Vitamin and mineral supplements

The most fundamental way of supporting the body is through appropriate nutrition. When we look at appropriate nutrition in more detail we come to the issue of vitamins and minerals. These play important roles in many metabolic pathways. And this is where the argument starts.

Holistic nutritionists strongly believe in the value of mineral and vitamin supplementation, which they claim can result in reverse or stopping disease processes, especially when administered in high doses.

Medical practitioners in general reject this approach as unscientific. The ongoing controversy regarding the efficacy of vitamin C in the treatment or prevention of the common cold is a prime example. They especially reject dosages that are higher than the established recommended dietary intake amounts, which is an approach strongly favoured by natural therapists. Natural therapists argue that these daily intake recommendations are much too low, not taking into account the stresses and associated nutritional requirements of contemporary life. Both sides quote numerous scientific studies to support their arguments and the argument no doubt will continue.

Natural vs. traditional: Menopause

Menopause refers to the natural reduction of oestrogen production in the older women and the associated cessation of menstruation. All women, at some stage will experience menopause, indicating that this is a normal biological process. The argument lies in how to manage this process and especially the associated symptoms.

Natural therapists strongly believe that the answer is to manage the symptoms until the body has adapted to the reduced levels of oestrogen. Treatments include introducing foods rich in plant oestrogens (e.g. tofu), nutritional supplements such as evening primrose oil, a range of herbal remedies and more.

The medical community on the other hand, considers menopause as a disorder that requires continuous treatment in the form of hormone replacement therapy (or HRT), which involves synthetic hormones (mainly oestrogen and progesterone), as well as other forms of medication depending on the symptoms. There is no doubt that some women experience often debilitating menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes and depression.

However, long-term studies have now shown that there are some negative side effects associated with HRT.
It's interesting to note that menopause is virtually non-existent in traditional Asian societies, where natural therapies are used extensively.

Natural vs. traditional: ADHD

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is another contentious issue between natural therapists and the medical community at large. The medical community prefer to treat children with ADHD with medications that may have potential side-effects such as increased heart rate and blood pressure, confusion, paranoia and hallucinations.

Natural therapists on the other hand, consider ADHD as a symptom of many contributing factors. There are a number of treatment options aimed at a) reducing stimulating, and b) increasing calming factors. Without getting into too much detail the diet is analysed, and any stimulants removed. Dietary intake is supplemented and behaviours are modified with TV and computer consumption being reduced, exercise and relaxation introduced, etc.

Parents have the option to choose the treatment they feel works better, or combine an appropriate mix of the two.

Here, we explore just two of the topics that can get natural therapists and medical professionals hot under the collar. However, it is important to note that there is an increasing understanding and appreciation of the contribution to health and the treatment of disease by either camp. This is demonstrated by the exponential growth of multidisciplinary practices where medical professional and complementary practitioners work side-by-side providing true holistic health care.