The Natural Market

part one

Alternative medicine, or as I prefer to call it, complementary medicine, (working as a compliment to allopathic medicine) is the buzz word for the 90s. But the buzz is more than just a word. There is a wave of discontent running through our country over what traditional medicine doesn't have to offer. Or, like so many Americans today who cannot obtain health insurance due to prohibitive cost or those two nasty little words "preexisting condition," we are forced to look to new, or rather old, ways of staying healthy.

Most holistic practitioners­­ or those practicing complimentary medicine­­ see this as one of those painful but necessary shifts. Kind of like all the steel workers in the rust belt finding themselves misplaced, at least temporarily. In this case we're finding people replacing ideas about how traditional medicine can always fix things with drugs or surgery and beginning to understand that we have to educate ourselves about our bodies and the best ways to take care of them.

"Necessity being the mother of invention," Cubans are sending their medical doctors to green pharmacy school; the use of herbs and plants to maintain health and treat disease. Cubans, because of the embargo, are finding little or no western medicines left in their pharmacies. Enter the green pharmacy, medicines from plants. They are living as many indigenous people did with only the plants that surround them to use to sustain them during times of illness. Hopefully this will not always be the case and once again they will have access to the technology of western medicine as well. This should be an interesting "incubator" for those interested in herbal medicine to watch in today's modern world.

Before WWI, physicians used herbs and homeopathy as a normal course of treatment. After WWI, sulfa drugs came into play and after WWII and The Korean Conflict, antibiotics and the surgical advances made in the MASH units seemed to offer a medical panacea. With this level of sophistication, botanical medicine took a back seat.

Where do we go from here and what went wrong with our medicines and high tech treatments? Nature has a way of allowing us to have our way, at least for a while. But as with all things there must be some balance sooner or later; in this case later. We're growing bigger and better bacteria, strains that are completely resistant to antibiotic therapy, viruses that mutate, and opportunistic fungi that abound. In this case nature ignored is nature out of control. This is due partly because of our overdependence upon antibiotic therapy and other drug therapy, but also because we do not treat the root cause of the illness, only the symptoms. We mask pain, insomnia and stress with pills until the body is virtually on the verge of rebellion or major disease and shut down.

To begin to correct this we must move away from our overdependence on medications­­ especially over-the-counter medications which lead to deeper imbalances in the body. A gradual shift away from pills to using foods and herbs as "little medicine." We still need the physician and his guidance and in turn a physician truly interested in your well being will welcome your new found knowledge and health.

Stay tuned, in part two which will follow week after next, I will discuss some of the latest and some of my favorite new supplements­­ including DHEA. Till next time Rebecca.

This article posted to Zephyr online November 14, 1996
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