Mark Crislip has a really excellent (if rambling) article up at Science-Based Medicine called Parasites that I thought I’d share. It is interesting to me because he is talking about a range of topics at the same time, from a particular set of symptoms to the relationship of CAM to medicine and all sorts of topics in between. It’s definitely worth the read, and it isn’t gross despite being on a topic that would generally make the skin crawl.
Parasites, as Dr. Crislip points out, are a very strange diagnosis in the West, but I’ve heard in the alt med world a lot of people who have claimed to have had them. I honestly never really considered the logic of that before; you hear someone say, “Hey, I have parasites!” and you have to assume that they got this information from some valid source. But is that the case? I guess the next time I hear someone make this sort of allegation, I’ll ask how they wound up with their diagnosis.
What I find most intriguing here is the notion that there are people out there being diagnosed with what would be a legitimate medical concern (if the diagnosis is accurate) by people who lack the tools, skills, and experience to make the diagnosis. To me, that is the singlemost frightening aspect of the alternative medicine world. Presumably, the people who are seeking these diagnoses are experiencing legitimate symptoms. It makes me wonder what is really wrong with these people, whether it is potentially damaging, whether it is potentially contagious, and how much worse their experience is given that they are now disregarding their symptoms as parasites?
And again, I am not saying that parasites are impossible. I am saying that the probability of parasites is very small, and that they should be diagnosed by a professional.