BY: NADIA ZAIDI
Alternative treatments are growing in popularity, as many people begin to question traditional pharmacology. Various theories on disease cures being hidden from the public for pharmaceutical profit are gaining momentum. They are also feeding a million-dollar herbal industry.
Reasons for turning to alternative medicine may be as personal as liking to feel a sense of control over what enters your body. For others, it’s as simple as wanting to explore lesser known naturopathic remedies for illness. Regardless of your choice, alternative medicine is one of those choices that seems to ignite strong reactions. You’re either a supporter, or its biggest skeptic. Large sentiment hovers around ideas of gimmickry.
Alternative medicine (we are focusing on herbal medications/supplements here) is a $34 billion dollar a year industry. In the United States alone, around half the population says that they have used them. But only a third of all alternative medications have actually ever been tested.
As a consumer, I’ve tried the alternative medicine route. I believe heavily in naturopathic remedies, not forfeiting traditional medicine by any means. I take on a more supplemented approach. Listen, if I have strep throat or a virus, I’m turning to prescription medications. But that doesn’t mean that I’m not looking for less invasive approaches, either.
For me it’s about a fine balance and picking your battles. I’m not a physician, so I don’t fully trust my discretion over bodily aches and pains. It’s as simple as that.
Some of the most popular alternative medications that Americans turn to include fish oils, probiotics and melatonin. But this doesn’t exclude a roster of other natural medications on the market. According to the Medical Journal of Australia, many herbal medications can cause liver and kidney failure due to their toxicity. Additionally they may also unsuccessfully interact with other drugs.
Various physicians warn that herbal supplements may be fatal, particularly to consumers with heart problems. Herbs contain anticoagulants (essentially, a blood thinning agent), which can become dangerous when coupled with prescriptions.
Herbal supplements are a tricky industry because they are classified as dietary supplements — therefore, approved by the Food and Drug Administration. The 1994 Dietary and Supplement Health Education Act does not require the manufacturers of herbal products to prove that their products are safe.
That’s a huge red flag. I guess it’s about being cautionary and sensible.
Remember the man who turned blue? Colloidal silver, mixed with a cocktail of other supplements resulted in his skin discolouring.
Weght loss and energy boosting supplements cause 23,000 emergency room visits a year in the United States.
A study that looked at traditional Chinese medicine products sold in Australia found that there were high levels of lead, among other carcinogenics, in 61 per cent of preparations. And that’s not all. In many, there were pesticides and other various contaminants.
These are just some of supplements that cause fatal reactions when combined with other medications:
It’s important to know what you are potentially ingesting when you decide to try alternative medications. Even though they are herbal and natural, it’s not always black and white. Many times, it’s green – and that doesn’t always mean safe. Do your research first to better understand what’s best for you and your body.