What do you think of alternative medicine?
*contributing editor to the Cloverdale Reporter
Personally, I've never had much patience for medication outside the mainstream.
I understand why other folks seek out non-traditional forms of treatment or, at least, I've tried to be open about their desire to do so. Sure, I scoff when they talk about Acai berries, or coconut water, super-charged bins of protein, or whatever the trend is this week, but I'm a cynical person.
If you work in the news and your job is to ask questions and find truth, you will have doubts about nearly anything and everything, and you will take nothing at face value. You will find it hard to believe that cancer can be avoided by drinking green tea or that naturopathic remedies will somehow, one day, save your life.
Illness is illness, I always figure. Some are just luckier than others.
Last week, a Langley-based nutritionist named Murray Cameron showed me a machine he uses called a biophotonic scanner, which has been available and in practice for nearly a decade.
It's appeared on The Dr. Oz Show and it's been discussed in various medical journals and publications. Some are for it, and some are against it. Some think it's legitimate, while others think it's... well, not.
The machine's job is to measure the amount of anti-oxidants in your body (the good things you get from vegetables and fruits, and stuff), which it does with a light or some kind of ray that is aimed at the palm of your hand. According to Cameron, the optimal number you should hope for is 50,000 cartenoids, with 25,000-30,000 being in the encouraging range.
(I came in at 32,000. Go me.)
Of course, even after giving it a try, I couldn't help but feel this was no more legitimate than the practice of measuring your strength by whacking a bell with a mallet at a circus, or by hitting one of those electronic punching bags at a bar. At its best, it's equivalent to the scale in your bathroom.
Chances are, it's accurate. Then again, I don't know, because I'm not a doctor, nor do I have the expertise to assume anything finite about it. I know that it scanned my hand and a number came up, but that's all I know about it.
So, I went to Google, Google News, and Google Scholar.
The biophotonic scanner is made and manufactured by Nu Skin, a high-profile direct selling American company that distributes personal care products and dietary supplements. They were voted one of Forbes Most Trustworthy Companies in 2010, but that list ranks companies on their financial integrity, not their medical reliability.
(And, even then, controversy can occur.)
So, there's a commercial angle here, as well.
Who's to say that those who had glowing reviews of the machine didn't have a personal interest in seeing it succeed? Who's to say any different of those who denied its accuracy? That's the tricky thing of reading into anything said by anonymous commenters, and of anything you find online, really.
Even if someone says something was approved by a relentless researcher or trusted doctor with a spotless background, how can I be sure? I can only report what others have said, but I can only report it as what they have said. Even if it's Steven Hawking.
I believe a doctor is a doctor. A dentist is a dentist. A lawyer is a laywer.
I've never felt that nutritionists, acupuncturists, or chiropractors were doctors and, frankly, it bothers me when they portray themselves to be. They have different degrees. They're from different educational backgrounds. Technically, they're not the same, and if you're even the tiniest bit different in the medical community, then you're completely separate.
After all, people are depending on what you say, and what you advise. Medical journalism is very sensitive, and very personal.
Now, when it comes to the biophotonic scanner, perhaps I'm getting a little ahead of myself. It's simply a measuring tool, and you can choose to use it if you like. It aims to aid those who are trying to improve their health, their stamina, their fitness, and many have sworn by it, even those such as Dr. Oz, who many believe but I am skeptical of.
The reason why I personally wouldn't invest in a biophotonic scanner (which costs $10 per examination) is that I don't think I need a machine to tell me how many vegetables I've had every day. I know when I've eaten a cucumber and when I've eaten a Mars bar.
I know how much junk food I have, that I don't eat McDonald's, that I drink too much coffee and tea, that I need to exercise more but still exercise enough, that I didn't shave this morning, that I weigh 150 lbs., that I can play the guitar but not the piano, that I like red meat, that I was born in Winnipeg, that I love celery and cauliflower, and that I was the only kid on the block who ate broccoli when I was five years old.
I know these things about myself, so I don't see the need in a biophotonic scanner.
Then again, not everyone's like me.
What do you think?