When Alternative Therapies Get a Bad Rap

In a recent article, the Annals of Internal Medicine announced that it was essentially useless for healthy people to take multivitamin supplements. This research may have led some people to question the value of vitamins altogether.

However, not all supplements are created equal, and it is important to note that conventional supplements are not at all in the same league as vitamins, minerals and antioxidants derived from whole foods.

The vitamins reported upon in the article were synthetic blends or synthetic individual vitamin tablets. The quality of the vitamins used in the referenced studies was not discussed.

Had there been a section comparing conventionally processed, synthetic vitamin supplements with minimally processed (or unprocessed) high-grade supplements derived straight from food sources, the results may have been quite different.

In a recent editorial article , Mike Adams of Natural News brings up a good point: many of the vitamin supplements studied were likely produced by the same companies that manufacture pharmaceuticals, such as Bayer, the famous makers of aspirin. These companies are likely to use inexpensive, inorganic materials.

When vitamins are derived from food in unprocessed, non-chemically treated states, they can be very beneficial indeed. The best source for vitamins and minerals is undisputably food, and research has found that organic food retains significantly more nutrients than conventionally-grown counterparts.

Some producers of multivitamins, however, are able to put together products that keep the food nutrients largely intact, and should not be counted out and placed in the same category with run-of-the-mill, synthetic multivitamins until they have been thoroughly tested.

While the media is sometimes quite negative about natural therapies, there is starting to be a change in perspective. Some medical health professionals have started incorporating natural therapies into their practices. One such physician is Dr. Sunita Vohra, a pediatrician and professor at the University of Alberta.

Dr. Vohra recently received the 2013 Dr. Rogers Prize for Excellence in Complementary and Alternative Medicine for her efforts in uniting mainstream and alternative medicines.

She says, “If everything starts with a patient as the centre of your primary interest, then their interests, their values, their questions are the things that need to matter to you most as their health care provider… When I first started, my very first days as a clinician, I found that half of the questions my patients were asking were things I had not learned about.”

One system of medicine that is also working to reconcile Western medical technology with natural alternatives is Functional Medicine, which we explored in an earlier article. According to practitioner and advocate, Dr. Frank Lipman, “It combines the philosophy of balance and how to restore function from Chinese Medicine and the knowledge of biochemistry and physiology of Western Medicine with the latest scientific research about how our genetics, environment and lifestyle all interact with each other.”

vitaminsWhile the media, and many conventional practitioners of medicine, may still turn their noses up at supplements and natural therapies, the tides are shifting. Hopefully there will be a day soon when natural health methods are treated with the same respect that conventional medical methods currently receive.

-The Alternative Daily



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