Conventional Medicine vs. Alternative Medicine

By Dr Harold Gunatillake - Health Writer

In the nineteen thirties, the time I was born, there were no antibiotics. The only drugs that were available for severe bacterial infections were Sulphadiazine and Sulphadimidine for gastric upsets, respectively. For minor symptomatic ailments dispensed mixtures prepared by the pharmacist on doctor’s prescriptions were given to patients, then. Patent medicine was unheard of. A few mixtures to name are Mist cough linctus, Mist Cough expectorant, Carminative mixture, and so.
Penicillin was accidently discovered by Alexander Flemings, in 1928, a year before I was born, but was not marketed till the second world war (1939-1945).
The only serious noncommunicable disease, as far as I remember was double pneumonia, and you succumb to the condition, never came home from hospital, considered such a serious killing disease, then.

Heart disease was unheard of. We had no street foods, street restaurant like today serving high dense, salty, highly fried fatty foods responsible partly for the prevalence of heart disease.

I only remember the Vegetarian hotels (Ananda Bhawan), in Sri Lanka (then Ceylon), serving South Indian foods like Dosai and wades’. They were most unclean places, so we used to take away those foods home and enjoy.

Today, your GP will prescribe antibiotics for pneumonia and the following day you could go back to work under antibiotic cover. Such is the marvellous change from deathbed pneumonia to back at work the next day, today.

Heart disease was discovered in the fifties by Ancel Key, an American physiologist who studied the influence of diet on health, he hypothesizes that dietary saturated fat causes cardiovascular heart disease. His selection of seven countries to prove his point was a fake.

Today, a person suffering from heart disease can live much longer, than 50 years ago, when cardiologist of the day thought that morphine for cardiac pain was the only treatment available. Due to the pioneering work of surgeons, cardiologists, researchers, with open-heart surgery techniques, coronary vessel ballooning and stent insertions, better nutritional care, the mortality has dropped, and people live longer after heart disease.

Dr Allen stating to avoid doctors and hospitals if you want to live up to the right old ages, is laughable. The pioneering work for the present-day conventional therapy goes back to eminent doctors like Rudolf Emmerich (1856-1914), Oscar Low (1844-1941), Paul Ehrlich (1854-1915) and so on.

Life expectancy during the early nineteenth century was approximately 50 years, compared to today, over 80 in most developed countries.
What part has herbal medicine and naturopathy played in the role of better health care and longevity among people, globally?

This is a question you must ask yourself, after reading Dr Allen Greenberg’s pronouncement. He states that the best chance of living to a ripe old age is to avoid doctors and hospitals and learn nutrition, herbal medicine and other forms of natural medicine.

All drugs are toxic
“Dr Allen claims that all drugs are toxic and are designed only to kill symptoms and not to cure anyone”. What a misleading pronouncement is this?

In conventional medicine following the accepted way, the doctor, by listening to the patient’s history, cursory physical examination, clinching a tentative diagnosis, requests for relevant investigations to confirm the diagnosis, and further care by referring to specialists, form the most clinical way to treat patients.

Conventional methods are also referred to as allopathy meaning treating with drugs to affect the aetiological factors that cause the disease and is very specific. Those drugs are well researched with rigorous clinical trials on mice, and other ways to find out the efficacy of such medications. In the US. FDA must approve such drugs before being given to patients.

The naturopaths seem to help people by treating them as individuals and addressing the physical, environmental, lifestyle, attitudinal, and emotional aspect of health. This is beating about the bush, and a merry go round technique of alluring sick people to these unscientific methods.

All drugs are toxic including herbal preparations, and that is the reason why only qualified doctors can prescribe such medications with strict controlled supervision. Even water consumed excessively can become toxic.

If you are on conventional medication for a chronic ailment, it is important to check with your doctor if you contemplate in supplementing with herbal preparations. Herbs can interact with other pharmaceutical medications and should be taken with care. Herbal medicine is non- specific, and you should never stop taking prescribed medications in favour of herbs without first discussing with your GP.

You need to be careful about purchasing herbal medicine over the internet. Unregulated herbal medicine, such as some traditional folk medicine, may interact with your prescribed drugs by your GP.

There are certain herbal medicines that are prescribed by doctors, not in the natural state but the active ingredients in pill-form distributed by the big Pharma.
For instance, aspirin is manufactured from salicylic acid found in the plant meadowsweet.

Other common -or- garden herbs in your home would be garlic, ginger, ginkgo biloba among others that relieves symptoms especially specific for gastro-intestinal upsets.
These herbs have some therapeutic value but not strong enough specifically to cure diseases, like the conventional drugs undergone many rigorous clinical trials.

If you have minor ailments like a cold, influenza, joint pains, go for herbal medications that are so popular. They want kill you. If you suffer from a more serious non-communicable chronic disease see your doctor for investigations and scientific approach to curing the disease. Dr Allen Greenberg’s pronouncements should not be taken seriously when you fall ill.

Copyright © 2002 ~ 2019 Harold Gunatillake