If you get in a car wreck, break your arm, or if you are having a heart attack, you know what to do: Head straight for your local medical doctor or hospital. That makes sense.
The problem arises when you have a chronic illness such as asthma, arthritis, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, diabetes or even cancer. If you have one of these conditions, you now begin to wonder where you should go. You have a wide variety of practitioners to choose from medical doctors, naturopathic doctors, acupuncturists, and an equal variety of approaches both medical and natural.
Worse still is if you know you don’t feel right, but no tests any doctor runs find anything wrong with you. While the choices seem overwhelming, they are really a choice between two competing medical ideas.
Two Roads Diverge in the Woods
When you have a chronic illness or you are just feeling sick and tired, you are standing at a crossroads, but this crossroads is maybe not what you think. You are not standing at a crossroads between natural medicine and conventional medicine, but at the choice between choosing symptom relief or supporting the natural healing mechanisms of your body.
What most people don’t realize is that a path to health, especially when they have a chronic disease or simply don’t feel right, is a choice between these two competing thoughts. Let’s take a look at both of them.
Symptom relief is a great idea. You are feeling bad and you want to feel better, so you reach for something that is going to make you feel better. Everybody does this. The question you want to ask yourself, though, is how long do you want to go for just symptom relief?
Imagine for a moment that you have a problem with anxiety. A great solution for that anxiety is alcohol; it has the ability to remove the symptom of anxiety from your body and if it were considered a medicine, we would say that it is fairly effective – it works pretty well. But you can see the folly in thinking that drinking a beer is a good solution for anxiety. Along with the “medicine” comes a whole host of side-effects that are undesirable, the same holds true of many medicines. It may work for a while, but it is not a long-term solution.
Symptom relief is a good approach for the short-term, but you want to employ other strategies when you are dealing with a longer term illness.
Supporting Your Natural Healing Mechanism
Here is the thing that you need to understand about your body: it wants to be healthy. There is a natural healing mechanism inside your body that only needs to be supported to help you heal from almost any illness. You know and trust this natural healing mechanism when you get a minor injury such as a cut on your finger.
Think about it, you are cutting vegetables for dinner and the knife accidentally nicks your finger. If you are typical, you don’t run out of your house and to the Emergency Room for a minor cut. You support the natural healing mechanism of your body by washing off the cut and then putting a band aid over it. You then forget about it because you trust that your body will heal the cut. In a few days your take off the band aid and your body has already repaired much of the damage. In a few weeks, you won’t remember the cut or see any evidence that it ever happened.
Think about what a miracle that is! Wound to perfect skin… all in a few weeks.
You could also do the opposite: not support your body’s healing mechanism. Imagine if you had that same cut, only this time you didn’t clean it, rubbed it in filth and allowed it to become infected. That same cut might blossom into a larger infection, the wound might not close, and you could end up being very sick or having a scar from all the damage.
When you Feel Sick and Tired
Wouldn’t it be nice to trust that same natural healing mechanism that heals your minor cut also can heal your chronic disease? Choose symptom relief if you must, but also choose to support your body in the exact way you supported it when you got that cut: create the conditions for your body to heal itself. Just like the cut, your body needs your help to create the right conditions for health.
Here are the best ways to create the conditions for health, no matter the disease you might have:
- Food: Eat food as close as you can to the way it is found in nature. This means food that is minimally cooked and is free from preservatives, additives, and colorings. Fill your plate with as many vegetables and fruits as you can. Avoid sugars and foods that act like sugars in your body, such as many grain-based foods. Eat foods that are organically grown if possible.
- Exercise: Get out of the house and move your buns around. Walking is enough, but think about riding a bike, running, playing tennis, swimming – whatever you can do.
- Laugh: Take clues from kids and find the humor in everything you can and be ready to play at any moment.
- Sleep: Consider sleep to be a medicine. Take whatever means necessary to get enough sleep. Many people with chronic illnesses need more sleep than the rest of the population. Take a nap if you need it.
- Supplement: You are probably not getting enough nutrients and should consider a good multivitamin and a good essential fatty acid supplement. Don’t go overboard with supplements, though, I have had patients bring me large bags full of every conceivable supplement. It should be simple; most people need only a few supplements.
- Take time off: you need to relax as much as you need food and exercise. Relaxing means that you choose any activity that breaks you out of your routine and gives you a chance to be alone with your thoughts and your desires and not be run by your schedule.
While this might seem like a simply list, it is actually hard for most people to follow and that is why so many of us are sick. Know that the investment in yourself takes time, effort, and sometimes money, but that the investment is well worth it.