Just a Thought

Can I just give a rather motherly suggestion/warning/concern here? I worry sometimes that Christian women (and men) are too quick to administer home remedies of one kind or another to themselves, each other, or to their children in a careless manner.

The American way is something like, “If one is good, two is better.” What are we doing to our bodies? You have no idea what happens to your body when you eat the equivalent of five bales of hay (which have been compressed into a liquid or a tablet or a smoothie) three times a day. What makes you think this might be good for you? And there is a huge industry devoted to promoting this stuff, and it is not just the conventional pharmaceutical companies that are getting rich.

I wonder if some of the mystery ailments that our brothers and sisters are afflicted with could be the result of them pummeling their bodies with things they just assume are good for them. A few of these, and a couple of those, and a few swigs of this should fix it all right. Way back when I was in college I remember learning about those fat soluble vitamins that don’t just wash right out when you take too many of them. And the damage they can do when taken in excess can be irreversible.

So please be careful about this. And don’t be so hasty in recommending things to your friends. Mothers often seem to be the most receptive to untested home remedies –when the stakes are high — and may try the most outlandish things without really investigating the possible side effects. And sometimes there really is no literature or research on the potential side effects. Be extremely careful about experiments on yourselves or your loved ones in the name of “alternative medicine.” Be especially careful about remedies that involve large doses.

Much of the impetus for this “movement” comes from a hostile attitude toward modern medicine, and a lot of that reputation can be deserved. But modern medicine still has much going for it and is a positive blessing from God. We are to use it wisely, of course. But what I don’t understand is why someone can dismiss what a doctor says, who has been through years of intensive training and practice, and yet readily take to heart the advice of someone who heard from someone else who has a couple of kids and tried this and they thought it worked.

There, I said it. I will now go batten down the hatches and wait for the storm to pass.

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35 thoughts on “Just a Thought

  1. Although anecdotal, some of the unhealthiest families I know are the ones consistently running to this type of treatment.

    There are good things to be had in natural medicine and a gentla approach is often beneficial. However, to the anti-orthodox medicine claims of, “But it’s natural!”, my husband often replies, “Yes, and so is marijuana.”

    Balance in all things, eh?

  2. I am so glad you said this!

    “But what I don’t understand is why someone can dismiss what a doctor says, who has been through years of intensive training and practice, and yet readily take to heart the advice of someone who heard from someone else who has a couple of kids and tried this and they thought it worked.”

    The outright hostility toward modern medicine especially among Christian women is something that has been bothering me for while. Thank you for your fair-minded approach to this topic.

  3. This is a good caution. In particular, children metabolize substances differently than adults, and little research has been done to ensure the safety of children taking alternative remedies, even if a particular remedy has been demonstrated to have value for adults.

    You might be interested in checking out quackwatch dot com. The perspective is from traditional medical doctors, but it is a good source of objective data that may be of concern to someone investigating a particular practice.

    Another resource is Alternative Medicine: The Christian Handbook by Donal O’ Mathuna and Walt Larimore (the latest edition is copyright 2007). Again, this book is somewhat biased towards traditional medicine, but it does give objective data on specific substances and treatments (positive and negative), including annotated citations of any research that has been done.

    Full disclosure: I am the wife of a physician. From my perspective, there are doctors who are unscrupulous and more interested in money than people. Most of the doctors I know personally are not like that.

  4. Nancy, I totally agree with you that people need to be more careful with “natural” remedies, especially in megadoses. Not to mention that the whole thing can become an idol – salvation is only found in Christ, not in anything we eat, etc.
    But that said, I’d like to comment on why someone can dismiss what a highly trained doctor says in favor of a natural remedy.

    I’m coming from kind of a unique position on this because my father was an M.D. who educated himself on natural remedies. The reason he had to educate himself was that the total education he received on nutrition in med school was, as he told it, “about 30 minutes.” I think it would probably be a little better nowadays, but still not adequate. So it’s possible that, especially in this information age when safety statistics are widely available, an individual who has put in some diligent study might be better educated on a certain natural remedy than his doctor.

