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 few 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 I could avoid it. She’s not the one responsible for the health I’m in now. She’s not the reason I’ve avoided sinus infections the past three years and survived three 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. Once I determined that “I’m in charge of my body, and we’re going to keep looking for a better way,” I started discovering what worked for me.
Who is in your village?
My village includes my primary care physician, a chiropractor, a massage therapist, and two naturopathic doctors, one of whom is a digestion expert that I’ve worked with personally. Here are definitions of some terms:
Do I have what it takes to be my best health advocate?
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 any of these practitioners 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 tried his suggestions, my health improved and I started working my way off of prescriptions I’d been on for a long time.
Now I treat food as medicine.
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. I’m no longer on any 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 statement. These products provide essential nutrients that help the body heal and repair itself. The products do not prevent, heal, or treat disease.)
You’ve been elected as the mayor of your village
My MD doesn’t have all the answers, and what complementary health providers suggest may not always work for everyone. To be in my best health, I have to take ownership of my body and do my homework. 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.
What’s your biggest challenge to becoming your best health advocate? Who’s already in your village?
Welcome! I’m Amy, an integrative health coach, offering grace and space for a healthier you. If you liked this article, please subscribe at this link so that you’re among the first to get any future information and ideas that I share. And you can unsubscribe anytime; we both know that SPAM is not good for us, so we avoid it! Thanks for visiting.