Monday, November 8, 2010

Supplements and remedies - experiment wisely

So I've never been one to stray from doctor's orders - particularly when it comes to medication, supplements, or alternative treatments. Okay - yes - I've had my moments of weakness when it comes to taking those horse pills known as Calcium as religiously as I should, but on the whole, I consult my doctor and follow his lead when it comes to anything and everything regarding the treatment of lupus.

I even asked him about participating in a free acupuncture demo one time, which, interestingly, he requested I not try. (At the time, I was pretty sick...and I don't think he wanted me to complicate matters - but who knows? Being a traditional medicine guy, he might think the same today.)

So when the subject of supplements and natural remedies comes up, I don't have much to say. I've never tried any of the "cure-all's" that exist out there - noni juice, acai berry juice, licorice root, just to name a few - so I don't know if they have a positive effect or not. However, what I do believe, is that they will have some effect, and one needs to be prepared for that fact.

I've had several friends who have sworn by their remedies - and I'm so happy that they've found relief...but I have just as many friends who have tried these remedies, and suffered ill effects. In my opinion, that's simply because most anything you put in your body that's said to have some sort of healing/medicinal property is going to do something...if it didn't, it wouldn't stick around, would it?

So my only advice - supplements, natural remedies, and anything else that you experiment with aren't to be taken lightly. You never know what the effect is going to be - just be prepared for there to be one.

And, of course, I recommend consulting your doctor before trying anything. Whether or not they encourage you to move forward, you'll have brought them into the loop and kept them apprised of what you're up to. You may be surprised by their indifference, or they may have quite an opinion on the subject. Either way, you owe it to yourself to hear their side of the story. From my personal experience, if you're trying to keep something from the doctor, or attempting something on the sly, it's never a good thing!

Here are two articles found online (one from Sloan-Kettering, provided to me by a reader...thank you, Gale!, and one from Myasthenia Graves Foundation) that might be of interest. Neither discusses herbal remedies and lupus specifically, but I think both do a sufficient job of addressing the generic concerns involved in exploring alternative treatments.

3 comments:

  1. Hi,

    Just being the Queen of trying Alternative Medicine, it has done WONDERS for me and my Lupus symptoms. If your doctor says not to try something especially when you are in a flare I guess I'd listen too. But on the other hand I've met many alternative doctors that have healped me incredibly, but always GET references! There are some bad mainstream doctors as well as some bad alternative doctors. The BEST to your on your healing journey!

    Toni Kaste
    www.lupushope.blogspot.com

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  2. I believe your right on point. We need to promote more physical activities to our youth. One other reason we need to be a healthier people is the cost of health care. One of the reasons our health care is going out of control is due to the poor shape we are in. As we continue to neglect our bodies we contribuite to the rising cost of insurance and health care due to ailments caused by being out of shape.

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  3. Thank you for being the voice of reason, Sara. People I barely know, upon hearing I have lupus, suddenly become "medical experts" and thrust all kinds of weird remedies on me. What makes them think a little baggie of dried Tibetan berries will cure what ails me? Can they explain the biological mechanism via which these 'magic beans' are supposed to work the miracle? Did they ever bother to do a little simple googling, which quickly reveals these fad berries are yet one more make-a-buck scheme, that they're generally sourced from China and that they're likely grown using whatever unregulated, untested-for fertilizers and pesticides available will help yield the biggest, fastest cash crop?? How about all those suggestions along the lines of "Try this! It will boost your immune system!" -- as if our immune systems needed boosting!! To each his/her own, but I too, like you, believe in giving my highly educated and experienced lupus doctor the benefit of the doubt. He prescribes tested prescription and non-prescription meds and supplements in an orderly, logical progression to test their efficacy on ME, and to fine-tune according to results, all to good effect. I wouldn't throw a monkey-wrench into his good work for anything, though I do check with him when I run across something intriguing in the lupus-oriented medical literature (e.g. vitamin D supplementation) and to my delight he has followed through by reading what I bring him and, if in agreement, prescribing accordingly.

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