Why 'conservative clones' criticising supplements should clean up their own backyard first

By Dr Ross Walker

- Last updated on GMT

Dr Ross Walker: 'Complementary medicine keeps healthy people healthier and also makes orthodox therapies work so much better'.
Dr Ross Walker: 'Complementary medicine keeps healthy people healthier and also makes orthodox therapies work so much better'.

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A group of scientists and doctors who call themselves the “Friends of Science in Medicine” (FSM) are relaunching an attack on complementary medicine, writes Dr Ross Walker, an expert in the field of preventative cardiology in Australia.

There was recently a segment on Channel 9 News in Australia suggesting pharmacies are receiving kickbacks from complementary medicine companies for selling their supplements.

And an edition of Four Corners on ABC presented an 'exposé' on Australian complementary medical companies and services.

We have heard the usual nonsense from conservative scientists and doctors, who do not work in the area, nor have any understanding or desire to learn how complementary medicines actually work or the real, evidence-base behind a variety of different therapies.

We hear all the usual claims from these conservative clones (or possibly clowns) suggesting there is no evidence for the benefits of supplementation: “If you follow a standard diet, you are obtaining all of the micronutrients necessary without supplementation, and that complementary medicine is useless or in some cases may even cause harm.”​ There is always the demeaning comments that all vitamins do is give you expensive urine, and that they are recommended by charlatans.

The FSM suggest there is absolutely no evidence for the benefits of a variety of complementary medicine and sometimes there is harm. This is blatantly untrue and the evidence is clearly being ignored by FSM.

Let me give you some examples: one of the greatest learning and medical institutions in the world, Harvard University in the United States, has been running, for the last 30 years, the Nurses Health Study and the Male Physicians Trial in around 180,000 people. To use the example of a standard multivitamin, when you examine the randomised controlled trial in the doctors up to 10 years, there was no clinical benefit from taking a multivitamin every day. When the data was analysed at 10 years, however, there was a statistically significant 8% reduction in cataracts and common cancers. You may well say, 8% isn’t that much but we’re talking about something that the FSM argues has no benefit whatsoever.

Bowel cancer

When you look that the observational study in the women at 15 years, there was a 75% reduction in bowel cancer, a 25% reduction breast cancer and a 23% reduction in cardiovascular disease. Possibly even more striking, because it was a randomised controlled clinical trial, is the twenty-year data in men which showed a 44% reduction in cardiovascular disease, purely by taking a good quality multivitamin on a daily basis.

A recent meta-analysis published in Mayo Clinic proceedings showed an 18% reduction in cardiovascular events in people who consumed high-dose fish oil supplementation or regularly consumed fish over a long period of time. The GISSI trial in Italy found patients with acute myocardial infarction and given 1 gm a day Omega-3 fatty acids in supplement form for 12 months had a 28% reduction in overall death and a 47% reduction in sudden cardiac death. Again, hardly no evidence for benefit…?

The last six years, I have been involved in research on the natural juice from bergamot oranges grown on the southern coast of Italy. We have published a number of trials in well respected medical journals showing clear reductions in cholesterol, blood sugar, improvements in liver function and profound benefits when combined with statin therapy. There are a number of ongoing trials which will be published over the next few years showing even greater benefit for the regular supplementation with Bergamot polyphenolic fraction.

The list goes on, and I have shown above just a few studies from many that show the significant benefit of many aspects of complementary medicine, conveniently ignored by the FSM and other orthodox researchers who promote the benefits of pharmaceutical therapy and medical interventions at the same time weaken and downplay any contribution from complementary medicine.

I’m a proud member of the medical profession and feel many of our achievements do go unnoticed and are not recognised by the general public. That doesn’t mean, however, that doctors should be universally proud of the service they provide. Before the FSM continue their onslaught against their poorer cousins, shouldn’t they start to try and clean up their own backyard first?

Orthodox intervention

The commonest cause of death and disability across the world is cardiovascular disease. This is closely followed by cancer. The third commonest cause of death and disability in developed countries is Western healthcare, the so-called by the FSM, true evidence-based medicine. In the US alone there are an estimated 780,000 deaths on a yearly basis, caused by the intervention of orthodox doctors. This does not include any disability caused by the medical profession. It is estimated that there are over 100,000 deaths a year from the appropriate prescription of pharmaceutical preparations; two thirds of which comes from blood thinners and diabetic treatments. 

I have said on numerous occasions that I see orthodox medicine like a high-performance motorcar. You get from A to B very quickly but with the potential of crashing and killing yourself if you’re not careful, whereas, complementary medicine in my view is like a bicycle. It will get you from A to B much slower but you also get some exercise along the way. Clearly the rules for the high-performance motor have to be completely different than the rules for the bicycle.

It is my opinion that complementary medicine keeps healthy people healthier and also makes orthodox therapies work so much better. Until a government body foolishly legislates to have complementary medicine on a medical prescription, I believe this still should be an individual choice. Also, it is unbelievably hypocritical of the gatekeepers of so-called scientific information, the FSM, to criticise a field they have little or no understanding about without even bothering to clean up their extremely flawed backyard.

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