Vitamins, Herbs, Homeopathy — Take Your Alternative Pick
Did you take your vitamin supplement today? Or maybe you’re taking herbal ones to be healthier and fitter? Herbal teas, anyone? Or perhaps you regularly consult with a homeopathist? Medicine has in the last couple of decades stepped aside, though not necessarily willingly, to make room for a host of alternative practices and products. These changes actually reflect wider trends, such as a major drive toward natural, organic foods and medicines, coupled with a shift in the focus of medicine itself to prevention, rather than treatment. We take multivitamins in the belief that they will help us stay healthy for longer; they’ve become just another part of the daily routine for many of us. Instead of antibiotics, we treat our throat infection with chamomile tea, because we know it’s a natural antibiotic, and we take some homeopathic preparation or other to boost our immune system. But are we certain about the benefits all these alternative treatments actually have, on their own and as opposed to pharmaceuticals?
One thing that it’s useful to keep in mind is that vitamin and herbal supplements are also an industry, as is homeopathy, and, like any other industry, they rely heavily on advertising. Add to this the fact that the FDA doesn’t regulate food supplements as strictly as it does drugs, which means that producers of supplements can say whatever they want about their products, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be the truth. In other words, it’s bit hard to separate advertising from facts when it comes to supplements and homeopathy. One fact that is clear, however, is that medical science is not really convinced about all these benefits that we believe vitamins, herbs and homeopathic remedies have. This is not to say they completely reject them, they are just cautious, more cautious than the average person. Of course, you could say that medical science goes hand in hand with Big Pharma and it’s only natural that they will be defending each other, but let’s not forget that it’s Big Pharma that produces the best-selling vitamin supplements. And herbs? Well, while we all know that this is how medicine started, treating illness with herbs, today it’s not always enough. While chamomile could be perfect for a minor infection, there are times when a stronger antibiotic is needed. Homeopathy, for its part, may be the most controversial among these three. Since in essence it consists of diluting an active ingredient to an extent that, logic suggests, makes it inactive, it’s easy to suspect that it relies on a placebo effect. Nothing wrong with the placebo effect but, once again, only in certain cases.
Most of us aren’t doctors and even among doctors there is no complete agreement about the benefits and risks of vitamin supplements, herbal remedies and homeopathy. At the same time there’s a world of information at our fingertips and it only takes a couple of seconds to find more about alternative treatments. The thing is that there isn’t one firm, indubitable truth that is valid in all cases. Sometimes it’s better to choose an herbal treatment, other times a patented drug may be in order. Taking supplements may make you feel confident that you’re protecting your health, but don’t forget that multivitamins can’t make up for a poor diet. All in all, use with care is probably the best advice to take to heart when it comes to alternative remedies. Plus, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with homemade herbal face masks, so you can go for this without any misgivings.