Are Medicines Always the Best Answer?

A sick woman holding a handful of medicinesIn my time as a Natural Health Practitioner, I’ve come across many cases, including in my own family, when side-effects of taking medications have been so severe that they’ve outweighed their therapeutic effects. My own mother is one such example.

She has recently developed a skin problem having undergone a heart monitoring test when she had to wear bulky equipment for 24 hours. Yes, the test was important, but the fixative used in the attachments created a problem of its own which she is trying to deal with now.

My mum has developed dermatitis with itchy spots breaking out here and there. She has had it for almost 3 months now. She has tried a lot of things and finally decided to seek medical treatment.

She was prescribed a steroid-based medication. The doctor did not ask my mum about her other issues. When my mother started taking the tablets, she developed all sorts of issues – a dry mouth, dizziness, pain in the stomach, poor sleep, joint pain and many others. Despite this, she continued and finished the course. She now says that she has constant pain in her back and joints.

Her dermatitis got a little bit better though, but she kept having outbreaks here and there, and the itch was horrendous. So, she asked for a doctor’s help again having mentioned side-effects from taking the tablets. She was prescribed a cream, also steroid-based. The doctor assured her that it was “safe” and would not cause any issues.

My mother started using it. It did help to reduce the symptoms and the itch. However, it did not bring systemic benefits. It didn’t cure the problem. She keeps having the outbreaks. My mum and I discussed it many times. My sister and I have finally managed to convince her to seek proper medical investigation into the causes of it.

She noticed that the issue was getting worse when she ate bread, pasta and sweet foods. My mum has a number of issues, including chronic pancreatitis. It is possible that her body is not producing enough enzymes needed to break down those refined carbohydrates, even though she has drastically cut them down. Maybe her cells have become resistant to insulin. It could be something else completely. But the issue must be systemic rather than confined to the skin alone.

The skin, like the eyes, is simply an indicator of our inner health or lack of it. Oriental doctors realised it thousands of years ago and are using it as a means of diagnosis. By looking at the skin, they can determine what is wrong with their patient health-wise. Western doctors still resort to a quick fix, by prescribing chemicals which often do more harm than good.

Back to my mother’s story… She is better now. I have sent her a bottle of amazing dermatitis and eczema relief cream which contains urea and a local anaesthetic. She is using it when she has outbreaks of dermatitis. It contains no steroids which do get into the bloodstream despite my mum’s doctor’s assurances that they don’t. However, even though the cream has saved her so much distress and sleepless nights, it is still not an ideal solution. She needs a thorough investigation in order to find out what is causing her dermatitis, and address the cause of it. So she’s still got a way to go.

Medicines are over-prescribed, and the trend is growing. This causes problems not only for our health but the environment as well. For example, I have recently come across an article citing issues with opioid contamination of seawater on the Western side of the USA. Mass media aren’t even trying to conceal the problem and are openly talking about an opioid epidemic. How big the problem must be if traces of opioids are showing in seawater?

My mother is now waiting to see her doctor for a referral to the test lab. She wants to know what is causing her dermatitis. I hope that it is nothing too serious and can be managed naturally. But at least she is finally on track to getting to the root of the problem! Once she knows what it is, she can decide on which way she wants to go in terms of treatment.

So to answer my own question, I don’t believe that medicines are always the best answer for a health problem. There are cases when we have no alternative. Such cases are normally acute and life-threatening. It is of course not for a natural health practitioner to decide when a person needs medication. However, a patient in a doctor’s surgery has a right to decide what’s in the own best interests.

Question your doctor about all available options. Ask for a second or even third opinion. Read about the medicine and its side-effects. Look online about other people’s experiences with it. Assess how it may affect you considering your general state of health and other issues you have. If you have decided to take it, monitor your condition and see the doctor as soon as you experience worrying side-effects.

I also believe that we need to look into possible causes of our health issues, including lifestyle, nutrition, mental health and so on. Where possible, we need to consider using alternative methods of care for chronic conditions such as arthritis, for example. Or in my mother’s case – dermatitis. Ultimately, it is up to us to decide what treatment is best for us. This means weighing up all factors and options, researching, analysing and listening to what our own body tells us.