Medical doctors have very strong opinions about the value of vitamins and supplements. Some of them as helpful tools for preventing illness. Others see them as a new way to practice alternative medicine. Then there are those who discourage their use entirely, except for the standard daily multivitamin.
This leaves the patient in an awkward situation because if that person is serious about finding an alternative to traditional western medicine, a doctor can’t help them. Doctors can’t prescribe vitamins and supplements like they would medication. In fact, they can’t even recommend that you take them. The vitamin and supplement industry isn’t regulated like the drug industry, so if a doctor tells you to take vitamin C for a cold, it is really just an informal suggestion; not a prescription.
Talking to a doctor about vitamins puts them in an awkward position as well. Whether they believe in the healing powers of vitamins and supplements or not, if you come to them with a medical condition they have a legal obligation to prescribe the correct medication for re\medying your situation. If not, they open themselves up to all kinds of malpractice lawsuits. Even when doctors do get creative and try to prescribe an alternative drug or treatment that they know will heal someone, the insurance companies will often refuse payment — at least until all the traditional protocol has been followed (which generally consists of drugs).
This leaves patients who want to explore alternative treatments for illnesses to fend for themselves. However, there is alternative help if you want to try options other than traditional medicine. While a doctor can’t recommend a heavy vitamin regimen, he can give you tests to monitor your progress. Treating an illness with vitamins or supplements takes a lot longer than methods using traditional medicine. For example, it can take up to two years to lower cholesterol using only vitamins and supplements. As long as you get regular tests from a doctor, you can monitor your progress periodically.
Always tell your doctor which vitamins you are using and how much you are taking. He may not like it, but unless he has a valid medical reason for why you can’t take them, he’ll have to understand and approve of your method of trying to take care of yourself. If he doesn’t, then find another doctor. Alternatively, you can talk to your pharmacist about what you are taking and what you hope to accomplish. These professionals can be very helpful in assisting you in choosing the right vitamins and supplements and checking to make sure that any vitamins you are taking don’t conflict with your current medications.
You can also go to a holistic practitioner if you are looking to remedy a minor situation or are looking for preventative medicine help. Holistic practitioners are licensed professionals who can recommend more specific vitamins and supplements and more radical forms of alternative treatments. The vitamins and supplements they will recommend will be more organic and potent, so make sure to follow their directions specifically and seek medical attention immediately if you experience any side effects or other symptoms. Holistic practitioners are caring, knowledgeable professionals, but they aren’t substitutes for medical doctors.
This is the right way to go about using the healing power of vitamins and supplements to help prevent or cure a serious illness. If you suspect you have a medical condition, you should never try to heal it by yourself by using vitamins and supplements. Not only is this dangerous, but it can be life threatening. Vitamins and supplements are mainly used to prevent illnesses and promote overall body strength and health. They are not to be used as a substitute for medical drugs or treatment.
Even when they are, they are best used under a doctor’s supervision, usually in addition to more traditional medicines. So, I wouldn’t recommend staying away from doctors altogether, although the old adage “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” has a ring of truth for a reason. You should, however, make sure your doctor is knowledgeable about vitamins and supplements and believes in their incredible natural ability to heal. That way you know you’re both on the same page, which is important in any relationship — especially the doctor-patient relationship.
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