Health and Beauty Principles of Frugality and Ethics

Blending Alternative and Conventional Medicines

  • June 8, 2014
  • 5 min read

I haven’t used Panadol since my child was about one, four years ago. He hated the stuff and I didn’t like the idea of it much myself, so I figured out other ways to treat him. This week, I had to buy some for him, along with a prescription of antibiotics, for a urinary tract infection. It felt strange, buying those bottles from the chemist.
I tried to treat him with goldenseal first, but he seemed to be getting worse. If I was treating myself, I would know as soon as my symptoms responded and I’d feel confident to try more herbs and wait a bit longer. But with a child, I need to know that the remedy will work reliably and quickly.
When to use herbal remedies, and when to see a doctor? I’m grateful that I can access affordable antibiotics when my herbal confidence falters. And I still choose to use herbs, massage, acupressure, diet and essential oils whenever I can. Each success gives me the confidence to know what to do next time. I’ll be feeding my boy lots of yogurt and herbs in the following week to help his system recover from the antibiotics.
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I use alternative therapies for many reasons. I like being able to treat small things myself, especially when I’ve picked the herb and prepared the medicine myself. I know where the herb came from, what soil it grew in, what’s been added to it, what was sprayed on it. When I buy medicine, I don’t know any of these things. It has probably been made in a laboratory, travelled thousands of kilometres and wrapped in plastic before reaching me.
If my goal is good health, I want my food and remedies to be untainted and active. Not highly processed, sprayed, irradiated, genetically modified or adulterated. Picking and preparing your own herbs is empowering and fun.
Many herbal remedies are very effective, sometimes more so than the conventional medicine. They can also have actions that don’t have a conventional counterpart, like general tonics, immune boosters and system balancers. Using whole plants rather than extracts or synthesised constituents gives you the benefit of synergistic effects and unknown beneficial substances. We’ve only done scientific studies on limited numbers of plants, limited health applications, and limited substances in those plants. There are just too many infinite possibilities to explore.
I recently read some scientific internet pages about alternative medicine that were full of derision and contempt. People were trashing all alternative medicine (I think that’s as helpful as shunning all conventional medicine), and making comments such as ‘if it doesn’t have a double-blind controlled study, it doesn’t work’.
On one hand, I can understand people needing reliability and high standards in medicine. Supporting good health is vital to everything else we do as humans.
On the other hand, I believe mental and physical health are interconnected. Changes in our mental states have physical effects on our body, and vice versa. No one part of a person can be isolated and treated effectively by itself. A five minute consult with a doctor who is paid by medicine companies does not give you an unbiased and complete assessment of your health.
If someone tells me about a herb that has healed them, and I look that herb up in my books and read that it is not toxic, and I eat that herb and I get better, I don’t care if it hasn’t been the subject of scientific study. I’m healed.
I think science is bigger than humans. Science has more mystery in it than we will ever learn. We’re limited to what we can perceive, and what we think to explore. Albert Einstein was a fan of mystery and wonder (‘there are two ways of looking at the world – nothing is a miracle, or everything is a miracle’).
Using alternative medicine will take you away from doctors, consumerism, drug companies, paid experts, and petrochemicals. You can arrive here from a political position, economic necessity, a desire for greater connection and empowerment, or after the conventional system runs out of options for you.
You don’t have to use one healing method exclusively. You can use natural healing for minor  complaints, and gradually extend it as your confidence grows. You can buffer conventional medicine with immune-boosting and tonic herbs, like using herbs to support the immune system response after vaccinations. Don’t rule anything out. Stay open to possibility.
When I try natural remedies that work for me and my family, I’ll share it with you so you can give it a go. I don’t know what your state of health is. The only person who knows that is you. So adapt this knowledge to your own situation.
I’ll tell you where I get my information, and I won’t suggest plants that could be toxic at low doses. If you’re new to this alternative stuff, start with something really easy. Like a cup of peppermint tea for indigestion, nausea or stomach cramps.
This is a learning journey that never ends. Welcome aboard.

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