I have a friend - let's call him Ian. Ian has been a diabetic for 20 years and when he was first diagnosed he ventured to ask his doctor about the Low GI Diet. His doctor dismissed this by saying it was far too complicated, so Ian has been insulin-dependent ever since. Until recently, when his wife discovered a book about the Low GI Diet that wasn't complicated, and since then Ian's health has improved and he has been able to reduce the insulin. It is still early days, but Ian is hopeful that this is working - if only he had been given this help 20 years ago!
As we get older, the chances of developing age-related medical conditions such as arthritis, high blood pressure, cardiac disease, joint pains, cancer - and of course diabetes - start to increase. Your doctor is there to help you when such problems arise, however who is there to help prevent such conditions occurring in the first place? Only one person can do that - you.
My father had high blood pressure and was on medication until the day he died prematurely at the age of 47. When my doctor told me that my blood pressure was a bit too high, I decided to lower it the natural way rather than relying on medication - after all, at the end of the day it hadn't prevented my father's death. I use natural supplements, relaxation techniques, regular exercise, a healthy diet and sensible weight control amongst other methods. Obviously I check my blood pressure on a regular basis, as if it does get too high I will need to go back to my doctor, but I see that as a last resort.
Of course we all need to use our common sense here: if you discover your blood pressure is dangerously high, please see your doctor immediately and don't try to self-medicate! Be wary of self-diagnosis too - in particular don't use the internet to replace your highly qualified doctor. I am talking mainly of preventing these so-called age-related conditions in the first place, as well as using natural methods to improve your health if problems occur, hopefully allowing your doctor to either reduce or even stop your drugs.
When I worked as a complementary therapist, I always advised my clients to tell their doctor about their treatment and never to reduce their medication without their doctor's consent. After all, I am not medically qualified and the key word here is "complementary" - I see natural medicine as working alongside conventional medicine rather than replacing it.
However I am a great believer in preventative methods such as regular exercise, a healthy and varied diet, and relaxation techniques. Surely it is better to prevent, or at least delay, age-related health problems in the first place? The internet is an excellent source of information, though please don't take everything that you read on a website as gospel (even this one!). Research widely, and remember that some websites exist mainly to sell their own products, even though their general advice may still be very good.
If in doubt, do talk to your doctor. You may need to be persistent if you want to use natural remedies, but emphasise that you aren't talking about replacing conventional medicine, just reinforcing it the natural way. He or she may not know everything, and if you have an old-school doctor they may be sceptical about complementary medicine, however doctors are one of the few professionals that most people still trust!