Monday, January 7, 2013

Neat Things I Learned On My First Day Of Naturopathic Medical School

Well it is back to school for me! I have been waiting patiently for my turn to go back and today finally came. The main thing I learned is that I am going to be extremely busy. There is a lot of content to absorb and it blows my mind a little bit that I am going to know all this stuff by the time I graduate. Unlike undergrad, I feel like I will be gaining useful knowledge that I have a keen interest in so that should help. Though I also have a baby now. There are lots of moms in my school though, and if they can do it, so can I. And I will as I have already invested heavily in this career and I am simply too cheap to throw that money away.

I still have a stress headache. I wish they gave me some material to start on. Something to focus my energy on right now. I learned a bunch of general facts from my Botanical Medicine prof. that I found very interesting.  I think Botanical Med. will be a favorite of mine, I love the subject, I have used herbs on myself with a great degree of success and I quite like the prof. It is the reason I decided on Naturopathic Medicine.

The placebo effect is basically when a percentage of your test population reaches the desired outcome (ex. is cured) by taking a fake treatment like a sugar pill. Generally in studies, the placebo effect is viewed as a problem, something we correct for. I learned about the placebo effect in a different way today. If you take a step back from the standard thinking and realize that the placebo effect cures some disease than it is a good thing. Helping the patient should be the most important goal, if placebo can help that it should be used.

Some remedies and treatments in the naturopathic world might be powered by placebo, but so are a lot of conventional medications. I don't have sources for any of my info here because I just picked it up from lecture (and I am adding the odd fact I know from elsewhere) but it was mentioned in class that Prozac made 40% of patients feel better. 37% was attributed to placebo. Hmm. I'd rather take a sugar pill and avoid the side effects personally.

The placebo effect can be heightened by some weird things. More side effects and more invasive procedures seem to increase the placebo effect. Preforming fake surgery can cure a patient better than perhaps a fake pill. Big pills work better than little pills, red pills work as better sleeping pills, blue pills are more sedative, etc. Lots of neat psychological effects.

We learned that health authorities are quick to ban herbal treatments which is unfortunate. Kava Kava is an herb that was linked to 5 cases of drug induced hepatitis. There was minimal investigation and it was banned. Tylenol is the leading cause of liver failure (I read elsewhere that it is responsible for about 2000 deaths per year in the US following the recommended dosage, not sure if that is via liver failure or something else) but it is not only on the market but it is over the counter.

The last thing I will mention as I am going to fall asleep at my computer (this must be ripe with spelling errors) is that he stated that there will always be a place for drugs and surgery and I completely agree. I don't think there are many plant medicines that will cure a gun shot wound or a collapsed lung. But the priority should be to provide the patient with the safest, most effective option and botanical medicines tend to be safer and are incredibly powerful. Now I must go to sleep.