David,

This reminds me of when I sat at the feet of a sixtyish shaman in the Tahyuayo River area of the Amazon, some six hours out of Iquitos. He was kind enough to school me on the coke bottles full of his medicines,potions and cures, which I smelled one by one, inhaling the familiar scents of so much of what inhabits our medicine cabinets. While the shaman’s offerings can’t compete with the white man’s illnesses brought on by sugar, white flour and our favorite toxic beverage, Coca Cola, they did just fine before Europeans got there and infiltrated the tribes with a combination of new diseases and new foods, both highly toxic (one may not agree but I would point to Gary Taubes’ book The Case Against Sugar as one resource). Given that each of us is a universe unto ourselves, as unique as any single star, what we need and what works for us is also going to be different. Add to that — and every good shaman knows this — the extraordinary power of the placebo effect, cures can be gained, diseases ended, aches and pains whisked away. So very many of our current diseases are from lifestyle choices, and being as much a sugar addict as the next Krispy Kreme lover, I bow to anyone who can abstain. I’ve learned to but not without dragging my feet hard. However what that brought me was vibrant health. Belief in what ails us- so very many times coming from multiple complex factors involving stress, work displeasure, family issues, bad food, inadequate to no exercise, deep unhappiness, a lack of faith (whatever your faith may be)all play into our physical health. That shaman told me his life story, and in doing so taught me a lot about how he heals. He lost his way, walked away from his life’s work, was forced into the military to kill, became an alcoholic. When he returned to his village, they needed him to return to his roots. By then, he was truly ready to serve them. He had suffered, and by suffering, he fully understood. That was his gift. He was willing to learn with his patients. This is a key part of what we’re missing in medicine. While he cannot today cure cancer and diabetes, he can still cure many illnesses that could potentially lead to them.

I heartily agree with you that we have to pick our poison. Food is our first and best medicine, and then movement, and then joy. These things feed the body and soul. From this comes deep wellness. There are outside factors like lead in the water (see Flint et al) and pollution and so many other factors, but what lies within us is potent indeed. Whether or not we can give and receive love, above all, makes us well. There is no better medicine.

Horizon Huntress, prize-winning author, adventure traveler, boundary-pusher, wilder, veteran, aging vibrantly. I own my sh*t. Let’s play!

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