Reading Into Research

 

Modern Health care is based on the belief that the scientific method – that is, objective, measurable research – holds the answers to curing disease. When students go to college to become doctors, they learn about the chemistry of the body, and how certain medicines can alter that chemistry for the better. They learn about the physiology of the body, and how surgical procedures can fix flaws and repair damage. They learn that certain measurements – blood pressure, cholesterol counts, heart rate, blood sugar levels – are strong indicators of health and disease. It is a rational, thoughtful, rigorous mind-set. In most cases, it is quite accurate and effective.

The warriors of modern health care are the researchers. Newspapers and magazines constantly report new findings from clinical studies they conduct to test new healing hypotheses and methods. Some of these researchers are affiliated with universities; others work for businesses, such as pharmaceutical companies. Watching over it all is the federal government, which works to verify that the testing done to support these new medicines and procedures is valid and comprehensive. On the surface, this world of health research is noble, logical, and successful. Few would debate that the United States leads the world in medical research.

But there are cracks. Those who read the newspapers closely know that the quality of research can vary, and that results sometimes conflict. Further, clinical studies rarely provide a complete solution; rather, they advance our knowledge incrementally, and we are left trying to infer the bigger application. This is the nature of science. In rare situations, however, the results can be troubling.

The huge money machine must also be acknowledged that is, the health-care industry, and the influence this flow of dollars can have on those within the field. Was anyone surprised when the front-page headlines announced that the federal government would start cracking down on pharmeceutical companies if they continued to give lucrative gifts to doctors and pharmasists who switch patients to their medicines?

This point is not to cast doubt of the efficacy of modern health methodologies. We all know the extraoridnary wonders being done everywhere, using new drugs, lasers, and procedures. The point- and it’s an important one- is that the health world is enormously dynamic. Drugs come, drugs go; procedures come, procedures go; assumptions come, assumptions go.

Modern health care has done wonders with the ability to recognize disease and treat disease. The pitfall is the prevention of disease. Natural medicine should be used in the prevention of disease and in cases of disease it should not be used to treat symptoms of the disease (as modern medicine is used) but used to strengthen were there is weakness, or imbalance, in the body. Sometimes it is necessary to use both modern medicine and natural medicine. In such cases the goal should not be that of covering up symptoms but to understand how the disease came to be. This can be pretty confusing with all the information thrown at us. However, you should take your health care into you’re own hands. The best way to better understand medicine, modern or natural, is to read the results of research studies.

When you hear about new research, there are some questions you should ask yourself as you read the results:

What’s the study trying to figure out?

What are its potential benefits or risks?

Who is sponsoring the study?

What is the primary investigator’s track record?

What are the side effects and did the side effects occur frequently or occasionally?

How many people were part of the study?

Was the study fairly divided among gender, age, and diversity?

Have there been any other studies on this subject?

 

When you base your opinion on the results and the background of how the study was conducted and then compare it to other studies, you will have a far better view of the reality of the results – which results in whole answers to your questions.

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