Sitting on the over stuffed, over sized grey leather sofa, I face him, amazed by his frizzed out hair and his 70s sense of fashion. He asks me a million and one questions about my health history, going even deeper into my emotional history. No other doctor had done that before.
He studies me intently, looking at my posture, my expression, my features, anything that would reveal something to him. I am closed. I try to be open and let him in, let him observe me in a way no other doctor ever has before. I try to not be so guarded, bit I am never comfortable with anyone trying to get to know me so deeply, so quickly. And I am thinking about what I know is to come eventually.
I am at an alternative health practitioner, a homeopath to be exact and he is trying to determine what course of action he should take to help me to get off of prednisone. I have been on it for 12 years. 12 years of constantly taking a pill that suppresses my sarcoidosis but at the same time is eating away at my bones, gnawing away at the strength of my tendons and turning my skin to paper.
He studies his homeopathic books and observes me intermittently while consulting his hard cover journals. I tried so many times to come off of prednisone and I decided to give this methodology a shot with an actual practitioner.
He gets up from his chair and goes over to his arsenal of homeopathic medicines and pulls one from the case and pours a few pellets into the cover and tells me to open my mouth and raise my tongue.
“Which one is this?” I ask trying to see if there are any identification markings on the brown glass bottle, as I tilt my head back, open my mouth and raise my tongue to trustingly allow him to drop a few pellets under the tongue.
“Let’s keep that secret for now. I don’t want it to influence you” he says closing back the bottle and putting it back in the empty slot in the case. I am familiar with homeopathies and have taken them for years with positive results, so I know a bit about it.
He tells me to wait a week and see if that particular remedy causes any changes that I notice and et him know if my breathing improves.
I say ok and gather my stuff next to me to leave when he says “Wait”, and my heart sinks. Here we go I think. I wait to hear what he says and it is exactly what I was hoping to avoid. The “purity” sales pitch.
I am a huge proponent of alternative medicines complimenting traditional medicine and I believe it works, but there is one common denominator between all doctors and practitioners of alternative and complimentary medicines. They all sell supplements and they all claim that the particular brand that they sell is the purest. The company they source their herbs and supplements from is the only one in the world that has realized the correct way to do it because almost everybody else is processing it wrong and their manufacturer only gets the best ingredients. Everybody else is sourcing their ingredients from some polluted part of the world.
Not only alternative health care practitioners do it. Everyone in any specialty retail does it. Your hairdresser will tell you that the brand they sell is the best and purest. Nothing else would make your hair shine like that product. Your acupuncturist will only carry the best Chinese liniment for your pain. Your massage therapist says, no, this is the one to use.
The thing about the purity sales pitch is that each person, in most cases, really and truly believes that their item is the best product out there, otherwise they wouldn’t be carry it solely. After all, they went to the weekend seminar and they saw all the data that was presented to them and they believe everything the manufacturer has carefully told them.
How do I know which is truly the purest product. Not because a practitioner believes 100% in a product that I am going to be willing to put out 300% the cost of another product in Vitamin Shoppe.
So when the alternative practitioners start to hit me with their purity pitch I cringe. They sell it so well. Of course I want the purest and the best in my body and I can, in most cases, afford the 300% cost over Vitamin Shoppe, but how do I know that the one at Vitamin Shoppe is not the better one. That’s it. I don’t. And do they truly know for sure themselves?
Go to a Herbalist and you expect they will try to sell you their own herbs. Go to a naturopath and you expect that they will try to sell you their supplements. But I don’t want to. And I seriously dislike the way they just take stuff off of the shelves and say “take this and take that”. You want to get better don’t you? Only the purest will help you and your health should have no expense spared.
In all my years of seeing alternative and complimentary medicine practitioners, only one has ever said “The best thing to take is such and such, which you can get any where. I sell a brand that I think is superior to what is generally available out there, and it is a little more expensive than the health food brands but you are in no means obligated to buy what I sell. I will give you a list of what you get.”
Now, is that refreshing? I wish all practitioners could take that approach. The one doctor that had that approach with me was our vet!
I suppose most alternative doctors assume that because you are shelling out $500 or more to see them for the first time, that to shell out another $300-$500 in supplements is no problem.
So, to ease the stress and anxiety of the “after sell on purity” after the appointment, I will bring a list of all the supplements I am taking or even bring the bottles and tell them to go through those and tell me what I should be taking and what not to, and otherwise tell me what I can take over the counter. If they aren’t happy with that, then there is no need to see then going forward.
In order to get better and to improve your health, you have to take control of it. Don’t allow doctors, medical or otherwise into talking you into buying what they are trying to sell you. Follow your gut and go with your instincts.