In my latest book, 10 Essentials of Happy, Healthy People, I teach people how to utilize these ten essentials that are necessary to live a happy and highly healthy life. Under The Essential of Self-Care, teach what I call “The 10 Commandments of Preventive Medicine. Here’s the eighth installment of this ten-part series.
These “Ten Commandments,” which I’ve long suggested to my patients and to my radio and television audiences, target exclusively the physical wheel. I suspect we could identify several more commandments related to preventing disease, but these are an excellent start.
Commandment #8 = Check Out Alternative Therapies with Your Doctor
At least 40 percent of Americans use some kind of alternative therapy, such as herbal medicine, dietary supplements, massage therapy, chiropractic, or aromatherapy—among many, many others.
Some people mistakenly believe that all alternative practices are harmless. In reality, the risk can be extremely high for people with special medical concerns. Many herbs, vitamins, and supplements can interact with certain prescription drugs, foods, and even other herbs or supplements. They can cause bleeding during or after surgery and can also interact with anesthetic agents to cause problems with surgery itself—including unexpected death!
Some alternative therapies are contraindicated for certain medical conditions.
For example, people who take the herb ginkgo biloba while also t aking an anticoagulant drug can develop bleeding problems. The herb St. John’s wort, commonly used for mild depression, interacts with many prescription drugs and may render the birth control pill less effective.
Even if an alternative therapy isn’t dangerous in and of itself, you can suffer lasting damage if you use it as a substitute for proper medical diagnosis and care.
Many of my patients seem surprised to learn that many alternative therapies and natural medications have not been proven safe or effective, and some have been shown not to work at all or be very dangerous.
If your problem turns out to be serious, you could endanger your health—or even your life—by experimenting with unproven therapies instead of seeing a physician promptly.
If you use any alternatives, be sure to let all your healthcare professionals know. More than 60 percent of Americans who use alternative methods don’t inform their doctors. Always check with your doctor in order to ﬁnd out whether an alternative practice you’d like to try is safe for you.
You can also read more in my book Alternative Medicine: The Christian Handbook. You can see the book’s Table of Contents and Chapter One by clicking on these links.
Exercise can be a better treatment option for some disorders—not only better than alternative therapies but sometimes even better than prescription medications. This was demonstrated in a survey of more than 46,000 Americans published by Consumer Reportsin May 2000. A significant number of the men and women who responded to this survey reported that exercise was more effective than natural remedies for allergies, depression, high cholesterol, sleep problems, and respiratory infections.
Even more surprising was the survey’s findings that exercise worked as well as prescription medications for arthritis, back pain, and prostate problems.
For those of you considering natural medications (herbs, vitamins, and supplements), there’s not a better, more evidence-based, or trustworthy site on the Internet than the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. Written by doctors of pharmacology, and available only by subscription (they take no advertising), it’s an excellent source of up-to-date information for healthcare professionals and the lay public.
But, if you or your healthcare professional decide a natural medication (even a vitamin) is for you, how do you find safe products that contain what the label says and are not contaminated?
This is particularly important, because these substances are essentially unregulated in the United States.
To help my patients find safe products, I recommend the independent quality testing lab ConsumerLab.com. For a small subscription fee (less than the cost of a bottle of most supplements) you can find lists of supplements that are safe and worthy of your consideration for purchase.
You may not find a lot of surprises here—but the real questions are these:
By beginning with a single step and then continuing to improve on a day-to-day basis, you’ll be on your way to becoming a highly healthy person.
Here are all 10 of the Preventive Medicine Commandments:
And, here are all 10 of the essentials that can be found in my book, 10 Essentials of Happy, Healthy People: