A new study (Eur J Clin Nutr. 2009 Aug 26) reports that a diet rich in virgin olive oil increases levels of beneficial antioxidants better than other types of diets, over a 3-year period. Increasing total plasma antioxidant capacity with olive oil in the diet is advantageous in terms of not only its preventive role for various health problems, but also weight reduction.
Try switching over to olive oil as a primary source of fats in the diet. The data seem to be piling up to support its use.
If you are looking to learn about the big picture of chronic disease and health care, you must first be aware of the bad, the ugly, and the good. These facts provide the foundation for building a personalized approach to holistic healing through what I call the ABC principle.
The Bad – The Problem of Chronic Conditions
In the past century, chronic diseases (those lasting 6 months or more) such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer, lung diseases, arthritis, and many others have become a much larger health problem in the U.S. and other developed nations than are infectious diseases.
One out of every ten Americans suffers from a chronic disabling condition such as arthritis, back problems, a heart or lung condition that reduces quality of life over periods of years. Seventy percent of the deaths in the U.S. each year are due to a chronic disease. Seventy-eight percent of health care costs are for treatment of chronic diseases. In short, chronic disease eventually touches all of us — ourselves and our families.
The Ugly – The Risks and Confusion of Current Health Care
Although modern mainstream medicine has made many amazing advances in prolonging lives and controlling symptoms, people with chronic diseases know from their own experience that the available treatments often bring many limitations, side effects, and problems.
For example, a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association estimated that over 2 million hospitalized patients in 1994 experienced adverse drug reactions, including over 100,000 fatal drug reactions.
The number of deaths from “properly” prescribed drugs placed prescription drugs as the sixth leading cause of death in this country, after heart disease, cancer, stroke, lung disease, and accidents and before pneumonia and diabetes. Yet, eighty percent of older adults take at least three medications daily. Patients on five drugs also have a 50-50 risk of suffering from an adverse drug interaction. The rates of adverse reactions seem to be rising even more in recent follow-up studies.
The Good – The Option of Personalized Holistic Healing with the ABC Principle
You can learn to build your own effective individualized program of holistic healing care that includes practitioner-provided and self-care interventions – but you have to understand where each option fits into the big picture.
Many publications on CAM are either introductory overview encyclopedias of treatment modalities or in depth explanations of one type of CAM. But, all CAM treatments — just as with Western medicine — are not the same, in terms of their potential to help different people with different types of health conditions.
By considering these elements first, people with chronic illnesses of all types can develop a big picture plan or roadmap of strategy and tactics before diving into the specifics of dealing with any life challenge — in health or another area.
You can’t make life stress go away completely. You can, however, change the way you react to stress. There are many useful tools out there available to help you regulate your bodily stress responses, which will go a long way toward supporting your health and sense of well-being.
Look at these options, for instance:
- Personal portable biofeedback devices
- Bach Rescue Remedy
- Chamomile tea (also helps lower your blood sugar) and Hibiscus tea (also helps lower your blood pressure)
Stress Relief for Everyday Living
Researchers have been looking at the possibility that a natural supplement with a vitamin-like role in the body (coenzyme) called Coenzyme Q10 might slow the progression of the degenerative neurological disorder Parkinson’s Disease. The energy factories of the cells, mitochondria, need enough Co-Q10 to function at their best, and it appears that people with Parkinson’s are low in supplies of this vital coenzyme.
Initial studies suggest that even doses much higher than many people might take from the health food store (300 mg/day) don’t seem to affect the progression of the Parkinson’s. However, newer data indicate that it might take extremely high doses (1200 mg or even 2400 mg/day) to have a therapeutic effect.
At those doses, Co-Q10 is being used like a drug, and we have to watch for possible adverse effects. It is a natural substance that the body needs, but whenever you have to push the dose of something out of bounds of its usual levels in the body, you have to worry that you will knock something else off balance (see the discussion of this point in my Getting Whole, Getting Well book.
Remember, too, that people who take statin drugs to lower their cholesterol level are at high risk of depleting coenzyme Q10.
You can learn to build your own effective individualized program of holistic healing care that includes practitioner-provided and self-care interventions – but you have to understand where each option fits into the big picture. A lot of publications on CAM (complimentary and alternative medicine) are either introductory overview encyclopedias of treatment modalities or in depth explanations of one type of CAM. But, all CAM treatments — just as with Western medicine — are not the same, in terms of their potential to help different people with different types of health conditions.
As a consumer, you probably find it hard to decide what is best for you. Many people combine treatments without giving much thought to interactions — good or bad — between them, let alone the potential for the package of care to help them overall.
Picking treatments for a specific health problem just because you prefer something more familiar or easier to do, rather than something less familiar and harder to try could keep you from maximizing your results. And, picking treatments — or, sometimes, providers, because they helped Aunt Alma is no guarantee that you’ll get what you need to solve your problems.
For many people with chronic illnesses, putting together a handful of vitamins and minerals and herbs is a way to start, but it is usually not enough. True healing is a complex but rewarding journey, not an overnight cure from a magic pill. Putting your options into a larger perspective will make it much clearer for you to know what to do.
The ABC principles refers to three different concepts that are used as a basis to help you determine an effective treatment for specific health problems such as fibromyalgia, diabetes, thyroid, ms (multiple sclerosis), lyme disease, and lupus via alternative medicine methods.
The ABC Principle:
§ Assess: Assess your options and how they might help you. Re-assess the benefits and risks before you begin and periodically throughout treatment for each intervention and for the package of care that you choose.
§ Balance: Balance yourself as a living system whose body parts all play different, essential, and interrelated roles within you, by balancing the elements of your treatment package to serve your ability as a whole not only to survive, but also to thrive.
§ Coordinate: Coordinate the elements of your treatment plan as a whole, interconnected system of care intended to balance you, not as a patchwork collection of things-I’d-like-to-try-and-see-what-helps-each-separate-symptom.
The ABC Principle is a way to create your own individualized plan for getting the most benefit and least risk from the integrated package of care that you will develop.