8 Ways Alternative Medicine Hurts Those of Us With Chronic Illnesses

Since the moment I first got sick the suggestions people gave me were unreal. The suggestions began with “just needing to pray harder” and gradually made their way to biofeedback, grounding, crystals, supplements, and more. I honestly am not sure which was worse, but I do know that suggestions and trying alternative medicine have only made a hard life with chronic illness harder.

1. The Patient Gets Blamed When a Treatment Doesn’t Work

When a doctor gives me a medication and it doesn’t work I don’t get blamed for the failure. However, when I try an alternate medicine I nearly always do get blamed for the failure. When it was biofeedback, I wasn’t trying hard enough or practicing enough. When it was acupuncture, I wasn’t trying to relax hard enough. Even with supplements, I just hadn’t waited long enough for the benefits (no matter how long I waited).

It is hard enough to be blamed for a treatment not working when you are trying your best. It is even worse when this attitude gets perpetuated beyond your treatment and into the rest of your life. Sometimes when I tell people the conditions I have I get the response “Well are you trying _____” (Insert any alternative medical treatment). Sometimes it is implied and sometimes it is explicit but the underlying question is always there- why aren’t you trying everything you can? The reality is that people with chronic illnesses don’t owe it to anyone to try treatments not verified by science. The attitude that we aren’t trying hard enough when we don’t try whatever alternative treatment is hurting people. It has kept me from getting the support I need from my friends and family- I was never trying hard enough to get better so in their eyes I didn’t deserve their support.

2. Alternative Medicine Is Dangerous

There are many reasons using treatments only verified by science is so important. One reason is safety of a treatment is verified. The treatments benefits must outway the risks for it to go to market. However, alternative medicine doesn’t need to go through the same thorough screening. People with pre-existing conditions can be the most endangered by this lack of safety.

For example, supplements often aren’t what they say they are. This can cause medications interactions and other problems- especially in people who already aren’t healthy. Chiropracty and acupuncture have their own dangers too. Chiropracty has been linked to strokes and acupuncture to puncturing organs.

I often hear “But it is natural so it is safe” or “I don’t want to put all those drugs in my body- I prefer natural treatment.” What so many people fail to realize is that natural does not mean safe. So many natural things in this world are dangerous- berries, mushrooms, and poison ivy for start. The thing is so many of the medications on the market come from nature and have been improved upon so they are safer and more effective. One example is aspirin, which initially comes from willow bark. There are dangers from the completely natural willow bark and aspirin the same. The difference is aspirin has been tested and put into the safe, same dose in every bottle with dosing specifications included. The risks are assessed and addressed whereas natural products usually only claim they are natural and the public assumes that means safe and doesn’t question the risks of the treatment further.

3. Costs

Alternative medicine profits off people with chronic illnesses. I’m not going to try and argue that “big pharma” doesn’t profit off us being sick as well. However, when we pay for medication we are paying for something that has been proven to be effective at least some of the time. With good insurance, these treatments are likely to be at least partially covered. With alternative med people pay, and they pay big, for something that has not been proven to help with their condition- or any condition at all.

People with chronic illnesses already have to deal with crippling medical debt and are just desperate enough to try anything- any crazy alternative medicine no matter how small the chance there it has of actually helping them. People know this and they benefit off of it. They take advantage of the desperate.

4. It Assumes Laymen Know More Than Doctors

There is a reason we should only trust medical professionals to treat medical conditions. The human body is infinitely complex and so many things can go wrong. Doctors and pharmacists spend a large chunk of their lives in school learning how to treat patients better and minimize risks. But alternative medicine professionals? Anyone can become one. They don’t have to know much about the human body or even anything about the condition they claim they can help with.

5. Patients End up Constantly Chasing Hope All The Time

Having a hope certainly isn’t a bad thing. Having false hope in a treatment that will cost you hundreds, if not thousands, and let you down is a bad thing. A lot of people with incurable, chronic illnesses, if not all, go through a time similar to the bargaining stage of grief. They try anything- no matter how slim of a chance it has of working. Alternative medicine con men know this and they take advantage of it. They promise cures to our chronic conditions. They are in the business of selling false hope.

