Medical Self-Care: Facts About Medicine, Part I

Doctor Tom Ferguson and Pharmacologist Joe Graedon discuss fact about medicine that people should know if they want to manage their own medical care effectively.


| March/April 1980



Medical Pills

Don't assume a drug is the answer to every medical problem. Arm yourself with the facts about medicine first.


PHOTO: FOTOLIA/ANDRZEJ TOKARSKI

In 1976, Tom Ferguson — then a fourth-year medical student at Yale — launched a magazine called Medical Self-Care, which he hoped would serve as "a Whole Earth Catalog of the best medical books, tools, and resources." 

Tom spoke of his plans for the publicationand of his conviction that self-care could raise the general level of health in this country and lower our inflated levels of medical spendingin a MOTHER EARTH NEWS interview, and left no doubt that he would work toward making those "dreams"come true. Part I of this interview appears here; for Part II, see Medical Self-Care: Facts About Medicine, Part II.

Well, Tom Ferguson is Doctor Ferguson now, and the medical self-care "movement"as well as Tom's magazinehas flourished. People are beginning to assume more responsibility for their own well-being and are eager for information that will help them take better care of their bodies.   

What You Should Know About Drugs, Part 1

This month's column is about the role of drugs in self-care, and contains the first part of an interview I had with Joe Graedon. Joe's a pharmacologist and the author of The People's Pharmacy, a book for folks who want the facts about medicine to improve their understanding of prescription and nonprescription drugs. He also serves as a consultant to the Federal Trade Commission, does a bi-weekly radio show for National Public Radio, and is on the staff of Medical Self-Care magazine. What follows is an edited version of our conversation.

FERGUSON: What is the most important fact to know about drugs?

GRAEDON: First and foremost, don't ever focus your treatment efforts exclusively on such substances. If you have an ailment, first try to understand the problem, its causes, and its symptoms. Learn what's going on with your body and how it relates to the rest of your life. Then you can consider ways of treatment . . . with a pharmaceutical product being just one possible way of dealing with the ailment.





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