The truth about alternative and natural health

This article is a summary of a number of things said to me possibly thousands of times during my career – and sadly, no matter how many times I repeat myself, are still repeated today. Hopefully by putting this here it can help more understand the truth in natural therapies. 

1. Are natural therapies proven?

Depends on what your view of proven is. Orthodox medicine has been in place at the most, 200 years – and in the beginning it was a mix of new developments put into play with natural therapies – namely herbal medicine, homeopathy and folk medicine. Considering it had kept the human race alive for milennia, it was already working fine. It was only with the onset of WWI & II, when manpower was at its lowest, that synthetic forms of existing medicines were developed. Chemicals were being introduced, proven to have certain efficacies, then once side effects were proven too dangerous, were shelved – but these are forever doing the rounds over time as they show promise in different forms. Meanwhile, massive leaps and bounds were made in hygiene, surgical procedures and so on. And rather than join forces, this original boy’s club began wiping out existing therapies. So yes, while in a perfect world, old ways and new ways would join forces and combine the best in the interests of everyone, as much effort is put into discrediting what actually works in the name of making money rather than curing. In fact, the word cure is forbidden in alternative medicine despite the fact it is an everyday reality.

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‘Scientifically proven’ – ‘peer reviewed studies’ and so on can mean anything from an extensive, serious study that takes many things into account to a few million dollars changing hands and approval stamped all over something as dangerous as the disease/symptom set supposedly being treated. Nepotism, goal post changing, simple studies with lots of funding to push through and yes, even corruption has resulted in many arguably ineffective therapies being approved. As much effort has gone into disproving and stealing natural therapies while crushing the former existing health care. 

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All along, massive effort has gone into proving natural therapies work. They do – but because they cannot be proven in a test tube, or are inefficiently used by untrained individuals, they are continually ignored or even banned – this allows pharma to continue its reign.

In fact, while natural therapies are being banned, 80% of natural health products are now manufactured by pharma. Vital facts and information are being eroded while enough doubt is planted publicly to keep the public in the dark – if 100 people were surveyed regarding their knowledge on both medicine and alternatives, it would be a miracle if 10 westerners knew anything about natural therapies, or even trusted or ‘believed’ them, despite the fact that worldwide, natural therapies are accountable for the health of more people than orthodox western medicine is! Herbal, eastern and homeopathic medicine is still used far more than orthodoxy, with less financial input or support – yet all we hear is the massive locomotive of western pharma.

2. How long should it take until my natural health treatment works?

If this answer were simple, there would be no health issues anywhere in the world. Think about it. How long have you used orthodox health care? Since birth? And yet you are unhealthy? I have had so many come to me during my career and argue that they are ‘fit as a mallee bull’ – yet have high blood pressure (‘my pills are taking care of that’) – weight issues (‘that’s in my genes’) – depression (‘that’s got nothing to do with my health’) – are pre diabetic and are bordering on high cholesterol. But when I examine them I need to grab extra paper to fill in their details! Yet they have used medicine all their lives – expecting me to tell them that one pill is going to fix them!

Make no doubt, natural therapies will heal your body – but not like medicine where symptoms are suppressed or masked. There are so may variables! Diet, stress, finances, habits, health history, how often you take the medicines chosen for you, how often you ‘slip up’ with your instructions, excuses, environment and so much more are going to affect your recovery. I have had many patients get upset that they are not well, yet they still have half bottles of medicines – bottles that should have been finished weeks previously. Some have even taken one or two doses and decided as it didn’t ‘fix’ them immediately they go back to the doctor and get something to mask their symptoms. 

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As a rule of thumb, for every year you have been unwell (and this can include hidden growing symptoms – for example, for a cancer to be the size of 1cm, it can have been growing for up to a decade or for blocked arteries, it can have been a slow burn of many decades) it will take 1 month to heal – ie 1 year = 1 month healing; 12 years of suffering could take 12 months to heal, but it’s not always so. Of course it can take much less time, but in order to cover ourselves from demanding patients, it is safer to adhere to this rule. And if your diet is sketchy, or you take one remedy and believe nothing else needs to be done, as in you are exposed to bleach and toxic carpets and garden sprays, perfumes (particularly insidious) and cleaning products or cosmetics, you are under attack every single day, you are hardly going to miraculously heal overnight, if at all.