False hope hurts. Putting 50+ hours into biofeedback that claimed to cure (or hugely improve) my POTS and getting so little out of it. I was crushed by letting myself hope I could get better and then continuing to be sick no matter how hard I tried. The biofeedback technician blamed me; I blamed me. Even worse, my loved ones bought the false claims the biofeedback technician made. And when I wasn’t cured? They blamed me too. It was one of the darkest times of my life. The disappointment consumed me.

6. It Claims To Fix You, Not To Manage Symptoms

Trumped up claims of efficacy are a hallmark of alternative medicine. All the medications from a true doctor I took only claimed to possibly manage the symptoms of my conditions. However, alternative medicine practitioners claimed that they could cure my incurable illness or basically make all the symptoms disappear.

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My conditions are incurable. Cutting out gluten, doing biofeedback nonstop, becoming vegan, yoga, walking, crystals, needles, etc. is not going to make an incurable illness curable. If the cure was truly found actual scientists and medical professionals would be all over it. Alternative medicine conmen making these outlandish claims produces false hope, keeps people from learning to live with their conditions, and makes conditions harder to understand. That leads me to our next point.

7. Pseudo-experts Make Understanding Conditions Harder

Education on conditions is important to people being supportive. When alternative medicine conmen enter the conversation they dilute the available information with false claims rather than facts. This makes the condition more difficult to understand for the patient, medical professionals, and loved ones. Pseudoscience, therefore, makes the lives of patients much more difficult.

For example, I have had doctors tell me that my conditions would be cured by cutting out inflammatory foods. This diet has no evidence to back it up but somehow made it into my doctor’s education on my conditions. Getting suggestions that indicate a fundamental misunderstanding of my condition (that it is incurable) is frustrating and disheartening.

For other examples, you only have to look as far as support groups. There is so much pseudoscience and misinformation that many patients don’t even understand the basics of their condition.

8. Alternative Medicine Simply Does Not Work

There have been many studies into alternative medicine and the results are conclusive- alternative medicine simply does not work. There is a common joke in the science community: What do you call alternative medicine that works? Real medicine.

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So before you consider the next random treatment suggested to you- check it out first. Is there any good evidence that it helps people with your condition? Is it worth the money, the false hope, the risk, or the blame you will likely receive when it fails?

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You Don’t Owe It To Anyone To Try Every Treatment

Two weeks ago I went in for an injection in my back. The doctor, instead of being focused on my pain and comfort, decided to use me seeing him as a platform to push alternative medicine on me. By the end of my time with him I was sobbing because I was so frustrated from not being heard. Since then I’ve come to the realization that I don’t owe it to anyone to try a treatment especially one that has not been backed up by science. I will no longer accept health care “professionals” who are judgmental about me not trying hard enough to cure myself.

In the beginning, 8 long years ago, when I first got really sick I tried everything. Every possibility of improvement I jumped on. Every time I got my hopes up and had them crushed again and again. As if that disappointment wasn’t enough, when these things didn’t make me feel all the way better it was always my fault. I must have not been following the diet close enough. I wasn’t practicing hard enough. No one considered the possibility that the treatment, one that hadn’t been verified as successful, just didn’t work.

When alternative medicine gets pushed on patients it is the patients that get hurt. Dealing with having your hopes crushed over and over is hard enough. Dealing both with that and with feelings of inadequacy when you are trying your best is even worse. In real medicine, if someone takes their meds and they don’t work they don’t get blamed for not trying hard enough. When one blood thinner doesn’t work me don’t blame the patient for not trying hard enough to thin their blood; instead the dosage is adjusted or a different medication is used. Real medical professions realize that medications and treatments work differently for different people.

You can bet I will be writing more on the subject, but here are some ridiculous highlights that came from my surgeon:

“Just try an anti inflammatory diet. I did and I feel like I’m 21 again!”

Talking to someone who has been in a ridiculous amount of pain since they were 18 about how you felt 21 is insensitive. Youth does not always mean health.

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“You’ll lose 21 pounds in 21 days.”

What are you an infomercial?!

 

“Inflammation is the cause of all your problems; you just need to cut it out.”

Actually, my genes cause all my problems. No diet will change that. Also, inflammation is not always a bad thing. It helps us heal, it lets us know when there is a problem. Saying an anti-inflammatory diet will fix everything is oversimplifying things. Didn’t you go to medical school?! Or we using “doctor” in a looser sense?

