Why People Lost Trust in Modern Medicine

This has been a topic of concern amongst health professionals over the past few years, hence it was important I bring this up. In today’s segment, my guest expert Dr. Luitgard Holzleg, answers some of my questions about trust, “conventional medicine” and pseudoscience in the medical world.

The world of nutrition is currently inundated with misinformation and pseudoscience due to a strengthening influence of social media and unqualified professionals using this to their advantage. Do you find a similarity in health and medicine as well? 

Yes, there is a similar development in the fields of health and medicine. I think the two fields where you see this the most are cancer treatment and immunisations. Often the advice against scientifically proven and well researched treatment comes from individuals calling themselves experts but without ANY medical training.

So here’s going straight to the point; why do you think people are losing trust in modern medicine? 

Because today’s doctors are trained to be (technical and knowledgeable) specialists … in one speciality diagnosing the rarest diseases and conditions, while often forgetting the “human” that needs their help and the overall person that is behind that one disease with emotions, concerns and feelings. Modern insurance approaches don’t pay doctors for time taken for a patient and his needs but for procedures. It is time that conventional medicine (I call it that rather than modern) learns to take the time to talk to patients again and listen to them. Not once, but in long term therapies, again and again and again.

If you had to pick the top 2 most outrageous medical advice you’ve heard or read, what were they? 

Two or three PEOPLE come into my mind first. For one, Christian Ty Bollinger and his an organisation, website and TV series, “The Truth About Cancer”. His heinous, dangerous and scientifically completely unproven advice for cancer, to not undergo surgery and not to do any scientifically recommended cancer treatment is outrageous. The programme was founded and is run by an ex-bodybuilder and accountant, claiming he knows better than an entire community of highly trained and skilled professionals in a variety of fields, not just medicine. Along the same lines is Dr. Joseph Mercola, and his pseudo-scientific website. He promotes and financially supports anti-vaccine programmes. Once of his claims, is that it is the cause of autism. There has not been a single, large-scale, science-based and approved study that was able to support this infamous claim by Andrew Wakefield in 1998.

How can one strike a balance between modern and alternative medicine and it seems like for example, people either overmedicate or refuse to seek medical help and opt for natural remedies even when things get serious. 

Your question brings a (sad) smile to my face. Yes, sometimes that is the impression we get. I take an approach from conventional medicine. I think both sides can and must learn from one another as for myself, any approach and any advice has to come from a scientific, professional entity that has received a profound and demanding education. Conventional medicine should use this advantage to better their patients: combining their knowledge and skills with the time and patience of “alternative” therapists.

A few years ago I read an article about two clinics in Germany that already used such an approach. One of them was the renowned Charité-Ambulanz in Berlin, where every doctor also acquires training in alternative medicine. For me that constitutes a “perfect” medical world. And of course, the same applies the other way around, any alternative therapist must have a solid, conventional medical training.

And finally, what is your own personal approach towards health and nutrition?

I am very lucky with my professional background and my training, and also with my upbringing. My father, also a medical doctor, belongs to the generation of doctors who still had to learn about nutrition themselves, the days before nutritionists were their own profession. I grew up in a household, where nutrition was balanced, I remember the weekly dish of legumes, which as a child I thoroughly disliked. I learnt that too much meat is not healthy, either, I heard about the changes from butter is good to butter is bad for you. And my parents had to cope with me being an extremely fussy child when it came to nutrition.

For both nutrition and medicine, I have a very balanced approach. We are lucky how much we know about medicine and health today and I do take advantage of this knowledge when needed. There are accidents or illnesses that require “conventional treatment” but for many things, especially in daily life, prevention is key. So, here we are where everything starts with a healthy lifestyle and a balanced nutrition. That healthy lifestyle is much more than exercising, not smoking, watching your nutrition or your blood pressure. It’s about balance, fun, moderation, resilience, a loving and supporting family, a social network of friends (and I do not mean facebook friends), it’s also about learning new things to keep our brain active and about being open-minded. I learnt a lot when both my daughters decided to become vegetarians as teenagers (and they still are). It was never a concern for me but a time to read more about it and ensure they learnt what to pay attention to when growing up. I do not like any kinds of extremism, including in nutrition. I don’t think we are made to live a life of restraints and thus moderation is the best description for my approach for both health and nutrition (and as a scientist I know that research has shown just that to work well). Also, I share this scientific back-up and my personal attitude in many of my workshops, from first aid to well-being.

About Dr. Luitgard Holzleg

Luitgard is a medical doctor from Germany with experiences in paediatrics, surgery, anaesthesiology and general practice.She worked in Germany, the United Kingdom, and South Africa and volunteered in India. She is the founder of HEALTHY AND SAFE AWAY FROM HOME – providing the best possible first aid training in English to individuals, NGOs and corporations. She’s accredited as a First Aid instructor by Swiss, British and American authorities. Luitgard is also a certified ergonomics coach and a health coach. 

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