The pendulum is swinging
Ah -– there's an interesting debate. Both lobbies claim to
be interested in saving and enhancing the quality of human lives. Both groups
claim that the other group is profiteering on human suffering. Both groups claim
the other group to be bogus. Now, who is right?
In an interesting article from The Dominion Post, 12 October
2002, entitled "Natural enemies" we observe the medical world attacking the
health food world: "...'Potentially dangerous', cries the
medical/pharmaceutical lobby of the health food shops. 'You can't trust
Apparently what has fueled the latest chapter of this 'war
on the treatment of humans' was a 'research test' engineered by a group of
medical academics who had a young woman visit 26 health food shops and 26
pharmaceutical shops - with a made up story. She exhibits apparent symptoms of
asthma and carries with her an inhaler which she says she got from a friend -–
she says the inhaler helps her. The outcome of the test: most of the assistants
in the chemist shops advise her to go to a doctor -– and a lesser number of
assistants from the health food sector suggest she seek medical advice...some
actually advise she stay away from the doctors.
"'A flawed study,' cries the health food lobby. 'They're
just trying to undermine the health-food business.'
... What the study and the reaction to it reveal is that the
supposedly narrowing gap between medical and alternative groups is something of
a myth. Health-conscious people and a few practitioners might use both
approaches, but the two camps remain mostly deeply divided.
David Russell, of the Consumers' Institute, says there has
been an easing in the relationship. There's not the 'bigoted rejection' of
alternative therapy by the medical fraternity of 20 years ago. Or even 10 years
...many conventional drugs originate from natural materials:
Aspirin, for example, comes from the bark of the willow tree...
...Alternative therapists are in the business of treating
causes, whereas the medical profession treats symptoms.
'The pharmaceutical companies are extremely concerned at
the global turn toward people taking care of their health with natural products.'
...Dr [John] Adams wants alternative treatments subjected to
the same evidence-based scientific testing as conventional medicine; and
argument going on between the factions as Parliament contemplates the regulation
of complementary or therapeutic products, as they are in Australia...
...Selenium, boron and comfrey might need prescriptions...
... 'There's so much disaffection with medication, people
are turning in droves to non-medical solutions'
Of course there's a place for traditional medicine, he
says. 'But if there was more funding put into education and natural protection
our health bill would be drastically reduced.'...
Mr Russell doesn't buy into this theory. 'You find
conspiracy theories out there on both sides,' he says. 'I don't give
credit to the idea that drug companies want to control health foods. The big
drug companies are there to make money but, if you believe conspiracy theories,
it's not just the companies but government agencies as well ripping off
Mr Russell sides with those who want better regulation of
health foods. The industry, he says, takes the stance that it is different from
the pharmaceutical industry.
... 'They're saying, 'We know best. We don't have
scientific evidence but that isn't required, trust us.''...
But it's not only alternative medicines that should be
viewed with caution. Doctors in Australia have just been told to reduce levels
of inhaled steroids, prescribed to treat asthma, after reports of deaths and
serious side-effects in other parts of the world...
Research has shown that 80 percent of patients who go to a
doctor would have got better anyway, so perhaps chemist and health food shops
are an overdone luxury..."
I told you it was a good debate! On the more serious side of
the situation is the confusion and anxiety which results from being an average
human being who becomes unwell and simply 'does not know where to go to find
honest help'. The consumer market in the area of health is extraordinarily
expensive -– and I'm Joe Average with an illness, I just want to get well. If
I could successfully circumnavigate the ocean of misinformation fed by both
lobbies just to find out what heals my condition quickest with the least side
effects, I'd be away laughing. But it's not that easy. I have friends who
are authorities in both worlds, and I tend to see merit in both in many
respects. I do believe however that if we could remove the element of excessive
financial gain from both markets we would witness a lot less misinformation and
propaganda -– we might even find out who is in it to assist the sick of this
world! The love of money is a corrupting motivation.
Now I don't claim to have a balanced perspective on the
whole health issue -– after all I am the son of Barry Smith, a man who loved
his ice cream and chocolates, and carried a satchel of alternative medicines to
assist a speedy rectification of any damage caused. One of his favourite
metaphoric lines was with regard to medical surgery. "When you're driving
along in your car and the oil light comes on, you don't go and rip the light
off the dashboard do you -– No! You put more oil into the engine." Now that
makes perfect sense to me. His other interesting thought was with regard to the
poison content of the fluoride we Westerners commonly drink everyday in our
urban water supplies: "Yes -– it is very good for your teeth -– makes them
nice and hard and white - you'll have the healthiest teeth in the graveyard".
I do believe that the Word of God teaches us to do the
possible (look after our bodies as best we know how, and if we don't know how
-– find someone who can teach us). The Scriptures teach moderation and balance
in all things pertaining to life. I also believe that sowing and reaping is at
work in our bodies daily whether we believe it or not. That discipline in the
area of personal health is important, and that sickness need not be a curse, but
is oftentimes the result of sowing without regard for what we will inevitably
reap...we are what we eat, all that sort of thing. It is so sadly obvious when I
see the higher disease levels of poorer socio-economic people groups, who
consume cheaper, lower quality food products...often oblivious to what will be
happening to them just around the corner. Usually it's just a lack of
knowledge (a need for education) and a misplaced set of cultural priorities
(lives out of balance within a whole people group -– and its accepted as
normal). But there certainly exists a huge level of misinformation and
propaganda out there, coupled with the mega priced labels on everything that's
supposedly good for you, what can you do?
Alternatively (excuse the pun), I believe that if we have
done the possible, all that we can do in the natural to stay healthy or 'remedy'
a health setback, and we become ill, God can break into our affairs at any stage
and do the impossible. He can heal the sick body of a person for His glory and
further purpose. I've seen it happen.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 "What? Know ye not that your body
is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye
are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your
body and in your spirit which are God's."