Sometimes people speak of herbalism as alternative medicine. The implication is that the conventional corporate pharma-toxicological medicine as practiced in the Western world is the standard, and that anything else is an alternative. But most herbalists see it the other way around. Herbs have been around for millennia. The World Health Organization estimates that healing herbs are currently the primary medicines for two-thirds of the world’s population—or some four billion people. Most of the tools currently used by modern medicine, including most of the drugs that are in use today, have only been around for a few years. If anything is an alternative, historically speaking, it is the pharma-toxicological medicine that is currently practiced in Western nations.
Modern technological medicine has its place. If I were in a serious accident, I would certainly be thankful for it! Modern medicine has proven to be most useful in crisis situations. But when it comes to the prevention of disease, or the treatment of the chronic conditions that plague modern societies, conventional medicine is sadly lacking. This is where many believe that nutrition, herbalism, and other holistic methods of health care fit in.
It is important for people to take responsibility for their health and not just rely on medicine to “patch them up” with drugs and surgery. In order to take responsibility, a certain amount of knowledge is required. That brings us to the Purpose of this Course; to give you the tools that you will need to make better decisions with regard to your health and the health of those you care for.
Many are discovering that high tech and high price do not guarantee the highest quality when it comes to health. People living in less technological societies are often way ahead of us when it comes to the use of herbs and natural methods; and our ancestors, who lived in simpler times, had a vast amount of knowledge about herbs and other natural methods that we have mostly lost in our modern world. And consider that; even though we spend more per person on health care in the United States than in any other country, we lag far behind many other industrialized and pre-industrialized nations when it comes to our health.
Considering the staggering amount of money Americans spend on medicine, you would think that we would have the best health care system and would be the healthiest people on earth. But according to a recent report from the World Health Organization, even though the U.S. health system spends a higher portion of its gross domestic product than any other country, the U.S. ranked 37th in overall health performance out of its 191 member nations! Consider also that the Institute of Medicine estimates that between 44,000 and 98,000 Americans die each year from medical errors. Many more die or have permanent disability because of inappropriate treatments or mistreatments. Furthermore, studies have found that as much as $300 billion is spent each year on health care that does not improve patient outcomes—treatment that is unnecessary, inappropriate, inefficient, or ineffective.
In 1940, health care costs in the United States were $4 billion, or 4% of the gross national product (GNP). In 1992, health care costs had increased to over $800 billion a year, or 14% or the GNP. In 1999, health care costs had exploded to $1.01 trillion. By 2004 Americans were spending over $1.6 trillion on health care each year and in 2007 we spent $2.24 trillion on health care! That amounted to 16.2 percent of our 2007 gross domestic product of $13.8 trillion and to $7,421 per person.
With “Obamacare” the cost of health care will certainly continue to surge in the U.S., as government bureaucracies and inefficiencies continue the boondoggle that American medicine has become thanks to government intervention and a lack of free market controls. Despite surging increases in the amount of money we will be spending on medical care, there is no indication that quality of care will improve. In fact, many experts, including this writer, believe that “Obamacare,” with its emphasis on governmental control over our lives and higher profits for government cronies, will result in a huge decline in the quality of medical care, (especially for aging “Baby-Boomers” for whom it was designed to ration care and even euthanize!)
It is now more important than ever to become your own doctor−to become responsible for your own health care!