Natural Health is Great, But….

Kelly the Kitchen Kop, one of my favorite bloggers, is running a new Real Food for Rookies ecourse!  Registration is now through Sept. 5, so go and sign up today!

I’m actually really excited to write this post.  Some of you may not be quite as excited to read it though. :)

I’ve noticed lately that a lot of the people who are into natural health are really…not as into it as they think they are.  They talk a good talk, but when push comes to shove, they head straight back to conventional doctors.  It seems to me that there are a lot of people out there who believe that natural health is great, but…only if the problem is minor.  Anything serious needs a “real” doctor.

The pervasive attitudes about natural health are that natural remedies may help you, but are just as likely not to.  They’re mild (even weak), they take a long time to do anything, and they just…don’t cure real problems.  Almost anyone would try, say, eating a spoonful of honey to get rid of a cough, but many wouldn’t hesitate to go for the cough syrup if it wasn’t helping.  These people simply don’t understand and don’t trust natural remedies.

I find this unfortunate.  For example, a lot of these people may start out doing a delayed or selective vaccine schedule (or not vaccinating) but end up vaccinating eventually because they are too scared not to.  What if their kids were to get sick?  However, if they’d fully done their research, they likely would have realized there’s nothing to be afraid of.

These are the people who will say “Yeah, we never take Tylenol…we rarely see the doctor…why don’t people just learn to leave sick babies alone?”  But then when their child spikes a fever, or gets a sinus infection, or some other not-so-basic ailment, they run off to the doctor.  They’re the types who say, “There are certain things you just can’t mess with.  For some things, you NEED a doctor.”

But, really, do you?  The truth is, natural remedies are powerful.  They are potent, yet they have few to no side effects.  They can work quickly (though not all do).  The problem is, about 70% of natural remedies are “easy” — honey for a cough, saline solution for congestion, a hot bath for aches and pains, etc.  29.9% are not so easy, but they are out there!  And 0.1% really require a doctor.

Most people don’t trust those 29.9% of illnesses that require research to find a remedy.  They don’t actually believe that ailments can be cured naturally.  These people freak out about polio (never mind the research shows it was linked to DDT usage, never proven to be contagious, and that “Guillain-barre syndrome” and others are just polio, renamed).  They rush to doctors when pregnant and get ultrasounds and plenty of other tests (many of which are generally unnecessary in healthy pregnancies).  They are worried about so many things and believe doctors really are somehow magical.  When the easy fails…get thee to a real doctor for some real medicine, they say!

Plenty of people are going to take offense to this: 

“But my child had long-term, ongoing condition that could not have been cured otherwise!”  That’s probably not true.  Maybe your child did fall into the 0.1% who truly needed a doctor.  But probably not. 

“But I tried everything I could think of and it all failed!”  Okay, but what else did you do?  Did you consult any alternative doctors (naturopath, homeopath, accupuncturist, chiropractor, etc.)?  How much research did you do, independently or with the help of a health practitioner?  How long did you try alternative methods?

“But the possible natural treatments are just too hard!”  I’m sorry, I have no respect for this one.  The side effects alone from ‘conventional’ treatments are staggering in many cases, and can potentially affect the rest of a person’s life.  Have you seen the new research showing that young children who undergo chemo are extremely likely to get another cancer later in life (that’s obviously an extreme example)?  Do what it takes to help yourself or your child.  Perhaps taking a pill is easier than changing your diet or your lifestyle, but what will the long-term consequences be?

Personally, I trust natural health 100%.  Every time I hear about a condition that someone “just can’t treat naturally” I think about all the ways they could possibly treat it naturally.  If I think they’re open to it, I’ll share with them.  I’ll even do research for them.  I’ll do whatever it takes to help them.  Because again, 29.9% of conditions are not easy to treat!  But it CAN be done!  It may take some time, it may take a lot of research, it may take some trial and error.  But in almost every case, it really can be done.