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“Do you eat gluten? You haven’t cut it out. That is your problem.”

I have cut it out. I tried that. Do you think you’re the first person to tell you that? Cutting out gluten is not the solution to everything.

 

“People drive from Kansas just to get this list, but I’m going to give it to you for free.”

Great a list of potentially dangerous supplements and unwarranted “medical” advice. My favorite.

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“Actually there is an entire edition of a journal dedicated to this.”

Yes, there are articles in academic journals about anti-inflammatory diets. They are written by chiropractors and nurses who monetarily profit from people trying anti-inflammatory diets. There is almost no information on any actual science behind it from credible sources. Just because the article is in an academic journal doesn’t mean it is reliable.

 

“You need to get off opiates.”

He said this one to me as I was sobbing in pain in front of him. He is not the doctor that manages them, it was not his business. He also said this after telling me that the nerve in my back was pinched and asking if I had surgery scheduled. When someone dislocates their shoulder they are given opiates. EDSers deal with that pain daily all of their body, but then are judged for needing pain relief. I haven’t slept a good nights sleep in four months due to pain, but yes I’ll stop opiates right away.

 

“You need to try biofeedback.”

I have. I even use some techniques for relaxation, but it didn’t cure me.

 

“You just didn’t see a good one.”

I saw one who is an expert to my condition.

 

“You have to practice more.”

I was practicing even more than they recommended. I tried at it. I really did, but when alternative medicine fails it is always the fault of the patient- not the alternative medicine.

 

“I treat people with EDS all the time.”

He had no understanding of EDS, prescribed me muscle relaxers (contraindicated to EDS), and obviously had no grasp of the condition. I really hope he was lying here and that no one with my condition has had to deal with his ignorance.

 

“Just try what the doctor is recommending.”

This one came from the judgmental nurse on staff. She said this after the doctor was done spewing his pseudoscience and after I had already said that I had done the research and there wasn’t science to back it up AND that I couldn’t eat most of what is in their proposed diet. Chronically ill people don’t deserve to be shamed for not trying things that are not backed by science.
Life with a chronic illness is hard enough. We don’t deserve to be harassed by people for not trying a treatment. I’m not saying that all alternative medicine is evil. For example, massage has helped me wonderfully. What I am saying is that people with chronic illnesses do not deserve to be harassed or judged for not trying hard enough for not trying every treatment under the sun. 

Sunday Skeptism: Grounding/ Earthing

Having a chronic illness that has no cure and only a little research often makes people vulnerable to try nearly anything once. As a result, some scam artists prey off of that vulnerability and try to market products that do absolutely nothing or very little. Each Sunday I will investigate a treatment- do their claims lay in science or if they are taking advantage of people?

Science In This Article

Placebo effect– The effect that occurs when a patient takes a treatment and sees a positive result just because they are being treated. The result may happen even if the patient knows it is the placebo.
Blinded- The best studies are blinded. This means that the observer and researcher do not know which group is receiving treatment and which is not. Blind studies ensure that the researcher does not tamper with the results or give any subconscious bias while administering the test.
Electrons- Electrons are tiny negatively charged subatomic particles.
Grounding (electricity)- In electricity, the purpose of grounding is to reduce the risk of electrical shock and discharge static electricity.
Cortisol- Cortisol is called the “stress hormone” and is created in times of stress.

It Looks Like Science

Grounding is the process of going barefoot or making direct contact with the earth in order to access the earth’s “healing energy” in the form of electrons. Earthing and grounding are used interchangeably. Beyond this, earthing and grounding “experts” cannot even define their terms consistently. Some enthusiasts claim grounding is absorbing the electrons from the earth. Other enthusiasts sell mats and protective (from the electrons given off by the earth) coverings for your car, sleeping bag, carpet etc.
Grounding splits into two fields of focus. One focuses on contact with the actual earth which I see as the less harmful of the two because there is less money to lose. The other focus in grounding is on electrons on any surface and how to protect the body (probably because they make more money this way).

When you read about the claims by grounding enthusiasts they tend to throw around some scientific words that can be quite convincing. However, the science is either nonsense or claimed as fact without any proof. Grounding enthusiasts claim grounding creates a more stable bio-electrical environment within our bodies. Is there anything to prove it?

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Not-So-Scientific Claims

This is the story that was posted that lead me to making this post. I have many problems with this article and they begin before grounding even comes up.

