Natural Treatments versus Traditional Medicine – Which Side are You On?

A stethoscope with 2 applesI was first introduced to natural medicines by a doctor I met in the late 90’s.

At that time I had a stratospherically high cholesterol level, which I happened to mention in passing to someone at the gym I was using. He, in turn, mentioned the name of Brian Walker who, I was told, had a keen interest in both cholesterol and natural medicines.

I remember being intrigued because I’d never really thought about natural medicines previously (or, if I had, it had probably been in the context of hippie communes!).

I had been taking traditional drugs (statins and others) to manage my cholesterol level since the age of 19, when my raised cholesterol was first discovered. All of those drugs had produced some kind of side effect, none of which was pleasant.

Worse, in all cases the drugs were effective at first but then lost effectiveness over time, meaning I had to switch to another one and deal with a new set of side effects.

Brian put me on to a natural treatment called cholestin, which is made largely from red yeast rice and, for the first time, my cholesterol level was under control with no side-effects.

A couple of years later I contracted Cyto Megalo Virus (CMV) and Brian, once again, introduced me to natural remedies rather than traditional ones – and they worked.

From those two experiences I guess you could say I was sold. From not having given natural medicines a moment’s thought I moved to the point where I did everything I could to avoid putting prescription chemicals into my body.

While that principle endures to this day, I do recognise that there will be situations where a prescription drug is more appropriate but, without question, my first move is for a natural remedy.

Big drug companies vs the producers of natural remedies?

Fast-forward to 2012 when, as I’ve written elsewhere on this site, I was introduced to a natural anti-inflammatory product that completely alleviated the excruciating pain I was suffering from Plantar Fasciitis.

That treatment did a great job for me.

For the reasons I described here I had to stop using it recently but I was shocked to read, at about the same time, that the company that produces it had been subject to an investigation by the FTC in the United States.

The result was that they were told they could no longer mention health benefits in sales efforts for the product, because their claims were ‘unfounded’.

That decision was a travesty because, even though I can no longer use the product, it did a fantastic job for me. And to attempt to sell a product aimed at reducing inflammation without being allowed to mention health benefits is going to be a tough task for the company.

It will make a huge dent in their business.

It led me to wonder whether the whole investigation was triggered by a complaint from one of the big drug companies, who must see their business being threatened by the growing interest in natural or alternative treatments.

I have absolutely no proof, of course, that is purely a thought that has crossed my mind.

But when a decision like that is handed out to a company that produces a treatment that did such a good job for me, I do wonder how they could arrive at the conclusion that the company’s advertising claims were ‘unfounded’.

Do you have one-way or two-way conversations with your doctor?

Back to Brian Walker.

Sadly, he left Hong Kong a long time ago and is now based in Western Australia. I say ‘sadly’ because he was the first doctor with whom I could have a thoughtful discussion about different options, both traditional and natural, for managing my health.

There was never a one-way conversation – doctor to patient. It was always 2 ways, with thoughtful, open-minded responses, certainly from Brian’s side and (I hope!) from mine.

In my experience, certainly with the doctors I’ve seen here in Hong Kong since then, that has rarely been the case. In fact if you walk into a doctor’s consulting room here you can almost guarantee that you’ll walk out 10 minutes later (at the outside) with at least 4 different prescription drugs.

You can only hope they don’t react with each other and cause more problems than they solve!

There was an occasion some years after Brian left Hong Kong when I had a relapse of the CMV. I knew (and know) my body well enough to know exactly what it was, but I had to go to a doctor to get a sick-leave note to satisfy my employer.

When I told the doctor that I was a carrier of CMV and had a bout coming on, that all I needed from him was a sick note, he was dismissive and wrote out a prescription for a number of different drugs. (He did, at least, give me the sick note!).

Needless to say I did not pick up the prescription but turned again to the natural remedies that had worked for me in the past and worked for me again on that occasion.

Brian’s approach was ahead of its time. Today people, at least in the US and UK, are increasingly encouraged to take responsibility for their own health, a philosophy I wholeheartedly believe in.

That wasn’t the case 17 years ago.

However, if you’re to take on that responsibility you need to have knowledge and information – and it’s the patient’s responsibility to acquire it.

I have taken a lot of trouble to learn about the two areas that are problems for me – cholesterol and inflammation – and the feeling of empowerment that has given me is good.

I can only encourage you to do the same, if you’re not doing so already.

Traditional medicines or natural treatments?

So back to the original question: traditional medicines or natural treatments?

For me, as I’ve said, my preference is for natural treatments but I recognise that there is a place for prescription medicines – I cannot be dogmatic about this!

However, whenever I’ve used a natural treatment it has always worked and there have not been any side-effects – at least none that I was aware of..!

So I do encourage you to have a thoughtful discussion with your doctor about various alternatives for managing your health.

If they are not open-minded enough to have a sensible conversation with you, including about areas such as aromatherapy and natural treatments that may be different from their original training, then you may want to look around for another.

Modern science is opening up different ways for you to manage your health and empowering yourself with the knowledge to make informed decisions is very satisfying.

As I mentioned here, I recently replaced the anti-inflammatory treatment I was using with essential-oil treatments – and they have done, if anything, an even more effective job.

There’s an excellent, independent website where you can pick up boundless information about essential oils and the benefits they offer – Aromatic Science – you can find it here.


Martin Malden
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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Brian July 28, 2014, 7:25 pm

    You are welcome to continue the discussions with me on Skype or similar! Stay well, my friend.

    • Martin Malden July 28, 2014, 9:36 pm

      Hi Brian,

      Thanks, and will do – but it’s getting late so not tonight! I hope all is well with you down there in Perth 🙂