That said, if there’s something you’ve been struggling with and would like help researching your options, I’d be more than happy to help with that.  I can help you find various options, which you can choose for yourself or discuss with your healthcare practitioner.  (Note: this is help finding information only, I’m not diagnosing, treating, or attempting to cure in any way.)

If you’re still skeptical, be paying attention on Friday when we do the latest update on Amanda’s Story.  I think you’ll be extremely excited, as I was when I learned of recent events!

Some of you are saying “but it all really requires balance.”  Yes, but not the way most of us think of balance.  We’re not talking 50-50.  For all the easy stuff (colds, scrapes, bumps, etc.) we go with natural treatments and for all real illnesses (infections, allergies, cancer, etc.) we go with “real” medicine.  It’s not even a matter of “try a few things and if they don’t work, go see a real doctor.”  Natural medicine is very individual, it may take trial and error and a naturopathic doctor to help.  The first two or five or fifteen treatments may not work, or may not work completely, but something out there will.  Balance comes in when you’ve fully researched all your options, tried a variety of things, and truly believe that you are at a point where the illness/condition is taking over your life and you absolutely must try conventional medicine.  If it’s life or death, I’m not going to say “don’t call a doctor.”  But the point at which many give up is far short of where they should give up.

The body was created to heal itself (and yes, I said CREATED!).  It only needs the right tools to do so.  This applies in every situation, not just the minor ones.  The body can always heal itself.  It has that ability!  But unless you fully trust your body’s ability to heal, you will still harbor that tiny thought: “Natural health is great, but….”

Do you trust your body’s ability to heal?  What’s your position on natural health?  Are you interested in learning more about some of the less common remedies?

Comments

  1. Amy says

    Hmmmmm….
    While I agree, partailly with what you are saying, I thing the gross generalizations you have portrayed in your post I think do a disservice to a large population of parents and children. Would it not be for "conventional medicine" I would have a dead son. DEAD. He wouldn't be thriving the way he is. He would be making backward progress, because every time his body goes into a seizure his brain is further injured. You said that only ".1 %" of the population truley needs a doctor, but 1% of the population needs medicince to stop the brain damaging effects of epilepsy.

    This is only one instance, but there are many others. I agree people give up on things like colds and pain to easy. But I also know that until you are watching your infant son shaking on the floor uncontrollably, or facing a life threating illness you are not qualified to give medical advice on how I, or someone else, as a parent of a special needs child, should or should not treat.

    • Joy R. says

      Amy,
      There are herbs and homeopathic remedies that likely could help your son just as well (possibly better) than traditional medication. I’m not saying you should change how you’re treating your son’s epilepsy. However, I am saying that for children like your son, there are still natural remedies that can be just as effective as conventional medicine.

  2. ModernAMama says

    Amy,

    In general I am not talking about special needs children (should have said that before). There is no way to say how those children would need treated, what help they may need. But in the rest of the population, with no such conditions, I believe this is right. As you said — people give up way too easily on colds, pain and much more than that (flu, chicken pox, etc.).

  3. L. Hobbie says

    I don't know precise statistics but our family has always operated in accordance with your outline. We've learned to treat all kinds of conditions naturally and herbally. Living in a rural area, we do not have many alternative practitioners so we've had to research and d-i-y. After over 2 decades, it has been quite an education! In the past year, however, I've really been thrown a curve ball. Colds, flus, even whooping cough (developed in the only child who had been vaccinated against it!!!) have been treated naturally at home. God is stretching me now as I research (and try not to panic reading some of the stuff!) anorexia, which my teenage son appears to have developed. I would welcome some POSITIVE, helpful input. Herbs, natural foods, and prayer are my preferred and, to date, most potent tools for healthy living.

