You are your best health advocate.
If I’ve learned anything about my health the past few years, it’s that.
Present yourself with a lingering cough to your MD, and you will leave with a prescription. Complain about a stomach ache after you always eat, and you will leave with a prescription to try or an order for further testing.
Now if that’s what you came for, go home happy. It may take a few tries to get the right prescription in you, and you might need another one to treat new side effects from the first, but you’ll get your symptoms treated.
But if you’re wondering why your cough is lingering in the first place, or why acid reflux now plagues you, your typical MD is not your go-to guy. An MD practices allopathy.
If you have a heart attack or need a broken arm set, the M.D. is your go-to. But most M.D.s are not trained to look at the body holistically or get to the root of most chronic illness. And most of the health-care dollars in the United States are spent on chronic conditions that could be lessened by lifestyle changes.
What’s the difference between medical models?
An allopathic, or conventional, medical doctor addresses and suppresses the symptoms, or cuts out the problem. Few conventional doctors receive training in medical school on the importance of nutrition or physical activity to health.
Integrative medicine is an approach that considers the patient as a whole and utilizes both conventional (allopathic) and complementary methods. This approach looks at the many facets of a person’s life and realizes that they’re all connected to their health.
The allopathic medical model is the one with which I grew up and, as a patient, utilized exclusively until a couple of years ago. Have a problem? Call the doctor. It’s the natural, reflexive thing for most of us to do.
What are other options?
I respect my primary care doctor, and I like her personally. She’s the one I credit for helping me manage my symptoms when I needed help with allergies, asthma, sinus infections, and depression. She wrote the prescriptions, she talked me through safely taking them, and she required me to make repeat visits so she could check on me.
But she’s not the one responsible for getting me off of those drugs, which I decided I didn’t want to take for forever if possible. She’s not the one responsible for the health I’m in now. She’s not the reason I’ve avoided a sinus infection in two years and survived two spring allergy seasons without medications.
All of those improvements took a village of people who taught me, coached me, and helped me become my most complete self – with me as mayor of that village. I determined “I’m in charge of my body, and we’re going to keep looking for a superior way.”
Who is in your village?
My village includes three naturopathic doctors, one of whom is a digestion expert that I worked with one-on-one a few weeks ago.
Then there’s homeopathy, which I’ve only looked briefly into thus far.
What’s amazed me is that these three naturopaths dispense a good amount of information to me and to others, virtually for free through their podcasts, lectures, audio recordings and writing. No office visit required. No co-pay.
Do I have what it takes to be my best health advocate?
I’ve learned that I only have to come to these health practitioners with an open mind, a willingness to learn, a desire to question, and a wish to try something different. As with the MD, I can take or leave the advice that they give me. That is another revelation I’ve had: I can take their advice or leave it. It’s up to ME.
I used to think that the MD was the only one who had the answers, and that I had to follow their advice explicitly. Given my history of only going to allopathic medical doctors, I was skeptical when I met my first naturopath, Dr. Joel Wallach. I wondered if he were a quack. He often goes against the grain of conventional medical philosophy, and he can say some provocative things. But when I drill into his words and reasoning, much of what he says makes sense to me. And my health has improved since I’ve tried his suggestions.
Our body responds to the nutrition that we do – and don’t – give it. Feed your body a bunch of fast food, problems will develop.
You are what you eat, so don’t be cheap, fast, easy or fake.
I began avoiding items on Dr. Wallach’s “Bad Foods” list and taking supplements that he helped devise based on his 40+ years of research. No longer am I on prescription or over-the-counter medications.
(Disclosure: I am now an associate for the company and products that Dr. Wallach founded. See my full disclosure policy. These products do not treat, cure or heal disease. They provide essential nutrients that help the body heal and repair itself.)
You’ve been elected as the mayor of your village
My MD doesn’t have all the answers, and what the naturopaths or other complementary health providers suggest may not always work for everyone. You have to do your homework, and you have to take ownership of your body. Ask questions. Get a second opinion. Look at something from a new perspective.
It all starts with an open mind and an awareness that we must create our own village, then proclaim ourselves mayor of it. Even if others think that makes us the village idiot.
You are your best health advocate.
Let’s show up and be that.
Question: Do you think of yourself as your best health advocate? Who’s in your health village? Where do you struggle with this? I’d love to hear your experience. Leave your comments or questions below, or join us for a conversation in the free Faith & Sweat Facebook group.
Welcome! If you’re new here and don’t want to miss a thing, be sure to CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE to the Faith & Sweat blog updates. Know a friend who would like this? Please share. Thanks for visiting!