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Treatment from the Pantry

natural remedyNo doctor would hide a cure from a patient, just because it was considered “alternative” medicine, but the effect is the same when doctors aren’t taught to look for cures among non-traditional healing modalities such as diet, acupuncture or homeopathy. After all, if the patient is still sick when traditional medicine fails, it won’t matter to him that his clinician’s peers in the medical establishment considered such cures to be at best sketchy, and at worst, criminally negligent. And yet, modern medicine has become more or less institutionalized to be risk-averse, and for many, that means an expensive and complex regimen of pharmaceuticals.

However, it can’t be denied that sometimes cures are simple. Take the case of 19-year-old Florida State college student Jordan Rubin, who went to the doctor because of fatigue, stomach cramps, nausea and diarrhea. He had lost 20 pounds in the previous week. The doctor said it was the worst case of Crohn’s disease he’d ever seen. Eventually confined to a wheelchair, Jordan concluded that if he wanted to live, he had to take his prescribed medication, the side effects of which “[were] almost as bad as the disease itself.” For two more years, his health deteriorated.

In 1996, he met a nutritionist whose program sounded strange to say the least – dirt as a nutritional supplement. But Jordan was willing to try almost anything. He was told that the diet was inspired by the ancient Israelites, who ate foods full of beneficial microorganisms, the kind which had been nearly eliminated from our present-day diets by pesticides, pasteurization, and chemical fertilizers. He gained 29 pounds in 40 days, and eventually became a consumer activist for probiotics, the consumption of beneficial bacterial cultures and yeasts. Probiotics is now more or less accepted by the medical establishment, about a hundred years after it was first proposed by Nobel Laureate Ilya Mechnikov. It has been linked to managing lactose intolerance, lowering cholesterol and blood pressure, preventing colon cancer, and improving immune response.

Another living example is Sarah Gall, a 55-year-old church organist in England, diagnosed with arthritis in her knee and shoulders. An x-ray would later reveal that even her spine was affected. In the way of a cure, she was given stronger and stronger painkillers, but they made her sick. “I was in agony,” she said. “I couldn’t even walk – let alone get out to play the organ. I had become depressed and was crying with the pain.” Her daughter found a simple cure on the Internet, originally proposed by nurse Margaret Hills in 1961. Hill speculated that though vinegar is acidic, when digested, it becomes alkaline and might neutralize the acid that builds up in the joints and causes arthritic swelling. She was right. After just a week of drinking vinegar mixed with honey for taste, Sarah started to feel better. “I didn’t need to see the specialist any more. Eventually the arthritis disappeared. My doctor was flabbergasted.”

taking a biteWhy are doctors not trained to look for simple cures? The short answer is that they probably feel that they have to prescribe mainstream remedies even if they don’t work. However, it is doubtful that they would mind a common-sense approach by patients with harmless potential cures, even ones that sound as strange as drinking vinegar or eating dirt. Although medical schools may teach that patients are only cured through complex biochemistry, you don’t have to be sick to know that the cure is where you find it.

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