This time last year, a nagging but seemingly low-maintenance health issue cropped up for me.
It was a cyst. Nothing more. Doctor gave me some non-prescription recommendations, and I kept on with my (admittedly high-stress) life. The cyst didn’t get better, and then it got worse. I was working my full-time job and coming home to full-energy kids with a painful abscess. Finally, one afternoon after a day full of teaching, the abscess burst and outpatient surgery was imminent.
That was the first of three outpatient surgeries over the next nine months to rectify what was initially just a random cyst appearance. Since turning 30, I have become comfortable with being put under anesthesia. I have been treated for other, relatively new and quite common conditions and taken a garden variety of prescription medication to manage and prevent issues.
I’m grateful for modern medicine. I grew up in a home with a doctor and a nurse as parents. I do not distrust doctors or modern medication in a general sense; rather, I have recently become personally aware of how easy it is to become hyper-medicated. Seeing different specialists for different symptoms and issues can very quickly lead to a fistful of prescriptions. I have been a Type 1 Diabetic since age 10. I know full well that taking insulin every day is a must for me — that is not what I mean when I say hyper-medicated. However, when a recent diagnosis of acid reflux led to three different prescriptions in my purse, I decided I was not interested in being a lab rat for big pharma.
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I called my cousin, a student at one of the nation’s best known naturopathic medical schools, for her advice. She treated me like a patient as we spent an hour over the phone. She asked questions. She took notes and asked follow up questions. I talked about my symptoms. My eating habits. My stressors and challenges. When we finished, I was eager to hear her recommendation. I figured it would be a “prescription” for a certain type of herb to brew to keep my newfound nausea at bay. Instead, she said this:
“From what you’ve told me, you don’t usually sit down to eat. You’re usually running around with your food and in a state of high-stress or busy-ness while you try to eat your meals. I think the nausea is more a result of that than acid reflux.”
Wow. I hadn’t even told her that I was managing a recent increase in my anxiety, but she was hitting the nail on the head.
“Try this. Sit when you eat. Look at the food for a minute before you eat it, and let your body get prepared to digest it as you take it in. Be grateful for it before you eat it. Don’t skip meals and don’t drink coffee in the morning before drinking water and eating a least a bit of your breakfast. You need real fuel.”
When I tell you my symptoms disappeared instantly after taking her advice, I am being completely honest. I dumped all the prescriptions and in the weeks since then they have not returned. I didn’t have acid reflux “randomly.” I had it because my eating habits were laden with stress. This is just the beginning of my recent appreciation for natural remedies. As we use prescriptions to treat symptoms, let’s do our best to investigate the root cause. Perhaps we can all toss a pill bottle or two.
Natalia Naman Temesgen is an independent contractor. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.