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Do Your Research

 Lupus Foundation of Florida July 09, 2014
By Linda Ruescher, Lupus Foundation of Florida

We’ve all seen those late night and weekend infomercials for “wonder” cures. The tabloids at the supermarket checkout have screaming headlines about some “miracle” product. Your Aunt Sally, next-door neighbor, or co-worker will eagerly tell you how someone they know walked away from the doctor and was cured by some simple trick or supplement. Everyone thinks they are a medical expert. Invariably, these pitches imply that doctors don’t really want you to get well. The vast majority of doctors chose their vocation because they want to help people get better. How can we tell if these alternative claims are true? Do we dare take a chance?

We are attracted to the idea that we can cure our ills “naturally.” Of course, taking an overall healthy approach can only help. Even so, it’s important to remember that “natural” does not always mean better. Hemlock and arsenic are natural, but they can kill you. Supplements that boost the immune system make autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus worse. If you are currently taking medication, make sure that your “natural” solution does not interact with it.

Most testimonials are simply ploys to get your money. Sure, the person might have experienced improvement, but that doesn’t mean you will experience improvement. When you encounter a testimonial about a product, ask yourself some basic questions. Was the person who got better the same age, race, or gender as you? Did they have the exact same symptoms as you? Is there something else that could have accounted for the change?

Ask yourself if you can afford to take this approach. Money is certainly a concern, but you also need to calculate if you can afford risking your health and emotional turmoil. Bring logic into the picture. Does this treatment require that you make drastic changes to your diet? Do you have to give up a whole group of foods? Common sense and a balanced approach must prevail.

Do your homework. Look online for sources that corroborate the claims. There are some .com sites that have solid information. There are also some that masquerade as information while the real aim is selling the product. In general, you will find that most sites that end in .edu, .gov, and .org are trustworthy.

Contrary to popular conspiracy theories about doctors and the government, the National Institutes of Health has an entire department devoted to scientifically evaluating treatments. The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) conducts research and publishes their findings. The mission of NCCAM is to define, through rigorous scientific investigation, the usefulness and safety of complementary and alternative medicine interventions and their roles in improving health and health care.

NCCAM research includes mind and body interventions, practices, and disciplines. This department seeks to increase the understanding of “real world” patterns and outcomes of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use and its integration into health care and promotion. NCCAM develops and disseminates objective, evidence-based information on CAM interventions.

For more information, please contact the Lupus Foundation of Florida at 727-447-7075 or visit www.lupusflorida.org or you can learn more at nccam.nih.gov.

Photo credit: Tashatuvango/Thinkstock Back to Top

 Lupus Foundation of Florida| July 09, 2014

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