Well I have just watched the first episode of “Is Modern Medicine Killing You?” on TV 1 and it certainly could have been worse. There are a few concerns that I have about the show but all in all it was quite interesting.
This week we met two patients, suffering from different conditions, for which they had had little success being treated by the GP’s (as well as consulting specialists). They discussed their cases with the programme’s integrative medicine physician, Dr Frances Pitsilis who provided them with possible solutions, which were then tried by the patients.
The first patient, had developed chronic hand dermatitis shortly after the birth of her child, and had found conventional treatments such as steroids and other anti-inflammatory’s had not worked. Even the use of methotrexate, normally used as an anticancer drug, had been attempted producing unpleasant side effects but no cure.
Dr Pitsilis began by discussing Candace’s diet, discovering that she is a vegetarian who enjoys a diet containing sweets and high amounts of carbohydrates. Considering the possibility the condition might be associated with a deficiency she suggested supplements. This seems like a perfectly sensible approach to me. She also sent Candace to an acupuncturist, which I found less sensible. The sign outside the acupuncturist’s office offered “accurate computerised testing for food sensitivity and allergies which made me wonder how this worked and how it was associated with acupuncture. Also the acupuncturist described some medical conditions as being due to heat being released from the body which sounded a little strange to me.
The second patient was Damien, who was suffering from constant headaches for the past three years and was on a constant regime of aspirin, codeine and other drugs, including sometimes morphine, but with no long term relief in sight. Again Dr Pitsilis began by assessing Damien’s general health pointing out he was overweight with the potential for future obesity, diabetes and several other diseases, including Alzheimers (something I didn’t realise could be related to being overweight). She suggested an improved diet (I think I’m spotting a pattern here) , exercise and more sleep. She also sent him to a oral surgeon (I think) who identified tenseness in the muscles associated with the jaw and suggested phsiotherapy which was followed up.
After a few months of the new approaches both patients were reassessed by Dr Pitsilis. Candace was satisfied that her dermatitis had gone, having changed her diet to avoid gluten and sugar and to include supplements. While this is a perfectly plausible explanation, I can’t help but wonder if the disease, developing so soon after pregnancy could have been hormonal related, and which may have settled over time. However, I’m not going to argue that there is anything wrong with a healthy diet.
After the various treatments, Damien claimed that he felt better overall (and a “then” picture alongside a “now” picture seemed to confirm it) however his headaches still remained, although he had cut back from 4 to 2 codeine tablets a day. So some apparent progress.
However, one thing that did bother me a bit about the “then” and “now” photos was that the then was taken out in the street under natural light, whereas the “now” photo was taken inside the studio/doctor’s office and I couldn’t help but wonder if make up was involved with such close up camera work? This of course could make the patient’s complexion look much healthier.
During the show the patient’s also discussed their “poor” treatment by other medical professionals, which came across as a rather poor indictment on the medical professional as a whole. Dr Pitsilis certainly gave them far more time and attention than any medical doctor I have been to. However, I suspect some of the more damning comments might have been selected out of context from the doctors original intent or meaning. This is a very easy thing to happen in any conversation. Still, I think I would be more than satisfied with Dr Pitsilis as my doctor (sans the acupuncturist of course) – at least at the end of episode 1. If she sends any future patients off to see some of the dodgier alternative medicines I may just have to reassess.
All in all, an interesting programme so far. Though I have to say the title of the programme is certainly an exaggeration based on the cases so far. It is all to easy to forget that while modern medicine hasn’t cured every disease it certainly has provided successful treatments for a significant number of diseases improving both our collective life expectancy and quality of life.