The Danger Called Alternative Therapy - Dr Shreedhar Archik

Dr Shreedhar Archik - Orthopedics Surgeon Mumbai Dadar

I see a lot of patients going for alternative therapies now days. These patients are mostly the ones whom I have recommended some kind of surgery! The fear of surgery usually drives these patients to seek an “alternative”. Then there is a small group of patients who suffer from chronic ailments like rheumatoid arthritis and are fed up of taking multiple drugs and therefore seek alternatives. A small group also believes that anything in “allopathy” means dangerous and has bad side effects. Unfortunately most of these patients end up having a side effect or they do not improve at all. I am narrating two stories of my own patients who unwittingly had to go through nightmare and both wanted me to educate others. The stories tell you how to deal with the situation.

I was treating an elderly lady for a fracture in the spine and her son and daughter in law used to accompany her to the clinic for regular follow-ups. Her son was one of the top executives in one of the big IT companies and the daughter in law was a school teacher (both highly educated). This couple was childless and had gone through multiple tests and had spent a fortune to see if they could bear a child. Finally they were told to adopt a child and they had gracefully accepted the fact. My patient i.e. the old lady , after sustaining the fracture went into depression and started believing that she was about to die! She started pestering the couple for having a baby before she breathed her last! She also threw tantrums about getting an adopted baby inside her home! This couple was in terrible situation and I used to counsel the old lady about the fact that she was alright and was NOT going to die! Suddenly their visits to me stopped and then I saw this man (son) looking terribly unwell coming one day to my clinic. He was pressurized by his mother for a child and poor fellow took some “herbal” drug from a man brought to his door by his mother. He knew that this guy was not a doctor and the guy also sold the “therapy” saying that he had gift from the God and took no money for this so called medicines. Our man took this religiously feeling that these herbal medicines won’t harm him and will keep his mother out of depression. Four weeks down the line he was admitted to the hospital with severe abdominal pain. His investigations revealed a peculiar picture as far as the blood count went it showed signs of lead poisoning! The abdominal colic was due to lead poisoning. My friend who was treating him was puzzled since he could not believe that a top executive would have lead poisoning. (It is common in paint industry workers). He sent for the blood levels of lead and they came sky high! He had bone marrow depression also due to lead poisoning. On digging deeper it was found that he was taking this herbal medicine. The sample was sent for assessment and bingo it had high levels of lead in it. Two weeks in the hospital and our man went home with great mental trauma and a huge bill for something called “herbal”. He is a noble man and called this guy who had given him the drug and pleaded to stop this practice!

Morale

Do not think that everything you take as herbal may not have side effects. We commonly come across heavy metal poisoning cases after being treated with “Ayurvedic” drugs by the so called doctors (always found to have no qualifications) or most of the times by “faith healers” (lay public saying they have a gift etc.).

The second story took place last month. A police sub inspector whom I had treated for a leg fracture got his father to see me. This 70 year old gentleman could not walk. He had a peculiar picture which could not fit his inability to walk. On probing I found out that he was taking some powder from a villager for the last 2 years as a cure for his knee arthritis. His nerves were getting affected and I thought this was typical due to steroid abuse. We see patients being given steroids by quacks as a “powder” almost every day and I felt this was along term side effect of steroid use. I explained everything to him and started treatment. He showed no improvement and remembering my last case I ordered a fresh blood count which came back looking similar to our IT executive! I got his lead levels and bingo here was another case of lead poisoning sitting in front of me! I discussed this case with my physician friends and they all smiled saying “ah! We see this very often”, get the arsenic levels done! I did and here was this poor farmer, he had arsenic levels which were high. It took him 6 months to recover! I then realized that my 2 guys were fortunate, my physician friends ell me that most of them end up having permanent kidney damage!

Morale

Never ever take any “medicine” unless you know what it contains! If you do not believe your doctor’s opinion take a qualified second one but please do not take so called “alternative” remedies and especially from unqualified “doctors”.

Please note that I am not criticizing ayurveda or homeopathy, I am commenting about unqualified people selling dangerous stuff as miracle cures. Ayurveda or homeopathy still works in the hands of trained and qualified doctors.
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