Using Medical Practitioners
Good rules of thumb for dealing with any
medical condition -- rules that are useful when dealing with doctors, and
when dealing with alternative medical practitioners.
These are the rules I use when dealing with a doctor:
- Trust what the doctor knows -- but find
out the limits of that knowledge.
The medical profession has the most incredibly advanced diagnostic
equipment in the history of the world. With their state-of-art equipment and
procedures, doctors can usually identify a disease with pinpoint accuracy,
and describe exactly what is going on. Get all the information you can, so
understand exactly how the disease manifests itself and how it progresses.
But don't stop there. Get a complete explanation of where the disease came
from, how it is you came to acquire it, and what you can do about it.
- Find out what caused the disease.
It is at this point that the what the doctor knows is likely to appear
limited. Do not accept an answer like, "its your genetics". That is the same
as saying "its fate". Your particular genetics may have given you a predisposition
towards developing this anomaly over some other one. Given the same cause,
someone else may develop a different problem. But the important point is that
there is some cause -- something that triggered that particular genetic
reaction. If the doctor doesn't know what caused it, then your level
of trust should be somewhat reduced. Not fully reduced, mind you, until you
find someone who does know the cause, who can prove they know
it by producing a cure. (If a cure isn't happening, then you can be
absolutely certain that the practitioner's knowledge, however extensive, is
limited in your particular case.)
- Find out what the doctor's recommendation is supposed to do, and
sleep on it.
Don't jump into surgery or start pounding down medications until you understand
what the remedies are supposed to do. Are they addressing symptoms or are
they attacking the heart of the problem? Does the doctor even know what causes
the problem? Listen carefully to the doctor's explanation. Understand their
recommendation. Get their advice, but don't make any immediate decisions.
Do your homework first.
- Get the prescription, and get it filled, and find out what it does.
If you get a prescription, by all means fill it. What have you got to lose?
Filling the prescription is cheap insurance. But if you can afford a little
time, don't take it until you have investigated more deeply. Start by reading
the information sheet that comes with the prescription.
- Avoid suppressing symptoms.
If the medice is only going to relieve your symptoms, you may not to take
it unless the symptoms are too acute to live with. It depends on the severity
of the symptoms. Remember, suppressing symptoms is like turning up the car
radio so you won't hear the clank of the engine, or disengaging the warning
- Find out how the prescription works.
If the doctor can't tell you how it works, and the information sheet doesn't
tell you, then you have to take it on faith faith that it is actually doing
the right thing -- rather than doing the medicial equivalent of turning up
the radio. But science is not supposed to be about faith. Its supposed to
be about understanding. So be skeptical. If the prescription does
tell you how it works, you now have two very useful ingredients in your search
for a healthier way to deal with the problem -- an understanding of the disease,
and an understanding of how to cure it.
- Find out the possible side effects.
What is it going to cost you to suppress your symptoms? What are the risks
of taking the prescription? Is the cost worth the possible benefit? You have
to make the choice, here. It may be that the symptoms are so unbearable that
it makes sense. Or maybe you need to buy yourself some time. But if you can
live with what you have long enough to investigate alternatives that promise
a cure, by all means do so.
- Look for the real cause, and a real cure.
Armed with all the information you have been able to obtain about the condition
and how it manifests itself, start beating the bushes for some realistic,
understandable explanation of how it occurred. Frequently, the nutritional
literature contains explanations for medical conditions that the doctor is
powerless to explain. When you understand what caused the condition, you can
tell when a suggested remedy has a good chance of success. -- a real
success that restores you to complete health, rather than simply
allowing you to cope with the problem. Even if the suggested cause is just
a hypothesis, you can experiment with it to see if you get the results you're
after. The nice thing about nutritional remedies is that they're not poisonous,
so you can experiment a lot more easily than you can with prescription medicines.
So far, I've found the nutritional school of thought to be the most reliably
informative as to causes and cures. There are dozens of reputed herbal cures,
but unless someone can explain why they work, I tend not to get very
excited about them. And there many other alternative "cures" of
various kinds. Some may be worth an experiment, if they're not too expensive.
But, again, they frequently lack any coherent explanation as to why
they are supposed to work. Research into human physiology and nutrition, on
the other hand, has more often than not provided me with insights I needed
to explain how a condition was precipitated, and how the recovery process
works. I urge you to investigate this area as much as you can. If nothing
comes of it, you always have the prescription or medical procedure to fall
- Don't take my word for it.
I am not a doctor. I am a computer systems designer and writer who has been
student of nutrition and the body's physiological responses to it for more
than 30 years (off and on, since I first read Adelle Davis at age 15). I have
an eye for the literature and the ability to formulate systems theoretical
models based on my literature research and background in computer systems
modeling. I have been skinny as a kid and overweight as an adult. I've dealt
with fatigue, depression, anxiety attacks, and severe overtraining. I have
had occasion to experiment and find things that work.
- Don't take any else's word either.
When Aunt WannaDoGood tells you that sprinkling holy water at midnight cures
warts, don't just believe it. Investigate! When A. Big Shyster offers you
some wonder herb grown in secret in the Gautemaa Jungle, don't jsut take their
word that it will do some good. Find out why it's supposed to help
-- in other words, find out how it works. Until you know how it works, you
never really know what it's doing. Ephedrine was good for losing weight. But
when we found out that it was a vicious heart stimulant, we had to discontinue
For that matter, I remember when cocaine first appeared on the scene, and
people were telling me how it gave you a lot of energy, with no side effects.
They even said it wasn't addictive. Right. By that time, I had learned
not to take people's advice at face value, and not to take any proposed remedy
until I understood what it did and how it worked.
The bottom line is that there are many people out there who will take
your money. Some of them have the best intentions. Some of them have less honorable
intentions. It pays to be skeptical. Honest practitioners have no trouble telling
you everything they know and giving you the pointers you need to find out more.
They'll tell you what they don't know, too. It's the ones who pretend
they have all the answers that you need to watch out for.
Copyright © 2007
by Eric Armstrong. All rights reserved.
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