10 Ways to Get the Most Out of Natural Medicine

By Scott J. Banks, Joe Kraynak, J. J. Virgin

You can use the natural cures approach to prevent and treat specific illnesses or to become so healthy that any illness has a difficult time establishing a foothold. Here are ten more ways to get the most out of natural cures.

Consulting a natural healthcare provider

To truly get the most out of natural medicine, you should consult a natural healthcare provider — a functional medicine practitioner, naturopath, osteopath, or a chiropractor who’s skilled in nutritional medicine. Natural healthcare providers are dedicated to treating patients, not just illnesses.

They can order tests and interpret the results to determine what’s going on in your body and guide you in terms of diet and supplements to address any nutritional deficiencies, food allergies or sensitivities, and other conditions that may be compromising your overall health.

Many natural healthcare providers, especially osteopaths, are covered by health insurance plans, so you may want to start your search by contacting your insurance provider. You may also search for certified practitioners online through the websites of the organizations to which they belong.

Targeting causes, not symptoms

Conventional medicine tends to focus on alleviating symptoms rather than treating illness. A conventional doctor is likely to prescribe antacids to treat heartburn and indigestion, decongestants and antihistamines to treat a stuffy nose, and pain relievers to treat a headache. You may feel better for a while, but as soon as you stop the medication, your symptoms return.

Even worse, the medicines may actually contribute to the onset of other chronic conditions; for example, taking a proton pump inhibitor to reduce stomach acid restricts the absorption of calcium and magnesium, eventually decreasing bone density and increasing the risk of osteoporosis. The better solution is to go upstream and eliminate whatever is causing the indigestion, which is usually diet, too little hydrochloric acid, insufficient amounts of pancreatic enzymes, or unbalanced intestinal microbes.

Just because you feel good doesn’t mean you’re healthy. In the disease cycle, symptoms are the last to show up and the first to leave. You may be ill long before your know it, so you need to constantly work on optimizing all of the systems that make up your body.

Being healthy instead of not sick

The goal of conventional medicine is to eliminate illness. The goal of natural medicine is to make you healthy. Although the distinction seems insignificant, the two approaches are worlds apart. When all you’re trying to do is eliminate an illness, usually with pharmaceutical medications, radiation, or surgery, you’re likely to cause a host of other health conditions.

With conventional medication, the cure is often as bad as or worse than the illness. Natural cures strengthen the body’s defenses against illness without causing the undesirable side effects that accompany most conventional treatments.

Using common sense as your guide

Voltaire said, “Common sense is not so common.” Case in point? The people who complain about their doctors’ inability to cure them are usually couch potatoes who overindulge in sugary foods and drinks, alcohol, tobacco, and processed foods; and eat far more meat and wheat than they do vegetables and fruits. And then they wonder why they feel lousy.

Use your common sense. Like a car, your body runs on the fuel you pump into your tank. Bad fuel leads to poor performance and may permanently damage your body. Here are three commonsense suggestions for improving your overall health:

  • Eat whole foods low on the glycemic index, diverse in phytonutrients, with plenty of fiber. Most of your diet should be veggies, fruits, nuts (not peanuts), and seeds.

  • Engage in aerobic exercise for 30 minutes at least every other day with some sort of strength training at least three days a week.

  • Take a high‐quality multivitamin, 4 g of omega‐3 essential fatty acids, and 2,000 mg of vitamin D daily.

Steering clear of miracle cures

Salespeople routinely show up at my office to peddle the latest miracle cure — a newly discovered tropical drink from the rain forest that holds the promise of eternal youth or an ingredient extracted from a rare plant that cures everything from colds to cancer. Establishing and maintaining good health requires proper nutrition and exercise, neither of which comes in a bottle.

Taking vitamins and minerals in their better forms

Many people take vitamins, minerals, probiotics, and other supplements and give up on these alternative treatments because they don’t work. In many cases, supplements don’t work because they’re low‐quality products or are in a form that the body can’t absorb or make use of efficiently. To get the most out of nutritional supplements, take them in their better forms from reliable manufacturers.

Likewise, high‐quality probiotics that contain high levels of many different strains of specific gut microflora are much more effective in maintaining healthy digestion than are cheap products that are processed, shipped, or stored in a way that kills all of the beneficial microorganisms. Buy products only from reputable manufacturers.

Being skeptical of expert advice

Doctors and nutritionists have a long history of leading consumers astray with conflicting advice or incomplete information. For many years, they said that high cholesterol was bad. Then they amended their advice, claiming that LDL was bad, but HDL was good.

They advised avoiding saturated fats and taking statin drugs to lower cholesterol but rarely mentioned that lowering your cholesterol increases your risk of depression, dementia, and Parkinson’s disease or that it interferes with the production of key hormones and blocks production of CoQ10, which is crucial for production of cellular energy.

Before accepting any expert’s health recommendation, test it against what nature tells you and against your own common sense. For example, does it really make sense to take a proton pump inhibitor to reduce the production of stomach acid? How else is your body supposed to fully digest the food you eat?!

Earth’s many ecosystems have evolved over billions of years, and humans, plants, and animals have evolved side‐by‐side for at least 2.4 million years. Trust only those recommendations that seek to optimize the body’s functions and restore balance. Remain very skeptical of any treatment options designed solely to suppress symptoms.

Making bold changes

To become healthy, you need to go all in. Eliminating sugar from your diet without eliminating highly processed carbohydrates does nothing to improve your health. If you have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, plucking the croutons off of your Caesar salad doesn’t help; enough gluten residue remains to trigger an immune response that raises your body’s gluten antibodies for several weeks.

Be bold. Develop an exercise routine and stick with it. Dump the junk food in your cabinet and refrigerator and restock with healthy, organic whole foods. Team up with your doctor to explore ways to reduce or eliminate the pharmaceutical medications you’re taking. Make a commitment to eliminate stress at home and work and in your relationships.

Eating organic foods whenever possible

Healthy foods are grown in healthy, nutrient‐rich soil. Unfortunately, commercial farming practices often poison the soil or deplete its nutrients, producing foods that are toxic or lower in nutrients than they should be.

In addition, many crops, including soybeans and corn, are genetically engineered into foods that human evolution hasn’t prepared the human body to process. These genetically engineered foods trigger a variety of illnesses in people — everything from digestive issues to allergies to brain and cognitive disorders.

Whenever possible, buy local and organic vegetables and fruits that are in season. If you eat meat, buy wild fish and game and pastured animal products. Farmer’s markets, Amish farms, and whole food grocery stores are a great place to start. You may also want to search online for local organic food buyers’ clubs.

Steering clear of food fights

Healthy eating is an emotional subject. Just look at the heated debates over school lunches. As you set out on your quest to be healthy, don’t speak about it until you’re spoken to. If you choose to go gluten free, for example, don’t announce it. When you look and feel better, people will take notice and will ask you what you’ve been doing. That’s when you tell them what you’ve been doing. They can’t argue with that.

The world is filled with gloomy doomers and stinker thinkers. Many people would like to see you fail. Don’t give them the satisfaction. Let your good health speak for itself. If you feel a need to talk about it, join a group of like‐minded people who are looking to share information and support.