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Beware of Online “Professionals” – Research the “Research”.

Being an online professional myself, I must say this “tongue-in-cheek”, but in truth, maybe you could take it seriously. There is a lot of “information” available to people on the internet. Some of it comes in glossy web pages that look very professional. You will often find a number of people who are literally “fountains” of information being given for free. These people appear to be “professionals”, but they also don’t seem to have anything else to do. Makes you wonder. How and why are they doing this? Are they impartial? Is this a real “review”?

Quite often, I have done a little research on some of the folks that are holding forth in internet forums as one of the local experts. Some of them turn out to be consultants, or actually in business selling some of the products they are reviewing. Or getting derivative funding in some way. There are ways to figure this out.

Also quite often, I encounter a patient who has been “convinced” by something that they read in an internet forum as being “the last word”. It’s hard for me to get a word in edgewise, because they have printed out 10 pages. But just because “natural medicines dot com” (to make up an example) says that wrapping your head up in wet towels will be good and has been practiced by “healers” for “centuries”, does not necessarily make it something you need to do. Maybe, but…

A number of people approach “Alternative Health Care” as though it means “any alternatives”. As in, “anything goes other than conventional medicine”. So many people are surprised when I can’t get behind some of the “alternative remedies” they have heard about. Others say that so long as something does not hurt someone, perhaps it’s ok to let the “placebo effect” do its work – we should just encourage people to do whatever they want to do and feel good about it. The problem is, when this is costing people money and time, and confusing them, while simultaneously making my job harder, I can’t be a cheerleader for “anything goes as an alternative”. I want to guide in my way. At the same time, I will stay out of areas I have no experience with.

What these times call for, when so much information is available, are trusted professionals that help to act as filters and give truly professional points of view, based on a decade or more of doing firsthand clinical work. You need a professional that knows you as a patient, not one who is holding forth with the bare minimum of information on a web forum. Insist on credentials, insist on at least 10 years of clinical and do your research on the research.

If you have something you read that you want to check up on, or if you want to debate this with me, talk to me about it at your next appointment!

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