It’s nothing for a patient to say “Oh, I can’t give that up, I love it too much.” That is sabotaging the healing process up front. These things make the job of a health professional very difficult and cause much misunderstanding.

3. But my doctor is the best in the business!

The very real god-doctor worship is a terrifying aspect of health care. One colleague, a GP/OB/GYN, openly laughs about the pressure put on him and once made a joke to me that if he told a patient to smear themselves in faeces, they would – and would no doubt tell him he is a genius. Let’s consider a few things here – medicine is a very insular field – it is governed, written, controlled and registered from within. One of my friends (who, despite being a patient no longer socialises with me) went through med school with a very clever plan that was well known amongst his peers. He had a close knit friends group of 6 young men. Every week, they had one day of uni – the other 6 days were taken on a 6 week roster. That meant each week, 1 of them would go to class, photocopy all the notes, share around and the next week the next person would take the role. These were all rich kids and spent every day partying and having fun, they’d cram on Sundays and actually got through uni this way. THIS is the level needed. Clever – I agree, but hardly something that constitutes the ‘best’… Being born with a silver spoon does not maketh a brilliant healer.

Meanwhile, the same friend who made the faeces joke showed me his new specialist degree/diploma. I remarked that he hadn’t taken any time off work. ‘Nope, just a trip to the city each week and the rest was done from here.’ Six months of doing this – yes, granted it’s dedicated, but hardly something I’d call ‘the best’. But that was what was considered of this man who openly mocked the old boys’ club.

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I took 10 years to finish my studies – only to discover public thought is stacked against me. One of my medical colleagues asked to look at my books and course notes – he was shocked, remarking he’d not studied so many aspects of what I had, yet I seemed to have studied pretty much what he had, and then some. 

Doctors are not gods. They are fallible, they are human. They do what they do and for the most part they are dedicated (although I have met many who could not claim that). They do not study natural therapies so have no place remarking on the efficacy or any aspect of natural health advice – yet many do.

4. But natural therapies cost so much!

They don’t. The government funds pharmaceutical establishments to the tune of trillions a year – studies, trials, development, individual funding – the government and corporations fund medical clinic establishment, pharmacy support and funding, subsidies for medications and advertising, hospitals, health funds, medicare, health care cards, staff pay – ongoing. Compare natural therapies – no funding – ever. We must fund our set up and until recently, our studies. We must pay for establishment of clinics and manufacturing companies, we must pay for our own wages via clinical earnings. Hence the increase in product shifting, sideshow freak type jobs in pharmacies, which are no more than salespeople. Like me, many practitioners put only a few dollars mark up on the products we must buy (no rep bonuses or rewards) just to earn a few dollars. We make the difference up with consult fees which are often debated. 

5. But I don’t ‘believe’ in it…

Sorry but that is like saying you don’t believe in healthy eating because you eat junk food, or saying you don’t believe in the wind because you can’t see it! Believing in something or not, wont have one iota of effect on how it will work. There is nothing to believe. Do you believe drinking water will stave off thirst? Or rubbing a sore spot will make you feel better? Well, both of these are natural therapies in and of themselves. My other pet peeves are ‘oh just because it worked for you, doesn’t mean it will for me’ – or ‘my doctor says it’s a waste of time’ – or ‘my health problem is genetic, nothing will work’ – these comments are just not true, yet most will believe them.

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It is the individual’s choice as to what they want to do or use, but to complain there is no cure, say they want to be well again but then say they don’t believe in something that could work – and is working for many others, is a cop out. And it’s robbing too many of knowing what real health actually feels like.

6. I gave it a go but it didn’t work… I’ve tried everything!

As with the comment above, it’s just not true. Depending on the many variables, the time factor and just what you have indeed done, and in what combination, your outcome will be very different say, to someone who does actually use all therapies together at the right time. I have had patients who will only try one or two things at the same time. So poor diet but full on with acupuncture and homeopathy. Or great diet but no supplements. Or an occasional visit to a therapist every now and then – but no real 100% effort. And in over 30 years in health care, I still haven’t tried ‘everything’ – I doubt anyone on this planet ever has. My motto has always been never say die – I will always fight a prognosis and find an answer.

But that is just me.

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