    The second reason I think it may not always be irresponsible to consider alternatives to the standard drugs is the way the drug rep system works. Doctors are “lobbied” by the drug reps – wined and dined, courted – everything from the prescription pad to the posters on the wall has a drug company’s sales pitch on it. My brother is also a doctor, and he gets more free stuff with drug logos on it than you would believe. But as far as I know, natural remedies are not pushed on the doctors, especially if they are cheap and the drug companies can’t patent them and make money. I think most doctors are wonderful people who truly want to help their patients, but they are hurried and tired, and doing research for themselves is very difficult compared to having it abundantly provided for them by the drug reps. My brother is in his 50’s, and he is just now finding time to research some natural remedies, and is finding some worthless but others worth using.

    So I guess I would plead for balance and patience with each other on both sides. A medical degree, just like a seminary degree, does not guarantee its holder possession of absolute truth. Medicine has changed quite a bit in the last few hundred years and probably will change along with other sciences, global warming theories, etc. included, in the future. A truly wise doctor (or someone using the hottest new natural remedy) will recognize that – it should keep us humble!

  5. Thank you for this reminder!
    Medical decisions are often family decisions and are led by the husband.

  6. Nancy,
    Thank you for this post. I’ve been struggling with this subject, and could use some advice. I have a friend who is really into the “all-natural” approach to life, and doesn’t go to a doctor on any regular basis. This is all fine and good, except she also doesn’t take her baby to see a doctor either. She doesn’t even give Tylenol for fevers, until it gets extremely high. As a friend, I am so concerned (and totally confused) as to why she does this. I have a child myself, and cannot imagine leaving her health to my own uneducated discernment. I firmly believe that God has given us much grace through doctors and medicine. Can you give me any advice as to how I could help her see another side to this? Should I just get over it and leave it to prayer? Any help you could give me would be much appreciated!

  7. I don’t think that the problem you are addressing in your post is happening a whole lot (with those who you mentioned at the end of the post with mystery diseases.) At least we haven’t come across it much with the brothers and sisters we have come into contact with since three of our four family members were diagnosed with a type of chronic fatigue. Remember, we “reformed types” have tendencies to study and to look for those who are more scholarly then us, so we can learn study and learn some more.

    I know that we are grateful to brothers and sisters, who’ve “gone before” us or who are looking for the path to good health, who have pointed us to possible qualified helpers when our family doctor wasn’t able to hear (as in – to understand or to really take the time to listen.) We’ve come to realize that many doctors, like my husband who had 5 years of pharmacy school, are lacking in their medical training when it comes to certain areas of our health. My husband has learned so very much through our 3 1/2 years of illness.

    The best part of what we’ve learned, is that anything that you put in your mouth and swallow has consequences – good or bad. Proper, educated supervision is necessary for everything you eat and take (or do, for that matter) when you have been brought low by disease. My guess is that most people with “mystery” diseases have found this out quite soon in the game.

    Thank you for your post. I appreciate the caution to a very serious matter. Just wanted to give you a “happy” report that the church body we are a part of doesn’t seem too badly plagued with this problem.

  8. I completely agree. All things done in wisdom, with careful research and consideration, looking to our husbands for guidance and final decisions.

    Which is why we use whatever works best. Our doctors (MDs!), midwives, nurses, chiropractors, naturopaths, and occupational therapists support us in these things. We use Western-style medicine whenever we need to. We use the other stuff when it works better. And we do our work and trust those who have years of experience with these things. (including not giving Tylenol to feverish babes unless they hit 103 or need desparately to sleep, per the doctor’s advice).

    We also all need to recognize that, in the same vein as the last post on this blog, that Almighty God did not make us all the same. My dear husband swears by echinacea for his colds. It does nothing for me. We all have allergies in our family. Mine are curable by a draft of Airborne, my husband needs the little pink Benadryl goodness. He is a very wise man to be open to all manner of cures from God’s creation, whether they be made in a lab or plucked from our garden. When I was anemic from a late miscarriage, my OB told me to take the midwife’s advice (wheatgrass juice and dessicated liver) rather than the usual iron prescription pills because he knows me and my difficulties with those pills. Not all women react negatively to the pharmaceutical version, but I do and needed something different. And I don’t think I’m wrong to recommend the same to other women with my particular problems. It’s never hurt a one of them.