  4. Lori says

    Superb blog! It's funny, I found that when I attended herb/nutrition school about 10 years ago, it was mostly attended by people that had tried every conventional treatment they could find for whatever malady they personally had, and to no avail. Interest in alternative/natural medicine was initially spurred by conventional medicine's lack of ability to help them. But then we found out how great natural medicine works! And I completely agree with what you said, it is not really "natural medicine", it is learning how to support the body so that it can heal itself.

  5. says

    I agree with some of what you are saying, but I think sometimes doctors can help to pinpoint a diagnosis, but you can follow up with a naturopath or other alternative medicine type provider. I have found that the right ND was invaluable when my son was a baby with allergic colitis, for which we had been advised to wean, and did put the baby on neocate while seeking a second opinion. Because of her, we were able to eventually able to switch back to breast and my son got over a year more of nursing that he would have otherwise. However, now, at age six we are discovering that he may have an underlying metabolic disorder so we are thrown back into allopathic medicine to see a diagnosis.

  6. Denise says

    Thanks for this post on a great topic. I am working to develop my own natural health skills. And I would like to hear more about less-well-known natural remedies. Also, I'd LOVE to hear more about building up your own home health arsenal. What tools and supplements or herbs do you experienced moms keep on hand, to care for yourself and your family?
    I think too often we rely on doctors' "magic knowldge" or their stamp of approval, and don't develop our own common sense about health and sickness. If we educate ourselves, we can learn and find the very same information that a doctor can. And more — we know ourselves in a way that the doctor never can. And we can research our own particular health problem with a focus that a doctor just can't have. I am more and more encouraged to rely on my own God-given abilities to help my body heal itself, rather than run to the doctor.
    I recently was convinced/cajoled into seeing the doctor during a bout of heaving intermenstrual bleeding — and instantly regretted wasting my money & time. I quickly realized I knew my body better than she did, and proceded to help my body heal itself. Soon the bleeding stopped, and now the resulting severe anemia has been resolved, as well as an upper-UTI which followed (complete with kidney pain, which worried me the most). It is so encouraging to see how well-made our bodies are and how they CAN heal themselves if given the chance.

  7. ModernAMama says

    Thanks for the encouraging comments, everyone!

    Sounds like more is needed on this topic. I know I've spent HUNDREDS of hours researching remedies. I'm in the process of creating my own "health binder" where I will keep all of the major pieces of information, especially on conditions/symptoms that don't occur too often (lest I forget by the time I need it again). I will share this with you in the upcoming months. :)

  8. jill says

    I agree, but sometimes I'm afraid to try anything natural. For example, we tried natural teething tablets that everyone said was great. The baby started hallucinating, and we were so scared we didn't sleep all night. So, I think some natural products do have side effects.
    As far as the baby with the epilepsy, my friends child was never helped by doctors. He continues to have seizures, and no alternative therapies have been tried. I guess I worded this wrong, the tons of medications sometimes stop the seizures, but stress seems to play a factor, and his diet in his group home is horrendous.
    My son, he was first diagnosed with guillian-barre syndrome, no treatment was given except to have an intubation kit ready. Almost his entire body was paralyzed. He was rushed to another hospital, where they then decided he had transverse myelitis, no cause. Heavy steroid treatment was started, but by then the swelling in the spine had already killed off some nerves, permanently, as of a year later. Anyway, my question to you. When I wanted to put him on probiotics, the bottles say not to give to people with low immune problems. Have any idea why?
    One last funny thing…my son does not like a lot of "whole, real food", and the best thing we did for him, even he had to admit he felt great, was that we sneaked in a bit of breastmilk in his protein smoothies that he needed to get his weight up. I wish I had a picture of his face when he was told.

  9. Shannon says

    Wow. what a great post. This is the first post of yours I've read as this was linked up to another blog (breastfeeding moms unite) blog that I read. What's funny to me is that what you've typed seems radical today, but I doubt that it was radical even 100 years ago. I've come up with my own theory after working in outpatient mental health for years. It seems to me that anything that is a chronic condition doesn't usually respond well to long-term medical interventions, specifically medication. I've had clients on antidepressants, antipsychotics, stimulants, etc… for YEARS. And guess what? They aren't any better today. Actually, many have developed health problems that I strongly suspect are from the medication such as obesity (think Seroquel) and diabetes or high blood pressure.