Claim:”it is a recognized scientific fact that if a human baby is not held, hugged and touched enough, it will literally stop growing.”
Not only does this have nothing to do with grounding, but it is also untrue. This is the article they are referring to. The article clearly states that there is a link between brain development and human touch, nothing about suddenly not growing. The article makes it clear early on they don’t care about scientific integrity right off the bat and goes downhill.

The article shows promise when it starts mentioning scientific studies, but upon further inspection they aren’t very scientific studies.
Claim: “The study concluded that Earthing resynchronized levels of cortisol within the body”
Grounders claim that cortisol levels prove grounding helps. Researchers did see a decrease in cortisol levels after grounding, but likely not for the reasons they claim. It is likely these results come from placebo effect or report bias alone.

Claim: The studies also claim that patients using a grounding mat reported improved sleep, calm, and insomnia. Again, without a control group it is unlikely that the results were more than placebo effect.

In addition, the studies were not blinded. Blind studies ensure that the researcher does not tamper with the results or give any subconscious bias while administering the test. That makes the results less valuable. Not all scientific- looking articles are actually science.

There are known benefits to being outside and connecting to nature. Many people find reconnecting with nature relaxing and rejuvenating, but claiming a handful of health problems are cured by grounding is taking advantage of the vulnerable.

They Will Take Your Money & A Lot Of It

This glorified sleeping bag plugs into the wall and costs $259.99, but of course you can’t get just that. You also have to get a “continuity checker.” These companies are taking advantage of the average person not understanding electricity and electrons. They sell voltmeters as if they need to be especially for grounding.

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They Claim The Benefits Of Being Outside Are All From Grounding

Reconnecting with nature works to lower stress in many people, and the grounding craze appeals to this. Sometimes walking outside barefoot is nice and relaxing. Grounders claim that all the good feelings that come from being outside are actually from grounding. They claim that grounding helps, some even claims it cures, basically all illness and sell extremely overpriced junk to desperate people.

If you still aren’t convinced grounding doesn’t work and want to try grounding for yourself I suggest you do not buy any of their “grounding” products. Try it for free at your favorite park.

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Cake is Infuriating: Chronic Pain in the Movies

For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, Cake is a movie with a Jennifer Anniston about a woman in chronic pain. When my partner first downloaded the film I was really excited to watch it. Chronic pain is a real struggle for so many people. Our story will finally be told!

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I got my hopes up, but Cake was absolutely infuriating. They had such a great opportunity to share our story and fell entirely short. Not only is Cake a terrible representation of what it is like to live with chronic pain, the film seems to go out of its way to make us look bad. This is a common issue. People with chronic pain are commonly treated like criminals for being in pain. Our entire struggle is diminished as “drug seeking” and society basically shames us for the pain we have no control over. Cake is making these misconceptions worse.

Chronic pain does not equal addiction!

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Claire, the main character of the film, falls short in so many ways. Claire is an abrasive addict. She is obviously addicted to opiates. She likely is actually in severe pain, but she is not responding in a healthy manner. There are people who take opiates for chronic pain and get help the correct way. Claire does not. She lies to her doctor to get medication. She drives to Mexico to get medication. She steals from her dead acquaintance to get medication. She drinks in excess while on medication. She takes an incorrect dose of her medication. She even overdoses as a response to stress!

For these reasons, Claire is an ideal character to represent addiction. The problem is that, for many, she represents someone with chronic pain. She fails us.

Pain isn’t Passing

In Cake, Claire’s pain begins as a part of a car accident in which she lost her son. Claire is in physical rehabilitation to make improvements over her condition. We are shown an aqua therapy session in which Claire gives up quickly due to pain and the therapist complains about her lack of improvement. Eventually, when Claire begins to try harder; things begin to magically go her way. This upsets me greatly. The most frustrating misunderstandings people with chronic pain endure are perpetuated by this horrible movie.

For example, chronic pain is not on a timer. Chronic pain isn’t usually pain from an accident that should continue to improve in time. For a lot of us our problems will get worse with age or stay the same. That “you aren’t better yet?” mentality is so frustrating! Explaining that this is the state of your health and it isn’t going away anytime soon is incredibly taxing.

