Many of us suffer from chronic symptoms and disease. It isn’t very often you hear someone say they feel great and there are no problems. Most people will complain of suffering from at least one of a whole range of symptoms -stress, headaches, heartburn, and the list goes on and on. We are bombarded daily by advertisements for medications for numerous symptoms like anxiety, depression, and various physical maladies. As a society we have begun to accept disease as being natural, and that is where many of us unknowingly tolerate unacceptable conditions under the guise of “normalcy”. This concept permeates many areas of our lives, not merely physical health. Just because something is widespread, does not make it natural or normal.
As a Naturopath, I advocate, “whole being wellness”. I believe all parts work together to make us whole, and that each aspect directly affects the others. The whole being consists of several “bodies”, the mental, emotional, spiritual, as well as physical. When we suffer from depression or chronic anger, the effects of that stress will also manifest in the physical body through various symptoms. The reverse is also true. When toxins are taken into the body; it must work overtime to rid itself of these poisons. The resulting fatigue may affect the ability to think clearly and concentrate, or cause depression or irritability.
Although Allopathic medicine does recognize many of these correlations, physical symptoms still continue to be treated as stand-alone disorders. The underlying factors are not usually taken into consideration. These diseases are lumped together and treated in “textbook” fashion. As individuals, each of us will have numerous combinations of different variables that contribute to the state of our health. How can it be effective to lump everyone with a particular group of symptoms into the same general category? Naturopathy recognizes this, and seeks to treat the whole person, considering all aspects of the individual’s lifestyle and habits, not only the physical manifestations of illness.
It is my belief through my studies and my own life experience that the majority of diseases are merely the symptoms of a deeper underlying problem. For example, in my teens I was diagnosed with Asthma and Clinical Depression. I was angry a lot, always tired, and irritable. I was sent to a psychiatrist to talk about my feelings and receive medication. The pills I was given not only didn’t help; they made me feel even more worn-out, which in turn increased my anger and depression. I was never asked any extensive questions regarding my diet; sleep habits, activity level, or anything else that directly affected my lifestyle. In typical textbook fashion I was labeled and given the standard, across the board treatment for depression. I was led to believe that depression was “normal” and for whatever reason I must be less than normal if I did not respond to the standard treatment. I felt destined to live a life where I would always feel unhealthy, and that very belief system itself was problematic.
My asthma was very much the same. I was given a slew of chemical inhalants and put on pills to “control” my asthma. I was convinced it was natural for some people to not be able to breathe without the aid of manmade chemical devices. As the years went by, my asthma worsened as my body began to develop a tolerance for the various drugs I was given. It wasn’t until I began to study holistic health and naturopathy that I learned some interesting facts about the lungs. When there are high acid levels in the body, the body works hard to rid itself of the excess by secreting it through the lungs to be exhaled out of the body. I had been told for years that aerobic exercise would strengthen my lungs, and every time I would try to run or engage in strenuous physical activity I would end up having severe asthma attacks. It turns out the body produces more acid during extreme physical exertion. An already saturated body will then have that much more toxin to deal with. The better choice for me was diet modification and light to moderate activity. I spent years not knowing this because the accepted scientific “norm” doesn’t recognize this particular correlation.
Upon learning this, I began to incorporate many more alkaline-based foods into my diet. I started drinking sufficient amounts of water, enabling my body to cleanse more toxins through the kidneys. I ate less of the prepackaged junk food and cut red meat completely out of my diet. I learned Eastern methods of breath control and enhancement. The result? My asthma and synthetic drugs no longer run my life; I manage my breathing by balancing the Ph level of my body. I no longer take pills because I don’t need them. I use an inhaler a few times a month at worst, as opposed to a few times per day, which was the “norm” when I was only treating myself through conventional methods. Empowering myself was perhaps the best medicine of all. I no longer felt victimized by illness, for the first time I felt in control of my own health and not at the mercy of medicine.
Doctors don’t tell us a lot of these things, because it is not a part of the “normal” treatment plan. This is not a condemnation of allopathic medicine. It certainly has its place. It also has its restrictions based on the judgments of insurance companies and what they deem as acceptable treatments. My biggest concern however comes when one branch of treatment insists its methods are the only right way. We are not all born the same, so how can it follow that all treatment be the same? It makes no sense, and I believe fully and will always advocate the need for balance between nature and science. My life was enhanced on many levels through the introduction of natural methods of prevention and treatment in addition to allopathic medicines.
When my health was at its worst, it’s not a real surprise that so was my diet. In my teens, my daily diet consisted of a lot of packaged foods, fast food, soda and candy. I never drank water. Fresh fruits and vegetables were a rare shock to my system. I was feeding myself a never-ending supply of poisons and then wondering why I felt bad almost all the time. I didn’t realize that I was chronically malnourished and dehydrated, and that was the underlying root cause of my other conditions.
The best offense against disease, depression, and other life-robbing conditions is a good defense. Education and awareness are essential to whole-being wellness. Build the body, mind, and soul through conscious awareness of your choices and actions and how they affect you on all levels. Empower yourself and trust your intuition. Understand that not all symptoms are diseases, and that disease is not a natural state. Health is our natural state and many of us may have to reverse years of chronic abuse through misinformation to return our natural state back to the “normal“one.