In my view, an important aspect of the human condition is the variety of opinion, the need for opposing views and healthy scepticism. But it is also disturbing when the loudest voice or the greatest critic is seen as the correct opinion, often because the person in question appears well credentialed.
This is typically the case in medicine and science, when the opinions of conservative, ingrained professors are taken, often without question as the final arbiter for any particular conflict. Over the past decade, a group of dinosaurs, the latest members of the Flat Earth Society who call themselves the Friends of Science in Medicine but are probably (as a colleague of mine recently said) better called-the Friends of Selective Medicine, have continued their vendetta to destroy complementary medicine because they believe there is no science behind this discipline.
One of the Friends of Science in Medicine, a serial pest, practices science by trolling complementary medicine websites looking for what he believes to be unfounded comments and then submits complaints to the TGA which have to be answered, at tax payers expense. Typically, the company involved makes some comments such as,” substance X supports healthy blood pressure or maintains healthy metabolism”- Bland comments because Australian regulations won’t allow listed medicines such as complementary medical products to make any real health claims, so these meaningless comments are all that the companies are allowed to make. So, the complementary medical companies have to play the game and employ lawyers to defend their advertising, claims etc etc. All a waste of time & expense, no doubt passed on to the consumer through increased product prices.
As a regular and long-standing commentator in the Australian health media, with my own radio show, I commonly discussed the legion of pharmaceutical drugs and complementary medicines available on the market. As a radio presenter, I am paid for some commercials for various products but in the vast majority of cases, the comments and opinions I present are unpaid and purely presented because I have either read the research, done the research or have observed significant benefits or in some cases, detriments from its use in my patients over 40 years of practising medicine for the various products discussed, both pharmaceutical and complementary. I would never present any information, typically unpaid, if I didn’t believe in the product in question, always with scientific evidence to back up my comments.
I have been mentioned in two recent cases, by this serial pest, suggesting my comments have breached the Australian advertising code for therapeutic products. In both cases, I was giving my unpaid opinion with no discussion with the company prior to my comments in the same way I discuss many other complementary medical and pharmaceutical drugs on a weekly basis on the five regular radio spots I have, my TV appearances and my CheckUp segment on Weekend Switzer, one of the Internet Switzer publications.I’m all for transparency and any expert or well-informed layperson giving their opinions, whether they agree with me or not but I would like to make some important points that are not being considered with this all out attack on complementary medicine by a small group of (in my opinion), not so scientific people and also, the outdated government regulations.
1) 70% of Australians use some form of complementary medicine on a daily basis, (I am certainly in this category), so most of us are either a bunch of deluded fools or there is something to this form of therapy
2) In my view, this analogy works very well in that pharmaceutical therapy is like a high-performance motorcar, getting you from A to B very quickly but with the potential for crashing and causing injury or death, thus the need for significant safety equipment within the car, seat belts and significant road rules to ensure safe driving. Complementary medical therapy is more like a bicycle getting you from A to B much slower with some exercise along way and is better for your health than driving. The regulations and clinical trials for complementary medicine do not need to be the same rigid randomised controlled trials so necessary for pharmaceutical medicine where the potential for harm is so much higher.
3) Every year in the United States there are over 100,000 deaths from the appropriate use of pharmaceutical therapy and if you divide this 15 this is what we are also experiencing in Australia. There are no reported deaths from the appropriate use of complementary medicine
4) Complementary medicine does have a strong evidence based when you examine the evidence correctly, something the Friends of Science in Medicine refuse to do.
To give some examples, two major epidemiologic trials from Harvard university, the Nurses Health study and the Male Physicians trial have shown significant reductions in cardiovascular disease and cancer when multivitamins have been taken for more than 10 years.A recent meta-analysis from the Mayo Clinic has shown an 18% reduction in cardiovascular mortality when fish oil supplements are taken for more than five years.I have been directly involved in six of the 20 published studies of Bergamot polyphenolic fraction all showing significant health benefits in a number of areas such as vascular disease, diabetes and fatty liver.Ubiquinol, the active version of CoQ10 has been shown to improve cardiac function in people with heart failure, reduce statin induced muscle problems and improve energy and stress levels in healthy people.Vitamin K2 has been shown to improve vascular function and bone strength in postmenopausal women.Kyolic aged garlic extract has been shown to work as effectively as a pharmaceutical agent for the control of blood pressure. Another study performed by my friend and colleague Prof Matt Budoff, one of the top preventative cardiologists in America has shown reversal of atherosclerosis with high dose Kyolic garlic.A concentrated tomato pill has been shown to improve vascular function and also assist men with prostate issues. These are purely a few examples of significant benefits seeing with harmless, effective complementary therapies.
5) This country is in $600 billion of debt. Every time one of these ill-informed fools makes a frivolous complaint to the TGA about benign claims or comments made by a company or health commentator, it requires hours of time by the TGA in responding to these complaints and therefore thousands of wasted taxpayer dollars.Are you happy about your tax money being wasted on this nonsense?Do you think a sports person or celebrity is in a better position to be the advertising face of a product where they have no training or knowledge of how the product actually works or would you prefer a highly trained professional who has been involved in the area for many years to educate the public about what works, how it works and who should take it?Until we all start complaining about this entire scenario, these ridiculous complaints will continue and the government regulations will stay in place, all the while we will continue to see our country’s debt spiral.