And why pharmaceutical drugs are not always the answer.
When I was a teenager I was fortunate to wake up in the middle of the night with a neck spasm that was so bad I couldn’t move my neck or feel my left arm. Why was this fortunate? Well I was on vacation in Florida and I saw a doctor I would have never met otherwise. He fixed my neck right away by spraying Ethel Chloride on it. My father and I were so impressed by him that even though we lived in NY he became our go to guy for health questions and who we would see for our yearly physical.
In many ways Dr. Birzon was as western as western medicine gets. However, he is a brilliant man, well versed in many subjects, including supplements and diet. Areas that you would think go hand in hand with medicine and that all doctors would be schooled in, but are not.
To avoid getting sick, or to overcome illnesses like the cold and flu faster, Dr. Birzon recommended the taking of certain supplements and the addition and subtraction of certain foods.
It wasn’t until I went to college until I really took Dr. Birzon’s advice to heart. You see I was a very sick child. I had two near death illnesses growing up and far more cases of the usual afflictions than other kids. From ear infections, strep throat, stomach virus’ and the flu. It was always something. And there were always drugs to help. But they did nothing to prevent.
In college I started to take vitamin supplementation seriously. The rate of illness went down and recovery was faster. I did develop a bad case of mononucleosis my junior year, but given the severity of it the recovery was faster and the limitations were mitigated.
When I got to California, my interest in vitamins and nutrition expanded to include herbs and eastern medicine. Over the years I have had various conditions where I have sought out both traditional western medicine cures, and something alternative.
In my mid thirties I was having pain in my colon area. My doctor stated my prostate was slightly enlarged and he was ready to put me on medicine to reduce it. An eastern medicine doctor evaluated me and said I need to take a good probiotic. I tried the probiotic and it worked. Pain gone.
Also in my thirties I saw a sleep specialist for fatigue issues. So I took an overnight sleep study and tested positive for periodic limb movement disorder (PLMD). This is where a person experiences involuntary muscle movements that prevent a good night’s sleep. For this I was prescribed powerful drugs, at first Tylenol/codeine, and then klonipin. I tried them both but decided these were not drugs I wanted to be on long term and that long-term usage would be worse than the fatigue issues. Besides one of the side effects of these drugs, which I experienced, is fatigue!!
I eventually did get my PLMD under control. Not with drugs. And not with supplements. But by listening and observing my body, I was able to realize that my body temperature ran a little cold, and the warmer my sleep environment, the less I would seem to have these spasms as I would drift off to sleep.
In my forties it was time for laryngopharyngeal reflux. This is a form of acid reflux, or GERD, that has greatly affected my speaking voice. So much so that I double dosed on medication in hopes of solving the problem. After four months, the medicine did not put a dent in the problem.
This has been a challenging one, one I am still fighting. Diet and behavioral modifications have helped a little. To date I would say the taking of digestive enzymes and going to a more green/ alkaline diet have helped more than anything else I have tried.
Most recently I had some random swelling in my fingers. No discernible cause or accident that caused it. Without any blood work or testing, the doctor immediately wanted to put me on ibuprofen and ice. I tried the ice. Didn’t work. I tried wet heat and it did. The ibuprofen was not necessary. Had I taken the ibuprofen and it worked, I would have been under the false assumption that I needed it (rather than the wet heat) to deal with future swelling.
There are more tales to tell but the point I am trying to make is oftentimes drugs are a doctor’s first and only solution to a problem you present them with. And many times they may be right. Those two near death illnesses I mentioned earlier? In both instances I was cured by western medicine so I am not looking to bash it. However, I am trying to point out, albeit anecdotally, that there can be safer, easier remedies, and ways of dealing with certain health conditions. In my opinion, pharmaceuticals drugs are not always the best solution nor should they always be the first solution tried. Vitamins and nutrition are worth considering.
There might be a drug that doesn’t come with risks and or side effects, but I haven’t heard of them. Some come with minor risk and side effects others potentially more serious. You always want to know what the short-term and long-term risks are and weigh the pros and cons.
If I had listened to my doctors, for over a decade I could have been on an unnecessary cocktail of drugs placing a heavy burden on my liver and kidneys. Perhaps requiring additional medication.
Vitamins are like most things in that there are good and bad product lines. Poorly and better made. Further, there are higher and lower doses. In other words don’t just blindly pop these pills because they’re “only” vitamins. Research and or consult an expert to see what may be right for you.
So, while you should always go to the doctor first for healthcare, if you dismiss vitamins and supplements out of hand without researching, you may be missing a better, healthier, or safer way to overcome illness and or avoid getting sick in the first place.
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