Saturday, March 12, 2011

Woo Medicine

I am currently recovering from what is possibly the worst head cold I have ever suffered from. The doctor sent me to the pharmacy to get a few things. The first item was Triofan, a fabulous nasal spray with a decongestant in it. If it weren't for Triofan, I think it's very possible that I might never have slept again!
photo from topwell.ch
Triofan is your standard drug. It's a pharmaceutical with xylometazoline hydrochloride in it, which is why it works so rapidly and makes breathing so easy possible again. 

The doctor also told me to get something else: Weleda Doron Drops for Cough. 
photo from weleda.ch
These are definitely NOT a pharmaceutical. In fact, they fall into a category that many would describe as "woo." These drops are not a Homeopathic, but an anthroposophical medicine. If you have not heard of Anthroposophy, it was started by Rudolph Steiner, who also founded the Waldorf school movement. I definitely consider Steiner to be 100% woo and I'll admit that after doing my masters thesis on his Waldorf movement, I am not a big fan of his educational philosophies. This makes me a bit biased against anthroposophical medicine.

That said, I like that doctors prescribe this stuff here. As a first course, it's always better to pursue the over-the-counter nasal spray and drops route rather than to take antibiotics!  Initially, I was unbelievably impressed at how effective the drops were, in fact, I couldn't believe it. But that was before I had read the Triofan box and realized it had bona fide drugs in it. 

Now, I am not entirely convinced that the drops work. Here is why: I took the drops at the same time as I took the Triofan. My cough was caused by mucus dripping post-nasally into my lungs and then being coughed back up. Yuck. So when the Triofan cleared up the nose, Ahhhhh, naturally the cough went away too. 

The next time I have a cough I'm looking forward to taking some of these drops and seeing what happens. Given how acute my pain and misery were yesterday, I am very thankful for the Triofan and its drug content. 

Overall, I think Switzerland has a really good balance of western medicine and alternative therapies. Yes, many people consider homeopathy, naturopathy and acupuncture woo, but these therapies can and do work for a lot of conditions.  I am an especially sensitive person so holistic medicine really appeals to me as it investigates how the body is functioning as a whole and how a disruption in one area can have repercussions in other areas of the body.

That is not woo, it's just common sense!!

Happily, I have a supplement on my insurance that covers alternative therapies. As healthcare reform moves forward in the US, I hope that this is something that will become possible at home, too. I'm happy to pay a bit extra each month to have access to acupuncture, naturopathy, massage and so on. And in the end, it probably saves the insurance companies a lot of money. When people pursue preventative measures that are natural it's just plain cheaper than traditional western medicine that involves lots of costly pharmaceuticals and technology. 

So, bring on the woo - and the drugs! They can work together. 

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