I started this blog simply as a place on the web to share my cooking journey. I have always loved to cook and bake, and I wanted to share some of the methods and recipes I was enjoying with others.
But as this website has grown and matured, it has been obvious that my website attracts like minded people-people who are seeking to have better health through the food they eat. Many of us started eating this way because of health issues we faced (or currently face). Many of us have children who have perplexing health issues. Because of this audience, and the type of cooking I share here, I am often asked a wide variety of questions about healing through food, or other methods.
I have been very cautious in responding to these questions, not because I don’t care, but because I feel that I don’t have the needed expertise to knowledgeably answer your questions. Certainly, I read my fair share of research and books on healing a variety of conditions through natural means. However, in my limited exposure to health issues, healing diets, and naturopathic help, I’ve concluded that our paths towards healing are often complicated, individual, and prone to vary widely.
I also feel somewhat reserved in sharing all of my or my daughter’s story simply because I am a private person by nature and I don’t want my children to grow up and read my blog and be embarrassed about anything I shared about them online.
Yet, I do think that I can share some of our ongoing journey towards health with you, and hope that you may find it helpful in yours. This won’t answer all of your questions by any means, but it could help provide some puzzle pieces to your own health.
With that in mind, I thought I’d address this question, when to self-treat and when to seek outside help. It goes without saying that if you are facing any huge health obstacle that you should look to professional help (whether that be a more conventional doctor or an alternative one). It also goes without saying that any of my story should be taken as one friend to another. I don’t consider myself an expert by any means. Rather a fellow journeyman in the quest for healing and good health.
Those of us who feel that “food is the best medicine” often are on this path without professional outside direction. After all, eating a whole foods diet using traditional principles doesn’t really need much direction. I have been so thrilled with the testimonies of those who have given up white sugar and white flour on the sugar fast, So many find a wide variety of minor to more major health issues abate or even disappear within a matter of weeks. Sometimes the path towards vibrant health is short indeed. Within a few easy changes to their diets, many people report excellent health and energy. This goes to show how much little things can help.
Others of us have a confusing array of symptoms that traditional doctors dismiss or give coping drugs for, and often stump a naturopathic doctor too. I know a wide variety of real life friends who have puzzled themselves and the doctors they have seen with reoccurring health issues or eczema. Some of the online support groups think they have it all figured out. Just do this diet, or use this cream, or do such and such and you are sure to heal. If only it was always that simple. It really is sometimes. Like I said, there have been amazing testimonies to the power of both simple changes (like removing refined flours, sugars and oils from a diet) to more extreme diets, like the GAPS protocol or the BED which has born amazing results for many.
But sometimes it is not enough. And sometimes, it’s not the right diet for that person. Sometimes disturbing health problems are not caused by digestive issues after all.
Sometimes you need outside help to really get to the root of it all.
Our experience with naturopathic care.
Because I saw a decline in health a couple of years ago before I started this blog, I’ve seen a couple of naturopaths. I quickly found out that it could be hard to work effectively with a naturopath if you are in different worlds regarding what constitutes healthy food. Since naturopaths often use food as part of their therapy, I’ve found it important to go to a naturopath who is at least in the same book as me in regard to diet. That is, if you aren’t vegan, don’t go to a vegan naturopath. That has been my experience. In our area, there are more than a couple of naturopaths that use traditional food at part of their protocol. This is exciting.
I had seen one naturopath a couple of years ago that helped pinpoint my dairy intolerance, which was very hard for me to take out at first (as I think dairy is a healthy food for many), but have become convinced that he is right-I am just not genetically prone to digesting dairy well. He also helped me overcome my adrenal fatigue to a point. Most of all, he was able to be a calm and reassuring voice when I faced overwhelming fatigue, which is worth quite a lot when you aren’t feeling well the majority of the time.
Recently, a friend asked me what I thought about a couple of different naturopaths in the area. I shared with her that I’d personally research those who specialize in the area she felt she needed the most help. So, after researching the topic (and sending me her thoughts on different doctors), we chatted several times about some good choices in the area. She chose a doctor to go to, and I quickly followed with my own daughter (I was thankful that someone scouted out the options for me, so that I didn’t have to do as much work!).
