There is a lot of controversy surrounding the death of Jess Ainscough, affectionately known as The Wellness Warrior. People are questioning whether natural alternatives are still worth exploring. Over the last 48 hours, I have been in the crosshairs of several people on social media, who are sharing their opinions and beliefs about an article I wrote 3.5 years ago for Jess’ blog. I felt it would be important to set the record straight about alternative medicine and share my insights and experience relating to health and disease, which I have gained over 14 years of learning about, working with, and researching the human mind and body.
I have been surrounded by traditional medical doctors my entire life. My grandfather and three uncles are all medical practitioners. I have been exposed to that model since I was a child. My choice to go towards the natural approach to health and disease was purely as a result of learning and discovering that the human body is far more capable of working for us, instead of against us, than we realise. That intrigued and fascinated me, which is why the holistic approach was very appealing. As a result, I’ve spent the last 14 years learning everything I can about the body and the mind. There tends to be a lot of speculation about what other health practitioners and myself know or don’t know so I’d like to give you a better idea of the education we have. Bear in mind, that I can only speak on behalf of myself as a chiropractor. As a chiropractor, I have trained for 6 years in a bachelor’s and master’s degrees, both of which are heavily grounded in science. I have studied anatomy, physiology, neurology, biochemistry, neurophysiology, embryology, pharmacology and a range of chiropractic-specific subjects. Since leaving university, I joined a multi-modal practice and broadened my knowledge with nutrition, basic homeopathy, basic Acupuncture, kinesiology and human behavioural studies. My studies have continued since then and I am constantly learning about the safest and most natural ways in which I can help people heal and fulfill their potential.
Over the years, I’ve seen natural therapies be effective in helping people heal and live a fuller life as well as be ineffective in helping people achieve the results they want. I have also seen the exact same pattern occurring in the traditional medical model. I have worked together with medical professionals to help people get well and I have also seen people full of despair with the medical model because it hasn’t worked for them. I have helped, been exposed to and worked with people who have had various health challenges which include musculoskeletal issues, Type-O (organ-related) challenges, cancer, allergies and mental health problems, to name a few. I have also been rejected by people in favour of medicine, both in my professional and personal life.
What I’ve learned from all of my experiences is something very simple. People are going to make their own choices about their body and their life, whether we like it or not. All we are as health professionals are guides. We are not gods. Some of what we do is brilliant and can help huge amounts of people and some of what we do doesn’t work at all. There is no such thing as a one size fits all approach and it would be arrogant for any one of us to believe or think that our way is the only way or the best way. We can all throw research at each other about what works and what the best approach is but who is that really serving? All that does is create less collaboration and more division when it comes to helping someone who is dealing with something they don’t understand. Bridging that gap is an essential part of the healing process for anyone who is in crisis. At the end of the day, we all made a choice to serve human beings through the healing arts, whichever type that may be. Those people are our top priority, as practitioners and their ability to choose what resonates with them is theirs. Just because the research says what it says, does not make it the best option and that goes for both traditional and natural medicine. There is ample research in both fields.
It is easy to fear what we don’t understand and I see this fear permeating our culture whenever it comes to health and wellness. Fear is not the wisest approach when it comes to serving someone and helping them heal their body or mind. How about we teach people what’s actually going on with their body or their mind and empower them to change their approach to themselves and their external reality? I believe that may solve more problems than it creates.
As for Jess, she chose a path for her that she believed and felt was in her best interest. She went against the advice, criticism, and judgement of others because she chose to listen to herself. Too often, we pay attention to the various authorities in our lives and forget to see that we have the power to change our situation. We can be our own authority too. No doctor or health practitioner knows us better than we know ourselves. They have knowledge and experience and that could be of great use but they don’t know us because they aren’t us and it’s egotistic to assume that we know better than she did.
What some people are also failing to see, with regards to Jess’ situation, was the amount of challenge she’s faced, within the last year, with the loss of her mom. We know that the stress of losing someone we love can have a huge impact on how the body functions and heals. The more challenge we perceive we have to deal with, the more our fight/flight/freeze response will activate in the body to manage that. Depending on how we perceive the challenge will very much depend on how the body reacts. If we can’t manage the challenge smoothly, the adrenal glands start to dump huge amounts of adrenalin and cortisol into the blood to try to help the body cope. All the excess has to be broken down and the by-product of that is usually acidic in nature. Anaerobic cells, which are cells that survive off waste material instead of oxygen, thrive in an acidic environment. Cancerous cells, due to their lack of oxygen supply, thrive in similar environments in the body where there tends to be a lack or decrease in oxygen supply. I won’t bore you with all the complicated science behind how cancerous cells work but it is safe to say that stress has a huge impact on how cancerous cells can develop and grow. This is what Jess may have been dealing with in this last year and her body, despite all the excellent work she was doing, couldn’t cope.
It’s only natural for human beings to judge each other but it’s important to know the full story before we leap to conclusions. Not only that, there is so much more than we know about how the body works and why we land up in extremely challenging situations. Be mindful of other people’s choices. We are not here to dictate what is wrong or right because what may be right for some could be wrong for others and vice versa. All we can do is what’s in the best interest of the people we serve and that is their choice and their decision.
To the naysayers out there, thank you for inspiring me to write this blog post and to do my part to educate the general public instead of instilling fear in them. Natural therapies serve as much as they don’t and the same goes for medical ones too. Your challenge, criticism and judgement of who I am, what I do and what Jess did for herself will only provide the space for people to see the bigger picture when it comes to understanding who they are and how their bodies and minds work.