Is Popular Culture Adversely Affecting Your Health?

As I sat in the dentist office waiting for my husband to finish his appointment my phone’s battery went dead. As his half hour appointment turned into an hour and a half, I enjoyed the artwork on the walls, and people-watched for a while. Finally, and because I didn’t want to seem like a creep with the people watching, I decided to pick up a magazine.

It was a popular women’s fashion/lifestyle magazine. The kind of magazine I haven’t bothered with since I was 23 years old, ahem, which has been quite a while now.

I flipped through the pages looking at pretty outfit ideas and lipstick ads. I came across a little article in which a Yale-trained M.D. was interviewed and quoted on the topic of cranberries for the treatment of urinary tract infections.

The Dr. stated that the idea of cranberries as a treatment for UTI’s is a myth and that anyone who has experienced relief from a UTI through the use of cranberry juice or products is just experiencing the effects of hydration. The Dr. then relays that the only treatment for a UTI is antibiotics.

I was appalled at this article. Over the years I have treated around half a dozen UTI’s on myself. Some with antibiotics and some with cranberries. Both with quick success.

Not only have I healed my own UTI’s using cranberries (fresh, dried, juice, and/or pills) the cranberry products also relieve the painful symptoms quickly.

My own experiences aside, I know countless others have used this form of plant medicine with great outcomes. I have had M.D.’s, as well as Naturopath’s, recommend cranberries to me as a preventative and treatment for UTI’s. Lastly, there is plenty of published research confirming the effectiveness of cranberries and its constituents as curing, preventing and relieving urinary tract infections. (Instead of citing these medical journals here I encourage everyone to do their own research.)

You might ask,

“What is the difference if I use an antibiotic or cranberry pills to cure my UTI?”

My answer would be that cranberries are good for your body on multiple levels and have no adverse side effects. The same can not be said about prescription antibiotics.

Doctors are trained to weigh the risk/benefit ratio when prescribing medications to clients. Unfortunately, they are not trained or encouraged to weigh the risk/benefit of ratio of pharmaceuticals versus natural supplements.

Cranberries have naturally occurring vitamin C as well as many phytonutrients.

Phytonutrients are bioactive plant-derived compounds associated with positive health effects.

- Merriam Webster Dictionary

Many of these phytonutrients offer antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer health benefits. Cranberries are an excellent source of vitamin C, dietary fiber, and manganese, as well as a good source of vitamin E, vitamin K, copper, and pantothenic acid.

Antibiotics not only kill the harmful bacteria in our bodies, but the good bacteria as well which we need for the proper operation of our immune system and digestion. Just read the insert to your antibiotic prescription for a list of the possible side effects (by the way, pharmaceutical companies are not required to list all the possible side effects in that insert).

It is true that some infections, including UTI’s, may require prescription antibiotics. Any infection should never be ignored and if you don’t receive relief right away from any treatment let your Dr. know immediately. An unchecked UTI could quickly turn into a kidney infection and become life threatening. I am not against traditional medicine and turn to it often for myself and my family.

I am not a doctor or a scientist. What I am is an educated consumer.

Antibiotics are a wonderful life-saving medicine. Unfortunately, they are being overused for inappropriate conditions, such as viral infections, and considered a panacea by many who go to their doctor demanding antibiotics and the doctors willingly prescribe them even though they know better. This leads to “super bugs” such a MRSA which are antibiotic resistant.

I was distressed by this article because of the flagrant disregard for common wisdom. The magazine is owned by Hearst Corp. which also owns pharmaceutical companies. You can draw your own conclusions there. But, all conspiracy theories aside, what distressed me the most was the idea of millions of readers reading and more importantly trusting this popular publication, as well as the word of a medical doctor with an ivy league education, with their health care decisions which were clearly biased or misinformed or both.

In all fairness, no one can be considered unbiased, least of all me. I am a herbalist and natural health advocate.

I am also a proponent of using ALL of the tools, technologies, and innovations at our disposal when it comes to creating health and wellness including prescription medications when needed.

My cry to you, dear reader, is to use this age of information with acumen and discernment. Vet your sources of information. Even more importantly use your wisdom and judgment when it comes to information you ingest. Gone is the day society blindly follows the powers that be with nary a question asked.

The road to health may look different for every person. The point is to live your unique best life which requires a level of personal accountability when it comes to our healthcare and sickcare. We are very blessed with all of the choices and opportunities offered to us. Don’t let popular culture and big media keep you from experiencing optimal wellness.

-Heidi Tungesvick

This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.