Posted by: angelnorman | August 14, 2010

ain’t nothing changed but my lymph

On Thursday, I was reading about Ayurvedic medicine– for those not aware of what this is, I’ll give you a short, simple answer: It’s a form of medicine that is over 5,000 years old that combines herbal remedies, nutrition, exercise, and psychology to improve a person’s overall health and well-being. Basically, there are three types of doshas– they are mind/body types– and everyone has all three with one of the doshas being dominant. When your dominant dosha gets out of whack, it throws your entire system off.  So you have to do specific exercises and eat/avoid specific foods to keep that dosha in check. Imbalance in any of the doshas- dominant or otherwise- can cause a wide array of health issues.

This fascinated me. Maybe it’s because I’ve been dealing with the same issues for 15+ years and still have no real answers as to why I have anovulation. Why my depression hasn’t gone away despite treatment. Why my hormones are so badly out of whack. Why my body always feels so tense and tired even in periods of low-stress. Modern medicine has failed me. Every time I go to the doctor, someone is pushing a pill at me. I fully understand that some medicines are important… but to what extent? If medication causes liver issues, and I continue to take the medications I’m on for the rest of my life, what will become of my liver and its ability to function? I talked to my doctor about this once when I asked if I would ever be off of the synthroid. He said, “What do you mean?” So I explained to him that I needed to know if my thyroid would ever function properly on its own again. He said, “Well it does function properly… on synthroid.” And that was that. No reassurance that the hormone I was replacing would ever NOT need replacing. As the years progress, I seem to be picking up more issues. First it was the hypothyroidism. Well technically it was depression and anovulation first, but I’m going to leave them out for now. Then the high blood pressure. Then PCOS. Then high blood pressure again, this time while I’m not even pregnant. I am currently taking 2 metformins a day for the PCOS, 1 synthroid for the hypothyroidism, and 2 aldomet for my high blood pressure. I take 1 progesterone (Provera)  for five days a month to jumpstart my cycle, and daily I take 1 celexa to manage my depression. Then I’m on a handful of vitamins/supplements… Fish Oil, Prenatal Vitamins in the off-chance I get pregnant, and Cinnamon to help regulate my blood sugar levels. It’s kind of a medicine-hater’s nightmare.

I took a quiz at Whole Living’s site the other day to determine my dosha– kapha, it said although I see quite a bit of vata in myself particularly because I’m prone to being anxious and overwhelmed– and after doing so, I read about things that described me to. a. tee. I am indeed quite lazy. I deeply care about things and people, but sometimes I lack the motivation required to keep up with them. I have this type of relationship with exercise, actually. I love the way I feel after physical activity, but I also tend to have a hard ass time talking myself into getting up off my butt and working out. I am not a morning person, and it takes me awhile- and quite a bit of caffeine- to get moving. Once I’m moving, though, I actually love the morning time. So calm and cool and peaceful! And that’s another very kapha trait in me because I do prefer gentle, calming exercises like yoga to any other form of physical activity.

Everything I read about kaphas say that they tend to have issues with their lymphatic systems clogging because of excessive mucus and other issues that tend to arise when we’re out of balance. I spent a good amount of time the rest of that Thursday learning what a lymph system was (want to make something of the fact that I hadn’t really ever bothered to know all of anatomy?) and learning how it can become sluggish. Our lymph systems carry nutrients and vitamins all over our body; when it’s unable to move freely we can get sore, feel tired and maybe even depressed as our bodies struggle to do their jobs. We are then more prone to infection, to diseases, and to a low immunity all around. Again, this really intrigued me as I wondered how many of my issues could lessen if I took better care to aid my lymphatic system. I mean, everything in this article seems to suggest that a good deal of the stiffness and soreness and fatigue that I experience every night (much to Michael’s dismay when I ask for a shoulder rub) could indicate an issue with my lymph system.

Later that night, I went to a holistic house party at my friend Shea’s and the chiropractor/alternative medicine genius who demonstrated picked ME out of the group as his first volunteer. I don’t know how I feel about all holistic medicine. I know I believe in aromatherapy, I understand that people enjoy seeing a chiropractor and that there are benefits to acupuncture. But I’ve never really put stock into things that aren’t the norm. I figure, if they’re worth doing, they’ll become the norm, or at least more normal, at some point. You know… like recycling. People never used to recycle and now I know very few people who don’t. (Except for me, because I suck hardcore.) Also, it’s like how using more environment-friendly cleaners became more popular. Those things are kind of normal now. You’re not weird if you don’t use bleach anymore because people are beginning to see that safer things are just as effective.

