Consider the following scenario: a man gets a stomachache after most meals. To “treat” this problem he asks the doctor for an antacid (proton pump inhibitor). The antacid suppresses stomach acid which the body needs for proper absorption and assimilation of nutrients, and for good protein digestion. Without good absorption and protein digestion many of our body systems, including our immune function, become compromised. Subsequently, the man starts to get headaches (which may, or may not be a side effect of his antacid). To “treat” the headache he starts taking aspirin which further irritates his stomach. Several years later he develops an ulcer for which he takes another medication and eventually has surgery to remove the ulcer. Meanwhile, he continues taking antacids and eating the same as always. Shortly thereafter, he develops high blood pressure (which is linked to the use of antacids and other such medications) and starts a hypertensive medication for this. The side effects of this medication include headaches, dizziness, drowsiness, diarrhea, weight gain and impotence. He also develops numerous musculo-skeletal issues such as; joint pain and muscle cramping which is linked to the fact that his body is not able to absorb certain nutrients due to the use of the antacid medication. As his physical health declines, his emotional/mental health worsens and his wife leaves him at which point he starts taking anti-depressants. He eventually has a heart attack and undergoes an operation to repair a heart valve. Painkillers keep him going as he slowly recuperates. A few years later he finds himself diagnosed with an aggressive and debilitating auto-immune condition such as; multiple sclerosis or rheumatoid arthritis, and he wonders what could have gone wrong. His health has deteriorated so sufficiently that he is no longer able to work.
Let’s backtrack and see how a different approach may produce a different result. In this scenario let’s start with the assumption that ALL symptoms are a warning signal from the body and that the body can repair itself if we give it what it needs. A man gets a stomachache after most meals. The man starts to pay attention to what he is eating to see if he can make a connection between food and the pain in his stomach. He starts to eliminate common inflammatory and allergenic foods and pinpoints his stomach discomfort to dairy and gluten. He starts adjusting his diet to limit these foods and his stomach discomfort disappears. As he does not have to take an antacid he is able to properly digest/assimilate nutrients so the rest of his body stays healthy; he is also able to continue digesting protein properly so his immune system stays strong. When the man gets a headache, instead of masking it with medication, he continues to look for an underlying root cause. After much investigation perhaps he links it to bio-mechanical dysfunction and starts seeing a chiropractor or massage therapist to address his musculo-skeletal imbalance. Perhaps he connects it to the MSG in his packaged/processed food so he cuts that out of his diet. Or perhaps he links it to a mild state of dehydration so he starts drinking more water consistently throughout his day. Now he has eliminated his stomach distress and his headaches. He is also not taking any pharmaceuticals and is therefore not experiencing any side effects. His stomach is relaxed, his immune system is balanced, and the likelihood of an ulcer and high blood pressure is greatly diminished. Because he has eliminated the foods that he is sensitive to, and is eating more whole foods vs. processed and refined foods, his risk of heart attack is also reduced. Because he feels good, he behaves differently and his marriage remains intact. His proactive and holistic approach will help ensure he lives well into old age and dies peacefully in his sleep.
Which scenario do you prefer? The body is an amazing and powerful instrument. It can restore balance and overcome significant infirmity as long as you provide it with the tools it needs to function optimally. Traditional or Holistic? It’s your choice.