Hippie doctors

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Fizz
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Hippie doctors

Postby Fizz » Wed Jun 10, 2015 2:46 pm UTC

Not sure how to even search for this, so apologies if this is a duplicate topic.

I have a thyroid imbalance (99% sure it's Grave's Disease) and the current 'scientific' medical approaches treat only the symptoms, not the cause. Therefore I have come to the conclusion that I need a naturopath. But there is soooooo much bullshite out there, and lots of conflicting information, and apparently lots of quacks. ("Eat lots of spinach." "Don't eat spinach!" "You need lots of meat." "Meat is bad." "Eat only fruit." "Eat mostly cabbage.") :?

What branches of natural medicine are legit? Anyone have experience?

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Re: Hippie doctors

Postby almach » Wed Jun 10, 2015 3:06 pm UTC

Wow, scare quotes around "scientific" to describe modern medicine in MY xkcd forum? It's more likely than you think....

Medicine treats the symptoms, rather than the cause, of Graves' Disease because the cause is unknown. Furthermore, before you try to treat it with diet, you should go to the doctor and get a real diagnosis. Then treat it symptomatically, because if you don't, you will die. If there were other ways that were "legit" and proven to work, doctors would use them. As it stands you're looking to use yourself as a guinea pig in a very poorly designed experiment.

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Re: Hippie doctors

Postby Mighty Jalapeno » Wed Jun 10, 2015 3:14 pm UTC

Fizz wrote:What branches of natural medicine are legit? Anyone have experience?

Generally the ones that real doctors, medical practitioners and specialists use to treat patients with confirmed medical conditions.

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Re: Hippie doctors

Postby SecondTalon » Wed Jun 10, 2015 3:40 pm UTC

Pretty much thirding all that. If it is Graves (Which, are you 99% sure because the Doc is pretty sure but not 100% and is waiting on test results? Or have you just been doing your own research despite a lack of medical education? I figure those are the only two options as if you were someone with a medical background able to do the tests, you'd have done them already and know) and the current path is to minimize the symptoms because they cannot identify and repair the cause.... then it's because the cause is unknown.

I also assure you that if it could be resolved by drinking a kale/rutabaga smoothy while spinning in a circle twice daily, and repeating a mantra to focus your chakras, then the scientific doctor would prescribe you ... a kale/rutabaga smoothy, a spin mat, a mirror so you can make sure you're spinning correctly, and a pronunciation chart for the mantra.

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The only branches of natural medicine that are legit are the ones that say "eat a varied diet and if you have a problem, go see someone who graduated medical school"
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Re: Hippie doctors

Postby Fizz » Wed Jun 10, 2015 3:53 pm UTC

Thanks for the replies. Since you seem to be interested, I shall give a little more background. And apologies for scare quotes about "science." I like science. Just trying to distinguish it from "hippie knowledge."

I have a medical opinion (from my GP) and am going to an endocrinologist at the end of the month. I have a thyroid imbalance (it's been tested), and since it involves my eyes as well as several new allergies and autoimmune hives, it is probably Grave's.

But this is a serious problem, a lifelong disease, which has pretty clear cut treatments. And according to the medical establishment there are only three options: take pills for the rest of my life to suppress my thyroid, get my thyroid all or partially cut out, or get my thyroid killed by radiation. I have been reading serious books and have confirmed this. (I've had lots of time to research because it took a month for my insurance to kick in, and I had to do Something before then because I felt awful.)

And these three options suck, and they only attack the thyroid. But the real problem is that I (probably) have an auto-immune disease in which my immune system thinks my thyroid is not part of my body, and I have come to the conclusion that before I suppress or kill my thyroid, I need to look at other options to support and heal my immune system. Because even if I treat the thyroid, I might still have other auto immune problems to deal with, such as bulging eyes and blindness.

And when I was healthy, it would have been easy to say that I will do whatever my (properly licensed) doctor says, but now that I am sick for life, I am suddenly discovering what it's like to get a "you have this for life, you will always be on a pill and there is no cure" diagnosis.

So I came to a board which appears to be full of people who like science, because despite hours at the google machine, I have yet to figure out which alternatives to the U.S. medical system are legit and which are hippie nonsense. For example, a lot of alt practitioners point out that Grave's is often tied to celiac disease or Lyme disease. If that's the case, it might be worthwhile to look into. On the other hand, I have some practitioners seriously offering to diagnose me by taking a picture of my irises, and treat me by placing me on an all-fruit diet...

