Anyone who has been sick or injured knows that there is almost nothing more important than our health.
But it's not easy staying healthy, especially when you consider all the contradictory and confusing health advice out there. One expert tells us to do one thing and another tells us to do another. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't.
Even though It's truly amazing what modern medicine can do, it can also be frustrating and maddening.
One of the most mind-boggling aspects of modern medicine is its scepticism and dismissal of anything that is not part of the mainstream medical establishment.
At first glance that may seem logical, because we think medicine is supposed to be based on science.
The problem is, medicine doesn't always work that way. Not only is the diagnosis often inconclusive, but the treatment tends to be a drug that has uncertain side effects and often only treats symptoms and not the root cause. In addition, everyone is different and reacts to drugs differently, which makes medicine sometimes seem less like science and more like grasping at straws.
Doctors have a tough and important job and we shouldn't expect miracles from them. But we should expect an openness to possibilities. Certainly there is science involved in medicine, but there is also practicality, intuition and experience. Just because something has not been proven with science yet doesn't mean it isn't true and couldn't be useful to some people.
The problem is that while medical science has no problem "proving" that an expensive drug will "safely" treat a particular symptom, it seems to have trouble telling us how much of a certain vitamin we need, or what types of food we should eat, or how to prevent disease. Worse yet, when it comes to alternative medicine, with treatments that seem to help some people, traditional medicine can be downright hostile.
Of course, considering some of the bazaar treatments that sometimes appear, that's understandable. Yet when it comes to things like herbal supplements - some of which have been used for thousands of years - there seems to be no interest in even entertaining the possibility that they may work, let alone taking on any research to prove that they might work.
There seems to be a double standard at work here. On one hand, new drugs are approved and condoned if they appear to be safe and effective. On the other hand, herbal medicines (which are not backed by huge drug companies) are expected to prove with 100 percent certainty that they always work and are invariably safe.
So, we are left to conclude that medicine may not really be about science after all, but more about money and power.
As great as our medical system can sometimes be for helping people, it has some serious problems: It's too complicated, too expensive, too confusing and too willing to treat symptoms only. Solving those problems would take a major reworking of the medical paradigm.
However, if we really want to help people now, we could start by demanding that the medical profession not be so dogmatic about what they think they know. There is plenty of room for new solutions to health problems, and not everyone can wait 10 years for a study to be completed.
One hundred percent of us are going to die someday. The medical industry can't help us with that problem. But it could help us to live better now.
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"It's Our Turn" is a weekly column that rotates among members of the Echo Press editorial staff.