(This is the third of four in the series on Homeopathy as: Complementary, Alternative, Green and Sustainable Medicine. Check out: Alternative Universe and A Nice Complement, Indeed to read the earlier posts)
As we as a nation embark on the Ultimate Quest For Greeness, medicine shines as a beacon of golden opportunity for change—but the potential lies buried under mountains of medical waste, oceans of pharmaceutical byproducts and an attitude of inertia.
Single-use gloves, syringes, soiled dressings, tissue samples, medical devices and radioactive materials illustrate how (for obvious reasons) safety must often supersede ecology in this attempt to diagnose and treat the ills of our Western society.
But we’ve got a huge problem in that we are creating more waste than we can effectively deal with. The WHO (World Health Organization) estimates that affluent countries like America produce upwards of 6 kg per person, per year of medical waste. With a current population of 304,537,292, that gives us at least 1,827,223,752 kg of medical waste each year.
And it’s not just about volume. Much of this stuff is super dangerous. About 20% of the waste is considered hazardous (meaning: infectious, toxic or radioactive) and, again according to the WHO, we are a long way away from being able to safely deal with it all.
The same goes for the pharmaceutical industry. Alarming information about drug residue in our water supply is no joke. The latest statistics show something like 80% of our water harboring traces of pharmaceutical medications. (Check out this site for a really good look at the problem) Although we are told (ahem) that the traces are not enough to do actual harm, do you really want to be taking a bath in a cocktail of Viagra, Advil, Vioxx and Prozac?
I am by no means an expert on how hospitals and drug companies can minimize waste, but there are some obvious things that we, the Regular People, can do to facilitate change.
The biggest step that we can make is to take charge of our personal wellbeing. This includes how we eat, how we move our bodies, how we engage in relationships and how we choose to utilize healthcare.
I hate to get preachy here, but I think that many of us use the medical system as a crutch—and we are encouraged to do so. If you really want to get fired up, read this article from Tuesday’s NY Times regarding the recommendation that overweight eight year olds be given Statin drugs to lower cholesterol; give me a break!
I believe that first steps absolutely, positively need to be built around lifestyle modification and personal responsibility—with medicinal treatments being used only after all other avenues have been exhausted (obviously, critical and emergent needs are in a completely different category).
Safe and effective alternative therapies such as Homeopathy, when properly utilized, can provide a positive support mechanism to bring the body to a better level of health and vitality—without bringing harm to the environment.
As a modality, Homeopathy is about as Green as Green gets.
First off, it doesn’t require a lot of diagnostic testing, equipment or expensive machinery. In fact, if need be, remedies can be prepared in a completely low-tech, manual process.
Homeopathic remedies are made from simple substances that, for the most part, come from the plant, animal and mineral kingdoms. For example, in the plant kingdom, there are remedies made from chamomile, nutmeg, onion and wild rice; in the animal kingdom, there are remedies from crushed bees, snake venom and dolphin milk; from the mineral kingdom, potassium, phosphorus, calcium carbonate and plain ol’ salt.
And because of the unique method of preparation used in (FDA regulated and approved) homeopathic pharmacies, only tiny amounts of any substance are ever necessary to produce high-quality remedies. This means that we are never stripping the earth of resources or harming animals in the process.
Being Green, when it comes to medicine, is about a lot more than waste reduction…
Green is the color you get when you blend a conscious attitude about your own personal health with an open eye on the bigger picture. And that is something that each and every one of us can—and should do.
Don't think about it as having to go cold turkey on the ways you currently live your life. Don't even think about it as being difficult or expensive or scary. Instead, think of it as being an Eco-Logical way to take charge of your own health and wellness. Right Now.