Natural Alternatives to Drugs

Drugs are the method of choice of most doctors for treating ailments, major and minor.  But were you aware that there is a wide range of natural nutrients and herbs which are as effective – if not more so – at treating these conditions?

If, like me, you would prefer to help yourself, before swallowing a list of prescribed pills – which often gets longer, as drugs tend not to treat the underlying cause, only the symptom – then read on…

Many of you are aware that much of our food now lacks adequate nutrients due to depleted soils and food processing, and that poor diets contribute hugely to chronic diseases.  Less well known is the fact that numerous studies now attest to the efficacy of what is often described as ‘folk medicine’ in helping both everyday illnesses and chronic diseases.  Your gran really did know a thing or two!

Many drugs are derived from natural sources, for instance aspirin originated from willow bark, yew is used in cancer treatments; so you might be forgiven for thinking that man-made medicine combines the best of what both nature and science has to offer.  If only that were so!  Nature balances her natural ingredients to work synergistically together, but these natural combinations can’t be patented.  So one or two active ingredients are extracted and combined with other substances with the resultant drugs earning huge profits at the cost of some potentially nasty side effects to you.

Heart disease, asthma, cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, prostate problems, sleep problems, thyroid imbalances, ADD, IBS, PMT and menopause symptoms are only a few of the everyday problems which can be treated as effectively – if not more so- by using nutritional and herbal alternatives to clinical drugs.  Yes, that’s right, a drug is not your only choice if you are diagnosed with one of these

It is impossible in a short article to cover all the alternatives, as this is a huge subject!  However, let’s look at a couple of commonly prescribed drugs and see what our choices are:

Most of us have some experience of antibiotics.  Chronic over-prescribing is limiting their effectiveness, as well as causing many low grade health issues such as digestive upset and impaired immune response.  Nature, in her wisdom, has produced many anti bacterial goodies, including garlic – often called Nature’s penicillin; grapefruit seed extract, a very powerful antibiotic; colloidal silver, which is incredibly versatile, can be used both internally and externally and has been effective against some of the superbugs.  Even honey is known to have antimicrobial properties – manuka honey in particular! The herb Goldenseal is a natural antibiotic and particularly effective when combined with the immune boosting herb Echinacea.  There is a long list of plants with antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral effects but I won’t bore you with all of them.  I must however mention Tea Tree, which should be in all medicine cabinets in addition to the above.  Distilled as an essential oil it can be used topically and in steam inhalation, sprays and skin washes. Also, Cats Claw, which just loves to seek out nasty little pathogens lurking in the body and deal with them!

Anti-depressants are another class of widely prescribed drugs. Viewed biochemically it is an imbalance in the brain, and treated with drugs which boost certain neurotransmitters affecting mood.  Whilst this is certainly not all that is going on in depression – life circumstances and emotions can be a big contributor – neurotransmitters are naturally produced from certain nutrients, so nutrition is a very real alternative to drugs.  5-HTP, an amino acid, is a pre-cursor to the neurotransmitter serotonin, and Omega 3 EPA has been shown to be an effective anti-depressant, as has St Johns Wort and Vitamin B12.  Other areas to look at are the levels of homocysteine in your blood – too high and your risk of depression and heart disease shoots up.  Easily treated with a variety of nutrients this is often overlooked, as are blood sugar imbalances which sit at the root of mood swings as well as much anti-social behaviour.

I truly believe that by looking to use natural solutions to common problems first, we are treating our bodies more kindly, and also looking beyond just treating a series of symptoms to righting the biochemical imbalances that caused them.  This, to me, is true healing and the path back to good health.


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