When my RA asks me if my water bottle is full of alcohol - Imgur

Hard Work… Impossible Work

You just need to “work harder and you will be better!” This mentality, encouraged by Cake, is also harming those of us with chronic pain. In my condition, (Ehler’s Danlos III) hard work and physical therapy are often required to heal from injuries. However, no amount of determination or hard work is ever going to magically fix the collagen in my joints. I will continue to have problems. My control over my recovery is limited by my underlying condition. Just like many other chronic pain sufferers.

At one point in the movie Claire decides she is done with drugs. She even dramatically tears out her IV. I seriously can’t roll my eyes at this enough. In Cake, Claire’s determination was enough to stop the meds and deal with her pain drug-free! This is far from reality.

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For me, pain meds are the last thing I try. If I am on pain medication for an extended time it is because I would not be able to function, survive, and/or live in the amount of pain I am in off of medication. There are too many side effects for me to be on them unless it’s a necessity. Opiates aren’t some nice crutch you start and stop on a whim!

You would never praise a diabetic for suddenly forgoing insulin. If Claire needed the amount of opiates she was consuming, suddenly stopping is unrealistic. Stopping opiates suddenly after an extended amount of time is simply a bad idea. That should have been a decision she made with her doctor. Cake continues this belief that opiates are only for those who aren’t mentally strong enough to handle pain. Taking medication for severe chronic pain is not a sign of weakness. Stop stigmatizing treatment for chronic pain!

Chronic Pain and Suicide

The single thing that I appreciated was that Cake approached topics of depression and suicide ideation. Physical pain can have a huge impact on mental health. It is under-addressed that a lot of people in chronic, severe pain think about suicide and self-harm. It is actually quite natural for these thoughts to come up in chronic pain patients.

What about it wouldn’t be natural? If you were in pain constantly would you too not wonder about escape? Patients who feel this way should be offered support and therapy; under no circumstances should someone in severe long-term pain be shamed. Whether patients disclose depression, suicide ideation, worries of dependency, or ask for a pain medicine there is no reason they should ever be treated as a criminal. Any open and honest communication should be encouraged.

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If the pain is severe enough that suicidal thoughts are occurring then coping mechanisms need to be enhanced. Often chronic pain patients do not ask for help with these coping strategies despite medical professionals being equipped to help. Both the act of admitting depression or suicidal thoughts as well as requesting additional pain relief are extremely stigmatized. Therefore, patients aren’t talking to their doctor and getting the help they need before suicide becomes the only viable option left. This is a topic that needs to be talked about more and I appreciate Cake addressing it. Addressing depression and suicide ideation really is the only thing that movie did correctly!

I also believe that it is necessary for patients to be able to be honest about worries of dependency, tolerance, and addiction to opiates. By criminalizing opiate addiction, we have made it so that these patients, like Claire, cannot get the help they need. If Claire wasn’t worried about being judged or treated like a criminal she may have been able to get the treatment she needed for her opiate addiction.

Cake is Just Wrong

This movie genuinely had me in tears, and definitely not because it was a truly moving. So many people who were in my life have treated me like I’m Claire. They treated me like a drug addict for being in pain. This is how a big part of the world sees us. It already is terrible to be in pain every waking moment. Those around you seeing you in pain and still treating you like a drug addict due to the stigma behind opiates is even worse. I know for a fact that a portion of my family would rather see me screaming, crying, and writhing on the floor in pain rather than have me take opiates. For me, that is the most heartbreaking part.

So to Cake with all its misconceptions: Not all of us are in pain due to an accident. Not all of us are in pain because we aren’t working hard enough at rehabilitation. Not all of us will get any better. Some of us will get worse. It will not be because we weren’t trying hard enough.

We are nothing like Claire. We want to get better. We want it more than anything. We hate taking the drugs. We avoid them when we can. We don’t lie or manipulate doctors. We are not weak because we take medication. We are strong from the pain we have fought all these years.

Most importantly, we are in pain and every day is a battle. So give us your support, not your judgement.

Medical Marijuana

Medical marijuana is a hugely controversial topic, but it doesn’t need to be! Much of the current research is biased towards finding the dangers of marijuana instead of looking at possible medical use. Researchers who have studied cannabis have found many uses for marijuana (in adults).

MRW no one on Imgur is anti-vaccine but we try to convince them that they're wrong anyway. - Imgur

Where is it Legal?