    Bales of hay indeed! (are you making fun of my daily intake of 12 alfalfa pills? just kidding, really.)

    Velveeta, Coca-cola, Sunbeam, Pop Tarts and Tootsie Rolls are big money makers, too. I daresay they pocket a lot more money each year than the Ezekiel bread folks. The stuff we put into our bodies may not cause us to sin, bales of hay and coneflowers included, but that doesn’t mean it’s good for us. We have lots of friends who eat good old American slop and do whatever their doctors tell them and we don’t spend a minute worrying about them. Usually, they’re healthy happy Christian people. And so are we. (and we do love us some Coke on a hot day with McDonald’s perfect french fries, mmmmmmm!)

  9. Thank you Mrs. Butler. My thoughts exactly. Very well put. I’m grateful for your articulate response which clarifies my feelings on these issues.

  10. Thanks for your post Nancy. I personally have moved away from most modern medicine simply because I haven’t found a really good doctor with a healthy balance. My older three children at around 12 months, have all gotten bad ear infections. As soon as I see the doctor, they say-take these antibiotics and the baby will be fine. Then we are back again in a couple months with another. All of this coincides with introducing cow’s milk, and stopping nursing. The excess mucus caused by the milk was too hard to process and they would get a cold and then couldn’t get rid of the cold, causing the ear infections. I had no clue that this was due to the cow’s milk, until I saw a naturopath who shined the light on what was going on. This time around when I weaned my baby she had a cold only for a couple weeks (I didn’t give her cow’s milk) and no ear infection!

    I say all of this to say that there is room for balance. The particular doctors that I have seen don’t seem to have any clue about nutrition and how it affects our little one’s bodies. And yet every time I leave the naturopath I come away with more of an understanding of what is going on, they have a great balance between natural and modern medicine and are absolutely not afraid to use it when necessary. I think the key is balance, finding the right doctor or natural medicine doctor who can bring balance and wisdom into our homes. Thanks again Nancy, great post!

  11. Thanks for this post! I think it’s so important for a lot of reasons – one of the biggest that I always try to remember (because of what I’ve learned from your writing) is that the mother I’m speaking to needs to follow her head, just as I need to follow mine. Putting undue pressure through too strident of recommendations is not helping her pursuit of obedience to God in submission to her husband…and God is bigger than having the right or best medical / natural information anyway.

  12. I think this is an easy pit to fall into, particularly if you’ve had bad experiences with MDs. I’ve run across more than a few who think they own your body and you need to do what they say because they’re God. Many times, they are wrong (about the treatment. They’re always wrong, of course, when they think they’re God!) But I’ve also run into wrong chiropractors and herbalists that suggest I take an herb that works wonders for most, but that I’m allergic to. This is just an example of where we need to use wisdom, educate ourselves, and trust God. Nancy, I really appreciate that you talked about this a bit in one of your books (can’t remember which) about women talking shop and getting stuck on methods rather than principles–OBGYN vs. midwife, etc. There are a great many godly MDs, ones who aren’t necessarily godly, but given huge amounts of common grace in their abilities, and those who we need to run far from. The same can be said for alternative practitioners.

  13. I think Billie nailed the danger on the other side. Because our culture has decided that suffering is the ultimate evil, we’ve elevated the medical profession to the level of high priests of the cult of comfort. Doctors, being made of flesh, are tempted to take that role one step farther. And when you put an EGO into an MD what does it spell? MEGOD. Of course the temptation can befall the alternative folks, as well, if they decide they want a slice of the deity action. Perhaps the best safeguard to our sanity is to guard out hearts against joining the cult, no matter which type of treatment we pursue.