Just as Mike needs more proof that global warming is/could be happening, I need more scientific proof that holistic medicine isn’t just someone trying to bank on our need as a society to find something else that works for us. I think a lot of people do– think about how common aromatherapy of feng shui is now whereas before you barely heard about these things. Same things with supplements and herbology and anything else that seems to catch on. These are valid things IMO– well maybe not feng shui. I don’t adhere to arranging my furniture in a pattern simply to suit different areas of my life. I’m not sure how effective that really is. Once a new things crops up that seems to change even the tiniest of things, people jump all over it. I am anti-fad. I don’t want to do something just because it’s there for me to do it. I want to do something because it is actually going to work. I like aromatherapy because I like scents and recognize the power in them, just as I take supplements to fill the holes in my diet and enjoy a good massage because I know for a fact that it works. And just like Mike recognizes that doing all we can, at our convenience, to prevent global warming is just fine, I recognize that people who believe in/use homeopathic treatments are just fine. They are not wrong to do what they think will help them, as I am not wrong to do what I think might help me.

Just don’t try and push your BS beliefs on me, and I’ll keep mine to myself as well. Deal? 🙂

So back to the party. I laid on the table as he examined my ankles and feet. Then he had me put my arms above my head and try to resist his attempt to bring them down by my sides. I struggled a little with it as I’m quite weak in my arms. Growing up, I was never good at things like cartwheels or push-ups or even crossing the monkey bars. My arms cannot support my weight and they certainly aren’t good with resisting other peoples’ pushes. I apologized for my weakness, and Dr. Davis recommended an ionic foot bath for me.

Okay, so I sit with my feet in a tub or lukewarm water that has an electrode in it and a little bit of salt. The intent is to draw out any toxins/impurities through the soles of the feet. We’ve all seen those foot pad thingies, and let’s be honest, it seems like a bunch of horseshit. Ionic foot baths or the pads or anything like that is a great example of how people will come up with anything to make a few dollars off a public that’s so desperate for whole medical care. But I went with it, because he said I appeared to have a lymphatic system issue– and I didn’t even tell him anything about what I had read that day– and that it would help my lymphatic system “detox”.

The results? Well, the water was funky, but so was the “controlled” (without any feet in it) water. Both tubs contained a brownish funky water and I couldn’t see through to the bottom of either of them after I was done. My feet were soft but they smelled of metal for the next 24 hours. I felt my feet tingling a little in the water, but I wasn’t sure how much of that was mental. Mainly, I still think the whole ionic foot bath thing is a bunch of shiz.  Like ear candles.

The interesting thing though was that after the bath, we repeated the test done on me beforehand, with my arms above my head and me trying to resist his pressure. I succeeded with ease the second time around– he said it was because we had encouraged my lymph to flow– but I couldn’t help but wonder how much of it was a placebo effect. He had told me I would be stronger, beforehand. He had told me the foot bath would cause my lymph to unclog and that I would lose some of the toxins effecting my strength. Another girl there told me that she felt stronger after her first ionic foot bath, and that she felt lighter and seemed to have more energy. One can’t help but wonder how different would it have been for me had I not heard these things?

Regardless of how you and I feel about homeopathic, ayurvedic, natural and alternative medicines, though, the truth remains that none of us have proof except for the feelings we feel and the differences in our minds. The mind is a very powerful thing, after all. But it doesn’t matter if there’s proof or not, really, when you’re seeing improvements. I think more people should try what makes them feel good, even if it sounds a little weird at first. Even if they have to first learn about their bodies to understand the changes they need to make, like I did. Even if it’s not for health… Just do what makes you feel good! Read a book, take yourself to dinner, get a massage… invest in herbs and essential oils and make or buy your own scrubs and washes and detergents. Clean your house any way you want. Stop relying solely on evidence that it’s okay to do something. If you want to get your kids off sugar or dyes or gluten or dairy, don’t wait for a medical condition to arise for an excuse. You are in charge of your own life. Just freaking stop giving them things.

Just don’t be pissed when they decide to eat ice cream for a month when they leave your house. You can’t force your beliefs on anyone; you can only guide.

My plan? I’m going to forego dairy, I think. I’m going to diet and exercise and try to follow this ayurvedic plan for a kapha because regardless of whether or not it’s valid, you can’t argue with the foundation that whole-body health is important. I’ll keep you posted on how it goes.

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