Recreational and medical use is legal in Alaska, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, and Washington DC. In these places you can get marijuana without a red card, or medical card. However, if you have a chronic illness I strongly recommend getting a medical card. You don’t have to pay as much in taxes and the people who work in medical clinics are even more helpful.

Medical marijuana is largely separated from the medical world. I have never even had it suggested for pain by a doctor. I had to seek it out information on medical marijuana on my own. Some medications have made it through trials and are prescribed, primarily by oncologists, for severe diseases such as cancer. If you are interested I recommend speaking to your medical doctor about it.

One reason medical marijuana is so separated from the medical community is because marijuana is still a scheduled 1 drug. This means it has been found that cannabis “has no medical use”, “high potential of abuse”, and “cannot be safely used under medical care”.

To give you a better idea of what this means, both meth and cocaine are Schedule II. That means these dangerous drugs have been determined to have medical use as well as being highly addictive. I think this is a huge misclassification and agree with John Gettman who pointed out, “Cannabis is a natural source of dronabinol (THC), the ingredient of Marinol, a Schedule III drug. There are no grounds to schedule cannabis in a more restrictive schedule than Marinol”. If we are making medicines from cannabis then how can we say it has no medical purpose?

Medical Marijuana - Imgur

 

Is it Safe?

Marijuana has no recorded incident of overdose. Not only does marijuana have fewer deaths than alcohol, but health costs for alcohol outweigh the costs for marijuana by eight times. Both alcohol and tobacco are legal but are considered far more dangerous than marijuana. A study was done on the link between marijuana and hospital visits. They found that marijuana did not increase the chance of going to the hospital.

Alcohol, and many other drugs, are neurodegenerative. This means drinking alcohol kills brain cells. Research suggests that marijuana may have the opposite effect.

To reach the lethal threshold of marijuana someone would have to consume 1500 pounds of marijuana in fifteen minutes. Therefore, marijuana users don’t have to be worried about overdose. That isn’t to say that all marijuana use is safe.

Possible side effects of marijuana use include dry mouth, paranoia, increased heart rate, tiredness, confusion, or memory problems. Because cannabis can raise your heart rate, I recommend being under care of a doctor if you have POTS and want to try marijuana. These side effects may be worse in people with mental illness.

There haven’t been many studies about medical marijuana and how it relates to driving safety. We do know that people should avoid consuming marijuana and operating any machinery. Driving accidents are a real problem with any drug usage and are potentially the most dangerous threat widespread marijuana usage holds.

As of now, evidence suggests marijuana as relatively safe for adults. However, when used regularly prior to turning 18 marijuana can cause problems. Research has shown that there is a drop in IQ associated with teen marijuana use. There have also been studies that suggest teen marijuana use may lead to memory problems.

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Pain Management

Doctors are cracking down on drug seekers and those of us with chronic pain are taking the worst hit of all. It is true, many people abuse these drugs. Opiates have the potential for addiction and tolerance is a real problem. Despite these problems, researchers are taking their sweet time looking at marijuana as an alternative pain relief method. Instead of looking into a drug that has been proven beneficial (enough to make medical marijuana legal) politics is getting in the way of researching marijuana more and potentially helping many people.

Surprisingly, I have found that medical marijuana has less of a stigma than opiates (at least in Colorado). I have been to too many doctors with kidney stones only to have them tell me I’m drug seeking and turn me away with no relief in any form. The pain relief you get from marijuana is extremely helpful, but they won’t treat you like a criminal (unless you want to get into the whole federal crime issue). People who work at dispensaries are generally very caring and knowledgeable about their product. They have treated those of us with chronic illnesses with more kindness that most doctors have. They can make great recommendations as to tinctures, concentrates, edibles, and flower. Don’t worry if you don’t know what these words mean; they will be happy to explain them to you.

Cannabis has a lot less of a chance of addiction than opiates. There is a chance for addiction, but not due to physical dependency. Addiction occurs due to psychological dependence. More research needs to be done into the relationship between marijuana and addiction.

 

Medical Purpose

Medical marijuana comes in many forms. There are edibles, smoking, capsules, vaporizing, and now even juicing the plant. What works best medically depends on the type of symptoms or just personal preference. Different strains are better for different things. The two primary types of cannabis are Sativa and Indica. Sativa is more energizing while Indica is more relaxing. Indica is best used for sleep problems and pain. Sativa works best for depression and fatigue. Depending on the strain, both Indica and Sativa can stimulate appetite.

