Costa Rica is tolerant to alternative medical treatments

Oops, it looks like I have added to the error problems of the last couple of weeks. Two weeks ago when I wrote about social life in Costa Rica, I said that Newcomers was a sub club of the Women’s Club. Not so. It is an independent entity. That means they have separate officers, dues and members. Of course, you can belong to both. Sorry Newcomers and Women’s Club, for the error.

My friend Nina is back in Norway. And I am very happy for that. I have written about her before because she is a remarkable woman. She works for Norway’s state department and has been stationed in Palestine, Kabul and Juba, Sudan. While she has been working to bring some sort of relief and help to the people of those countries, I have been enjoying life in Costa Rica.

Nina was a resident adviser and later my assistant when I was director of the International House at San Jose State University. I was amazed at her schedule of classes over the years. They ranged from business to anthropology. I remember her master’s thesis was on the lives of African American gay men in San Francisco.

While Nina plans to get an advanced degree in psychology, her fiancé is continuing his studies in alternative medicine. He is adding to his work in acupuncture, nutrition and homeopathy and is now studying efficacy of herbal treatments.

I was surprised to learn that the medical establishment in Norway is not sympathetic to the practice of alternative medicine, which probably means the country is not, either.

Fortunately, Costa Rica seems to be much more accepting of other ways of knowing and believing in many areas. Although Catholicism is the official religion, there are many people who freely follow different denominations and beliefs without interference. The same thing occurs in the medical profession. There are many excellent doctors in all fields of medicine in Costa Rica, but I have never found it difficult to find someone who approaches healing in a non-allopathic manner, and I even know a couple of medical doctors who also practice homeopathy or recommend herbal cures. The Mercado Central and most ferias sell various natural and herbal treatments.

I am, as a patient, happy for this tolerance. Over the past two years I have been in the hospital and seen so many doctors I had lost count by the time I simply gave up and decided that they could not diagnose the source, or even treat the symptoms of my pain. So when a friend’s friend suggested I go to her iridologist, I said, “Why not.” It is noninvasive, and it doesn’t involve yet another x-ray.” The iridologist examined my eyes with a computer program and then gave me some homeopathic medicine, and I have been pain free since I have been taking them.

I have found no side effects except for a smile that comes more often and a more daring imagination as to what I can do.

I am not dismissing the medical profession out of hand. It bases its work on the scientific method, and they are rightly proud of that. But like other belief systems, science is managed by humans who are influenced by such things as the law, their morals and religion, not to mention, their mothers. Thus doctors will help find a painless method for killing a person sentenced to death by the law but condemn anyone who wants to help someone who wishes to die.

And when it comes to research, they are also constricted both by the law and their own prejudices and religious morals.

Most physicians accept that many prescription drugs contain the essence of plants and that some vaccines contain a strain of the disease they are immunizing against, but they dismiss homeopathic and herbal treatments.

There are still many things that science cannot explain, nor can they dismiss such phenomena as the placebo effect, evidence of operations that were performed thousands of years ago, or even the pyramids. Our belief in the truth of progress has kept us from appreciating the knowledge and practices of the ancient world . . . or other ways of knowing.

Editor’s Note; There is a discussion of IridologyHERE!

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