If you ever wondered why John the Baptist remained single just read this:
John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist,
and he ate locusts and wild honey. (Mark 1:6)
California is sometimes called the Granola State, the land of fruits, nuts, and flakes. I am from California, native-born. I guess I could just stop this chapter right now and you would understand why strange things gravitate to me.
I was diagnosed with Acute Leukemia in 2001 and given two months to live (It is 2018 now so I must have done better than expected). Shortly after I formally announced that I was dying my mailbox was flooded. Well-meaning friends and strangers started sending letters to me with all kinds of sincere advice about what I should eat and do to cure my cancer. If you ever get sick, like big time, let me give you a piece of counsel. Leave the country, get off Facebook, change your email, sell your dog so you can’t be tracked down. You will be inundated with promised cures that range from interesting to downright off-the-wall looney bin. One definition of a fanatic is a person that you can’t change his mind and he won’t change the subject. Welcome to the world of health foods, alternative medicine, and strange things crawling out from under the rocks.
Numerous phone calls, e-mails, and letters passionately presented conflicting advice. It drove me into my own personal investigation of the mysterious world of alternative medicine and health foods. It is a world where you don’t just stop and smell the flowers; you eat them. These promised cures are a trip to the Twilight Zone of medicine. But like I said, I’m from California. I took the plunge.
If you are one of the millions who follow some form of alternative medicine or love health foods I want you to know that this is not making fun of you or being disrespectful of your sincere beliefs. If eating rock slime does it for you then keep on slurping. I just want to point out that the number of promised cures are almost endless and can be very confusing to novices like myself. Frankly, it was overwhelming to enter this complicated world which offered everything from derivatives from rainforest insects to exotic grass extracts. After reading my other stories you may have noticed that I do find humor in things. So just read and enjoy and realize that no personal offense is intended. If you do find yourself getting a bit miffed, the old blood pressure raising and an urge to send off a quick email may I recommend some alternative medicine. Just lie down on an herbal tea pillow in a Feng Shui environment with lotus leaves on your forehead and go to the happy place in your mind. There, don’t you feel better now? So, if the temptation comes to grab your AK-47 and blow away this missionary just repeat the mantra “Happy place, peace, happy place, peace.” I hope we get through this story.
You have no doubt heard the familiar phrase of the desperate, “Any port in a storm!” My blood was a mess after Chemotherapy. My immune system experienced a complete factory shutdown. There is not much to lose when you have two months to live. Many of us reason that there must be a natural cure for disease rather than have poisons pumped through our veins. It just seems logical. So, I started listening to the voices. So many voices.
Promises, Promises, Promises
It soon entered the land of Mondo Bizarro. Here is just a sampling of the things that cure cancer that were promised to me. One e-mail pleaded with me to grow and harvest a certain type of Oriental mushroom which grows best under a kitchen sink. This one sounded good because I liked mushrooms. But what would our plumber think?
A very large supplement company soon sent out what must have been a general alert to their entire sales force to contact me. I can’t count the number of folks who told me their natural supplements cure AIDS and every other known disease. Then there was this wonder oil, a deep-sea shark liver extract guaranteed to do the job. It made me wonder why the secret of health was in a shark that lives in deep ocean bunkers where most of the world has no access to the critters? What about the people of Mongolia, Sudan, Tibet, and many others that have never seen a shark? Was I the only one asking this question? I was starting to get a lot of red lights.
One fellow was sure his vegetable juice extract could cure anything and he said he was only sharing it with me because he knew we were in a Christian ministry and had very little funds. His concern was to help save my life and it would only take a small amount of the heavenly elixir. He assured me that his motive was simply my health and had nothing to do with the multilevel marketing plan that came with the product. I told him how grateful I was that he would be helping the ministry by donating that small amount to save my life. He never called again. One lady called who had read my e-mails that were forwarded by a friend. She told me that I had made a big mistake going with the medical profession. If we had only used a particular type of Middle Eastern grass extract I would be fully recovered from Leukemia but now I had ruined my chances by allowing doctors to mess my body up. I was very weak and thanked her for her loving concern.
It seemed like the doors of the asylum had flung open and the inmates were finding my hospital room. So, I did some research. I did have access to the web and when I could I examined everything from Aardvark kidney powder to Zebra hoof oil. I read tons of claims and read testimonial after testimonial from all over the world. I read and I read. I remember hearing about a man who read about the dangers of obesity so much that he finally gave up reading. Well, I almost gave up reading.
