A girl has a heart infection. The father is skeptical of conventional medicine. He gives the girl excessively high doses of Mannatech nutritional supplements. The girl ultimately suffers brain damage. Dad pleads guilty to one count of voluntary bodily harm and goes to jail, serving six months of a three year sentence.
And “alternative medicine” as a whole gets smeared – despite the fact that the actions were committed by a layperson acting alone, presumably without a qualified healer’s guidance.
You can read the whole story here, at news.com.au.
Meanwhile, some bloggers have raised the issue of whether the father’s actions can really be considered “alternative medicine” at all:
Raised in a househould that is highly supportive of traditional medicine (my mother’s in the health field), I can admit there are alternatives that are beneficiary. Think saline mist to clean out the sinuses, a long sitz bath to soothe the sting of chicken pox, that sort of thing. These are options not only for parents who are uninsured or underinsured but those of us who are lucky enough to have insurance, but don’t want to be throwing pills at everything. Sometimes the old-fashioned remedies have passed the test of time.
Should these so-called “health supplements” really be considered alternative medicine? Where does one draw the line?
Certainly, the medicinal use of supplements would fall under the rubric of “alternative medicine,” as broad and problematic as that term is. The question is whether the specific “treatment,” such as it was, was appropriate and sufficient. Were the supplements the right ones in the right dose? Did other therapies need to be pursued at the same time? Was a qualified naturopathic physician or other holistic practitioner consulted? Did one supervise the treatment of the girl, or was the father acting alone?
Indeed, it appears that the father was neither informed nor qualified enough to treat his daughter medically. According to the court-ordered psychologist who evaluated him, the father had “an exaggerated view of his own knowledge and ability” in this respect.
This sad situation raises several points worth stressing to those seeking “alternative” health care:
- If you need medical attention, see a qualified naturopathic physician or holistic practitioner who can properly diagnose your condition and give you the information you need about your treatment options. If your health condition is serious, get multiple opinions. But be skeptical of any practitioner who offers miraculous cures or guarantees complete cure.
- Before starting any herbal, nutritional or homeopathic therapy, consult a naturopathic physician or other holistic practitioner.
- Know the quality of the supplements you choose to take. Do not rely on advertising or PR spin. Consult with holistic health professionals. Do your homework.
- In the course of pursuing any treatment, if you see no improvement or worsening of symptoms, consult your doctor.