    I think when people think of "natural" they tend to limit that belief to herbal supplements. When really, prayer and belief in God, getting rest and exercise, eating healthfully, reducing stress, etc.. are all "natural" remedies. Thanks for the interesting post.

  10. says

    So do I ask my remedy question here?

    Two parts– A) I assume you're talking about physical issues,right? Not things ppl turn to counselors for (though I know those can turn to medication, they don't have to).

    and B) Though nothing like committed to a "whole food" or organic lifestyle the only two things I "run" to (yes, for now I'd prefer to remain in ignorance of ingredients) are ibuprofen and generic Dimatapp/Sutafed. Both for the children and me. (Please, fellow commentators, skip the flogging if you can bear it).

    I take (and give) these products when they are needed for a functioning level. Our def. of needed, you understand (though I feel it is quite moderate). My question is: in your research have you come across an effective natural pain-killer and/or a decongestant? We don't need them often, but when we do, we really do.

    I would feel completely freed from the pharmaceutical industry if we could find replacements for those.

  11. ModernAMama says

    Amy,

    If you have a question about a remedy, you can either post it here or go to the "contact me" form. :)

    A) Yes, I'm talking about physical complaints primarily. SOME mental issues (like depression) may be helped by a real foods lifestyle because of adequate nutrients to manage hormones and such, but of course people should seek counseling if necessary. And hopefully avoid drugs!! I have heard of some counselors who say "I will not even try to help you unless you start Prozac" or something similar. If anyone says that to you…walk out! Find someone else!

    B) I won't tell you the ingredients now. :) But if you have questions about other remedies you may be able to use, please let me know! I did do a post last winter about healing from colds naturally. You can find that here: http://www.modernalternativemama.com/blog/2009/12/13/recovering-from-colds.html. Headache remedies can be hot/cold compresses, drinking water (often dehydration causes headaches), or certain essential oils. Rest, too, of course! Aches and pains can be helped by arnica. There are others, depending on what you need! Feel free to ask.

  12. says

    I have to take umbrage with what you wrote when you said, "The body was created to heal itself…" because although that much is true, I don't think that statement appreciates the fact that our bodies are not perfect and have all types of malfunctioning genes which cause diseases, deformities, etc.

    However, I do believe that with the proper stimuli (i.e. good nutrition, non-toxic environment, alternative health practices, etc.), our bodies will, for the most part, heal themselves.

  13. Leenie says

    Point well taken, Ken. If I did not say so, I meant to say that I BELIEVE the body to be self-healing…as with all beliefs, I could be wrong. However, even within that I appreciate being reminded that there are deviations and exceptions to every generalization, including the one I made.

  14. Stacey says

    I agree with ‘Crunchy Nurse’…call me Crunchy Nurse 2! It is hard when you have been educated in the field of nursing at a conventional school. I would rather have my boys diagnosed by our family doctor then take it from there on my own. I do treat colds/allergies/flu symptoms/stomach ailments on my own. But should something funky come along and I cannot pinpoint the problem I do go the the doctor. I would rather nip something quickly before it takes root and causes larger issues.

  15. Andrea says

    I was recently diagnosed with idiopathic thrombocytopenia ( low platelets). I am currently on steroid treatment from a hematologist, but once I get off the steroids I want to use homeopathic treatments, watch my diet etc. I am eating lots of dark green leafy veggies, limiting sugar,alcohol. and caffeine. But I would love to have your help finding more natural options to keep my platelets up without the use of steroids. Thank you,
    Andrea

  16. Lacy says

    Well I have had thrush (on my nipples of course) on and off for about a year and a half. I did some basics (gentian violet, acv and probiotics for baby and me) on my own then to a naturopath who did a candida cleanse along with castor seed oil capsules both internally and on nipples. When it came back we tried a uva ursi paste on my nipples which caused cracking, too harsh I guess. My daughter is no longer getting it in her mouth though she is still breastfeeding so that is great though. Anyways I am about ready to ask someone to write me a diflucan perscription and just get it over with! Ideas? It seems to ebb and flow and I think the ebb and flow is related to hormones during my cycles.

