PINCH ME, I MUST BE DREAMING...
From The Cancer Chronicles #15
© April 1993 by Ralph W. Moss, Ph.D.
"Traditional medicine is failing its patients. For too long, doctors, hospitals, insurance companies and the Government have ignored healing techniques developed outside the medical establishment."
This blast at the establishment does not come from The Cancer Chronicles, but from the New York Times. Yes, the Times, which until recently treated alternative medicine like frantic reports of UFOs uploading passengers on the Great Lawn.
The above is from an Op-Ed piece (1/30/93) by Charles R. Halpern, head of the Nathan Cummings Foundation. "What should be done?," he asks. ³The National Institutes of Health recently established an Office of Alternative Medicine, but its $2 million research budget is woefully inadequate and should be increased." Pinch me, I must be dreaming.
A RUSH TO ALTERNATIVES
A January New England Journal of Medicine article proved what many of us suspected: that Americans are turning to unconventional therapies in unprecedented numbers.
"Patients Rushing to Alternatives," is how the Times' Natalie Angier phrased it (1/28/93). [She also wrote the glowing piece on OAM director Joe Jacobs in the Tuesday Science Times, 3/16/93, breaking that section¹s long-term boycott of alternative medicine.]
The NEJM survey was conducted by David M. Eisenberg of Harvard Medical School, who is also an OAM advisor. It showed that one-third of all Americans used alternative treatments in 1990 and made more visits to unorthodox practitioners than to all primary and family care physicians, pediatricians and internists combined! Doing so, they spent more money on such treatments, $13.7 billion, than on out-of-pocket hospital expenses. And most came away satisfied customers.
Eisenberg's report sent shock waves through the the medical establishment but signalled the media that they could now write about such "new" things as Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine. The rush to alternatives garnered headlines on the front pages of most newspapers, including USA Today.
Hard on its heels came a five-part Bill Moyers PBS special, "Healing and the Mind." (A book derived from the series is number one on the Times best seller list.) David Eisenberg was featured in the first segment. David is an alternative medicine maven, for sure, but what was really amazing was his mastery of Chinese, which he speaks better than some of us Brooklynites talk English. This series has proved to be an excellent introduction to alternative medical ideas for millions of people.
On February 28, 60 Minutes aired an excellent segment, "Sharks Don't Get Cancer," produced by Gail Eisen and hosted by Mike Wallace. The piece focused on the shark's almost-total immunity to cancer, which is attributed substances in its all-cartilage skeleton. The program revealed positive results in a recent clinical trial in Cuba, confirmed by US docs.
At the end of the program, 60 Minutes announced that a panel of the OAM had recommended that Dr. Charles Simone carry out clinical trials with shark cartilage. This raised some eyebrows in official Washington, but an OAM team did visit Dr. Simone in New Jersey in mid-March [see page 1].
So what¹s next? An orderly OAM test with full government approval? Hope so, but the paranoiac mind runs to FDA agents seizing shark's fin soup from astounded diners in Chinatown, American boat people fleeing for medical freedom to Cuba, and ATF agents (seen everywhere these days), in their macho windbreakers, chasing greedy shark smugglers through the Florida Keys? Stay tuned.
LORENZO II: THE PRIORITY STRUGGLE
And talking of movie scenarios, go see Lorenzo's Oil, the film by Dr. George Miller about two persistent laypeople, Augusto and Michaela Odone, who uncover a non-toxic treatment for their son's illness, ALD.
Yet, according to Dr. W. B. Rizzo of Richmond, VA, "The idea was derived entirely by me." He told the Times' Gina Kolata (2/9/93), "It was not Mr. Odone's idea. Everything started with [my] finding." Let's get this straight: laypeople laying claim to the intellectual property of academic researchers? This may be just the twist we need for the sequel! Have your quacks call my quacks in the morning....
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