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Thinking Critically About Chronic Illness and Natural Health

I’ve been living with chronic pain and illness for a long time – over 20 years. During that time, I’ve tried a multitude of different treatments and healing modalities. For a long time I refused to take prescription medication because I wanted to heal naturally since I kept hearing that natural medicine works, and it’s better than going the traditional route. What I really needed was serious medical attention, but I refused to acknowledge that was the case until my health situation had become dire. I tried everything from vitamin supplements, to homepathics, to seeing a shaman.

Nothing worked. Some things seemed to help for an hour or two, or maybe a day, but nothing led to lasting healing on a physical level. What I learned from this is that for me, natural medicine is not enough, as much as I might want it to be. To be honest I feel a bit misunderstood by, and disillusioned with, natural medicine and its supporters lately.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for healing naturally, without prescription medications and medical procedures, but now I see that this isn’t the solution for everyone.

Let me give you an example. A few years ago I was very sick and really frustrated with the state of my digestive health. I was having (among many other symtoms) an irritable bowel syndrome flare up and suffered from constipation, diarrhea, heartburn, acid reflux, bloating, stomach and bowels spasms as well as a chronic cough from the reflux and sore throats from the reflux and coughing. Yeesh!

I tried healing my digestive system the natural way by attempting first to kill off any viruses, fungi, and bad bacteria using a variety of herbal remedies and other supplements, and then to restore the healthy bacteria using probiotic supplements. I was unable to tolerate any of the pills, powders, tinctures, or probiotics (except for plain yogurt). After multiple rounds with multiple naturopaths, I ended up with to entire cabinets full of supplements that either didn’t work or to which I had bad reactions.

I finally got tired of spending so much money on remedies that did nothing, and of being

so sick, that I finally gave in and went to see my doctor for all the symptoms I was experiencing, not just the digestive distress. I started taking an antidepressant for something unrelated to my digestion. As soon as I started taking the medication, my digestive system calmed right down and I today have at the most 10% of the digestive distress I used to have. Well didn’t that just blow me away!

Many people like to rant about how pharmaceutical companies and doctors manipulate us and put us on medications we don’t need. I would like to add that natural health and supplement manufacturers do the same thing. I was convinced by the ads and the messages I was hearing that I could and should be healed with herbs and such. Turns out my gut bacteria didn’t need rebalancing, what I really required was a reduction in anxiety and stress, which the antidepressants provided (note that I had tried "natural" anti-depressants early on during my journey).

What’s my point here? It’s that we need to think critically and to follow our intuition when it comes to what our bodies need. Your body is unique. Question everything. Don’t take anyone’s word for granted. Just because there is a trend towards a certain type of therapy doesn’t mean that it’s got to be the right one for you. If someone is selling something, they are going to try to convince you that you need to buy it, whether it’s natural or pharmaceutical. Do what works for you, whether that’s seeing a naturopath or a medical doctor or something else. What matters most is that you get relief and feel better.

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