Category Archives: Diet

Palliating, Suppressing, or Healing?

When symptoms (seem to) disappear as a result of a chosen “treatment”, we tend to say – “it’s working” or “yay, it worked”, often alluding to a cure, or to the promise of one.  Not so fast.  One of three things happened – it was PALLIATED, or it was SUPPRESSED, or maybe, yes, actually it was HEALED (cured).  The first two scenarios are way more common than you would think, but they are often perceived to be synonymous with the third, adding to the confusion in the bigger cosmos of life, as it all eventually falls apart, or disappoints another person’s expectations of the same outcome, or worse still, drives the disease deeper so the person now has a bigger disease than what she started out with.  In the insightful words of Pema Chödrön – “The truth is that things don’t really get solved.  They come together then they fall apart.  They come together again and fall apart again. It’s just like that.”  So, the question is – What’s healing then, what does a cure look like, and is it even possible?  Let’s explore.

What is Palliation?

The term palliation, comes from a Greek word that means “to hide or disguise”.  Palliation “hides” the symptoms, giving short-term relief from their unpleasantness.  It does absolutely nothing to correct the underlying problem that caused the symptoms.  If the “cause” is not apparently a bacteria, or a virus, or a parasite responsible for a raging infection, it is not obvious to think that there might be an underlying problem.  The obvious thought is that the body (part) is simply weakened and malfunctioning.  When I talk about figuring out the underlying problem to the chronic migraines or the eczema or the heartburn or that tongue sore that someone has come to me with, I often get blank stares.  Why, yes, of course there is an underlying problem (or an underlying story rather) — EVEN if there are microbes and infection involved.  It is not something we have been taught to think or ask – HOW do I have this symptom?  WHY am I getting this and the other person isn’t?  The automatic thinking is that my body (part) must be malfunctioning, because I must have some (label of ) disease… either caused by stress or it runs in the family.  But, a disease label after all is again just a collection of symptoms… it’s a way of classifying and naming something for reference, developed by us humans.  The body works independently of that naming system… it’s job is just to give out symptoms, give out the clues according to the duress it is potentially under.  So, staying with the question – why do I have this symptom or collection of symptoms?  I will let you ponder on that for a few minutes, while we understand what palliation does – it provides rapid relief of symptoms, a band-aid, a “quick  fix” at the lowest rung of the problem, hoping that the body will figure itself out underneath the band-aid… just as long as we don’t have to see it, feel it, or experience it.  Sometimes it figures it out, but, most of the time, symptoms will return once the band-aid treatment is stopped.  Most of us have experienced that and can understand it, yes?  For example, when we use an anti-histamine to stop the production and flow of mucus during seasonal allergies.  We keep taking it and taking it throughout the allergy season.  Does it help to cure us of our allergies?  No, it palliates it.

What is Suppression?

Suppression differs from palliation in that it completely stops the return of the symptoms… at least for a reasonable length of time such that it appears “cured”.  Hooray!  Wait, isn’t that the same thing as a cure?  No, it isn’t.  Let me give you an example – a child comes in with eczema, and is prescribed cortisone cream.  The eczema goes away completely after using the cream for some amount of time, but the child now has asthma or digestive issues or lots of joint pain.  Do you say – that is an inevitable shift after eczema?  Or do you say that that they are completely different diseases mutually exclusive from one another; that the eczema was cured, and that now the child just has a different disease?  Well, think again.  Do you see the symptoms going inward, shifting from a lesser important organ in the body such as the skin, to a more important one such as the lungs or deeper into the joints?  That’s suppression.  I would say to you (as I often do) that the suppression of the eczema with the cortisone cream led to the asthma or the food allergies that the child now has.  There was a price to pay.  Thus, suppression is similar to palliation in that it results in the disappearance of symptoms, but never fixes the underlying problem.  We simply exchange the original set of symptoms for a new set of symptoms at a deeper level.

