How I Got into Natural & Alternative Medicine.
Hey girl :) if you are reading this, you are probably either curious about natural medicine for yourself, or about it in general and to both reasons I clap for you 👏🏽!! Congrats for stepping outside of the status quo and being curious, 2 ingredients I have come to learn are necessary for success in...anything.
Anywho, where do I begin? How do I write this without publishing a book 📖? Idk, but imma’ try and keep this as concise as the story allows to essentially paint a picture of why and how I got into alternative medicine and natural health in general...with the purpose of making the topic less confusing, scary or down right “whoowhoo.”
Started From the Bottom Now We’re...
So first off, contrary to popular belief, I didn’t grow up using natural medicine or alternative treatments like acupuncture or herbs 🌿 or even a very healthful diet. In fact I grew up on Pepto Bismol, low-fat Fig-Newtons and the belief that Western MDs held the key to health—Mental, Physical, didn’t matter. They knew it all. In other words, I had no knowledge of alternative medicine until doing my own research when western medicine failed me.
Note: Something that having an “incurable, chronic condition” will do to you is push you out of your comfort zone. You start challenging authority, coming up with your own ideas and gain an eagerness to learn any and everything you can...or at least that’s what happened to me!
Western Medicine Failed Me
How did it fail me? Well, my sophomore year of high school I got diagnosed with Gastroparesis, a serious, chronic, gastrointestinal condition that has no known cure in Western medicine and that usually results in tube feeding indefinitely. More on that story here.
So, essentially after getting my diagnosis at UCLA, a world renowned hospital, with top of the line treatments, I was essentially told that there were a few medications I could try out that may help me manage my symptoms. But I was warned, these medications were not developed for Gastroparesis per say, but their side effects had the potential to help my symptoms—wait, what? This was concerning…no solution…?
So of course, I tried them. Why wouldn’t I? It was standard protocol! At the time, I suffered from extreme bloating—I’m not talking about the “I just ate a big salad and I look 3 months pregnant bloating,” I’m talking my mom being fearful at the sight of how stretched my skin looked, bloating. Worse than that, I couldn’t digest most foods & had basically no appetite...ever. I tried medication after medication with a slight improvement for a couple weeks, then a fall back into my intense symptoms resulting in rapid weight loss and a slew of other symptoms. Nothing I was given was really helping my stomach/GI track move faster, so I essentially would eat something like a banana, and by the nature of the condition, it would sit in my stomach…for hours...Fermenting, giving me a full sensation 24/7, leaving me energy-less & malnourished!
Month after month I would return for a follow up visit to the GI doctors at UCLA who would apologize, give me a new medication or dosage and send me on my way, all a while warning me if I can’t keep on enough weight, I would need to get a J-tube put directly into my small intestine to by-pass my non-functioning stomach. *Panic sets in*
I Decided to Look Elsewhere
As you can imagine, after just 6 months of this, in the middle of high school, I felt desperate—in a way...I was slowly dying of malnourishment as my hair fell out, my period left and my brain was lacking the nutrients to function properly and I experienced such a deep depression I began to loose hope. If there were no meds for me, wasn’t I doomed?
That’s when something clicked inside my brain 🧠 and instead of believing I was done for, I went on all out “researcher mode.” I’m talking hours spent researching Gastroparesis, its origins, treatments, people’s stories—it was clear, Western medicine frankly couldn’t help me. I had to look beyond that. I refused to accept the idea of my life being defined by a J-tube, an altered lifestyle and general sickness. Soooo one day during my obsessive researching, I happened across a YouTube video done by a girl named Tess who had had her gastroparesis cured by alternative medicine?!?
My First Discovery
Her video was my first exposure to the use of herbs outside the kitchen. It was the first time I heard of food as medicine. I was blown away. I emailed her, she kindly responded and told me to take the leap and find a holistic practioner. According to her, gastroparesis was treatable, just not in the eyes of Western Medicine.
Be Open Minded
It was different. It was completely foreign. But I, like so many others with conditions, mystery symptoms, or other health issues not well managed by medications, had no other choice but to at least EXPLORE alternative treatments. So, thanks to my very supportive parents (shoutout to them for always always always supporting my health needs) we started the search for someone in my area who was well known for herbal medicine, food as medicine, acupuncture, the whole 9 yards and the rest just fell into place.
Once we made that decision to try other things, my journey got significantly easier. That being said, I did have to try multiple practices and practioners just as you would when you are trying to find the right MD for you, but that’s just part of the process. Within a month of searching, I found her—to this day, my godsend, Christi Mendoza, who is a listened acupuncurist, LA.c, herbalist and specializer in chronic conditions.
Christi, being the well-trained, licensed practitioner she is, introduced me to acupuncture...to herbal medicines, food as a tool to manage symptoms...all of it. It was extremely helpful to have a guide who not only lead the way, but was open to teaching me along the way.
I was hooked on this alternative approach because it was all so logical & I always felt like I was apart of my healing journey—never in the dark.
Alternative Approaches can Help Anyone
All that being said, you don’t have to have a chronic condition to try out the more natural side of medicine and I want to make it clear that I wish it hadn’t been my last option. Had I known about it when I started having my GI issues, I would have saved myself and my family so much time, money and frustration in the MDs office, getting faced shoulder shrugs and dead ends.
I personally found my passion in it once the doors were opened and down the holistic rabbit hole I went and stayed ✌🏽
Western Medicine Is Lifesaving & Still has Its Place!
I should say that by no means am I bashing MDs or trying to demean their knowledge, as do believe that western medicine has its place—hello lifesaving surgeries, medications and technological advances!! But, do they do a good job at getting to to root of the problem or treating chronic conditions without drugs that often make things worse? Based off my experience and the experience of friends and family, not really.
If you take anything away from this post, let it be that alternative treatments such as acupuncture, herbal medicine and lifestyle changes are very legitimate & are viable options for those not satisfied with the traditional Western route of doing things 💁🏽♀️ Yes, it’s an unfamiliar path here in the states, but don’t let the status quo dictate your health.
If it weren’t for alternative, natural approaches, I genuinely may not even be here—so if it can heal a chronic case, it can help your mild GI issues, hormonal imbalances, etc...
Thank you so much for reading and per usual, if you have any questions, comments or experiences you want to share, please do👇🏽!!
—Morning Dove 🕊