The Sunday Age of 12/5/2013 had a lot to say about the alternative medicine industry, referring to the fact that the products sold over the counter are not “tested” in the way the pharmaceutical industry tests prescription medicines which are used by the medical profession.
My reply was as follows:
Tested or untested unfortunately there are no guarantees in medicine.
If people vote with their feet and money, perhaps that industry is not as ineffective as some medical professionals would like us believe.
Not all human beings are of the same age, for a start, nor do we all adhere to the same diets advocated for us to maintain life-long good health.
There is also a big difference in discussing pharmaceuticals which are meant to "cure", versus naturally occurring compounds which are concentrated into medicinal-style products, meant to be simply an adjunct for those who may want to try them to improve their general wellbeing.
As a trained clinical biochemist (and part pharmacist) , it was not until I entered into a 'health-foods" business years ago, did I understand, let alone accept the 'alternative' area of medicine.
There are many of the younger generation medical graduates who do use adjunct remedies as well as the 'tested' pharmaceuticals when there are chronic, mild conditions or perhaps even food-allergies to be treated. After all, previous generations did survive on such remedies, while many in the third world still do so even today.
On the other hand, all pharmaceuticals, while they are tested, do have side effects for some or are ineffective for a percentage of users.
In any case,- whether it is as a prophylactic or a placebo effect, it is better for an intelligent individual to give the natural remedies a try, than to go straight on to drugs "to kill a fly with a hammer".
Common sense should always prevail.
Signed)M. M. M.Sc.(Biochemist, retired).
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Following upon the above, I shall enumerate some areas which I have found useful to employ in our family’s day-to-day lives, as various symptoms appeared,- before rushing off to the GPs for a prescription medicine. Many of these types of remedies I keep at home in case we need them,- or we take them on a regular basis to prevent health-problems in the future. I do not go to alternative-medicine practitioners as I probably am better qualified than they are. The pharmaceutical chemists on the whole are generally quite good at recommending the type of remedy which may assist in a simple condition.N.B.All the products I mention below, I have recommended to various people over the years with excellent results, therefore I have no hesitation in listing them as recommendations.This is what is termed ‘anecdotal evidence’ that they can work! Here are my ten listed suggestions which work for us in our home.
1. For winter prevention or reduction of colds and flu-like symptoms: a) We believe in the flu vaccine as early as possible whenever it comes on the market. b) When we travel abroad, because the plane itself sometimes can cause us to get a severe cold, I buy for us an immune-boosting combination from a reputable company such as Blackmore. This combines vitamins A, C and E, with Zinc and Echinacia (a herb which has aspirin-type qualities). We try to keep taking it for a while on our return and then also whenever we feel that a cold is coming on!
2. General vitamin intake. If we reduce our fat intake, as we generally all tend to do nowadays to prevent heart disease and arteriosclerosis, as well as to avoid obesity, then we should realize that we may reduce our intake of fat-soluble vitamins which we should be absorbing through our digestive tract for healthy maintenance of our body’s functions.
These vitamins which are of vital importance for us are :
A- which we need for the maintenance of good vision (found in e.g.carrots, but not good in excess); for preserving a healthy skin; and for maintaining our immune system.
D- which we should get from the sun to maintain healthy bones. But these days, we tend to shun sun & UV exposure due to fear of skin-cancers and melanoma. There is a government-sponsored health alert out to improve our vitamin D levels, or risk osteoporosis later in life. This vitamin is essential for the absorption of Calcium from the diet.
E- this is an anti-oxidant vitamin. Its importance is not as clearly determined as the other two, but many believe it to be important to prevent cell-breakdown due to various external factors, such as pollution, smoking and cancer-forming agents. It is also used in creams and ointments to assist in healing of the skin.
How do we replace these vitamins in our diets if we think we require them?I recommend the old-fashioned cod-liver oil, but in capsule form. They knew what they were doing to us kids in Europe when they kept giving us that horrible spoonful of oil every day!
3. FISH-OILS. If we would prefer to change our diet to concentrate on eating mainly fish and vegetables most of the week, then we probably would not need to take extra capsules of the Omega-3 fatty acids containing capsules in our senior years. But the reality is that most of us don’t, or don’t want to adhere to such a diet, so taking these proven (to prevent arteriosclerosis in later-life), can be helpful substitutes in a capsule form. It can do no harm after all. The amount one takes depends on whether one has a problem which it is supposed to alleviate, such as rheumatism or mild arthritis. If it is simply to prevent later problems, then the minimal dose recommended on the bottle is sufficient.
4. GLUCOSAMINE & CHONDROITIN. These are components of all our cartilages and tendons and amazingly by taking these compounds by mouth, they seem to be able to be concentrated onto these tissues and repair them or line the bones anew. As we age, we do tend to “dry out” in all tissues which need to be kept soft and lubricated to be effective. We definitely need to keep our joint-connections supple and pliable for us to be able to move painlessly,- and these supplements tend to help. One needs to be patient though,- keep taking them and eventually they do seem to be very helpful when people start having knee problems or other joint aches and pains.