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Re: Hippie doctors

Postby Xenomortis » Wed Jun 10, 2015 4:10 pm UTC

Does the phrase "heal or support my immune system" make any sense when dealing with autoimmune disease?
Usually the word "suppress" is used instead.
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Re: Hippie doctors

Postby SecondTalon » Wed Jun 10, 2015 4:18 pm UTC

Sure, we are - for the most part - science enthusiasts or, in some cases, actual scientists. Hence the overall hostility towards the general idea of alternative or natural medicine, as there are no real controls, tests, studies, or anything other than at best anecdotal evidence in support, and in some cases no evidence whatsoever.

Now, some New Miracle Diet! might be promoted by a natural medicine group to cure some disorder and the diet actually works. But it won't be recognized by the medical establishment without extensive testing and identification as to the actual chemical composition that is the active ingredient because... it's a lot easier to store a small bottle of pills than it is to store a salad or weasel livers or whatever it is. And that testing and identification takes years which, when it's something that works, can be seen as a bit cruel or foot-dragging or uncharitably, actively hostile of outside ideas. (And with some docs, it probably is actual hostility). But that's because a vast majority of the weird harebrained stuff people come up with as cures are done so specifically to make money where the creator knows full well it doesn't work. Of the remainder, the majority is the stuff doesn't work but at least the practitioner genuinely believes it does... which might actually make it worse, as at least the liars and crooks aren't believing their own hype. It's a small minority that actually does work, but of that small minority, most of it is done better through doctor prescribed or over-the-counter medication.

(Note: I have no medical or scientific background)

All I can say is - take the pills and look in to a possible undiagnosed autoimmune disease. Discuss it with your doctor and see if the Doc has a good reason to have not even mention it to you. And see if there's a specialist. They'll be more likely to be aware of other things to try, like a change in diet or checking for secondary or tertiary disorders.
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Re: Hippie doctors

Postby almach » Wed Jun 10, 2015 4:18 pm UTC

Go to the doctor and take the thyroid pills. Eat whatever diet you think is best but don't labour under the delusion that it will cure you. Taking pills for the rest of your life is really not so horrible a fate.

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Re: Hippie doctors

Postby Izawwlgood » Wed Jun 10, 2015 4:20 pm UTC

Fizz wrote: I have yet to figure out which alternatives to the U.S. medical system are legit and which are hippie nonsense.
There are none, because they are all the latter.
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Re: Hippie doctors

Postby Fizz » Wed Jun 10, 2015 4:28 pm UTC

Does the phrase "heal or support my immune system" make any sense when dealing with autoimmune disease?
Usually the word "suppress" is used instead.


My understanding is that you can "suppress" or "support." What you don't want to do is take something that activates the autoimmune system. (For example, echinacea would be contraindicated.)

"Healing" is my optimistic self showing through. I'd like to be able to do the dishes standing up again. :roll: And maybe even work again. The disease and the treatments (I've already tried some of the standard meds) are both pretty rough.

Thanks again for the input. I was hoping to hear from people who have tried alternative docs, but the skepticism is refreshing, too, if not quite as uplifting as the promises that all I have to do is eat 30 bananas a day and everything will be fine.

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Re: Hippie doctors

Postby doogly » Wed Jun 10, 2015 4:38 pm UTC

I can try to be helpful along this tack too, though, rather than completely dismissive:

The reason why most alternative medicine is dismissed is because it cannot outperform a placebo. (Though some things actually do worse...)

So, my Tai Chi instructor has some beliefs that are probably squarely in the "alternative" side of things. And he said a thing that was very interesting - he doesn't dispute that chi based healing is going to not rise above a placebo. The point is, placebos work! The placebo effect is real! The chi methods he talks about are all about your body healing itself, they're not bringing in some biochemical or physical mechanism unknown to western medicine. The placebo effect is well documented. This is why you give your control group a sugar pill and not nothing - the nothing group will certainly do worse.

Right, so, if you think of your body as trying to fight off a disease, you can think of medicine as giving it the real, scientifically verified equipment, but be mindful of the need to raise morale. If your morale right now is low, improving it can have an outcome on your health that is extremely real. I don't think it's necessary to futz with diet to get this sort of thing - varied and balanced is pretty much the best you can do - but I definitely recommend something like meditation, yoga, or (my favorite) tai chi. If you feel like you're at war with your body, take some steps to get a deep feeling of being on the same side again, cause it sounds like you've got a big war ahead you need to fight together.
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Re: Hippie doctors

Postby Fizz » Wed Jun 10, 2015 4:44 pm UTC

I know that "seconding" is not appreciated here but...

Thanks doogly, for not dismissing my question. Probably what I will do is consult a licensed endocrinologist and an alt doctor, and take it all with a grain of salt. If I remember to, I shall report back and let you all know how the guinea pig is faring.

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Re: Hippie doctors

Postby Izawwlgood » Wed Jun 10, 2015 5:06 pm UTC

To piggy back on what doogly is saying -

There's a reflexology place in town that I adore. Like, seriously adore. It's super relaxing and super affordable, and I usually pass right out and have the soundest naps imaginable during, or at least, right after.