OK, let’s try to understand this underlying problem that I keep talking about.  What exactly is it, and how to fix it?  In order for us to understand that, a paradigm shift is essential.  Let me give you an example – Fever.  Children throw fevers all the time.  For a while it was thought to be a disease in itself, but now we know that it is an indicator of an underlying problem, so we look for a virus or a bacteria although sometimes the fever just seems to be idiopathic (but, believe me, there still is an underlying reason, our tests are not just sophisticated enough to find it all yet).  So – we treat the fever with a fever-reducing medicine, and get an antibiotic prescription to take care of the infection.   For the most part it seems to work, except now we see repeated fever and infections over and over again in a body that is vital enough to keep bringing the issue forward over and over again raising a red flag.  Why does my child keep catching everything out there?  Repeated ear infections, repeated stomach bugs, repeated colds and flus, repeated strep throat, etc.  Eventually or right away, the child just stops getting infections, but develops food allergies, or chronic constipation, or ADHD or PANDAS or something else… of course, all that seems quite run of the mill of what can afflict children in today’s day and age of growing up.  But, what we are seeing here in both cases of repeated infections and that of development of a chronic problem is SUPPRESSION at work (or play).  Suppression of the immune system.  In the second scenario, the child’s immune system simply gave up fighting and adapted itself to something more deep-seated… such that she does not respond to a foreign pathogen the same way, instead has other issues to deal with.  Thus, the underlying problem (or the story) of the chronic constipation in this example could be the acute infection(s) that was not addressed properly.

What is Healing?

Going back to the fever.  What if it was understood that the body’s immune system has thrown a fever because it has detected a foreign pathogen that it needs to “take care of”, and develop a proper defense against this current invasion and also future exposures.  We all know that cooking and heating food that is susceptible to pathogens growing in it, helps make it safe for us to eat it without getting sick, as the high temperatures kill the bad bacteria.  Same principle, the immune system sends a message to raise the body’s temperature to make it inhospitable for the foreign pathogens that have infiltrated the eco-system (body), and the various organs and subsystems come together as a team to contribute and execute a plan of action to resolve the state and cleanse the body of the pathogen as best as it knows how to.  (Think there for a moment as to what likely happens when you proceed to abort that well-planned mission by throwing in a fever-reducer from the outside.)  As long as the person is NOT mal-nourished and is living in clean, sanitary conditions that helps diminish the virulence of the pathogen, the body is able to navigate this plan of action successfully and comes out at the other end not only having overcome the pathogen, but in the process becoming more knowledgeable, more experienced, more resilient, more evolved and in tune with nature and its elements of the microbial kingdom.  The only prescriptions – rest, fluids, appropriate nourishment… maybe some herbs or vitamins to boost the body’s innate resources, maybe some homeopathic resonant remedies MATCHED TO THE SYMPTOMS… anything that does NOT take over from the body’s natural course of action and works to abort the fever before the body is ready for it, and/or unceremoniously takes over the job of destroying the pathogens and the body’s own microbiome indiscriminately, making it a war zone.  This latter dire treatment certainly has its place and value and can save lives in emergency situations, but not something that needs to be first resort for most common infections and everyday ailments.  Would you agree?  Has anyone ever told you that they feel so much more refreshed and vibrant after a bout of miserable flu, that they feel like a new person?  They have to me, after being guided through the process with gentle support each time, with the additional bonus of less frequency of subsequent episodes of sickness over time.  Could this be what healing looks like?

Now, that was the example of an acute disease… an ACUTE is something that has a finite timeline, meaning that it has a beginning, a middle and and an end… yes, it has an end.  What about chronic, long drawn out illnesses?  What does healing look like there, is it even possible?  Yes, it is possible for some, for many actually…. it’s way more complicated and maybe more difficult than an acute, but possible.  It certainly isn’t a “quick fix” nor does it cater to the paradigm of “instant gratification”… by that I don’t mean that improvement or relief can not occur quickly.  It can and does in many cases, but it takes long term commitment and work to get it to be long lasting.  It takes skill and patience in teasing out the key essences and core characteristics from the biography and history of the person’s illnesses and timeline; coping mechanisms and suppressions along the way, and reversing them and unblocking them to reach that state of original vitality again.  Following every lead and story like a hound to the trail, and making sure that the body’s vital force continues to move in the right direction of healing through all that unfolding that can be confusing at times.  For every chronic issue has stemmed from something that was acute once…. maybe even many generations ago.  Mind blowing, isn’t it.  When it comes to chronic diseases, it can span generations even, and this hereditary component needs to be factored into the treatment.  But, first and foremost, it begins with an in-depth understanding and respect for the way the different systems in the body and mind work together.. and this understanding is ever so fluid and dynamic as life itself, as any devoted and dedicated practitioner of any modality will tell you.  The intricacy of the human being inter-connected within and without with nature and its environment… like the mathematical mobius strip.  It takes ongoing study and practice, and more importantly, discernment from the various paradigms and distracting ideas and memes regarding health that is out there, to reach that place of healing.

