|Many common conditions for which people see a doctor can be treated successfully by dietary
modifications, nutritional supplements, and herbal remedies. I frequently see patients who have been
to dozens of doctors and received countless medications, with little to show for it except bills and
side effects. However, after following a nutritional program, they report feeling better than they
can ever remember.
Symptoms which often respond to a nutritional approach include fatigue, low-level depression, anxiety, insomnia, irritable bowel syndrome, headaches, premenstrual syndrome, joint pains, muscle aches, recurrent infections, nasal congestion, and others.
The important first step is to eliminate refined sugar, caffeine, and alcohol from the diet. For some people, this change is difficult, as each of these foods can be quite addictive. However, if you commit yourself to "toughing it out" through the first three to five days of withdrawal symptoms, you might find yourself entering a level of well-being you had not thought possible.
For many individuals with chronic symptoms, elimination of sugar, caffeine and alcohol is all that is necessary to feel well. Others, however, have allergies to specific foods. Food allergy is a common, though usually unrecognized, cause of migraines, fluid retention, nasal congestion, arthritis, fatigue, spastic colon, asthma, and other symptoms. To diagnose food allergies, I usually recommend an elimination diet: strict avoidance of all foods containing refined sugar, wheat, dairy products, corn, eggs, citrus fruits, coffee, tea, alcohol, and food additives. If, after 10 to 21 days, certain symptoms have disappeared or greatly improved, each eliminated food is tested individually. Those foods which provoke symptoms must be avoided completely for at least 3 to 6 months; those foods that do not cause symptoms are returned to the diet.
With attention to these dietary recommendations, nearly half of all symptoms seen by a typical family doctor can be relieved. To supplement the diet approach, vitamins, minerals, plant extracts, and other natural substances can be used as alternatives to prescription drugs. Although nutrient biochemistry can be quite complicated, below are a few examples of simple, safe, and effective natural treatments:
Although the treatments described above are generally quite safe, it is not impossible to overdose on
a vitamin, mineral, or herb. In addition, there may be interactions with some prescription
medications. Furthermore, certain medical conditions require special precautions. For these reasons,
you should not attempt a nutritional program by yourself. Seek the guidance of a competent
practitioner who can teach you how to undertake a nutritional program safely and effectively.