My journey from chronic illness to chronic wellness hasn’t been simple. It’s taken a lot of twists and turns along the way. Of course, the biggest problems included no plan, no direction, and no idea of what to do.
One thing I didn’t suffer from was a lack of suggestions. Everyone had something helpful to say -- or at least they thought their comments were helpful. My doctor told me that what I ate had absolutely no impact on my health. My physician’s assistant told me that the next step after a cane (a scooter chair) would be GREAT since I could then carry my grandchildren on my lap. My husband suggested a miracle supplement -- a one-pill fix-all remedy -- from late night TV.
Of all of those suggestions, at least the one about taking a supplement had a kernel of merit. I began to research various websites and found I had a lot to learn.
I’m sure I’m not alone here, but the world of nutritional supplements can be very confusing. Especially when you’re first starting to step into the arena of natural health. It was a novel idea for me to change my way of thinking. I grew up believing I was to sit still in the doctor’s office and listen. He or she would tell me what was wrong and give me a prescription to fix it.
I tried that. It didn’t work.
Once I began to shift my thoughts away from what others could do to help to what I could do to help – I started to see results.
Here are 5 reasons why I’ve I believe using nutritional supplements can lead to healing success:
1. They put you in charge.
Seeking out supplements (that work for you) provides a great opportunity. The simple act of looking for and choosing natural remedies to try can be an empowering experience. Embarking on the search for personal solutions (i.e., improved nutrition, adaptable fitness activities, etc.) allows you to put on your Team Captain’s Hat. Creating a personalized health plan takes a team approach, and it’s imperative that you take on the role as captain. You get to assemble your team of health professionals as well as choose which activities and treatments you’ll try. The world of alternative health reveals abundant healing possibilities.
2. They’re part of a larger plan.
Nutritional supplements are an important part of your personalized health plan. Healing success comes from creating a combination of treatments that work for you. Supplements are most successful when used in addition to a healthy regimen of nutritious foods and regular fitness activities. Supplements (by very definition) are designed to augment the efforts you’re already making to rebuild your physical health.
3. They support the healing themes of consistency, self-awareness, and investment.
Would you ever plan on taking prescribed daily medications sporadically or not at all? When it comes to alternative treatments, the same principle applies. It takes consistency and diligence to see if something is working. It also takes self-awareness to assess how you feel. Being aware of your own symptom improvements will help you to make adjustments as necessary, and find solutions to build on your success. When I mention investment here, of course, it’s obvious to think of money. Nutritional supplements, especially high-quality ones - can be very pricey. But even more important than the financial investment, I want to point out the investment of your personal time and effort. It takes time to research potential treatments and therapies, so be patient. Take the time you need and be open-minded about trying something new and determining its benefits.
4. They play a powerful role in the treatment of chronic conditions.
Oftentimes, we look at a particular supplement (especially ones with a higher price) and we calculate how much it would cost to use it for months or years down the line. This is usually an unfair assessment. Supplement use evolves as the body begins to heal.
I tend to categorize supplement use into the following three different phases:
The initial phase - those to be taken (maybe in higher doses, too) for a short period of time. These apply to a crisis phase of treatment. A detox plan would be a simple example of this phase. This may be for a few short weeks or for a longer period such as a few months. Of course, this depends on the supplements and the severity of symptoms in this crisis phase.
The sustaining phase – (don’t short-change this one!). Some supplements, for example inflammation-fighting remedies, need a more long-term approach to see results. The complicated symptoms often found in chronic conditions may need a more consistent and long-term treatment. It’s possible to use supplements in this phase for a year or more. The consistency of supplement use in this period allows the body to heal and sustain the healing benefits gained over time.
The maintenance phase – those needed on an ongoing basis. While there are some nutrient supplements that are likely to be needed long-term, it’s good to keep in mind that the body is always changing. Constant assessment of the supplements you use is necessary to be sure that you’re getting ideal nutritional support.
5. They’re a proactive remedy.
It’s easy to fall into the pattern of listing what’s wrong with you. Symptoms come and go and the intensity of them changes, too. Taking care of your body (every day!) through a variety of means, including nutritional support, is a positive, nourishing, and affirming way to treat your body. By taking nutritional supplements when needed, you’re supporting your body’s nutritional needs while taking an active role in helping your body to heal.
Before I wrap up here, let me go back to when I was ill. Did the use of supplements really save my life? When I was critically ill, I had no idea that I was completely malnourished and nutrient deficient. I hate to think what would have happened had I not made changes. At that time, I had no understanding of how my health had been compromised by consuming processed foods and skipping meals.
When I began to look for alternative solutions, I saw a wise natural health nutritionist who guided me toward some nutritional supplements to start me off on my journey. Were they the whole journey? Of course not, but nutritional supplements played a powerful role in my personal healing story, and continue to do so today.
Sue Ingebretson (www.RebuildingWellness.com) is an author, speaker, certified holistic health care practitioner and the director of program development for the Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain Center at California State University, Fullerton. She is also a Patient Advocate and the Fibromyalgia Expert for the Alliance Health community of health conditions website.
Her book, FibroWHYalgia, details her own journey from chronic illness to chronic wellness. She is also the creator of the FibroFrog™ - a therapeutic stress-relieving tool which provides powerful healing benefits with fun and whimsy.