When you have ongoing health issues, you become an amateur expert on your condition. You do a lot of study. You look for answers. You develop an open mind. You do what your doctor tells you to do, but you also become interested in other theories. You read something or a friend suggests something and you think, “That sounds reasonable. They’re not recommending I give myself carrot juice enemas. Sure, I’ll try it.” And many times, it’s fine. You take a supplement and it does nothing so you stop. You change your diet and find you feel a little better so you stick with the plan. It’s an experiment.
Unfortunately, there’s a whole lotta nonsense to sift through in the experimenting.
I posted this back in June and…well, I’m actually kind of ashamed of it now.
The chiropractor gave me a beet-based supplement loaded with Vitamin A. And I thought, “Okay. I take other supplements. This can’t be bad.” Except it was – large doses of Vitamin A are actually toxic to an already-damaged liver. (Never mind the fact that chiropractor said that Vitamin A would “cure” the problem). Plus, the supplement contained herbs that would have greatly compounded things. (When I found out about this, I discontinued use immediately. Couldn’t have been more than a week later. Thank the Lord I never took the St. John’s Wort, because it’s also toxic for someone like me). But the chiropractor had held the bottle against my abdomen! He said I “responded well” to the supplement! He said my body “liked” it!
The chiropractor also believes that germ theory is a hoax and all disease is related to “subluxations” of the spine.
I have nothing personal against the chiropractor. Nothing at all. I think that he’s doing what he does out of a real desire to help others. Unfortunately, that desire isn’t always enough. I’m fine with seeing him if something feels out of joint, but it’s a hearty “no thanks” to the rest of it.
In the same post I claimed that the doTerra Zendocrine blend pills contained “essential oils that have been shown to help with liver function, as well as assist with hormone balance.” That was a lie. I didn’t realize it was a lie because I was repeating what I’d read. But there’s nothing except anecdote to back up the claim; no clinical studies cited, no peer-reviewed articles, no repeatable experiments. A friend gave these to me out of a genuine desire to help me feel better because she loves me, and I will forever thank her for that. I’m in no way upset with her.
But I took the entire bottle and it made no difference. In fact, my hormone levels actually got worse right along with my liver function. I don’t think the pills did that; I think they didn’t have any affect, good or bad. (As a side note, I have no beef with essential oils when used for basic aromatherapy, which I enjoy. But I just can’t buy into the idea that they cure everything from acne to cancer. There is also a very real threat of toxicity if ingested in an undiluted form. Use them if you want, but be careful).
I visited a naturopath once who put her foot next to mine to…I think get in line with my “energy?” She, like the chiropractor, would put bottles of different pills on my lap and “see” how my body “responded.” Now, if she’d just told me that Omega 3 supplements are good for heart health, that pretty much everyone who lives in this area needs a Vitamin D boost because we live at a high latitude with relatively small amounts of sunlight, that most women should consider taking a low-dose calcium supplement…all of that would have been fine. Instead, it had to be couched in semi-mystical terms.
I shake my head at myself. If you pay attention, doctors actually do advocate for good nutrition and exercise. They aren’t all about “just throwing a pill” at the problem. So I take several different supplements every day – vitamin deficiencies have been well-researched. Walking calms me down – endorphins have been well-researched. I do better when I don’t eat dairy – lactose-intolerance has been well-researched. Many of the things that alternative health practitioners clamor about have been coming from doctor’s mouths for years.
What really gets me is that I came close, more than once, to jumping uncritically onto a bandwagon. A bandwagon that, more often than not, contains dangerous spiritual undertones. A bandwagon that sometimes flies in the face of common sense. A bandwagon that sometimes makes unsupportable claims. The spiritual currents running in the alternative health movement should give every Christian a reason to pause and consider. The resurgence in Ayurvedic folk medicine, firmly rooted in the Hindu worldview, is just one example. We are not to mix our faith with other, false belief systems. It is certainly possible, when approaching the alternative health movement in general, to separate what is good and beneficial from what is wrong and dark, but there’d better be some serious wisdom-seeking in that process.
A critical mind is HUGE when you deal with chronic illness. Everyone and their mother is going to have an opinion – most of them come from love. People are going to have stories about their best friend’s cousin’s lawyer’s assistant who had the same thing and did X, Y or Z to treat it. I have learned that I have to approach the alternative health movement with a healthy amount of skepticism. (This is not to say that I trust modern medicine and its practitioners without reservation. But that is another post). If the evidence is merely anecdotal, it may not be evidence at all. If the advice comes from a blogger with an English degree who insists he knows more than someone who went to medical school, it may not be good advice. If it feels creepy and weird, it likely is.
At this point I conclude that it’s best to stick to what has been tested and that conclusion is highly influenced by my faith. Christianity, for all of the beauty of its mystery and miracles, is ordered and logical. Man screwed up, man can’t fix it, God fixed it. A to B to C. The cross and Resurrection were corroborated not only by the four Gospel authors, but by Paul and the hundreds who saw Christ before He ascended. They all told the same story. (This is not an attack on Christians who use alternative medicine. If you see it like that, walk away, come back and read it again).
I need the same level of order and logic in the ways I deal with my body.