Remedies Are No Answer for Health Problems

By Joel Fuhrman, M.D.

  • Can I strengthen my kidneys with herbs?”
  • “What should I take when I get a cold or flu?”
  • “How do you explain the healing of various illnesses after urine therapy?”

Allow me to use the questions above to clarify the issue of therapy and remedies in general. We can’t smoke cigarettes with impunity or excessively consume alcohol without paying a price, or eat the American diet and not eventually develop atherosclerotic heart disease and cancer. Diseases have causes; when we avoid the causes of disease we protect our valuable health.

Remedies can’t protect us from disease or make us healthy; avoiding the causes of disease can. Many substances, both natural and those designed in the lab, have medicinal effects and can lessen the symptoms of disease. However, only noxious substances have such effects.

Drugs are foreign, non-nutritive substances that your body must attempt to eliminate before they cause damage to your pristine cells. It doesn’t matter whether the compound is derived from willow tree bark or from the lab at Johnson & Johnson. Substances with therapeutic or medicinal effects do not make you healthier, and they can have significant negative effects on your health if they are consumed for a sufficient length of time.

Healing From Within

We don’t gain energy, detoxify more effectively, or strengthen our immunity by consuming medicinal substances. For example, if you feel more awake and energized after consuming some exogenous (foreign) substance, you might conclude that you gained energy. In fact, you actually lost energy. It was robbed from your energy reserves. If something appears to give you energy, it is a stimulant and is not beneficial to your long-term health. Only toxic substances can stimulate you and make you feel better temporarily. Any type of stimulation drains your energy reserves and ages you more rapidly. Healthful food will not give you a burst of energy, make you sleep less, give you instant pain relief, or make you urinate more. Eating healthfully, exercising, and sleeping adequately lead to improved overall health and increased energy. Building health is different from getting an instant burst of energy from a chocolate chip cookie or an herbal stimulant.

Regardless of the manufacturer’s claims, an herbal diuretic does not strengthen your kidneys, it merely blocks renal tubular re-absorption and, as a result, you urinate more. There is no magic at work. The key point to keep in mind is that if something has a medicinal effect, it also has a drug (toxic) effect.

Harmful Stimulation

When we consume healthful substances that supply a nutritive need to the body, we feel no stimulation. If you eat some parsley or broccoli, it will not give you a burst of energy or allow you to get by with less sleep. Contrast that to the stimulation you experience when you ingest products that contain caffeine, refined sugar, or other stimulants.

Stimulation is not nutritive. Stimulation occurs when the body reacts in response to a toxic substance, creating increased activity of the circulatory and nervous systems. This response is representative of irritation from the exogenous substance. You may feel stronger and more energized, but that is because you have dipped into the energy stores of your body. A sensation of alertness and strength is borrowed from your reserves, not created magically by a few milligrams of some heavily-promoted natural compound harvested from some exotic location.

When a rider whips a tired horse to get it to run faster, no one imagines that the whip gives the horse extra energy. The horse draws on energy already stored in its body. If a horse regularly is forced to run when it is tired, its chance of injury will increase, and it will require increasingly longer periods of recuperation before it can run again.

Lifelong Health

Longevity is the result of the conservation of your body’s energy, not of its utilization. The body increases its normal functions and works harder as a reaction to and in an attempt to remove exogenous agents. Exogenous agents—therapeutic or not—also may bind to cell membrane receptors, interfering with normal cellular function.

Conserve your precious reserve energy. Just as the batteries in your flashlight will last longer and be ready when you need them if you keep the flashlight turned off, your reserve energy will be there when you need it in an emergency or other time of unusual need. The more you stimulate yourself with coffee, sugar, rich foods, herbal stimulants, and other remedies, the faster your body will age. Generally speaking, nutritive substances (vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals) have no specialized therapeutic effects. They merely enable the body to function normally. By supporting normal function, nutritional excellence prevents the cellular damage that leads to disease.

Underlying Problems

Therapy givers—allopathic physicians, homeopaths, naturopaths, herbalists, Chinese medicine practitioners, ayurvedic practitioners, and the like—all recommend their favorite remedies. Keep in mind, receiving remedies does not make one healthier, they make one less healthy. In fact, the need for remedies illustrates underlying health problems. These problems are more effectively addressed by uncovering causes that can be removed, so as to give free reign to your body’s natural tendency to heal. Often, the remedies add further toxic insult to an already weakened system.

Symptoms Are Remedies

In acute illnesses, such as colds and flu, the symptoms—such as fever and cough—are the best remedies for the virus. The fever encourages the brain to secrete interferon, which then further activates white blood cells to fight the virus. The cough aids in expelling the mucus and preventing it from settling within the lung. Suppression of the fever and cough with medication only leads to more prolonged illness.

Even worse than self-medicating your symptoms is going to the typical doctor. Most doctors, not wanting to disappoint their patients or reveal their inability to help in any way, prescribe a toxic antibiotic that is useless against viral illnesses. Antibiotics have legitimate uses, but these would only encompass about one or two percent of all antibiotics prescribed in this country today.

When ill with a typical viral syndrome, it is best to rest, drink water, avoid cooked food, and only consume fresh fruit and raw vegetables if hungry. Avoid physicians and medication. See a doctor only if the illness is unusual or unusually severe or prolonged.

Regarding the rather distasteful concept of (drinking) urine therapy, it may well have some mediating effect on symptoms, but, as I have discussed, we are after superior health, not masked symptoms. Superior health is the result of nutritional excellence and healthful living habits. It does not result from taking remedies.


While many substances suppress symptoms and give the appearance of increased vitality, generally they are harmful (toxic) in proportion to their power to stimulate a physiological response. This does not mean that a natural substance with medicinal properties—or even a drug— should never be used; it means that there is no magic. We pay a price (a noxious stress to the body) from the use of such substances. Therefore, we are better off living in a manner that allows us to avoid such things.

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