Ask a Healer about Alternative Health Care
by N J Howell
What is alternative health care? The answer to that question depends a lot on who you ask. To those most severely married to western medicine and science, alternative medicine looks like quackery. In fact, some online resources such as The Skeptics Dictionary, just say it outright - they call alternative health care and natural remedies quackery because there is a lack of scientific study to document their effectiveness. Of course, this would be true since pharmaceutical companies are never going to spend the money to research and prove efficacy on something that they cannot make a profit selling. It is just business. While scientific proof may not exist for most natural remedies, ancedotal evidence is massive. However, this is dismissed by the medical industry and the pharmaceutical industry.
Are Natural Remedies Safe?
There are two prongs to this question: the first prong is that if it's natural, it's safe. The second prong is, if it comes from a doctor, it's safe. With natural remedies, as with prescription drugs, the competency of the person making the suggestion or writing the prescription is at least as important as the safety of what is being suggested or prescribed. Scrutiny, self-education and a pro-active stance is very important in either scenario.
Natural Does Not Equal Safe:
There are those who think "if it's natural, it can't hurt me". From that premise it then becomes unnecessary to be overly vigilant about the skill of the health store staff that is suggesting a remedy for this or that. While most natural, whole plant remedies are very safe compared to most prescription drugs, natural does not equal safe in all cases. One example is magnesium. Magnesium is a vital mineral for cardiovascular functioning and most people are deficient but if you happen to be one that has a surplus, then taking more could be dangerous. Zinc in dental adhesives has now been implicated in neurological and other health challenges. Now, the body needs zinc; in fact, must have zinc. However, when too much zinc is taken longterm, health problems can result as well. So, just because it is natural doesn't mean it's always safe.
Doctor-Prescribed Does Not Equal Safe:
On the other hand, there are those who think "it's a doctor; they must know what they are doing". To me, this is just as harmful a choice than assuming natural always equals safe. The reality is that doctors are people too. Doctors make mistakes. Pharmacies make mistakes. The FDA makes mistakes. Medicines are approved that are later recalled because of deaths and other life-threatening side effects. Don't assume that your doctor has some holy grail of prescribing either. Doctors frequently take chances with prescriptions that may put you at greater risk of harmful side effects.Other doctors are over-prescribing antibiotics, which may put you at risk for antibiotic resistance and also, digestive and gastrointestinal problems in the future.
Are Alternative Health Care Practitioners Quacks?
Health Disclaimer: Ask a Healer Wellness Library articles are educational in nature and not meant to replace medical attention or evaluation. The holistic health information shared on the Wellness Library should NOT be construed as medical advice but rather as an educational resource.