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Christopher "Tanoro" Gray is a web programmer and science advocate especially concerned with resource management technologies, biology, and artificial intelligence. He is a student of epistemology and philosophy as well as an Atheist competent in Christian theology.
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Doctors Only Treat the Symptom
Posted by: Tanoro - May 12, 2012 9:52PM

This is an argument I hear on occasion, usually from alternative health proponents, and it is used as a justification to ignore what doctors have to say in favor of preferred natural remedies not supported by medical science.

Most doctors today only treat symptoms, and generally their first response to any complaint is "here, take this pill." That is not to say that I discredit everything that medical science has done for humanity. It's to say that I hold traditional holistic health approaches and natural remedies in much higher regard than Dr. Jones who spent 10 years in medical school only to tell me to "go home and put ice on it" or "take this pill and let me know if the problem continues."

"Doctors only treat the symptoms." Oh, I am so sick of hearing that. Vaccinations, surgery, chemo and radiation treatments, antibiotics, antiretrovirals, and other such treatments are designed to specifically target the cause of illness based on our knowledge of the ailments' biological mechanisms. The very fact that these treatments exist is evidence that our doctors are not merely treating symptoms!

Vaccinations provide a sample of a given disease so that our bodies can learn to recognize it and build antibodies against it. Chemo and radiation treatments, while incredibly invasive, target cancer cells directly and kill them. Antibiotics are designed to kill or slow the growth of bacteria that would otherwise make us sick. Antiretrovirals are the preferred means of treating HIV, aside from preventative measures. This is not treating the symptom! These are treatments for the WORST ailments your body could endure, far worse than it can cure by itself in many cases. This criticism is a pitiful excuse by the uneducated who have no idea what doctors do. They don't know enough about biology to know when their own immune system is all the remedy they need and they can't tell the difference between good medical advice by a licensed physician and pseudo-science woo.

This criticism is also contradictory when one is simultaneously promoting natural remedies instead of mainstream medicine. Here is why. Let's say you have a mild cold and you go see your doctor. After an examination, your doctor has a choice. Depending on the severity of the case, he may give you a direct treatment which might have inconvenient side-effects or decide to let your body do what it does naturally: treat itself. Given the latter choice, your doctor may prescribe something to dull the symptoms so that you are more comfortable during this natural healing process. So doctors may favor reliance on the very natural remedy we all rely on the most and yet alternative health proponents dare criticize our doctors for such audacity? The hypocrisy is so staggering it's embarassing!

This blog is an editorial and contains only the opinions of the author. The author claims no expertise on most topics of discussion and this blog is not to be cited as an alternative for properly vetted journalism or scientific sources.

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