Natural Health and My Faith

Natural Health and My Faith

I had an interesting conversation with a midwife friend at the conference last week.  We talked about our philosophies of health, and it was a great reminder to me that many people interpret natural and holistic living differently.

My friend what sharing about her use of herbs.  She likes to use herbs with the women she works with because she feels it is safer than pharmaceuticals.  I shared that I don’t use herbs except those which I include in my cooking. She was intrigued – you don’t often find natural birth people who do not use herbs. But it was my reasoning that was most interesting to her, because although I do not use herbs I enjoy the use of essential oils.

Here is what I explained. I choose to only use those herbs which I include in my cooking, and to only use them with foods, because to use an herb that I otherwise would not use to achieve one specific outcome seems medicinal to me.  As much as is possible, I try to avoid introducing medicinal substances that I would not otherwise ingest. She understood my philosophy, and shared how she also sees her use of herbs as medicinal.

This philosophy comes directly from my faith.  I believe God created my body to maintain a state of equilibrium and health.  I do not believe God created my body to need substances I would not naturally interact with in that way regularly.  This is why I do like the use of aroma therapy – my body does normally interact with these same plants my friend would ingest through smell and touch every day. But even my use of aromatherapy is more for pleasure than medicine.

She asked about supplements and vitamins.  Again I shared I don’t usually see a need.  I will use vitamins if I am traveling and other times when I am not able to maintain a good diet. This concerned her because of her belief in the decreased nutritional quality of our food supply due to soil depletion. I shared that I believe soil without the right nutrients to grow a plant does not grow the plant or only grows a small plant. It isn’t that I believe the current American farm system is the best, but I do believe you cannot make a potato without the necessary building blocks to make a potato.

At some point my body will have aged enough that systems begin to break down and I will need or want something to maintain optimum health.  My hope is that my healthy living will give me many years before I get to that point.  But this healthy living is not a quick fix nor is it based on supplementing to overcome the bad things I do.  It is making choices every day to be active, cook and eat well balanced meals and get enough sleep. This, to me, is the essence of natural living.


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Jennifer Vanderlaan CNM MPH is the author of the website. She has been working with expectant families since 2000, training doulas and childbirth educators, and midwives. She has worked with midwives in Central America and Sub-Saharan Africa. Her interest in public health grew in 2010, and she is now a PhD student in a nursing program learning to become a producer of knowledge.

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