  14. Here’s my take on it:

    In Europe there are accredited schools of herbal medicine, homeopathic medicine, allopathic medicine, osteopathic medicine, etc. Europeans understand that they need a professional diagnosis for their medical condition(s). They get their diagnosis and then go to the practitioner (licensed) of their choice. You get the picture. In this country many bodies of knowledge (herbs, homepathy, etc.) have been relegated to ‘alternative’ rather than mainstream medicine. This means anyone can read a book on these subjects and become an expert overnight. If these bodies of knowledge were taught in accredited schools here it would help to bring the legitimate use of God’s gifts to us into the accountable light. It blows my mind that untrained folks make decisions about the lives of others and are totally unaccountable. No physician out there good or bad is able to do that. Of course there are unscrupulous people out there in every walk of life.

    That said, I know there have been alternative medical treatments that have helped me. I am grateful for this gift of God to me. I wish there were legitimate practitoners of herbal medicine for instance held to a known standard who could offer this to my patients so they could benefit from it.

    I am a physician and I am saddened by the thinking that we (who work hard for an honest wage) are the bad guys and am also saddened when I see alternative medicine held up as a savoir.

  15. Amen Mrs Butler and Sherry I ditto your posts.
    Most of the folks I know who do any “alternative treatments” do them only after much research and self education. I think eating something “weird” just seems more odd in our culture then popping a prescribed pill. Although my husband and I lean towards the alternative end of the spectrum I have seem some friends make even more alternative choices then me that make me uncomfortable. Maybe you could do a post on how to lovingly confront someone who you feel may be making an unwise decision, and yet, trust that God is working through their being the parents of a particular child….
    There is always so much danger of getting out of balance in any issue, so thank you for the good caution, Mrs Wilson.
    And, to quote my DH, “If my arm ever gets chopped off I’m not going to poor wheat-grass juice on it!” :o)
    So praise God for modern meds! A time and place for everything :o)

  16. Nancy, I am glad you are forthcoming with your perspectives. I always learn from the way you share, even if I am not in complete agreement about something, I am taught by how you handle yourself. And I love the light heartedness to it. Don’t forget to enjoy some goodies while you batten down them hatches. 🙂 Blessings

  17. Another aspect of this important topic:

    We are CONSUMERS of medical care. As Nancy said, the stakes are high. It makes no sense to give more thought to buying a refrigerator than to following a doctor’s advice.

  18. A clarifying comment: I don’t mean to quote Nancy out of context! Substitute the word “health/medical” for “doctor” and then my comment will reflect better what I mean without being obnoxious!

  19. I’m being treated for a yeast (candida) overgrowth, adrenal fatigue, and low thyroid. My yeast overgrowth is due mostly to traditional doctors over-prescribing antibiotics instead of treating the real problems. But many doctors are not even educated about yeast and the many health problems it causes. I’ve always been interested in natural medicine, and I’m so thankful to God for leading me to a doctor (at the Hotze Health & Wellness Center in Katy, TX – there’s a link on my blog) who is treating me with vitamins & minerals, bioidentical hormones, but also a few conventional medications.

    All of that to say that I believe a balance of natural and conventional medicine is ideal. I think natural medicine is usually better for our bodies from what I’ve learned, but I would strongly advise finding a doctor to help you with dosages, etc.. Doctors have studied such things longer than we have, that’s for sure. Oh – and I think nutrition is so very important to our health; something we must address for sure.

    Just putting my two cents in – thanks for sharing such important thoughts! We ought to pray for wisdom and discernment in every decision.

  20. What is unnatural about antibiotics? Don’t people remember where penicillin came from? It was our family doctor that told me that drinking milk produces more mucous.

    I had a friend tell me (all in good faith with a real desire to help) to boil the paper dividers inside of walnuts to make a tea that would help my daughter’s Type 1 diabetes. She also recommended buckwheat. After her long presentation, which I listened to politely, she asked me if I believed her. I had to say no. You don’t give vitamins to a dead person and expect it to help. Type 1 means the pancreas has stopped producing insulin. We tried to eat buckwheat pilav and none of us liked it, on the principle of no harm, no foul. It is a good food, they say, with all sorts of benefits. But it can’t help you if you can’t abide eating it.

