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Monday, March 11, 2013

Homeopathic (holistic) solutions?

Back in 2006, I was diagnosed with gout, a temporary, but recurring disease that is debilitating  Gout is a disease in which your body fails to dispose of uric acid appropriately. Very simply put, certain foods and drinks such as processed meats, beer, and asparagus have high levels of purines. As the purine is broken down within your body, it is converted to uric acid. For most people, the uric acid is sent to the kidneys and is then passed via urine. However, in some cases, too much uric acid is created. The excess uric acid tends to collect in joints, frequently the first knuckle of the big toe, in the ankle, or one of a number of other joints.

As stated earlier, gout is debilitating. The first attack that I had sent me to the hospital where I was explaining to the German nurses that I broke my toe, but didn't know how. I am sure that they were thinking that I was a complete idiot and represented the stereotypical drunk, American soldier. I was out of work for three days taking a couple of different medications to reduce the swelling, alleviate the pain, and get rid of the uric acid. Just the breeze caused by my daughter walking buy caused me to double over in pain. When I did return to work, it was while wearing a pair sandals.

The doctor gave me a list of foods to avoid or, more realistically, eat in moderation. However, over the course of a couple of years, my dietary habits returned to normal and I had a couple of more gout attacks. The last one that I had led me to realize that I needed change. I saw a doctor in the US and he was surprised that I opted to modify my diet rather than have him prescribe my way out of gout. However, he gave me an updated foods list and I implemented a strict diet which saw the end of the gout attacks.

You might think this is the end of he story, but that would make for a relatively boring story -- one that is certainly not worthy of this exciting blog. I found that a couple of friends in the area have gout and we discussed our symptoms and triggers. This really surprised me that purines and uric acid did not behave identically in different people. My buddy, Butch, can drink all of the beer and eat all of the meats he wants. However, one stalk of asparagus will have him down for the count. For me, it's the nitrates and nitrites that are commonly in bacon and sausage.

Finding these differences led me to additional research where I found a couple of fly-by-night conspiracy theory websites touting the benefits of eating cherries. Cherries!? Why hadn't I heard about this? It was on too many different sites to be mere coincidence. I figured that I would give this a try. After a month of eating 20 dried cherries per day, I slowly reintroduced my favorite foods back into my diet. I haven't had a gout attack in nearly three years.

So I started wondering why doctors weren't touting this as a simple, inexpensive, drug-free solution to gout. Of course! The answer was right there in front of my nose. Pharmaceutical companies cannot regulate the production of cherries. There is nothing to be gained by conducting this research. So why hasn't the FDA latched onto this? Likely because it's not in pharma's interest to do so. That said, cherries are getting greater publicity in the mainstream media and medical sites alike.

In the mean time, this has given additional credence to homeopathic holistic solutions to issues commonly treated medicinally. I am more willing to accept or review things I would have laughed at in the past. I recommend you do the same. Don't accept these at face value, but do some research and evaluate it to see if it works for you.

Update
I think that holistic is a more appropriate term than homeopathic is. Actually, alternative medicine is probably the best term.
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