Note: this was written after a few tough days at the office when Urs Truly, Cassandra-like, couldn’t get anyone to listen to me or do what I recommended.

Call me naif but I trust my doctor. When I hear of some sort of fiddle-faddle treatment I ask The Good Doctor what he thinks of it. If he tells me it’s rubbish I believe him and that’s that. If he asks me to do something (such as stay on the cholesterol Rx) I do it. I trust him more than the internet.

My own patients don’t regularly return this trust. Although I have twenty years experience and I regularly keep up with the research and data my opinion is often poo-pooed or even argued. Some tell me I’m wrong and let me tell you how to properly treat something. Oh the temerity to have a 23yo tell me I don’t know what I am talking about.

A patient recently informed me she is seeing some sort of ‘prescriber’ who did ‘sixteen pages’ of blood and saliva tests and who now promises to better her diabetes and obesity through supplements (of which she doesn’t know their contents) which are changed weekly. For her convenience he sells them to her.

I have a college who makes very good medical instructional videos on hot topics such as ‘vaccinations do not cause autism’, ‘you probably don’t need to avoid gluten’, and ‘sugar doesn’t cause ADHD”. He points out the data/research in most-sensible presentations. Apparently he is regularly flooded with hate mail for his efforts,  some to the the point of death threats. Mostly the negative comments are along the line he doesn’t know what he is talking about.

The internet has been overall bad for our health. We self-diagnosis and make themselves into cyberchondriacs. We locate folks who will confirm what we want to believe. Complainers like to go on line to execrate a medicine, a procedure, or a physician.

I have three rules for taking medicines, supplements, herbs or whatever:

1 – Why am I taking this?

2 – How or what do I measure to see if it is working?

and most important

3 – How long do I take this item before I decide it’s no good and I am wasting my money and should stop it. 

Too many times I hear people taking supplements who say they are taking this or that for ‘general health’ but can’t really answer 2 or 3.  They take it for awhile, get bored and stop it only to pick up another one. This strikes me as a waste of time and money.

I had one patient come in nearly every month with the latest weight-loss treatment (my favorite was something injectable made from monkey glands). She never bothered to alter her diet or take up exercise, nor did she didn’t lose a pound in the long run. She also complained her the cost of her co-pays.

I’m a scientist at heart. I want to give my patients facts and data and ‘evidence-based’ options. Alas this is too often dismissed for “something I read on the internet’.