How NOT to argue for Alternative Medicine 5
angry doc grows weary, but he feels he cannot let this article on Today today go unchallenged...
The Solution lies with you
THE kidney has become like a computer. When it stops functioning, it makes more sense to get a replacement than to keep servicing the old one.
And so we are now recommending that people suffering from advanced stage of kidney failure should opt for a transplant, instead of dialysis, as the treatment of choice.
It does make sense. A transplant is a one-off event. In the long-term, it costs less money than regular dialysis. It is also more productive than lying down doing nothing while receiving dialysis.
An organ transplant, however, is not without its risks — including those associated with major surgery, organ rejection and side effects of anti-rejection drugs. Several anti-rejection drugs can actually cause decreased kidney function.
So even if kidney transplant is preferable to dialysis, it is, at best, the lesser of two evils — still far from the ideal.
We need to look into the broader, longer-term issue of prevention. Or the problem of kidney failure will just get bigger. Already, Singapore has one of the highest rates of kidney failure in the world. Do we want to be No 1?
A quick check at the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) and Health Promotion Board websites did not turn up any advice on how kidney disease might be prevented.
The NKF mentions that it launched a "massive prevention programme" in 1997 but this consists primarily of health screening. Screening is detection, not prevention.
At best, screening can lead to early treatment to prevent the disease from worsening. True prevention means not having the disease arise in the first place.
Medically, it is known that kidney patients can slow down the worsening of the disease by limiting their intake of protein (meat), phosphorus (soft drinks, milk, dairy products and dried beans) and sodium (salt). It is also known that many types of chemical toxins and pharmaceutical drugs can cause kidney failure.
Does it not follow that normal, healthy people can slow down, or even avoid, the development of kidney disease by limiting their consumption of the same substances?
While our public health education programmes does recommend limiting salt intake, little is said about the rest. Our health education programmes also do not state clearly the link between meat, dairy, soft drinks, etc and kidney disease. Instead, these programmes tend to focus on the heart.
Traditional Chinese Medicine has plenty to say about how to care for the kidneys — because the kidneys (along with the adrenal glands and reproductive organs) are regarded as being responsible for a person's overall vitality.
And so there are plenty of herbs, tonic foods, exercises, massage techniques (such as foot reflexology) for keeping the kidneys in good shape.
These may not be scientific. But that is because the pharmaceutical and medical industries have little interest in studying things that lack the potential to generate huge profits.
Any research into traditional methods for preventing — and possibly reversing — kidney failure will therefore have to be initiated and funded by governments, universities and public organisations like the NKF.
Being in Singapore, with excellent medical and scientific facilities as well as access to traditional medical knowledge, places us in a prime position to conduct research of this nature. So will someone please take up the challenge?
For those who cannot afford to wait for scientific research that might never take place, try using a ginger compress: Dip a towel into some hot water with grated ginger mixed in, then squeeze it until it's nearly dry. Fold and place the compress over the kidneys on your upper back, and cover it with another dry towel to keep the heat in. Repeat for about 20 minutes until the area is red.
This treatment draws blood to the kidneys to heal it. It is a simple yet powerful treatment used by kidney patients I know.
If you can restore and retain your original kidneys, that would be the ideal. Kidneys are not computers. New ones are not necessarily better.
For the most part what Mr Seah wrote makes sense. Singapore does have a high incidence of renal failure that warrants our attention, and prevention is better than cure.
But unfortunately Mr Seah utilised the same old flawed arguments and fear to advocate the use of unproven therapy.
The fact is traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is big business, and TCM remedies for renal diseases have been and are being studied, and there is evidence that some of them may slow down the progression of renal failure.
See for example this 'local' article, or do a pubmed search to see more. Hardly something that 'might never take place', don't you think?