We are living in an age where we have the advantage of having access to lots (and lots and lots) of information. I've come across a lot of customers who have an issue, let's say IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), Google it, then come in with a big list of everything under sun that might help IBS symptoms and they want it all. Then it comes to quite a lot of (mostly unnecessary) money.
I've also had customers who have Googled their symptoms and have become quite panicked about what they may (or usually may not) have.
I'm not saying don't search for your own information. I'm saying take everything with a grain of salt (so to speak), and don't rely solely on what you find. Do your own research, then consult with someone who knows what they're talking about. Here are a few tips I'd give for people trying to self diagnose and prescribe.
1. If it's hard to get, it's for a reason.
I had a lady come in once for deer sinew because she read that it might help arthritis. No joke. Deer sinew. No I've never heard of it, I've never seen it in a shop, and my opinion is that if it really worked and was a sustainable form of medication then it would probably be readily available by now.
2. If you want to be frugal, be frugal.
If you don't want to pay money for a doctor, naturopath, dietitian etc then use the free ones. Health food shops will often have naturopaths (like me), pharmacies have pharmacists, you can call hotlines now that tell you if you should be worried. Use these as well as your own research.
3. Look at evidence based, reputable websites.
4. Don't watch A Current Affair or Today Tonight. If you see 'natural' medications/supplements on these shows, keep in mind it is a paid for advertisement. Not a news story. We always get a rush on things that have been advertised. Lately we've had one you might have heard of, called The Latin Seed (for weight loss). I agreed to an over-the-phone training, and it sounded like such a scam. We stocked it because people kept asking for it, but when directly asked I would tell customers to try something different, not wanting to recommend it and have bad repercussions as a naturopath. About 2 months later it was recalled because the statements they were claiming were not approved by the TGA and were found to be untrue.
5. Get a second opinion.
Like the lady who wanted the deer sinew, some people cannot be swayed from what they want to try. Just keep an open mind.
6. Know where your supplements/medication comes from.
This probably doesn't belong in this post, but I think people can forget sometimes what they are actually putting in their mouth. We source a lot from animals, and not always humanely. Sheep placenta tablets are popular in Asia for anti-aging. HRT (hormone replacement therapy) comes from the urine of pregnant horses. Glucosamine is from shellfish. To make emu oil (used for arthritis), emus have to die.