My oldest daughter has long been prone to digestive issues as well as yeast problems stemming from antibiotics she got from me while nursing. While she seemed much improved in health, last year she ended up on another round of antibiotics. This was very maddening to me at the time, as I felt like the current naturopath she goes to for general check ups, didn’t have the resources and knowledge to prevent us from needing antibiotics in the end of a minor problem with a earache turned ugly. But it ended up being a blessing, because once a few things flared up again, we decided to bring her to this new naturopathic doctor that our friend had started seeing. This doctor is a regular MD, Naturopath and Chinese Herbalist, so he has a wide background.
He is very into traditional food, and the art of eating to promote health. I appreciate this greatly. He was also very encouraging to me, as he felt like all of the work I had done in feeding our five year old had resulted in much better health for her. I saw all of the ways that she still didn’t have perfect health and was discouraged, but he saw that all of the things I had done as preventing worse or more health problems to arise. So this was really encouraging.
The thing that is very different about him is that while many of her symptoms pointed to digestive issues, he wanted to do a wide variety of testing with her before treating her. Yes, this was very expensive. But I see the wisdom in it, because it revealed a lot of things that we could have never known otherwise. For example, her digestive system is in better shape than I would have ever guessed. Yeasts and fungi was pretty much zilch. So while I had the whole time been treating her like she had systematic yeast issues, at some point we had conquered that without me knowing. A very happy surprise for her and me both!
He also chose to do an antibody test, which showed that she reacts to eggs very strongly. As in her reaction tops the charts. She also has moderate antibodies to beans. However, all meats, fruits, vegetables, fish, and gluten-free grains that she eats she has no antibodies too whatsoever. When a friend had this test done who had serious gut issues, they literally had antibodies to every single food they ate, which simply showed that they were not digesting and processing their food right. The fact that she only reacted to a few foods was encouraging.
There were some things that could be improved upon (like low iron) and a few things that were puzzling to me, but hopefully will be fixed simply by removing offending foods from her diet. I won’t go into all of the details, but I did find the testing very interesting, reassuring in many ways, but also showing weak areas that need work. Her weak areas weren’t what I was expecting. So, for many reasons, I have found that the thorough (and expensive) testing he had done extremely helpful.
On another note, a friend who goes to him found out through his testing that one of her children had a parasite, which was causing most likely all of his symptoms. By history and his symptoms you would have definitely guessed that his issues solely stemmed from digestive issues, but testing revealed his gut in fine condition. It is most likely that the parasite issue was his sole issue.
So my personal experience has taught me the following about getting outside help:
1) It isn’t always simple, even when going to naturopaths; they often have a hard time pinpointing an individual’s problem. You do have to have patience, and sometimes visit dead ends before you find the true root of an issue.
2) While good gut health and good health in general are related, bad health isn’t always solely a gut issue.
3) Finding a naturopath that is on the same page as you in regard to what constitutes healthy food is important.
4) When simple dietary changes don’t improve health, going to a doctor who is not only knowledgeable but also experienced, can be very enlightening.
5) I feel that proper testing is extremely helpful. The first naturopath I went to did a terrible job with testing. Yes, they did order testing (and the proper testing at that), but somehow they didn’t know how to read the results correctly. A fact I found out later. But I have found knowledgeable naturopaths so helpful when using testing to find out what is really going on.
6) Just like there are ineffective doctors in the medical world, there are ineffective naturopaths too.
My encouragement to you is not to abandon arming yourself with personal knowledge in regard to your health and how to treat yourself with good food and supplements. But rather, to consider how good naturopathic care could help. I think that sometimes people do extreme measures to try to improve their health at home, when it isn’t always necessary or helpful because it doesn’t address the real issues at hand.
One example is the GAPS diet. I did a trial run of the GAPS diet with my daughter after her last run of the antibiotics. I took her off after a month because her energy was simply disappearing on the diet. With the return of grains in moderation, she gained energy immediately. After testing, we found out that it is unlikely that our daughter’s main complaints are due simply to a poor gut condition. This isn’t to knock the GAPS diet, because it can be a very helpful tool for many. We all just need to remember that the GAPS diet is a tool, not THE answer to every problem that everyone has.
I can’t promise that a naturopath can always help find answers for you, but their service has been helpful to our family. As I continue to explore other tools for healing, I will definitely share them with you all. Not because I am an expert in these areas, but because I’d love to share anything I am learning with you all!
I’d love to hear your experience with naturopaths. Have you found them helpful, not helpful? Or like us, a mixed bag, depending on whom we went to?