How I got off the pharmaceutical rollercoaster and now help others heal themselves naturally
Featured in Thrive Global, 15 Nov 2018
The “aha” moment occurred during a holiday in Culver City, California at my aunt and uncle’s kitchen table. It was a typical, beautiful California day when I looked down and, a few inches from my granola, was a small bottle with the words “Metformin” on it, just below my uncle’s name. It was then that I realised that, at the mere age of 32, I was on the same medication as my 60-year-old uncle. And I had been for years.
My experience becoming one of the many perpetually-medicated Americans began when I was 18 years old. My first gynaecologist at my college health clinic recommended I start taking birth control pills to combat a diagnosis of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), an extremely common hormonal imbalance among women. So common that one in 10 women are affected. What did I know at that age? So I said, OK.
What a way to gain your ‘freshman 15’! Ok, I didn’t put on that much weight, though I certainly added a few weighty pounds to my tiny 101-pound frame as a side effect. But I finally had a regular cycle, and I knew when it was coming! Hurray!
Flash forward 14 years later and I had tried more than six different types of birth control pills, due to a combination of new side effects, new doctors and new pills on the market. Over the years, I’d been a hormonal, cranky-crazy person, fluctuated up and down on the scale time and time again, and suffered from cystic acne that was more painful to the touch than it was to look at.
Every time I tried to go off the pills, the endocrinologists and gynaecologists forced me to go back on as a result of my no-end-in-sight hormonal imbalance. Even worse, they started adding more pills. Spironolactone to combat the acne, which also made all the skin on my body so dry that I was basically a reptile. And the very popular, Metformin—a pre-diabetic medication. (Wait, now I was one step away from diabetes?)
When I saw my uncle’s medication in LA that day, it dawned on me that I was on this pill-popping, symptom-suffering cycle for life. Unless I found another way.
Ironically, shopping at a farmer’s market in Santa Monica later that day, I met a Mexican lady who handed me a little jar of dried nopal cactus powder. “Good for diabetes… and hangovers!” she said.
I promptly scooped up two jars, rushed them right back to my endocrinologist in New York and dropped them on her desk. “No way,” the doctor said. “There have been no long-term studies on these herbs and your condition. Why don’t you try this new form of medication?” Dispirited, I picked up her new prescription and slunk out.
When I turned 33, I developed a pain in the front of my right hip. The pain started to travel to my lower back and down my leg. I stopped being able to run. Then bike. Then go to Pilates.
Finally, when I couldn’t do any exercise without excruciating pain, I tried all kinds of physical therapy—electrical stimulation, shiatsu, dry needling, stretching…nothing worked. An MRI showed I had a torn labrum. I had basically torn cartilage in my hip and my bones were grinding on each other. Not fun.
My physical therapy clinic, after exhausting their options, suggested I try acupuncture. That’s when I met Tomomi Tanaka. A young, unassuming Oriental Medicine Doctor. She worked on my hip… and everything else. Her overall diagnosis: “You’re stressed out. Look at how you grind your teeth.”
I had no idea I was stressed out. I thought I was perfectly normal, despite the constant New York City rat race. For two weeks after my first appointment with her, I realised I was clenching my jaw, ALL THE TIME.
In my next appointment, I said, “Tomomi! I think I’m even more stressed out!” To which she just chuckled and said, “No, now you just REALISE it.”
It’s safe to say I’ve become obsessed with natural healing. I’ve seen the possibilities on my own healing journey.
Tomomi proved to be wiser beyond any doctor I had ever met. I learned about consciousness,hormones, holistic medicine and… well, myself. It was the most personal health experience I’d had.
She became my therapist, life coach and friend. Everything that was happening to me emotionally, she knew about, and then treated the physical parts of my body corresponding to that emotion. And it worked. She then said to me one day, “Ready to go off medications?”
That month, and every month thereafter, my menstrual cycles showed up regularly. She somehow knew I had raised my consciousness high enough, to lower my stress, improve my lifestyle and manage my hormonal imbalance naturally, along with her Oriental Medicine prods and nudges.
Making the connections between consciousness and stress, emotions and physical pain, holistic health and disease, I went on an education rampage. For the last seven years, I’ve studied nutrition, ayurveda, Myofascial release, herbalism, medical botany, pranayama, sound healing, reiki and much more. I even left my life behind in America to move to India and continue studying at the source of these ancient Indian wisdom. It’s safe to say I’ve become obsessed with natural healing. I’ve seen the possibilities on my own healing journey—having quit medications after 14 years, circumvented surgery for six years, and more importantly, cured myself from PCOS and diminished the excruciating, daily physical pain I was in.
I’m mentally, emotionally and physically stronger than I’ve ever been before, healthier at 39 than I was at 25. And I now help others navigate their own personal health journey, treating ailments at the root, as opposed to just putting a patch on symptoms with medications.
I have no doubt in my mind that healing yourself naturally, from the inside out, using the abundance of what nature offers and your own internal wisdom, is possible. Despite what any doctor will tell you.
— Published onNovember 15, 2018
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