Natural medicine is perhaps the most vague of the aforementioned terms. In fact, sometimes the lines between natural and synthetic can be blurred; some of our best symptom-based allopathic therapies are influenced by a very natural means. Taxol, a potent drug used in the treatment of advanced cancers, is made from the bark of the yew tree. Is this a natural medicine? Aspirin is made from the bark of the willow tree, and its use in pain control was in use several hundred years before the birth of Christ, in the era of Hippocrates. Digitalis, a heart medication used to slow the heart rate and increase the strength of contraction, comes from the foxglove plant.
So what is natural and what isn’t? Certainly optimal health depends on a greater exposure to what we know are natural products rather than those that are not found in nature. Without question, non-natural substances such as pesticides, petrochemicals and poisons are injurious to the human body. The jury is out, but I am betting that we see that genetically modified organisms, although able to provide us with a fully ripe tomato in February, may hold some secret aimed at the disruption of our body’s health.
Unquestionably a “natural” approach to health is going to be the best option. Our bodies weren’t meant to continually have to reconcile and metabolize red dye #2, pesticides and pollutants. Functional medicine utilizes natural products predominantly, but not exclusively, to help the patient reach a state of health. The trick is to find the balance. A natural approach to health is unquestionably the best. But if my appendix ruptures, you can rest assured that I will be first in line for sedatives, pain killers, anesthesia and surgery!