How did we become dependent on the doctor visit and the prescription? What happened to the ways we cared for our families before modern pharmaceutical medicine?
When the globalized economy replaces local ways of living, people exchange broad skills and community-reliance for specialized career paths. Instead of sharing time and resources with family and neighbours to meet everybody’s needs, people start to work jobs to pay for basics and for new commodities that are promoted as essential to living a modern life.
Paying for your needs with money means you need not rely on friends and neighbours, so families and communities are no longer so tightly bound together. Instead of relying on themselves and each other, families now rely on corporate providers and outside experts. Local knowledge fades away and the understanding of natural remedies grows dim, all but replaced by the profitable kind of medicine that only experts know.
When healthcare is counterproductive to health
The modern medicine model—the doctor visit, the prescription, and the white coated pharmacist—takes us out of the family and the home environment, to consult an expert. It pulls us away from the use of simple homegrown, homemade, and natural remedies, and into the world of commerce.
In the world of commerce, scientists extract medicinal components from their original, natural sources, isolate them, standardize them, synthesize them, and commercialize them for profit.
In contrast, in the world of at-home healthcare there is no profit to be had, so there is no motive to suppress or by-pass treatments that are effective, are usually safer and have fewer side-effects, but are not profitable. There is also no need to take the patient out of the family because the experts are in the family, or close by in the extended family and community.
Parents, grandparents, and wise women and men of the community are the keepers of local medicinal knowledge that has been handed down for generations.
And the medicine, rather than being isolated, extracted, standardised, synthesised, and commercialised until we no longer understand where it came from or have any relationship with it, is simple, whole, and real. It reconnects us with nature, to each other, and with our origins, in much the same ways that home-grown or community-grown food does.
Photo by PhotoMIX Ltd. from Pexels.comModern medicine is matchless when it comes to dealing with acute, short term emergencies, but it does not empower us or build our physical and emotional/social health over the long term in the ways that home-based healthcare does.
Driven by profit
Who decides which medicinal substances to publicize, and which to suppress?
In the world of commerce and modern medicine, who pays the scientists that identify and extract medicinal components from their natural sources?
Big Pharma pays them – the corporations that make the profit.
Who pays for the research, and tells the scientists which study results to publish and which to cover up? Big Pharma.
Who decides, based on the amount of profit available, which medicinal substances to extract and standardize and publicize and sell, and which to ignore or suppress?Oh yes, that would be Big Pharma.
I know – I sound awfully cynical. I know there are caring individuals in these fields whose sole purpose is to save lives and provide relief to sick people. But it’s hard to fund research on your own, and the work of caring professionals is hampered and distorted when it is funded and directed by corporations who must pay their shareholders or cease to exist.
Modern medicine, much as we might wish it were otherwise, is largely driven by profit.
When consumerism takes away our self-reliance and then sells it back to us
The globalized consumer economy disrupts local, self-reliant and interdependent social networks, replacing them with dependence on corporate providers for food, medicine, and other necessities.
Modern families in a culture of consumerism need the white-coated expert, because the extended family and close-knit community have disintegrated.
In pre-consumerism cultures, people work together in diverse roles, in richly interconnected communities, to provide their families with food, education, housing, and healthcare.
They gift help and resources to each other as needed. They do not repay each other in money, which anonymizes transactions and leaves people independent of one another, but in reciprocal care and gifts.
Reciprocal gifting obligates people to each another and keeps them committed to the relationship and the community. Its a way of being in relationship that continually strengthens the connection.
Modern people—we who are integrated into the global economy—are afraid of being obligated to others. Our culture is shaped by a growth economy that depends completely on our willingness to work for money, to pay money for what we need, and to spend our discretionary money on things we do not need. So are taught to obligate ourselves not to one another, but to specialized career paths and long working hours.
Having traded our broad skills of self-reliance and community-reliance for a specialized modern career, we become reliant on outside experts for all our basic needs.
The richness of relationship is lost, because we now pay strangers for our needs in cold hard cash (or its digital equivalent), rather than being inter-reliant on family and friends for reciprocal gifting and caring.
So now, the parent/s in the nuclear family unit are not at home to care for the children, because they are out working to keep the wheels turning in the consumer economy.
The extended family has dissolved. The aunts and uncles have moved across the country in pursuit of better career opportunities. The cousins are bettering themselves in a far-off university. The grandparents are traveling around in a shiny new caravan, and the great-grandparents are sitting in a nursing home.
The knowledge of herbalism and other local natural remedies has grown faded and dim, all but replaced by the profitable kind of medicine that only experts are allowed to know. And now we have a culture in which we are dependent upon the doctor, the prescription, and the pharmacist.
Humanity’s relationship with the kinds of bacteria that cause skin infections like the one we had is surely as old as humanity itself. What did we do with these kinds of infections before there were antibiotics?
At the outset of my search for solutions to our child’s skin infection, I asked questions like, “Why have antibiotics become the standard treatment for this type of infection? Is it because only antibiotics works and nothing else does?”
Obviously, I can now affirm that the answer is, “No, antibiotics are not the only thing that works. We found other things that work.”
But the things we found, that worked for us, taketime and dedication that some nuclear families might struggle to provide. And they would work less well for families whose health was already compromised, for example by poor nutrition, unnatural lifestyle choices, and overuse of pharmaceuticals.
Have antibiotics become the standard treatment for impetigo because the alternatives take more time, care, connection, hard work, and a stronger natural health foundation than many modern families, caught up on the treadmill of the consumer economy, have available to them?
And maybe it’s also partly because there is no profit for Big Pharma in at-home care and natural remedies.