In 2003, my family returned to the United States after living abroad for fifteen years. After only a few days in the humid, allergen-laden Houston air, my son Sam had an asthma attack. Luckily, a precautionary “emergency” inhaler quickly dilated the bronchi in his lungs and he recovered. Based on my experience when he was a baby, I also realized that in this city–our new home–we were going to need some help to keep Sam’s body in balance. My first stop was locating a couple of good complementary practitioners who practiced natural medicine—an acupuncturist and a homeopath. This was followed by a trip to the grocery store to stock up on fresh food and, finally, naturally “allergy-proofing” his bedroom. In less than a week, Sam was back to normal and breathing easy.
Interpreting from one health system “language” to another On the glass shelves of my medicine cabinet these days, I find an array of herbs, medicinal products, and conventional medications. The combination allows me to care for my body and remain true to the most basic doctrine of medical law: “First, do no harm.”
There are many ways to create a disease-free, healthy life. Dealing with the illness of my own baby, I had to leave no stone unturned. Conventional medicine saves lives every day. If one of my children breaks an arm, we go straight to the emergency room, or if one has an ear infection, I use antibiotics when appropriate. But these examples involve fixing the body in crisis; I encourage you to create wellness—to prevent illness before it occurs. In ancient Asia, people paid a doctor for a healthy check up and went for free if they became sick—imagine if we could switch our emphasis to prevention! How many health care providers would jump on the bandwagon and turn their practices into well-being centers?
The “magic bullet” to keep up with the pace Returning to the USA, I realized that we Americans use conventional medicine as a magic bullet enabling us to keep up with the pace of society. It was a culture shock. Initially, I felt alone in a place that was supposed to feel like home. But I found ways to incorporate what I had learned overseas, and now my belief in holistic health and happiness partners comfortably with my training in medical science. As America attempts a major healthcare overhaul and I see our crippling problems with costs and the fear of interdependence on a fragile system, I recall those first few weeks back home. Weaving complementary practices through our healthcare system and through our own lives allows us to build and sustain total health and wellness, instead of reacting to problems as they occur.
Reach beyond the habit of using conventional medicine as a quick fix and reclaim the wisdom lying dormant in your own body. You will find yourself healthier and happier, feeling your interconnectedness to our world. As mothers, this approach to living takes many forms. Leading our families in living a greener life teaches them to value this sacred connection and the responsibility we have to care for our ecosystem. And, it can start in your own medicine cabinet.
Are you frustrated with our current health care system? Would you like to create wellness—to prevent illness before it occurs? Do you understand complementary therapies–how they work and why you may want to try one? Your body is capable of healing itself when given the chance.
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