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YOU ARE HERE:   Home >  Articles >  New Age >  Should Christians be Involved in Alternative Health Care Practices?

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Alternative Medicine

Should Christians be Involved in Alternative Health Care Practices?

By Steve Godwin, RN

From TV shows such as JAG which introduced reflexology to its viewers, to the local massage therapist who is involved in Reiki, there seems to be an ongoing fascination with alternative health care. Unfortunately, many of these treatments are based on dangerous spiritual beliefs.

According to ABC News, two out of three Americans have participated in some form of alternative health care practice. Although not all alternative health care practices are New Age, many are. Therapies such as Reiki, Iridology, Reflexology, Acupuncture, Moxibustion, Applied Kinesiology, Therapeutic Touch and Yoga are clearly based on a New Age understanding of God.

Should a Christian be involved in alternative health practices? It depends on whether the therapy is simply unconventional or if it is rooted in New Age or other religious beliefs. When considering those that are merely unconventional, one would do well to consider the report by Dr. Meg Hayes at, in which she offers "insights on being a smart consumer of alternative healthcare."

Dr. Hayes recommends first to "Do No Harm. . . . Find out which conditions the therapy helps and which conditions it might worsen." Certainly we agree that some therapies might make a condition worse. One should be very careful about using any therapy without first investigating the potential harm it could do.

Dr. Hayes' next suggestion is to "Use Herbs and Supplements Judiciously." She explains that one must "Beware of possible interactions between herbs, supplements, and medications." This is also a very wise suggestion. There are numerous studies that show adverse interactions between herbs and prescription medications. Today when patients are admitted to the hospital they are not only asked what medications they are taking, but also are asked if they are taking any herbs.

Some combinations of herbs and prescription medications can cause the medications to have a more potent effect, while other combinations can decrease the effectiveness of the medications. This is especially harmful for diabetics and those with heart disease, as well as people with many other diseases.

According to 20th Anniversary Edition of Nursing 2000 Drug Handbook, heart patients who take the medication Cardura could have a diminished effect of the Cardura if they also take the herb butcher's broom. The Handbook also warns diabetics taking insulin that herbs such as basil, bay, bee pollen, dock, and sage could cause a problem with controlling blood sugar levels. The book goes on to state that herbs such as garlic dust and ginseng can actually decrease a patient's blood sugar.

Consumer Health Digest reports that, “Researchers at the National Institutes of Health have found garlic supplements may interfere with the effectiveness of saquinavir (Fortobase), a drug used to treat HIV infections. The study found that the supplements reduced blood levels of the drug by approximately half.” (

Dr. Hayes' third suggestion is "Continue to Eat Well. . . . The benefits of the nutrients you get through foods in your diet are not necessarily reproducible in a supplement." This is good advice. Some substances may be helpful when contained in food, but harmful when taken in pill form. According to the Agricultural Research Magazine, supplements such as beta carotene taken in a supplement pill form instead of in food sources can cause lung cancer instead of help prevent it. Do not play doctor! Consult a licensed physician or dietician.

Dr. Hayes also says to, "Examine the Practitioner." We agree, of course. You always want someone who is qualified giving you guidance about your health.

We differ, however, with Dr. Hayes' last recommendation: "Trust yourself. Your own intuition about a particular provider or therapy can help guide you toward better health." Unfortunately, many people are not very good at this, seeking instead any new therapy, pill or promise hyped by a “star” or promoted on a talk show.

For Christians considering alternative health care, Hayes' first four recommendations generally provide beneficial guidance. However, we offer one more warning: avoid alternative health therapies based on worldviews, religious or otherwise, opposed to biblical Christianity.

Although a practice may appear to work, if it is based on a belief contradictory to the biblical view of God and His Word, it could lead to the acceptance of other beliefs that are equally opposed to biblical Christianity. As Christians, we need to discern whether anything we participate in would in some way interfere with our relationship with God and cause spiritual “contamination” by introducing lies into our beliefs.

You can read more on New Age Alternative Health Care by asking for the Watchman Fellowship article on Alternative Medicine in the Church. We also are available to do a presentation in your church or organization on New Age Alternative Health Care Practices.

Steve Godwin serves as Senior Research Analyst in Watchman Fellowship’s Birmingham, AL Office and continues to work as a hospital RN.  E-mail him by clicking here.

This article was excerpted from the Winter issue of The Watchman Update.

For more information on the New Age and Postmodernism movements, please visit our web catalog; or click here to order a free information packet.