I spent years and a lot of money on my first two children when they were little, trying to cure their personalities with alternative therapies, before realising that they didn’t need it (well, one of them didn’t..). Just to assure you of my credentials in this area, I tried everything; I think I was viewed as the ‘mad one’ in my extended family, a position that maybe some of you can relate to. Homeopathy, crystals, colour-light therapy, magnets, essential oils, odd potions from little shops calling themselves ‘apothecaries’ rather than ‘Boots the Chemist,’ you name it, I tried it.
I’m not going to lump everything together here, there are alternative practices such as acupuncture with good solid results-based evidence, and if your child falls on his head on to concrete (as mine did) a cranial osteopath might be worth a visit after the hospital, to sort those bones out and gently re-shape your child’s skull.
But what a gradual descent into poverty taught me through the years, when I could no longer afford these really expensive treatments, was that my children healed themselves of personality defects, hospitals mended the broken wrists just fine, and all the other normal childhood illnesses went away with a bit of rest and chicken soup, without the need for either antibiotics on the one hand or the services of a shaman on the other.
As with the numerous counselling services for children, I began to suspect that vulnerable parents might be the target market for a whole holistic health industry intent on creating the problems (in our minds) that they promote themselves as able to solve.
I remember my homeopath back in the day (and a lovely lady she was) giving me an extensive character-breakdown of my two boys, which I believed because she was a ‘professional.’ Looking back, I wonder how much anxiety that created for me, and how much it made me look out for problems which were actually not there.
I think that the whole alternative therapies industry appeals specifically to those who want a gentler, less-intrusive, holistic approach to health, the very people that reject the multi-billion dollar pharmaceutical industry as a capitalist profiteering business, which is what the alternative health industry seems to have become.
My philosophy is always ‘do what works for you’ though, and through my particular journey I gradually found a way to marry my Inner Scientist with my Inner Hippy and keep them both happy.
I did this by sticking with remedies which seemed to have a consistent positive physical result (In my case Nux Vom and Rhus Tox, no idea why), and of course the trusty stand-bys, arnica, Rescue Remedy and Echinacea. But I stopped believing in anything which had claims on mending character defects in any way, shape or form.
I was showing a friend my extensive collection of 100% pure essential oils the other day (SOOOO expensive!) and she was asking me about the various bottles of different oils mixed together for a specific purpose. We read the labels: ‘Valour’; ‘Acceptance’; ‘Joy’; ‘Motivation;’ ‘Abundance.’
‘And what’s this one?’ she asked, holding up a bottle with an obscured label.
‘That one?’ I held it up to the light, examined it and shrugged.