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Don’t take Big Pharma at its word


oliver.dodd under a Creative Commons Licence

There’s a piece of information going around the internet which argues that lowering the bar for defining diabetes from a fasting blood glucose level of 126mg/dL to its current 100mg is questionable. It further states that this reduction has made a few more million people ‘diabetic’ by definition and that it was achieved partly thanks to Big Pharma people on the decision-making boards that proclaimed that the 100mg fasting blood sugar level was the new normal – aided by expensive lobbying by the biggest drug companies.

It adds that statins and drugs which are routinely prescribed to lower cholesterol add to diabetic problems.

I’ve been diabetic for 12 years, allegedly brought on by stress after I covered a genocide and mass rape in 2002, and, as a patient, this sort of information is distressing and worrying. We patients don’t know what to believe or where to go for accurate information. I know that if I were in a car accident or had a heart attack I would be rushed to the best allopathic hospital possible. But I also know that I have a great deal of cynicism regarding the verdicts which come faithfully and with unfailing regularity from the all-powerful allopathic Bibles. Don’t eat eggs, they ordered, they’re bad for you. Twenty years later, they have reversed that one – or at least toned it down considerably.

Don’t use coconut oil, they told coconut kingdom Kerala, where the ubiquitous, extremely nutritious, nut was a daily staple, in much the same way that bread and cheese serves the French or potatoes are part of a daily Irish diet. Twenty years later, coconut oil is being hailed as the new wonder-food, prescribed for Hollywood stars to shed their wrinkles with their cholesterol, and all real or imaginary ailments as well. Many Americans are drinking raw cold-pressed virgin coconut oil every morning on the advice of their internet agony aunts and new-age dieticians. C’est la vie, apparently.

I have been sneered at for trying out a lot of home remedies, but I know they work. Ayurveda –which I knew nothing about – had me effortlessly dropping eight kilos in two weeks. When the vaidyan or physician advised me to do the two-week course, I baulked, thinking it was too expensive and not really believing that I had any serious problems. Water retention, he said. You have tiny wrists and ankles. You shouldn’t be so fat. That’s typically Indian, to tell you to your face how terrible you look. I finally capitulated, albeit reluctantly, and his treatment worked, in spite of my disbelief. And a hundred (literally) people ran to him, after seeing the miracle he worked on me, hoping they would be cured of various ailments. Dr Raveendran of Poonthottam is always modest, however. ‘Come, we’ll try to help you,’ he always tells patients. No big claims, no tall stories.

The secret is in knowing which is the best Ayurveda doctor for a particular ailment. There’s one place where they have cured a person going blind when all allopathic eye hospitals had no hope. Another cures a particular skin ailment. You must know whom to go to. There are quacks galore in Kerala, specially set up to give tourists massages. But there are few really bad side effects from Ayurveda. After all, they have been at it for 5,000 years.

My daughter’s blood dysentery was cured in one day by a Bengali homeopathic doctor when she was four years old and I was in a terrified panic. Yet people love to rubbish the entire system of homeopathy. When allopathic practitioners lose a patient, it’s somehow acceptable. Yet the same medical fraternity is quick to dismiss alternative treatments as rubbish.

Anecdotal, they say, as though mere piling up of data, facts and figures by pharmaceutical company-sponsored studies is the beginning and end of truth.

We know this, but we continue to let world health and well-being be governed by big business.

When will we ever learn?

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