Sunday, September 13, 2015

Sunday Stroke Survivall: Voodoo Medicine

Voodoo medicine is a term coined by my old occupational therapist as any treatment not sanctioned by the powers that currently be. Alternative medicine such as herb use, yoga, meditation, and even dry needling fall into this category. They are alternatives to the normal operating procedures of western medicine. They are often discounted by modern medical types, but the facts is that it was practiced and worked prior to modern medicine. Modern medicine had to start somewhere.

I was a medical professional, but did not discount anything but embraced it. I studied far eastern schools of thought because of my upbringing in a Japanese-American household. The fact was it worked when I couldn't visit the modern day medical types. It broadened my horizons as it were to see outside the box of strictly modern medicine for treating what ails you.

While I was in college studying modern nursing techniques, I was also studying German lithographs of herbs. In childbirth, I used Lamaze (focused breathing as in meditation) instead of the ever more popular drugs which crossed the placental barrier to my waiting to be born children. Later, I went on to to be degreed in holistic practices also herbatology and aromatherapy. I've practiced yoga (not the exercise) for decades. When herbs became an over the counter quick fix in this society, I was the one cautioning the wide spread uses of St John's Wort screaming about the side effects to anyone that would listen to name just one.

Don't get me wrong. I still believe in modern medicine, but only modern medicine...nope. I consider it a personal triumph when I convert or broaden the mind of a modern medicine professional. Because the fact is, it works. It still does even after centuries of use.

When I first heard of dry needling as a treatment for post stroke spasticity, I reserved judgement and kept an open mind. Luckily for me, my neurologist and her nurse practioner were willing to try anything that would help. At that point, Botox was only working marginally well for my spasticity. The drugs therapy was only lip gloss covering a cold sore even at the maximum allowable doses. All I wanted was relief and they wanted to help me get the best possible outcome. Even though it was considered voodoo medicine and a throw off of acupuncture/trigger point injections, we were all willing to try. As a result, my neurologist now has a new alternative therapy to offer her patients and she does.

To me, it doesn't pay to be narrow minded.  But too broad of a mind without knowledge is a dangerous thing. The FDA allows herbs and minerals beyond everyday vitamins to be sold without much guidance to be sold as dietary supplements in this country. In other words, anybody can buy and take them. But there are reasons you need prescriptions for certain herbs in various countries. They are considered medicine. All medicines have side effects and contraindications even herbal supplements. For example, do you know which chemicals are water soluble or fat soluble? That fat soluble chemicals can build up in your body to toxic levels? That a single herb/plant/root/seed can have up to 300 chemical compounds in it? Scary when you think about it, isn't it? That's why I say without knowledge, this can be a very dangerous thing. SO DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH TOO.

It's funny how one thing can work for one and not the other, but while we are all homo sapiens as a species, we are not all the same. The term alternative medicine is just a way of saying..not what is considered as modern medicine. Each is unique, but the same. Granted modern medicine has a lot going for it, but being the only choice for what ails you, not hardly.

Nothing is impossible.

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