I write for work on a website called PlayPennies. I often do a commentary on things that have been in the news, and sometimes this incites quite a bit of criticism and chagrin towards me, as my views are not always what most would call mainstream.
Yesterday, for example, I wrote a review on a detox programme I was using, and have used for a number of years now â€“ always in January, and sometimes at other times of the year too. A biochemist proceeded to lay into me about selling snake oil and so on.
As a biochemist, he had looked at the ingredients and found nothing there that would cause an increase in health, or weight loss. I responded with a shrug of my shoulders at first, which obviously didn’t sit well with him, because he had a lot to say about it â€“ and then I didn’t respond.
The thing is this:
I grew up around people in the medical field. I also grew up with a brother who is now a chemical engineer, and a father in the military: not exactly airy-fairy hippy kind of people. I myself graduated high school with the equivalent of six A-levels, all with over 80% pass marks. I’m not exactly dumb, nor very gullible.
I also grew up with migraines, intense and debilitating, till I eventually was taken for MRI scans for tumours and so on at the age of ten. No doctors, MRI scans or anything could solve my problems. In time, the migraines faded on their own, but I still had regular headaches. One day someone dabbed oil on my forehead and the headache went away. I didn’t know what it was meant to do, I didn’t know what she’d put on, but it worked regardless. It turned out to be lavender oil, and I’ve used it for headaches ever since.
At the time, this wasn’t overly acceptable. I grew up in a very religious environment, and had been taught that herbal remedies, flower essences, and natural remedies were sacrificed to false Chinese and Indian and whatever other culture’s gods and we couldn’t use them. But it worked for me, so I kept using it.
Years later I was to suffer, for no less than three years from horrific yeast infection. I went from doctor to doctor, saw specialist after specialist and was eventually referred to a sex therapist that I had to see for about eight sessions, as the yeast infection was apparently psychological. Still, nothing helped, and it wasn’t doing intimacy in my marriage much good.
Walking home from work one afternoon, out of desperation, I popped in to a Homeopath’s office that I had walked past every day for a year. She saw me, she got my background and history, and she gave me a tablet to take, another to take in the morning and a third for the following evening.
When I woke up the next morning, the painful itch was gone. It’s been four years, and it’s never returned. That’s some pretty strong ‘thinking yourself healthy‘ for you right there. Obviously I hadn’t wanted to be healthy for the three years that I suffered. Or maybe, it actually just worked.
Since then, I too have been a sceptic: of medicine, and of the medical system. I am no fool. I know medicine has it’s place, and I am grateful that should we as a family ever need it, it is there â€“ for example when I was in hospital for four days during my pregnancy when they rehydrated me after four months of Hyperemesis Gravidarum. I am fully aware of the life-saving purpose of medicine and of some doctors and surgeons, but I do not believe that they are the only way, nor that they have the only answers, or even know all the answers.
Sometimes in life, experience is the best teacher. Perhaps I can’t always explain why things work, nor can I always tell you the mechanics that make them work, and perhaps everything I believe is nothing but a placebo effect, but then how much more powerful and wonderful are they?
But what I can tell you is about how homeopathy affected and reduced to a mere tick my brother’s Tourrette Syndrome. I can tell you how it helped my mother’s exacerbated dermatitis and eczema. I can tell you how it healed me.
If I can self-heal, without the use of chemicals that have in truth, unknown consequences on the human body, long term, or without the use of drugs, that are often and regularly withdrawn from the market, then all the better, then I have no desire to stop.
So, dear reader, if you don’t agree with something I have to say, I’ll answer you with my views on it. If I feel that answering is a waste of my time, then I wont, because you’re never going to change my mind, and I, apparently, am never going to change yours. Debate is great, when both parties are willing to listen to the views of the other person, and respect them, and maybe even take something away from them, but I don’t have the time, energy or desire to debate with someone who won’t listen to a word I have to say, and will actively belittle my personal experiences.
