Monday, August 6, 2007

The wonders of Holistic medicine

Frasypoo, from This and That blog, is jumping on board with Mind, Body and Spirit. Frasy hails from India and is very knowledgeable about Ayurvedic and Homeopathic remedies, so when she has time, she will be posting about those alternative healing methods.

Ayurveda, like Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), is an ancient system of healing which has helped people for centuries. Homeopathy is relatively newer (from the early 1800s), but equally efficacious. As with allopathic (western) medicine, a certain amount of experimentation is needed, as certain methods will work better on certain people, but it is well worth the effort.

I have always been interested in alternative and complementary medicine, because not only does it work, there are far less risks involved when dealing with herbs etc. The major difference between western and holistic medicine is that western medicine merely treats the symptoms, whereas holistic medicine treats the body, mind and spirit as a whole. Those 3 aspects of our being are inextricably linked, and when one is out of balance, it can adversely affect the other aspects. So when you see a holistic practitioner, they will usually spend about an hour or an hour and a half for the initial consultation. They will ask a series of personal and health-related questions to get an idea of what might be out of sink. Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners (TCM) will check pulses and your tongue. This enables them to gauge how best to treat you. Unlike, allopathic medicine, it is definitely not a one size fits all kind of treatment.

I have had great success with alternative medicine. About 16 years ago I was diagnosed with severe Ulcerative Colitis (ulceration of the colon), an Auto-Immune disorder with no known cause or cure. Although most western doctors deny that nutrition has any bearing on the dis-ease, I discovered that cheese was always a factor in my flare-ups, so now I refuse to eat it. Thankfully, I have been in remission for 4 plus years, but my last flare-up lasted 9 months on western meds with no end in sight. Fed-up with my Gastroenterologist, who was at a loss as to why his meds weren't helping, I did some research on herbal remedies and opted to try a protocol of Robert's Formula (specifically for U.C.); a product called Intestinew by Renew Life (strengthens the integrity of the lining of the stomach and colon), and George's Roadrunner Aloe Vera juice (healing agent). Even though my doctor insisted herbs would be of no use, within a month I was starting to heal, and within 3 months I was in total remission. I've been fine ever since, without taking anything. That sold me on herbal remedies. Needless to say, I never went back to the doctor.

Then, in December of 2004, I became very ill with Rheumatoid Arthritis, another auto-immune disorder with no cure or known cause. Within 5 short weeks every joint in my body, from my shoulders down, was in excruciating pain. At one point I was hospitalized because they thought I was bleeding internally, from the 6 Advils per day that I was taking, which, by the way, did absolutely nothing for the pain. My SED Rate (the measure of inflammation in one's body) was 121, when I was first diagnosed. Normal is 0 to 20! I could barely walk, couldn't move my arms more than an inch or 2 from my body, because my shoulders froze from lack of use. It was just too darn painful to move them. I wish someone had warned me about the importance of exercise, even when in pain. It's very important to exercise when you have arthritic conditions.

At first, my Rheumatologist wanted to put me on Enbrel (a heavy-duty auto-immune suppressant) claiming my hands would become crippled and deformed if I didn't. Stubborn as I am, I refused. I agreed to take Bextra, but in the meantime I started seeing a TCM/Acupuncturist. I reached a plateau with him, and stopped. Meanwhile, had to have physical therapy (for the frozen shoulders). When I was done with that, I started seeing a Naturopath/Acupuncturist who helped me reach another level of wellness. In the meantime, I started researching and experimenting, on my own, with various herbs. Bextra went off the market, and yet I kept improving with just the herbs and supplements, much to the amazement of my Rheumatologist. My SED rate now fluctuates between 1 and 7, well within the normal range. And my knuckles are as perfect as they always were. Although a major sceptic at first, my Rheumatologist is now a believer, and has even told other patients about my success.
The only downside is that the healing process ,with most natural remedies, often takes longer, and you need to have patience. But for me it was truly well worth it. You also need to thoroughly research the products, so it is usually best to use the guidance of a holistic practitioner if you're not willing to take the risks, particularly if you are on western meds, as well.
The wonderful thing, though, is that there are certain complementary therapies, like acupuncture, that are becoming more widely accepted by the western medical establishment. I think people will benefit greatly from that emerging awareness and acceptance of the benefits of alternative medicine.


Frasypoo said...

Thanks for the intro,Incog.
My mom suffers from arthritis and is also diabetic and maybe I can do a post on meds and treatments that she uses.All ayurvedic...

Incognito said...

That would be very cool!! I'd like to know myself. I never did investigate Ayurveda.

Maybe you could do 2 separate posts.. one for Diabetes and the other for Arthritis?

Does she have R.A. or Osteo?

Pat Jenkins said...

first off incog, i know you want no pity, but i am sorry for the pain you have gone through. my heart bleeds for you. on the positive side you have rebounded miraculously. my wife works with an individual who swears by the herbal medicated lifestyle. my wife and i of little knowledge of it's workings or benefits have had many discussions of it's merits. i still wrestle with those questions today. i will tell him about your new site. i know he would enjoy it.

Incognito said...

Oh, thank you Pat... but I actually am grateful for what I went through because there was much, spiritually, that I gained from the illness. I will post about that some day.

There are times when western medicine is appropriate and needed and times when both allopathic and holistic can work well in tandem, but for the most part I lean towards the alternative healing methods because they are just ..better.