I’ve missed a few posts in the WEGO Health’s National Health Blog Post Month. Writing, for me, is a luxury as much as it is a necessity. When time is short, writing is one of the many things I have to sacrifice. Now that I have a few days off, and especially given that we are having a very low-key Thanksgiving this year, I can steal a few moments to write on topics that resonate with me.
Today’s post theme: Write about alternative treatments/regimens/medicine.
I’ve always had a peripheral interest in naturopathic medicine, but I dove in head-first when my mom was first diagnosed with stage IV neuroendocrine cancer in early 2009. I came across a book in those first scary days of her diagnosis and treatment that renewed my interest in naturopathy, for many reasons. This book—Anticancer by Dr. David Servan-Schreiber—outlines research-based information on the symbiotic relationship between nature and the human body and the body’s capacity for self-healing when treated well through nutrition and lifestyle choices. Naturopathic medicine encompasses a wholistic and effective approach to health and treatment that has existed for thousands of years. It’s not that I believed that naturopathic remedies could cure my mother, but it became clear to me that the likelihood of cancer affecting me and other loved ones who had not yet developed the disease could be reduced significantly through a naturopathic approach to health.
Anticancer led me to the work of Michael Pollan, Barbara Kingsolver, and others. So much began to make sense to me. The importance of sourcing foods locally. The myriad of reasons for eating a plant-based diet. The wisdom of consuming meats and other products from animals raised in pastures and under sunshine. The sheer intelligence contained in nature, in the resources it provides for preventing and repairing so many ailments, illnesses and diseases. I do believe there is a role for modern medicine; without it, for example, my mother would have died within weeks of her diagnosis, and there is nothing in naturopathic medicine that will cure Madeline’s T1D. However, I do not believe that modern medicine’s role is primary in the prevention and management of most afflictions we experience today. I do not believe its role is primary in the maintenance of true health.
So, I’ve committed to becoming something of a laywoman expert in the use of basic naturopathic approaches to boost my and my family’s health and to treat most ailments that come our way. We’ve switched entirely to organic, whole fat dairy products, some of which we can buy from a farm in our little town. We purchase all produce from our local farmer’s markets and our CSA farm during the growing and harvest seasons. Most of the meat we buy comes from two farms in our area, because that meat comes from animals who have eaten grass, bugs, and other tasty treats, and who have lived their lives in the fresh air and sunshine. My children and I pick pounds of fresh local in the summer and process it for consumption all year round. Slowly, over the past three years, our medicine drawer has been weaned of nearly all conventional medicines and instead stockpiled with a wide range of prepared homeopathic remedies. I changed primary care providers, from a classically trained physician to a naturopathic physician with a dual certification as an advanced nurse practitioner (score for me: my insurance will pay for her services). Luckily, my children’s PCP—while being a “regular” physician as well—embraces the philosophy of naturopathy with open arms, and bases her treatment and guidance from those roots.
Our habits are not perfect, but I’m committed to learning as much as I can and incorporating health strategies that defy fads and promote true health. If nothing else, a naturopathic approach to health helps me feel empowered and less worried that we are sitting ducks for cancer. It assists us in managing the health conditions that have already manifested. It helps my children understand what true health really is, and how to achieve and maintain it amid a toxic food industry and a social environment hardly invested in health and disease prevention. It broadens our worldview and deepens our understanding of that essential, uncorrupted connection between humans and nature.