IN MY previous column I wrote about my experience in the hospital. I enjoyed the silence there. But I had also an unfortunate experience in the hospital. I was treated for my pancreatitis. For almost six days I was on a bottle with strong antibiotics.

When I was discharged from the hospital, I still got a prescription for another 40 capsules of antibiotics. I was not able to buy these because there was no stock in the pharmacy of the hospital but also I hardly could walk because of a strong feeling of dizziness in my head. In medical terms they call this vertigo. Even until now I feel continuously dizzy. When I went back to the doctor after six days for another blood and urine test, she said everything was normal again and I was declared cured of my pancreatitis.

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When I complained about my dizziness, she wanted to help me and offered another treatment for that, but I declined. When I suggested to her that my dizziness might be an after-effect of the antibiotic treatment, she was rather evasive and suggested that I may have had a history of dizziness and that it might have been a coincidence of what had happened. I told her that I didn't have such history neither did I believe in a coincidence. I would rather try to get rid of it by taking some food supplements.

Before I left her clinic, she asked me to sign a paper that I refused any further treatment from her.

I should mention here that my wife, who is a staunch believer in alternative "medicines" and herbal food supplements, had a heated discussion with the doctor while I was confined in the hospital about the use of alternative medicines. The doctor insisted that these medicines are non-therapeutic as she had recently learned also from a seminar conducted for doctors in Manila. In the seminar, they had emphasized again that the label, "no approved therapeutic claims" be placed on all those food supplements.

Personally I am a user also of herbal food supplements. We have a saying in Dutch: baat het niet dan schaadt het niet - if it doesn't help it won't hurt either or it doesn't hurt to try. I don't like to say the same about conventional medicines, especially antibiotics. Webster says therapeutic means, 'serving to cure a disease.' And a disease is a "disorder in one of the organs of the human body." My conclusion is: the good doctor has cured a disease in my pancreas but it has caused another disease in my head. Of course, she denies that there is a causal effect here, but as a layman I am inclined to believe there is.

I believe the term therapeutic is rather ambiguous. If I have a cold (sip-on in

Bisaya) and I take a food supplement, e.g. Noco, to get rid of it, for me it works. I am cured from my cold. I agree that food supplements are mainly preventive, because they boost your immune system, but I believe they can be curative as well.

I have a great prejudice for drugs mainly because of many drug companies (and some doctors?) who are out to make profits at the expense of the health of the patient. They consider the herbal food supplement companies as a big competition. And that is unfair for the latter, but it creates also confusion for the user of herbal food supplements.

I would suggest to our new health secretary, Ona, under Noynoy Aquino that he resolves this issue also in the health department. I would highly recommend that he orders the removal of the label, 'no approved therapeutic claims' from the herbal food supplement products. (For your comments email: arnvv@yahoo.com or call: 3 #851-9809)