April 19, 2013 by Dr. Sana Keller
Please join me in my Virtual Time Machine as we follow 2 women over a 20 year span of time. Jill, from Dallas and Sue, from Chicago. Both women are quite similar: married, 2 teenage children, part-time jobs, very busy with community activities, relatively ‘healthy’…and both were raised in a typical ‘Western Medicine’ lifestyle (have a symptom, take a medication, etc). There is one major difference between Jill & Sue. Sue has watched several family members, friends & coworkers deal with both major & minor health challenges over the past several years and has recently made the decision to ‘not go that route’—to take some ownership in her health and health-related decisions.
Our journey starts with Jill & Sue in their early 40’s. The first health challenge they both encounter is poor sleep. Jill tells her Dr. about it & is given a sleeping pill prescription. She finds that it helps somewhat, but she’s still waking up tired with low energy. Meanwhile, Sue decides to start taking control of her health. She minimizes her caffeine intake, starts walking a few days/week, settles into a regular bedtime routine including taking a small amount of Melatonin, a hormone our bodies normally produce that promotes good sleep, although production tends to slow down as we get older. Sue finds these measures make a noticeable difference in her sleep quality and her energy level during the day.
The second health challenge is heartburn. Jill has heard all about the ‘purple pill’ and finds it very easy to get. She has some concerns about being on another medication, knowing that there are potential side effects—she just hopes she doesn’t experience them. In the meantime, Sue had read about heartburn being a symptom of dehydration, so she now drinks at least 1/2 her body weight in ounces of filtered water each day, works on adding more vegetables to her diet, which have an alkalinizing effect, and cuts down on processed foods. She finds her heartburn gone within a few days!
Next come the achy knees. Both Jill & Sue were runners in their early 20’s–and now arthritic changes have set in. Jill is given ‘NSAIDS’ (anti-inflammatory drugs) by her physician. The first one didn’t work–neither did the second one–the third one seemed to help (although it had a ‘black box’ warning on the bottle). When the pain got worse, Jill was given steroid injections in her knees, which, again, helped for a while. Meanwhile, Sue had learned that adequate water intake helps with joint health, so she continued on her water drinking plan, along with a safe, clinically-proven herbal supplement blend, and started following an Anti-inflammatory diet, with great results of much less aching and stiffness!
At age 50, Jill & Sue had a DEXA scan (bone density scan) & were both told they had the beginnings of osteoporosis. Yikes! Jill joined the ‘Sally Fields Team’ taking one of the biphosphonates (even though she has heard about the major side effects, including cancer and deterioration of the jaw bone). She wasn’t aware of any other options, so she just hoped & prayed she wouldn’t get the side effects. In the mean time, Sue had learned that weight-bearing exercise was important for bone health, which was easy to incorporate into her day since her knees weren’t hurting. Her Nutritional Consultant also recommended some basic nutritional supplements to support healthy bone structure. Her Consultant also encouraged her to continue with the Anti-inflammatory diet to minimize the body’s acidity which can be damaging to bone health. DEXA scans 2 years later showed Jill with continuing osteoporosis and Sue with normal bone density.
Both Jill & Sue had their blood pressures checked during their bone density appointments—and both found out their blood pressures were borderline high. Jill’s Dr. prescribed a medication for her high BP. Meanwhile, Sue is already sleeping well & is drinking adequate amounts of water. Her BP is elevated, but not to the point of Jill’s. She makes the decision to make exercise a priority EVERY day (she loves walking—and how it makes her feel!) She also makes time for deep breathing & meditation 10-20 minutes a day. Sue makes a ‘deal’ with her Dr. to take a BP medication for the short term (no more than 4-6 months) while she ramps up on her exercise and diet, increasing her fruits & veggies to become the main part of her diet. After 3 months of her healthier lifestyle, Sue’s Dr. starts weaning her off her BP medication, so by month 4, she is no longer taking any medication. Both women have normal BP readings after 6 months—the difference being that Sue’s BP is normal without medication!
Let’s take a tally after the 20 years:
Jill is now on 5 regular medications for her health challenges (along with 2 additional meds to counteract side effects from the regular medications). She has had 4 knee steroid knee injections & her knees still frequently bother her. She really doesn’t feel healthy, has low energy, painful knees, and continues to struggle with weight loss–not quite what she was looking for!
Meanwhile, Sue sleeps well at night, has no heartburn or achy knees, is close to her ideal weight and has a normal blood pressure—all without meds or surgery. She has great energy & is enjoying this stage of her life, not even feeling like she’s 60 years old!
It’s easy to end up in a ‘box’ (like Jill) created by Western medicine (pharmaceutical companies, to be exact) where we are led to believe that the only way of treating health challenges is with drugs or surgery. Sue chose to ‘step out of her box’…her ‘comfort zone’ and be in charge of her health. She chose to partner with Integrative Health practitioners to guide her in this process.
I leave you with this challenge: Choose your boxes carefully–Get rid of boxes that aren’t serving you well–and may you be blessed with great health and long life!
I’m here to help you on your health journey: www.healthunlimited.biz
Photo credits: salesmomsnetwork.com & tashy-b-blogspot.com