Western medicine, however, tends to look at the body as a complicated chemical factory. And so, when people talk about food and health from a western medicine orientation, the discussion is enormously weighted towards the chemical composition of the food. According to the Western model, health is based on how various chemicals – vitamins, fats, carbohydrates, anti-oxidants – enter and move through the chemical factory of our body.
This is why, if you pick up the latest studies, they are focused on whether people are “getting enough vitamin D” or “how cholesterol is affected by the level of animal fat in the diet”. Health advocates will assert that you should eat your tomatoes “because they’re high in lycopene”, or that you should not eat too many eggs “because they are high in cholesterol”.
Because so many of us have been conditioned think of the body in terms of chemical inputs and outputs, we don’t even notice anything peculiar with these statements.
However, I think there are a couple of problems with reducing our understanding of food to lists of nutrients. First, we are only talking about the chemicals that have been identified. A tomato is not just a capsule for lycopene. It contains its own life force that links it to the soil it was grown in, the kinds of fertilizers or pesticides it absorbed, the amount of sun and rain it received. These factors affect the essence of the tomato. We can list one, ten or a thousand different chemicals and their relative proportions in the tomato, and we will not see all this.
A second, related problem is how this reductive approach takes the human, lived experience out of the picture. What if your ancestors ate tomatoes in abundance every summer, and you can think of nothing more joyous than biting into one at the peak of ripeness? Meanwhile, another person grows up in a land where tomatoes are unusual – they eat too much tomato sauce and get little hives around their mouth. Do we give both these people the same advice: 4 ounces of tomatoes a day to get your lycopene requirement? I think that misses how we are designed, which is for our inner intelligence to guide us towards what is wholesome and life-enhancing.
Homeopathy does not have one single best diet to offer. What it does offer is a view in which people – and food – are in active communication with each other. Let’s look at how certain foods can affect certain people.
1) Cravings. You might have a craving for a certain food. Cravings can indicate a natural draw towards a food to compensate for a nutritional deficiency. Anytime you have a deficiency in something your body needs, you will experience a craving for a food that contains that nutrient. For example, if you were to eat a diet with no protein for a week or more, you would start to really, really crave foods that are high in protein. Listening to these cravings, and adjusting how much we eat based on our inner prompting is the highest and most successful form of healthy eating.
2) Aggravation. Here’s another possibility: You might have a craving for a food, and yet eating more of that food makes you feel worse. In this case, the craving exists because that food provides something that your body needs, and yet the body is not able to get into balance simply by ingesting more of it. Case in point – chocolate or sugar. What do cravings for these things indicate? Perhaps it signals a lack of energy, fatigue, or a low mood. Because filling the craving doesn’t actually repair the problem long-term, we have to look at the craving as a physical symptom of an underlying energy imbalance. We don’t just fix the symptom (get rid of the craving by eating more chocolate), but address the imbalance that leads to the craving.
3) Sensitivity. Here’s a third possible response to food: You might have a sensitivity to a certain food. Let’s say, every time you eat dairy products, you have gas, bloating or abdominal pains. Many adults have difficulty with dairy in particular. One strain of thought holds that in cultures that traditionally did not have cow’s milk as a normal part of the adult diet, the genes that produce lactase, which is an enzyme that helps us digest milk sugars, have atrophied. American food culture has milk and cheese everywhere. It just might be, however, with these symptoms, that your body is signaling that you would be better off with less cow’s milk in your food
Or it might be – as with the tomato – that your body is reacting to the totality of the life force in the milk. Milk from cows that are raised in cages and fed corn – not a part of their natural diet – is energetically different from grass-fed cows. And milk that has been pasteurized has a different essence than raw milk. Just possibly, switching milk sources might eliminate those health problems. Our symptoms are giving us information; listening to them and adapting our diet can guide us towards better health.
4) Allergic reaction. Or, a fourth food response is that you might have an outright allergy to a certain food. Shellfish may give you hives. Certain nuts may cause you to have an anaphylactic shock – a whole body, serious allergic reaction. Here, even microscopic amounts of this food can trigger large scale reactions. So what’s happening? The food is non-toxic. You’re ingesting a very small amount of it. But the body’s innate intelligence is perceiving this substance as a foreign threat, and is then marshaling a full-blown defensive reaction. The symptom – the allergic response – is not the primary problem. Neither is the allergy-triggering food the “cause.” The cause here is the mis-perception by the body’s innate intelligence that leads it to decide on such a large-scale reaction. It is the body’s reaction – not the trigger itself – that is the real life-threat.
Obviously, when symptoms are anywhere near life-threatening, any way of stabilizing them is crucial. An Epi-pen, which delivers epinephrine, is probably the first line of treatment in a crisis. But even here, homeopathy can offer some amazing tools. To help the body’s innate intelligence re-calibrate, so that it no longer perceives the food as a threat, we can help it get desensitized. We can start with microscopic, ultra-dilute amounts of the trigger, ingesting this a drop at a time in one part-per billion dilutions. After a while, the concentration can be increased gradually, keeping well below what one is likely to encounter in even a small bite of food. Perceiving these small amounts as below the threshold of danger, our innate intelligence, over time, can learn to relax and decrease its sensitivity to the trigger.
This is, in fact, the same approach used by conventionally trained allergy specialists. The latest approach to treating peanut allergies is to mix small amounts of peanut flour into white flour – typically parts per thousand – bake it into cookies or bread, and introduce this into the child’s diet.
What we try and do in a homeopathic consultation is to identify the core pattern among all the various health symptoms someone may be experiencing, and then to match that with the symptom pattern of a specific remedy. That remedy will speak to the innate intelligence of your body in its own “language”, and help it to recalibrate, get back into balance, so that the symptoms can ease up on their own.
If you or someone you know is dealing with food issues that put you out of balance with how you want to nurture your body, homeopathy can offer deep support in bringing balance to your system.
Spring IS a great time to address these issues, because the heavier fattier foods we eat in the winter to stay warm create a build-up of fat in the liver that needs to be released as we move into Spring. You'll feel healthier and lighter and more energized for your life and your work. Feel free to call this week, and learn how you can benefit from homeopathy. I have four remaining spots for homeopathic consultations remaining in April. Book yours now by calling 215-240-1449 or emailing at firstname.lastname@example.org.