When my husband was growing up, Vicks VapoRub was the cure-all in his family. Got a cold? Rub on some Vicks. Got a cough? More Vicks. Got pneumonia? Make sure you get those feet too. Broken arm? Hangnail? Toe fungus? Smelly underarms? Undescended testicles? Behold the miracle healing powers of—you guessed it—Vicks VapoRub.
Personally, I’m one of those hippy dippy alternative medicine people. You know … the ones you meet in the health food store who are perseverating over which brand of colloidal silver and acidophilus to buy. “Aci-what?” you say. Exactly.
I owe my allegiance to alternative medicine to a job I once had. A couple years before my first son was born, I worked for the Foundation for Research in Energy Medicine. It was a fluke. I was a grant writer looking for work. I didn’t know what “energy medicine” was. But it sure sounded interesting. And it paid good money, so I was all-in.
It took me several conversations with the M.D. running the show to get a handle on what this “energy medicine” was all about. I kept trying to get him to pin down exactly what illnesses he wanted me to write grants for. Heart disease? Skin cancer? Leukemia? Cirrhosis of the liver? Give me the details. I needed specifics. For the proposals, and also for my own understanding.
But he kept eluding me. The body is a whole organism, he would say. The body is not a bunch of separate parts functioning separately. If you bring the whole body into balance, all the imbalances and symptoms of disease will go away naturally.
He explained how the pH of the body can be a good indicator of the body’s overall health and equilibrium. He spoke of alternative therapies that were more effective and less invasive than anything seen in conventional medicine. He told me about children and adults he had helped to recover from cancer, autism, and other chronic illnesses through diet, chelation, vitamins, and other natural therapies.
From his perspective, conventional medicine tends to overlook the root cause of most illnesses. Disease is treated symptomatically with either drugs or surgery, which often causes additional problems.
It was fascinating. While I had heard some of these ideas due to growing up in a house of vegetarian leftists, others were completely new to me. And when I attempted to discuss them with others, I received more than my share of blank stares.
The truth is there is a lot to be learned from all varieties of medicine. Despite my own preference for holistic healthcare, I deeply appreciate the many benefits of conventional medicine as well. Considering the fact that both of my children were delivered by C-section, I must admit that I owe the lives of both my children to modern conventional medicine.
At the same time, it is also true that there are many types of “alternative” medicine that have been in existence for thousands of years around the world, which makes them more conventional than alternative, if you ask me. I find it interesting that our society deems anything that has not been in the mainstream of American thinking in the past 50 years, “alternative.”
Thanks to my work with this extraordinary doctor, I began to consider more seriously the idea of medicine as bringing the whole body to health, as opposed to fixing individual parts that are unwell. I began to investigate homeopathy, naturopathy, herbal therapies, along with modern conventional treatments for my own personal health concerns.
When my children were born, I was glad that I had been introduced to these ideas before their arrival, because being a new parent carries enough anxiety, and I certainly didn’t want to try anything I didn’t trust on my newborn babies. Thanks to a variety of progressive doctors, homeopaths, chiropractors, naturopaths, herbalists, and other healers—we have found a wonderful balance in our family of using all forms of medicine at our disposal.
We have our kit of homeopathic remedies, herbs, vitamins, probiotics, and colloidal silver—but we also have our bottles of Benadryl, Motrin, Tylenol, and of course Vicks VapoRub. I particularly enjoy using homeopathic remedies on my family because they truly have no side effects. If they are not working, they simply don’t help. But when they do work, the results are amazing.
I cannot tell you how many times a homeopathic remedy like Arsenicum Album has taken almost immediate effect on a stomach bug, putting an end to projectile vomiting and explosive diarrhea. Or how quickly a remedy like Chamomilla has calmed a teething baby. Or my amazement when our whole family recovered from strep throat thanks to the homeopathic remedy Streptococcal, without the use of antibiotics.
At the same time, I am grateful for conventional medicines too. When my baby Diego had an anaphylactic reaction to fire ants, Benadryl saved his life. We now carry an Epi-Pen everywhere we go, just in case. And sometimes, when the holistic remedies just aren’t working, we bust out the tried-and-true—Vicks VapoRub. You never know the miracle healing powers contained in that small blue bottle.