Life in the Slow Lane

Life in the Slow Lane

Monday, April 02, 2007

More Rant For Your Buck

Part 2 of Thursday’s Rant.

So here a little story about what happened to me when I went to the local health food store for a bottle of acidophilus pills.

Several months before I was diagnosed with cancer I decided to visit the health food store as my stomach had been giving me some trouble. Certain foods seemed to make me feel bloated and out of sorts. I thought a simple little bottle of acidophilus might get my gut bacteria back on track again. Nothing else major was going on with me health-wise to cause me concern. The lady who ran the store was very helpful and started asking me all sorts of questions while looking my symptoms up in a very well thumbed reference book she had behind the counter. With such vague symptoms like bloating and strange pooping issues and burping she told me that I needed digestive enzymes as well as the acidophilus. Then she said I needed activated charcoal as well. Then she said I needed a colon cleansing kit as well. That means a special diet and many pills over a 10 day period to literally clean your bowels out.

I told her that I had done a digestive cleanse twice in my life and with the second one I had to stop within just a couple days because I got such bad abdominal cramps. Like so bad I couldn’t stand up kind of cramps. She then went on to say that maybe I needed a liver cleanse as well. So many ‘as wells’ that had upped my potential bill to well over $200. I told her I didn’t think my liver was an issue and that I thought I’d just stick with my original plan to do acidophilus pills.

Well, the nice lady put down her book and took out a quartz crystal on a chain and proceeded to ask the crystal what kind of treatment I really needed.

!

I have to admit that when I was very much younger my friends and I would use this pendulum fortune telling trick when asking excruciatingly important questions about boys but I had never thought to use it for diagnosing health problems. Yeah, I used such bizarre diagnostic tools like doctors and blood tests and such. If I’d known that a crystal could have done the same trick I might have saved myself all those pesky appointments.

Anyhoo

So The Crystal told this nice lady that it was indeed my liver and that I needed a liver cleanse and other liver type supplements. And PRONTO!

While I was pretty much secretly snickering into my sleeve and faintly embarrassed over the situation I found myself in I told the nice lady I wasn’t going to buy all the stuff she wanted me to but I would do a cleanse and then come back for some acidophilus later. So the lady and her crystal recommended an extra gentle cleanse that would benefit my digestive tract AND my liver. Kill two birds blah blah blah…

Normally I would have just walked out and gone somewhere else so I could just buy my goddamned bacterial culture tablets in peace but I had been reading on a few blogs that other people had been doing cleanses as well and I thought, “What the heck?” Let’s try a cleanse as it might just do the trick.

So I got home and took my first course of pills and settled in for a night of laundry and TV watching. Within a few hours it was time to take my second course of pills which I did with a very simple veggie and rice dinner. So far so good.

I was feeling a bit queasy and unsettled by bedtime but I was feeling that way before I started the cleanse and that was why I wanted the acidophilus in the first place. So I didn’t really think much of it.

I woke at 2 am with a most terrible headache. I took a couple Tylenol but the pain got worse and worse very quickly. Really awful pain which made me rock in bed with a pillow over my face while crying. Like really bad. Now I’ve had migraines several times in my life and this was worse and very different from a migraine. This felt like my whole head was going to explode. For reals.

Then I got nauseous. Brutally nauseous. Then I started barfing. Barfing is not pleasant at the best of times but when your head is exploding it takes on a new level of hellishness. I felt absolutely vile.

Then the diarrhea started…and I officially entered a trifecta of physical nastiness.

I don’t remember much detail of that night but I do vividly recall washing my face in cool water in my bathroom and looking up into the mirror. What I saw shocked and, frankly, fascinated me. My skin colour was grey. Literally grey. A dark bluish grey. With a lovely tinge of green. I had never seen skin that colour ever. Well, that is not entirely true. I had seen corpses that colour on TV detective shows. You know the ones that have been left outside for a couple days? That colour. And it was now my very own personal colour. It was totally surreal.

It was at this time I thought that maybe I should go to the emergency room. What I did instead was take a shwack of codeine painkillers and pass out from sheer exhaustion.