After a study on cannabis from the Institute of Health concluded that marijuana should not be used to treat any disease. However, the study concluded that marijuana can be valuable at controlling symptoms of these diseases. One such symptom is paresthesia. Marijuana is especially good for this “pins and needles” pain where opiates commonly fail. Marijuana also works as a muscle relaxer, and can help with multiple sclerosis, HIV, Tourette’s, and cancer.

While Marijuana may cause respiratory symptoms and side effects, the research that has been done indicates that smoking marijuana doesn’t cause lung cancer. In fact, the opposite is thought to be true. Research in its infancy suggests that marijuana may have cancer-fighting properties. While only anecdotal evidence in humans is available, this could have huge implications on marijuana’s scheduled status. Harvard researchers found that when mice with lung tumors were given cannabis cancer growth was cut in half. Nearly one in four of the mice were completely cured and the remaining saw a decrease in tumor size.

 

Cannabidiol (CBD)

It is possible to get marijuana’s health benefits without getting high. THC is psychoactive, but CBD (Cannabidiol) is not and has more medical uses. Cannabis with high CBD causes less memory impairment due to competition for the CB1 receptor. Strains with high CBD have significantly more medical value than the typical strains used for recreation. CBD is also completely legal in all 50 states without a medical license.

Despite the fact that marijuana may have negative effects on a child’s brain, some parents choose to give their severely ill children cannabis. Charlotte Figi, a young girl with Dravet syndrome (a severe seizure disorder), went from having hundreds of seizures a week to a single seizure a week. Charlotte used a strain of cannabis with high CBD content. There is now a similar strain named after her called Charlotte’s Web. Using strains that have a high amount of CBD and not THC may keep the negative memory and intelligent side effects at bay. Therefore, we may see research suggesting medical marijuana is useful to children and teens.

In addition to helping with seizures, CBD has also shown to have antimicrobial properties. One study found that cannabis may even help with acne. Studies have also found that cannabis may reduce the spread of HIV as well as decrease the risk of developing diabetes.

While cannabis may be dangerous in mental illness, CBD has potential use in mental illness as well. Cannabidiol (CBD) has been shown to work as well as traditional antipsychotics used in schizophrenics. Additionally, there are far fewer side effects in patients who were taking CBD than these antipsychotics. Cannabis also is helpful in anxiety and depression.

 

 

Any drug that has the potential to improve someone’s quality of life should certainly be researched more. Keeping marijuana as a schedule I drug is preventing us from seeing all the potential medical use marijuana has. While many of these studies are small and new, there is definitely hope that medical marijuana will be helpful to treating a variety of ailments.

 

Gardasil Hate

Earlier today a discussion regarding Gardasil began in a support group I am a member of. Many people are claiming that Gardasil, the HPV (human papilloma virus) vaccination, caused their POTS. As a result of the discussion, I began to some research of my own into these claims.

The cause of POTS is primarily unknown. So it is natural for patients to search for what the cause may be. However, these claims have not been scientifically substantiated and it is important they are before we let these claims affect our health decisions.

Correlation is not causation
This phrase is so ingrained in my brain from my first Statistics class that I will never forget it. Basically, just because two things are related doesn’t mean one causes the other. As a kid, my dad used to joke that he didn’t like to eat fruit because everyone who has ever eaten fruit has died(commence eye roll from my sister and I). Don’t worry; he knows this is not actually true. What is true is that there is a correlation between fruit consumption and dying, but it occurs because these are both universal human experiences.
Correlation doesn't imply causation, but it does waggle its eyebrows suggestively and gesture furtively while mouthing 'look over there'. - Imgur

POTS is most commonly diagnosed in women who are young. Gardasil is most commonly administered to young women. So there is an obvious correlation, but can we infer causation? Or is the only link that they are both common in the same gender and age? This same question comes up when people argue that vaccines cause autism. Vaccines usually are given just previously to when autism is diagnosed and people assume causation when it isn’t there.

One reason these claims fail is because they claim vaccines are the cause of autism or because HPV is the cause of POTS. There are children with autism who were not vaccinated. There are also people with autism who were not vaccinated. In the same way, there are people with POTS who never had Gardasil.

