FIVE Things to NOT BUY: Advice from Your Pediatrician
March 23, 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic is still raging. The silver lining is Harvey Weinstein and Paul Rand have coronavirus. I don’t wish ill will on anyone, but I hope they have to wait in line at their local ED. I took a vacation day prior to knowing the pandemic was going to happen, as the kids originally had the day off school. The kids are home due to school closures, and I decided to just roll with life and keep my day off. I return to work tomorrow.
But rather than wasting energy and ranting at the poor decisions being made at various central government level or becoming unreasonably upset when I see former premed students on Facebook at weddings when they are doctors and supposed to model #socialdistancing and #flatteningthecurve, I will instead focus on things that are in my realm of control. I will today write about 5 things you should not waste money on.
In addition to the COVID-19 crisis, there is also a financial crisis. What goes down, will go up. But your financial health can only go up, if you have money to invest in the economy when things will improve. I was at our local Sprouts, which is a market I love. The only part I don’t love, is that right smack in the front of the market are “homeopathic” and “natural” medicines. As a pediatrician, I’ve glanced at those asiles and I’m shocked at what parents waste their money on. So here are the Five things to NOT BUY.
- Homeopathic Medicines: If you have seen me in clinic, I have told you this story. Dr. Plastic Picker actually graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelors in the History of Science. Before earning my MD, I studied the History of Medicine which is within the History of Science. Homeopathy is a “school of medicine” that died out in the 1800s because IT DID NOT WORK. Allopathic medicine (what medicine is now) and Osteopathic medicine (DO schools are the historic remnants of this other medicine but they are essentially allopathic now) are what “won” in this historic battle. Homeopathy died out because the entire basis of this school of thought is that if you dillute something more, than it makes it more powerful. That’s why on those homeopathy medicines they put ingredients as 100,000X. That is how dilluted in parts per water it is. Let us take tincture of opium, an very old medicine and drug of abuse. Opium is essentially one of the oldest narcotics there is. Do you really think if I give you an amount of opium, and I dillute it 100,000x in water that the diluted dose is more effective than the original dose? So essentially you are buying water when you are buying other homeopathic medicines. And it’s not even that. Those “medicines” are not regulated. And for decades the “homeopathic” teething medicines had belladonna, which is a muscarinic mushroom. Albeit it was dilluted 10,000x times so was essentially water. But for decades parents were giving their teething babies minuscule amounts of an hallucinogenic mushroom for teething. It’s called belladonna because it would dilate the pupils to give women this angelic look in some old paintings. Wow. What a waste of money. You just paid $30 for water and maybe a microscopic bit of a hallucinogenic mushroom.
- Ionic Water: I think this trend died down. Wow, this was super annoying maybe 2 years ago. A lot of wonderful moms who I felt were caught up in a group pyschosis were asking me about Ionic water. I even had an acid/base discussion with one dad, who I respected but he was a bit off-kilter in his personality. Anyway, Ionic water is advertised right now on-line at $32 for a pack of 12 PLASTIC bottles. Given that Dr. Plastic Picker thinks even regular bottled water is a scam and we should all drink tap from a reusable water bottle, I definitely think Ionic water is a scam. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/the-story-of-bottled-wate_b_507942?guccounter=1&guce_referrer=aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuZWNvc2lhLm9yZy8&guce_referrer_sig=AQAAAC3TM9U1LEC69ONXefpUKagx3JpHOEPTuVR6OfWijzBBTKBoA66mHdDxARUeQ_Y8W4rJuEJJzS8KKlnqjrWR313d9f4bLnH7nbjBBZb4i1_I0TQQheq6LTiVzaM-wzN8tO_6122Izii67uM4xd5pY6iw43Bheq-KEQodf_yH__gJ I refuse to even have a discussion about this. You are going to put yourself in financial ruin. And if you are wealthy enough to not put yourself in ruin, I’d like you to think about how many trees you could have planted with $32. You could have planted through the Eden Reforestration Porject 3,200 trees to make more oxygen for all of us.
- Essential Oils: This is what happens to Dr. Plastic Picker when I hear the word essential oils. I may be sitting and nodding and smiling at you, and I will often just not respond to your comment. But inside, I am really questioning the state of the world. I truly am. Oxygen is essential. Human rights is essential. Iron is essential for hemoglobin synthesis. $60 for 6 little plastic bottles that you will put a few drops in a diffuser or dab somewhere, is not essential. Remember 30% of everything has a placebo effect, but instead of a sugar pill like a tic tac you just spent $60. Lavendar and tea tree oil have estrogenic effects. It could give your prepubertal kid breasts. I’ve seen it. I had one mom slather so much essential oils on her kid that they had small breast buds. Stopped the essentially oils, breasts went away. This was a toddler a few years ago. There is one essential oil that is made from an endangered plant, and everyone who has purchased it – has contributed to it’s ecological demise https://www.treehugger.com/sustainable-agriculture/frankincense-endangered.html And many kids who have essenital oils placed on their body get a contact dermatitis. I’ve had to prescribe a good amount of topical steroids for contact dermatitis secondary to essential oils.
- Vitamin C supplements: The only time I recommend Vitamin C supplements is when your child is anemic, and I place your child on iron repletion therapy. Vitamin C when taken with iron repletion therapy, will increase iron absorption four-fold whereas milk will inhibit it. So for those patients, I say take vitamin C with your iron and don’t drink milk around the time you are taking your iron. Otherwise you need about 75-90 mcg of Vitamin C a day. From an orange, you get about 75mcg a day. There are megadoses of vitamin C available in the Vitamin aisle. Although the medical utility of Vitamin C at large doses was debunked more than a decade ago, people are still buying it to ward off colds! Oh my god. This drives me crazy. You are driving the plastic pollution crisis because they all come in plastic bottles. Just eat an orange, one orange a day. There are tons of other foods that have vitamin C. Papaya, broccoli, kale, chilli peppers, bell peppers and on and on. Just eat a well balanced and mostly plant based diet and mostly unprocessed foods. Did you know that Vitamin C is a water soluable vitamin anyway? That means any extra you take, you just pee it out. Yeah, and I don’t know if it helps any marine life ward off aquatic respiratory viruses when they are bathing in all the vitamin C you just flushed into the ocean. But fish breath differently than we do? They have gills. Wow, I should ask a vet.
- Concierge Medicine: Yep. I’m going to say it. I am lucky to get to interview and wade through many resumes. I get to help manage and know the personalities of a large number of pediatricians. In general, the best pediatricians are ones who seek to take care of everyone. “Nearly one in every five children (19.7%) in San Diego were living below the federal poverty line. ” https://cpisandiego.org/research/web-report-poverty-and-income-in-the-city-of-san-diego-2017/ When my own children are sick, the pediatricians who I trust most actually work in clinics that take care of a good share of low-income children, mixed with working class families and upper-middle class families. That is what makes pediatrics beautiful, because you see the world walk through your doors. When you pick a pediatrician, don’t be fooled by all the outside trappings. Try to look into their hearts and see if they care. I bet a good one is right in front of you, and just treat them with respect and have your child draw them a picture. That’s all we need to go from good pediatrician to super pediatrician! And it only cost you a piece of paper.
So that was a fun post to just vent about the Five Things Not to Buy. I am sorry if I hurt anyone’s feelings. Please understand that it has been a stressful time for all physicians as we are stressed about the COVID-19. This post was very therapeutic for me and helped me relieve some of my stress. At least now, I’ve left on the blogsphere my thoughts on what not to waste your money on. Best of luck. I hope you stayed home today and helped #flattenthecurve and trying to stay away from the grandparents.