Alt Medicine

I don’t want to brag. But I have no discernible allergies. Except maybe draught beer (yet I continue to drink it).

I can predict with reasonable certainty that this situation will change. My diet cannot be helping my digestive system. And as we all know, bodies have a habit of slowly falling apart.

With that, I would like to discuss food sensitivities. How do we deal with them?

Patch tests and blood tests must be the worst (this is pure conjecture, having never been through the process myself). While I understand that these procedures are some times necessary, there are other methods of deduction that can be useful. Let’s get started, alternative medicine.

(With my obvious expertise, you might assume that I have a well founded opinion on alternative or Western medicinal practices. This is not the case. For the purposes of this blog post I am simply a rube who wants to talk about choices and feelings as they relate to bodies).

First of all, I take issue with the stigma that surrounds alternative, holistic medicine. While some practices are more controversial than others, most are common sense and designed with the intent to limit stress on the body.

Everyone can agree that refined sugar, caffeine, and alcohol are no good for your system. Cut them out and you will feel better. Add in regular meals, lots of water, and getting enough sleep and you could be golden.

Holistic medicine seeks to widen the net on those pollutants. Environmental factors (hormones in meat, pesticides on food) and lifestyle choices (stresses at work and home) can affect physical symptoms just the same as and in tandem with food sensitivities. Not to sound trite, but it’s all connected.

Put simply, external stress and pollutants leave you ill equipped to deal with food sensitivities and vice versa.

Even more simply, no one can live at that speed; give yourself a break.

I won’t make any grand pronouncements about the potential of alternative medicine to combat serious health problems. But in preventative terms, why not? Control what you can.

Everything I know, I’ve learned from my parents. You can thank them for all this unsolicited advice.

6 thoughts on “Alt Medicine

  1. Well said, Frances. As someone who suffers from food sensitivities, I can attest to how it’s almost incomprehensible the correlation between the food we eat and our physical and mental health. The relationship is much more complex than simply eat well, feel well – but it’s a good place to start.

    I think the other important piece here is that holistic medicine and western medicine do not have to be mutually exclusive. In fact, it was a naturopath who sent me off for blood tests when I was trying to figure out my food allergies. While she also included a comprehensive plan (eg.dietary changes, probiotics, and a number of other actions), she was the first of four doctors (first natruopath, three other western docs) to include preventative measures in the allergen-discovery process. Every other doctor had provided prescriptions to treat the symptoms, and spent little to no time helping me determine the causes.

    My natropath also insists on patients having a family physician as well, to ensure that everyone has access to complete care plans (and also Nova Scotia Doctors of Natural Medicine are not authorized to write prescriptions), rather than only one piece of the puzzle.

  2. Man, it is discouraging to hear each side blast the other, like we’d all be well and fine if we ONLY practiced alternative medicine, or we ONLY followed a GP’s advice and prescriptions. We must choose between a shadowy cabal of charlatans or greedy MDs in the pocket of Big Pharm.
    You’re so right, Krista, when you say that we need to have a complete, and complementary, team that looks at causes as well as cures. Like my wonderful dentist recommending stress-relief exercises and posture correction to help with my chronic teeth clenching and TMJ, after almost 15 years of other dentists telling me that they only relief for my pain was to have my jaw broken and re-set. Thanks for considering my mouth holistically, Dr. Lamont!

  3. Stress plays such a large part in basic body functions. While it’s difficult to eliminate all stressors, we can work on their manifestation.

    Don’t get me started on the expectations of our work culture. That may seem absurd considering the pace of Halifax versus, say, Toronto, but it’s a system of values that is out of whack..

  4. I know this isn’t really your point BUT… I realize that refined sugar is awful, but I thought coffee and (some) alcoholic beverages improve some health outcomes (lower heart disease, better memory, etc) when consumed in moderation?

    And that gets me to a related point. I would speculate that people might deliberately or unconsciously overlook the word “moderation” or other qualifying statements in scientific research. Perhaps part of the blame rests with the media who tend to gloss over the details. This leads to overstated benefits. The reverse goes for things that are bad for you (e.g. temporary exposure to pollutants may not matter as much as prolonged/permanent exposure).

    So when we hear that coffee might be good for us, in moderation, we (or I) ignore the “in moderation” part and just drink a gallon a day – which in my case has likely reversed any potential caffeine-related cognitive/memory improvement. Perhaps moderation and some attention to detail are central to a healthy, yet not overly restrictive, lifestyle.

  5. Moderation is the best policy. When it comes to restrictive lifestyles, you should be cautious about dramatic changes in diet. Even if they do adhere to these rules. Elimination is easiest when done gradually.

    I agree, there are the benefits of antioxidants and cognitive improvement. But when you’re identifying medical problems/sensitivities, caffeine and alcohol are a good place to start.

  6. Paul, I was going to point out the same thing re: caffeine and alcohol. They are drugs, and should be treated accordingly. Stimulants can be a saviour when you’re sick/congested, and the occasional glass of wine or beer is harmless at worst. Overdo *anything* and you will be causing your body undue stress.

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