Guest post by Daryl Francis. Thanks, Daryl!
Has anyone else noticed a bit of an uprising going on in the way medications and health supplements, vitamins and minerals are treated in the media lately?
Doubt, even cynicism about the claims of prescription medicines and supplements such as vitamins are on the rise. Questions regarding efficacy and side-effects are being asked by the media. Motives are being scrutinised. And it’s not all looking a picture of health for the dietary supplement industry at the moment.
A few weeks back in Australia we had a market leading brand of vitamin and dietary supplements trying to get pharmacists to look over a medical script, with the help of a computer program from the company marketing the supplements as they filled it in order to see which of their supplements could be offered to the customers. Julia Medew of The Age put it this way: “For example, if someone is getting a prescription for an anti-hypertension drug, the pharmacist will be prompted to tell them that that drug may lead to low zinc levels and a Blackmores zinc supplement would offset the potential problem.”
These products were to have the pharmacy store chain’s logo on them to give them more credibility to the public. We’re not talking just a few potential extra sales here. Medew reported: “Blackmores estimates the arrangement will apply to more than 58 million prescriptions a year – more than a third of the 183.9 million dispensed in Australia through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme last year.”
“Will you be having coke and fries with that?” is how our media has dubbed this marketing approach.
The scheme has been scrapped before it really took off, as it was not easy to convince the public or medical profession that it had the customer’s interests at heart. It was not easy to convince the medical profession that it was altogether safe for their patients either.
More recently, in The Age October 10, Alicia Wood wrote a piece called “3000 vitamins in 5 months: what does it do?” Wood was reporting on the experience of Time journalist John Cloud. He took 22 pills a day as well as protein bars and fibre recommended by a vitamin company. Before and after checks by his doctor showed that Cloud’s vitamin D levels had gone up – and he had gained five kilograms – about eleven pounds. Hmm… is that something I need?
Wood reports on other clinical testing at Sydney University, by associate professor in human nutrition, Samir Samman, which showed “no improvement in people taking large amounts of vitamins in relation to cardiovascular disease.” Samman went on to say that “The statistics also showed that large doses of vitamins actually have a small, but statistically significant, increase in mortality for these patients.”
Does that sound like a ringing endorsement for vitamin supplements to you?
In the same article Alicia Wood reports Brian Morton of the Australian Medical Association saying: “you should not take them without good reason. Most Australians have the problem that their diet has an excess, not a deficiency, of vitamins.” There may be times when a doctor prescribes additional vitamins and supplements for good reason.
It seems to me that the media and public are actively questioning whether they are being “sold” the idea that health comes from a bottle. And that is a healthy thing in itself.
KevinMD.com has a recent guest blog by Jason Luban, a licensed acupuncturist who teaches continuing education courses on non-verbal medical communication at Practice Rapport. Luban makes a very interesting remark on developing a health care model: “In order to be effective, in medicine or anything else, our goals need to be framed in a way where we move toward an outcome rather than away from one. Toward an understanding of health rather than away from disease.”
If you’ve been reading my blog, you’ll know that I’m repeating myself, but one of my favourite statements was written by the discoverer and founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, right at the start of Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: “The time for thinkers has come.”
The thinking public is asking, “Is there something more we need to know about how we can be healthy?” It is uneasy with the present model of health care.
The many, many healings I have had and witnessed though prayer in Christian Science makes it clear to me that that “something more” is a spiritual model of health care.
Certainly something to consider. “The time for thinkers has come.”