    Another friend, whose son had non-hodgkins leukemia, was so bombarded with advice of natural cures; try this, try that, that she just stopped listening. She couldn’t handle the multitude of conflicting advice. They chose to go the route of chemo and radiation and her son is now as strong as an ox. In fact he sailed through the whole process.

    If you have something that works for you, and someone may possibly benefit from it, tread softly. Some people want all the advice in the world, but it can be incredibly overwhelming.

  21. I don’t think antibiotics are unnatural – I believe they are over-prescribed. There are situations where antibiotics are necessary, but when you take them too often (and without probiotics), they wipe out all of the beneficial bacteria in your colon, a normal yeast level overgrows and spills over, and wreaks havoc in your body.

    As for things like diabetes and leukemia, I would never recommend only natural medicine. My doctor would advise such a patient nutrition & vitamin-wise, but he would also direct them to a conventional doctor, without a doubt.

    I didn’t mean to overwhelm anybody. And I should have clarified that my doctor, and the other doctors at my clinic were once conventional doctors who saw that their methods were not working. They did a ton of research and now practice modern natural medicine. When I had a little trouble with asthma, for example, they did not play around with herbs. I was on traditional asthma medication. And the natural medicine I referred to is things like Nystatin (an antifungal), bioidentical hormones (vs. synthetic), Armour thyroid medicine (derived from a natural source), and vitamins & minerals prescribed by my doctor. I do take a few herbs, but with guidance from my doctor and his nurses.

    Anyway, I just thought Nancy’s post was wise and interesting, as are everyone’s comments. But God has blessed me with unique medical care, so I thought I’d share for the sake of those in my situation. And again, I think a balance of the two is best. And more importantly, prayer before any medical treatment.

  22. The whole natural/unnatural opposition seems to me to be an unfortunate one, because it carries the almost implicit sense that anything natural is automatically good for you, and anything unnatural not–besides being almost too foggy to be helpful at all. I’m very sympathetic with an alternative approach; but depending on the circumstance, I’ve also been so thankful for the services of our allopathic doctors. Notably, during all the broken arms our family has experienced!

    This has been an interesting discussion, ladies. Keep it up; I’ve appreciated seeing all these insights.

  23. Can I inject a twist into this discussion? I’ve only been a Calvinist for a few years, and am still working through my Bible trying to see how the rubber meets the road in everyday life. I ran across this scripture in 2 Chronicles 16:12-13

    “And in the thirty-ninth year of his reign, Asa became diseased in his feet, and his malady was severe; yet in his disease he did not seek the Lord, but the physicians. So Asa rested with his fathers; he died in the forty-first year of his reign.”

    Does that mean that seeking any kind of remedy without taking God into account is futile?

    And just to balance out my previous post – I too am very grateful for doctors and modern medicine. Even though we do use some natural remedies in additional to the doctor’s prescriptions, my mother would not be alive today if it hadn’t been for 4 brain surgeries performed by very skillful doctors. But the church also prayed for her!

  24. When our family doctor could give us no answers, I was overwhelmed. My experience had always been, you go to the doctor, he fixes it. In the last 3 1/2 years we have mostly worked with MDs who were frustrated with not being able to help patients like us (some of them work with naturopaths in their office with them). One has a wife that suffered from chronic fatigue. These doctors use a balance of western and “alternative” medicine. They studied and continue to study issues they didn’t have opportunities to study in medical school. What they (along with a couple of unique chiropractors) have taught us and where they have taken us in our journey to good health has been an immeasurable blessing. From different forums of chronic fatigue sufferers that I have visited on the web from time to time, I’ve seen people who have not come across these kind of MDs and a have gotten worse and worse with the only Western medicine approach. Prozac, painkillers, etc. have to be given to these people because they don’t make progress, but get worse. Some have been suffering for over a decade or two. By God’s mercies to us in what and who He has provided, our family is not following that pattern. Our daughter is no longer completely housebound like she use to be – she has made wonderful progress this past year. We all of seen improvement in many areas. We know a lot about what is going on in our bodies and why. We feel very hopeful for recovery.

