To Medicate or Not To Medicate?

As a chronic illness patient, it took me a while to realise that going to the doctor and obtaining a prescription for pills was not the sole way to tackle a health issue. This realisation took me some time to reach.  By default, I was only really aware of Western Medicine as a treatment methodology. Why question the way things are?

In my desperation to treat my Interstitial Cystitis, I took to reading a shedload of published data and studies online.  These were invariably on root causes and I was really surprised at what I found.  There are numerous studies on the effects of various health problems on the bladder.  These included hormone imbalance (caused by birth control, menopause, andropause, hormones in the food chain etc), Lyme disease, mycoplasma/ureaplasma, undetected infection, toxin exposure (mold, mercury, pesticides..), Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth, Gut Permeability/”Leaky Gut”, bladder and gut microbiome imbalance, NSAID overuse, pelvic floor dysfunction, viral and parasitic infection – the list went on.  It was at this point I was introduced to the concept of Functional Medicine.  This methodology has focus on finding the root cause of illness at it’s core.  It looks far beyond just symptom management with pharmaceuticals.

I had suspected that hormone imbalance was my root cause for a while.  It bothers me to this day that HRT use was never explained to me.  I indicated to a consultant that I was afraid to take it after several major SNAFU’s with birth control (think suicidal tendencies). Unfortunately I was just met with a rolling of the eyes. In the end, HRT was what saved my bladder. Had I not been so scared to take it, I don’t think I’d have developed Interstitial Cystitis to begin with.

So, here I can identify two big issues with Western Medicine.  For the most part, it ignores root causes, and that its incredibly inflexible by treating everyone the same, when clearly we aren’t. That said, I do feel there is a role for Western Medicine in chronic illness, in helping to manage symptoms while root causes are investigated and lifestyle changes are being implemented.  But I would never rely on Western Medicine on it’s own when it comes to chronic illness.

Our bodies react with symptoms of illness and disease for a reason, whether it’s nutrition, lifestyle, environment, genetics… In summary, let’s help our bodies along the way.  I hope to be able to help people do that by continuing my studies as a Nutritional Therapist.  Learning about Functional Medicine is fascinating!

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