I don't for a second believe that pressing on the pad of my foot under my second toe stimulates my liver, but I know that going to this place relaxes me, that it feels good, and that I feel good after going. So, I go.

Similarly, I know that playing videogames relaxes me and helps me not wake up in the middle of the night with anxiety. So I play videogames.

If you find something that relaxes you, don't underestimate the utility of stress reduction. But don't treat stress reduction as a replacement for actual medicine. Unless, of course, your actual doctor proscribes stress reduction as a treatment.
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Re: Hippie doctors

Postby doogly » Wed Jun 10, 2015 5:09 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote: I usually pass right out and have the soundest naps imaginable during, or at least, right after.

But look at the yin yang symbol, the dots are important! If you pass out you are in an entirely yang state, and that's not as ideal :P

(This is even more important in tai chi because we do standing meditation, and if you fall asleep you fall down. This has happened.)
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Re: Hippie doctors

Postby Izawwlgood » Wed Jun 10, 2015 5:16 pm UTC

Shhhhh, too much talk, not enough foot rubbing
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Re: Hippie doctors

Postby Tirian » Wed Jun 10, 2015 5:21 pm UTC

doogly wrote:(This is even more important in tai chi because we do standing meditation, and if you fall asleep you fall down. This has happened.)


Ha ha ha ouch ha ha ha. I went to a Pentacostal service once and was slain in the spirit when I was there, but at least they had the good sense to have someone to catch me when I fell.

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Re: Hippie doctors

Postby gmalivuk » Wed Jun 10, 2015 5:32 pm UTC

Fizz wrote:
Does the phrase "heal or support my immune system" make any sense when dealing with autoimmune disease?
Usually the word "suppress" is used instead.
My understanding is that you can "suppress" or "support."
Sure, by doing normal things like getting too little sleep or too little food or to few of certain vitamins (to suppress), or getting enough of all those things (to support).

Beyond making sure you don't have any nutritional deficiencies and are getting enough rest, though, there's no specific dietary changes that "support" the immune system more than that. Anyone trying to sell you some supplement on the basis that it does such a thing is either lying or mistaken. (You don't need to supplement unless you have a deficiency of something.)
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Re: Hippie doctors

Postby Fizz » Wed Jun 10, 2015 5:39 pm UTC

Yes, people with Grave's tend to be deficient in things. Our fast metabolism means we don't collect enough vitamins from our food. On the plus side, I'm down to my high school weight without trying! (I can't stand up for very long, but hey, I look great in a bikini! Woo hoo!)

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Re: Hippie doctors

Postby gmalivuk » Wed Jun 10, 2015 5:48 pm UTC

I'm just talking in general. Nothing much "boosts" your immune system beyond the normal level it works at when you're getting the nutrients and rest you need.

And that's just for vitamins and other things your body actually needs. Herbal supplements that purport to have some immune system function are generally just straight bullshit.
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Re: Hippie doctors

Postby Izawwlgood » Wed Jun 10, 2015 5:49 pm UTC

Fizz wrote:Yes, people with Grave's tend to be deficient in things. Our fast metabolism means we don't collect enough vitamins from our food. On the plus side, I'm down to my high school weight without trying! (I can't stand up for very long, but hey, I look great in a bikini! Woo hoo!)
But in all seriousness, you should check with a doctor, and let your doctor tell you what you're deficient in and/or what to supplement.
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Re: Hippie doctors

Postby Tyndmyr » Wed Jun 10, 2015 7:44 pm UTC

Fizz wrote:Not sure how to even search for this, so apologies if this is a duplicate topic.

I have a thyroid imbalance (99% sure it's Grave's Disease) and the current 'scientific' medical approaches treat only the symptoms, not the cause. Therefore I have come to the conclusion that I need a naturopath. But there is soooooo much bullshite out there, and lots of conflicting information, and apparently lots of quacks. ("Eat lots of spinach." "Don't eat spinach!" "You need lots of meat." "Meat is bad." "Eat only fruit." "Eat mostly cabbage.") :?

What branches of natural medicine are legit? Anyone have experience?


If natural medicine works, it is called medicine. I unfortunately have extensive experience dealing with "alternative medicine" due to crazy family members. It's the same reason I have extensive experience dealing with cults and conspiracy theories. I do not reccomend searching for a "legit" version of any of those. It's kind of a waste of time.

Treating only the symptoms is...remarkably useful. Sometimes it even helps with the cause. Usually being miserable/sick doesn't help the underlying problem at all, and may even worsen it.