    The big question we’ve had since being blessed with this kind of health care is “why the opposition” to this?
    Is it what loisn referred to – the accountability part, both with the doctors practicing it and/or the people using it?
    Is it just lack of information or experience? Whatever it is, we need to work at making those issues better – fixing those problems, because as far as our family is concerned, this taking sides stuff is just plain out of date.

  25. Wow! Lots of discussion on this one! What the heck, I think I’ll enter the fray (it’s a very civil discussion, by the way–good job ladies!!).

    Maybe this topic strikes a nerve because health is so central to our jobs as mothers and our lives in general. Almost everything we do affects the health and well-being of our family and is in turn affected by it–how much sleep we get, the foods we eat, the germs we’re around on a daily basis, the vitamins, supplements and medicines we take, our weight, activitiy, etc. etc.. You feel awful when you’re kids are sick and, frankly, I’m a nervous wreck when their fevers are high. Most of us have very busy and full lives that have to come to a screeching halt if we or our young ones get sick. Maybe worse is when there is a chronic ailment for mom that daily impairs her physically.

    So health is a big deal. My caution is for people who are chronically healthy to REALLY try to have empathy for those who aren’t. Yes there are some bona fide hypochondriacs among us but most people I know who have chronic ailments are just searching for help to feel better and, miracle of miracles, to actually be completely healed. Modern medicine has many miracle cures but not as many answers for chronic conditions like arthritis, lupus, chronic fatigue and the like.

    Most of these ailments are not new and people in history have, through lots of trial and error, tried various herbal medicines to aleviate them (trial and error is scientific, by the way, just less efficient than the official scientific method). We seem to have lost this body of knowledge in our quest to be modern and scientific.

    I read recently in an Azure Standard pamphlet a very logical statement that made a light go off for me. The discussion was about raw cow’s milk and how it is condemned as “unsafe” by the medical community because of various problems/diseases that can arise if the milk and cow aren’t handled properly. The article went on to ask how can our government declare as “unsafe” something that people have been thriving on (for the most part) for thousands of years and then turn around and declare as “safe” a brand-new-to-human-beings-and-the-planet uber drug that has only been tested on a few thousand people for 2-4 years? That kind of thinking pervades medical schools, unfortuneately. Coming from a science background myself, I know that most studies are short because funding demands it and there is a WHOLE lot that hasn’t been examined by scientific scrutiny.

    That’s my two cents. Thanks for your comments, Nancy and for wading into dangerous waters. I most whole heartedly agree with those above who recommend prayer first and foremost. As a P.S., I am not chronically ill, I have taken antibiodics and would take them again and I would weigh all options for major illness.

  26. Becky,

    That’s an interesting account about Asa. Of course, there is a great deal of scripture about sickness and how we are to respond to it. In the law, instruction is given for the diseased person to go to the priest.

    And James 5:14-15:

    Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of the faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.

    It doesn’t say call the doctor, yet that is the practice in the church. Though our family has called the elders several times in the past, we, too, usually call the doctor instead.

    In some situations, it seems obvious to call the medical professionals: broken bones, midwives for birthing (Biblical there), etc. And God has created plants with medicinal properties and taught man how to use them.

    There’s a lot I don’t understand, but it is my belief that the church is missing out on HUGE blessing in this area.

  27. Helen, that’s something I hadn’t thought about discussing before, but now that you have mentioned it, it is the practice of our little parish (about 60 souls communing including the kiddoes) to have prayer for healing every Wednesday night at the end of our evening prayer service.

    So, we eat together, then we pray together, then our pastor (or other presbyter) offers prayers and the anointing with oil for the sick.

    If anyone in our family is sick or injured, we call the pastor and he comes to pray for us and lays hands on us. We have been tremendously blessed by obeying God’s word in this way.

  28. I’m of the opinion that no matter which approach you take to medicine – it is important to research and prayerfully consider the recommended treatment.

