Thursday, July 05, 2007

Risky business

There was an article on MSNBC today about fertility and the effect of alternative therapies.  The gist of the article was that women who use alternative therapies, such as supplements, seem to be hurting their chances of becoming pregnant.  I find this interesting because I have several friends who swear by so-called natural remedies.  The article went on to say that these were preliminary studies and it has not been proven conclusively that the alternative therapies were causing the negative effect or if women who tend to use these therapies are already pretty unhealthy and less likely to get pregnant in the first place.

Personally, I don’t like “natural medicines” – supplements and similar stuff.  For one, there is nothing natural about anything that comes in pill-form, no matter what the label says and regardless of what upscale health food store you buy it at.  If you want to heal yourself naturally, exercise, eat fruits and vegetables, drink water, and avoid obviously unhealthy things like smoking and processed foods.  It makes me cringe when I see people smoking and then talking about the benefits they get from a multi-vitamin and this-or-that natural enzyme they picked up at Whole Foods or Wild Oats.  Puh-lease!  It’s snake oil people!  Yes, the Big Pharma people are ripping us off with outrageous prices and misleading commercials, but at least they are regulated and at least their products are extensively studied and tested before being unleashed on the often-naïve public.  If something is found to be wrong with a medication, it’s pulled off the shelf.  How often does that happen with non-regulated supplements?  Not nearly often enough.  I think that if you get any benefit from a supplement, its most likely a placebo effect – it’s all in your head.  I hope there are more studies like the one published today, so that more people will think before putting something unstudied and untested into their body – who knows what they are risking?  In this case, it’s more than their own health, it’s the possibility of not being able to bring a new life into the world – why take the chance?

OK, stepping down off my all-natural soapbox now…