By Dr David Laing Dawson
I grew up in Victoria, B.C. It was then a sleepy mostly white collar town, home to the B.C. Legislative Buildings, the Empress Hotel, a strong English heritage, and excellent educational institutions.
It is now 2018, and I read that a Victoria Homeopath/Naturopath, one Anke Zimmermann has prescribed for a child some derivative of the saliva from a rabid dog. This hit the news because of the “saliva from a Rabid Dog” part, although, like all homeopathic “remedies” it is unlikely to have anything in it that is either harmful or helpful. And like many homeopathic remedies it is based on some cockamamie theory of memory. That is that water that once had a particular substance in it, but no longer does, retains a “memory” of that substance. (Pity the tub of water that was once my bath. Come to think of it, given that those water molecules have existed for eons, sometimes as vapour, sometimes as liquid, sometimes as ice, they could have an encyclopaedia of memories). The theory continues that the memory that resides in that small vial of water, when ingested by a sufferer would….. but then I get lost with the impossibility of their reasoning.
How can this be happening in 2018?
But I visited a Family Health Team recently. The waiting area was simple and clean. Nothing was promised, but a few posters and a couple of screens promoted some very basic ideas about keeping healthy. My name was called and I met the young doctor who led me through the rabbit–warren corridor to a tiny office. He said to just call him Michael. The minuscule examining room was filled with a partial desk with keyboard and computer screen, a stool for him and a stool for me and one examining table covered with white paper. The walls were bare save for the blood pressure and eye, ear instruments. A little cupboard held a few medical tools such as the rubber headed reflex hammer.
There was NO magic to be found. No mystery, no history, no spooky artifacts. No body diagrams, graphics of the actual physiology of the human body, no skeletons in the corner. The doc wasn’t even wearing a lab coat.
No magic. Just evidence based medicine. All scientific, except for the clear evidence that we all crave magic, hope, reassurance, belief.
2018. My patient tells me his homeopath put him on lithium. I am about to say, “What?” with incredulity, when I remember that this means he was prescribed water that remembered it once contained lithium or a tablet that contains less lithium than your average radish.
And another tells me his acupuncturist stuck needles in his right knee to help the osteoarthritis in his left knee. “I guess it’s all connected,” he says.
My impression is that more people are turning to various kinds of fraudulent health care, to ideas formulated three hundred and even 1300 years ago than did in the years I grew up in Victoria. And again more than I remember in 1980 or 1990.
So either our educational systems have failed to produce a population that understands, at least in a rudimentary sense, why we can now prevent measles, treat cancer and survive AIDS, or doctors of real medicine have underestimated our human need for magic, false hope, easy solutions.
And now Michael will send me for Xrays and remind me that some regular back and leg exercise, some weight loss, and taking some ibuprophen now and then is the best treatment for the osteoarthritis in my knees, short of titanium replacements.
Both my knees are in bad shape. I wonder if I could have the acupuncturist stick needles in my left knee to help my right knee and vice versa, or maybe if I bathed in water that remembers the knees of a young athlete….Maybe if I had saved my bathwater from 1960….But would I have to drink it for the full effect?