Approaching treatments with healthy skepticism

When you’ve been dealing with debilitating migraine attacks, it can be so tempting to invest your hope in new and attractive treatment options.  When you’ve met with doctor after doctor and tried many traditional prescription drugs (to little to no avail), there’s a certain desperation that kicks in.  “There must be something out there that works,” you think longingly, wishing you were one of those people with a chronic disease that was more manageable, or wishing you were someone without any chronic illness at all.

It’s this mind frame many migraine sufferers are in when they shell out anywhere from $2.00 to $2,000 (I’m making that money range up, but you get my point) to try the alternative treatment you’re hearing about from friends or seeing advertised in your Facebook ads.

Here’s the thing about the majority of alternative treatments, though:  most (but not all) have not been thoroughly tested to make sure they have the efficacy their manufacturers are advertising. Since the majority of alternative medical treatments are not FDA-approved, we cannot be reasonably sure that the treatments are safe.

(Let me interrupt myself here to say that I worked for years in the U.S. pharmaceutical industry and can tell you that the FDA approval process is not without its major problems.  In my opinion, that agency and its processes could use a lot more scrutiny.  End of interjection.)

Back to the alternative treatments, though:  many migraine treatments work for many people, and that’s great.  Throughout my life I have had varying degrees of success with non-prescription treatments, from herbal supplements to muscle rubs to nasal sprays to special diets to you name it.  But any time I have adopted a new type of treatment, it has been with the full knowledge that the treatment may not have undergone the rigorous efficacy and safety tests that a more traditional prescription drug may have.

I nearly always give people the benefit of the doubt, and I believe that the majority of companies that create alternative migraine treatments are doing so with full faith that their treatments can genuinely help people.  That said, we must keep in mind that due to migraine’s prevalence and the fact that the disease has no cure, there’s an opportunity for money to be made by people and companies who claim they have “the answer.”  And who knows? Maybe some do.

All this is to say most of us could stand to do with a little more skepticism when we embark on new treatment journeys.  For a lot of people, to call someone skeptical carries a negative connotation, and I see that.  But for my purposes, I want to encourage everyone to have what I call a healthy skepticism.  I just want to encourage you do your due diligence before shelling out tons of cash for an unproven treatment or putting your health on the line with a migraine treatment that hasn’t been fully vetted.

Have you had an experience with a non-traditional drug or treatment for migraine? Was this experience positive or negative? What sort of research, if any, did you complete before purchasing the alternative treatment?


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