“It wasn’t until one of my ears started bleeding did I realise that maybe I’d taken too many,” a man said to me recently. He had been urgent about finishing off some appraisals for work, he’d felt rundown and stressed and had taken a heap of very strong cold and flu tablets in an attempt to prevent, ‘getting the flu’ from one of his sick housemates.
How many times has this happened for you?
Not the bleeding ear part but how many times have you found yourself in a health pickle and popped a panadol or taken some antibiotics so that you can soldier on?
Research shows most people still reach for a pill when they experience an ache or pain.(1) Life is SO busy that many of us can’t afford the time to get sick and we can’t afford the time for our children to get sick either.
This means typically we look for a quick band-aid cure or a patch-up remedy to help us move through ailments in a hasty fashion so we can get back to paying the bills or meeting commitments. Interestingly the most common reasons for using pain relieving drugs are seemingly headaches (49%), arthritis and back problems (14%), respiratory conditions mainly for colds and flu (12%) and circulatory conditions (10%).
Furthermore 83% of people who use pain relieving drugs typically reach for a pill every day and/or night and 92% of these people have regularly been using this medication for six months or more. (2)
That’s a heck of a long time NOT to be pondering, “WHY might I be experiencing recurrent headaches, back pain or colds?”
…Don’t you agree?
Undoubtedly it is quicker to pop a pill then it is to take the time to seek more effective care for our back pain or headaches and it’s faster to cover up sinus with a pill then it is to take the rest we may desperately need to fight off bugs and germs naturally. I have a suspicion though, that our desperate need ‘to achieve’ and our swift pace of life is not leading us to greater enlightenment, health and well-being.
These statistics interestingly also revealed that people who led healthier lifestyles were generally more likely to have used vitamins and minerals than those who did not. The pattern of higher usage of vitamins was evident for non-smokers, people who did some form of exercise and those who were not overweight.
Life Lessons From My Gardener
This whole conversation reminds me of “Norm” a man who was our gardener/handyman when I was little. Norm prided himself on being a great gardener and he taught me a fabulous lesson early in life. Whenever a tree or a bush looked sick or had dying brown leaves, Norm would spend only a little bit of time looking at the leaves on the branch or examining the leaves that had fallen to the ground and then what felt like ‘oodles of time’ looking at the roots of the tree deciphering whether the tree needed more water, less water, fertilizer or a companion plant etc, etc.
As a little girl who loved all things pretty, this fiddling around with the roots really bothered me because surely we could do something immediately to make the tree look more beautiful — such as trimming the branch or picking off the ugly leaves.
I would whine at Norm pleading him to take some kind of quick action to help the tree and each time he would reply in the same manner until finally, his message sunk in. Norm would tilt his head back so I could see his eyes beneath his big,old dirty hat and he’d sigh patiently, look me square in the eyes and say, “Listen up Missy, you need to remember that the health and the disease of the tree lie in it’s roots. Not in how the tree looks or how you want the tree ‘to feel’. Okay? We have to look at the roots and work out the “real reason” the tree is not well. It’s as simple and as hard as that. No bows and ribbons necessary, so get down on your knees now and look at the roots and the soil and tell me what you think?”
Norm was tough but he was also clearly very wise and many of us can relate this “health of a tree” analogy to our own health issues.
How often do we simply want to paint our dead leaves green to make them look pretty or get an injection or potion so that we ‘feel’ better — enabling us to look the part of a ‘healthy tree.’
How often do we want to simply cut off the dying branch, give ourselves a drug or perhaps stick a plaque on our trunk labeling ourselves “depressed” or “dysfunctional” resulting in a lifetime supply of pills and potions.
This type of ‘band-aid’ approach to health happens all the time collectively throughout society.
In fact our culture fosters it — but drugs and surgery are not always the answer. It is vitally important that we analyse what factors in our personal environment that may have contributed to, or caused our health challenge because there is a direct relationship between how we live our lives and the quality of our health. Being healthy is not simply a matter of “feeling fine” or being free of symptoms.
A true indicator of health is when our body is able to adapt to the physical, chemical or emotional stressors we place on it.
Just as headaches are not caused by a panadol deficiency and stomach ulcers are not due to a deficiency in antacids — there is always a reason health issues arise. Contrary to popular cultural habits, we are not merely biochemical stuff-ups. Our bodies are incredibly clever but they become taxed by our modern lifestyle and symptoms arise begging us to consider the cause and effect patterns in our life.
Life is a jungle, but there are guides to help us find a clear path to real health.
Sometimes there are a number of factors involved and we may need the wisdom and experience of a health care provider to guide us. I urge you to consider working with holistic practitioners who not only look at your health challenge but the lifestyle factors that may be compromising your health.
Embracing health requires us to see the facts as they are; looking at the health culture we have created in our own homes and letting go of any illusions that we are powerless to change this.
I believe finding a recommended wellness chiropractor and seeing them proactively is your best secret weapon for health and vitality. Additionally I recommend utilizing the skills and wisdom of a Chinese medicine practitioner, a homeopath or integrative medical practitioner before considering popping a pill or potion that may have potentially harmful side-effects. It’s vitally important that we remember that it is not about how we look or feel, the secret to health is how our body is functioning and coping with the stressors we place on it.
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From the desk of…
Jennifer Barham Floreani
Bach. Chiropractic, Bach. App Clinical Science
Registered internationally, no longer practicing as a chiropractor in Australia.
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1. Australian Bureau of Statistics
4377.0 – National Health Survey: Use of Medications, Australia, 1995
LATEST ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 29/01/1999