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While I normally ramble on about skin care, as a health care professional, I'm interested in all things wellness. That's why a [Link Removed] in Newsweek had me sit up and take notice. The article sports the headline "Crazy Talk: Oprah, Wacky Cures & You" on the cover and takes Winfrey to task for offering medical tips on her show that the magazine suggests are ineffective and possibly dangerous.  

Episodes in question feature Suzanne Somers (who Oprah states that "Many people as a quackadoo,") discussing hormone therapy and Dr Christiane Northrup, an ob-gyn, who advises on alternative therapies and a focus on the mind/body connection. The article does applaud regulars Dr Mehmet Oz (a physician) and trainer Bob Greene for their sound advice on nutrition and weight loss.

Is the criticism warranted? According to Oprah, who responded to the magazine's article that condemned the medical advice given by some of her guests, she said she's not endorsing any method, but rather putting out information for her viewership to consider. "For 23 years, my show has presented thousands of topics that reflect the human experience, including doctors' medical advice and personal health stories that have prompted conversations between our audience members and their health care providers," Winfrey said in a statement. "I trust the viewers, and I know that they are smart and discerning enough to seek out medical opinions to determine what may be best for them."

Does Oprah Promote Unsafe Health Practices?  

Thankfully, the medical system has moved on from the dark ages. Naturopaths and other alternative health specialists have us question the cause of our illnesses rather than just popping a cure all pill. Training for medical professionals now incorporates modules in alternative and complementary treatments. And there is wider recognition that lifestyle choices, stress and emotional wellness can have a significant impact on one's health.  

People are looking for alternatives - you only have to walk into a drugstore today to witness the explosion in 'natural and alternative treatments‘. There is a need for sound and objective information; it really is time for healthcare professionals to look beyond the way we've dispensed advice for so many years. Sadly, we still aren't where we need to be.

Where We Need To Go  

Rather than automatically bashing alternative medical practices and treatments, wouldn't it be better to accept that some are worth considering? It's easy to dismiss treatments due to the lack of clinical studies, but if current options aren't delivering, it surely may be worth  funding research that could yield results. Many alternative remedies are rooted in traditional cultures and have been used for centuries. In fact, a good many of our patented drugs are derived from the plants and practices employed by these cultures.

One of the obstacles of course, is the way that research is funded and drugs patented. However, that's a story for another post. It's important to find a way for allopathic, complementary and alternative medicine to work together. The objective after all, is the same for everyone - health and wellness, delivered safely.

Sharmani Pillay is a Registered Pharmacist who specializes in anti aging skin care and women's wellness. She owns and operates an online skin care store at [Link Removed].

Pharmagirl, Your links have been removed, please consider upgrading to premium membership.


Member Comments

    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Vikki Hall wrote Jul 28, 2009
    • I only wished that more Dr’s would offer natural remedies first. I would prefer to use prescribed medicina as a last resort.
      My Dr in MI (I need to find one here in TN) was really good at working with me on alternative methods vs just throwing drugs at me.

      I say Oprah should be applauded for bringing to attention a lot of the subjects that she does. It’s out there in the mainstream....

            Report  Reply

    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Janet Wooley wrote Jul 28, 2009
    • How could it be Oprah’s fault? We need to check anything out and not just take someones word for anything, she is just letting others know of other options. Which I appreciate.

            Report  Reply

    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Tammy Slater-Kendrick wrote Jul 30, 2009
    • Ellen - you ‘keep on keepin’ on,’ lady! Your outlook is refreshing. It’s sad when someone sinks into a “poor me” slump when faced with a serious illness. I believe they contribute to their own deterioration.

      I"m surprised Newsweek was stupid enough to find fault with Oprah. She presents the full spectrum on every topic rather than presenting a singular point of view and expecting everyone to buy into it.

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