Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Dr. Oz

Dr. Oz has put together a package of alternative medical treatments that he has awarded his very own “seal of approval” to. In other words, he recommends them. 

I didn’t get much beyond number two, vodka and the botanical Rhodiola rosea for “stress relief” because it brought back such unpleasant memories. 

My dad was an alcoholic, but he didn’t start drinking other than socially until the 1950s when he was in his 40s and our family doctor, noticing  how tense and stressed Dad always was, told him to have a cocktail before dinner every night to relax.

Back then doctors were highly respected authority figures. The doctor’s seal of approval was all that dad needed to get him to go from social drinking to nightly drinking. Just like Oz, our family doctor recommended one drink, but my dad, unlike my mother, couldn’t stop at one. The irony of it is that I think the doctor had the same problem my dad did and that he died prematurely of cirrhosis of the liver caused by the same stress relief remedy that probably killed my dad. 

Like my father, the family GP, General Practitioner, was also the product of a devout Irish Catholic family. Alcoholism was probably in both their genes. I’ve always been afraid it was in mine too. I’m guessing that it was because of their culture that neither dad nor our doctor could face, acknowledge or deal with the reason why my father was perpetually stressed and decided instead to simply “treat the symptoms” rather than the cause of his condition. 

While I’m not sure that I know the cause myself, I believe that I do. I think that marrying my mother was a tragic mistake for both of them. They brought out the worst in each other. Although they must have loved each other when they married, they were from completely different worlds. My mother’s parents were Russian Jews. Back then my parents’ marriage was called a “mixed marriage” and believe me everyone including both their families was very disturbed by it. Strange my dad could break that taboo but not the one about divorce, but then maybe he knew he’d hear a bunch of I-told-you-sos and it was the I-told-you-sos that he couldn’t face. Or maybe he feared that if we didn’t all live under the same roof that he wouldn’t be able to support us. It beats me. 

However, hearing Dr. Oz, Oprah’s television doctor and health guru, telling people to drink to treat their stress, horrifies me. In this day and age why doesn’t he know that many people can’t take just one drink and that anyone who is constantly or even just frequently stressed should learn the cause and try to deal with it? He of all people, the “alternative medicine promoter”, a member of the sect that constantly shouts that MDs, the practitioners of evidence-based medicine, only treat symptoms while they, the alts, treat the causes of disease.

It also disturbs me that Oz recommends adding a botanical drug to the vodka. Actually, he recommends many botanicals in spite of the fact that no one knows if any of them will eventually be found to be as lethal as cigarettes, that other natural stress remedy that both my parents were addicted to, and that by the time that the toxicity of the botanical becomes apparent it will be too late to prevent thousands of premature deaths. 

What makes this even stranger is that not too long ago Oz scared many of his viewers by claiming that apple juice given to babies contains arsenic and that although the amount is low and the FDA and scientific community, which have studied arsenic for decades, state that the amount and type are no cause for alarm, Oz said he was concerned about long term safety.
Concerned about long term safety of something well studied but not concerned about the long term safety of things that have never been studied? Why the double standard, Doctor?

Oz’s recommending alcohol to treat stress and botanicals that have never been studied or evaluated for long term safety scares the hell out of me, especially since there are probably thousands, or maybe millions, of people who watch his show and believe all he says, but there is another thing about the TV doc and his medical sideshow that simply annoys me. 

His face constantly pops up in ads on my FaceBook page and when I browse the Internet. I’m really tired of his using his MD, entertainment TV program and celebrity status to try to sell me products. 

But then again maybe the reason his sideshow is so popular is because he tells the public what it wants to hear - there are simple, inexpensive solutions for all of life’s problems. Health and happiness can be bought. They come in a bottle. 

“Entertaining” lots of unseen TV viewers and offering them simple panaceas for all that ails them must be far less stressful for Oz than practicing heart surgery, a brutal field that constantly looks reality and death in the eye, one where the doctor has to truthfully inform patients of dangers, risks and the odds of success and one in which he has to tell the family that dad died on the operating table. One where you have to face consequences as opposed to a TV show where you will never learn that someone who took your advice was seriously harmed by it.

Dr. Oz, natural remedies, stress relief, botanical drugs

1 comment:

  1. The alcohol advice upset me too: we have a history of alcohol abuse in the family. His diet snack advice is completely insane: cookies, pasta, corn chips. What happened to plain yoghurt, apples, raw carrots etc? They all fill you up well and are low calorie.

    I suspect the whole thing of being a barely-disguised ad for his supplement-selling pals anyway.