(No, we’re not in re-runs here at Panda Bear, MD. I was asked to repost this article by a few of you and even though it is in the catagorized archives, I thought I’d just run it again as a finale to CAM month. Enjoy and I swear I will have a new post up tomorrow. -PB)
Keep an Open Mind
So they asked me a lot, when I was interviewing for medical school, what I thought about complementary and alternative medicine particularly the use of traditional practices as adjuncts to Western Medicine.
I’m all for it. There are a lot of traditional practices I’d like to see become a part of modern medicine. Like snake handling. For my money snake handling has everything you’d ever need in an alternative therapy. You’ve got your snakes representing nature, you’ve got your mystical religious overtones, and you’ve got scads of anecdotal evidence and testimonials in prestigious religious journals attesting to it’s efficacy.
For those of you who don’t know, snake handling has flourished in the folkways of the southern United States for more than a hundred years and is a time-honored method of casting out the demons that cause most sickness, at least those that cannot be ascribed to qi or bad karma. I understand that the NIH offers a fellowship that will equip anyone interested for an expedition to the wilds of Louisiana in which strange and magical land they may sit at the feet of ancient masters of this art and learn the secrets of the serpents.
And don’t forget to try Uncle Skeeter’s Gator-Taffy if your expedition passes through Lafayette.
I also would like to see more faith healing employed in the modern clinic. I’ve personally seen the lame walk, the blind see, and the gaseous find relief all from the “laying on of hands” as the technique is described by the learned shaman who practice it. For those of you who are lacking in cultural competence, the faith healer’s art is practiced in tents or, more lately, air-conditioned football ashrams where a large crowd can direct their good karma (or “prayerful thoughts” as it is often roughly translated) towards the patient. The patient, under the power of both suggestion and an Ayurvedic being named “Jaysus,” has his bad chakra forcefully removed, some would say driven, from his body with a precisely placed blow to the forehead.
The Shaman often yells “Come out!” but this is just showmanship, not unlike the way we yell “stat” in the Emergency Department even though we know that we’ll be lucky to get the labs by next Tuesday.
There is some debate whether faith-healing owes it’s effectiveness to the so-called “placebo effect” rather than any demonstrable physiological process but the debate is ridiculous and anybody who challenges this ancient traditional practice is a close-minded bigot. It’s not like they’re sticking needles into people or something lame like that. We’re talking bona-fide healing here, often before a television audience of millions. It would be highly unlikely that something like this could be faked in front of so many highly intelligent television viewers.
I have also heard of another traditional mind-body therapy for psychiatric problems, this one practiced in the deep hearts of our ancient cities. Basically, the patient dials a talismanic number, usually preceded by the mystical “900” or any other Number of Power and ceremoniously asks to speak with a priestess whose name is usually Yolanda or Mistress Debbie. The priestess then diagnosis all kinds of psychiatric and sexual dysfunctions, often times correctly pointing out that somebody close to you is cheating on somebody else close to you and “he needs to show you love, girlfriend…and you are so not fat…besides, he digs big women.”
Sometimes they throw in the winning lottery numbers.
Anyways, with all of my patients, the “P” in SIG E CAPS is “Psychic Hot-line.” I understand medicaid will reimburse for it. It’s not as if we’re asking them to pay for something ridiculous like a visit to the chiropractor.
Finally, for my money, nothing can compare to the healing powers of a good old-fashioned poultice like the kind my grandma used to make out of chicken droppings and mustard greens. It was the sovereign cure for a variety of ailments from lumbago to dropsy. Through years of experimentation, traditional practitioners have developed a wide spectrum of salves and rubs that are pushing the boundaries of our understanding of medicine. Our so-called “evidence based medicine” has nothing to compare to alternating layers of gumbo clay, sassafras bark, and chicken bile covered with brown paper and tied to the offending limb with common twine. It’s so good it’s almost magical. For fever, pepper is often added as it is a hot spice. For chills, it’s not uncommon to add the musk of a nutria as everybody knows this hardy animal can gnaw it’s way through the ice that forms every fifty years or so on the bayou. Beaver semen will do, I suppose, but there is no good evidence to support its substitution and I wouldn’t have that kind of quackery in my practice.
Besides, there’s no room to stock it as my shelves are crammed with homeopathic remedies.