I believe the connection between these diseases and vaccines is due to the population involved. The symptoms occurring at the same time may seem like a clear cause for some patients. As S. Blitshteyn said, “It is probable that some patients who develop POTS after immunization with Gardasil or other vaccines are simply undiagnosed or misdiagnosed, which leads to underreporting and a paucity of data on the incidence of POTS after vaccination in literature.” POTS is a hard disease to get a diagnosis for and complicates this further.
If Google was a guy - vaccines. - Imgur

Reactions to Gardasil Safety Allegations
After allegations against Gardasil, the Vaccine Safety Datalink and CDC looked into the adverse effects. They found that all the severe adverse effects were no more common in the comparison groups. (Read more at http://www.snopes.com/medical/drugs/gardasil.asp#O3jC8GFs0WQMUEJk.99). I believe that more research should be done, but that is my feeling on most things.

In the group, I am in the discussion about Gardasil began when someone posted this article:
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0264410X15004375. Everyone jumped on the Gardasil hate bandwagon, but I am not sure they actually read the study. In the study it says, “In a population referred for symptoms of orthostatic intolerance and other symptoms consistent with autonomic dysfunction that began in close temporal association with a quadrivalent HPV vaccination, we identified a 60% prevalence of POTS”. Well, let’s take a look at what that result means with less jargon. “For patients with POTs symptoms that started around the same time as Gardasil, they identified 60% of them had POTS”. Is that really even surprising? All they concluded in this study is that people who had POTS symptoms, around the same time as Gardasil, were found to have POTS. The study again just demonstrates a correlation, but not causation.

So is it worth it? HPV
HPV is more common than you may think. HPV causes mouth cancer, throat cancer, genital warts and cervical cancer. HPV causes so many problems that I think people should have solid, scientific evidence before dismissing the vaccine as an effective preventative measure.

hpv-cancer-prevention

I can’t say with any certainty that Gardasil is completely safe, but I can tell you it is certainly not the only or primary cause of POTS. Many patients have not even had the vaccine! Research suggesting Gardasil causes problems are case studies of too small to be statistically significant. I can also say with certainty that HPV if a real problem in human health and that we should be working on preventative measures, ensuring that they are safe, and developing a vaccine that prevents more than four types of HPV. The causes of POTS, as always, need to be better researched and identified.

Wondering if you should trust an article? Here are some tips: https://chronicallyridicilous.wordpress.com/2015/04/14/lets-have-a-little-talk-about-a-thing-called-science/

Let’s Have a Little Talk About a Thing Called Science

When you have an illness that isn’t understood well by doctors it is common for you to have to learn from the internet. Now for those people who haven’t been to medical school (um like all of us) it can be hard to find good, reliable, and clear information. So many times people end up getting their “science” from a wholly unscientific sources. I see patients get caught up in pseudoscience and taken advantage of through these channels.

 

Four Tips to Determine if Something is Scientific and Worth Listening To:

SCIENCE!!! - Imgur

  1. Check the source

Most of the time checking the source is the only step I have to take to determine if an article is reliable. Is it from Scientific American or is it from Naturenews.com. Scientific American is much more likely to be based on science than Naturenews.com. Doing a quick search of the source can tell you whether to even consider the information.

  1. If it sounds too good to be true- it is.

I see this all the time. “Essential oils will cure you!” Anything claiming to cure your incurable disorder should be approached with caution. I don’t deny that certain strange things help some people, but claiming to cure it is ridiculous.

Science

  1. Become an expert on your disorder

If you go out of your way to learn everything you can about your disorder you are going to be able to see what makes sense and what doesn’t. Remember knowledge is power, and it’s especially powerful in this game.

4. Ask someone who knows more

I wish I saw more of this. People will supply information to the rest of their peers without really considering whether it is valuable. This perpetuates the popularity of these pseudoscience myths. Simply asking others, who may know more than you, if something is “real” is incredibly valuable.

With all the changes in the world, it's nice to know that some things have remain the same over the past 75 years. - Imgur

If you use more scientific sources and learn about your disorder you will be better able to contribute to your care. You are going to lose respect from your doctor if you suggest you should try essential oils and they will be less likely to listen to your suggestions. Approach this with caution. Doctors also don’t like when you know more than them. Egotistical jerks.