Often times I've had patients come into the clinic and inquire about particular supplements to help address their issues “holistically.” Mostly it’s stuff they’ve read in some book or on a web site, or heard on a TV or radio show about health. Mostly I respond with an honest: “I don’t know,” because I don’t. Unfortunately neither do most of the sources advising you to take them, and I’ve heard it all:
Turmeric is good for inflammation.
Valerian helps you sleep.
Oregano oil is great for skin conditions.
And my favorite contradiction, for its most perfect depiction of the inherent problem with these dogmatic prescriptions:
Ginger is good for digestion.
Peppermint is good for digestion.
And of course the “digestion tea” that contains both ginger and peppermint in appearing as potentially twice as effective, when really it is only twice as moronic.
Ginger and peppermint could not be more different in their opposing natures of temperature, so how can they possibly both serve the same purpose in the same person? Apparently the self-appointed, social scenario healers and media personalities fail to take this into consideration when they flippantly throw an entire blanket over an issue with one of the two.
Chinese Medicine is one form of holistic medicine, which means it views the body as a whole system of interrelated parts, as opposed to separate compartments that don’t function cohesively, which would actually be an even more impressive miracle than what it already gets credit for. We view the body as a climate, which similar to every external climate either tends to excessive heat, coldness, dryness or dampness (in addition to pathological lack of circulation, weakness, etc.); i.e. we all have “our things.” This premise wonderfully exemplifies the entire premise of holism, which is that there can be no 1:1 correlation between a symptom and prescription, and five different people can express the same “branch” as a result of five different problematic “roots.”
For example, if someone is having digestive problems as a result of an excessively “cold climate” in their stomach then peppermint is bound to cause more problems; conversely if someone with “too much internal heat” takes ginger, see problem #1. Fortunately, so long as you are using locally store bought pills or boxed teas you are unlikely to do too much harm, as such products are usually relatively old and incapable of doing much good in the first place. When shopping with the intention of healing properties (which should be always), try to spare no expense. I digress.
Why don’t these so-called experts ever expound on arguably the single most important element of intelligent prescriptions: Dosing! Sure, the OTC bottles you buy at some garbage can pharmacy might recommend how many pills to take daily, but why don’t they ever say for how long in duration? One of the first things I consider when giving a formula to a patient is whether it’s something they should be taking for three weeks, three months, or most likely some amount of time in between and to be determined by monitoring progress. Is your favorite talk show host or the local pharmacy cashier regularly checking in on your physiological development while ingesting their recommendations? Because hypothetically, if something is the right supplement for you then after a given period of time you wouldn’t need it anymore, at least for a while. Duh.
This modern trend of under-informed over-saturation is as dangerous as it is ignorant of the most fundamental premise of holistic medicine. Neither ginger, nor peppermint, turmeric or valerian target only the exact site of the problem anymore than do pharmaceuticals, which claim to in their commercials just moments before listing a litany of potential side effects that appear all over the rest of the body. Hilarious. So while they surely won’t hurt you nearly as much as pharmaceuticals, and can be worth carefully experimenting with, it should be done so mindfully and responsibly, with the knowledge that every herb is affecting your entire body, which may or may not be the appropriate climate at that time. Instead I would (conveniently) recommend giving people like me your money, so as to avoid the moronic but ubiquitous practice of holistic medicine with an allopathic mind.