Why I bit the bullet and decided to try naturopathy
You know what they say. If something isn’t working, try something else.
It’s perfectly logical when you think about it. Why sink time and energy into something that isn’t getting you results? But I’ve found that it’s hard to disinvest from something that, for all intents and purposes, should be working.
It’s the “square peg in a round hole” metaphor. We can see for ourselves that no amount of labor is going to overcome the incompatibility. But we keep trying anyway, because some part of our brain refuses to accept it; some part of our brain needs to believe that a solution is within reach.
Trust me, I know. I’ve spent the past 15 years shoving pegs into holes.
I’ve written various columns about hygiene and skin care. (Ironically, my column on Accutane, or isotretinoin, and bloodwork remains one of my most popular columns on SMA News Today. Clearly, I’m not the only one with this issue.) From cystic acne to incurable rashes, I’ve run the gamut of skin problems.
I’m a veritable font of skin care info. Supplements? Topicals? Borderline toxic medications that require regular bloodwork to make sure your body isn’t going haywire? I’m your girl.
The issue, of course, is that none of it worked. Not really. Sure, I’ve had successes here and there — the Accutane did clear up my cystic acne. But it never took long for new issues to crop up.
It was a vicious cycle that affected not only my mental health, but also my ability to be in the world. I was so scared of flare-ups that I tried every treatment available. I was always experimenting with new products, and while some of them helped, most of them damaged my skin barrier. I spent hundreds of dollars on regimens that promised to clear my skin, with no luck.
Things came to a head when I was diagnosed with perioral dermatitis, a chronic condition that many dermatologists view as incurable. Hours of research led to countless blogs by people with similar problems. No one knew how to help them, so they decided to help themselves instead.
Like me, many of these writers were at the end of their rope. Desperate for a solution, they tried something they never would’ve considered before: naturopathy.
A quick Google search paints the practice in a bad light. An alternative medicine, naturopathy is often considered pseudoscientific, with numerous medical professionals deeming it harmful and ineffective. As someone who is quite literally alive because of modern medicine, I was wary. The last thing I wanted was someone telling me they could cure my SMA using essential oils.
But the therapist in me was intrigued by the holistic approach to wellness touted by naturopaths. Many practitioners work in conjunction with medical professionals to survey the entirety of a patient’s health. They analyze everything from diet and exercise to hormone levels and environmental triggers. No naturopath worth their salt would advise patients to shun vaccines.
Of course, there were things I’d never be able to fix, like SMA. But what about the things that could be addressed? God knows I’d given traditional medicine plenty of chances over the years. If I’d tried every option available to me with no luck, wasn’t it time to try something different?
I don’t say all this to persuade you to try naturopathy. It’s a deeply personal decision, and given the reputation of the practice, it’s only logical that people may show reticence. As with all health decisions, I advise you to consult and work alongside a trusted medical professional.
That said, I want to be open and honest about where I am in my journey. I didn’t take the plunge until I found a licensed naturopath whose practice aligned with my understanding of biopsychosocial medicine. (Her degree from Johns Hopkins didn’t hurt, either. It says a lot about someone when they fill in the gaps of traditional medicine with alternative, evidence-based practices.)
By the end of our first session, I was confident that something could be done about my issues. I’d spent so long suffering in silence, blaming myself for not responding to the treatments I’d been told were foolproof. It was time to start over.
It was time to try something new.
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Note: SMA News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of SMA News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to spinal muscular atrophy.
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