The next day I did go to my doctor and he told me what had likely happened. He believed that I had a severe reaction to an herb in the cleanse, likely the burdock root, which made my blood pressure go up. Not just a little bit but dangerously high. I could have very easily had a stroke. Probably my young age and general good health saved me. Even 12 hours later my blood pressure was VERY high. And my doc was VERY upset. I didn’t dare tell him that I had done the cleanse on the advice of a crystal.

I returned the unused portion to the health food store and told the nice lady (and her crystal) what had happened. She started to cry. Maybe she thought I’d sue her. I just wanted my money back. I still wanted my acidophilus pills.

With this experience under my belt you can imagine how annoyed I get when people tell me (like my neighbour) that I should take ‘harmless’ herbal remedies for whatever ails me. People who look stuff up on the internet and consider themselves experts. Like the internet is a reliable source of information. HA! Very, very dangerous. There is also this belief that herbs and natural supplements are “safer” than Western medicine medications which is very untrue and a very dangerous assumption as well. I could have died from my ‘safe’ herbal remedy and I wouldn’t have been the first. People die from taking or mixing drugs both natural and ‘manufactured’ all the time. One must remember that herbal supplements are not tested or regulated by the FDA. Anybody can say that an herbal medication can do anything and do not have to prove it through tests and trials. Herbal supplements are also not quality controlled for potency or dosage like FDA regulated medications are.

So did I find a point to my tale? Yes, I did. Several points in fact. My points are these. Be smart. Don’t assume. Get your info from reputable sources and that DOESN’T include the internet. Anybody can post anything on the internet. When you read reference books check their sources and read those books as well. Don’t get lulled into a false sense of safety. Educate yourself and keep an open mind while doing it. And don’t listen to crystals no matter what they tell you.

12 comments:

JP said...

I'm glad you're feeling better and didn't have a stroke! Gotta watch those herbs Kranki!!! I'm thinking the crystal lady meant well, but I think I'd have done the quick two step shuffle out of there once I received the quartz answer. =) (I only trust magic 8 balls anyway...) Besides, when I want a system clease, I can just go to my local Taco Bell!!! (snort!!)

here today, gone tomorrow said...

Very sobering story. I've taken your warning to heart. Thank you.

Angelove said...

The same thing happened to me when I took the "cleanse". I had a massive headache, nausea and dizziness. I stopped taking the pills after 2 days....I didn't realize that it was probably my blood pressure!!
I'm usually very careful about what I take...
Thanks for the info!!

LadyBug said...

I hate it when people try to push those "herbal remedies" on me. Nowadays, when someone says, "It's all natural!", I almost always respond with, "So is marijuana!"

angela marie said...

Very true ladybug...I always say, "So is poison ivy!" :)

I'm glad you are ok, that is very scary. **whew**
The line that nearly killed me was this one, though:
"I didn’t dare tell him that I had done the cleanse on the advice of a crystal."

Circe said...

I can add a horror story of my own. My bro-in-law is notorious for popping health pills and last November went on a colon cleanse. To make a long story short, he started having horrible stomach pains and spent SIX WEEKS in intensive care and almost died. And it messed up his spleen. All health supplements are not innocuous and safe and should be taken with caution.

Leigh-Ann said...

There are reputable sources for everything on the Internet if you look in the right places. That's the problem, though - there are about three reputable places and three million others which don't know what they're talking about. I have a sister-in-law who always manages to find the least reputable and most bizarre websites whenever she tries to research a health issue. Her web searching skills often lead her to conclude that her bleeding hangnail indicates that death is just around the corner.

On another note, the difference between marijuana and other "all natural" things is that many unregulated all-natural things can kill you, wereas illegal marijuana can't. Where's the justice in that?

Squirl said...

I have stomach troubles and a friend of mine keeps trying to get me to do high fiber and colon cleanses. I just, politely, tell her that I know my own system and that those would either kill me or make me wish I were dead. :-)

Seriously, though, don't people realize that most drugs have their basis in some "herb" or another? Most people know that aspirin is from willow bark. Stuff like that. So, natural doesn't always mean safe by any means.

But I do think that crystals are pretty to look at.

tara said...

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