Can’t We All Get Along?

Like I say to all my clients, “Life isn’t a battle. It’s a game! Learn how to play it, be fair, have fun, and don’t try to be a champion of the ring, but rather a champion of the heart!” – Spice Williams-Crosby.

As we’ve already discussed, the war between allopathic (conventional) medicine and alternative medicine continues to rage like a tempest in a teapot. If you don’t think so, ask your allopathic doctor what he or she would think of you treating your malady with aromatherapy and nutritional supplementation instead of prescription drugs. Chances are, he or she would look at you like you’re suffering from some form of mad cow disease, and ask you to leave. Or worse, just laugh at you. It’s this closed mindedness that aggravates me to no end.

Allopathic doctors are needed in this world, especially in the area of acute illness and emergency trauma. But I don’t believe, under any circumstances, that they are the cure-all, nor do they have all the answers. They are conditioned human beings, just like most of us are. And yes, one can only assume these well-intended individuals became doctors in the first place to help people. And yes, they studied their form of medicine long and hard. But remember, most conventional doctors only know the conventional approach they were taught at conventional medical schools. They’re unknowing victims of conditioned teachers, the AMA, pharmacology propaganda, powerful lobbies, media hype, and greedy politicians. And because of this, conventional doctors tend to treat illnesses with whatever drugs or therapies are currently in vogue among M.D.s at any given time, including the use of antibiotics, anti-depressants (SSRIs), proton pump inhibitors (PPI’s), and statins, aka cholesterol lowering drugs.

On the other hand, alternative medicine might not have all the answers either. It depends on what your problem is. Let’s face it, an acupuncturist or herbalist isn’t going to be able to do much for you if you’ve been run over by a car on the freeway, and you’re bleeding to death. There’s a place for both alternative and conventional medicine. C. Norman Shealy MD, PhD, put it so nicely in his book “Miracles Do Happen” when he said, “Physicians are not God or even near perfect. They are usually good in diagnosing acute physical and chemical disorders… In serious, life-threatening injuries and diseases, they are often excellent. In such situations, there may be no time for introspection or exploration of alternative approaches. When the situation becomes chronic, however, you have adequate time to explore all conceivable alternative approaches, from acupuncture to Zen.” So, in other words, if my leg gets severed in a car accident, don’t rush me to the local health food store for vitamin E!

In diagnosing your condition and deciding whether you should use conventional or alternative medicine (perhaps a combination of both would be best), consider in your approach that allopathic malpractice kills more people every year than auto accidents and guns. In the year 2001, the pharmaceutical industry earned 182 billion dollars in drug sales worldwide trying to treat diseases and illnesses, yet it ended up costing patients and insurance companies approximately 183 billion dollars to treat the adverse reactions from using those very same drugs. According to JAMA, 20% percent of all people who see an allopathic doctor will suffer an iatrogenic (doctor induced) injury, and 16% of all people who die in the hospital are determined by autopsy to have died of something other than what they came in for. Further, the American Medical News recently stated that 28% of the people admitted to hospitals are there because they suffered an adverse reaction to prescribed drugs. I don’t know about you, but these statistics concern me! Wasn’t it Hippocrates that said, “First do no harm?”

I think the modern war between alternative and conventional medicine lies not so much in the fact that both approaches come from different sides of the medical fence, but in the fact that the word “alternative” has a tendency to turn conventional doctors off. Mainstream physicians hear that term, and right away, they begin to shut down, feel threatened, and get defensive. The irony is that much of what society calls alternative or “new age” medicine today is really old age medicine. It’s just that mankind is beginning to rediscover what it was already, in reality, practicing thousands of years ago. Think about it. Throughout history, illnesses have been treated with little more than “folk medicine” that prescribed natural and herbal remedies according to local custom or lore. It really wasn’t until the early 20th century that conventional medicine began introducing a plethora of drugs and hi-tech diagnostic and therapeutic hardware. In times prior, the use of rituals were the major method of healing, creating little more than a strong dose of faith, hope, and belief — a sort of placebo effect. Healers successfully used everything from herbs, laying on of hands, affirmations, to the screaming of powerful commands. And don’t forget acupuncture was developed more than 4,000 years ago, and that at least 2,000 years ago, music, relaxation, massage, aromatherapy, color therapy, and cognitive psychotherapy were available. Indeed Aesculapius, the father of all medicine, used dream therapy to diagnose and treat patients in ancient Greece.

