Something that I don’t understand is the resistance some people have to modern medicine.  I recently read Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs, founder and CEO of Apple Computer.  Jobs was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2003. But he refused to follow the advice of his doctors to get an operation and undergo chemotherapy.  Instead, he tried taking herbs and vitamins. He altered his diet. He became vegan.  When he finally consented to surgery nine months later, the cancer had spread beyond the pancreas into his liver.  Later he needed a liver transplant, but by then the cancer had spread even further.  So he died at the age of 56.  Had he gotten the treatments when first diagnosed, perhaps his chances of survival would have been much, much better. 



I recently corresponded online with someone who has suffered from depression for years.  For a while he took medicine for it, but at some point decided “being dependent” on medication was bad. So he stopped.  This person was proud of the fact that he no longer took pills every day.  Instead, he just “ate healthy” and took a variety herbs and vitamins every day—admittedly also pills, but not pharmaceuticals.  He insisted this was a much healthier choice—although he admitted that since stopping his medication, his depression had returned, he wasn’t getting better, and he suffered every day from it. 

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My pastor developed breast cancer a couple of years ago.  It doesn’t run in his family.  He suffered through a grueling, very unpleasant regimen of chemotherapy and radiation.  His hair fell out.  He had trouble eating.  He suffered quite a bit.  But today he is cancer-free.  Of course he could have just changed his diet, taken supplements—and ended up like Steve Jobs.  Though at least then he’d never have lost his hair.



One of the men in our church has to take pills every day for rheumatoid arthritis—something he’s had since he was in his twenties.  He’s nearly sixty now.  Without the medication, his hands and body would be twisted and crippled.  He’d barely be able to walk.  With the medication, he is a successful and productive computer programmer (which requires a lot of typing), he runs daily and he has competed in marathons.  He lives virtually free of symptoms or deformity, except for those that developed before he started taking his medication.

I suffer severe allergies.  Until my allergist found the right combination of anti-histamines, I suffered year round with sneezing, a scratchy throat, itchy eyes, and stuffed nose.  I also developed asthma.  Thanks to the pills I take every day, I now live symptom free: no sneezing, no runny or stuffed up nose, no watery eyes, no gasping for air. Without my medication, I would still be suffering—and the asthma might have killed me.  

I also take pills every day for high blood pressure. I’m not overweight, and I eat healthy.  But high blood pressure runs in my family.  The medication I take keeps my blood pressure in the normal zone, thus decreasing my risk of stroke. 

Does this mean vitamins and herbs are a bad thing?  That eating healthy is dumb?  Of course not.  My doctor also prescribed a daily dose of vitamin D3, calcium tablets, and fish oil tablets—on top of the other medications I consume.  I exercise. I eat right.  But by themselves, supplements, good food, and exercise won’t eliminate my high blood pressure or allergies.

Why do so many accept taking herbs and vitamins supplements but resist modern medicine?  Our ancestors ate diets free of all the things that those who insist on “natural” and “organic” fear—and they didn’t live as long as we do and they suffered more disease.  They had no way to cure the illnesses that we today can fix.

And those who go on about how the big pharmaceutical companies make huge profits and they are only in it for the money?  I don’t get it.  As if the health food, organic food, vitamin and herb manufacturers and sellers aren’t profiting from their businesses?  Like those who purvey books and seminars on “natural” methods aren’t trying to make money?  Does the organic farmer give you his food for free?  No, you pay extra for it. Criticizing drug companies or hospitals or doctors for their profits is simply irrational.  

Medicine works.  Doctors work.  If you’re in a car accident and are seriously injured, who are you going to call?  An organic grocer or a doctor?  If your baby is vomiting and screaming and burning up with a high fever, are you going to give her vitamins, or will you rush her to the emergency room?

Human beings today are healthier, longer lived and in all ways better off than our ancestors.  For example, small pox, a scourge throughout human history responsible for more than 300 million deaths just in the 20th century, was eradicated by 1979 thanks to vaccinations.  As a result, not only did my children never have to get that shot, they don’t ever have to worry about dying from that disease.  It’s something that they’ll only read about in their history books.

You like herbs and vitamins and such?  You prefer the higher priced “organic” food? That’s your business.  But why resist the pills and techniques offered by modern medicine?  You want to die before your time?


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