Friday, September 10, 2010

Medicine: Traditional or Natural?

Apparently, I set off a bit of a firestorm yesterday with my comments regarding my feelings about medicine and medical treatment.  For those of you who were concerned about me, I'm grateful for your concern and that you care.

I go to doctors -- as in M.D. doctors -- when needed and they're really the only choice around here.  In Oregon I was surrounded by doctors who practiced natural medicine, rather than traditional medicine, and those were the ones I preferred.  I'd have to go to Atlanta to get one of those now, and it would be cost prohibitive for me.  Still, my tendency is toward natural healing methods rather than traditional medicine.  Simply put, the difference is that traditional medicine treats symptoms, generally with drugs, and those drugs are often toxic to the body and almost all have side effects.  Just pay attention to a TV ad for any pharmaceutical, listen to the side effects the ad runs through quickly, hoping you won't hear them.  Not for me, thank you.

Natural medicine, on the other hand, looks for the root cause that has produced the symptoms, and treats that root cause, most generally with diet and supplements. Plain old good nutrition. I have asked several MDs about swelling in my ankles and feet, for example.  One of them (a real winner, in Eugene) suggested I wear support hose.  When I asked her what caused the swelling in the first place, she just gave me a strange look and said she didn't know. She seemed to think it odd that I even needed to know the cause, if she could treat the symptoms.  Frankly, I haven't had the best of luck on that subject with a Naturopath, either, but it's better than it used to be.

For months now I've been listening to a nightly natural healing radio show hosted by a doctor who has a large natural healing clinic in Nashville and another in Denver, with more planned.  I know enough about the subject to know that he knows his stuff, although I do think his primary goal for being on the air is to sell either his books or his outrageously expensive supplements.  I've tried some of the things he's recommended to other people for the same issues I've had, and they've worked.  I've ordered another item (although not from him) that should help the issues with the neuropathy in my feet.  Can't hurt me, even if it doesn't help. Just a form of Vitamin B-6 called pyradoxine.

Food is our best medicine folks, and a huge part of the medical issues we have nowadays are lifestyle-related.  Junk food, fast food are only the tip of the iceberg and I've been guilty of both those far too much over the last couple of months.  As Doctor Asa says, if you can lifestyle your way into an illness, you can lifestyle your way out of it.  That's the approach I take and so far, it's working pretty good for me.  But then, I've only been doing it for 40 odd years so maybe more time is needed to see what the long-term effects are. :)

As I said initially, I realize my position on pharmaceuticals and medical procedures is not mainstream in the least, but it's also not something that has come about suddenly or capriciously.  It's a philosophy that began 20 years or so ago, and that philosophy has only strengthened over those years.  I've often said that I'd rather live life to the fullest, even if that means dying at a younger age.  What is life, as in a living organism, without Life!

I'm going to live my life, but I'm not a total fool.  I take precautions, I'm extremely healthy for someone my age, and I don't refuse medical attention when needed or as a last resort, although I'd certainly still draw the line at surgery and/or chemo for cancer, or for most other invasive procedures and toxic pharmaceuticals.  I'm not going to take drastic measures to extend life merely as a living organism, merely for the sake of being alive.  I can't envision me sitting around as an invalid, unable to ride my bike or go for a walk or work in the garden or whatever else I want to do.  It's just not me. 

I may slow down with age, but I'm going to live my life.  If I'm given 20 more healthy years, that's great.  If I'm given 20 more healthy minutes, that's OK too.  But I'm not going to live in fear for any part of those 20 years or 20 minutes.  Death doesn't frighten me. What does frighten me is the thought of living out my last days in a nursing home confined to a bed, as my mother did.  Or even confined to a rocking chair in my own home.  I'll stay healthy my way, and approach death my way -- without interference from doctors and hospitals and without any drastic measures.  It's called DNR -- do not resuscitate. And that's how I feel about it.  When my time is up, let me go gently as nature intended.

I realize that 99% of you reading this will disagree, and that's fine.  I expect you to.  I respect your choice to have procedures and take drugs that extend your years and I'd never try to convince you to come around to my way of thinking. These are very personal decisions, and we should all be allowed to make them for ourselves.  I've made mine, and I'm sticking with it.

And that's my soapbox for tonight, friends.


  1. I totally agree with you on your thoughts about medicine. Mainstream medicine is a gigantic brainwashing that most are content to sit back and be sucked into.
    Listen to your body! It will tell you a helluva lot more than someone in a white coat ever will!

  2. Here in lovely C'town, mainstream medicine is a big winner. Most here look forward to two things,... their next meal out, and their next Dr. visit.
    Then they sit in casual conversation and discuss the meds they're own, their sugar and coumadin levels, and compare notes on each other's upcoming surgeries!