Holistic health gains popularity amid outbreak
Popping prescription pills isn’t the road to long-term health and wellness, nutritionists and holistic health advocates say. During the current novel coronavirus pandemic, people are seeking ways to take care of themselves at home without having to risk a trip to the doctor during a time when the risk of becoming infected is at the forefront of most people’s minds.
Dr. Kirk McAnsh, chiropractor and nutritionist, owns McAnsh LIFE-ENERGY Institute in Alpena, Mich. Since the pandemic began, he has been working with clients through an app called “Healthie” to help them set and meet wellness goals while using holistic health remedies including proper nutrition and supplements based on their individual needs.
“They can work remotely from the convenience and safety of their home to reach out to me for nutritional recommendations to support their immune system,” McAnsh said.
He has noticed an uptick in concern and interest in holistic remedies since Michigan’s shut-down orders went into place in mid-March.
“I get requests all hours of the day and night for recommendations for nutrition to support people’s immune systems,” McAnsh said. “I would say the interest in supporting people’s immune system with nutritional supplements has gone way up.
“I think people are scared and they want to do whatever they can to keep their immune system functioning normally,” he added. “Also, they are starting to realize the value of their health, so it’s kind of a combination between being afraid and being appreciative of the health that they do have and trying to maintain that health.”
He then went on to note that people are learning about proper nutrition from the comfort of their homes so they can avoid having to go to a medical doctor.
“Some of the feedback that I’ve heard, they’re afraid to go to the hospitals,” McAnsh said. “Not only are they afraid to go to their medical doctors; a lot of people I’ve talked to can’t. Their medical doctors won’t see them. … I’ve talked to a lot of people who’ve had medical concerns and they were trying to get into their medical provider, but they wouldn’t book them an appointment and they wouldn’t see them.”
McAnsh added that while each person’s immune system is different, some general guidelines can be followed to benefit everyone’s health.
“There are general considerations, then there are more highly specific recommendations that we can make during a nutritional consult with people, based on more detailed information on their health history and their blood type,” McAnsh explained.
In general, he recommended drinking green tea and eating a variety of healthy foods, including garlic and broccoli, to help support one’s immune system. Unsweetened cranberry juice and unsweetened pomegranate juice can also help, he said.
McAnsh then added that a good diet will not only benefit the immune system, but it can improve other aspects of your life as well.
“Green tea can help boost mental health,” he said. “Getting enough sleep, enough exercise, sunshine, those sort of things. And trying to eat a clean diet. Stay away from the junk food and the sugars and the fats.”
He also explained that now is a great time to start a new, healthier routine based on whole-body wellness.
“I think people just need to take this down time and do some thoughtful study on the immune system and on nutrition,” he said. “Because it’s readily available in foods and nutritional supplements and they can have that shipped to their house, and they don’t have to go out if they are afraid. They can start to rebuild their immune system because this may become an annual thing, or there may come another virus or bacteria or something down the road that could have similar consequences. But the bottom line is not so much the strength of the germ — it has much more to do with the function of the immune system.
“You can’t see the germs,” McAnsh added. “You can’t run from them. You can’t hide from them. They’re everywhere. The human body has 380 trillion viruses in the body at any given time. So it’s a matter of just being able to live harmoniously with those viruses that are already in us. And it’s much easier to do so if our immune system is functioning normally with the right specific nutritional supplements that can be recommended with appropriate and thorough consultation.”
That’s exactly what Jodi Day did when she wasn’t finding success through medical doctors. Her son was suffering from “a debilitating condition” that was not getting resolved with pharmaceutical drugs or treatment.
Day, who currently lives in Manitou Springs, Colo., decided to do research and take matters into her own hands, looking up everything she could about natural and holistic health remedies. Educating herself on those things came naturally as she homeschooled her four sons for more than 15 years.
“In being home with my boys, I’ve always been a pursuer of education, knowledge, information, and just really focused on nutrition with them,” she said. “They were all athletes, and we just pursued those things … eating well and what they can do to support their bodies.”
She said one of her sons became ill and has always struggled with sleep, which pushed her into wanting to find more information about natural solutions. Since then, she said she has developed an understanding that bodies have foundational needs.
“What we put in our bodies, whether it’s food or our personal care products or the things we’re using in our home, everything’s affecting the foundational workings of our bodies,” Day said. “So I had already had that understanding, and then with my medical science background, I understood immunology … so when he started getting sick, I, in my heart, knew what was going on. I mean, symptoms are the body’s language to us. The body speaks loud and clear. It starts out whispering sometimes, and we don’t always hear. And then it eventually screams. It’s crying out for help.”
