The Basis of Nutritional Healing
Why it's Effective, When it's Effective

Nutritional healing can accomplish miracles - if used at the right way, at the right time. This article explains why it works, as well as how and when to use it.

Eric Armstrong

The first thing to determine is whether nutritional healing is appropriate for a given condition. Here is an overview of the principles I use when making that decision:

Here's WHY a nutritional approach is useful in such cases:

In other words, if you adhere to a nutritional regimen that eliminates dietary insults and makes available only the best of nutrients, you can essentially "reinvent" yourself in two years. By then, the life style changes you have made will carry you forward to complete the job. The body can only create itself from the materials at hand. If you're supplying good bricks, you're going to get a good house.

In other words, if you provide your body with high quality food for a long enough time, you can become a brand new, totally healthy person. How could it be otherwise? Your body's DNA carries all of the instructions it needs to build a fully-functioning, healthy body. All it needs is the right ingredients.

The bad news is that nutritional healing can take a long time. Although some improvement may be seen within weeks, and dramatic improvement in months, it may a couple of years to restore full health. And, being human, we also have to watch out for "backsliding". Once the condition that drove us to seek a nutritional remedy starts to fade away, it is easy to go back to old habits. So it can be darn difficult to keep up a nutritional protocol long enough for complete healing to occur.

The bottom line is that you have to make healing your religion. If you don't, it's not going to happen. Or it may produce only temporary relief. The good news though, is that if you do make it your religion, you can achieve miracles!

Where Do You Go For Information?

When it comes to food, everyone has advice. So who can you trust? Where do you turn to learn more about nutritional healing? Here are some pointers:

  1. Always do your homework. Never take anyone's recommendation on a nutritional remedy at face value. Assure yourself that:
    1. It's not toxic, and
    2. We know *why* it works.

I remember when friends were telling me about this great new non-addictive stuff that gives you a super energy lift. They called it "cocaine"... Five years later, the true nature of the beast began to be revealed. So don't accept what anyone says at face value. Believe nothing you hear until you can confirm it.

On the other side of the coin, don't go for the new wonder drugs they pour into foods, either - aspartame, olestra, and all the rest. Consider them as part of a 20 or 30 year social experiment. You may be one of the experimental subjects, if you wish. I decline.

In the afternoon, TV is filled with advertising for class action lawsuits on behalf of people who were irreparably harmed by the wonder-drug they were selling 5 years ago. In the evening, it's filled with the ads for a new generation of wonder drugs that will be the subject of lawsuits 5 years from now. Why do the companys do it? Because they make much more money selling such things than they will have to pay to settle lawsuits. It's a business model that works for them. Not for me.

When I hear that such-and-such is great for cure for thus-and-so, I file it away as an interesting tip. Then, when I have time, I see what's been published on the subject. If there are studies that show it was effective for the condition that's nice. It's additional evidence. But I'm only convinced when I see the studies and I see a convincing explanation of how the affect is achieved in the body. When we understand the mechanism of action, then we know what we are doing. (Remember cocaine? It was certainly effective. But until we know why it's effective, we don't know what we're playing with.)

The bottom line, sad to say, is that you've got to do your own research.

The people we pay to be the guardians of our health just don't know enough to protect their own health through preventive nutrition, much less how to heal diseases nutritionally. And you can't trust everything you hear. Because our nutritional understanding is constantly expanding, you need to understand what it's all about. The sad fact is that it is impossible to stay healthy in an industrial environment by following your instincts. You have to understand what you are doing, or else be very, very lucky. (The lucky ones have stumbled across an eating pattern that works. So look around you for people who are really healthy, and take your lead from them!)

The Effect of Medicine?

Medicine likes to take credit for the improvement in human life spans, but it's not clear just how much medicine has really done. The claim is based on the fact that average life expectancy has improved dramatically since 1900 or so, and that claim is certainly true. The discovery of disease-generating mechanisms and the science to combat them has certainly been beneficial, but that progress that has been made against disease has been through:

  • Plumbing and garbage disposal, which eliminated the source of many diseases
  • Vaccinations, which eliminated a large class of infant mortalities
  • Occupational safety laws, unions, and child labor laws, which eliminated large number of industrial accidentsmosquito and pest control, which cut down on several more diseases
  • Heating, air-conditioning, and cars, and affordable clothing which protect us from inclement weather.
  • Sick days and vacation time that give a body a chance to rest and recover from sickness and the stresses of daily existence.
  • Ambulance and emergency medical technicians, which allow life-saving first aid to be applied in timely fashion.
  • Improvements in dentistry, which allow people to keep their teeth and keep eating much later in life. (It used to be that people lost teeth early, and went downhill rapidly thereafter.)
  • Improvements in farming and food storage technology, all but eliminating starvation and gross under-nourishment.

When you subtract all of the advances that have been made as a result of science, technology, and social change, it's not clear what effect medicine (in the form of drugs and surgery) has had on human life-span. At times, such medicine seems more focused on prolonging death than on creating the kind of energetic health that results from preventative nutrition.

And then there is the small matter that medicine still uses the mindset that was appropriate in the 1900's.

