Recently I saw a patient who was concerned about a viral infection. She wanted to learn if there were any treatments available for her condition. Another physician she had seen informed her that there was absolutely nothing that could be done to treat the virus. Of course this statement was creating some anxiety and worry because of its finality and may have been making her even more ill.

Unfortunately at times we say and do things which are the result of our limitations. However one of the oldest axioms at the core of medicine is that above all, physicians “do no harm”.

When a doctor makes a statement it carries greater responsibility and weight than almost any other source. People can be deeply affected by their opinions. In this case it might have been more helpful to say “to my knowledge I have not encountered a treatment for this particular virus”. Then he could have added, “I am unaware of any effective protocols at this time but certainly would remain open to the possibility that a new remedy may have recently emerged that might even be beneficial in the treatment of your condition”. This would leave open the possibility of a new discovery and entertain other options, while providing a small window of hope. It would serve to dispel the sense of futility generated by his words and ease the mind of the patient.

Life is a process of flux and change. It is open ended. It is not a dead end. I believe that medicine, like life, continues to evolve and change its form every day. There are new discoveries for remedies and healing approaches all the time. Healing is an art. It is helpful to remain flexible by keeping an open mind and by being receptive to new directions in healing.

In contrast to the doctor’s opinion, there actually are a number of useful natural remedies that can mitigate viral conditions. Herbs are effective in boosting the immune system, which is the ultimate healing force in the body. They have traditionally been used for thousands of years as the only form of medicine we know. Modern pharmaceutical companies have derived many of their drugs from extracts of herbs. Herbs are in fact the original form of medicine, not the ‘alternative ‘.

Our existence in this world is symbiotic. Every one of us has an effect on the other. Hopefully by serving others in a useful capacity, I can respond in my own way with words that “”do no harm”.

Mary Ackerley MD (& Alex)