To quote Pema again – “Things falling apart is a kind of testing and also a kind of healing.  We think that the point is to pass the test or to overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved…” if passing the test or overcoming the immediate problem is our habitual instinct, then it is more likely that we are going to make choices that are palliative or suppressive.  Whereas, “The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.”  Beautiful, isn’t it?

All three are valid choices, no judgment from me.  But, it can perhaps BE a choice, only IF we are aware that there is a difference.  That awareness is my goal for this article.  NOTE: Any treatment method, homeopathy and even diet included, is capable of doing all three, knowingly or unknowingly… although the capacities may vary.  Some inherently carry a higher risk of suppression/palliation than cure.  What is your choice?

Food Allergies, Intolerances, Sensitivities… and Diets!

FOOD ALLERGIES are a huge and ubiquitous topic in the modern day world.  Nothing short of an epidemic, as it has become part of our day to day vocabulary. In fact, food itself is in the midst of a huge controversy, what with Big Food, Big Ag, and the plethora of different diets out there in today’s world.  Arnold Ehret aptly said – “Life is a tragedy of nutrition”.  In spite of civilization, modernization, industrialization, growth and scientific advancements, nutritional deficiencies seem to be abounding.  It’s a tragedy indeed since so much of our lives centers around food.  In fact its the centerpiece of every cultural, social, family, community, political, festive, celebratory and sad event!  In fact, the ONLY time we stop eating is when we are acutely sick!  Or our bodies give out a clear signal of an allergy or intolerance.  And, then one of the first indications we are getting “better” is when we can eat again, eat as much as we like, what we like, when we like.  Yes, for many of us, it would be fair to say that we live to eat.

In this article today, I’d like to shine a different light into this whole matter of food allergies, intolerances and sensitivities, and bring about a new understanding in the matter of true HEALING in general, and how FOOD itself relates to ANY CHRONIC DISEASE.  If you are simply interested in how to heal from food driven health issues (actually every health issue can be chalked up to food… after all, aren’t we what we eat?), rather, let’s say, the food allergy diathesis, then please listen to this webinar that I presented for the National Center of Homeopathy earlier this year in July.  In it, I talk about the differences between a true allergy, intolerance and a sensitivity, and how homeopathy can help manage not only the acute symptoms of these conditions including anaphylaxis, but can also be used to eradicate the chronic state of allergic diathesis from the root when addressed at the constitutional level.  As I mention in it, I have found the most consistent success with an integrative approach to the healing process of the chronic issue that includes constitutional homeopathy, gemmos and diet.  It can take a little longer for a true allergy to resolve completely (intolerances and sensitivities tend to resolve much faster, and homeopathy alone is often sufficient), and an integrative method is needed for most people that includes gentle drainage and regeneration of organ systems.  This aspect of healing (drainage and regeneration) is what I would like to talk about in the rest of this article… how do our systems degenerate in the first place to create the diathesis of food allergies, and their sometimes life-threatening symptoms?  Hint: Yes, FOOD itself plays a big role!

Live to eat, or eat to live?

