This is a wonderful guide, written by one of my mentors, Michael Gaeta, DAc, MS, CDN
Patient’s Guide to the Use of Natural Medicine
The term “natural medicine” refers to any nutritional supplement or herbal formula used for a therapeutic purpose. Natural medicines differ from pharmaceutical drugs in that they are naturally-occurring, are not synthetic chemicals, and when used properly, are relatively free of adverse reactions.
These formulas are still medicines, and if used inappropriately, can cause some harm. For this reason, natural medicines are best used on the basis of an individualized clinical assessment by a licensed health professional trained in natural medicine. Clearly, there are dozens of folk remedies (i.e. ginger tea for most digestive problems) that can and should be freely used by everyone. But the use of potent vitamin, mineral and herbal preparations should not be left to chance, or the advice of an untrained person. It is inappropriate for laypeople to advise the public on matters of health and illness. Our licensed practitioners have spent years mastering specific methods of clinical assessment, and the responsible use of herbs and nutritional supplements as part of an integrated, wholistic approach to restoring and maintaining health.
It is important to note that the nutritional formulas we recommend are natural vitamins. Most vitamin preparations are synthetic or fractionated vitamins, chemically derived, which have a pharmacological (drug-like) and not a nutritional (rebalancing) effect on body chemistry. For these reasons they can accurately be considered over-the-counter drugs. The body is designed to assimilate nutrients from foods and not chemicals. The individualized, patient-specific use of such formulas produces consistently positive results.
Personalized use of nutritional and herbal medicine is one of the safest and most effective ways of regaining and maintaining health. We look forward to integrating them into our broad-based, integrated approach to improving the quality of your life and health.
Some suggestions for using natural medicines:
- It is best to divide the medicines in your program into 2-3 doses. We often recommend that patients divide the doses among meals. Most people find this method easy and convenient. If you miss a dose at a meal, you can take it later (except for formulas that should be taken with food.
- Herbal formulas and most nutritional supplements can be taken with food or on an empty stomach. Formulas taken on an empty stomach (1/2 hour before or two hours after a meal) will be absorbed more quickly. If you have digestive upset from a formula, it usually indicates digestive weakness. Take with food only.
- Bless your medicines. When you take them, take them consciously. Don’t mindlessly rush through swallowing them. Use the power of your mind to ask that the medicines serve you, and charge them with positive intention. Eat your meals in the same way.
- If at anytime you experience what may be an adverse reaction from a medicine, call your practitioner right away. Don’t wait until your next visit to tell them. They can usually ascertain whether or not the adverse symptom was from the medicine, and advise you appropriately. This is one of the most important benefits of using natural medicines with professional guidance.
- We usually recommend that patients start out at half dose for the first few days. This allows your body to adapt to the rebalancing effect of the formulas, and reduces the chances of adverse reactions in people with weak digestion or food sensitivities.
- Be patient. In this age of “magic bullets” and the quick-fix mentality, some people expect natural medicine to act as quickly as pharmaceutical drugs. While this happens sometimes, it is more common for natural treatments to gradually restore balance. While most patients feel improvements within a week or two, some may take up to three months. As for duration of treatment, a general estimate is that for each year you have had a problem, you will likely need one month of therapy with natural medicine.
- Expect positive changes, including improvements in areas other than your main complaints. And expect your practitioner to modify your program as you change and move through your process of healing. This type of individualized care and follow-up is perhaps the greatest benefit of professional guidance with natural medicine.
Michael Gaeta holds New York licenses in acupuncture, nutrition and massage therapy, and is a Doctor of acupuncture in Rhode Island. He earned his Master’s degree in acupuncture from the New York College of Health Professions, where he was a faculty member for ten years. Michael is past president of the Acupuncture Society of New York. He appeared on the CBS Early Show, writes for national publications, and presents seminars nationally on business success, nutrition, medical ethics, herbal therapy and Chinese medicine. Michael is also a pianist and composer. His passion is to give, love and serve through teaching, hands-on therapies and writing.
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