Modern medical science, the 'officially' recognised medicine, relies on evidence based medicine, in contrast to the ancient, empirical practice that Is gradually gaining ground in the population. This is now referred to as complementary alternative medicine. Alternative medicine has been present throughout the whole history of medicine and gaining popularity these days. Complementary medicine with its various branches and methodology, however, remains controversial - even in some aspects hazardous - due to the lack of scientifically valid evidence. The article deals In detail with the severe side effects of phytotherapy, with an illustration of the so-called 'chínese herb nephropathy', an ailment that afflicted more than 100 women on diet in Belgium. For two consecutive years these women took plant extracts labelled Stephania tetranda and Magnolia officinalis plus fenfluramin, diaethylpropion, cascara powder, acetazolamide, extracts of belladonna and meprobamate. The results: chronic renal failure, precancerous urinary tract conditions and aortic valve damage. Detailed analysis suspects the toxic substance of aristolochic acid found in one of the herbs to be the likely cause for the organ and tissue damage. These cases Illustrate the need for the cautious approach towards phytotherapy and suggest that in the case of complementary medicine therapy one can not Ignore the results of evidence based medicine. In this article, we critically analyse the state of modern and alternative medicine and emphasize that two separate types of medicine does not exist - only one, that has to integrate the methods of complementary medicine that are acceptable, and at the same time charlatan practice must not prevail.
|Number of pages||5|
|Journal||Lege Artis Medicinae|
|Publication status||Published - Dec 1 2005|
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