Clinical Evidence

Clinical Evidence Is the Trap of Western Medicine – Here’s Why


If you are a chronic pain, PTSD, or cancer patient in Utah, you can apply for what is known as the Utah Medical Card to gain access to plant-based medicines unavailable by way of standard prescriptions. These plant-based medicines are considered an alternative treatment for a long list of qualifying conditions.

According to the experts at KindlyMD, Western medicine is still reluctant to accept plant-based medicines and the whole Med Card concept due to a lack of clinical evidence regarding efficacy. Unfortunately, the need for clinical evidence is the trap of western medicine.

Such a statement might seem radical to you. You may be of the mind that new drugs and medical procedures should undergo a decade of clinical testing to gain FDA approval before being released to the market. If so, give me an opportunity to explain why I believe that is a trap.

The Long History of Traditional Medicine

We practice what is known as western medicine here in the U.S. It is a pharmacologically based form of medicine that relies exclusively on drugs, surgical procedures, medical tests, and therapies for which practitioners need to be licensed. Before western medicine ever existed, there were still medical professionals people turned to when they were sick.

We refer to their medicine as traditional medicine. It includes ancient practices like acupuncture and chiropractic. Unfortunately, the proponents of Western medicine often refer to traditional medicine as pre-scientific. Such a definition denotes a shot in the dark, as though ancient medical practitioners were throwing everything against the proverbial wall and hoping it would stick.

Again, such thinking is a trap. Why? Because it precludes certain kinds of treatments based solely on the fact that there isn’t clinical evidence to support their efficacy or safety. Centuries – and millennia in some cases – of anecdotal evidence and historical records are ignored because no one at a research institute has done recent work on the treatment in question.

A New Drug for Malaria

I found a fascinating article on the World Health Organization (WHO) website discussing how traditional medicine has impacted its Western counterpart over the years. It is worth the read if you are still wrestling with the idea of clinical evidence being a trap. A key part of the article discusses a malaria drug based on a discovery in traditional medicine records made back in 1971.

Apparently, chloroquine-based medications were found to be ineffective against certain malaria strains. After searching unsuccessfully for a replacement from among more than 240,000 compounds, a Chinese researcher turned to traditional medicine literature. She discovered a reference to a compound found in sweet wormwood.

She isolated that compound, came up with a new drug, and subsequently had a replacement to treat chloroquine-resistant malaria. She was awarded the Nobel Prize in 2015 and lauded for saving millions of lives with her discovery.

No Clinical Evidence

The people using sweet wormwood to treat malaria fever centuries ago had no clinical evidence proving its efficacy. They did have plenty of anecdotal evidence. They used it and it worked. Today, such evidence would be viewed skeptically by those who adhere to Western medicines’ need for clinical evidence with religious fervor.

We definitely need clinical evidence. But we cannot afford to ignore anecdotal evidence in the search for new drugs and therapies. And when clinical evidence contradicts anecdotal evidence, it is improper to automatically assume that the former is accurate and the latter inaccurate. Clinical trials often do not replicate the real world. Therefore, clinical data is not always 100% reliable. Sometimes it is even a trap that really needs to be avoided.

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