‘The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest patients in the maintenance of the human frame, in diet and in the prevention of disease.’-Thomas Edison
Natural Medicine Section:
Medicine for the 21st Century
Botanicals and Nutraceuticals: What’s Next?
Cancer Treatment Centers of America
Clayton College of Natural Health
Edison could not have been more correct with his prediction about the doctor of the future, but he neglected to envision one key trend that is evident as we approach the millennium. People are no longer looking solely to their doctor as the source of their health information and health care. For many reasons, not the least of which is consumer distrust of the managed care system, people are increasingly beginning to educate themselves on how to maintain their health and are looking first to friends, family, books and the Internet for their answers.
Self-Managed Care: A New Approach to Health and Wellness
Today, individuals are looking to manage their own health through wellness-oriented lifestyles, enlightened self-care, and when necessary, the use of safe and cost effective natural therapies, including herbs and dietarysupplements. The demanding baby-boomer population, many of whom are nowmanaging their own health as well as that of their children and aging parents, are opting for less-invasive, natural approaches to health as their primary strategy, tending to minimize their utilization of the managed care system. Savvy health consumers want integrative health care-a full range of treatment options from both conventional and alternative/complementary health care. The key word is choice.
Self-managed care, a term that captures the spirit of this emerging culture, is highly appealing as a new direction for maintaining your own and your family’s health. Emphasizing a state of health and well-being, consumer empowerment, and increased utilization of integrative health care services, self-managed care has it foundations in three separate but philosophically-attuned health-related movements-the wellness, self-care and alternative medicine movements-each of which has taken root in America over the past 20-30 years. These parallel themes of self-managed care are now recognized as essential elements of an enlightened approach to health care as we approach the 21st century. This perspective is well suited to Americans as we have a deeply ingrained tradition of self-reliance dating back to Thoreau at Walden Pond and our Founding Fathers.
One of the rapidly emerging forms of self-care and wellness promotion is the use of dietary supplements, herbs and homeopathic remedies as well as an increased focus on organic foods and a whole foods diet. These natural products are also at the heart of much of the practice of alternative/complementary medicine including Chinese medicine, Ayurveda, homeopathy, naturopathy, and both herbal and nutritional medicine. Natural products are also entering mainstream medical practice, as dietary supplements and herbs are being increasingly utilized by health professionals who can no longer ignore the overwhelming consumer demand or the mounting research evidence from around the world. This demand is accelerating the process of integration.
Today nearly 40% of Americans utilize alternative medicine services, according to a recent survey published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The survey showed that visits to alternative practitioners were up 50% (689 million), nearly twice that of visits to primary care MDs (386 million), and over $20 billion was spent on these visits.
This trend is clearly reflected in the natural products industry, which has now reached $20 billion in annual sales, according to Nutrition Business Journal, and is in a state of accelerated growth. Information on dietary supplements, herbs, homeopathic remedies, whole foods nutrition and alternative/complementary medicine, once difficult to access, is now readily accessible through mass media as well as the Internet, which provides a comprehensive, yet not always reliable resource for consumer and professional level information and education.
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Well-Researched, Time Tested Herbs
ST. JOHN’S WORT