Natural medicine – standing the test of time

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I am regularly amazed by people who turn their backs on a natural approach to improving their health. I’m particularly astonished when people have serious health issues that cause them many problems and they still are not interested in trying anything other than what their doctor may have to offer. Even when what their doctor has to offer either doesn’t help or, just as commonly, creates other problems. We probably all know of family members who take tablets for one condition and then have to take other tablets to counteract the side effects of the initial treatment. And just as commonly, when questioned, don’t really know why they are taking either!

Modern medicine is very necessary for many things. You wouldn’t take yourself off to your homeopath or naturopath, as the first point of call, if you’d just broken your leg or had a heart attack, but even so we all know there are limitations, and on occasion risks to modern medicine. In fact, in a paper authored by 4 PhD scientists, led by Dr Gary Null in the US, entitled ‘Death by Medicine,’ it was found that in the USA modern medical treatments are the leading cause of death. The term ‘iatrogenic’ conditions, to which these findings refer are defined as conditions…

‘…….induced inadvertently by a physician or surgeon or by a medical treatment or diagnostic procedure.’

Iatrogenic death in the USA, the report says, is more common than death from heart disease or cancer annually. Worrying?

So, why wouldn’t we be interested in looking for a less harmful approach to improving our health and removing conditions, for ourselves and our family?

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An apple a day and all that!

To be honest, I don’t know the answer to why people are reluctant to try the natural approach. I personally find it baffling. Maybe it’s a long-held trust in doctors. But I sense that has been shifting for some time. There is growing concern, and rightly so, about the influence the pharmaceutical companies have over our doctors’ prescribing habits. Maybe the reason that people are less enthusiastic about taking responsibility for their own health is to do with how easy the modern medical approach can often be. Usually, you will come away from an encounter with your doctor with a bottle of pills. You just take the right number at the correct time of day and you are guaranteed an improvement. However, often with a more natural approach, you may have to do something from your side. It might involve some modification to your diet either through eliminating some items or even adding others and treatments are rarely available on the NHS, so finance may play a part too. But wouldn’t you give it a go if someone you trusted told you it may help?

When my son was about 6 I took him to the doctor for the first time as he had an infection around the nail of his big toe and I thought it probably needed lancing. To be honest I didn’t fancy being the one to do that. I could take him home afterwards with reassuring cries of ‘What did that naughty doctor do to you?’ But I would be in the clear. However on taking a cursory look at my son’s toe, the doctor turned back to his computer muttering, ‘You need antibiotics for that.’ My reply was a cautious ‘Oh’. But apparently, there was so much that I managed to convey with that simple ‘Oh’ that the doctor spun around to look me in the face and with some vigour delivered the line, ‘ There’s not a doctor in the country that wouldn’t give you antibiotics for that.’ Now I’m not beyond putting my own view point over, but I decided that I didn’t want to completely alienate this doctor as we had already concluded a not very satisfactory discussion about the MMR vaccination. Well not satisfactory from the doctor’s point of view. I was quite satisfied with how it had gone. Anyway, he already had me down as a yoghurt weaver, (great term) not only due to the fact that I had won the MMR discussion (in my opinion, not his) but also the fact that my son hadn’t needed to visit the Doctor up until this quite advanced age of 6. So I decided to be a little more conciliatory. ‘That’s fine,’ I lied, ‘But it’s just that he hasn’t ever had antibiotics up until now and I was hoping to keep it that way. But if he really needs them then, of course, he will take them.’

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Items for every medicine cupboard

At this the weary Doctor sat back in his chair, folded his arms across his chest and told me that I was just like his brother in law, who was an Oxford Don ( was that a compliment? still can’t decide.) Apparently this family member had the absurd idea (according to the doctor) that natural medicine was superior by virtue of the fact that it had been around for hundreds of years. I ventured my opinion that he was lucky to have such a brilliant mind in his immediate family. He looked incredulous but undeterred I explained that surely the very fact that natural remedies had stood the test of time showed they must be effective. He then said something delightfully bizarre. ’Well as it’s a Thursday I will prescribe something that we used to use for infections like this, but you have to promise that if it doesn’t work overnight you will give your son the antibiotics.’ I readily agreed. I went over to the pharmacy across the road and picked up the antibiotics as well as the ‘drawing ointment’ that he had recommended. On getting home, I applied the ‘drawing ointment’ (which was simply a paste of Epsom Salts) to my son’s toe and bound it up. Suffice to say it did the trick and the antibiotics were not needed. I wrote to my doctor telling him of the success of this ‘old fashioned’ approach just to give him some encouragement to venture further into the healing world of nature. Not sure if it had any effect as we haven’t seen him since! My son is now nearly 14 and still hasn’t needed antibiotics or indeed to visit the GP again. He did need to visit A&E when he broke his collar bone playing rugby, which brings me back to my initial thought that modern medicine certainly has its place.

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