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This article was published on January 16, 2008

Use Web 2.0 for help and advice about health issues

Use Web 2.0 for help and advice about health issues
Steven Carrol
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Steven Carrol

Steven is a web applications developer, living in south of France, originally from London. His current project is In the nin Steven is a web applications developer, living in south of France, originally from London. His current project is In the nineties, he was a designer / director of a highly successful design, manufacturing and distribution company (Intimidation).

Every once in a while something good springs up, and anything that can help save people from the ravages of ill health would get my vote. So I’m imagining the CEO of Mamaherb Elad Daniel standing in front of the vultures that make up the panel on Dragons Den, making his pitch for their investment (luckly Mamaherb is not looking for finance so Elad Daniel is safe for now). But what would they make of this venture?

Cats ClawMamaherb is a very well built web2.0 style application that intends to gather feedback from users regarding alternative natural treatments for ailments. So if you have used cats claw (a herb) to cure your chronic infection, they want to know about it so they can spread the word.

See the problem they are trying to address is that the conventional health system only promotes allopathic remedies, and as such the hundreds of thousands of natural health advisers work outside this system which also goes to great lengths to diminish the value of their natural un-patentable products.

There are hardly any clinical trials involving such treatments because the costs cannot be recouped by pharmaceutical companies who have a close relationship with the FDA, and the FDA is the bogie man according to your natural heath adviser. I think it’s safe to say there is no love lost between these two competing groups.

Now from a unwell persons perspective when looking for cures to any treatment, their first visit would normally be the local doctor, then if that failed to solve the issue they might try an alternative practitioner, or look online for help. However, in choosing an alternative practitioner they would also be closing the door to the allopathic set of treatments.

But what if the only cure to a particular malady was allopathic. Then they would not only be wasting their time while they experimented with a natural range of products, but they would potentiate the suffering that the allopathic system started by way of not addressing the issue in the first place because of problems within the internal structure of the conventionalists value system. Dilemma ha…

One of the first companies that launched with the intention of solving this dilemma was a web site called RemedyFind run by Brett Hodges a former sufferer of chronic fatigue system who after experiencing the revolving door syndrome himself set up his web site to allow people to share their experience with treatments and rate the potential cure factor. Remedyfind had no bias (allopathic or alternative), was not endorsed by any commercial interests and his motivation was summed up in his own words:

“I saw literally dozens of doctors and alternative health professionals. I tried a multitude of different treatments – drugs, diets, counseling, alternative medicine and bodywork techniques. Some helped more than others. At least by 1988 the medical world had a name (though a wholly inadequate one) for this ailment – “Chronic Fatigue Syndrome”. Unfortunately, few physicians knew what to do about it. Alternative health therapists were generally much more confident about what would help, but their enthusiasm for their own particular treatment was not always the most objective opinion.”

However, an odd thing happened to Remedyfind in the last few months, it would appear that Brett Hodges has now sold his enterprise (and closed his site) to join a commercial outfit Revolutionhealth who operate clearly within the allopathic sector and it would appear wanted to ‘incorporate some’ of his data into their portfolio of services.

When looking at the board of directors of Revolutionhealth it reads like war cabinet, with members such as former Secretary of State Colin Powell, and various major players in the finance world. I would personally be very surprised if the former users of Remedyfind would be as comfortable using the new Revolutionhealth service given its stated agenda and intentions of selling health insurance along with other useful services to its users as a way of paying its shareholders dividends on their investments.

sickoI would imagine also that Revolutionhealth would have not been too pleased either with Michael Moores’ latest documentary Sicko, which attacks the conventional health system in the USA for failing to provide free health insurance to millions of Americans who live below the poverty line.

So who can we trust to give us good health advice and will Mamaherb be one place where you can get unbiased information that will help in your quest for a cure to that ailment you suffer. Unlikely IMO, despite having the best intentions and a kick ass site, any organisation which has a prejudice against a selection of treatments based on the simplistic believe that natural is good and synthetic is bad, is doing a disservice to itself and its users. The sick have no time to waste when it comes to their health and by turning your back on any range of treatments which could potentially cure you, will most likely result in continued discomfort and leave you worse off.

However, if Mamaherb had a change of name and lost their bias, I think they would be capable of delivering a truly valuable service to their users and I’m pretty sure they would be much more successful as a result.