    I used to follow my doctor’s instructions without giving a second thought. Afterall, the doctor knows what is best and he has my best interest at heart, right? I was forced to reconsider my assumptions when we had children.

    I am not opposed to a traditional approach to medicine. But I have become a bit jaded. I realize that doctors are running a business – they have to pay their bills and make ends meet just like we do. So – can I trust that the medicine my doctor is recommending is, in fact, the best option for me – or is is he receiving a kickback for the prescriptions that he writes? Can I trust that another set of eartubes is the best way to go – or is the doctor needing another surgery to help pay his bills this month? Do I really need a C-section – or is the doctor afraid that the slightest indication of complication might lead to a lawsuit?

    I really am not opposed to traditional medicine. But I am increasingly aware of the need to bathe the decisions we make in prayer! Because – we place our trust in our Father in Heaven!

  29. I’m of the opinion that no matter which approach you take to medicine – it is important to research and prayerfully consider the recommended treatment.
    I think you hit the nail on the head there, Ruth Ann. 🙂

    I worry sometimes that Christian women (and men) are too quick to administer home remedies of one kind or another to themselves, each other, or to their children in a careless manner.
    I think a corresponding and equally valid worry is that many times medical professionals are too quick to administer potent medicines (or procedures/surgeries) which may only take care of the symptoms, not the problem, or which may actually be useless or dangerous.

    No matter what medicinal options we are considering (herbal or otherwise) we need to do our homework and not blindly obey anyone’s advice- doctors, midwives, naturopath, friends, anyone.

  30. Nancy,

    Here’s another topic that might be interesting for discussion that is vaguely related: how is a Christian woman to think about beautifying herself? This is so broad – all the way from a nice haircut to make-up to waxes and facials to botox to plastic surgery…

    Feel free not to take it up, I just thought I might suggest it! 🙂

  31. Nystatin and Penicillin are both pharmaceuticals.

    Hmmm… I wonder how I can get a kickback from the prescriptions I write? I missed something these past 16 years.

  32. Nystatin may be a pharmaceutical, but it is an antifungal which my yeasty body needs. All the more reason that I believe in a balance of natural and conventional medicine.:)

  33. Good post, Nancy. Thanks for the courage to jump into these waters.

    I guess I represent the traditional medicine side, although I do consider myself sympathetic to the skeptics. My profession has not always deserved the extreme trust that we tend to expect. We have made mistakes, individually and corporately and are all too often reticent to admit them. Yes, many doctors do overprescribe antibiotics, and other drugs. They’re bad doctors, and I agree that you should avoid them. A good one should show some restraint. Pharmaceuticals are not candy.

    The herbs aren’t candy either, though. My main precautions about the natural remedies are due to the industry-wide poor oversight and control that others have mentioned. It can be hard to know how much you’re taking, and to trust the purity. Yes, many natural remedies do work. But they’re poorly regulated, and so they may work a little too well, or have some other things thrown in with them that also work in some less desirable way.

    Yes, there are doctors who are selfish, or greedy, or lazy. It can be hard to find a good one, and I sympathize with those who just give up. But if you’re worried about over-prescribing, your concern is very valid. Just keep looking; there are some doctors out there capable of restraint. Give them the benefit of the doubt, though. When my patient complains about a symptom, I usually assume they’re telling me about it because they want me to prescribe something for it. That makes sense, right? If you’re just asking because you’re concerned, want to know what it is or how best to care for it but you will not feel dejected if you walk out without a prescription, make that clear to your doctor. Sadly, you are in a minority. “Can’t you just prescribe something for it, doc? You mean you ‘re just not going to do anything?”

    The ear infections are a great example. The AAP now recommends a “watch and wait” approach, rather than an automatic antibiotic prescription. But many physicians are not following this recommendation, because their patients’ mothers act so betrayed if they don’t get the medication. It’s easier to do something than nothing. We docs have a hard time sitting on our hands. Moms too, don’t we?

    (just a word on the influence of drug companies on docs: it’s not charity. they wouldn’t spend this kind of money marketing to us if it didn’t work.)

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