My wife and I are 81 years old, reasonably healthy, do not use prescription drugs, and we avoid medical doctors unless we break a bone or need surgery. There is a whole world of natural treatments out there. Doctors cannot use natural treatments for fear of losing their license. A common response to learning of a natural treatment that works is "that's nice" or "keep on doing what you are doing." They cannot use anything but prescription drugs or suffer the consequences.

There are a few exceptions. An eye, ear, nose and throat doctor in Provo, now retired, cured my wife of "incurable shingles" with one shot of his own design. I was led to him by another health practitioner who cautioned me that this doctor would make no claims of a cure, but he knew it worked. I had a heart attack in 1996 and had medical help but have only seen a doctor once in 11 years, and my heart is fine and my blood pressure is low. My wife and I can document a number of medically improbable cures. We stay away from most processed foods and try to eat healthy.

What we have in this country is "sickness care." We are a nation where drugs are prescribed, in many cases, for simple health problems that could be cured by a change of diet and other lifestyle habits. We run to the doctor for a runny nose or a sore throat. What has happened to the day when we went to the doctor, received treatment, paid our bill and left?

Our doctors are trained, with much help from the pharmaceutical industry, to alleviate pain, treat the symptoms and — on a rare occasion — cure disease. Yes, many diseases have been taken care of by wonderful medical discoveries, but the everyday medical care we receive is prescription, prescription, prescription. We have prescriptions for the problem and prescriptions to solve the problem caused by the first prescription.

Most seniors have to be careful eating grapefruit and green vegetables because they are on Coumadin, a blood thinner. Clinics have been set up to treat Coumadin patients who, without prompt treatment, could bleed to death. Blood can be thinned naturally without any risk. Many hospital visits are made because of improper prescriptions. Have you noticed that every prescription has side effects? Homeopathics have none.

I recognize that I am a voice crying in the wilderness. It's a "doctor knows everything world." It is an interesting choice of words to hear they are "practicing" medicine. A very apt description. Congress, which cannot solve most problems satisfactorily, should stay out of health care.

Lawson A. Thomas is retired and lives in Salt Lake City.