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Mega Vitamins: Bad Idea
Echinacea: Doesn’t work
Fad Diets: Potentially Deadly
Natural is Always Better: Nope
Antioxidants: Not so much…
Are you recognizing a trend here? This morning I finished listening to a 24 lecture series from Dr. Steven Novella, a Yale Professor and neurologist, called Medical Myths, Lies and Half Truths, What We Think We Know May Be Hurting Us. Dr. Novella cites real science to blow myths out of the water, to show us that marketing and science are not always friends.
Novella gives evidence based guidelines for good health and shows us medical myths that have been around for centuries which are simply repackaged and sold through the internet under the general heading of “wellness”. Mega doses of Vitamin C, Detoxifying your colon and even “common knowledge” about drinking water are discussed by the Doctor in an eye opening and informative lecture series.
I am very happy to know, for example, that the “Ancient Chinese Art” of acupuncture was actually outlawed in China in the early twentieth century by the government because it was so dangerous. Acupuncture was merely a form of bloodletting, much like that practiced and outlawed in 18th century Europe. It was reintroduced, without the messy bleeding, by a doctor in the 1930′s and adopted by the Communists to help solve a shortage of trained doctors.
When it comes to health, like many things, we seem to be willing to suspend common sense as we look for miracles. The placebo effect, uncontrolled experiments, anecdotal evidence and desperation often replace actual science. They replace money in our wallet with empty space too.
It comes down to this, for me. You can believe science or not. You can believe evidence or not, that’s up to you. If you are inclined to distrust anything scientific, then gobble down your supplements and herbs. However, if you believe that science matters, then, when it comes to your health, get back to basics. Eat a balanced diet, exercise, go to the doctor. Don’t put unregulated and unproven things in your body, no matter how special the pleadings.
We live in a world full of people who have taken huge shortcuts. People who couldn’t be bothered to get a psychology degree call themselves Life Coaches, people who don’t want to put in the time to build a business wait for the “Universe” to deliver them riches and people who couldn’t be bothered to go to medical school become wellness store owners and healers. It’s a lot easier to get a multi level marketing kit full of vitamins than it is to pass the medical boards.
As for me, I’m going to stick with science. I’m not saying science can measure everything and that all scientists are brilliant. I still am a man of faith, I believe in spirit and other things that scientists can’t measure. I’m simply saying, when it comes to putting things into my body (or my brain) I’m not going to take too many shortcuts.