Cut the drugs bill with complementary therapies

Wouldn’t the government love to cut the £8.2 billion spent every year on drugs? Wouldn’t it be great if doctors offered you some alternatives –  acupuncture  for the pains in your joints (instead of drugs), reflexology for your problems with conceiving (instead of fertility drugs), or chiropractic for your bad back (instead of anti-inflammatories), or hypnotherapy for your anxiety (instead of anti-depressants)?  

Despite the fact that 50 per cent of the British public have tried complementary therapies, there is still a concerted campaign by certain parts of the media and medical establishment to quash them, citing lack of evidence. The public, however, is not so concerned with scientific evidence (provided there are no safety implications, which in the case of gentle therapies there are not) and they just want something that makes them better.

Many people are driven to complementary therapies because there of lack of success with conventional treatments. For example, IBS, cystitis, multiple sclerosis, indigestion, headaches, CFS (chronic fatigue syndrome), migraines, eczema, asthma, infertility, back pain, arthritis, anxiety, and so the list goes on, are not always that well resolved with drugs, which tend to suppress symptoms rather than cure them.  However, they normally have to pay for them.

Lots of people choose to try acupuncture, nutrition, reflexology, homeopathy, chiropractic, hypnotherapy, in addition to their conventional treatments, or some prefer the more natural approach.   As the programme The Food Hospital has shown changing your diet can do wonders for your health.  And there are no side-effects, so what can you lose? If you try it and it works you’re better, if it doesn’t you haven’t damaged your immune system or encountered unpleasant side-effects.

A few enlightened practices offer access to therapies, and acupuncture is quite widely available on the NHS. Read our articles: Complementary Therapies on the NHS; NHS provision of complementary therapies: Visionary healthcare.

Is technology affecting our health?

Will we ever know the truth about the effects on our health of mobiles phones and wireless technology? Or will it be as some people predict that in the future they will be regarded as smoking is now – a big health hazard?

Schools could be pushed to ban mobile phones and wi-fi networks because of the alleged damage to children’s developing brains. The Council of Europe is following up on recent research and is also concerned about portable phones and baby monitors in the home. With one third of the world using mobile (cell) phones it’s hard to go anywhere now that is away from the electro-radiation that is around us all the time. It has also been claimed that it causes permanent damage to DNA in our body cells.

It is a fact that it’s hard to get away from an electronic environment now wherever you go because there are always phone masts and wi fi systems, even in remote areas. So even if you decided to make a stand yourself it would make little difference.

Natural health advocates believe that at best electro-radiation saps our energy, leading to tiredness, lethargy and depression. People with chronic fatigue syndrome are well advised not to sleep in rooms with mobile phones or wireless networks. The best we can do as individuals is to switch everything off at night, and not have the mobile by the bed as an alarm (a popular habit among young people).

The other similarities to the tobacco industry are that any studies carried out by the mobile phone or computer industry seem to claim that there is no harm whatsoever. Once again the consumer is left wondering, and as this is not an integral part of our lives, but also very profitable for the companies involved, it’s unlikely it’s going to disappear any time soon.

Prevent Alzheimer’s – don’t be a statistic

It is estimated that one million people will have Alzheimer’s by 2025 and the race is on all the time to find an appropriate drug, but there is plenty that people can do themselves. The stock answer to all health problems seems drugs, drugs, drugs, but it actually ought to be nutrition.

A report issued by two charities in the last few years, The Mental Health Foundation and Sustain showed that one of the reasons for the increase in mental illness in the UK has been our change in diet. It found that changes in the way that food is produced and manufactured has reduced the amount of essential fats, vitamins and minerals that we eat.

If only people were given the advice that they really need on what to eat to stay healthy – oily fish is excellent for brain function, and plenty of fruit and veg which are packed with antioxidants.

Alzheimer’s often starts with depression which leads people blindly into oblivion – again more emphasis on counselling and looking after your mental wellbeing would be welcome. Keeping your mind active and your memory sharp also helps.

Are young people overdosing on fizzy drinks?

One of the problems with our health service is that doctors and nurses have far too much to do. Therefore they can’t very often look at the big picture or the ‘whole’ person. For instance, there’s been a story in the news that many people are diagnosed with blood pressure tablets when they have become stressed going to see their GP. Surely it is knee-jerk reaction to prescribe medication on one blood pressure reading.

Another thing that is becoming increasingly obvious is that many people do not drink water at all and have numerous associated health problems, but this is not very often highlighted or pointed out to them. It has become the norm for young people to drink diet drinks all day long, which usually contain an artificial sweetener (I’m not going to name it because I’ve nearly been sued for naming it in the past), and plenty of caffeine.

Kidney problems, urinary infections, high blood pressure, digestive problems, and many more things may result from not drinking water and insufficient Fizzy drinks were supposed to be ‘treats’ when you go out, not all day drinks. Drinking fizzy drinks with caffeine in them is similar to drinking coffee all the time – caffeine is a diuretic (robbing the body of fluid) and not hydrating it.

Why buy organic?

Many people believe that all food should be organic as it always was before pesticides, fungicides and insecticides laced with toxic chemicals were introduced into intensive farming.
Instead of which it has often been seen as ‘elitist, expensive’ and its detractors consider it ‘unnecessary’. Other claims are that it’s a massive con. Personally I don’t believe major companies or farms will have built their organic reputation on a big lie.
There are some brands that are virtually mainstream now – look at the yoghurt section in any supermarket and you will see it’s dominated by Rachel’s and Yeo Valley. Similarly see how much space organic chocolate takes up with the huge Green & Black’s brand (unfortunately now owned by Cadbury’s which means it’s actually owned by Kraft’s) and other makes like Divine and Montezuma.
So what exactly are the benefits of organic food and are they worth paying extra for?  Here are just some:

• The soil that organic crops are grown in is not intensively farmed and is more abundant with vitamins and minerals, which are abundant in the produce.
• Organic meat is not routinely fed with antibiotics.
• Organic meat only comes from animals that are free range and fed with organic food.
• Organic fruit and vegetables are not routinely covered with pesticides that contain some.
• It does not contain artificial colours, flavourings, sweeteners, or GM ingredients.
• Organically reared animals are treated humanely.
To set the record straight you might not actually pay more. Have a look at the organic alternative to some brands – sometimes they are actually cheaper, particularly with low cost items like pasta, rice, tinned foods, so why not buy them?
When it comes to vegetables if you grow your own you get not only pesticide free but completely free!