Lorna Vanderhaeghe, BSc
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Ga., just released the results of a study aimed at determining the relationship between multivitamin use and death from heart disease, cerebrovascular disease and cancer. More than one million adults were included and the study ran from 1982 to 1989.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Ga., just released the results of a study aimed at determining the relationship between multivitamin use and death from heart disease, cerebrovascular disease and cancer. More than one million adults were included and the study ran from 1982 to 1989. A detailed review of the data revealed that men and women who took both multivitamins and extra vitamin A, C or E had a 15 percent lower risk of dying from heart disease and stroke than did people who consumed only multivitamins or no vitamins at all. Researchers concluded that a combination of multivitamins and antioxidants may reduce mortality from heart disease and stroke.
For those of us who have been avid alternative medicine supporters, the news is a positive step forward. In Canada alone, dozens of research studies on herbs and nutrients are underway in university laboratories and clinical settings. Science is confirming what traditional healers have known since the beginning of time, and recognized journals worldwide are publishing the promising results. According to an Angus Reid survey completed in September 1997, more than 42 percent of Canadians use natural remedies and/or visit a doctor offering alternative treatments. Why the dramatic shift?
For years skeptics questioned, "If alternative medicine is so great, why have I or my medical doctor never heard about it?" Better access to health information and the desire of both patient and doctor to find better treatments is the answer. At the click of a computer mouse, people can read medical journal articles in their own home.
Of the 42 percent polled that use alternative medicines, 34 percent reported they do so because "regular" medications are not working for them. Illnesses caused by inadequate nutrition, too much stress and environmental toxins are not cured by prescription drug therapies. Antibiotic resistant bacteria and virulent viruses have also made people realize there must be a better way. Our Canadian medical system is falling apart. Long lineups for cancer treatment, MRI and other diagnostic tests are commonplace. Emergency rooms bursting with patients destined for overcrowded, long-term care or psychiatric facilities are the norm. Logical people look for solutions. Preventing disease and taking charge of your family's health makes sense. Our medical doctors also recognize medicine's shortcomings.
More than 490 Canadian medical doctors now prescribe alternative treatments--hundreds more than were practicing this type of medicine only a few years ago. Another Angus Reid poll conducted for CTV, Chatelaine and the Medical Post found that 32 percent of Canadian doctors prescribe prayer or meditation as treatments for medical conditions. Dentists are taking out mercury amalgams and replacing them with safer materials. Midwives are finally licensed to deliver babies both in the hospital and at home. Pharmacists are being trained in herbal and homeopathic medicine. Like a snowball rolling downhill, more and more physicians are practising their oath, "First do no harm."
In most parts of Canada, spring will soon arrive with a budding resurgence of life. Seize the day and embrace alive!