First do no harm.
I’ve been asked to share some accumulated wisdom that I have used over the years with my own and my family’s health. Since my view of life is a holistic one, physical, mental and spiritual health all blend together to play an important role in our lives, which of course impacts learning.
After a few wrong calls by my pediatrician with regards to my daughter, a healthy skepticism of Western medicine began. For minor issues, I decided to try some easy, safe and inexpensive strategies at home before hauling my baby into a germ-filled doctor’s office.
One of the first of these easy, safe and inexpensive remedies was breastmilk itself, which has antiviral and antibacterial properties and can be used effectively for ailments such as pink-eye, ear infections and minor cuts or scrapes. This is a great example of a remedy that does not hurt, but has the potential to heal. In the years that I was nursing my kids, it was free and easily available. If it didn’t work, it was a no-harm, no-foul situation and I hadn’t spent a dime. If it did work, I had saved lots of time, money, a trip to a drugstore or the doctor or both, plus (and this is important) no panic or anxiety for me or my child.
I have to give some credit for my trusting nature to two uncle physicians in my family. One was a surgeon, the other is a general practice doctor. Both were/are highly respected in their community. My mom remembers the surgeon, who died over 20 years ago, saying that in his years of experience a lot of his patients would get better if they did nothing at all. The general practice doctor, who still practices at age 85, has long been a role model of practical advice-giving. Once, as a young adult, a cluster of migraine headaches over a period of several days had me desperate for relief. An HMO visit netted me four prescriptions, one of which I was told to continue for life. This scared me so much that I called my uncle in tears to get his opinion. He patiently listened to my story and asked “what are you doing for regular exercise?” “Currently? Nothing.” was my response. He suggested that I start some activity that I enjoyed and then reevaluate after a few weeks. I took his advice, then threw all of the prescriptions in the trash. I never had cluster migraines again.
A large source of my alternative healing ideas have come from a monthly homeopathic study group that I joined almost twenty years ago. The group meets regularly to discuss homeopathy but, as most of us are moms looking for easy, effective solutions for our families, we share all sorts of experiences, ideas, challenges and solutions that prevent illness and support, increase and nurture health.
I collect these ideas in my health toolbox. Most of them work for a range of ailments, which is part of what makes them appealing. None of them cost much money or have dangerous side effects. Some of them require a bit of education, but the learning is fun and accessible. I much prefer self-directed health over doctor’s appointments, waiting rooms, and treatments that come with pages of small print warnings.
Doctors have a place in my life, but they’re not my first stop. I start educating myself and then look for a simple remedy. Rather than hand my health over to a doctor, who does not know much about me, my lifestyle, or my level of commitment, I prefer to think of myself as my primary health care provider with an advisory team of doctors or other health providers to call on as needed. This subtle renaming puts me in the driver’s seat, giving me more responsibility for my own health (there’s no one else to blame) and also more control over the options that work best for me. This approach has kept us out of doctors’ offices for all but a handful of exceptions.
So, here’s where I start with myself, or my kids, if a complaint arises:
- How much water have you had lately? Often, headaches or fatigue or even hunger are symptoms of dehyration.
- How is your sleep? Since sleep is when the body is in healing mode, it is vital for good health. Getting enough, deep, sleep in a dark, quiet space is important.
- Are you getting regular exercise? Our bodies are meant to move and our systems work best when they are flowing happily. Finding an enjoyable way to do this is key.
Often, this is as far as I need to go, because one of these areas has been neglected, but sometimes, these basics are in line and something more is needed. At this point, I riffle through my toolbox, picking what is close at hand, convenient or just feels right. Below is a sampling of my favorites:
Cell salts A wonderfully easy and gentle form of homeopathy that consists of 12 homeopathically prepared mineral salts, that can be taken singly or in combination.
Essential oils High quality oils can be used for calming (lavender), energizing (peppermint), healing (lavender, tea tree), memory (rosemary), congestion (lemon), and much more.
Bach Flower remedies Extremely gentle yet highly effective for emotional issues such as fears, irritation, grief, stage fright or shock. Many people are familiar with Rescue Remedy, which is a Bach Flower combination remedy. There are 38 single flower remedies to choose from or combine.
Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), also known as tapping EFT can be used for almost anything, whether the complaint is physical or emotional. Once the simple technique is learned, it can be done anywhere, anytime.
Louise Hay’s book You Can Heal Your Life. Since I believe in the mind-body connection this book is often a starting point for me to understand the emotional cause behind an ailment. Her afirmations are insightful and therapeutic.
Nutrition This is a wide resource that may seem obvious, because foods are such a rich source of healing, but I include it because there have been so many times that specific foods are used in our home for illnesses. Nothing outlandish, just simple things like ginger tea, garlic, cayenne, apple cider vinegar, chicken soup, lemon, green smoothies, and more.
Homeopathy I love the gentle yet profound nature of homeopathy. It is extremely safe to use, even with very small children and pets, has none of the side effects of many traditional medications, is very affordable, is made from natural substances, and is FDA regulated.
Of course, this is not an exhaustive list of therapies, just my most-used and best-loved starting points. I love feeling proactive about my health. How about you? What are your favorite simple starting points?
© Jean Nunnally and Clear2Learn, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jean Nunnally and Clear2Learn with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.