A growing number of people facing serious illness are choosing alternatives to traditional medical care.
Holistic healing takes into consideration the whole person with the goal of improving overall health and wellness.
Barbara Allen is part of the Gulf Coast Cancer Prevention and Support Group. Four years ago she was diagnosed with stage three ovarian cancer. Now, Allen says she’s cancer-free.
“It’s not a miracle, it was work,” Allen said.
The work started with chemo therapy for nine months, which reduced Allen’s cancer before she called off the treatments.
“I then pursued actively learning about alternatives and ways to get well,” Allen said.
The alternatives centered around a complete organic diet. Three months after going off the chemo treatments, Allen says she had no cancer. What does she credit for her recovery? Diet changes.
Peggy Franklin, who lives with fibromyalgia, says trips to the doctor to treat the disease were part of her daily life.
“The only thing they would do is run more tests, and give me more drugs, run more blood work, give me more drugs,” said Franklin. “The drugs were making me sick.”
Desperate to feel better, Franklin did a total diet transformation with positive results.
Ann Hudson sells USDA Organic certified products at Ann’s Organic Market in Gulfport. Hudson made the lifestyle switch when an inoperable benign tumor was found in her brain.
“From 2008 to 11, I went from a 12mm brain tumor down to a 3mm, and later in 2011 it was gone and all I did was change my diet,” Hudson said.
Singing River General Surgeon Dr. Pete Avara doesn’t doubt the benefits of an organic diet, but he does offer a warning.
“I think organic is great. We remove a lot of unnecessary additives from our food by going organic, and I think that’s probably healthy,” Avara said. “I don’t think there’s any good evidence that that cures anything.”
Ann Hudson doesn’t claim to be a doctor, but sees the benefits of traditional medicine. She wants to help people by pointing them towards a healthier lifestyle.
“If you have less chemicals, pesticides and herbicides inside your system, chances are your body will be able to heal a little quicker because you won’t have to fight off the toxins,” Hudson said.
Registered Dietician Annie Marhula gives advice to patients everyday on how they should eat. She says food can play a pivotal role in the healing process.
“There’s not really necessarily a super food that, if you eat this you’ll be cured of that, but we recommend just healthy eating in general to help manage symptoms of certain diseases,” Marhula said.
Many people chose dietary supplements to manage their diets. Marhula says those supplements should be approached with caution.
“There is a lot out there and there’s a a lot that you don’t know about them,” Marhula said. “That’s why we always recommend that if you’re going to take something you really need to talk with your physician because there could be some drug or nutrient interactions that could really affect your health if you don’t take them properly.”
While the holistic approach worked out for Barbara, Peggy and Ann, Dr. Avara says every case is different and encourages anyone facing health conditions to get a professional medical opinion.
“I have, in my career, just seen so many people who got very, very sick because they put off seeking or following good health care treatment for lots of different reasons and I think that’s a mistake,” Avara said.
The lesson Allen learned since her diagnosis is finding and eliminating disease causing factors can make all the difference in the quest for healthy living.
“When you go natural, when you eat organic foods, when you change your lifestyle, when you take the chemicals out of your life you’re actually treating the cause and once you get to the cause you can get rid of the disease,” Allen said.
The USDA explains more about what classifies as organic food on their website.