Home brew cures, holistic medicine, and "life hacks"

Nursing Students General Students


Specializes in Cardiac ICU.

I'm just getting to the end of my first semester of nursing school. I've been an EMT and I was an Army medic for quite a while. I'm also a healthy skeptic and I like to do serious research. What am I getting at? I like to THINK I kind of know what I'm talking about (stress on the kind of--I'm not trying to be arrogant here) .

Allow me to preface a bit more...I'm sure we all know someone into the home brew cures and magazine article "life-hacks" for all that ales you/us. I've done a skeptic's research into essential oils, "long lost" vitamin and mineral bit, "super foods", green smoothies, and different types of diets. What makes me a skeptic is statements like "if you are thirsty, you're already mildly dehydrated". Or, "most people are low on [insert electrolyte or vitamin/mineral here], so, this is what you need for that." Oh, you're stressed out?--here, have some vitamin B. Oh, AND, rub some of this "stress complex oil" on your forehead and behind your ears (that one has actually worked for me, believe it or not, on more than one occasion).

If you listened to every one of these people, do you know how full of crap you could fill up a cupboard? I really do, because my wife's family is really into the natural cures thing.

Now, even as a skeptic, I'm not saying I don't agree with some of these things. There is legitimate evidence that some of these things are valid (many essential oils, some of the vitamin and mineral bits). But, when I listen to some of the articles that are read to me, knowing what I DO know about how the body works, sometimes I find myself laughing out loud. Then I have to pause and wonder how many people get taken for a serious ride with some of these snake oil cures and remedies.

I've recently heard the term "glutaphine" (supposed to be a chemical that causes gluten to mimic the effects of morphine). The author was then begging the question "can you imagine your child bouncing off of the walls like he/she was high on morphine?" Ah, can you imagine a world where you actually understand the nature of a narcotic before you print something dumb about it? Looking into this, I think I discovered where the misconception comes from, and that is the effect that eating foods high in sugar, carbs (or, gluten, I suppose) causes the release of endorphins, much like almost any drug high does. It's what makes you feel good and want to go back for more. But, it's not even in the vicinity of being high on morphine.

How about that "most people" are magnesium deficient, or "if you aren't drinking 8 cups of water per day, you aren't getting enough?" I get tired of hearing, every time I get a sniffle, "you need to take some of this or that."

Again, I concede that there are some natural medicinal and dietary practices that are probably as old as the dirt and really are effective. I also understand that there is an optimum or therapeutic zone that our bodies would, ideally, love to maintain all of the time, but, I also understand that our bodies were built or evolved (whatever you believe) to handle a very large variety of imbalances and ailments. The more I learn, the more I'm continually astounded anew by the body's propensity for homeostasis and it's ability to find it...

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