Friday, April 2, 2010

Bush doctor and sightings of a Voodoo ceremony in Northern Virginia

Mari calls me a bush doctor because I make herbal teas and tinctures for the kids when they are ill.  This lady that I took LittleMan to was a witch doctor.  She started off looking smart and conventional, with a stylish pin stripe suit and a stethoscope.   But then she worked some type of voodoo diagnostic test called muscle testing.  Apparently the parasympathetic nervous system is more susceptible to the energies from food and allergens.  When the energy from a food that we are sensitive to is near our body then we have a weak muscle reaction.  She said that I could be the conductor for LM's system by holding his shoulder and the energy would pass through meridians to my muscles.  I was very skeptical but willing to try.  So she had him lay down and hold a box full of homeopathic liquid vials against his belly.  It all seemed very odd.  I held out my left arm and she applied pressure to the top of it, asking how difficult it was for me to keep my arm up.  It seemed very unscientific.  Like, how would I know if she was pushing harder this time, or how would I know exactly how easy it was for me to keep my arm up?  I guess if the effect was really dramatic then I would feel it.  So she tried with me as the conduit a few times and I couldn't feel anything different.  I mean, one time it did feel kind of tingly, but that was all I noticed.  I was trying really hard not to make up a feeling just to appease her.  I have a habit of saying nice things just to make people feel comfortable.  I've learned about cognitive dissonance theory, which demonstrates that people actually change what they believe when their mind reconciles what they have said to appease others.  Like, if I told her that I was feeling something, then I would begin to actually believe that I had felt something.
I starting assessing my belief system in my head.  Could this muscle testing be possible?  Well, do I believe that plants, animal, people and stones carry energy: yes.  Could this energy affect muscles: hmm, not so sure about that.  If they did, could that reaction pass from one person to another: hmm, that is even more of a stretch for me to visualize.  Later, I was thinking about the logic behind the test again.  Does that mean that if someone who was allergic to corn stood by a corn field or a silo, they would have trouble walking or standing up?  Or if they were reading a book about corn, they would have trouble turning the page?
She had to bring in one of the other doctors to assist in the process and be the conduit since I was honestly not good at it.  They ended up discovering that LM is allergic to gluten, casein, corn, and soy!  She also said that he tested for parasites, thyroid and gut problems, and deficient enzymes.  I left the doctor feeling like although I was not a believer in the method, I thought the diagnosis was right.  The process was wrong but the product fit the symptoms I had been noticing.
Those are all foods that are uncommon in the Brazilian diet, but they are very common here.  LM has Mari's same blood type and I imagine that he would digest foods that are more typical from that region.
That got me thinking, in Brazil they eat rice and beans pretty much everyday.  They also have meats, fish, vegetables, and lots of fruit.  Here in the US, we eat a different type of food for every meal.  Maybe our bodies are not meant to have that much dietary jumping around.  Maybe all these culinary choices are actually bad for our health.  I've always had a bit of a bad feeling about wheat and dairy for LM, and I kept him mostly away from them until he was 17 months when he started daycare.  I also noticed that sometimes there was undigested corn in his diaper.
So I decided to simplify our diet and make it more Brazilian.  The only problem is that LM goes to daycare.  Today when daycare had to tell him that he couldn't have the goldfish crackers and the cereal bar at snack time, he started to cry.  He could not understand why he was not allowed to eat the food that all the other kids were eating, and he thought that he had done something wrong.  The story broke my heart.
I wanted to leave work and go pick him up, tell him that there is nothing wrong with him and he is not in trouble.  It would be easy to do this diet change if he was at home, but with his friends eating those things in front of him it is so much tougher.
So now I have been rethinking my commitment to this treatment plan.  Tonight, I tried the muscle test on Mari to see if it would work and tell us his food sensitivities.  I tried a bunch of bananas, some raw milk cheese, and a jar of breast milk.  He seemed most allergic to the bananas.  Then he tested me.  When we got to the bananas I could not keep a straight face.  We both ended up laughing hysterically and eating the cheese.  He said that it brought back memories of a community doctor his mom took him to in Brazil.  She did the same thing and had all kinds of pills, tinctures, oils, and muds that were part of the treatment.  It helped him with some parasite problem and his dad with chest pain.  But he still thought it was pretty weird...  Another example of similarities between me and his mom.
So I am torn from my belly to my little brain thinking about this.  I interned at the research department of the National College of Naturopathic Medicine for a summer in college.  I am a strong believer in solid peer reviewed double blind research for complimentary and alternative medicine.  But I have not been able to find research supporting muscle testing.   But then, lots of treatment and tools that have been widely used and tested in the East for years have not been subject to those tests here yet.  Except sometimes under funding from pharmaceutical companies - who have a vested interest in disproving natural medicines.  So I do not want to let my need for traditional research to get in the way of the Chinese Medicine magic.
But, how can I put my son through such a traumatic experience with this kind of fuzzy method behind his diagnosis?
Is my need for calibrated diagnostic tools irrational?  Am I putting too much faith in inanimate instruments and machines?
Maybe I should put more faith in people and their hands and energies.
But what if I cause some kind of permanent psychological damage or give him a complex by creating imaginary allergies?  eek, I don't know what to do.
Mari and I slept on it and came to the same conclusion.  We are going to take these things out of his diet at home and at daycare so that he is not eating them everyday.  But we are not going to label him as allergic to them.  And for special occasions he can eat whatever the other kids are having.

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