At that time, the discovery of bacteria, viruses, and other microbes was brand new. Diseases were and are caused by such things, and medicine did find ways to "attack the bugs". Of course, other activties like plumbing, garbage collection, and sanitation were even more important in preventing disease, but medicine did find ways to treat the diseases that people caught.

By the 1970's and 1980's, however, "bugs" were the least of our concerns. Obesity, neurological disorders, and autoimmune diseases became much more prevalent -- largely due to the corruption of the food supply in the name of corporate profit. Doctors kept looking for medicines they could use to treat the diseases, but the problem with that approach is that there is no "bug" to attack.

The only possible remedy, in this case, is doing for the food supply what plumbing and garbage collection did for the microbial environment -- clean things up, to prevent the spread of disease. Unfortunately, since medical education is largely paid for by drug companies, the effect of nutrition on health is sadly underrated by the medical profession.

Detailed Procedure

Here is my standard procedure for dealing with a non-emergency, non-life-threatening, non-mechanical condition:

  1. Go to a doctor and get a diagnosis.

    The medical profession has the finest diagnostic equipment and procedures in the world. They can usually pinpoint what's wrong and put a name on it. (Ex: "Bursitis" which, translated, means "sore shoulder" -- literally: inflammation of the shoulder).

  2. Figure out *why* it's wrong, whatever it is.

    The medical profession often completely overlooks this important step. *Why* is the shoulder sore? Is it a simple case of overuse? Or is the body fundamentally unable to heal itself for deeper reasons? Are you missing important nutrients in your diet? Are they not being assimilated? Is the body using them for something else to compensate for some other lack? Are they being destroyed somehow? Is something else missing which makes it possible to use them? If the level of use is within normal parameters, then the soreness must result from some other cause. Identifying the cause is necessary before an adequate cure can be found.

  3. Consult the nutritional literature.

    With the "why" question in mind, see what you can find out about what causes symptoms of this kind, and see if there are any nutritional remedies. (Often there is some anecdotal evidence that this or that herb is effective -- but that leads me back to "why?". Until I understand the mechanism of action - both for the condition and for the cure, I don't have a solution.)

  4. Relate the causes to other health issues.

    A single deficiency can cause a number of seemingly unrelated symptoms. And any one symptom can stem from a wide variety of causes. The art is to figure out just what in the heck is going on. That is the essence of the "wholistic" approach -- plugging all the data into a single model to come up with a coherent explanation of the observations. That makes it possible to anticipate the steps that will reverse the condition. (MSM made sense for treating my carpal tunnel and muscle soreness, because I've always had weak nails and I recently saw a dermatologist for several skin conditions and excessive dandruff. MSM is important in all those areas, so I felt sure I had found an important ingredient in these conditions.)

  5. Fill the prescription.

    That way I have it, just in case. But that also lets me read the information that comes with it, and do more research to find out what the prescription is doing. Is it symptom relief? In that case, I'll tend to forget it. Is it doing something? If so, what? That gives me clues when I'm reading the nutritional literature.

  6. Find a nutritional alternative.

    Once I've understood the mechanism that leads to the condition, and the mechanism by which a drug is supposed to be effective, I'm in a position to understand the different herbal and nutritional recommendations I come across. I can isolate the ones the make the most sense, relative to the condition at hand.

For setting bones and saving my life, doctors may do what they will, with my blessing. For anything else, I follow the procedure above.

Note that prevention is heck of a lot more effective than a cure. By the time a condition takes hold, in acute cases it can be difficult to impossible to reverse. But a surprising amount of the time, nutritional remedies can be effective in gradually lessening the severity of a condition, and then reversing it. The result in such cases is typically renewed health, rather than a "cured" symptom that leaves the underlying causes intact, resulting in a repetition of the condition, or some other probem manifesting itself, all complicated with secondary conditions induced by adverse reactions to the drugs or surgery. The moral is simple: Use nutritional remedies whenever you can. It's a great way to stay energetic, healthy, and out of the doctor's office.

About the Author

Eric Armstrong has been programming and writing professionally since before there were personal computers. His production experience includes AI programs, system libraries, real-time programs, and business applications in a variety of languages. He is the author of The JBuilder 2 Bible, published by IDG Books in 1998, as well as the XML tutorial at For the last 30 years, off and on, he has been researching nutritional biochemistry and exercise.

Personal Note: I am not a doctor. I am a computer programmer and writer who has been a student of nutrition and the body's physiologic response to it for more than 30 years (off and on, since I first read Adelle Davis at age 15). I have an eye for the literature and the ability to formulate theoretical models based on background in computer systems modeling. I have been skinny as a kid and overweight as an adult. Over the years, I've dealt with fatigue, depression, sinusitis, carpal tunnel, anxiety attacks, hypoglycemia, multiple knee surgeries, and severe overtraining. The studies that led to remedies for these conditions brought me into contact with a body of nutritional research that is still largely foreign to the public consciousness. As much as possible, I try to share that information with the world at large.

Copyright (c) by Eric Armstrong, 1999.

Distribute freely, in its entirety, if not for profit.


Copyright © 2001 by Eric Armstrong. All rights reserved.
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