The other pharmacy


Everyone knows (i.e. has been indoctrinated to believe) that when you’re not feeling well you go to the pharmacy for over-the-counter meds.

Or – if you have the time, the money, the patience and a decent doctor – you go to your doctor for a prescription.

While it’s great that these resources are available when needed, there’s a wee bit of a problem with this:

1. In 2010 alone, there were 450,000 medication-related adverse effects reported in the US

2. Treating these negative reactions each year costs about $136 billion a year, more than the total amount spent on cardiovascular or diabetic care

3. More people in the US die from taking prescription medicines every year than from car accidents – and that doesn’t count all the unnecessary and ill advised surgical procedures that cause illnesses, disabilities, shortened life span and death

Today, I heard about a relatively young man who is getting a stent put in his heart because he has “chest pains.”

No one suggested to him that he lay off the meat and dairy for a month and start taking hawthorn (berries and leaves of a tree that is used everywhere from China to Germany to Native America to tone the heart.)

Apparently, it’s simpler and more logical to have his body cut open and have foreign objects (of dubious pedigree) inserted into his arteries.

Cost: About $28,000

Risks: Many.

Cost of laying off the meat and dairy for a month and taking hawthorn: Maybe $50 at most, but the savings from not eating animal products will cover it and he might even save money over all.

Risk: None.

In spite of this indisputable reality, my friend and his family will not even consider this alternative.

Some simple questions

Millions of Americans (this is primarily a disorder of the American-ized mind) feel the same way.

They ridicule and dismiss the idea that anything that’s served up at McDonalds and fancier places (meat and sugary drinks) could possibly be bad for you.

They also ridicule the idea that common plants – plants that have been used safely and effectively – for thousands of years could make any difference in their health.

To these people I have some simple questions:

How do you think you got here?

“Modern” chemical medicines are barely 100 years old.

Humanity has survived – and survived under sometimes very harsh physical conditions – for tens of thousands of years.

How did they do it without chain store pharmacies and pharmaceutical-industry-colonized MDs?

Do you think plants are ineffective as medicine?

Is that why approximately 70% of new medicines today are based on naturally occurring substances found in plants and often have plants as their raw material?

The story of aspirin

Aspirin is a great example of how “modern” medicine works.

For centuries, people have taken the powered bark of the white willow tree to treat pain.

Then along came Bayer.

They identified what they believed was the “active ingredient” in willow bark, salicylic acid, and created a process for putting it into pill form.

Americans consume 16,000 tons of aspirin every year, equaling 80 million pills, and spend about $2 billion on it.

There’s just one problem with aspirin.

It causes internal bleeding. Not a lot, but enough that if you’re scheduled for surgery, your surgeon (if he’s competent and conscientious) will tell you to stop taking it for a while before and after your surgery.

Willow bark has no such side effect.

This story of chemicalized active ingredients being dangerous when the source plant is not is a common one.

In fact, try this thought experiment.

Could you live on a diet of foods that have been effectively used as medicines over the centuries?

Yes. Many plant “medicines” are tasty and nutritious and can be eaten without side effects every day.

Could you live on a diet of the products of the pharmaceutical industry?

Not for long and you’d die a miserable death trying.

What’s the problem?

So what’s the problem?

As with most things, the problem is a lack of education.

When people didn’t know about the importance of good sanitation, millions suffered and died unnecessarily for the lack of it.

Ignorance about plants and their importance to our health is similarly causing unnecessary suffering and early death to millions in “developed” countries like the US.

But there’s another problem: propaganda from the drug companies

It’s on TV, it’s in magazines and on web sites, it’s in the schools.

The news media, for the most part falls in line.

Practically everyday, we hear about a new medical industry “miracle” – many of which later have to be removed from the market because they prove to be unsafe.

Simultaneously, we’re fed stories about the “dangers” of plant materials.

No wonder people are confused.

But the bottom line is this:

Your health and the health of your loved ones is too important to leave up to an industry that only sees you as a piece of meat with a wallet attached.

Invest the time in learning about plants and their healing properties.

You don’t have to become an herbalist or devote years to the process.

You can start today discovering natural alternatives for simple ailments and trying them as they crop up: head aches, stomach aches, colds, coughs, pain, scratches, bruises and bug bites.

There are simple natural remedies for all these things and they’re not complicated, and they’re not expensive.

This is what your ancestors did.

And it’s probably because your ancestors did this that you’re alive today – and they didn’t have half the resources you have today (books, the Internet, local courses.)

– Ken McCarthy