As you probably know natural remedies have been around for centuries with each culture having its favorites. Thanks to groundbreaking research, today we have the added advantage of understanding what the active ingredients are in natural remedies, and have the luxury of eliminating those for our naturopathic list that have shown little or no efficacy. Additionally, the naturopathic doctors of today are far more educated than their predecessors creating herbal and homeopathic formulas that are both more consistent, and in most cases, far more effective. So while many in conventional medicine would want you to believe that natural remedies for better health are still in the dark ages this is just simply not the case.
Natural remedies vs prescription medications
Both can produce excellent results when used under the proper auspices. Both can be dangerous when used outside the standardized guidelines. Nevertheless, my concern with prescription medications is that we are becoming a society solely reliant on prescription medications to solve our medical maladies, rather than trying to live a healthier lifestyle embracing new and exciting research findings into our daily lives rather than depending on a drug company to do it for us. Let’s look at a brief example as it relates to high cholesterol.
We know that high cholesterol can be reduced through a low saturated fat diet, eating cold water fatty fish twice a week, a moderate dose of daily exercise, and not smoking. A high percentage of those with high cholesterol and/or heart disease are not willing to do any of these, opting instead for multiple prescription medications to prevent high cholesterol and heart related problems.
Situations like this put any well intentioned doctor in a bad position. If he fails to prescribe the medication his patient will be at an even greater risk of heart attack or stroke, so by prescribing a drug or two he is able to at least cover his bases and help the patient to some degree. The problem with this scenario is that all prescription medications come with side effects, and more often than not, an addition medication will be needed to treat the side effects incurred. It is not unusual to see people these days on 5, 10, and maybe even more daily prescription medications. Some would like to consider natural remedies combined with a natural lifestyle but simply don’t know where to start. Their doctor probably is against any such move since unwinding this toxic soup of medications is complicated and dangerous, so they will continue down this road from now on.
While natural remedies and supplements promote good health and are void of many of the risky side effects they do tend to work in a different way. Natural remedies, herbal formulas, and supplements generally work with your body to promote the healing process, rather than suppressing the symptoms. Let’s at one example of this which is particularly relevant to our aging population.
Over the counter and prescription medications known as NSAIDs (ibuprofen, motrin, etc…) are commonly used to alleviate arthritis and osteoarthritis pain. They work very well, have few side effects, and you would be hard pressed to find a anyone over 55 with bone and joint pain that doesn’t take them regularly. The problem is, while being very effective at suppressing pain, they have been shown to accelerate the progression of arthritis and osteoarthritis. On the other hand natural remedies such as glucosamine and chondroitin, not to mention herbs and homeopathic formulas, often halt the progression of these debilitating conditions, rebuild lost cartilage, and ultimately produce a better long term outcome.
In summary, there are no easy answers and only time will tell if society as a whole will adopt natural remedies along with a healthier lifestyle choices and move away from the environment of prescription medication dependency we current live in.