Modern ailments, old fashioned remedies

by | Oct 12, 2023 | Functional Medicine, Personal Stories | 0 comments

Basket weaving 101

Last week while we walked through the woods in upstate New York, my friend Bruce told me about a workshop he had taken on basket-making. In the workshop, participants strolled through the woods, picking plants with promising stalks, then tried to weave them into some type of useable basket. It sounded like fun (even though his basket turned out pretty pathetically). But he also shared with me the humbling realization that his understanding of plants was primitive as compared to that of the people who lived in the area a few hundred years before.

We respect those indigenous Americans for their deep knowledge of plant growth and ecology, and technological sophistication in using plants in basketry, clothing, construction of shelter, and other applications. Why should we reflexively dismiss their experience with plants in the medical realm?

It’s true that traditional physicians weren’t schooled in genetics, chemistry, epidemiology, or statistics. But they cared about their patients and paid intimate attention. They also benefited from accumulated knowledge passed from generation to generation. I don’t recommend that we adopt medical procedures uncritically simply because they correspond to a traditional practice of some culture that existed at some time at some point on the globe. These traditional medical practices should be viewed with healthy skepticism, just like the healthy skepticism with which we should view conventional “allopathic” procedures such as surgery and pharmaceuticals.

The big health gap

An allopathic approach to health has left us modern humans at risk of significant degenerative diseases. There’s a nationwide epidemic of metabolic issues that include loss of sensitivity to insulin, build-up of abdominal fat, and metabolic syndrome leading to type 2 diabetes. These metabolic imbalances open the door for cardiovascular disease, kidney insufficiency, and dementia.

What’s old is now new again. Some old fashioned remedies are proving to be effective in preventing this downward metabolic spiral. Apple cider vinegar, fenugreek, curcumin, and cinnamon have all shown to improve these metabolic markers of degeneration, with apple cider vinegar showing the strongest benefit.

Dr. Lavine has been an innovator in the use of movement and touch to promote health since 1981. He practices in New York City and Princeton, NJ.

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