Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Alternative medicine: you're on your own!

I have been looking into alternative approaches for ds's SID and anxiety, as well as my own health concerns (PCOS, migraines, depression) and those of my husband (iritis). Autoimmune conditions like ours (and like those that killed my mom -- dermatomyositis -- and drove my dad to drink himself to death -- fibromyalgia) are so poorly treated by mainstream, western medicine, you really have to seek other opinions. There are so many alternative approaches, it's mindboggling, and since they are often either in conflict with one another (like homeopathy vs. herbs), it's difficult to determine which one to choose. There are no governing bodies to oversee all this, except those who are completely against all alternatives (such as the AMA and the FDA). There needs to be a body made up of regular people, who have the time to read all this stuff and determine what is really true and what isn't. But who has that kind of time who's not on someone's payroll (such as the pharmaceutical industry or agribusiness) who might skew the results?
Nutitional approaches
There are many different dietary or nutritional approaches, including raw vegan, raw meat, seasonal eating, slow foods, traditional (as in Sally Fallon's Nourishing Traditions), the Maker' Diet, orthomolecular, juicing, blood type diet, alkaline diet, many anti-yeast diets, etc. Each seems to say that it's the way to go, and that the others have it all wrong. Some require expensive testing for things like malabsorbtion and alkalinity vs acidity, others simply tell you to follow their plan and you will feel great. Some combine supplements with dietary outlines.
All require a major commitment to follow. All of them are radical departures from the standard American diet (SAD), either because they limit processed foods, or because they limit the types of foods that can be eaten. I think most nutritionists and dietitions would say they are all too extreme, in that they are too different from the USDA Food Pyramid. So you can't really go to a nutritionist if you want to decide which nutritional approach to take among all the radical nutritional prescriptions out there.
How does one decide? I know I can't afford expensive tests, and our insurance doesn't cover them, so I probably won't be doing orthomolecular, even though it seems like a much more customized approach. Had I a million bucks to play with, maybe I'd try it or something like it. Until then, I am just going to wing it, trying out foods and deciding for myself which works best. I do wonder about supplementation though. I know I need more minerals, since I have terrible tooth decay, but mineral supplementation is very tricky, since they all balance each other out and an excess of one can cause a deficit of another. Here's where I wish I could afford testing, to determine which minerals I'm lacking.

Herbs vs. homeopathy

Here's where I get a bit confused: homeopathy uses some plant extracts in some of its remedies, but it's not herbalism and you can't use regular herbs at the same time, despite the fact that no homeopathic remedy I've taken yet has relieved all my symptoms (migraines in particular). And I use many herbs in cooking that have medicinal qualities, like garlic, ginger, and turmeric. And I drink ginger tea. I may be contradicting my homeopathy doing this, I don't know. Also, I've recently learned that some homeopaths have you dilute your remedies in water twice -- should I see someone who does this? Regardless, I feel pretty lost in all this, and am coming to realize that the only one who can guide me is myself -- which is pretty scary!

Supplements: expensive, not well documented

There are so many kinds of nutritional supplements, each with their legion of supporters, it's difficult to know which to take. Pascalite clay? Liquid minerals (because supposedly mineral tablets don't get dissolved or absorbed very well)? Single minerals? Vitamins are controversial too - many say that the synthetic vitamins contained in most vitamin pills are not as good as those found in foods, and that they may even do harm. Enzymes? There are so many, and some are very expensive, but supposedly they really help if you have digestive problems. I could go on, but I'm running out of time. I will continue this later, I hope.


JaneS said...

I wanted to send you hugs after your recent post at GH Tribe too. We've all had it hard and you REALLY have been through a lot.

I too am mourning the distinct possibility of not having another child. The prospect scares me to death to tell you the truth.

Plus my DS requires so much of me now I don't think I could devote myself to pregnancy and continue to do what I do now. It's just not possible. And if I had the horrible 24 hr nausea like I did with DS? I simply couldn't function nevermind continue to try to heal my DS.

It's a very very hard thing to face.

Re: your alternative health post
I think about this constantly. I feel like I'm forever revising my approach 6 months down the line. And it's overwhelming. It would be so great to go to professionals and just hand your health or your kid's health over to them! But that doesn't always work either.

So I try to see it as a learning process. At least I do feel like I've made some progress and hey, if my life continues like this... maybe I'll have it all figured out before I die!

But for now the frustration and impatience factors are pretty much wearing me down too. You are certainly not alone on any of these issues! ((hugs))

B r i a n & G a b r i e l a said...

Hello, read about the iritis of your husband. Hope you are recovered now.

Found your post due to a search engine.

I had the same problem as your husband (iritis in both eyes), and it was due to extreme stress at work and consumption of products sweetened with Aspartame and Sucralose (artificial sweeteners such as nutrasweet and splenda).

Does he have diet sodas or sugar less chewing gum or products sweetended with nutrasweet or splenda? He can try interrupting their consumption and he will probably feel better. That is what I did and have been feeling much better, thanks to God, plus went to the oftalmologist of course, who prescribed me a treatment of cortisone eye drops in both eyes, as my iritis I suffered, happened in my two eyes. Hope this helps. Blessings!!! :)

P.S. Here I share with you a link that talks of how toxic those artificial sweeteners are, and another one of testimonies of people that got iritis and other damage in their bodies due to the consumption of those products. http://www.holisticmed.com/aspartame2/adverse-new.txt

That info was so helpful to me as it also helped me to detect what else besides the stress at work, could be causing me the iritis. As the doctor also had sent me to test of my blood looking for lupus, reumathoid arthritis, spondylitys, etc. and everything resulted normal, but I was still feeling very bad till quit having those products artificially sweetened. The best thing to do is to read the labels before buying products. Hope this info is useful to you. You can also enter in any search engine "sucralose poison" or "aspartame poison" and you will know also of the bad symptoms those products can cause, etc. Hope this helps and now that I discovered what was the real cause of my bad symptoms, wanted to share them with others that ara passing by the same. Blessings.

Jen-Jen said...

Thanks janes, this is a late reply, but just wanted to say, I needed that. The whole alternative medicine field is so wide open, and so full of contradictions, it's not even funny!

And thanks brian and gabriela, I think dh was using splenda, despite my dire warnings (he ignores probably 75% of what I say about diet). Maybe he'll listen to you?

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