What’s the evidence for evidence-based medicine?
Patients come in all the time asking about things they read about on the internet, or heard about from a friend. It may be an unexpected explanation for their mysterious symptoms, or a new test, or an amazing treatment they want to try.
Heck, when I see things that I’m curious about, I research them, and sometimes I try them, too.
When I was hugely pregnant and due and couldn’t stand even one more day as an awkward whale, I tried red raspberry leaf tea. When breastfeeding proved both difficult and painful, I tried …oh. just about everything, actually. Fenugreek tea, lanolin ointment, chamomile poultices. When I wanted to lose the fifty-odd pounds of baby weight I’d gained, do you think I didn’t try pouring apple cider vinegar into everything I drank?*
Most of the things that are brought to my attention are like these, natural and apparently harmless remedies for which there just aren’t a lot of available scientific data. There may be anecdotal evidence supporting the safety and benefits of these things — family remedies; blog posts and articles on the internet; and word of mouth (the “my neighbor tried this and it worked for her” type stories). I know that many Western doctors immediately disregard this type of evidence without conversation or consideration, and I don’t think that’s an effective (nor patient-friendly) approach....