Why I Don't Roll My Eyes at Alternative Treatments Anymore


I used to secretly (OK, sometimes not so secretly) roll my eyes at people who poured money into alternative therapies or swore by specific diets or vitamins. If there wasn’t robust medical literature to back something, I wasn’t buying it. That is, until I found myself buying miso soup on a 100-degree day for the potential benefits of seaweed on my neuropathic pain (as advised by my acupuncturist). Or until I found myself falling asleep every night to my pain relief hypnosis app. Or until I found myself calling the compounding pharmacist, who I’m on a first-name basis with, to ask whether he had any calf-liver pills. That must have been a sight — me standing on a busy street corner yelling into my phone, “C-A-L-F liver, like the cow.” Ultimately, I didn’t proceed with that one, but that’s beside the point.

The point is, I now understand that when you’re desperate for pain relief, you’ll try just about anything. That’s not to say that I don’t still immediately go to PubMed or “Doctor Google” to research whatever has been proposed to me (once a skeptic, always skeptic-ish), but I’m a whole lot more willing to try things. I don’t care if the relief I might find is only due to the placebo effect. The placebo effect can be powerful and, at this point, I say bring it on.

Moving forward, I will try my best to refrain from judging others’ regimens, however strange they may seem. I will instead hope that they are getting relief from whatever it is that plagues them. And I ask that next time you see me buying copious amounts of blueberry juice while on the phone with my acupuncturist, you do the same (hope I get relief, not buy blueberry juice).

This blog was previously published on The Huffington Post.


Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.


Related to Chronic Pain

Young woman can’t sleep

Inside the Mind of Someone Kept Up at Night by Chronic Pain

“Painsomnia” is a term used by people with various forms of chronic pain and illness to describe insomnia that is fueled by pain. For people who don’t live with a chronic illness or a pain condition, you may be able to relate by remembering the worst flu you’ve ever had. Remember that time when you couldn’t sleep because everything [...]
white outline on black background of a friend comforting her friend

The Language We Speak as People With Chronic Pain

I sit at a diner having lunch with a friend. It has been a while since I have seen her. She does most of the talking and I only let her because my pain makes it hard to speak. Nothing about our stories seems the same, but we both have scars. Suddenly every emotion she speaks [...]
michael phelps cupping

I Use Cupping for My Chronic Pain. Please Don't Call It a 'Fad'

“You are gluten-free too?” my friend said as she rolled her eyes and laughed. I get this response often when I tell people I am gluten-free. They can’t believe that food can affect me so much. People often mock me for my dietary restrictions, not understanding how important they are to my health. They often [...]
drawing of woman wearing blue shirt with her hands on her head

When Chronic Pain Leads to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Whenever I have to schedule a doctor appointment, I cry. When you have chronic illness, you rarely call to schedule a check-up. Most of the time, something is wrong. And most of the time, you’re at the doctor so often that any check-up duties happen right on schedule because you’re there anyway. I used to [...]