“Leading edge” vs. “Quackery”
I have recently been engaged in a few different places where information that is contrary to the norm has been deemed “quackery”. There are a few different problems with this viewpoint. But let me first tell you that my personal training, education and experience dictates that no two people are biochemically the same and therefore–even if they present the same symptoms–may not respond the same to a treatment based solely on the symptoms. Likewise, every diet “is great” because for specific subsets of the population–it really IS great. The reason so many eating regimens appear to be awesome is because there is always a subset of the population whose biochemistry responds to that regimen. Likewise, different cardiovascular, mental health, respiratory or neurological drugs exist for the same reason–not everyone’s body reacts to the same drugs. It’s called “bioindividuality”.
To that end, you don’t always know what someone’s body will respond to until you try. This is true of pharmaceuticals and it is true of nutritional alternatives. For whatever reason, there is a great deal more tolerance to “trying out” a pharmaceutical or surgery than to test drive an eating regimen to attend to a health problem. This might be because people are either more apt to ask about efficacy of an eating regimen where they don’t ask about the pills, or it may be that people prescribing the pills exude more confidence in their efficacy than is warranted. It could also be that the mindset around pills is that it’s easier to try them out because it doesn’t require the lifestyle/habit change that food does; or there is a perception that a nutrient could never be as powerful as a drug or they’d be using nutrients instead of drugs (which SOUNDS logical!).
In the area of nutrition, there is a great deal of new information regularly that butts up against some very large money-making organizations. After all, if you can cure diabetes, high blood pressure, ADD/ADHD or cholesterol problems with food–you are now cutting into the profit margin of the companies making the currently-accepted and used medications. That doesn’t go over lightly. Those companies have lobbyists. Vegetables and minerals generally do not.
And when you are dealing in situations where you have plenty of people’s experiences supporting a new concept or a doctor who speaks up about their experience with a new treatment plan that seems far-fetched from how we handle things today, the first thing people want is to “see the research”… which of course, does not yet exist. In some cases, it may never exist. After all: if nobody will profit from the research then there is usually nobody available to pay for the research. Case in point: thousands of families of children in the autism spectrum have seen positive results from removing gluten and casein from their children’s diets. Based solely on the idea that there is no research supporting this, these thousands of families are written off to parents grasping at straws and desperate to see something that doesn’t exist. Years later, the research DOES exist. But in the two decades before the research appeared, these families were accused of believing in “quackery”.
In reality, who is it hurting to remove gluten and casein from the diet? Nobody. Why not try? Who does it hurt to take intensive dosing of fish oil to attempt to remedy neurological disorders? Nobody. Who does it hurt to use a vegan diet for 30 days to attempt to reverse cardiovascular problems? Nobody. Who does it harm to have a doctor oversee intensive dosing of zinc and B6 to balance a body that is suffering biochemically in ways that make them bipolar or alcoholic? Nobody.
Granted, there are times where being on the leading edge can be scary and/or potentially dangerous–and everyone has to assess how badly they are willing to take chances. When a nationally-respected neurologist affiliated with internationally respected health institution on the leading edge of early detection of autistic disorders offered us the option of medicating our then-2-year-old son with a common antidepressant as a means of “rewiring” his brain, we decided that we would have rather lived with him the way he was than take the risks associated with the off-label use of that drug. Six years later, we’re not sorry about that. But we did decide to exceed label dosing of nutrients and supplements to get my husband off of his ADD medications. Again–the risks were worth accepting for the potential reward (and the rewards were far greater than anticipated).
Everyone makes their own decision about what risks they take whether they’re working with pharmaceuticals or nutritional regimens. But I would suggest to you that you research the logic behind some of these things that most would deem “quackery” for yourself. Ask questions. Keep an open mind, but ask questions. Know that there will always be people for whom something does and does not work because of the differences in our biochemistry. You can choose to focus on only the negative just as some people blind themselves to the negative. Neither extreme is beneficial.
But don’t write off something new and strange on the premise that there is not yet supporting research and/or you have found people for whom it didn’t work. Certainly consider these factors. Absolutely. But these alone are not proof that something is ineffective. It also doesn’t mean that people seeing results from this far-fetched thing are delusional, or that it won’t work for you. So even if you decide that it is not something you or your family would take on, that doesn’t mean it is accurate to condemn someone who does as someone who isn’t dealing with reality. Talk to them. Share your concerns or information. Listen to theirs. This is how we grow in knowledge as a culture. Don’t assume that their decision is an indication of their stupidity. I have occasionally found that someone I have absolutely no common ground with and/or don’t agree with their logic on most things have been able to illustrate their sparkle of brilliance where I least expect it. Look for that.
And really, nearly 8 years ago when someone suggested that trace amounts of dairy could alter my son’s behavior–I, too, thought it was quackery. But two weeks before his first birthday, just a week after removing those traces (just to shut someone up and prove them wrong), my son looked me in the eyes for the first time in his little life. I had a doctor who had evaluated him just a month prior look him over for an objective review of what I thought had changed (and he concurred). I understand the science behind that phenomenon NOW because I needed to know what happened to him and why–I spent hours upon hours digging into the science of it and things connected to it. But early on, even I thought for sure “those people were nut-jobs”.
I truly hope you never have to endure the things that have made believers of many of us. These experiences make us more willing to consider the possibilities with new concepts–and dig deeper to find out what logic (and science) feeds that new idea. I wish for you that willingness to explore and consider without the suffering that brought many of us to that point. But please don’t condemn us because your lack of experience makes you unfamiliar with the idea that sometimes, a new idea is just new; and that it takes quite a while for it to catch up to the masses.
As always, I’m here if you need help with these things. I can help you figure out how to evaluate source information or point you to doctors or authors who may have done the research you’re looking for so that you can read their works and hopefully help you get a better understanding of the intricacies involved. Please don’t hesitate to contact me. I’m really happy to help you with this however I can. I’m pretty good with internet research. And as always, if getting support in a new regimen is something you need–I’m here for that, too.