the CAM industry in business.

  40. #40 snerd
    July 1, 2009

    Speaking of nutbag homeopaths, the chap who managed to murder his daughter through hubris and unbridled arrogance is at it again:


  41. #41 jillbryant
    July 3, 2009

    1)Chris – pet getting sicker. Vets do not know how to cure this. In fact, last night, when my dog got another nose bleed (something he didn’t have before I put him on the medication), I was looking it up and found a paper by a vet saying the treatment we are using makes it worse (although there are other vets recommending this treatment) And, I’m not sure you understand when people CANNOT afford the vet.
    2) Prometheus – I understand your logic but I assure you, the purchase of the homeopathics is not going on your insurance anymore than anything else she buys. You must really hate when people buy cigarettes and supersize their meals.
    3)Skemono – apparently it wasn’t about the money to Fleschner because he was able to pay for an amputation (not cheap) and chemo.
    4) Bronze Dog – I’m with you – I am very against animal abuse. I’m sorry but I can’t watch anything at this point. I told you, the dog my friend was dealing with was dumped. That’s the tip of the iceberg – my other rescue is a pit bull which has opened up a whole new world to me. If you want to see animals being victimized, I assure you people giving them homeopathics instead of antibiotics is not even one of the circles in h@ll.
    5)Autodidactyl – Wow! Are you as upset about the drug companies that have released products knowing about the complications that lead to death and still didn’t recall them?

  42. #42 Chris
    July 3, 2009


    1)Chris – pet getting sicker. Vets do not know how to cure this.

    And why do you think a homeopath can? What evidence do you have that someone who is sticking to a made up therapy that has not changed in two centuries would be any better than a veterinarian?

  43. #43 jillbryant
    July 3, 2009

    Chris —
    Um, huh? Did I say I thought the homeopathy could cure it? If I thought homeopathy could cure it, I would use it.

  44. #44 Chris
    July 3, 2009

    Then I would say you never read anything I wrote, or the links I provided. I only ever tried to explain what homeopathy was, I never addressed the capability of veterinarians.

    Also, pointing out that people with real medical qualifications in no way provides evidence that naturopaths or other alt. med folk are better.

  45. #45 Chris
    July 3, 2009

    I was being rushed: Let me explain fully… this blog posting was showing that choosing the alternative health provider can bring about more misery and ill health. The fact that you continue to moan and groan about the lack of ability of real veterinarians in no way provides evidence that naturopaths or other alternative medical practitioner are any better.

    I would suggest you go up and actually read for comprehension the comic, and the comments that have followed.

  46. #46 Chris
    July 3, 2009

    Just because I know you will not click on the cartoon and read it, I shall type out the words on the last panel for your reading pleasure:

    I like to think all of the medicines and procedures that would be saving your wife’s life right now as “preservatives.” And I could be pumping your wife full of preservatives as we speak… but the philosophy is that it’s better to let nature take its course… naturally.

  47. #47 Jillbryant
    July 4, 2009

    Chris –
    I believe I have read you’ve written and I think you’ve read what I’ve written but we are talking at cross-purposes. The blog post said:
    “If you had the choice between the “standard” option for insurance or the naturopathic option, which would you choose?”

    And I was trying to say why would anyone choose to have insurance cover the naturopathic option instead of the “standard” option when the “standard” option costs so much more. I suppose if it’s a person who ONLY used naturopathic treatments (even for broken bones and emergencies?), then, yes, because otherwise they would NEVER use their insurance. Otherwise, it seemed like poor reasoning to me.

    Then, I used the veterinary example because that’s what I’m familiar with. Which would you rather have your insurance cover? In the case I cited $1000 or $8? I believe anyone using naturopathy periodically would still choose to insure for standard medicine because they can afford to pay for naturopathy themselves (even if you all feel $8 thrown away is way too high) where covering the costs of “standard” medicine is not easy.

    And, I was not bemoaning the lack of ability of real veterinarians at all. I love my vet(s – I have a local one for more of the everyday care and another one for orthosurgeries, etc.) I am so grateful for all they’ve done for my dogs and how lovingly they treat them. The fact that they do not know how to cure this particular problem means it is more frustrating to spend all the money and put my dog through the side effects of the medications (he wet his bed last night – the vet warned me that might happen with steroids – he’s never done that and for a Great Dane mix, that is a hella mess, he is panting, he has nose bleeds, he is lethargic, etc.). For all I know (and my vets know) perhaps my friend’s dog will get well doing nothing (that’s what you guys say the homeopathy is) and, using all the medical advantages my dog won’t. But, they are also different breeds, ages, etc., so comparing them is meaningless. I was just comparing the costs….

