Natural remedies: are they witchcraft or wondrous?
Are natural remedies as good as some people think?
First, I think, it is important to realise that among the natural (or ‘‘alternative’’ or ‘‘complementary’’) remedies there are a vast array of differences.
I say this since many think herbal is the same as homeopathic or natural means unprocessed. They are not the same.
Even among the homeopathic practitioners and chiropractors, there are divisions on what is the true way.
The main thing most people differentiate these remedies by is that they are not produced by drug companies.
A drug or registered medicine is a product scientifically proven to be effective in treating certain specified conditions as well having the sideeffects and adverse effects known, as part of their testing to achieve registration.
Natural remedies are not proven, and sometimes the actual active agent within them is not even known.
The side effects and adverse affects that these remedies may have are not quantified.
Many people equate natural with safe. Is snake venom safe? Is foxglove safe? Is deadly nightshade safe? No.
I have a Poisonous Plants of New Zealand book that describes over 200 plants in New Zealand as clearly dangerous and sometimes fatal to people and animals.
Is natural better than manufactured? Not if it contains impurities. Not if what is in it is actually unknown.
The other concern I have with natural remedies is because they are not licensed or registered products, they do not need any quality control.
Five years ago an Australian company selling a product claiming to have a certain amount of glucosamine in it on their label actually only had one-tenth of what it said.
I especially cringe at the remedies that claim to cure everything from acne to cancer.
If they were that good do you really think we would be using anything else?
Another concern is the testimonial approach to selling natural remedies.
In other words, a person or persons recommend them based on their experience.
Hardly a statistically valid approach, but given that they usually have no science behind them, how else can they sell these products?
I think many people think that because drugs are mainly made by large corporations that make profits, their products are evil – despite the fact that they have greatly improved both the life span and quality of life, in humans and in pets, over the past 50 years.
And also despite the fact that anyone or company selling a natural remedy is also trying to make a profit.
I do not believe all natural remedies are useless, but I do think people should not assume that natural is good and manufactured medicines are bad.
Ask a diabetic to try and get by without insulin. The homeopathic version is just not going to do the job.
Dr Ian Schraa is an experienced veterinarian and the owner of Rappaw Veterinary Care.
Remedy roulette: One needs to be careful when weighing up the benefits of natural remedies versus registered medicines for themselves or their pet.