After listening to Dr. Mark Hyman on this episode of NPR’s award winning program On Being hosted by Krista Tippett, I realized we were in the midst of an epidemic of chronic annoyances that overtime become chronic pain and illness. When suffering from chronic health problems, there comes a breaking point for people who have a lust for life, when the search for answers beyond conventional western medicine begins. Dr. Hyman was in just this situation after returning from China.
A once energetic athletic man, Dr. Hyman found himself plagued with digestive problems, insomnia, fatigue, food allergies, and muscle cramps. Around this time, he was introduced to functional medicine and Dr. Jeffrey Bland (author of The Disease Delusion). The truth Dr. Hyman discovered through his own search for relief and academic curiosity was that our body is an interconnected system and the vital role of lifestyle, stress, diet, toxins, digestive health and food allergies on our overall health and wellness.
It seems logical, but these are new concepts for your run of the mill conventional practitioner. Ironically, many ancient cultures recognized this mind, body, and spirit connection thousands of years ago. Dr. Hyman addresses the need to integrate ancient wisdoms and modern medicine, giving weight to the importance of treating people holistically and being mindful of all factors that contribute to overall health.
Like Dr. Hyman, I was out of options, having exhausted everything my doctors could offer me. It started with weird breakouts on my chin and eczema. I have never suffered from acne or any skin problems and all of a sudden in my late 20’s my chin was a mess. Someone randomly told me that in Chinese medicine, this area of the face was connected to the digestive system. This was my first clue, and while I was looking for answers things got worse. I started breaking out in hives all over my body and getting a rash on my neck.
I went in for some specific allergy tests for things I had suspected might be causing the reaction. These tests resulted in determining I had a soy allergy. Cutting soy from your diet in America is a huge challenge. Soy is one of the main subsidized crops and it is used in almost everything, so this essentially meant cutting out all processed foods. Acquiring a soy allergy in my life was a major game changer, and while at times it can be a stressful inconvenience, it was a blessing in the end.
After a lifetime of suffering from chronic asthma I went to the doctor for a test and they determined that I no longer had asthma and my lungs were at 100% capacity. I realized processed foods had been causing inflammation in my body and all kinds of other problems. Things got better and I started to clean up my life. I began my descent down the rabbit hole to a clean lifestyle, overhauling everything from my diet to all of the products I use. Today things are better, but I am still learning and adjusting my diet. The more I refine, the better my skin looks, and the more efficiently my digestive system operates.