I try not to be snarky about things in which I have no formal training. Homeopathic, complementary, alternative, and untested (excluding clinical trials, of course) therapies fall into that category. Sometimes this is difficult as I have encountered many patients who have lost the last of their time and money on such treatments. Or as in the case of Dr. Burzynski, who, over 30 years from his discover of "antineoplastons", still has yet to publish data from a randomized, controlled study in a peer-reviewed journal (And it might be mentioned, also threatened to sue a 17 year old who blogged critically of his purported cancer therapy. Say what you will about pharmaceutical companies, but they don't generally go around suing high schoolers for defamation.)
Given what I have to offer is literally a form a poison, I do understand why patients ask for more "natural" remedies. And their inquiry is not entirely without merit if you consider that some of our most commonly used drugs, like the vinca alkaloids, were derived from plants. However, despite this "natural" origin, no one would categorize vinblastine as anything other than standard, and thus toxic, chemotherapy. And one that has proven its efficacy in clinical trials. I try to work with patients on this issue - explain that I do not object if the patients wants to incorporate a diet high in vitamin C or the occasional coffee ground enemas into standard chemotherapy, on the condition that the patient tells me what additional therapies they are trying and that the patient understands there is a possibility the alternative (or "complementary") therapy could adversely interact with their chemo in ways I cannot predict.
I am on maternity leave right now, so it is perhaps strange that I have spent the morning googling Dr. Burzynski (although truthfully quite helpful as I really do get asked about the Burzynski Clinic often). I started thinking about this issue when I noticed the tag on the "Mother's Milk" tea I have been drinking two or three times a day -
That says "Traditional Medicinals". My first reaction was "Oh no you don't. It's me, being a practitioner of "westernized" medicine, that is the "traditional" one here. You, my homeopathic tea, are the "alternative". In my world, tea is no more medicinal than the vinca alkaloids are natural. And for the record I don't talk to my tea.
I started drinking this tea "just because", and more as novelty than because I worried about my milk supply. That being said, in the last few weeks my milk has been "coming in" more frequently than I remember it doing when I was nursing my daughter. I really don't know how proven a galactagogue fenugreek is, but in my case (the worst kind of evidence - anecdotal...) it certainly seems to be working.
And so I find myself in the odd position of feeling both snarky towards the makers of this "medicinal" tea and yet not able to go an hour without the need to nurse or pump. Of course, the answer could be as simple as it just works, although I would feel better about recommending it should its efficacy be proven in a randomized trail published in a peer-review journal.