At the very least, a medical professional should see this as a noble endeavor in the way of harm reduction. If people choose to pursue alternative treatments, a physician should be able to present a patient with the least harmful, and most effective options available.
In the last 100 years the people of our planet have seen many great medical achievements. Denying and undermining the medical values of our natural resources is not among those great achievements. To deny an alternative to pharmaceutical treatments creates a gap between medical professionals and patients and immediately limits the patients options to buying synthetic forms of medicine. We must remember that the corporations that manufacture pharmaceuticals are bound by fiduciary obligation to produce a profit. There is no profit in providing scientific evidence that certain ailments can be treated with something that people can obtain for little or no cost. There is however, a financial motive to undermine the use of such treatments that could decimate the bottom lines of large corporations. In short, Big Pharma is not going to help prove the effectiveness of cheap and readily available treatments. Fortunately there are projects like NCCAM (the National Center for Complementary and Alternative medicine). NCCAM is the lead federal agency for scientific research on complimentary medicine. They sponsor research using scientific methods and advanced technologies to study healthcare treatments that are not typically considered part of conventional medicine(nccam.nih.gov). Groups such as NCCAM make it very possible for non-pharmaceutical treatments to be documented in a way that provides data that can be held to the same standards as pharmaceutical treatments.
Through scientific advancements it has become much more practical to obtain a standardized dose by simple extraction methods for several herbal substances. In the case of acupuncture, doses can be addressed by the consistency of application. It would make sense for a medical professional to participate in a patients non pharmaceutical treatments by helping the patient become aware of dosing standards, possible conflicts of treatment, and equally compare pharmaceutical and non pharmaceutical treatments and document the effects of all treatments. It would also be wise to participate in treatments that adhere to standards of dose and quality that equal those of pharmaceuticals. One voluntary standards group that provides medical grade standards for manufacturers of herbal medicines is the NSF.
Even in the book of Genesis there is a recognition that all plants have a benefit to mankind.(1:29) “Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed which is upon the face of the earth, and every tree, in which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed, and to you it shall be for food.” There is great wisdom in these words. Is it so inconceivable that every plant has a positive application? Even tobacco, a known killer when smoked, is a well documented effective treatment for bruising (nytimes.com).
With the wealth of knowledge of natural treatments becoming available, it should not be hard to approach what have been labeled “alternative” options with a professional, logical, unbiased mindset, and a common goal of truthful knowledge. It would not be wise for us to make any of our natural resources into a stone that we the builders have refused.