Wednesday, September 15, 2010

I'm about halfway through with a class in natural medicine I'm taking to refresh my nursing license. I'm being "good," reading every word of the text, and not just picking out the answers to the questions on the self-administered exam that will determine whether I pass (I will).

It's a hard thing to make myself do, as useful articles about herbs with medicinal properties alternate with articles about methodologies that have been definitively debunked, or that are so far into the realm of hokum that they never could have been "bunked" in the first place. F'rinstance, the use of drops of water, taken orally, in which flowers have been floated in the sunlight, to correct flaws of character or personality. I used to read that sort of thing, when I was studying the history of magic. In my mental categories, there's a major difference between drinking ginger tea to settle an unsettled tummy, and what I just described.

There's also little or no note taken of the risks of self-treatment without knowledge. I've read, so far in this text, several recommendations for using licorice therapeutically, but no cautions that excessive consumption of licorice (either as one, large dose, or as small doses cumulatively over a long time) can damage one's liver to the degree that one must choose between transplant or death.

I'd also prefer that some difference in weight be acknowledged between double-blind studies and historical anecdote. That garlic was used as a treatment for bubonic plague in the Middle Ages impresses me not at all; as nearly 1/3 of the population of Europe died of the plague during that time, it doesn't seem to have been a very effective treatment.


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