I’ve written several times about how proponents of alternative therapies appear to view science and evidence-based medicine. (1, 2, 3) I think it is critical in evaluating these practices, as pet owners or veterinarians, to understand the philosophy and approach behind them. Alternative medicine advocates will frequently talk about their respect for science, and will laud studies that appear to support their claims. But in many cases, they are fundamentally not convinced that science is superior to personal experience or faith as a method of evaluating medical therapies, and they are virtually never willing to abandon a practice they believe they have seen work no matter how clear the evidence against it is. If people wish to apply such practices, of course they are free to make that choice. But they should be fully and honestly informed when they are being asked to choose belief and opinion over science and evidence.
The following are comments veterinarians who are advocates for alternative veterinary therapies and critics of conventional medicine. These illustrate some of the views that should concern those of us committed to a scientific approach to evaluating the treatments we use for our patients and animal companions. I will be adding to this collection of comments over time, just to have examples available of the kinds of misconceptions those of us committed to a science-based approach to medicine need to address in our efforts to educate and to promote evidence-based medicine.
“Remember evidence based science is last to know.”
“#AHVMF strongly supports scientific process, but in seeking real answers we recognize that scientific practice is last to know. #pioneers”
“Since evidence based medicine can’t know what hasn’t been studied, a false separation of proven vs unexamined data fields arises.”
“Evidence based medicine is being miss used according to its creators. It was about integrative informed decision processes.”
“The evidence said the case would die, the people felt otherwise. They tried, they lived, they danced together & finally all died. Life! :-)”
“Evidence should inform decision making but not limit treatment options. Combining experience and evidence is called evidence based practice, an excellent model for advancing veterinary care in areas with less evidence. Patients need access to all options and guardians and clinicians want to know.”
“At the root a healing from placebo IS real healing from the person. How do we improve self healing? Can we align w/ Nature simply powerfully.”
“Perhaps love is the basis of placebo. In that case let’s fill the world and to hell with the research. Ascendant mindfulness finds healing.”
“Stories have an important place in discovery of new approaches and therapies in medicine. No cure? Find the stories and follow those paths.”
“Narrative medicine allows the telling of a story, the discovery of truth, its sharing and consequences. Help write a happy ending.”
Leading integrative veterinarian Richard Palmquist will describe how he went from skeptic to champion of integrative veterinary medicine through witnessing miraculous outcomes from integrative approaches, after conventional options were exhausted.
“I suggested we apply a dose of Caulophyllum 30c…about 45 minutes later a live calf was eased into the world.
I readily accept this is not a scientific experiment that would satisfy the cynically minded, but when one saw this repeatedly over a period of 15 years it held much greater sway for us than any scientific experiment.”
“As a veterinarian now practicing homeopathy and chiropractic almost exclusively, I have all the proof I need every day in my practice to justify these modalities.”
“It might take science >100-1000 years to categorize and understand some basic healing principles. Pioneers go first, science comes later.”
“#RealSearch is actual scientific pursuit of truth without interference in design or reporting of data. It seeks causal discovery. Support it. We don’t look because we believe, we believe because we have seen so many people and animals benefit from integrative therapies. Did you know the word believe means we find truth in or feel affection for an area? It’s an interesting word when we consider its origin. When we find something true, we love. When we love we find truth. These go hand in hand with healing, too. First we look, then we test, then we believe. THEN we LIVE. BE LIVE!”
“Universities exist to provide a circle for the exploration & perfection of love. At their core each subject, each expert is examining this.”
“Pearls of wisdom handed down through the generations, scientific studies, and Chinese terminology bring together knowledge that is most certainly true. Modern science and the trend toward evidence based medicine has many pitfalls, whereas the “tried and true” passed through centuries holds as much truth for me.”
“Science is powerful and wonderful and so important. We must not lose ourselves in the game of science while ignoring healing.”
“Holistic medicine addresses the patient as a whole – body, mind, and SPIRIT. There is a level of reality beyond, and yet enmeshed in, the physical, material universe. If I did not have an appreciation of the spiritual aspects of my patients and their caregivers, they and I would become little more than robots.
Don’t settle for treatment by a robot.”
“There is evidence-based research that holistic medicine works, but many people are quick to dismiss it because the studies are not funded by pharmaceutical companies,” she says, “the research is there if people would just do it.”
“If your veterinarian (or medical doctor for that matter) is relying strictly on published medical information for his prescribed treatment options, then his therapy will be 90% flawed. In other words, he will get it right 10% of the time.”
“Lack of ‘adequate’ research is why alternative medicine is considered alternative and is excluded from EBM. This lack of “evidence” is also an excuse for the rejection and criticism of many helpful alternative therapies by well-meaning, conventional practitioners. This attitude may lead your veterinarian astray.”
“Critics of homeopathy like to throw up the term “evidence based medicine”, as if to suggest that pharmaceutical drugs are more scientifically arrived at. If they are evidence based, why are they always being withdrawn after causing injury and death? Let’s explore the actual evidence.
Bottom line: Drug companies commit fraud in drug testing, lie about drug effectiveness and safety, publish positive articles in peer reviewed journals and then sell those drugs to the public. The FDA redacts the wrong doing from their reports.
Now you know…. pharmaceutical drugs are NOT evidence based… period.”
“How does acupuncture work? We know that it does work from thousands of years of experience.”
“Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TVCM) has been used in China for about 3000 years. Originally the practice was handed down from father to son and you were only paid if you made your patient well. So you either got good at it or your family line died out. “
“Holistic practitioners believe that vital life energy is the most important factor in the health of the patient…Because medical science has defined itself on a strictly physical basis, it is true that vitalism is unscientific. By definition, vitalism embraces a concept about a nonphysical force that can never be understood within the current scientific, medical paradigm.”