  17. Lauren says

    I have an extremely rare autoimmune disease called gestational pemphigoid (formerly gestational herpes–great name, huh?). It’s a blistering, itching, painful, and debilitating disease brought on by pregnancy. It threatened my second son’s life because it caused low amniotic fluid levels. We had to induce and I had to be on IV fluids to labor and deliver and avoid a C-section. I’m thankful for that intervention. The hard thing is the way that this disease (and so many others) is treated is with prednisone (I HATE the stuff). I’m down to 2 mg now, after 9 months postpartum. I’ve heard of Low Dose Naltrexone as an alternative medicine that is supposed to be much more natural-health friendly. It’s an opiate receptor blocker used in a small dose at night to trick the body into producing more endorphins, and somehow that can help the condition…but it’s rare to find a doctor who will prescribe it. I’m all for natural healing. And I’d love to find something that works. Lord willing, as we pursue natural and organic living, I won’t have to deal with this in my third pregnancy (which we hope to put off for several years so that my body can heal). We are on the right track, but when I’m pregnant and break out in blisters from head to toe and have little ones and a husband to take care of…and I didn’t have a doctor or naturopath to supervise my attempts to use herbs (quercetin and boswellia), I felt like I had to choose between being disabled and taking steroids. I took the ‘roids. But the side effects have been so terrible this time around that I never want to take them again. I’m not sure that you’ll find much more info on my condition than I have, but any info on natural healing that may pertain to my condition would be much appreciated! THANK YOU!!!

  18. Meg says

    I don’t really agree that the body can heal from ANYTHING. Some things really are irreversible. What about trauma and accidents? For chronic disease, yes, I think we jump to the “pop a pill” solution too quickly. But really, in the end SOMETHING does kill everyone ;)

    • Kate Tietje says

      Well, yes, of course we eventually die…but do we want to live in misery for years before that? Do we want to live feeling exhausted, struggling just to get by, requiring medications just to function? Or do we want to experience excellent health, good energy, and feel GOOD so that we can experience life while we have it? I think you’ve missed the point of the post.

  19. Madison says

    yeah i don’t think the body can always heal itself. i’m going to call an ambulance and get to the trauma surgeon if I’m in a car accident before i jump on the internet to search for natural remedies for bleeding to death…or if I get shot, I’m gonna want some doctor to remove that bullet. i’m not waiting for my body to remove it by itself. maybe natural remedies could help with healing afterwards, but sometimes you do gotta call in some allopathic help.

    • Kate Tietje says

      No one is suggesting that if you experience trauma/injury that you just wait around! Those would be times that we, too, would head straight to the ER and would encourage everyone else to do so as well. A car accident is *very* different from, say, the flu. Or even type II diabetes. Bleeding to death from a car accident can kill you in minutes and usually requires at least stitches, if not surgery, because of extreme damage to the body. That is NOT the same as a chronic illness. I think you’ve missed the point of the post.

  20. says

    I am very thankful that our D.O. is very open to melding traditional medicine and naturopathy. There is now a new D.O. in our area who is also a certified naturopath! The two can certainly co-mingle – it just takes a very special doctor to think outside-the-traditional-box.

    I would LOVE to learn more about natural ways to heal teeth. Mine are horrible – cracking and rotting no matter what I’ve done. Recently discovered a major vit. D deficiency from Graves disease that has played a part likely my whole life.

    Secondly, I’d love to learn about ways to use naturopathy for someone who is allergic to many herbs and plant-based treatments.



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