Can Your Doctor Advise on Natural Medicine: Can I Advise You On Heart Surgery?!

As the Natural Medicine Nutritionist for Xtend-Life, I am often approached by people who have very conflicting advice from their GP as to whether nutritional or herbal medicine can help them.

Also many people find that their doctor advises against any attempt at natural or nutritional medicine and people feel awkward or “scared” to approach them to ask for help to withdraw from a drug in favour of a longer-term more natural approach.

Just recently I have read about a survey in medical journals which asked about a doctor's knowledge of natural medicine. This prompted me to just summarize this for you below, and some reasoning behind it, to hopefully enable you to take more charge of your own health and routes you wish to take to protect or treat it.

It is very confusing when someone gets often very conflicting advices, and I would like to drawer your attention to why this is so that you can make a decision based on this knowledge, rather than confusion.

Your general practitioner may know of the existence of herbal and nutritional medicine, but does he/she know enough to be able to advise on it?

It is natural for you to ask your doctor for advice on any medical matters, and we always encourage you to do so. Your doctor has your full history and likely knows you very well. They have a face to face advantage for examination purposes. So a medical consultation should never be overlooked.

However, bear in mind that your doctor is likely not trained in natural medicine, only in conventional drug medicine, and hence can only advise on hearsay and what they may have read in a conventional medical journal (which is often biased towards drug therapy of course), and not from actual qualification or experience (unless they are one of the elite conventional medical practitioners that have gone on to train and experience natural medicine – such as our Dr Anthony Perillo for example (see our Blog Board of Contributors).

Just as I, as a Natural Medicine Practitioner, cannot advise on heart surgery as I am not a surgeon and don't know enough about the procedures....the same applies to a general doctor where natural medicine is concerned.

“A survey in the US indicates that doctors are poorly informed about herbal medicine...Over 1,000 subscribers to Drug and Therapeutic Bulletin (DTB) were questioned on their knowledge of herbal medicine. The response rate was just over 14%, with 80% of those respondents being family doctors. More than 85% of respondents felt professionals were 'poorly informed' about herbal and natural medicine.”

“...Nine out of ten respondents (to the survey) admitted their knowledge of herbal medicine was  'very poor' compared to (their knowledge of) prescription drugs.”

The Editor of DTB, Dr Ike Iheanacho, commented: “It’s obviously worrying that doctors in general seem to know so little about herbal medicines, given the widespread use of such products.”

It is important for patients who visit either a herbal or nutritional medicine practitioner to work together with them, AND their GP, and their own knowledge of their health and symptoms, so they can work together to ensure there are no interactions between medicines, and that each area of treatment, and drug therapy where necessary, can be worked successfully together.

It is often misread that Natural Health Practitioners in general are against conventional medicine. This is not the case. However, it is the case that many General Practitioners are against natural medicine!

So why is this?

It is mostly due to lack of knowledge. A general doctor, trained in conventional drugs and medicine, will of course always air on the side of caution with something that they don't know. So it is up to you, as an individual, and in control of your own health, to ask the appropriate expert about their appropriate area of health, for your particular needs. This allows you to then make your own informed decision of how best to handle your health to suit you, in the safest and most effective way possible.

Conventional medications do have their place. Nobody in the natural health industry is “against” technology or advancement in human medicine. This is a misconception.

However, conventional drug therapy is more suitable for acute needs. I.E. to help prevent conditions or illnesses from developing into something more serious or fatal in the first instance. It is a first emergency approach. Conventional meds however, apart from a few exceptions to the rule of course, as medical cases are always individual, isn't ideal or recommended for long-term health and fitness. Indeed the risk of side effects from conventional drugs increases the longer you take them.

It is for this longer-term approach that natural and nutritional medicine should enter into your daily lifestyle, if not before (I.E. where it may be appropriate to start from the beginning of your condition, if your condition isn't potentially fatal).

And of course don't forget the fundamental importance of prevention! This is where natural herbal and nutritional medicine can work at its best. See our Total Balance, Immu-Stay (formerly Viral-Protec), and Omega 3/DHA formulations for an idea of a good start to boosting preventative health measures along with good diet, fluid intake, and exercise.

So, the trick is to take all information on board when you are enquiring about your health; ask the appropriate expert about their area of health; don't rely on a doctor to give you sound herbal advice (unless they are qualified in that area to do so) and don't rely on me to give you expert opinion on heart surgery please! :)

It is your body, your health, and your future. You know your body best, and with unbiased and truthful information – which is what Xtend-Life prides itself on – you can make the best choices and advance your health naturally in the long-term.

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