Alternative Medicine Essay, Research Paper
There is an alternative to conventional medicine that costs less, is equally effective, and does not cause side effects. There s a new world of medical doctors who resort to drugs and surgery as a last measure (Heimlich 2). It is called homeopathy and it is making its way into doctors offices, hospitals, and homes everywhere.
First and foremost, it needs to be understood what homeopathic medicine is and how it works. There are numerous forms of this medication, all of which are 100% natural. Just like prescription drugs they come in pills, capsules, creams, and liquids. They are derived from plants, minerals, and animal origins. When taken in small amounts they trigger the human defense system. Allergists base their treatments on the same principle. Their patients are injected with a serum containing the substance causing the allergic reaction. The body s natural response is to build up immunity to that allergy. This is similar to how a vaccine works and how homeopathic remedies work; they crank up the body s defense system (Toy 146).
A patient s symptoms are the body s way of reestablishing balance. It is beneficial to provide the body s immune system with medications that support rather than suppress its efforts to heal
its self. It is a known fact that symptoms are a body s way of adapting to an infection. Physiologist Matthew Kluger and colleges at the University of Michigan Medical School have determined that in some instances the human body prepares itself for resisting infection by producing a fever. If aspirin is prescribed, it is ultimately prohibiting the body to defend itself. A second example of the body s ability to self heal is the process of inflammation. This is the body s way of localizing, heating up, and burning out infectious agents or foreign matter (Ullman, Discovering 5). Homeopathic remedies work with the body and the symptoms, not against them. The body is not always capable of overcoming every infection or stress so it is important to use a substance in nature that has the ability to mimic the symptoms. This enables the body to defend and ultimately cure itself (Ullman, Beginner s 2-3).
Another benefit to utilizing homeopathic medications is the number of side effects. If used correctly, additional symptoms caused by the medication will not be experienced. However, if a patient continues to take the remedy after the symptoms have subsided, or if a double dose is ingested when not indicated, a proving will occur (Ullman, Discovering 27).
A proving can be diagnosed when a patient experiences symptoms similar to those caused by the disease or infection. In this case only, it is caused by the overdose of the medication (Landau 201). However, homeopaths do not consider the symptoms of a proving to be dangerous because they usually cease shortly after the patient stops taking the medicine (Ullman, Discovering 28).
If a conventional drug is prescribed, the side effects would be unlimited. I was working in geriatrics and saw the consequences of heavy use of prescription ruts, many of which
have enormous side effects and don t work very well says family physician Glenn S. Rothfeld, M.D., who teaches a course on alternative medicine (Abrams 99).
Some of the medications she was referring to are Prednisone, Cholestyramine, and Neomycin. Prednisone is used for allergies and collagen diseases, and can impair calcium absorption. Cholestyramine, a cholesterol-lowering drug, may induce steatorrhea (excessive fat in the feces). Neomycin, an antibiotic, may decrease absorption of vitamin B12, calcium, iron, potassium sodium, nitrogen, fat, lactose, and sucrose (Hunter 19). Despite the fact that these drugs are not as common, their side effects are never the less hazardous.
Sudafed is a more common drug that also causes side effects. This over the counter medication is very familiar to allergy sufferers. One tablet is supposed to temporarily relieve nasal and sinus congestion, sneezing, water-itchy eyes, and runny nose. Sudafed may do what it promises, but one tablet gives more than expected. The side effects listed on the back of the box are excitability, drowsiness, dizziness, and sleeplessness. In addition to side effects, this product is not recommended for people with high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, thyroid disease, asthma, glaucoma, or difficulty in urination due to enlargement of the prostate gland. This eliminates millions of people.
The cost of homeopathy is one more obvious reason for utilizing it. Since the 1950 s the pharmaceutical industry has been the most profitable industry in this country. In 1959, the Senate subcommittee on Antitrust and Monopoly conducted a yearlong investigation on the drug industry. They discovered that the public was being ripped off by more than 250 million dollars a year. In 1980, the average prescription cost $6,025. In 1992, the cost of the same prescription was $22.50 (Murray 21).
One way to reduce these astronomical costs is to prevent illness. Alternative medicines work to prevent the illness before it occurs by building up the defense system and aiding the body s natural responses. Preventing illness keeps people from paying for the cost of care, operations, and the use of facilities. A quote printed in the Journal of the American Medical Association, states that one-fourth of hospital stays, one fourth of procedures, and two fifths of medicine could be done with out (Heimlich 2). Why spend money unnecessarily?
Of course there are some arguments against Homeopathy. For instance homeopathic remedies are not based on a science, but on the proving. Butler explains that remedies have been tested by administering them to healthy people who recorded their physical, mental, and emotional reactions in the days following. He goes on to say that the FDA has permitted homeopathic products to be marketed even though they have not been demonstrated to work (132).
Contrary to his statement, the British Medical Journal reported that:
13/19 trials showed successful treatment of respiratory infection.
5/7 trials showed successful treatment of hay fever.
18/20 trials showed a benefit in addressing pain or trauma.
The individuals who conducted these trials were not homeopaths but medical school professors (Ullman, Beginner s 8).
If a drug has undergone scientific testing, there is no guarantee that the drug will do as promised. Thomas Moore, an investigative reporter for the Knight Ridder Chain Committee on Intelligence, has this to say about the testing and research of drugs:
The pharmaceutical industry spends more to persuade doctors to prescribe
its drugs than it does on research. Over just a few years, an
estimated 50,000 people died from taking drugs intended to prevent cardiac arrest
Moore s book tells the story of a national tragedy involving a class of conventional drugs still on the market. He discovers that the same medical system that brings us life saving treatments can also bring us catastrophes beyond imaging. Provings have already demonstrated homeopathic effects, none of which were fatal.
The last opposing argument made by the medical profession is the fact that these remedies are diluted almost to the point of nonexistence. For instance, one drop of belladonna (an extract from a highly poisonous plant) is dissolved in 99 drops of alcohol/water solution. Then 99 drops of liquid further dilute one drop of the new solution and so on 30 times. At such high dilution one dose of medication only contains a single molecule of the original substance (Landau 202).
One theory of how this dilution could possibly have an effect is that somehow the alcohol/water solution retains a memory of the original substance. This is accounted for during the vigorous shaking between each dilution. Researchers suggest that the water molecules lien up according to the structure of the active molecules. A visual example of this is the iron fillings that fall into place when shaken and then places near a magnet (204).
Ullman gives examples of organisms that have the capability of detection minute amounts of a substance from miles away. Take sharks for example, they can sense exceedingly small amounts of blood in the water from great distances . Male insects can detect minute amounts of sex hormones and travel long distances to find a mate . She goes on to say, Just because we
can t find it doesn t mean the medication doesn t exist. It simply means our tests are not yet sensitive enough (Abrams 111).
The small number of physicians who practice as homeopaths have waiting lists, and retail sales of homeopathic remedies are fusing by about 25% a year (Landau 201). Homeopathic remedies should be prescribed before conventional drugs are sought out. They are as effective as conventional drugs, contain no side effects, cost less, and are 100% natural.
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