In order to truly pivot and embrace both Western and Eastern Medicine we have to take reactionary steps for healing, as well as preventative steps for better living. These simple first steps include understanding the need and effect of prescribed medications, eating more organic whole foods and less processed foods, supplementing your diet with vitamins as needed, and exploring methods that power and heal the soul.
Step 1: Prior to the start of any medication, we should understand the need and effect of prescription medications as they are being ingested into our bodies. This involves discussing all medications with a medical professional of choice, exploring options for possible alternatives, or educating ourselves about the medication and its need. The value to this is that Americans spent more than $300 billion on prescription drugs in 2011, and nearly half of all of these adults have taken at least one prescription drug in the last month, while nearly a third regularly use two or more prescription medications. Through a discussion with a medical professional, I was able to decrease some prescription medications (e.g., cholesterol medication, B12 injections), and enact other options including dietary changes, stress relieving methods, and vitamin supplements, equating in both monetary and health savings.
Step 2: Since food is the cheapest and safest way to maintain our health, increasing the amount of organic whole foods in our diets assists in supplying our bodies with the needed vitamins and minerals to live a healthy life. Providing our bodies with valued nutrients helps to fight illnesses and ailments, or simply ensures a strong immune system. Therefore, before taking a bite, take the time to discern what you are eating, where it came from, and the impact that food has on both your health and the environment. To take these steps eat organic, local, humanely raised foods with a primary emphasis on eating more fruits, vegetables, and grains. In my own personal journey, I have had to stop eating milk, milk proteins, and products containing milk, and start eating more local organic whole foods. I quickly realized that I love local homemade meals, farmers’ markets, and brussels sprouts a great deal more than additional prescription medications and expensive doctor bills.
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Step 3: In the case that we are not able to obtain enough vitamins and minerals from our food, adding a vitamin supplement to our regimen can help assure a balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle. Similar to prescription medications, we need to educate ourselves on the need and impact of vitamin supplements, and discuss these options with a medical professional of our liking to prevent toxicity of any kind. Personally, I have added Omega-3 and Vitamin A supplements to my daily routine to attempt to decrease the progression of Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP), as well as a Vitamin B12 supplement to help with my low vitamin levels and altered diet (i.e., eating less meat). Every 6 months I have my B12 levels checked by a medical professional, and then every year I also have my Vitamin A and liver levels checked to make sure that I am not suffering from toxicity.
Step 4: Lastly, explore eastern traditional methods that provide health benefits and heal the soul while enabling a happier, healthier lifestyle. These methods can encompass, but are not limited to, exercise (e.g., yoga, tai chi), acupuncture, aromatherapy, meditation, and massage therapy. Health is a state of wellbeing, and the mind and body are interconnected further emphasizing the need to combine therapeutic approaches that are tailored to the individual person and their specific needs. Also, prior to assuming Eastern Medicine is not for everyone, recognize the vast health benefits and healing of the soul that these methods have to offer in a first step to better living. For example, in my own life I have utilized massage therapy to help aid in decreasing stress levels and pain points.
Most importantly, remember that our journey is not about any one tradition or method being right or wrong, good or bad, but a matter of finding a healthy balance in which we as individuals educate ourselves about our own health and pivot to embrace both spectrums for a happy, holistic lifestyle. As an individual on this journey, I believe that I have not come close to exploring and learning about all options, and since my journey is not over I continue to seek new methods that can help assist with current health problems, and life stresses in a holistic healthy manner.