Me? I am an avid sponge of studies and stories, who loves and is interested in alternative anything. I like options. I am an open-minded girl, definitely (ask my friends) but I like to see some proof in the pudding of crazy claims. Still, there’s always that little voice in my head whispering the words of the great childhood poet whose books I grew up reading:
They are words I believe. They are words I whisper to my children in bed at night, hoping to instill them with the joy and wonder of the world. They are words I remind myself of when times get tough – sort of a childhood creed that’s never faded away.
They are not, however, words that are friends to the holistic community in general. Phrases like OPEN-MINDED, or ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN – these ideals the natural healing community hold so dear are a wonderful way to choose to live. And a terrible way to choose to share healthcare alternatives.
There should be no surprise when we ask the world to act on faith that our words in turn lead to words like SKEPTIC. They conjure up images of New Age-y hippies dabbing on Patchouli oil and frolicking in the woods, hoping the nature spirits will heal them (hey, nothing wrong with these things – I’ve been known for a good earthy frolic myself, and yes, I do feel it is a healing experience!) But that route is far from good for everyone. And I am constantly amazed that other natural-minded people are amazed when the masses just won’t swallow the pill that is Natural Medicine.
Are you a SKEPTIC? Good. You should be.
Eyes wide open, world! Question everything – am I right? I’m a huge proponent of RESEARCH. Yes, I believe in giving things a chance and seeing how they work and drawing your own conclusions. I also stand by the people who believe in faith healing and think that is a great thing – FOR THEM. And maybe even for me, but certainly that won’t work for everyone.
So my question is – why is it so difficult to approach Holistic medicine from a point of Science? Now, I am far from a Science-y expert, and I can only explain so much, but when there’s a question I can’t answer – I look for answers. There are resources for this kind if thing, you know. I don’t think it’s terribly difficult.
YES, holistic sciences are new and the research often isn’t quite there yet. This seems like it has obvious reasoning in the progression of our scientific modern world. The roots of holistic healing are in our past. Let’s go on a little journey to explore how the shift in mentality about these methods happened, shall we?
Once upon a time plants and energy work and all that new-age mumbo jumbo was all we had. We existed just fine using these methods to treat wounds, illnesses, mental imbalances, and all the minor (I use minor in comparison to major disease, not to belittle the quality-of-life issue we face with these things) aches and pains and issues that are part of the human condition. So you can see that holistic healing methods are not NEW AGE. They are ANCIENT AGE.
So we survived with this knowledge passed down from our elders, our medicine men, our shamans, whatever. When people joke to me about me being into voodoo healing or tease me about my Witch medicine cupboard (aka herbs and oils, etc), I like to simply state – “It’s how the Indians did it.” That they survived and were a wise and nature-based people is hard to argue with.
Although, let’s be honest – sometimes they didn’t. Sometimes the extent of their injuries or illness were beyond what we could care for with the resources and knowledge that we had. And so, sometimes, they died.
And so the human race progressed. We discovered Alopathic, Western medicine – and thank God or science or the progression of humankind, whatever you believe in, that we did. Because there are times, lots of times really, that that will save your life. Sometimes that is NEEDED. I’m so thankful to good doctors and people who commit their lives to medical research, because we would certainly be in trouble without that. So… THANK YOU MODERN SCIENCE!
Buuuuuutttt… And its a big but. It’s impossible to deny the problems within the system. There are a lot of problems. Here are just a few, or else I would be here writing for the rest of the week.
We as a people are becoming anti-biotic resistant because we are using them for everything. They are in our soap, our clever little bottles of hand sani in our purses, and we take them way way more often than we should, for things our bodies need to be given a chance to fight off. We even take them when we know they will do no good. “Bronchitis? Oh, well that’s usually caused by an virus so antibiotics probably won’t help… But here’s some antibiotics just in case.” DANGER DANGER DANGER. How many times can we take them, knowing our bodies may develop resistance, before we end up NEEDING them for a deadly infection… And then they don’t work. And let’s not even get into the “Super Bug” theory right now, even though its an important one. (I just don’t have the week free right now. 😉
We as a people are becoming so reliant, even hugely addicted, to all these different medications that are really only made and meant to treat symptoms – not disease. Consider your meds and what they do. They are one-pathway drugs that perform one exact reaction in your body. They bind with nerve pathways in your brain to mask pain (narcotics), or they slow your heartbeat (beta blockers), or they temporarily shut off a center in your brain that’s overactive (sleeping pills, etc.) or whatever. That’s actually REALLY COOL. And it all sounds great, until you realize. . .