    I never should have brought an example into it. It just muddied the water. Gotta say, though, my dog is on my mind and he’s why I’m stuck here and have so much time to spend on my computer so there you have it…….

  48. #48 Chris
    July 4, 2009


    And I was trying to say why would anyone choose to have insurance cover the naturopathic option instead of the “standard” option when the “standard” option costs so much more.

    But according to the comic strip the naturopathic insurance cost more, so it was assumed to be better.

    The “standard” option is not always more expensive, especially if it is actually effective. Especially since I and other tried, and tried, and explained that paying $8 for homeopathy was basically taking that money and tossing it down the drain.

    Occasionally my back will go out, and be sore. My family doctor told me to take some ibuprofen and do some back exercises. Following his advice (one doctor visit worth) my back got better, and since I continued on with an exercise routine my back does not go out anymore. How does that compare with going to a chiropractor for $100 adjustments for several weeks?

    It is not always true that naturopathy is cheaper than real medicine. See what $15,000 a week for treatment in Tijuana gets you.

    And even if it was a fraction of the cost of real treatment, it is still overpriced if it is not effective.

    You said

    Which would you rather have your insurance cover? In the case I cited $1000 or $8?

    I want them to only cover effective medicine. If I have to pay for group insurance I do not want the money thrown away on worthless stuff.

    That $8 for homeopathy will in the long term cost much more than the $1000 for real medicine. There are so many conditions that if left untreated can end up costing so much more.

    A simple mole could turn into malignant skin cancer, a simple tooth carie can end up requiring a root canal (I know someone this happened to), substituting real psychiatrist prescribed meds with stuff from a naturopath could turn into several weeks in the county psyche ward (again, I know someone who this happened too, and the compounding pharmacy that the naturopath sent her too was pretty pricey), consulting a homeopath instead of taking the proper malaria prophylactic can cause malaria (that has happened), a skin condition that could have been treated with steroidal creams could end with sepsis (recent coverage in Australia on the baby Gloria Thomas whose parents have just been convicted of manslaughter), using chelation for health conditions can result in death because it does not work (and because a compounding pharmacy did cause deaths from mistakes in mixing the chelator) and on and on and on.

    Even if the initial monetary outlay is less, it is not really cheaper.

  49. #49 jillbryant
    July 8, 2009

    Chris –
    So sorry “I and other tried, and tried” so hard to make me understand that it is throwing money away. I actually got it the first time and every other time someone repeated it. That it is literally like taking a five and three ones and throwing them away. Got it. Thought I made it clear that I got it. That wasn’t the point I was trying to make but I am now fascinated by this. I am very surprised you are all shocked at someone throwing away $8. A quick look under my sink shows me throwing away much more than that – shampoos and conditioners I didn’t like, nail polish I don’t use, etc.

    I am actually tired of the whole discussion at this point. You are now citing horror cases. If I cited medical horror cases (of which I personally know many) would that prove anything. I also have some positive cases. Irrelevant. I think we need to move on since this has become very repetitive.

    That said, I would like to say the $8 did make my friend feel better – even if she was stupid to think it was having any effect (she gave the dog homeopathics, chicken soup and bought it a humidifier – I think doing every one of those things made her feel better – at least than doing nothing since, as I said, she COULDN’T afford to do more). He was still having trouble (but became very tail-waggy with all the attention she gave him) but, the best news of all – she found a home for him with a couple in Palm Springs hoping that, if it is allergy related, that will help and if not, they have more money so they will be able to do vet treatments.

    My poor Buddy is still having a bad time. He is halfway through his treatment and I am hoping for the best….

  50. #50 marvelous
    August 10, 2009

    I seldom see a doctor who assimilates naturopathic medicine into his actual medical practice.
    Well.. at least a patient has another option when medical therapy doesn’t work.. thanks to naturopathic medicine.
    After all, miracles to happen, don’t they?
    Speaking of naturopathic medicine, here is some website I want to to take a look at and tell me what you think.

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