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For those of you who don't know what yohimbe is, join the club. I'm only familiar with ginkgo biloba, which I believe is the name of that city in Spain with the weird new art museum.

Now I don't want to get off on a rant here, but is alternative medicine really the key to understanding the human body, or is it just a chance to get scammed by some loser who had to go into the herbal remedy business because he wasn't smart enough to snag the hair-scrunchy franchise at the local mall?

Well, one major tenet of alternative medicine is "natural is good," while "synthetic is bad." This kind of thinking is more simplistic than the B plot on an episode of "Nash Bridges". Come on, if you've got nonspecific urethritis, isn't it better to just take some Tetracycline than it is to stick your penis in a hornet's nest? While I don't believe that traditional medicine has all the answers, it must be pretty frustrating for a Harvard-trained M.D. to be losing customers to a guy whose sole medical credentials consist of preferring to sit on the floor. As for me, I divide medical practitioners into two camps: Those who will give me a prescription for Vicodin over the phone, and those who won't.

I have to admit that as cynical and untrusting by nature as I might be, I am becoming more open to experimenting with alternative medicines. I don't mean taking them myself, I mean pretending I've taken them with great success and recommending them to friends and neighbors so they'll take them, and I can see if they really do work.

Sure, in college, my roommates and I experimented with alternative medicines--one guy would say, "Howzabout some aromatherapy?" and then fart, and the other guy would say, "Howzabout some reflexology?" and give him the finger. And trust me, all the chicks really dug it when we'd wink and ask them if they'd like to come up to our dorm room for a little "cock-u-pressure."

Since then, I've learned there are many different kinds of alternative medicine, each based on different theories. For example, there's acupuncture, which works on the principle of distraction. You're not going to feel the arthritis in your knee when someone's ramming a butterfly specimen needle into the nape of your neck. It's the same reason your nose never itches when your ankle is caught in a bear trap.

Another theory says that the key to good health is colonic irrigation. You know what a colonic is. It's when a trained professional puts eight quarters into the coin slot of a car-wash pressure wand and details your interior. I decided I would give it a try, but then my wife came home early and caught me power-squatting over her bidet like an orang-utan with osteoporosis, and I had to sleep downstairs in the rec room until she got that picture out of her head.

Anyway, maybe that's all made me a tad skeptical about alternative medicine. If I'm seeking treatment for something, I want documentation of my improvement. I want a guy in a lab coat showing me before-and-after x-rays and test results charted on graph paper. What I don't want is my specialist basing his conclusion that I'm cured on the fact that his step-cousin, Bobby Wasabi, saw two doves fucking in a dream.

Like I said, I don't think that Western culture has all the answers, but it sure does seem like people in India flock to the Red Cross in droves whenever that tent pops up. Hey, maybe that's their alternative medicine (wink, wink). Sorry folks, the understated stuff hasn't been working lately. Had to go to the Buford Pusser stick with you.

Bottom line, the human body is a mysterious thing, my friends, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with exploring all the options available. Just remember, every once in a while, the untutored maverick whom the medical establishment assumes doesn't know what he's talking about actually doesn't know what he's talking about.

Look, we're Americans: optimistic, addicted to the quick fix, constantly on the hunt for the new and exotic. It's much easier for us to accept a guy with a big white beard hawking his own custom blend of saw palmetto and squirrel dandruff than it is to hear a real doctor telling us to lay off the Big Macs, get off our fat asses and take a walk every decade or so.

If alternative medicine is so much better than mainstream science, then tell me this, Nick Natural: Where is your alternative medicine's magical tincture that allows me to stroll through a pollen-laden field of dandelions and still feel like I'm walking on sunshine? Where's your shark cartilage that allows me to start each morning with a stick of butter, a half dozen cinnabons and a pot of espresso, without four o'clock rollin' around and me trying to figure out if I've just got gas or if it really is checkout time? And where's your enchanted cedar bark that makes my dick harder than a lasting Middle East peace? Well, I'll tell you where it is, Vishnu. Traditional, mainstream, corporate-funded, evil Western medicine, that's where the fuck it is.

Of course, that's just my opinion. I could be wrong.


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