One of my readers asked me how I started learning about natural health and remedies. So I thought I’d share my story with you.
My parents were both raised with some home remedy knowledge, but mostly they were from the era where the doctor knew best. So that’s how I was raised for the first two years of life. As the first grandchild, I was not lacking in sugary treats, and ended up with serious tonsil infections. I went through round after round of antibiotics, and my infections would just come back with a vengeance. Finally, my pediatrician scheduled me to have my tonsils removed.
bitty me and my Mama
A friend of my Mom’s suggested that she try using alfalfa in the mean time while we waited to get surgery. Amazingly, my tonsils cleared up, so Mom cancelled the surgery and was hooked on the idea of natural remedies after that.
My parents dove in deep with several years of legume vegetarianism, raising goats in our back yard, and joining pyramid scheme companies that sold frothy vitamin shakes that tasted like potting soil. Their fervor gradually waned, but I remembered those nasty shakes. By the time I was a teen, I had decided that I was much more “normal” than they were. 🙂 So when I got married and had babies, I had planted my feet back in the “doctor knows best” camp, and trucked myself into the same pediatrician that had cared for my husband as a baby.
being silly with my man
But several things happened that made me start digging for alternative health answers. First, I switched pediatricians when he told me that “humans toenails were evolving away.” I was skeptical that there was probably a much better explanation for my baby’s flaky toenails. But we continued with the standard medical care approach until around 2008, just before I got pregnant with my 3rd baby, and that’s when I really started digging and getting interested in alternative health and herbs.
expecting my second baby- and my big girl helping me
What I Lost
What made me start looking at alternative health? A series of events that really gave me serious doubts about putting blind faith in our doctor and pediatrician. I’m going to share some very personal experiences to give you an idea of why becoming a better health care advocate for myself and my family became very important to me. I share not to make light of these events, but in the hopes that it may help someone else avoid some of the things we went through.
[bctt tweet=”several things happened that made me start digging for alternative health answers #naturalremedies”]
After having my second child, my husband and I were ready to take a break and space our children a little more. My OB suggested an IUD, and told me that it was 99% effective at preventing pregnancy, and hormone free. She told me “Once you have it in place for a year, it’s 99.9% effective. The only thing more effective is abstinence.” Well, that sounded ideal!
I had it a year and started having odd bleeding, like my cycle was trying to start early. I thought maybe it had slipped out of place. I went in to my OB on the day of my appointment by myself, and they sent me in to have a quick ultrasound to check the IUD position.
The tech told me that I was pregnant.
I was elated! And seconds later, she tells me that there is no heartbeat. The baby appeared to be attached to the IUD. I’m not usually an overly emotional person, but I was absolutely crushed and undone. I was wracked with guilt. I couldn’t even speak when I tried to call my husband to come get me. I couldn’t drive. I couldn’t do anything but sob. For days.
They told me I’d need a DNC, and 3 days after being told my baby was dead, I checked into the surgery center. After the DNC, we decided that we were ready for another baby. I was really happy that the whole DNC process seemed to have made my cycles really light. What I didn’t know is that it had messed up my hormones really bad. I wasn’t making enough progesterone, and my lining wasn’t thick enough to support a baby. I ended up losing my fourth pregnancy.
When I went for that appointment, I asked the young OB if I could just miscarry naturally at home. She closed the door and leaned in close and whispered, “That’s what I’d do too. I’ve seen too much.” So I went home and let my body grieve through the process, and vowed that I would never again allow myself to be talked into something without doing my own research.
I realized that the data that my original OB had given me was probably not her trying to deceive me. It was a sales pitch and the “stats” were more than likely provided by the company that manufactured the IUD. I was so disgusted. That’s when I realized that the system is broken.
my boy at age 3
I Wasn’t Being Heard
Then when my oldest son was 4, he had his vaccinations. Two weeks later the sides of his neck swelled up really big. He was in so much pain that if he tried to move his head he cried. I’d never seen anything like it. I called the phone nurse, and she asked if he’d recently been vaccinated.
I said, “No.” Then added, “Well, it was like 2 weeks ago.” I thought vaccine reactions were within 24 hours of getting the vaccine. It never occurred to me that this could be related. She told me that she thought he was having a vaccine reaction, and sent me to the CDC website to see when the active phase of the vaccines. Sure. Enough.
So I took him in on Monday first thing, and I told the pediatrician that the phone nurse said he was more than likely having a reaction to the vaccines we just received. The pediatrician flatly refused to hear me or even consider that it could be a possibility. He said that it was a “normal infection” and prescribed an antibiotic. When I tried to ask what kind of infection, and if we could test to see, he would not allow me to speak. He raised his voice and just kept talking over me, not allowing me to say another word. I was appalled to be treated in such a rude way.
I walked out and never went back. I realized that the vaccine reporting system was most likely fatally flawed if the doctors themselves don’t believe that vaccines can cause reactions. The system is broken.
our tiny new girl
Around that time, our co-pay went from $20 to $40. And we just couldn’t afford to take the kids in for little things. And I started realizing that they were probably getting exposed to more germs each time I did take them in for a little sniffle anyway. That year, the over the counter cough medicine I used was taken off of the shelves and deemed unsafe. What in the world? I though baby medicine was supposed to be safe to give my kids? My whole “doctor knows best” plan was unraveling fast.
Learning a New Way
I started studying and learning. I made a list of the most common things that we went to the doctor for…the little things, and started studying one natural remedy at a time to learn how to treat basic stuff at home. I realized that there are SO many great home remedies that really work! And that no one pays more attention to my kids when they’re sick than I do.
Learning how to pay close attention to the body, and teaching my kids to do the same has been so useful for catching illnesses early, and for being able to describe and watch exactly how our bodies react to an illness. I now know what’s normal for us, and can evaluate better when we may need additional medical help instead of just taking the kids in for every sniffle and temperature spike.
on an herb walk
I started being more proactive in choosing doctors and pediatricians who were kind people, who believe in treating their patients with respect, and who believe in patient and parents rights. I looked for doctors and health care professionals who had a deeper understanding of the way the body worked, and who were open to a more integrative approach to medicine, and who were willing to answer my “why?” questions. I would *so* much rather have a practitioner who answers, “I don’t know” than one who is scornful and disrespectful to me.
When I started having very low energy and other health issues, I realized that the best my regular doctor could offer were depression meds or a sleep study. I knew there was more going on, and it took me on a long journey of looking for answers and ultimately figuring it out for myself.
I have learned that even with the major advances in modern medicine, that much of the human body still remains a mystery, and that there is not a one size fits all approach to healthcare, whether it be herbs, essential oils, or prescriptions- the key is finding the right fit for your unique body.
I’ve enjoyed learning about how our bodies work, both in theory through reading and research, and through observation of each one of my family members. We’re all a little different in how we respond to foods, herbs, medicines, and germs. The kids and I love going on herb walks, and discovering new remedies to try out. I love that my kids know to ask for garlic or onion presses when sick. They know what makes them feel better.
Although I now strongly prefer herbal and natural medicine, I would not hesitate to take my child in if they had a serious infection, or an acute or emergency situation arise. But I feel that a Mama who has a basic handle on nutrition and herbal remedies is often better equipped to really enhance a child’s health than your average pediatrician.
[bctt tweet=”a Mama who knows nutrition and herbal remedies can enhance a child’s health #naturalremedies”]
Even though the experiences that brought me to this place were painful and costly, I’m very grateful to be at a place where I now take a more personalized, holistic approach to health and nutrition for our family.
What about you? Are you taking your first steps in natural remedies, did your family value and pass down a love for herbal and natural health?
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