I am amazed anyone is still sick or even dies any more. Do you realize we have access to supplements and pills and programs that will cure AIDS, Alzheimer’s, cancers, heart disease, strokes and bad breath in our dogs? All we have to do is attack bee colonies and eat their pollen and our hair will not fall out. We can strip fish of their cartilage and never have osteoporosis. Grazing on Egyptian barley grass will stop high blood pressure and there are enough herbal teas in China to heal our memories and qualify each of us for the Mensa Society. Of course, our faces will break out and look like a purple waffle but at least cancer will be gone.
One supplement I found actually contained coral mixed with manganese, selenium, boron, and vanadium. We might as well raise the Titanic and then eat it. You sure wouldn’t want to go through an airport metal detector after taking one of those pills. There are algae advertised all over that is claimed to reverse the polarity of your body. Wow. I didn’t know my battery was in backward. And on and on it goes, everything from coffee enemas to magnet therapy to crystals and pyramids. Everyone offers a secret cure, a miracle method.
Bark, Bark, Bark
One Herbologist states that research has found that the bark collected from the Columbian Pau D’arco tree inhibits the growth of a strain of parasite that causes malaria in rodents. He is very serious. He recommends ingestion of the root. I believe him and if I ever suspect the rats in my house have malaria you can bet I will buy a truckload.
My wife and I were in South Korea once and wandered through the huge and fascinating natural food section in the basement of the famous Lotte Hotel. I found myself staring at bins and bins of bark and dirt for sale. Incredible claims of healing were posted over each bin. I was blown away at the prices of the magic compost. Some tree barks cost hundreds of dollars per ounce. A very distinguished Korean man standing near me must have noticed my YOU-HAVE–TO-BE-KIDDING look and asked if I knew about the healing qualities of one of the bins. I said, “Uh, no.” Without even a pause he reached into a bin and stuffed some bark in my mouth and told me to chew it. I chewed. I looked around to see if anyone was looking. This was expensive stuff. It tasted like moldy tree bark. It was a moldy tree bark. If I ran that business it would come in Vanilla and Raspberry. The man then smiled and walked out the door leaving me with a mouthful of expensive potting soil. He didn’t work there. Talk about feeling stupid. I walked outside to a trash can. Blah, Blah, Ptooo. Yuck. I could taste that junk all night long. Pla, Pla Pla. Even the next morning my teeth were black. Blaaayaagh (which is Korean for Braaaahagaaa). In my country, you go to Nurseryland to buy pots and seedlings not to treat malaria in your rats and eat lunch.
Since we lived in the Philippines for many years there is a well-known Filipino delicacy that also has specific claims. It is called a balut and is affectionately known as Filipino Viagra. This food claims to help with male potency problems. It is a fertile duck egg that is just ready to hatch when it is boiled. They mostly come from one region of the country just outside Manila called Pateros. The still hot eggs are then sold by vendors on bicycles who travel through subdivisions and housing centers calling out “Baluuuuut, Baaaaaluut!” These familiar sounds are normally heard around 8 PM each night. So, you are wondering if we have eaten balut. Yes, but it was primarily so we could say “yes” when we were constantly asked if we eat balut. As Americans, it made us more Filipino. But we didn’t eat too many. We already had five children and we didn’t want to take any chances.
Alternative Medicines. It’s a Jungle Out There.
Leukemia treatment for me was a very traditional clinical approach. Doctors put tubes in my chest and poured gallons of herbicide into my veins like a plumber floods pipes with Drano. Then they watched me die and come back and die and come back and die and come back. Exciting isn’t it? Well, it was for them. But that is how it works. For seven months it was the same pattern. Three weeks of controlled poisoning followed by a very brief week of getting out of the hospital and eating tacos. That is the chemotherapy way. I did recover in the end I wonder if it was the tacos all along that cured me.
So, after seven months of living in the poison control center, as I called it, I was given a clean bill of health and discharged. By then, I had decided on a specific natural foods path that I wanted to try and I was ready to get started. But first I had to eat some fish tacos. There, now I was ready to start.
The next story will tell of that adventure. Agent Orange is coming.