It’s a tactic that we alternative docs have just come to expect from mainstream medicine. Since they’ve yet to figure out a way to get rid of us, they just trot out the same tired arguments over and over again, hoping to distract attention away from our increasingly popular practices.
And this time, it’s the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) that’s annoying me.
They recently released new guidelines concerning pediatric integrative medicine. Because apparently, they’re concerned that consumer interest in complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) has outpaced most pediatricians’ training.
In other words, a lot of parents are asking about common CAM strategies like nutritional supplementation. And embarrassingly, their kids’ doctors don’t have the first clue how to answer them.
Is this a problem? Of course it is! But whose fault is it?
I’ve been doing this for decades. And consumer interest has been on the rise for years now. More than one in 10 American children have used CAM at this point — and more than half of kids with chronic conditions have.
So why hasn’t medical training kept up? Why don’t all those clueless doctors start attending the seminars and conference that I do? Better yet, why isn’t this taught in medical school already?
Don’t blame me. I’m just the doctor people come to for unbiased information. Information that’s based on research NOT funded by special interests. If other doctors wanted to learn more about it, all they have to do is ask.
But I guess they won’t need to, now that the AAP has decided to come to the rescue! Supposedly, their new clinical report will help pediatricians advise parents on safe and effective CAM practices — covering everything from herbal supplements to yoga to nutrition.
I’m sorry, but are you laughing as hard as I am? This is the blind leading the proverbial blind. And honestly, it’s infuriating.
There are a lot of reasons a parent might consider complementary therapies for their child. Maybe because something similar helped them. Maybe because they don’t want to put their child on risky drugs at such a young age. Maybe because they just want their kids to be as healthy as they can be.
Yet a lot of parents won’t discuss the use of these therapies with their child’s pediatrician. And can you really blame them?
They would be laughed at. Told not to use them. Told that, at best, it would give their kids expensive urine — and at worst, that it could ruin their lives.
Sadly, I hear about reactions like this all the time. Even in cases when parents know darn well that targeted nutrition or supplementation strategies are helping their children.
So while I suppose I should be happy that the AAP is conceding anything at all where CAM is concerned, the cynic in me sees the writing on the wall.
For example, the AAP is okay with yoga and acupuncture because neither one of these strategies runs counter to conventional therapy. But here’s what makes me crazy: When discussing nutritional supplements, they warn that the FDA relies on adverse event reports from doctors and patients to identify harmful products after they’re already on the market.
This implies that there’s some huge gap in safety between supplements and prescription drugs. When Big Pharma is by far the biggest benefactor of this “innocent until proven guilty” approach to market approval. (And needless to say, a lot of people — including children — have died because of it.)
Among the other arguments: Predictably, they bring up their favorite natural scapegoat, St. John’s wort. The authors point out that it can interact with drugs like anticoagulants, calcium channel blockers, and benzodiazepines.
Never mind that I don’t know any children on any of those medications. And while rare exceptions certainly exist, I’ve never recommended St. John’s wort for a child, anyway.
But hey… this is only what I do for a living. If the AAP was genuinely interested in educating more doctors on the subject, they would’ve consulted with someone like me in the process. And it’s pretty obvious that they didn’t.
It’s a sad state of affairs when parents can’t get an educated answer from their pediatricians. But it’s a dangerous situation when they have to hide what they’re doing from their child’s doctor.
If the AAP can’t help, I wish they would just step out of the way — and start giving a little more credit to the doctors who are already doing this work with great success every single day.