In high school, I learned that if a=b and b=c, then a=c. While this transitive property holds true everywhere in this dimension (I think), I’ve found that in health/the human body, there are no simple a‘s and b‘s and c‘s; they are complex, multi-everything, thingamajigs; no one person is the same, no disease can always be treated with the same interventions, perspectives are sometimes contradictory, something can be great for you, but only in small doses, the weather matters, the weather doesn’t matter, I have qi and chakras and a prominent dosha, and I’m not even 100% sure about everything I just said.
And I want to learn more about all of it. Every once in awhile, I enter a fervent research phase, where I do online research and order books through the library to find out more about a particular aspect of health or wellness. During these phases, my eyes are opened to the myriad of holistic approaches to healing and general wellness that various cultures, practitioners, and regular people have proposed and/or researched.
I’m in one of those phases now – a food/digestion related one; yesterday, I reread an article on food-combining and perused a site on Ayurvedic diet. Today, I reread an article that looks at both the Chinese Medicine and Ayurvedic approach to ulcerative colitis, and I’m going to order a book from the library called Chinese Nutrition Therapy: Dietetics in Traditional Chinese Medicine.
I’m not trying to treat myself; my condition is beyond what amateur research alone can conquer. I can learn a lot from these resources, and I can safely put some ideas to use, but there is still so much I don’t know, and will never know, unless I go through some rigorous schooling and practice, which I do not want to do. As interested as I am in healing my colon, I’m not interested in becoming any type of doctor or practitioner. I haven’t taken biology since freshman year of high school and never want to take it again. I’ll stick with the anatomy of a building, thank you very much – not the anatomy of the body. I’m only interested in learning about these holistic approaches for my own benefit; every person with colitis is different, and I’m doing this to find out what works for me. When I try something new, I can personally feel its effect. I hope that what I’ve done and what I’ve learned can help others, but if I was healthy, I would surely not be be so invested in this. (Is that a surprise?) I like giving people ideas such as suggesting ginger tea for nausea or yoga for relaxation, but I don’t think I will ever want to be a practitioner who must call upon his/her wealth of knowledge and experience to solve someone else’s serious and/or complex problem(s).
Getting from pretty healthy to optimal health is – relatively – easy, and can be accomplished through research or by taking a class, following a tutorial, or going on a retreat. I, on the other hand, needed to go from seriously ill to any type of healthy state, and I couldn’t have done this without the help of some incredible doctors.
So, the things I’m researching now, on my own, probably aren’t going to have a drastic impact on my health (although, who knows? Maybe they’re the missing link); my goals, rather, are to do some fine-tuning of my health, and to understand more about my herbalist’s perspective on my disease. The latter is why I am ordering the book on Chinese nutrition, and the former has to do with little wellness tips I learn about through internet research.
Despite my lack of enthusiasm for biology and anatomy, what I’ve learned and am continuing to research is fascinating to me. I guess that’s because aspects of these subjects come up, but only as they apply to healing – to my healing. (Femur bone? no clue where that is.) I especially love learning about ancient systems of medicine, like Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). They have some concepts that most conventional/Western doctors would scoff at, but that I’m loving more and more, things like TCM’s view that ulcerative colitis is a manifestation of damp heat in the intestines (as read here) or how Ayurveda says that one should “eat a simple breakfast, a hearty lunch, and a gentle dinner” (as read here). I get particularly excited when I find something consistent between what my herbalist says and what I find online about these two systems of medicine or others. Reinforcement is always good, and especially when it is in relation to my health. If experts of TCM and/or Ayurveda are reading this right now or could look into my brain, they might be thinking, “well, yeah, that’s sort of true, but you don’t really know the complexities of our philosophies,” and I will be the first to admit that they are right – I have only a basic understanding of both. But it’s a step for me; I’m closer to understanding more about different perspectives on health and about my own body, and I will continue to learn more about all of this to support myself in every way possible.