During my training in Naturopathic College, I was required to learn pharmacology. Always in the background of our training was the thought that nutrition and mental/emotional state played a large role in our overall health with pharmaceutical medicines to be used as a last resort for “non-modifiable” disease processes. In my practice, I’ve had patients report to me that their MD’s had clearly stated that nutrition played little to no role in their current state of ill health. A definitive split in “therapeutic choices” was evident to me between some MD’s and ND’s and indeed the patients themselves. Certainly, during my pre-med training at Dalhousie University, nutrition was alluded to but not stressed as a potential healing modality.
Imagine my great surprise when studying for an upcoming pharmaceutical exam from my text written for MD’s entitled “Therapeutic Choices” (2007; The Canadian Pharmacists Association), that almost every chapter suggests treatment should commence with dietary and lifestyle counseling for at least three months prior to commencing drug therapies!! Only after the patient proved to be unwilling or unable to improve their health with exercise, weight loss (if needed), dietary changes and/or smoking cessation; was pharmaceutical intervention to be considered.
It’s official… your health is best treated and preserved by you. This requires work, diligence and a sense of responsibility for yourself with a strong desire to succeed; but ultimately you must take control of your own health.
Pharmaceuticals have their place, of this there can be no question. However; all too often we regard them as the magic bullet that cures. Their role in our health care is to facilitate an ailing body, a body that has had irreversible damage, a body where there has been frank changes in an organ’s physiology such that it is unable to perform it’s duties sufficiently to sustain life or prevent further ill health. Yet, nutrition and lifestyle should not be ignored. Self care and self nurturing can only benefit. It will support an ailing organ to regain health, and if pharmaceutical intervention is required, self-care will further enhance the drug’s action ensuring that you require less of the drug and thereby may be able to avoid needing other drugs to combat side effects or require less powerful drugs as your body continues it’s downhill spiral in the disease process.
It is the physician’s role to support you and guide you to better health but don’t be fooled, your health is your responsibility. Take charge and enjoy a healthier and happier life.