I understand why “natural cures” are so appealing. They evoke pastoral scenes and ancient herbalists; they create nostalgia for a fictional simpler yet healthier time. They feel knowable to the average person in a way the advanced chemistry behind pharmaceutical medicine doesn’t. Dietary supplements are a legal category in the US, not subject to Food and Driug Administration oversight, so they don’t carry all the scary warnings prescription medications do.
I’ve had mixed success with “natural” remedies. Melatonin for wakefulness worked, but after years of use mint stopped soothing nausea and started to cause it. Eating tryptophan rich foods like pineapple, yogurt, and turkey has kept my Obsessive Compulsive Disorder in check for the past ten years, but it doesn’t touch my depression.
Going to the gym daily, even if it’s just to walk very slowly on the treadmill for twenty minutes, does help maintain what little core strength I have, which in turn reduces back pain. I use marijuana daily for physical and emotional pain, and it does its job.
I’m not opposed to “natural” or non pharmacologic treatments. I’m also not opposed to pharmaceuticals. When I’m too depressed to go to the gym, or shop for the right foods, I want some high grade drugs in my system, working to fix that. When I go to the dentist, I don’t want marijuana, I want laughing gas and narcotics. When I have a cold, I start writing sonnets to Nyquil because it’s my one true love.
I can be trusted to decide when an herbal treatment is best and when it’s time for narcotics. So can the disabled and chronically ill people in your life. Our bodies are different, especially when it comes to how we metabolize drugs. It’s okay to tell your loved one what worked for you. It’s not okay to guarantee it will work for them. And it it’s not okay to instruct someone to quit doctor prescribed medicine or cancer treatments because you read they were bad on Natural News or another supplement peddling site. It’s not okay to behave as a doctor without the training and oversight of a real one. So enjoy your melatonin and St John’s Wart, but please, leave others to their Tylenol PM and Paxil.