Every bite we eat (and we could have been eating it for generations!) is either fighting disease or feeding it… and depending on the susceptibility of each individual, including inherited genes and traits from the family, it shows up as different chronic diseases in different individuals.  The more I work with disease, the more I think about root causes, the more I am convinced that we need a complete overhaul in the nutritional paradigm that we have established for ourselves as being normal and healthy.  Take for example, the notion of a BALANCED diet.  We are instructed to eat a certain way to “thrive” and live a “healthy” life.  The concepts of carbohydrates, proteins and fats are drilled into our heads since childhood.  Well, that would make sense when the person is disease-free and balanced already.  But, how many of us find ourselves in that state on a day-to-day basis?  More so, diet notions have constantly been changing over the centuries of human existence, most of it dictated by agriculture and civilization, and subsequently collaborated by science.  Vitamins and enzymes, and other details have been discovered and given names, and all of a sudden everyone is deficient in something or the other.  Then, we tailor our diets so that we can be one up on “nutrition”, or maybe just load up on tons of supplements (beware!) to facilitate it, hoping to be be free of symptoms and be healthy.  So, for some of us, we eat to live.

Between the flip-flop of eating to live, and living to eat, much has been gained as well as, I would say, also lost through the centuries of human existence, since the time humans harnessed and mastered fire, and subsequently migrated and adapted to their surroundings, and formed communities and cultures.  As sanitation improved, lifespans improved.  Civilization and industrialization also saw a huge explosion in the food industry.  Suddenly, food became abundant and freely available, but also specialized and monotonous.  Gluttony happened.  Creativity in the lab and farmland took precedence over creativity, diversity and the variety in the wild.  Of course, all that came with consequences, especially related to health.  While we saw a huge decrease in infectious diseases over time with all the modern improvements, chronic diseases skyrocketed.  We traded in one for the other.  Thus, lately, largely dictated by chronic health concerns, there has been a lot of impetus and push towards returning to traditional diets, spearheaded by groups such as the Weston A. Price Foundation, and the more recent off-spin of that called the Paleolithic diet (How Humans Became Meat Eaters).  Then there is the Ketogenic diet, and the Nutritional Bypass diet, and the Plant Paradox diet, to name a few.  The mind-set is changing from being  simply calorie-conscious to being nutrient-conscious.  Those seeking out a cleaner diet, free from processed foods, free from the white sugar-white flour culture, many of them dairy-free, are no doubt seeing benefits and many are seeing gains in their health and resolution of diseases and symptoms.  But, not all.   And, definitely not all the way.  It depends where one is on the spectrum of degeneration.  These traditional diets are what I call transition diets… surely much better than the SAD (Standard American Diet), but, turns out that one has to dig even deeper to truly understand the chemistry that happens inside our bodies and how different foods play a role in fighting or feeding disease, in regeneration or degeneration, in cleansing or accumulation of acidosis.

SENSITIVITY -> INTOLERANCE -> ALLERGY

Getting back to the topic of food allergies, the degenerative cycle that may take place inside the bodies of susceptible people follow the path of a mere sensitivity at first, to intolerance, to a true allergy with life threatening implications.  This degenerative cycle occurs due to increasing levels of acidosis in those susceptible bodies, if allowed to proceed unchecked and unaddressed, affecting and degenerating respective organ systems.  So, there are two things to address here to reverse the cycle to a regenerative one –  First, open elimination channels and drain the sewer system of the body, thereby reducing the acidosis, so that the key organ systems can regenerate and perform their jobs optimally.  Second, address the susceptibility, the genetic make-up, the constitution (mental, emotional, and physical aspects) of the person.  That’s as simple as healing can get.  While classical homeopathy is amazing with the second part of it, and of course, does affect the first along the way (as it is a totality approach, and susceptibility can not improve without regeneration), often times we homeopaths working at the constitutional level to eradicate susceptibility come across obstacles to healing, obstacles that are partly due to the amount of toxicity accumulated in the body that the organ systems are simply not able to mobilize and eliminate.  That is where the DIET, comes in.  And, also the GEMMOS.  Together they are the best adjuncts (in my experience) to constitutional homeopathy to open elimination.

NOURISH OR CLEANSE?

