I’ve always tried to live my life by the old adage ‘Prevention is better than cure’ and to work with nature, not against it. I’m not saying medical treatments don’t work or that we shouldn’t use them, far from it. I’m just saying we can often do a lot to help ourselves rather than expecting a miracle medical cure to sort everything out once the damage has been done. Of course we should always get a proper diagnosis from our doctor. But we shouldn’t always rely on quick fix cures regardless of the side effects.
From experience I know that so-called alternative or complementary cures can be just as useful as scientific medicine in various scenarios. The NHS has for a long time offered these choices too. Plus we have an integrated health hospital in London where you can opt for both medical and ‘natural’ choices for treatment. So why on earth has the NHS decided to stop offering homeopathy? Especially when so many have found that it works and has less side effects than scientific options? They say it is for financial reasons and that during austerity we shouldn’t be spending money on such things! Yet many many people say it helps them. And if we are looking at costs homeopathy is actually cheaper.
For example, most homeopathic remedies cost around £5 and last 3 months, whereas a pain control drug could cost up to £55 per week! We know the NHS has been getting ripped off scandalously by drug companies overcharging and increasing their costs. The cynic in me would say well perhaps the NHS is under pressure from drug companies to favour them over more ‘natural’ cures, and that the NHS feels it has no choice but to choose to spend their budget with the huge powerful manufacturers and suppliers that have dominated NHS treatment for years. Who knows what other interests may be at stake at managerial or corporate level.
Yet many patients have publicly testified how homeopathy in particular has helped them, and without any harmful or long term side effects, unlike many drugs. I’m sure many other natural therapies will have people willing to testify too. The great thing about natural alternative treatments is they don’t exclude the use of scientific options. Most can work alongside them, and can be designed to do so. Using natural therapies for pain relief, insomnia, skin problems etc could save the NHS a lot of money and reduce side effects, so why on earth aren’t we increasing them, not reducing them??
The Royal Family themselves have long used natural therapies, again in particular homeopathy, and Prince Charles has been a champion of this. It is also a part of our history – hence the Physic Garden in Chelsea, and we have a tradition of using herbs, for example Culpepper – he used natural herbs to help poor people who could not afford doctors. Again I’m not saying we should replace scientific medicine with alternative therapies, I’m saying we deserve the choice, and that the two can work hand in hand. There is no financial or health related reason not too, as in both cases the natural options are cheaper and have less side effects. And alternative health practitioners have to get qualifications too.
I have used acupuncture, aromatherapy, homeopathy, herbalism, vitamins, oils and anything I can to help myself, usually with success. I was offered an operation for RSI but found I could get the same results with physiotherapy and prescribed exercises! It took longer, (the doctor seemed confused as to why I would choose the longer route, but I stuck to it). Patience is key I find, as they can take longer to ‘kick in’. And I admit I have never been really seriously ill – and if I were? – yes, I would go the scientific medical route, but I would also use nature as much as I could, to boost myself up, to work alongside conventional treatment, and to restore myself afterwards. Some of it may be in the mind, I don’t really know, but does that matter, so long as it works? Trying to help yourself is in itself a great help, giving a more positive mindset.
Nowadays many doctors are opting to be trained in some form of ‘alternative therapy’ as well, and agree that the two can work together well. So I am surprised that these more natural and cheaper options aren’t offered routinely for ‘less serious’ ailments, and that doctors don’t give out basic advice anymore – like losing weight or taking exercise (for instance helping others has been shown to help with isolation and depression). I know this isn’t going to cure cancer or major illnesses, but they don’t do any harm and can often lift our spirits.
So what is the real reason for this? Is it pressure from drug companies, or from ‘on high’, or lack of time? Or is it our fault for expecting immediate results? I know some GPs feel under pressure from patients to give immediate results, and that is often cited when asked why they are so quick to prescribe drugs for minor ailments. (I was once offered (and said no to) antidepressants when I knew I was just feeling low after a bout of flu!). We are, after all, in the midst of the ‘I want it now’ era. Doing things naturally takes longer, and patience. Yes, I think the ‘give it to me now’ attitude in society has reached medicine, and there are parents who will demand immediate solutions for any perceived ‘problem’ their child has. Doctors, hospitals (and schools) are under huge pressure to move up results lists. Perhaps it is our demand for immediate fixes to everything that is destroying the long fought for chance to opt for more natural (but slower) choices of treatment.
So while the NHS is struggling for money, surely offering more natural and cheaper alternatives makes sense. GP surgeries are overflowing, hospitals are short of beds, and operations are being cancelled, so isn’t it time that we stopped expecting immediate miracle scientific cures, and looked to a more natural but slower remedy to whatever ails the NHS and ourselves…?