Natural Therapies vs Drugs
When we are ill or injured the body immediately starts to fight the disease or begins the healing and repair processes. Often the symptoms of illness and repair are signs that the immune system is active an area. Inflammation, pain, pus and redness are all produced by the immune system and show that it is working hard to heal, repair and protect an area of the body. Drug-based medications are often not designed to support the healing processes, but instead over-ride or suppress the symptoms of healing.
When symptoms become chronic there may need to be long term dietary and lifestyle changes for true healing to take place. Whilst there is no such thing as a magic pill there are therapies that may help stimulate the body’s healing processes.
Here are a few ideas:
Light Therapy for Skin Problems – many skin problems are treated with antibiotics or anti-inflammatories. An alternative to these is the use of light therapies such as light-emitting diodes and laser therapy for conditions such as acne, cold sores and wound healing (1,2). These therapies are still in their early days but results seem promising.
Acupuncture for IBS – acupuncture treatment for diarrhoea dominant IBS has been found to reduce abdominal pain and distension and to improve bowel movements more successfully than western medicine (3).
Mediterranean diet to prevent chronic disease – there is good evidence that adopting a Mediterranean diet, including olive oil, fresh fruit and vegetables and sufficient protein reduces the risk of cardiovascular problems, cognitive decline and frailty as we get older (4)
Vegan diet and type 2 diabetes – Patients with type 2 diabetes educated in how to eat a vegan diet or a portion controlled diet improved the management of their diabetes and reduced weight, glycemia and LDL cholesterol (5).
Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) for Insulin Sensitivity – CLA has been found to have a greater effect on insulin sensitivity in obese children than metformin (6). Insulin resistance precedes metabolic syndrome and may increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes in children with obesity. CLA is widely available as a supplement. Always check with your medical specialist before taking any supplements that may interfere with other treatments.
Vitamin D for Digestive Health – steroids are often used to treat people with inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohns disease and colitis. Low levels of of serum vitamin D are associated with an increased risk of colon cancer and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Vitamin D has been found to reduce inflammation associated with these diseases (7,8).
The Nature Cure for Mental Health – Recuperation from stress, depression and anxiety is more complete when patients are involved in horticultural therapy as a nature based aid to improving mental health (9).
Psychotherapy and CBT for Anxiety – rather than reach for the valium talking therapies can often provide techniques to help deal with what life throws at you. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is the psychotherapy of choice for most patients with anxiety disorders (10). Psychotherapy aimed at depression can also reduce anxiety symptoms which may affect over half of patients with depression (11).
Aromatherapy for insomnia – inhalation of aromatherapy oils has been shown to promote sleep. Try putting some drops of lavender on your pillow and breath into a restful sleep (12).
Yogic breathing for health – breathing exercises known as pranayama have been shown to benefit the brain, respiratory system, and metabolic functions (13). These can be learnt from yogic practitioners and practised daily to promote many aspects of health.
Watchful Waiting – many acute illnesses and symptoms will heal on their own. It’s often worth watching and waiting to allow time for the body to do its healing and repair.
- 1. Jagdeo J, Austin E et al. Light-emitting diodes in dermatology: A systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Lasers Surg Med. 2018 Jan 22.
- 2. Wiznia LE, Stevenson ML, Nagler AR. Laser treatments of active acne. Lasers Med Sci. 2017 Sep;32(7):1647-1658.
- 3. Qin Y, Yi W, et al. Clinical effect of abdominal acupuncture for diarrhea irritable bowel syndrome. Zhongguo Zhen Jiu. 2017 Dec 12;37(12):1265-8.
- 4. Nowson CA, Service C, Appleton J, Grieger JA. The Impact of Dietary Factors on Indices of Chronic Disease in Older People: A Systematic Review. J Nutr Health Aging. 2018;22(2):282-296.
- 5. Barnard ND, Levin SM et al. Turning the Waiting Room into a Classroom: Weekly Classes Using a Vegan or a Portion-Controlled Eating Plan Improve Diabetes Control in a Randomized Translational Study. J Acad Nutr Diet. Feb 1. pii: S2212-2672(17)31845-2.
- 6. Garibay-Nieto N, Queipo-García G et al. Effects of Conjugated Linoleic Acid and Metformin on Insulin Sensitivity in Obese Children: Randomized Clinical Trial. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2017 Jan 1;102(1):132-140.
- 7. Meeker S, Seamons A, Paik J et al. Increased dietary vitamin D suppresses MAPK signaling, colitis, and colon cancer. Cancer Res. 2014 Aug 15;74(16):4398-408.
- 8. Elimrani I, Koenekoop J et al. Vitamin D Reduces Colitis- and Inflammation-Associated Colorectal Cancer in Mice Independent of NOD2. Nutr Cancer. 2017 Feb-Mar;69(2):276-288.
- 9. Vujcic M, Tomicevic-Dubljevic J et al. Nature based solution for improving mental health and well-being in urban areas. Environ Res. 2017 Oct;158:385-392.
- 10. Strohle A, Fydrich T. Anxiety disorders: which psychotherapy for whom? Nervenarzt. 2018 Jan 30.
- 11. Weitz E, Kleiboer A et al.The effects of psychotherapy for depression on anxiety symptoms: a meta-analysis. Psychol Med. 2018 Jan 24:1-13
- 12. Hwang E, Shin S. The effects of aromatherapy on sleep improvement: a systematic literature review and meta-analysis. J Altern Comp Med. 2015 Feb;21(2):61-8.
- 13. Saoji AA, Raghavendra BR et al. Effects of yogic breath regulation: A narrative review of scientific evidence. J Ayurveda Integr Med. 2018 Jan 30. pii: S0975-9476(17)30322-4.