This won’t fix you. It won’t heal you. It will (hopefully) allow you to function, and that’s good. But what are you actually saying when you accept these drugs into your body and you do NOTHING ELSE to actually target the disease or disorder or imbalance?
You are saying: Yes, I choose to live with this thing that is wrong in my body.
GASP. I don’t want this, you say. I don’t choose this. There is another way. There are actually tons of options. It requires some digging, some research, some commitment to change the way you live… You, know, the hard stuff. So much easier to take another pill. . . Right?
Until you rely on the pills for a while and start to get – OH NO- SIDE EFFECTS. What is a side effect, really? The definition is simply: “a secondary, typically undesirable effect of a drug or medical treatment.” So why does it happen? Could it be that these drugs mask one symptom in your body while their toxicity builds up and creates other problems?
I AM NOT A DOCTOR. You’ll hear me say this a lot. I cannot diagnose or treat any medical conditions, nor would I want to without the proper training and certifications. I didn’t go to school for all those years, and I’m not about to claim that I know more or better than those who did. I don’t – and I’m very grateful to those who do. However, I am a living, breathing human with my own free-thinking brain, and I like to use it. And I am not afraid to explore and draw my own conclusions on the problems I so clearly see. Nor am I hesitant to believe that we can each make the decision on how we want to treat our own bodies – It is our right.
All of it is an endless, not-so-pretty cycle. Who would choose it if they had another option? Don’t you think maybe – instead of taking drugs for anxiety that actually do really nasty things within your body – you should try out other, less-invasive options first? Trust me, I am NOT downplaying anxiety (I actually suffer from it myself, and it used to be completely crippling. It’s a constant struggle.) I’m just saying – maybe you have anxiety because your life isn’t what you really know it should be, and your body is reacting in turn? I think our bodies have an innate wisdom. I know in my heart that the mind-body connection is real. And so does every doctor. If they didn’t, the words, “How is your stress level?” would never cross a doctors lips. Why would they care, if our bodies were completely different functioning things than our mind and emotions and mood?
BALANCE. It’s all about balance, in my opinion. Look, I’m no anti-medicine holistic snob – I have a bottle of emergency xanax tucked away in my bedroom. (SHOCKER – now you know my secret!) I don’t like to take it, and thankfully, I’ve found a hundred other ways to deal with my anxiety FIRST, BEFORE reaching for a pill that I know deep down will only make things worse in the long run. So it’s really pretty simple in my book – natural, healthy, holistic options first, Western medicine as a last resort. A last resort that I’ve needed less and less as I grow on this journey. And if things ever become really bad, and I come down with something dangerous and life-threatening, I know that Western medicine is waiting to help. To help, where it is actually truly needed – and for everything else, I choose to take control of my own healthcare, happily working alongside a doctor who knows more than I do whenever I have questions.
In this spirit, I will try to provide the science and studies behind the topics I cover here in my new blog as much as I reasonably can without being a medical professional. There will also be MUCH anecdotal evidence, because that happens to be where the bulk of information is – Sadly, the vast extent of this world’s scientific studies are limited to topics that broadcast “THIS IS WHERE THE MONEY IS,” so holistic medicines will always fall by the wayside until that somehow changes. Treating symptoms and keeping people sick = money. Helping people heal so they never need to return for more treatment = well, something completely different: a personal and spiritual abundance that will make you rich in the truest sense – but there is no cash value in it. See how this works? It’s not that the science isn’t there. It’s that the money isn’t. So we are left with this sort of “pseudo science,” as skeptical people like to call it. But in reality, that’s how all research begins, and then it follows the money. Of course many claims are not further explored and researched. What would happen to the medical industry if we suddenly discovered a cure for cancer and the common cold? Monetarily, it could all collapse, oh so easily. This isn’t a conspiracy theory – its our brains making common sense and seeing the issues in our world.
BUT I will do what I can with what we have. When I was first learning, my teacher said something that will always stand out to me. I believe he is right, and that if we holistic educators lived by this rule, we would begin to see real change in our healthcare and in the world. What he said to me, after explaining the scientific basis of the class, was something just like this:
“So, did I just remove all that appealing mystery and romance [of this holistic practice]? Good. It shouldn’t be there. It doesn’t have a place. All people need is to understand how it works, and then they will allow themselves to be helped.”
It’s time to take the mystery away from simple natural options to heal and support our bodies and minds. I see a world where there is a healthy balance between the two very different viewpoints of our healthcare, where they work in tandem and harmony with one another, and I want to help usher it in. Who’s with me?