THE BLOG

Natural Living Is in Short Supply

11/27/2012 02:12 pm ET | Updated Jan 27, 2013

2012-11-19-treatment2.jpgLast week, the New York Times published an article describing the current drug shortage taking place in America. It states how various pharmaceuticals have been in short supply -- upwards of over 250 only last year -- and has compromised patient safety and comfort. Some of the drugs, like nitroglycerin, are used as heart medicine; while others, like lidocaine injections, are used to numb tissue before surgery. But whether for heart conditions, surgery, chemotherapy, or simple pain management, all of these drugs have more than just their shortage in common.

Each of them has been created in a laboratory.

When the ancient sages of India developed the medical system known as Ayurveda, there was no such thing as factories, nor was there such a thing as lidocaine or chemotherapy. This is, of course, because Ayurveda was developed over 5,000 years ago. As the world's oldest system of medicine, it predates not only modern medicine but also other ancient systems like Traditional Chinese Medicine. Ayurveda teaches us to address illness and disease at its root cause -- as opposed to treating symptoms. A Western doctor will prescribe something like nitroglycerin to help the patient manage the flow of blood and oxygen to their heart; an Ayurvedic doctor will seek out reasons from the patient's diet, lifestyle, and basic constitutional nature to determine why there is a problem with the heart in the first place. Then, in determining this cause, the Ayurvedic doctor will not only prescribe a change in diet and lifestyle, but they will also prescribe herbal remedies. These remedies have not been produced in a laboratory by mixing different chemicals, but rather through plants found in nature. And nature doesn't seem to be running out of plants anytime soon.

Of course, the Times article doesn't exclusively discuss the shortage of drugs that address chronic conditions like heart disease or the onset of cancer. In fact, the article begins with a story about an Ohio paramedic who ran out of morphine in response to a need to manage the pain of a woman who had broken her leg. If a patient is experiencing intense symptoms in response to an acute condition -- a broken leg, lead poisoning, a gunshot wound -- administering certain Western modalities is necessary if one wants to be relieved of their pain quickly. Western medicine has distinct value for this reason: Treating a gunshot victim with herbs is not likely to do much of anything quickly.

But this is not the most important point to be made when juxtaposing a natural system of medicine like Ayurveda with modern medical procedures. When we consider many of the medicines that have been cited as being in short supply, such as injections for chemotherapy or injections inhibiting blood clotting, we are considering medications that are likely the product of a modern Western life far removed from the natural order of things. Why did the patient get cancer? Why is their circulatory system compromised? Why are more than one-third of America's adults obese? Often, we find that the answers to these questions relate back to the fact that the sufferers of these conditions live among air pollutants, consume genetically modified food, experience constant exposure to electronic devices, and lead excessive, stressful lives. If these patients were to embrace an Ayurvedically-inspired lifestyle -- one of a simple natural diet, abstention from chemical substances, and restraint from technological dependence -- they would find that they likely wouldn't even need the drugs that are currently so hard to find.

Indeed, the Times article ends with the story of a woman who suffers from night blindness and skin lesions as a result of vitamin A deficiency and can no longer get the drug that helps her manage this issue. This is a vitamin deficiency that resulted from weight-loss surgery she had years ago.

But if she had lived the Ayurveda way, weight-loss surgery would never have been necessary.

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