Most of us like to believe that “gifts” of the earth and nature can and will cure our ills.

THIS may seem like an old story but I have to tell it again because I keep hearing certain people telling others how natural remedies can “cure” certain illnesses and that it’s not necessary to take doctor’s medications anymore.

The “illnesses” that often crop up are diabetes, heart problems, hypertension, high cholesterol, migraine, sinusitis and cancer.

Most of us like to believe that “gifts” of the earth and nature can and will cure our ills. Why? It’s because much as we want a pill for every ill, popping pills can get tiresome in the long run.

While I don’t deny the benefits of certain food and herbs that can lower the severity of these conditions, I hope that people will consume them with caution.

Some herbs are so potent that they can knock you out. Many come without proper instructions and dosage. They don’t even warn of possible adverse effects. Only the good bits are promoted.

Knowing what can lower the readings of the illnesses is only half the story. Knowing how to take the natural remedies, how much, how often and for how long is quite another. You should also know if these remedies will have any adverse reactions with the medicines prescribed by the doctor.

IMPORTANCE OF AWARENESS

If your loved one is adamant to try these alternatives, discuss it with his doctor. Don’t hide the fact that you’re taking these alternative remedies and supplements. Work it out with the doctor so that medications and dosage can be monitored and adjusted accordingly. You’d also be more aware of certain side-effects and symptoms to look for.

Understand that a lower reading is not always better. Having lower levels can be more dangerous than high levels. Severely low blood pressure or low sugar level (hypoglycaemia) can be fatal. It can occur quite quickly compared to high readings, and causes damage over time.

Did you know that people undergoing haemodialysis need to have a higher than normal blood pressure so that they can be dialysed? If their blood pressure drops, the machine will stop. The consequences of stopping the process are dire because the blood needs to be “cleaned” by the machine, which has replaced the functions of the kidneys. Excess water and toxins need to be removed in the process. If the routine is disrupted, the patient will suffer.

Moderate forms of low blood pressure and hypoglycaemia can cause dizziness, nausea, blurred vision, weakness and fainting. You can pass out, have poor coordination and/or concentration, numbness in your mouth and tongue, or frequent nightmares. Severe cases may lead to seizures and loss of consciousness. You can also get into a coma.

Any of these instances can lead to injuries due to falls, which in themselves pose a great risk. If that is the case, what more severely low readings?

Severely low blood pressure can deprive your body of oxygen supply to function normally. This can damage your heart and brain. Low blood pressure that causes an inadequate amount of blood to the organs can cause stroke, heart attacks and kidney failure.

GETTING THE RIGHT TREATMENT

I’ve heard of people being admitted to the hospital for extreme hypoglycaemia because of taking herbs and supplements whilst on medication for diabetes, my late parents included.

My father went “hypo” even while having glucose solution being administered intravenously because he took some herbal remedy in addition to his medication for diabetes. We nearly lost him. He didn’t know any better and neither did we at the time. Thank goodness we were in the hospital when it happened and the very capable medical team was at hand.

The people who are most at risk of hypoglycaemia are those with diabetes, especially those on medication that lowers blood sugar. There are other rare conditions that cause people to suffer from hypoglycaemia too, such as hormone deficiencies, or liver and kidney disorders. Check with your doctor and find out the cause of your hypoglycaemic episodes. Regular healthy people who experience hypoglycaemia can be those who are fasting or haven’t eaten for a while.

I’ve also heard of people getting admitted for extremely low blood pressure for the same reason. They take a concoction together with their prescribed medications and then fall ill and collapse.

Where and how do people go wrong? Firstly, you have to understand the nature of the disease. Next, you have to see how the herbs, vegetables and supplements affect you. Low blood pressure, on its own, without any symptoms or signs of illness, isn’t a sign that you’re unwell or unhealthy. However, if it’s too low, it can be an indication of many things, including an illness and disorder. If you suffer these symptoms, see your doctor and get the right treatment.

Putri Juneita Johari volunteers for the Special Children Society of Ampang.She can be reached at juneitajohari@yahoo.com.

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