Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Alt. Meds

Have you guys read Eat, Pray, Love?  I should maybe do a blog post about that in itself, because I liked it a lot more than I thought I would - but anyway.  There's a part of the book when she's in Indonesia.  She gets a urinary tract infection (Indonesia is the "Love" portion of the book - so yeah - that's why she got a UTI).  She had some medicines with her that she'd brought from home - one of those being the antibiotic to treat it.  But before she took it, she was complaining about the pain to her friend the herbal medicine woman who said, "let me treat you first - give it half a day - and if it doesn't work, then you can take your Western medicine."  The author then goes on to say something, light-heartedly, like, "I don't even need to tell you guys what happened, because I'm sure you can already guess, but the medicines from the herbalist gave relief and then cleared up the infection without the use of Western antibiotics."

Now this really fascinates me - so I sort of wonder - what do you guys think about non-traditional, more "Eastern-centric" medical approaches to ailments?

I was talking one time to the owner of my yoga studio's husband (who's also a yoga teacher).  And he wholeheartedly told me that he believes Eastern approaches to medicine are very beneficial in some situations.  (And he's not like crazy, guru, weird yoga guy.  He followed it up with, "but of course, Western medicine is awesome & essential in certain situations.")

Of late, I was also reading the blog of a woman who talked about her own doctor - her GP - who's an Indian woman.  And the blog writer described her as, "someone who would be just as likely to prescribe a special kind of soup as she would an antibiotic."

And this made me a little jealous.  I wish I had an Indian doctor well versed in both Eastern and Western medicine!

My thought process is this.  The way Western medicine has evolved over the years is awesome.  Undeniably.  And I absolutely do not dream of living in a more simple time when herbalists were the only people who could treat the sick.  Or when a quick blood let was a reasonable approach to an ailment.  Or when, unfortunately, most people died around 50-60.

But on the other hand, "medicine" as we know it today evolved from that more simple time.  Medicines (pain killers, antibiotics, cold remedies, etc.) were originally created from plants/fungi/etc.   And so wouldn't it seem plausible that the equivalent of Tylenol exists in something other than a chemical made in a factory?  Or that there's an extract oil or something that's as potent as, say, an Ambien?

I'm just fascinated by it.  And it makes me wonder how many of our medicines and ways to treat minor ailments are just the product of our 20th/21st century "can have" mentality.  For example, if you went to the doctor with a viral infection (which can't be treated by an antibiotic) and the doctor just said, "sorry, I can't do anything, but get some rest and drink fluids" you might be annoyed.  Like, I actually remember this happening when I was a kid and my mom would basically demand an antibiotic for me (or she would declare it a sinus infection herself and "treat" me with amoxicilan we had left over in the cabinet [which I 99% believe is the reason that specific antibiotic does nothing for me anymore - like, I think I built up an immunity because I was given it all the time - but whatev]). 

Or if you went to the doctor with a constant recurring pain and the doctor had no explanation or treatment to offer you, you'd be annoyed.  So - is that situation the reason fibromyalgia exists?  Like, I don't disbelieve people who have pain that has been called "fibromyalgia" - but the term itself - I just wonder if it's so doctors have something to say when they don't know the answer, you know?  And I wonder if a person with "fibromyalgia" went to a well-versed Eastern doctor and said, "my X hurts all the time, but mostly when I do Y" if he wouldn't have something better to offer for relief, other than a blanket term that describes the cause of pain as, more or less, unknown.

I also wonder if Eastern medical remedies were more mainstream, if people would be more interested in them.  Like, noone who's suffering from the worst flu of his life wants to sip some tea with an unknown result when he could be taking Tylenol Severe Flu that he knows will work.

Do you guys have any thoughts on this?  Do you ever consider any medical remedies that are outside the standard practice of medicine in America?

(Does anyone have an Indian doctor in Memphis who will prescribe me soup instead of amoxicilan?)

1 comment:

Tippy said...

Considering my whole job is based on "Western medicine" I fully agree with what you are saying. Drugs are no longer innovative. Did I say that? (Don't tell) But really...our clients find new ways to "generate evidence" that "tells their value story" for why their medicine is more "cost-effective", "increases quality of life", etc.

BUT you should read up on the Codex Alimentarius. It is an international code that requires alternative medicines to be stritly regulated. Although alot of people only believe in treatments that are scientifically proven and think homeopathic-type treatments are crap, what is wrong with taking something that is not necessarily efficacious if it makes you feel better? there is something to placebo effect.

That's my 2 cents.

Oh and I'm trying to be a better blogger. :) Sorry I disappeared from the interwebs.