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It’s been nearly a year since we relocated from Northern Virginia to Western Tennessee to be in closer proximity to our Dr. Bill Miller, an amazing herbalist and alternative health care specialist who provides and formulated the herbal detox we share here at Meridian.

He won’t tell us his age, but his little store has been here for over 35 years. He still sits in the front, chatting with one and all who come to see him. They often drive for more than 100 miles to get his special products direct from him. I often visit him there at this store, and am astonished by the volume and variety of these customers and patients who “don’t want drugs from a doctor because you’re the one who made me well.”

It’s an interesting topic: medicine vs. herbs, and my true feeling is that in this day and age, we have the best of both and it is up to each of us to prayerfully and personally be responsible for our health. Our bodies are truly amazing, divine miracles, meant to carry us through this mortal journey, and then to be restored to us again at the resurrection. Knowing this is true makes caring for it now a precious stewardship.

Several years ago I found a fascinating little book on Joseph Smith and herbal medicine by John Heinerman and wrote a summary in three articles for Meridian (click HERE for the first, and links to the others at the end of this article.)

Once of the comments by a Meridian reader after that article was published is worth repeating for this article:

“We were forced to leave traditional medicine due to many factors, including our family becoming allergic to antibiotics, having a child receive a vaccine injury and more. I didn’t willingly leave it, but went kicking and screaming because I didn’t want to be weird like I thought those in alternative medicine were. Now that I’m years down the road, I can honestly say that almost anything, including big time diseases, can be healed the way the Lord set forth in every one of the standard works. My first few children were at the doctors all of the time. Now my youngest kids never go except for physicals. We have learned to use herbs in a gently healing way. It’s been refreshing to actually get rid of problems, not just manage symptoms. Depression, skin problem, diabetic symptoms, asthma, and many more. Once I decided doctors weren’t God and actually asked God what to do, I have been amazed at how much He has to say on the subject. I now have finally realized that the scriptures have long held the answer to keep us healthy.”

Since then I have found an equally fascinating summary of Joseph Smith, medicine and Mormonism HERE.

While published in the late 90’s, this article documents very clearly that many of us (LDS and non-LDS) are looking to create and establish our health through plants, herbs, the grocery store and organic supplements. We’re taking on health with a positive mind-body-spirit perspective, rather than depending 100% on a trip to the doctors for medicine.

A much newer article at Prevention Magazine documents that even doctors are discovering that there is often far more success in treating their patients with herbs than with medicine.

Why A Growing Number Of Mainstream Doctors Are Making Herbs Their Go-To Remedies

by Sara Altshul, Alternative Medicine Editor for Prevention. She says:

When I started covering alternative medicine nearly 20 years ago, I could count on one hand the number of MDs who practiced with herbs and supplements. To do research on the subject, I had to walk on the wild side: I’d wander Chinatown’s backstreets to poke around exotic-smelling herb shops, schlep to flower-powery conferences (complete with drum circles) at far-flung wilderness retreats, trek through Costa Rican rain forests to observe turmeric farming, and wing off to Berlin to meet German-trained docs for whom herbal medicine was a science, not some weird sideline. Back in America during those days, everything that wasn’t mainstream medicine was cast aside as “alternative,” and physicians who practiced alt med were dismissed as a bunch of unhinged hippies by, well, practically everyone in the medical establishment.

Cut to today. I’m talking to Aviva Romm, a Yale-trained MD. I’ve caught her at home in a moment of downtime from her work at the UltraWellness Center in Lenox, MA, where she practices family medicine. Romm is what you might call a “mainstream” doctor. But it’s not mainstream pharmaceuticals you’ll find scribbled on her Rx pad. “I use herbs as my primary treatment option, along with food and mind-body practices,” she says.

Romm is the rare physician who graduated from medical school having already practiced herbal medicine—before Yale she was a full-time herbalist and midwife. But today, conventionally trained docs are getting on board with herbs and supplements, too. The numbers of MDs who recommend them have grown exponentially over the last couple of decades. This is what patients want: 38% of American adults seek alternative forms of medicine—docs trained in herbs, supplements, and other natural interventions—for their health care. And we’re not just talking about the odd vitamin D recommendation. Romm treats everything from constipation to diabetes to autoimmune diseases. “I rarely write prescriptions at all these days,” she says. “And I haven’t once been disappointed in a patient’s results.”

In spite of my own faith in alternative medicine, I’ve frankly been surprised by how, in recent years, even the most Western-inclined docs suddenly seem to be looking to plants for inspiration. Why, with rigorously studied, highly regulated pharmaceuticals at her fingertips, would a clinician decide to suggest an herb? I posed the question to Daniel Neides, medical director of Cleveland Clinic’s Wellness Institute. For Neides, it was one career-changing patient: a 55-year-old professional nanny whose chronic knee and hip arthritis made walking nearly impossible. “She’d tried nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, multiple knee surgeries, water therapy, physical therapy—and nothing worked,” he says. “Finally, I tried her on 4g of fish oil and 1,000 mg of curcumin (a compound in the spice turmeric) a day. Within 2 weeks, she was feeling well enough to get down on the floor and play with the kids; she told me she hadn’t felt this good in 25 years. Frankly, I was amazed.” Now, Neides uses supplements for many of the conditions for which he once prescribed drugs, and he says he often gets the same, if not better, results.

These miracle-patient conversion stories were plentiful among the MDs I spoke to. Others cited frustration with our medical system, which often keeps patients on multiple drugs for years with no cure in sight. “We have a diagnostic system that requires doctors to match a disease to its code number, and for every code there are ‘appropriate’ pharmaceutical treatments,” says Martha Howard, a family practitioner in Chicago. All too often, she says, this system encourages docs to prescribe drugs meant to suppress symptoms, rather than correct their cause. For instance, a doctor might prescribe a common nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory painkiller to block out joint pain when in fact a supplement could reduce the inflammation at the root of the arthritis. “This is often dangerous and sometimes even deadly,” Howard says.

But while herbs and supplements once considered fringe have made it into the realm of the white coats, so much remains murky. For every study showing that echinacea works wonders for a cold there’s another indicating it won’t help much at all. So how does the stethoscope-toting set—those docs who notoriously like to rely on research and statistics for their every decision—deal with that uncertainty? And what, pray tell, are they prescribing? I talked to Romm and more than 50 other doctors to find out.

The result is a mini-guide to alternative medicine, MD-style (get the mini-guide here at 21 Healing Herbs Doctors Trust). Take it to your doctor. At best you’ll walk away with new solutions to try; at the very least you’ll start an important conversation about treating your condition. Even if you don’t get a root cure, you may get at the root cause.

(To read the whole article at their website CLICK HERE)

Our bodies are truly amazing, divine miracles, meant to carry us through this mortal journey, and then to be restored to us again at the resurrection. Knowing this is true makes caring for it now a precious stewardship.

Medicine and Mormonism

1. Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, Doctors and Herbal Medicine

2. Joseph Smith, and Herbal Medicine In Nauvoo

3. Brigham Young, Health Herbs, Doctors and Medicine


Carolyn Allen is the Author of 60 Seconds to Weight Loss Success, One Minute Inspirations to Change Your Thinking, Your Weight and Your Life, available HERE. She has been providing mental and spiritual approaches for weight loss success both online and in the Washington, DC community since 1999 presenting for Weight Watchers, First Class, Fairfax County Adult Education and other community groups. She and her husband Bob are the parents of five children and grandparents of ten. They are now happy empty nesters in Jackson Tennessee, close to Memphis where they center their online business and Carolyn serves as the Primary chorister.