Let’s get back to where we left off in the story of traditional diets.  So, the current trend is to seek out nutrient-dense over calorie-counting.  However, at the end of the day, both can fall terribly short when it comes to attaining our health goals.  Neither nutrition, nor calories, is of any use to you if the cells in your body are simply swimming in acidosis, toxic wastes, if your body is simply not eliminating as it should.  What happens when the cells, tissues, organs, glands in your body are in constant contact with the acidic side of chemistry?  Right, degeneration, disease, and death.  With that throw out all the notions for supplements, digestive enzymes, vitamins that you have incorporated into your daily consumption in order to reach and maintain good health.  Why?  Well, it works for some, sure… and it works for a while, and then it doesn’t.  You know how I talked about digging deeper.  Let me introduce you to a new understanding (aha moment!) in regaining health – it is not nutrition (at least not primarily), but, detoxification… cleansing of your inner parts if you will.  The deeper you are able to clean house (body), the better off you will be in the long run.  You see, you can only bring up nutritional deficiencies AFTER you have fixed digestion, absorption and utilization!   And, you can only bring up digestion, absorption and utilization AFTER you have fixed elimination (cleaning)!  Make sense?  A little biology here –  what system in the body plays the role of the sewer system (nature must have facilitated one, right)?  Well, it’s the lymphatic system, with the lymph vessels and the lymph nodes and the lymphatic fluid flowing through them.  Everyone knows that our IMMUNE system lives in the lymphatic system.  But, very little is known or acknowledged by mainstream medicine about this important sewer functionality of the lymphatic system.  Therefore, I was excited to read this  piece recently – Scientists have finally discovered proof that our brains have a waste drainage system.  In fact, the lymphatic network is a complete side-by-side network of capillaries and pipes with the vascular (blood) network that emulates the main water supply to our bodies and that deals with the nutrition.  All the cells in our bodies (not just that of the brain) are surrounded by these two fluids – the lymph and the blood, one that cleans out the metabolic waste products produced by each cell, the other that brings in the fresh supply of oxygen and other nutrients to each cell.  If your body’s elimination pathways are not open or rather compromised by degeneration of the respective organs, the sewage backs up and accumulates and deposits in susceptible parts of the body creating symptoms and diseases there.  So, as you can see, this system needs big time maintenance throughout one’s lifetime.  But, it is the one least paid attention to.  Since it is a much larger system (80% lymph to 20% blood), that is lipid based (to buffer the acids, obviously), it can take a lot of accumulation, and the toxic overload can go unnoticed until chronic symptoms are the first harbingers of a possible malfunctioning.  Even then the symptoms can be managed by something like a high-fat diet… adding more good fats to the body to buffer the toxicity.  But, is that a proper solution?  Wouldn’t an effort to move out the toxins be a more viable plan (for most)?

Now, a little chemistry – how does one clean the lymphatic system?  Exercise?  For sure, the rebounder has gained new life and appreciation as a lymphatic mover and shaker in recent times.  Massage?  Many clients immediately think about lymphatic and deep cleansing massages whenever I mention lymphatic cleansing.  Both are good tools to have and use, but NOT BEFORE YOU HAVE OPENED ELIMINATION WITH CHEMISTRY.  You need to use chemistry first (alkalizing chemistry) to get those wastes moving, to get the kidneys filtering, to get bowels eliminating, before thinking exercise and massage, because if your emunctories are not open, then the toxins will just circulate within your closed system causing problems and suffering in various parts of the body by turn.  A lot of people feel worse from physical activity, or have an “aggravation” after a deep massage.  This can also be witnessed in many so-called “cures” as well, with any modality.  For example, a case of a food allergy resolves, but tics and spasms surface; what that means is that the toxicity has simply moved elsewhere… either suppressed to a deeper problem or moved out to a less important organ system in the right direction of healing.  Imagine squeezing a water balloon at one end, without an opening to let the water out, the other end simply bulges out… one dis-ease simply gives way to another!

