Health care: dietary supplements vs. the knife
Major news topics these days are the reform of Medicare and taxpayer-funded drugs for seniors. Heaven knows Medicare needs reformation with more emphasis placed on the prevention of disease as opposed to having to practice crisis medicine after the onset of disease.
Actually, we Americans should be healthier than we are. But we eat too many carbohydrates, don’t get enough exercise and don’t drink enough fluids. Also, many of us also fail to take advantage of some relatively inexpensive ways to take better care of ourselves.
Recently, this observer met a young man recovering from knee surgery. He told me the surgeon operated to repair the cartilage in one knee.I asked if the surgeon had first tried to re-hydrate the cartilage by recommending large amounts of Glucosamine Chondroitin with MSN? “No,” said the limping young man,” he just operated.
Many years ago, during a night parachute jump into Germany, I came in backwards and hyper-extended my right knee. For many years afterward, I suffered considerable pain in that knee while downhill skiing or playing other sports. A few years ago I happened to have dinner with the nation’s leading knee surgeon, the one who operates on all the big-name athletes.
He said he would be happy to cut on my knee; however, he suggested I try 3,000 mg. of Glucosamine & Chondroitin with MSM per day for three months. I did, and within three months, the knee pain was gone. What this over-the-counter dietary supplement does is re-hydrate the cartilage that keeps the bony parts of the knee joint from rubbing against each other.
As men grow older, getting up several times per night to urinate can become a sleep-robbing problem. The cause is an enlarged prostate gland. To make sure the underlying problem is not prostate cancer, males should get an annual PSA test -- a test for the presence of cancer cells. If cancer is not the cause, then the enlarged prostate can often be returned to its normal size by taking, and continuing to take, about 1,500 mg. per day of Saw Palmetto with Pygeum.
These non-invasive and relatively inexpensive dietary supplements to repair cartilage or to reduce enlarged prostates have worked for many; however, the medical establishment has an understandable economic bias toward surgery and/or prescription drugs.
Recently, there is news of the so-called Poly Pill containing six or seven drugs and dietary supplements known to be effective in the prevention of heart attacks. Unfortunately, it won’t be available for several years.
But there’s no need to wait for what will be, no doubt, a prescription drug when you can do-it-yourself right now to prevent the onset of a wide variety of ailments.
For example, several capsules a day of OccuGuard Plus with Lutein or Ocuvite with Lutein can prevent the onset of Age-related Macular Degeneration. A couple of folic acid tablets each day can help guard against the onset of Alsheimer’s and/or Parkinson’s. One faxseed capsule per day provides Omega-3 which has proven helpful in the prevention of heart disease. The same goes for a baby aspirin each day. About 1,200 mg. of a liquid calcium tablet can help prevent osteoporosis. Taking a potassium citrate tablet each day can help older people prevent those annoying leg cramps.
Conventional physicians tell patients to eat a balanced diet and that will eliminate the need for these kinds of dietary supplements. The problem is no one really knows what a balanced diet is, and few people actually consume it.
And, let’s face it. The economics of modern medicine create a bias in favor of invasive surgery or the prescription of expensive medications. But on-line services like webmd.com and others can be sources of information about alternative treatments that may well be less invasive, less expensive and often better.
Unfortunately, some older Americans remain convinced effective medicine requires a physician’s prescription when, in fact, some relatively inexpensive dietary supplements are all they need.
William Hamilton, a nationally syndicated columnist and featured commentator for USA Today, is the co-author of The Grand Conspiracy and The Panama Conspiracy – novels about terrorist attacks on Colorado’s water supply and on the Panama Canal, respectively.
©2003. William Hamilton