5. Co-Enzyme Q10. This seems to be a newer addition to the complementary medicine field. An over-the-counter product, it appears to be something which is important for our muscles to work properly, but which can be depleted either through overuse of the muscles, e.g. by athletes, or through a side effect of anti-cholesterol STATINS-type medications.
If one suddenly starts suffering painful legs, back or similar for no special reason while taking such anti-cholesterol drugs, then consider taking Co-Q10 tablets of various strengths. It is also recommended as an additional supplement for our heart muscles to work better! (These muscles are in constant use while we are alive, so perhaps the CoQ10 needs a bit of replenishment in our later years!).
6. Zinc- is a mineral element, not a vitamin. It seems to be useful to add in tablet form or as part of a mixture of vitamins and minerals for a variety of reasons, particularly for older males and in infections due to viruses such as colds, cold-sores and shingles. It is also recommended for hair and nails improvement!
I recommend it particularly for shingles as soon as it is diagnosed! It has worked wonders on some people who listened!
7. Stomach/digestive complaints, e.g. acidity, reflux, indigestion, flatulence and similar.
There are many antacids on the market which everybody uses, but there was a scare about aluminium which is a mineral used in many of these, that is not supposed to be good for our memory cells !!! True or not, best to avoid it,- just in case! I use Rennies for that reason, but there are also various other old remedies which can be useful. Activated charcoal capsules are good absorbers of various gases and other nasties in our gut! Slippery elm bark powder in capsules or as a powder mixed in drinks, lines the walls of our intestines and can assist in healing inflammations of the gut. One can drink Aloe Vera juice on an empty stomach morning and night, which can act as a healing agent e.g. for the oesophagus (available in 2 litre containers in the supermarket where health-foods are stocked.) Aloe Vera is a healing plant which comes also as a gel to put on skin wounds, used by the natives of Sth. America.
8. Our EYES,-watery or inflamed. Both are dues to ‘dry eyes’ syndrome! In particular, in aeroplanes, keep them well moisturised with ‘artificial tears’. I have just been advised by my ophthalmologist to use a wet and warm tissue to rub my eyelids gently and so open and clean possibly blocked tear-ducts to stop my eyes watering constantly. It helps me enormously!
9. The food you eat and the liquids you drink can affect many parts of our body, including our mental states. I had to deal with many customers in our Health-food shop who had terrible allergies to various foods, but it took years and many specialists to diagnose their problems. I therefore suggest to everybody,-if you suddenly develop a health problem which is new, do not panic. First think re what you have eaten or drank lately, or usually.
I have had lots of scares over the years, until I worked out why each problem had arisen. For an example of what could have been a serious symptom to cause me to panic: one day, some years ago, blood appeared in my stools,- (when it shouldn’t have as I was already post-menopausal). I stopped to think about it and remembered that I had bought and eaten while driving, almost half a delicious fresh bread loaf full of linseeds. Now if you know that linseed oil is also used as a paint thinner, eating a lot of linseeds is hardly good for your blood vessels! Had I had something seriously wrong with me, I would have expected the bleeding to continue,- so I decided to wait a day or two to see if it happens again. Thankfully it did not and I now do not recommend anyone to eat too many such seeds.( It may be that only I have this sensitivity, as I can bleed quite easily, even if I start taking small amounts of aspirin, - recommended to avoid blood clots in the heart or in the brain causing strokes.)
10. Some people suffer from regular urinary tract infections. I used to, as do many women more than men. But I soon discovered that I can bring on my infections at will! I had to test myself before I was convinced. For me, drinking acidic juices on an empty stomach as one does for breakfast in the mornings, was my trigger.
Once I realized that, I no longer have had this problem for years. I have since managed to convince a few others suffering from similar conditions and lo and behold they are also fine. Theoretically, we should be able to metabolize everything so that the urine is at the right level of acidity no matter what we drink or eat. (Bugs like an acidic urine!)
Not all our systems work according to what is considered “normal”, i.e. average. Some of us function differently in various areas and we should be alert to this BEFORE WE PANIC.
Re complementary medicine practitioners.
There are doctors who do believe in using a certain amount of natural supplements. They are part of an association and can be found in the phone books. But trying out various alternative practitioners who claim to be able to use various types of treatments, is just stupid or only for the most desperate! First one needs a proper diagnosis of the condition from which you suffer,- whether it is pain or some other symptom. Then one has to determine if there is a cure or a treatment to help.
Only when nothing else helps, perhaps I would try someone versed in Chinese medicine as a last resort.
There is no doubt that some exercise is needed to keep us hale and hearty, but this does not mean that one should go to extremes even with that. I have done myself permanent damage by trying too hard with a certain unsuitable type of exercise. I have known people who lived to 90 and even to a 100 who avoided any extra exertions!M.M. 13/5/2013.