natural remedies

Docs Use Natural Remedies (But Don't Prescribe Them)

A new study finds that healthcare providers turn to herbs and the like to cure their own ailments. Yet most don't prescribe natural remedies for their patients.

Docs Use Natural Remedies (But Don't Prescribe Them)

"Enjoy your statins...if you need me, I'll be at my yoga class."

Doctors don't regularly prescribe natural remedies to patients, but a new study finds physicians and nurses are more likely than the general public to use alternative and complimentary medicine for their own health ailments. The new study looking at alternative and complimentary medicine use in Americans appears in the journal Health Services Research. "Nurses and doctors are reflecting current societal trends being swept up in a grassroots movement that they have resisted for the last three decades," says alternative and complimentary medicine expert Guy Riekeman, DC, president of Life University, a chiropractic school in Atlanta. (He was not involved in this study.)

THE DETAILS: For the study, complimentary and alternative medicine included things like acupuncture, massage, chiropractic, Pilates, meditation, use of herbs, and a vegetarian diet. Compared to the 63 percent of the general working population that taps these natural healing methods, 76 percent of healthcare workers reported using complimentary and alternative medicine. Looking strictly at healthcare workers, doctors and nurses were more than twice as likely to seek treatment from a massage therapist, chiropractor, acupuncturist, or other practitioner-based alternative medicine provider compared to other workers in the healthcare industry, such as technicians, assistants, or administrators. Doctors and nurses were more than three times as likely to tap natural remedies for self-treatment (herbs, exercise, yoga, and the like). "As insiders, healthcare workers understand what's missing in our medical system. They’re more educated than others about orthodox and alternative medicine," alternative medicine practitioner Joya Lynn-Schoen, MD, said in a statement from the Health Behavior News Service.

"Mainstream medicine will say, 'Here's a pill' or 'Have an operation' or 'There's nothing wrong with you, you’re just tired,'" Lynn-Schoen said.

WHAT IT MEANS: This new study showing that doctors and nurses are quite fond of natural remedies comes just weeks after new treatment guidelines published in the Archives of Internal Medicine called on doctors to use prevention, not drugs, to keep patients healthy. "Conventional drugs may provide dramatic short-term benefits, but it is usually at a significant cost health-wise and financially," says Isaac Eliaz, MD, founder of The Amitabha Medical Clinic and Healing Center in Sebastopol, CA.

"We are finding out with many newer pharmaceutical drugs, the cure is sometimes worse than the disease. But when looking at many alternative and complimentary treatments, there's a much longer track record. For instance, acupuncture is based on a sophisticated and highly developed medical system that has been proven effective over thousands of years, and now validated extensively by modern science," Dr. Eliaz explains.

Alternative remedies have been scientifically shown to work, and these three are the most effective:

Harvard studies published in the 1990s already documented a shift to more natural medicine, finding that people opted for as many as 250 million more visits to alternative healthcare practitioners annually compared to medical doctors. Other research indicates that the more educated the consumers, the more likely they are to choose alternative health care as a primary approach. "Studies indicate that the majority of people do not want medicine to vanish, rather they want to stay healthy and use medicine as an emergency back up when more radical intervention is necessary," says Dr. Riekeman.

Use these natural remedy ideas to help preserve your health.

• Beat back pain naturally. Americans spend as much as a whopping $90 billion annually on lower back pain relief, with a large chunk of that price tag going to expensive surgeries that sometimes don't bring any pain relief. Turn to massage, chiropractic, and other natural back pain remedies before going under the knife for chronic back pain. Also check out our Best Yoga for Back Pain poses.

• Alleviate allergies, naturally. Now is the time to prepare yourself for fall allergies like ragweed and mold. For more information on how to use botanicals like butterbur, as well as yard tactics like raking up fallen leaves, to keep your allergy symptoms at bay, check out 5 Ways to Prep for Fall Allergy Season and our natural allergy-relief arsenal.

• Share a remedy. Got a safe, effective natural remedy that's been used by your family for generations? Share it on our Rodale Home Remedies Finder.


Published on: August 19, 2011

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Natural remedies and yoga are

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Surely you mean "complementary", something that balances or helps, rather than something that expresses praise or admiration.

Simple Answer

It deals with insurance company reimbursement and income inequality in the US.

Insurance companies only reimburse for certain things - usually medications and procedures. Prevention in the form of herbs, massage, better diet cost $$$. Money that many patients do not have or are not willing to spend on prevention.

I meditate twice a day - I get funny looks from many of my patients when I point them down this road. Even though the science is glaringly obvious. I also work out for an hour daily, eat vegan/raw, do yoga daily... I do it out of joy... when I suggest such endeavors to my patients, they are typically not interested in all the "work" to get started.

Insurance should cover more "alternative" treatments and provide health coaches to promote prevention of disease... but politicians and voters do not see this as a priority. Please do not blame doctors for a systemic failure. Most doctors are more irritated about this than their patients.

Natural Remedies for lung cancer

My mom has lung cancer as well and has refused chemo/radiation. She has been using natural herbs, etc. She had surgery in March of this year to remove a cancerous tumor from her large intestine. They removed about 5 feet of large intestine (colon). She just had a check-up 2 weeks ago and the doctor told her to go on and live her life, that she was holding her own. Said the nodules in her lungs had grown but only a very little bit. I would like to talk with anyone else who has or has a family member treating their cancer with herbs, etc. I am especially interested in talking/communicating with jlocsgirl about your father and how he's treating his lung cancer. You may email me directly at Thanks.

It's not the wallet, it's the licensing bodies and the culture.

Healthcare providers are governed not only by the law but by the rules of their own governing bodies. For doctors it's the AMA, for NPs it's their state's nursing board. There are rules, of varying strictness, regarding whether or not a provider may recommend a consumable treatment (like an herb or supplement) that is not a recognized drug. Patients are only too happy to sue a provider, who they view as having endless income, if the results are not what they wanted, and when this happens the provider has to look to their board for help. If the failure of treatment occurred with a recognized drug, there is something called Standard of Care that protects the provider to a certain extent. If the substance that was recommended is not a drug then there is generally no Standard of Care and the provider is open to litigation.


Don't Prescribe Them,you are right!

Not surprising

This doesn't surprise me one bit! Of course they use natural remedies, cause they know how truly dangerous rx meds and treatments are! But they still push it cause their wallet depends on it. So sad that we can't even trust doctors anymore :( I will always use natural remedies for everything! Heck, my best friend's dad has been treating his own lung caner for over 10 years. They've tried to push chemo and radiation, but he's just not having it. And good thing too, cause I'm sure it would have killed him already. Nature provides everything we need to be healthy and thrive! Trust nature.

Docs use Natural Remedies

What are the Docs so scared of that they won't prescribe natural remedies. Could it be the usual suspects? Yup

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