Natural or artificial: which is better?


Modern medicine sprang up in the early 1900s with new ways to heal illnesses, overpowering the natural remedies once used.

An increased desire to become self-reliant inspired the resurgence of natural health cures in the 1960s, according to Pharmacology and the Nursing Process, a textbook by Linda Lilley.

“Consumer use of dietary supplements is growing, with an estimated 50 percent of U.S. adults using some form of alternative medicine, despite the fact that one-fourth of the individuals who use them experience adverse reactions,” according to the textbook.

The use of complementary therapies is growing much faster than the use of western medicines, according to the textbook.

“Their use is increasing at a rate of 20 percent to 25 percent per year, which far exceeds the growth in the use of conventional drugs,” according to the textbook.

Herbs cause a change to occur in the body which makes them a form of drug, according to Science Based Medicine, a website dedicated to exploring the controversies between science and medicine.

“A drug is any chemical or combination of chemicals that has biological activity within the body,” according to the website.

Many controversies remain about the beneficial and non-beneficial factors of these drugs.

“A false sense of security has been created because the view of the public tends to be that if a product is ‘natural,’ then it is safe,” according to the textbook.

Sources fail to inform people of the extremely dangerous side effects present when mixing complementary therapies with western medicine, according to   the textbook.

Stacey DeCelle, a senior studying health science, said she is a major advocate for western medicine, especially vaccinations.

“I believe that we are given medicine to help us,” DeCelle said.

DeCelle said she believes essential oils act as a placebo, causing someone to believe the oils benefit them.

“I think the essential oils carry a placebo effect,” DeCelle said. “It’s mind over matter.”

DeCelle said that, in reality, they cannot cure serious ailments.

“Some herbal products may be used to treat minor conditions and illnesses (e.g., coughs, colds, stomach upset) in much the same way that conventional FDA-approved, OTC nonprescription drugs are used,” according to the textbook.

Greg Klingler, a physician’s assistant and a professor in the Department of Health, Recreation and Human Performance, said he views natural remedies as complementary therapy; they can sustain and assist good health, but they cannot cure poor health.

“If people are sick, complementary therapies oftentimes do not provide everything that we need to restore health,” Klingler said. “I would utilize a western medicine therapy, for example: antibiotics, medications, surgeries, or chemotherapies. Then we could use things like essential oils, herbal remedies, massage to help supplement more tried and true treatments.”

Klingler said that while both remedies contain beneficial factors, there are side effects to both remedies of which patients need to be cautious.

“The problem with some complementary therapies is that oftentimes, there is not someone to educate the patient to the potential outcomes and potential side effects,” Klingler said.

DeCelle said she had an experience where her roommate who used essential oils was in the hospital and learned that essential oils may also have a negative affect on the body.

“Essential oils cause damage to your liver,” DeCelle said. “It corrodes your liver enzymes.”

Klingler said he encourages thorough research when considering any form of medication.

“If they have done their homework, if they have determined it is safe and if it is therapeutic to them, then I’ll encourage them to keep going,” Klingler said. “However, I would caution any patient about some illnesses and conditions that cannot be entirely treated or corrected using alternative therapies alone.”

Klingler said he would suggest merging the best of both remedies.

“Let’s utilize good, sound acupuncture, hypnotherapy, echinacea or herbal remedies, but let’s use that in conjunction with the best that western medicine has to offer, surgeries and medications,” Klingler said.



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