She said when the foundational balance of the body is amiss, a variety of symptoms can appear, with detrimental results if left unchecked.
Being tired, having “brain fog,” getting sick easily, and feeling run down or depressed are often symptoms that the body is missing something essential for proper functioning, Day said.
“I’m a firm believer in a multivitamin, just to fill in those gaps,” she said, along with a healthy diet full of leafy greens.
Day is not against seeking medical support, but she believes health is in individuals’ own hands when it comes to nutrition and supplementation.
“We did end up actually seeking out an integrative M.D.,” she said. “I think in the realm of health, it’s wonderful to have a supportive doctor. But when it comes to health issues, I think the biggest asset is a community of like-minded people. People going through similar things. And being able to bounce off one another. You just glean from one another.”
Cherith Prince is another holistic health advocate who uses only natural products and essential oils in her home. She relies on vitamins and supplements to keep her family healthy. Since going “all natural,” she said her family has not been sick at all.
“This started long before the pandemic,” said Prince, of Alpena, Mich. “When I realized I needed to start supporting my body in order to stay well.”
About four years ago, she was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease.
“I was working with an integrative medicine doctor that treats holistically,” Prince said. “So she was able to help me out a lot too, which has enabled me to take charge of my own health, do my own research, and find out what I need for my body.”
At home, her family uses essential oils, vitamin C supplements, vitamin D supplements, a supplemental vitamin drink, and her children take multivitamins. She does not allow harsh chemicals in her home and they only use natural cleaning products and bath products. She and her husband have three children.
“Some people call it, like, a ‘low-tox’ lifestyle,” Prince said.
She believes it’s helped, as better nutrition and supplementation has drastically improved her family’s overall health, she said.
“We’ve noticed a difference in, just, our energy,” she explained. “This is not just from taking out chemicals.You can’t just take out toxic chemicals from your life and be like, ‘Hey, that’s it.’ It’s a whole system. It’s a whole natural approach. We’re not perfect, but we do try to eat more naturally as well.”
She said before switching to a holistic lifestyle, her and her family visited the doctor often. Now, she contended, they are rarely ill.
“Our bodies are able to support themselves naturally,” Prince noted. “And so we’ve seen less sickness, and we haven’t been sick at all this year. None of us.”
If others are seeking more natural remedies, she recommends doing some research online and using nontoxic products because harsh chemicals can disrupt hormonal and endocrine function, creating deficiencies and health problems.
“We don’t always get the nutrients we need, the vitamins we need, the minerals we need,” Prince said. “So, going to the doctor to get a pill, which I’m not saying you shouldn’t do if you have something going on. But this is just a different approach. We’re not just going to treat symptoms. We’re going to go and look at the root cause of the issue.”
Over the years, she has learned that becoming truly healthy requires effort, dedication and patience.
“The typical American way of thinking is, you know, a quick fix. And this stuff isn’t always a quick fix,” Prince said. “Sometimes, it takes time for your body to respond to how you are supporting it.”
She said during the pandemic, doctors recommend supporting your body with vitamin C, vitamin D, and zinc, among other supplements.
The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health also advises to proceed with caution while seeking “alternative” remedies for the prevention or treatment of COVID-19.
“Some of these purported remedies include herbal therapies, teas, essential oils, tinctures, and silver products such as colloidal silver,” a press release from the NCCIH states. “There is no scientific evidence that any of these alternative remedies can prevent or cure the illness caused by COVID-19. In fact, some of them may not be safe to consume. It’s important to understand that although many herbal or dietary supplements come from natural sources, ‘natural’ does not always mean that it’s a safer or better option for your health.”
Prince added that other doctors will make different recommendations that may not align with her natural way of thinking, but that won’t stop her from continuing her holistic lifestyle.
“No matter what you do, you’re going to see people coming against that,” she said. “But from my personal experience, I just don’t care. I know what is benefitting my family. I know what works for my family. And guess what? That’s what I’m going to do.”
Darby Hinkley is Lifestyles editor. She can be reached at 989-358-5691 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
This story is part of a series of reports on the effects of COVID-19 on the people, businesses, and communities of America. The Ogden Newspapers COVID-19 Reporting Team includes News Lifestyles Editor Darby Hinkley, Katie Anderson, of the Washington (Pennsylvania) Observer-Reporter, Evan Bevins, of the Parkersburg (West Virginia) News and Sentinel, LynAnne Vucovich, of The Norwalk (Ohio) Reflector, and Lauren Fox, of the Lawrence (Kansas) Journal-World.