Working in healthcare makes me want to be healthier. So, I try to eat more whole foods and keep off that one to two pounds a year so many of us seem to gain leaving us with the sudden realization at age 40 that we are in fact 20 pounds overweight. I don’t want a diagnosis of hypertension or hyperlipidemia or to take daily medications; not even when I am 80. My informal research into healthy eating habits along with questions patients have asked leaves me wondering how effective is alternative medicine? Do herbal supplements and natural healing remedies really work?
I think we are going to see a push toward alternative medicine as patients become disillusioned with traditional medicine. An increasing number of individuals want to stay away from medications produced by the pharmaceutical industry and resolve their ailments with a more natural approach. Recent polls show that four out of ten American adults have tried some form of alternative therapy. Politicians are even supporting the alternative medicine movement. In Britain, King George and Prince Charles saw to it that Britain’s new National Health Service would make homeopathy a part of it’s program. U.S. Senator Tom Harkin helped to found the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine at the National Institute of Health, the world’s leading medical research center.
As more and more Americans turn to supplement their traditional medical care with alternative therapies, it is important that as nurse practitioners we have answers to their questions regarding the safety of these nontraditional healing methods. In a series of blog posts I will begin to explore the safety and efficacy of treatments such as St. John’s wort for depression, melatonin for insomnia and acupuncture for aches and pains.
What do you think of the alternative medicine movement? Are there any particular therapies you are skeptical of that you think I should address?