3 ways people are avoiding doctor visits: a look at alternative medicine and home remedies
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) - For most people battling illnesses, the script reads pretty much the same. You're feeling poorly, so you go to your doctor, make a little awkward small talk, say "Ahhh," then you're on your way to the pharmacy with a prescription in hand.
But certainly, not everyone follows the script. The evidence of that is pretty clear with the rise of alternative medicines.
It's hard to put a price tag on your health, but trips to the doctor and the drug store can sure be hard on a bank account. So, whether it's simply people not treating what ails them to save a buck, or looking for ways to treat themselves at a bargain price, cost is certainly a factor.
However, people also turn to alternative treatments for other reasons. Some may not trust doctors or pharmaceutical medicine. Others may simply try to make the doctor and prescriptions a last resort.
Here's a look at some of the ways people are avoiding doctors and prescription drugs these days using alternative medicines.
1. Home remedies
They may be old secrets passed down for generations in your family, or they may come from the library of knowledge in the Farmer's Almanac. Most involve things you can find in your kitchen or can pick up for a few bucks at the grocery store. Others come from wild plants and herbs, while others still are based on creative uses for things intended for other purposes.
What's for sure is there are a lot of them. Many are aimed at soothing symptoms of things that aren't too serious and may not require a doctor visit. For an annoying cough, for example, the Farmer's Almanac recommends a little lemon juice and sugar, or black pepper and sugar steeped in a cup of boiling water.
Others are really old wives' tales that get repeated despite being based on bad information. One is that WD-40 is a good - and safe - treatment for arthritis because it contains fish oil. WD-40 officials themselves debunk that one on their website.
If you look long and hard enough, you can find a home remedy for anything, but doctors say be very cautious about the claims attached to them. While many are good for relieving symptoms, ones that claim to actually cure serious ailments and diseases should be taken with a grain of salt.
2. Essential oils
A type of home remedy in themselves, essential oils are a resurgent phenomenon in the alternative medicine world. It seems as though everyone knows someone selling them on Facebook these days.
Essential oils are plant oils extracted and bottled for personal use. They're applied topically (directly on the skin/body), in aromatherapy and, in some cases, internally, either through cooking with them or swallowing them directly.
There's a great debate in the scientific community right now about the effectiveness of essential oils, which are the subjects of many recent and ongoing studies. The research is conflicting, depending on the oil and what it's used for.
Doctors have found some are useful, while others haven't shown much promise. Like any alternative medicine, doctors warn people to be very cautious about which essential oils they use, the claims made about what they can treat, and how you use them.
3. Veterinary medicine
Some alternative medicines people are using aren't exotic, they're simply not intended for humans.
There have been reports in the news recently of people using their pets to get access to pain medication. Meanwhile, people are also reportedly using other readily available medicines intended for animals to treat actual illnesses.
One example is so-called fish antibiotics. They are actual antibiotics such as amoxicillin and penicillin, but they're not FDA approved for human consumption because of different production standards. They also don't require a prescription and can be bought easily over the counter or online.
ABC News 4's Jon Bruce will have a special report on people using fish antibiotics, the reasons why and the risks involved, coming up on Thursday on ABC News 4 at 6.