Unquestionably, modern technology has given us the most successful medical system in history, at least for acute illness. Unfortunately, the glamour of these innovations has somehow turned our attention away from the painful, chronic illnesses that plague millions of people each and every day. I say there’s room for two forms of medical practice today, and if society could learn to refer to alternative medicine as perhaps “complimentary” medicine, both sides of schooling would probably have a better chance of getting along with each other and living in harmony. Like so many other things in life, medicine is a collaborative effort — a work in progress between patient and health practitioner that thrives best in an environment free from arrogance and ego. And I’ve got news for you, it’s been proven that a positive mental attitude free from anger, anxiety, fear, and worry goes a long way in healing oneself, and that the most effective treatment of any illness has and always will be prevention. In fact, experts (there’s that word again) estimate that 85% of all maladies are the direct result of an unhealthy lifestyle. There’s a big “Duh!” Maybe what we should be doing is building up our immune systems — doing the work, the research, changing our unhealthy behavior patterns, doing whatever we can to fight off the smart bacteria and viruses that are slowly taking over us and our ailing planet.

If you have an acute medical situation on your hands and you decide to use conventional medicine to fight it, that’s fine. Use it. But at least find out everything you can about taking that course of action. If there’s known side effects to that approach, find out what they are. Talk to an alternative doctor and see what you can do to “compliment” the conventional procedure. You, we, all of us need to take responsibility for our own lives. Don’t think because somebody looks successful and has an MD after their name that they are infallible. If a conventional doctor tells you something or pooh-poohs an alternative support system to what he or she is proposing, it doesn’t mean their words are etched in stone next to the Ten Commandments. Call upon your higher self, your intuition, to give you the answers you need. If taking supplements such as vitamins, minerals, amino acids, glycoproteins, nutraceuticals, omega 3s, probiotics, and phytochemicals do not inhibit the process of conventional medicine, and further may improve the quality of your life by reducing treatment toxicity and side effects from such things as radiation and chemotherapy, I say do it! My God, what do you have to lose? Money? If you’re doing the right thing for yourself or someone else, the money will come to you, believe me. I bet if you took the time to let go of some the unnecessary things you spend money on each month, you would have more than enough money in your checking account to buy the supplements you need.

I hear all the time, “Oh, I can’t up my immune system, my doctor tells me we have to suppress it with drugs.” Well, I got news for you, people, healthy dietary changes and the use of intelligent and proper supplementation do not interfere with the conventional medical process. This is a huge mistake that allopathic doctors tend to make, and I believe it’s because less than 10% of the top medical schools in our great country offer only an optional course in nutrition. That’s so insane to me. How can we expect people that know virtually nothing about preventative medicine and alimentary issues advise us on what we should and shouldn’t take into our bodies? Here is a tidbit from the Science Daily entitled: Antioxidants May Aid Chemotherapy Patients Science Daily (Apr. 27, 2007) — “There is no evidence that antioxidant supplements interfere with the therapeutic effects of chemotherapy agents, according to a recent systematic review of the use of antioxidants during chemotherapy, available in the May, 2007 issue of the peer-reviewed journal Cancer Treatment Reviews. In fact, they may help increase survival rates, tumor response, and the patient’s ability to tolerate treatment.”

Remember, it wasn’t that long ago when conventional doctors actually recommended smoking for pregnant mothers to suppress their appetite and to help curb their morning sickness. Heavenly angels, help us! A very special man once said, “Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do.”