18 November 2019
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The sports car and the bicycle

Dr Ross Walker
24 July 2019

The commonest cause of death and disability across the world is cardiovascular disease. This is closely followed by cancer. The third commonest cause of death and disability in developed countries is Western healthcare, the so-called true evidence-based medicine. In the US alone, there are an estimated 780,000 deaths on a yearly basis caused by the intervention of orthodox doctors. This does not include any disability caused by the medical profession. It is estimated that there are over 100,000 deaths a year from the appropriate prescription of pharmaceutical preparations; two thirds of which come from blood thinners and diabetic treatments. A study was done on coronary angiography in the New York area and an independent body assessed that 65% of angiograms performed were unnecessary. It is estimated that every year in the US there are 20 million unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions written. We hear often of significant side effects from the long-term use of commonly prescribed pharmaceutical preparation such a statin drugs, peptic ulcer preparations and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, to name a few.

We also hear of pharmaceutical companies making false claims about the benefits, whilst playing down the potential side effects of drugs. In 2012, The Medical Journal of Australia published an article by Elshaug et al suggesting 150 potentially ineffective and unsafe services were provided by orthodox doctors. Again in 2015, The Medical Journal of Australia published an article by Stephen Duckett et al, suggesting there are a number of inappropriate procedures that are typically unnecessary and may cause harm performed by orthodox medicine.

I’ve said on numerous occasions that I see orthodox medicine like a high-performance motorcar. You get from A to B very quickly but with the potential of crashing and killing yourself if you’re not careful, whereas, complementary medicine in my view is like a bicycle. It will get you from A to B much slower but you also get some exercise along the way. Clearly the rules for the high-performance motor have to be completely different than the rules for the bicycle.

There is no doubt that well designed, randomised controlled clinical trials over a few years should be seen as the gold standard for the evaluation of orthodox therapies. These are vitally important to ensure firstly that strong, synthetic pharmaceutical agents are effective. And secondly, that they do no harm. As most complementary medicines are closer to food in their safety, it is important researchers who understand complementary medicine scientifically evaluate these therapies. But we must realise that to get an answer, we need to follow many more people than the sickest of the sick, who are typically used for clinical trials of pharmaceutical therapies and also take the much longer time-frame, as demonstrated, for example, in the Harvard trials I mentioned previously. It is my opinion that in the complementary medical trials, all we need is surrogate markers of benefit. Demonstrating mortality and morbidity benefits for complementary medicines would require many thousands of patients studied for 10-20 years and this will just not happen because of the expense and manpower needed. 

It is my opinion that complementary medicines keep healthy people healthier and also makes orthodox therapies work so much better. Until a government body foolishly legislates to have complementary medicine on a medical prescription, I believe this still should be an individual choice. Also, it is unbelievably hypocritical for the self-appointed gatekeepers of so-called scientific information (i.e. many academics in the scientific medical world) to criticise a field in which they have little or no understanding, without first attempting to clean up their extremely flawed backyard.


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