Herbal remedies have been around forever, but in recent years they’ve experienced a surge in popularity. Between the rising cost of medications and exorbitant doctor’s fees, it’s easy to understand why.
But those aren’t the only reasons to opt for natural alternatives to remedy your ailments. Due to large-scale overuse, antibiotics are no longer the silver bullet they once were.
THE WORRYING RISE OF ANTIBIOTIC RESISTANCE
According to UK economist Jim O’Neill, more than a million lives have been lost to antimicrobial resistance (AMR) since 2014, with another 300 million premature deaths forecast by 2050.
Long-term antibiotic use (and abuse) has severe consequences. They play havoc with our gut’s ecosystem, which can lead to leaky gut syndrome. Taking too many antibiotics can also lead to a less than optimal immune system, higher stress levels, behavior problems and even obesity.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN ANTIBIOTICS STOP WORKING?
When Alexander Fleming discovered Penicillin in 1928, he had no clue that he was at the forefront of a $50 billion dollar industry. Nor, for that matter, could he possibly have imagined that $5 billion of that would be directed to keeping livestock healthy.
As Maryn McKenna highlights in her TED talk, Fleming did have an inkling as to the potential harm of his discovery.
In 1945, shortly after receiving the Nobel Prize, he said, “The thoughtless person playing with penicillin treatment is morally responsible for the death of a man who succumbs to infection with a penicillin-resistant organism.”
THE CASE FOR NATURAL REMEDIES
Listening to a talk like that, going all natural seems like the only logical way forward. There will always be a need for Western medicine, but it should be reserved for the ‘big ticket’ stuff. The kind of disease or infection that warrants medical intervention.
But we 21st century humans are wired for instant gratification. We want bigger, better, faster, and we want it now. We use this same approach when it comes to our health. Rather than afford our body the time and space it needs to heal itself naturally, we’re impatient. We take antibiotics when they’re not needed, like when we are dealing with a common cold.
We want to hurry up the process of getting better, so that we can get back to our 70-hour workweeks. Back to being superhumanly productive. Back to the habits that prevent us from being healthy.
We think a trip to the doctor and a course of antibiotics is the only solution, when in fact, all we’re doing is compounding the problem. Instead, we need to embrace the art of slow living.
This means accepting that health doesn’t come from a quick fix. It’s a lifelong project that needs to be approached with grace and gusto. Nature has provided us with so many ways to get and stay healthy, it’s up to us to take advantage of them.
According to Florence Williams, getting a regular nature fix will make us happier, healthier and more creative. Nature impacts our wellbeing in other ways, too. It reduces blood pressure, slows our heart rate, eases muscle tension and aids with the production of stress hormones.
There are natural remedies for pretty much every ailment you can think of, from Parkinson’s Disease and arthritis to indigestion and nausea. You can heal your lungs, ease constipation and treat swollen feet and ankles.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Google ‘natural remedy for [insert problem]‘ and you’ll be met with a plethora of alternatives to try.
CAVEATS TO CONSIDER
It bears mentioning that the vitamin and nutritional supplement industry is not well regulated. This means a lot of potentially harmful products can find their way onto the shelf and into the hands of an unsuspecting consumer.
Like with anything, you should use a healthy dose of common sense when opting for a natural alternative to treat something. Do your due diligence and research your proposed treatment thoroughly before taking it. And, if your symptoms are getting worse rather than better with a natural remedy, you should see your doctor for guidance.
Never assume that just because something is ‘natural’ you can’t overdose on it. Herbal medicines can have dangerous side-effects, just like their conventional counterparts. If you’re not sure, it’s always best to enlist the help of a licensed professional, such as a homeopath or naturopath.