If you’re reading this, it’s likely not news to you that many people are turning away from conventional medical treatment toward natural alternatives. Fed up with the cost of pharmaceuticals, wary of their known (and unknown) side effects, unsure how different prescription medicines interact with one another, and other reasons, more and more people are going beyond “conventional wisdom” and seeking out ways to heal their bodies naturally.
Recently we were in a big box store and picked up the pharmacy’s health magazine. Not surprisingly, there were several articles touting the benefits of alternative therapies and dietary supplements (they know the trend of where consumer dollars are flowing, as evidenced by their own private-label supplement line). Nevertheless, in nearly every one of these articles was a warning (or was it a desperate plea?) that alternative therapies should be taken only in addition to conventional treatment, not in lieu of it. Moreover, these articles also instruct readers to consult with their doctors first about the benefits and risks of using dietary supplements.
Now, this is not necessarily bad advice; dietary supplements can indeed interact with prescription medications, and supplements themselves, taken without care, can cause life-threatening deficiencies or an equally serious toxic overdose. Even so, the assumption in the articles is that conventionally-trained medical doctors possess reliable professional knowledge about dietary supplements and nutrition. Is this true?
For decades now, medical students and doctors themselves have reported inadequate, if barely existent, nutrition education, in medical school. In 2004, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published a survey of all 126 accredited medical schools in the U.S. (106 schools replied to the survey) that reported:
- only 32 schools (30%) required a separate nutrition course
- on average, students received 23.9 contact hours of nutrition instruction during medical school (range: 2–70 hours)
- only 40 schools required the minimum 25 hours of nutrition education recommended by the National Academy of Sciences
- 88% of instructors expressed the need for additional nutrition instruction at their institutions
Many other reports and studies confirm the ongoing lack of nutrition education in medical schools, and it has been confirmed in our own lives by family and friends who are doctors. Close family members, both MDs, were met with a difficult family health crisis many years ago. Turning for treatment to other doctors who specialized in the relevant field of medicine, they became frustrated at the inability of conventional treatment to arrest the disease, not to mention the damaging side effects of the medications prescribed. Eventually, they began to study nutrition and investigate alternative, holistic health treatments. It was by means of a healthy diet and holistic treatments that they first were able to observe improvements in their family member’s condition.
More recently, we were speaking with a family friend who is an accomplished and respected double MD. Inquiring about our business and about BioSuperfood in particular, she said, “I think I took one course on nutrition in medical school; I was taught how to write prescriptions.” Let that sink in, and remember it the next time your doctor scoffs at your suggestion that you are considering a natural alternative to a conventional treatment. Modern, conventional medicine has little, if anything, to do with preventative health; that is, with educating people on how to be healthy to prevent getting sick in the first place.
Now, before anyone accuses us of being “anti-doctor” or “anti-modern medicine,” let us say that we’re all for conventional treatments when there is no alternative. One of our children is alive today due in part to the medicines that helped her overcome the near-deadly effects of infant cardiac arrest. Owen is also the grateful beneficiary of a surgically repaired knee. Nevertheless, it’s simply a fact — aside from those who educate themselves — that most conventional doctors are ignorant of nutrition and how to keep people healthy. As our doctor friend said, “I was taught how to write prescriptions.”
So, yes, when considering adding one or more supplements to your health regimen, we do advise our clients to seek out the guidance of a trusted health care professional. But we also advise them to consult a well-informed one.