More About the Author
I am an expert in alternative medicine, a writer, researcher, and health adviser.
I attended the National School of Naturopathic Medicine and earned a degree in naturopathic medicine (ND) which qualifies me to practice as a primary care physician in certain states.
My interest in natural health stems from a lifelong passion with health and overcoming a serious illness with the aid of natural medicine (see my story below). The human body, I've discovered, is designed for health and not for illness. Think about that sentence: your body was designed to heal itself. You know this is true. Every time you cut your finger, you don't go running to the doctor and yell "give me something to make this heal." What you do, if it is a small cut, is put a band-aid on it and stop thinking about it. Like me, you trust your body will heal itself.
It is easy for us to trust our bodies will heal itself when we are talking about a small cut, the problem arises when we are talking about something larger and more complex like diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, or something really big like cancer.
Let me tell you, though, the same magic that turns that open wound on your finger back into perfect skin is at work throughout your body. But, then, if our bodies heal themselves, why is there disease?
That question is a bit complex and different for everyone, but, in general, you are ill because something is blocking the natural healing mechanisms of the body. That block may be something you are eating, it may be something you are encountering every day (such as toxic chemicals), it may be your mental or emotional state, it may be that you are not getting enough or the right nutrients.
Health, then, is simply a matter of uncovering that block and supporting the healing mechanisms of the body through diet, proper nutrition, and supplementation.
My story and my interest in health began when I was 18 years old. My father had a book called The Pritikin Diet and for some reason I was drawn to it. What interested me while reading the book was that were actually different ways to eat than the way that I was eating. Didn't everyone eat the exact same foods I did? But what really intrigued me about the book was the suggestion that what you ate could affect your life and your health. You mean that what I choose to eat could decide if I had heart disease, diabetes, cancer or a million other diseases?
I was intrigued.
Being an active runner, biker, hiker I was also interested in what would help me run better and faster. This one book began the search of a lifetime. While in college, I was known as the weirdo who was always trying a new diet, or out running up a mountain, or experimenting with some herbal remedy.
Illness Changes My Life
Following college I met and fell in love with a girl who would later become my wife. We moved to Tennessee. I had been thinking for a while that I wanted to be in the health field. My thoughts at the time were to become a massage therapist, or study a specialized form of massage known as Rolfing. While working and waiting to decide which massage school I might want to attend, I hurt my back. After spending a few days on my back, my wife picked me up, poured me into a car and took me to a chiropractor. It was the first time I had ever been to a chiropractor and I knew twenty minutes after walking in the door that I wanted to be a chiropractor.
Soon my back was healthy and my wife and I were headed West so that I could attend the Chiropractic school in Portland, Oregon. I started taking prerequisites for the chiropractic school at a local community college. I was accepted to chiropractic school and awaited starting in the fall when another illness struck.
ILLNESS CHANGES MY LIFE....AGAIN
I had long known that I was sensitive to chemicals (there are actually many people in the world like me who have a hard time dealing with chemical in the environment). The scientific term for this problem is Multiple Chemical Sensitivities; I didn't know what it was called, all I knew is that I felt bad whenever I was around any strong smell. Perfumes were often too strong for me to be around; walking into a store like a paint or carpet store was hard from me. I got headaches often, felt dizzy, and generally felt bad when I was around chemicals.
Despite knowing this about myself, I took it upon myself to build a bed and stain it (with a supposed natural stain). After sleeping in the bed for a few weeks I got really sick. It was difficult for me to walk around the block (this after being able to ride a bike or run for miles); eventually a large amount of clear vesicles (bumps) broke out on my skin. I wanted to make an appointment to see my local chiropractor, but she was gone on vacation.
Looking through the local yellow pages, I found something called The National College of Naturopathic Medicine. That sounded right up my alley. I went to the clinic at the college. The doctors there tested my blood and found out that I had chemically-induced hepatitis: The chemicals I encountered every day were destroying my liver.
On a subsequent visit, my Naturopathic doctor looked at me and asked me if I would consider eating meat again if my life depended on it. Up to this point, all my research supported the idea that eating a diet high in grains was healthy and I had been a vegetarian for about 8 years. I shrugged my shoulders, not ready to give up my "healthy" lifestyle. He leaned over, looked me in the eye and finished his sentence, "...because it does... Your health," he said, "depends on you changing your diet."
I was shocked. I had read all the books, followed all the advice, but somehow I had missed something. Reluctantly, I followed the Naturopathic doctor's advice, changed my diet, took some high-grade supplements, and slowly started to feel better.
Now I was really hooked. Naturopathic doctors are not only trained in adjustment techniques like chiropractors, but they also have extensive training in herbs, vitamins, nutrition, and homeopathy. In certain states Naturopaths are considered primary care physicians and they can prescribe drugs, do PAP smears, inject medicines, and do minor surgery. I applied and was accepted to naturopathic school and spent the next four years learning about how the body worked from a medical perspective, but more importantly, I learned the true source of health and how to support the body's natural self-healing potential.
Lessons from a Journey
Today I don't have any problems with chemical sensitivities, I actually can paint a room and have no problems and my liver is in great shape.
WHAT I LEARNED FROM MY JOURNEY
The first is that an illness or a condition is not, necessarily, a bad thing. Illness is usually a sign that something needs to change. That "something" is different for every illness and every person. For me, illness was my guide, it lead me to what I needed to learn. For others an illness may be a message to change what they are eating, improve their nutrition, get off their butt and exercise, get out of a bad job or relationship, or spend more time understanding their connection to spirit.
The second lesson I learned was that optimal human nutrition is quite often not what you might think. We are constantly bombarded by information about what we should eat; even from reputable sources like the government. While our food choices have evolved dramatically in the last thousand years, our bodies still need basic nutrients to function correctly. Health does not come in a bottle; it comes from a combined effort of the right food choices, the right nutrients, and the right support of your body (which actually may be a pill) and good sleep, exercise, and relaxation.
Health is not some far-off concept that you cannot obtain once you get sick; if you provide your body with what it needs, you can turn on the natural healing mechanisms in your body.