Sometimes I Don’t Answer You â€“ Or Why I Trust Nature Over Medicine
Alright, you retweeted, so I’m commenting even though this convo has been over for a while 🙂
This is so interesting to me because I’m trained as a molecular biologist, but I also have so much respect for the wisdom of nature and honestly I identify as pagan. So it’s an interesting dance between the two halves of my brain.
On the one hand I’ve been one of the ‘experts’ (in medicinal plants, no less) so I have first hand experience with how limited their expert knowledge really is. On the other hand when I hear explanations of things like homeopathy, my scientist kicks in and says phooey!
So hard to separate out what you know from what you think you know, and again from what you believe. Good for you for teasing that all out a bit and doing what you know works.
I agree entirely!
What I don’t understand is how people see using those remedies that work for you as “unscientific.” The scientific method is DEFINED by testing things to see if they work. If they do, use them! And that’s how most drugs on the market were developed, too. Some of them are fully understood — we know how they work and what effects they have on the body — and some are only half-understood. The important thing is that they work in a large percentage of trial subjects.
But when your only patient is yourself, the only thing that matters is what makes you feel better. And why not go with remedies that are safe and non-intrusive first?
@Sheila, LOL Sheila! I had never thought of it that way. That is SO true.
I love when people say it’s just a placebo effect – then I want to know why it works on a tiny baby. A doctor once told me it was because I believed that it would work, so it did – on someone else. *I believe Â£1m will fly through my window tonight, I believe Â£1m will fly through my window tonight, I believe Â£1m will fly through my window tonight*
It’s funny you say that actually. My SIL was telling me the other day that she’d been given Ritalin for her son, which she refused to give him, and she was surprised to find, in the package insert, that it actually said that they don’t know WHY it works… and that’s a full on pharmaceutical drug.
So, really, it’s all a big double standard, really more about which one makes ‘them’ more money.
Amen! I am sceptical about both homeopathy and much of western medicine – my intellectual mind won’t let go of not understanding homeopathy, for one thing, but I have learned to mistrust the damage that can be done by doctors treating a symptom not a person. But I am beyond irritated by the sneering and name calling that goes on. I am not credulous, but I will use as first resort something which at least will do no harm! 😉
In my mind it is important to separate natural remedies and homeopathy however; the former has both greater evidence in its favour and greater risks and cautions.
@Sarah, I agree – natural medicine and homeopathy are two different things. Homeopathy has played a fundamental role in my life, under treatment of professional homeopaths, but when it comes to other ‘natural’ remedies, I am happy to self-treat. I think you are right though – the name calling is petty and rediculous.
This is such a powerful post, Luschka. one of my favourite of yours I’ve read. I love how you stand up for your beliefs AND have the experience and knowledge to back them up.
For myself, I believe in having a healthy skepticism of any form of science or system that claims to have all the answers or indeed to be the only solution. We’ve come to a point where we’ve actually stopped trusting in ourselves and simply follow what we’re told, without questioning if it does more harm than good.
I’m fascinated by natural medicine (lavender oil cures migraines? Awesome!) and I think both alternative therapies and mainstream should be seen as complementary – not that one should be held aloft and the other looked down upon.
Thanks for sharing!
@Babes about Town, Uju, I couldn’t agree more. I look on parenting sites and so on, and the things women ask if they’re ‘allowed’ to do with their babies, or with their bodies dumfounds me. It’s YOURS – do as you feel is right! It frightens me a little that in this so called age of englightenment and when we as women have more freedom and power than ever before, we have completely lost our intuition and instinct.
As for natural medicine, no, I wouldn’t go as far to say as lavender oil CURES a migraine, but I know that I know when a migraine is coming, and if I catch it early enough, the lavender prevents it. Migraine is usually stress related, and lavender is a natural relaxer, so it makes sense. It doesn’t always work for migraines though – especially if you’ve left it to be a full blown attack (which is thanfully rare for me, as it renders me useless for up to three days!)
Thanks for commenting 🙂