After my Boise class, an M.D. anesthesiologist patiently waited in line to talk to me. I’ll call him Dr. R.
But he was kind, humble, and clearly unimpressed by the “Doctor as God” philosophy of some M.D.’s. He didn’t want me to call him by his doctor title; he insisted I call him by his first name, Curtis. He wanted me to know, “Our profession is changing, a bit.”
He said his wife, who won a big prize at my lecture, had essential oils all over their house. He said, “We use ginger on the bottom of patients’ feet, and peppermint, against nausea after anesthesia and surgery, because it works.” Then he qualified, “Well, we do it a little.” I was very excited about this, and surprised. “You do? I’m so impressed!” I said. I wondered if he had to do it when his colleagues aren’t looking. Or just look the other way as nurses do it?
Since I know a fair amount about the medical profession, I know that M.D.’s who use natural substances cannot offer or sell them to their patients. Not without being under scrutiny and even condemnation for being outside their scope and way outside billable codes. The managed care systems they work in generally will not tolerate docs offering natural, non-toxic, gentle alternatives that people have been using effectively for thousands of years. They truly HAVE to treat all problems with chemical solutions, to stay viable in their profession and make a living.
Even worse might be the fact that their peers scorn them if they operate in things outside the drug world. I have seen many holistic-oriented docs become more and more bitter, as they become pariahs in their profession, seeking truth outside mainstream drug-obsessed medical school and wanting to share it with others. They are under scrutiny by their licensing organization, often sanctioned.
This is because drug companies heavily influence med school curriculum, drug companies underpin research hospitals and residencies, drug companies control the peer-reviewed journals, drug companies heavily influence the FDA, and drug companies provide the continuing ed doctors receive.
Doctors are literally immersed in drug-company propaganda, and no other competing information is given any attention in their practitioner education nor their delivery systems. Their peers will scorn THEM for offering you anything but a cocktail of drugs, and they in turn will scorn YOU in many cases if you try anything outside their scope. Less so than 10 years ago, luckily! The world is getting friendlier and friendlier to alternatives. The vast majority of Americans seek and use alternatives to “Standard of Care” every year.
My long-time pediatrician, Dr. Melissa Kendall, who sees us every few years for a Scout physical, or recently to burn several warts off Tennyson’s knees, told him that he should use his immune system-boosting essential oils. “Because it works,” she said. (She did then tell him that antibiotics were “stronger,” which I don’t disagree with, and “sometimes work better.” I countered, for my son’s benefit, “Yes, but they kill all the good guys your body needs, as well as the bad guys, which can be dangerous.” And she agreed.)
She’s had to roll with it, for 14 years since she became our doc. Ever since my now 16-yo daughter Libby was kicked out of Dr. David Johnson’s pediatrics practice in American Fork because children were not welcome there who do not follow their immunization schedule, which I refused. I wrote his office a four-page letter on my way out, and I went to Dr. Kendall and asked if she would admit us for our occasional visit. Even though I won’t use AB’s unless it’s life threatening, and I won’t shoot my kids up with dead bacteria and mercury. She said sure, no problem, and stated, “Vaccines are controversial to be sure.” She supports them and delivers Standard of Care treatments. But I appreciate her open-mindedness and her respect for my brand of mothering.
Once I told her for Libby’s ear infection I was going to use ear candles, and she said, totally nonplussed, “Yes, I know what they are, and they work, and here’s why….” Love her. Highly recommend her (a mother of 6 herself) to anyone in Utah County who wants a classically trained M.D. for your back pocket, who isn’t threatened by, and is even somewhat educated in, alternatives to the care her office provides.
So back to Dr. R in Boise. He said, “We’re changing, slowly. I even have an orthopedic surgeon in my hospital who brings his quart of green smoothie to work!” (Thing is, my problem with docs isn’t that they don’t eat healthy. My problem with them is that they don’t help their patients do so, and instead they just drug every problem. A nurse who talked to me after my Portland lecture last month said she confronted a doc she worked with about why he doesn’t counsel his obese patients to lose weight, and how to do it responsibly, instead of just handing out statin drugs. He told her, “Because it’s awkward to talk about.” The nurse was appalled.)
And about Dr. R’s essential oil usage? As impressed as I was that he did it, at all, he said, “We can get away with it because we’re such a small hospital.”
Here’s what I mulled over, later. Why is using natural, non-toxic, efficacious substances like lavender, ginger, or peppermint, that science has proven are calming, warming, and stimulating, “getting away with” something?
I think what Medicine is “getting away with” is wanton use of destructive chemicals that harm people. I wish they would START with the gentle, time-tested, inexpensive options.
Anything can happen. We can always hope, and keep advocating for these principles. Speak up. Even to your doctor.