CLEANSE -> REGENERATE -> HEAL

So, once again, let’s get back to the DIET – what chemistry are you facilitating within in your body through what you eat?  Any modality, any treatment, natural or synthetic, has the potential to suppress or aggravate.  That applies to diet as well, when we use food as medicine.  I am always looking to see if healing is occurring in the right direction from the most important to lesser important organs, from top down, from inner to outer.  It is not enough for me to see the symptom disappear and think that the person has been healed.  I apply the same caution and vigilance when someone tells me that their such and such disease has been healed by following such and such diet.  If it is not a diet (chemistry) that promotes cleansing for the most part, then I am suspicious of suppression, or a managed recovery.  So, what about a nutrient-dense traditional diet then – is it not cleansing?  Yes, it certainly is initially, since it cuts out all the processed junk, and lightens the load of constant toxic dump into the body by way of artificial foods.  But, I have found it is not enough in many cases.  Why not?  To reduce an acidic load in the body, to clear out debris, we need to go one step further than cutting out processed junk, and seek out foods that actually have an alkaline ash inside the body.  Proteins and fats do not have an alkaline ash, therefore a diet heavy on those two is not going to cleanse your body that well, and bring you back to regenerated health.  What foods then are alkalizing to the body?  What foods are best to re-establish and rebuild our microbiome, provide the necessary prebiotics?  Many point to a plant-based diet for that, that’s why the Vegan and the Raw Food movement has also seen a recent rise along with the subsets of traditional diets that I mentioned earlier.  From my perspective, I am not a proponent of any particular diet, per se, as long as an individual body is able to accomplish the cleaning that it needs to be disease-freeand that varies for everyone.  I’d steer clear of supplements or aids that are stool stimulators or softeners.  If you were to ask me though about an alkalizing diet, then FRUITS and some veggies would feature in it to some extent, depending on the individual.  These are the primary and the ultimate foods that create that effect of basic alkalizing chemistry inside our bodies that automatically induces cleaning.  Nature provides.  It is intelligent, and automatically evolves with the changing climate, environment, and everything else that is going on in the ecology.  You see, the history in our evolution is that even before we were hunters, we were gatherers.  Fresh fruits, when available, always featured heavily in many traditional diets.  The discovery of fire was a game changer, primarily in what we eat, and the way we eat today.  Cooking has allowed us many choices beyond fruits that used to be the primary diet of humans before the stone age.  But, many modern healing diets focus on meat (paleo) and good fats (ketogenic), and very little fruits.  Justifiably so in some ways, as meat is a stimulator and helps your adrenals, gives you energy; and good fats equip the lipid based lymphatic system to be able to buffer more acid wastes/toxins away from the organs that it surrounds… instantly bringing down inflammation and providing symptom relief.  And, fruit – well, since it moves the toxins, that can be symptomatic and uncomfortable for someone with high acidosis, and thus they are limited in these diets.   However, it would be (and is) a matter of time before the law of diminishing returns kicks in and people hit a plateau in their healing with these type of diets.  That’s why intermittent fasting is now being promoted by the proponents of the ketogenic and paleo diets, to allow the body to clean from all that acidic foods being consumed.  (Fasting has always been nature’s preferred way of healing.  And, that’s what I am getting at! Back to way of nature!)  Hence it is important to understand the “whys”.  Why, or why not, fruit (simple sugars)?  Why, or why not, meat (protein)?  Why, or why not, butter (fat)?  Why, or why not, processed junk food?  What if all the learning out there, although correct in some ways, is simply not correct enough?  One needs to keep digging deeper until one finds the answers for oneself.

Deprived or empowered

Some may complain about feeling deprived when I suggest they drop certain items from their diet as part of the plan to cleanse and get permanent relief from symptoms.  The thinking and attitude around this needs to change, elimination diets (pun intended!) should be seen for what they are – that is a goal to eat real foods and to practice DISCERNMENT.  It would be empowering instead of depriving.  Deviating from our staple food(s) will not kill us instantly of course, but it comes with a price.  Everything comes with a price.  What’s interesting to me is that nature itself is forcing many people into restricting their diets, through the diathesis of food allergies.  As I said in my webinar, the goal of proper healing is that you should be able to eat whatever you like, but, be warned that a consistently incorrect diet will bring you back to the same state, or a different state of acidosis, if susceptibility has changed along the way… for better or for worse!

Just because we can, does not mean we should…