Go to a doctor, get your diagnosis. Get all relevant tests and information you can get your hands on. Utilize every bit of the well tested medical field. Once you've done ALL that, it's reasonable to start going beyond known medicine. If you then want to get a biology degree and do research, cheers. Or donate to interesting research that might apply. Whichever. If you want to generally improve your fitness and diet for generic health reasons, cheers. That's valid. Being fit/eating right has incidental benefits for many conditions. But there's not a special "eat this 'superfood' and your horrible disease vanishes", generally.

Fizz wrote:And these three options suck, and they only attack the thyroid. But the real problem is that I (probably) have an auto-immune disease in which my immune system thinks my thyroid is not part of my body, and I have come to the conclusion that before I suppress or kill my thyroid, I need to look at other options to support and heal my immune system. Because even if I treat the thyroid, I might still have other auto immune problems to deal with, such as bulging eyes and blindness.


If you wish to research immunology, go for it. Research is slow, though. So, fix everything you can now, and then research more. Partial fixes are way better than no fixes.

Fizz wrote:So I came to a board which appears to be full of people who like science, because despite hours at the google machine, I have yet to figure out which alternatives to the U.S. medical system are legit and which are hippie nonsense. For example, a lot of alt practitioners point out that Grave's is often tied to celiac disease or Lyme disease. If that's the case, it might be worthwhile to look into. On the other hand, I have some practitioners seriously offering to diagnose me by taking a picture of my irises, and treat me by placing me on an all-fruit diet...


I'll save you the trouble. The alternatives are all nonsense. This is depressing, sure. We'd all like a nice easy button to hit. It doesn't exist. Note that "tied to" is very generic and vague. Ask them what they mean by that.

SecondTalon wrote:Now, some New Miracle Diet! might be promoted by a natural medicine group to cure some disorder and the diet actually works. But it won't be recognized by the medical establishment without extensive testing and identification as to the actual chemical composition that is the active ingredient because... it's a lot easier to store a small bottle of pills than it is to store a salad or weasel livers or whatever it is.


Also, natural sources are remarkably unreliable. Even if you have willows growing in your yard, you should still get a bottle of aspirin instead of chewing willow, because then you can measure what you are taking to consume a safe and effective dose instead of blindly guessing.

Note that though I embrace all sorts of science, and have some medical training, I am not a doctor. Chat up your doctor. Chat up a specialist. If you have trouble communicating with a doctor or specialist, second opinions are useful. Not every doctor is equally effective at everything...but if you get a bad mechanic, you don't go to a voodoo priest who exorcises your car.

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Re: Hippie doctors

Postby Neil_Boekend » Thu Jun 11, 2015 6:31 am UTC

First, I would like to express my support. Finding out you have an incurable disease sucks.
Second, taking pills your entire life isn't as bad as you seem to think it is. Assuming the side effects are minimal or suppressed by other pills the trouble isn't all that big. I have had daily pills for ten years now. I once had a side effect but one additional pill removed that.
doogly wrote:The point is, placebos work! The placebo effect is real!

Third, Doogly is right. If a cheap placebo makes you feel better then you feel better. Even if it doesn't cure the underlying problem, you feel better and that's good (in this case it's even the best you can hope for, because real medicine can't cure the problem either).
I take Chinese Wolfberries daily. Not because they fill a nutritional need or something but because the placebo effect makes me feel better. Not bad for a couple of cents a day.
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Re: Hippie doctors

Postby addams » Thu Jun 11, 2015 10:00 pm UTC

They are giving you good advice.
Let us know how you are doing.

I'm siding with Izawwlgood.
Pass the placebo. *Yumm!*

The recipe for my favorite placebos:
A nice meal with company you enjoy.
A warm bath and a good massage.

For ages and ages that advice has remained constant.
A loaf of bread a jug of wine and thou."

St. Tom left out the thou and put in the bath.
I see no reason you can't have it all.

Then take your pill and be grateful for it.
One hundred years ago there was no pill.
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Re: Hippie doctors

Postby ivnja » Mon Jun 15, 2015 12:45 am UTC

Fizz wrote:promises that all I have to do is eat 30 bananas a day and everything will be fine.
Ah, you found Freelee :roll:

I'll add in my support for Doogly's suggestion of Tai Chi or yoga (seated yoga is a good option if standing is a problem) as a general feel-good exercise. I actually like listening to instructors that are a little bit mystic ("feel the energy of the earth beneath you as you ground yourself," rather than simply "this movement will help you stretch this or that and this pose will open up your chest and make it easier to take deep breaths"), because even if it's metaphoric I find it helps me get in the right frame of mind.
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Re: Hippie doctors

Postby doogly » Mon Jun 15, 2015 12:53 am UTC

Yes. One does not have to ascribe metaphysical truth to a heuristic in order to benefit from it.
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