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West Meets East

By Liz O'Phaelon

Dear IF readers,

Please note that currently in the United States is a legal battle going on with a state social service agency and the Cherrix family that is allowing their son Abraham to choose alternative medicine based on a nutrition plan and herbal tonics from Mexico instead of the Western medicine prescription of chemotherapy. Social Services is trying to gain custody of Abraham who is 16 years of age and they believe his family is acting in neglect by letting him choose alternative medicine.

For updates on the case, please go to or Google Abraham Cherrix. The case is also being followed on other sites.

Health is a concern for all of us. For me personally, I am glad to write for an international magazine and compare and contrast health care practices. I grew up in the United States in a typical middle class household that went to doctors when I was sick. I got naked, stuck out my tongue, and breathed deeply while doctors poked and prodded. I was told to say nothing and the doctors would give me the answers. But I have to admit that I have grown rather suspicious of Western health practices in the past 10 years. I have had horrible experiences with misdiagnosis and the over-prescribing of medicine.

When I was in my twenties, a doctor prescribed me a very addictive drug called Clonozapem for anxiety in the aftermath of a career mishap. Never was there a discussion of my eating, sleeping and drinking habits; whether I tried yoga or meditation, or if I was seeking therapy. Poof – prescription! Poof-addicted! Of course six years later when I was trying to start a family, the same doctors yanked me off the medicine within a week’s time. I went through a 3-month long detoxification from a six year long prescribed, narcotic dependency thinking I was going insane.

During that time, there was never a discussion of the addiction upfront, nor on the back end. I was raised to believe doctors were the experts by both my parents and the medical offices I visited. So, when I was young and didn’t have my own voice, I trusted them. But that experience taught me a valuable lesson in finding my own voice. Instead of hoping I was getting my body and mind healthy to become a mother, I began to believe my journey was to Bellevue to join the cuckoo’s nest. That didn’t resonate for me. Upset, yes. Ignorant, maybe. Crazy, no. I needed to become my own advocate for my body and my health.

After thirty-nine years of living in the Western Hemisphere of this planet, I have started to look East and alternative medicines. My old Western model was much too passive. I still go to doctors, but now I will only go to one that lets me ask questions and respects my independent research. I pick doctors instead of letting them pick me. If they have a holistic approach and aren’t prescription happy, I stay. If not, like love and buses, there is another M.D. down the block.

I have started to look East and and to natural remedies for healthful practices such as Yoga, meditation, acupuncture, and even colonics. These are words that have now entered into my vocabulary. Words that my parent’s generation considers “goofy” or “like those crazies in California” (gosh, California always sounds so wonderful). I try as a New England bred, United States of America, middle-age, woman to live a lifestyle that is in a positive dialogue with my mind, heart and body. I now believe in living pro-healthy so that I can prevent sickness. That might sound simple but you should see the looks when I open my mouth about organic meat at the Thanksgiving table in front of Aunt Mable who worked in the meat district. Oohhhheee. Needless to say, living healthy for me also includes nutrition.

There is the popular cliché’, “You are what you eat.” We here in the States are known for our terrible eating habits. But during two pregnancies that produced two beautiful, healthy babies, I tried to eat much better. After carrying my pregnancies back-to-back in which I worried that my diet was healthy enough for a growing fetus, it was hard to go back to the skip-lunch-for-a-candy-bar gal I used to be. I was also now in charge of being a good role model to my children. But how? I was raised by a depression-era father who thought that eating steak for breakfast was a good sign of prosperity. I needed a specialist. I wanted it to be someone who saw food not just as taste or fuel but something more. There is a famous saying, “when the student is ready the teacher appears.” Lora Krulak, Founder of the Butter-Fly-Effect knocked at my door. (

Lora Krulak ‘s company focus is on personal wellness. The Butter-fly-effect begins with an initial interview about your own goals to wellness. I explained to Lora about my want to let go of some old brands of food and eating habits that I suspected were less than healthy. We combined this first-step of her consultation with the second-step of spring pantry cleaning. I showed her my cupboards and explained to her my family’s current nutritional program.

In the initial consultation with Lora, I learned so much. We talked through my making smoothies for my picky two year old and my current practice of “sneaking in” a vegetable powder. Nice first step, Lora admitted, but get the green powders that are simply vegetables rather than the vegetable protein powders that contain soy and are hard to digest. Interesting. I admitted my horrible mistake of using sugar-free maple syrup to cut down on sugar intake for Jax only to find out there was an actual atom of ammonia contained in the product. Yikes! Lora shared with me how Agave Nectar, a natural plant sweetener could be substituted instead. We talked about organic brands that could replace my stock of Pillsbury instant banana breads. And on, and on. What an education.

The tagline of Lora’s company is “one small change makes a world of difference.” Lora embodies this gentle philosophy. She is very knowledgeable but not pushy. Lora works to approach you where you are rather than where she is. I liked that instantly about her. Lora listens first and then responds. I was so comfortable telling her that my family and I were really just beginning to discover food in a really healthy way. I explained that I didn’t want to dramatically dump things out of my cupboard that I had just spent my hard-earned money on. Rather, I wanted to replace them eventually with better items. Lora was an assuring coach. She told me that the journey should be fun. I liked the thought of my family’s journey to wellness as a wonderful adventure, rather than a guilt-ridden moral affair to righteousness.

The other thing Lora and I discussed was how to make this new approach work when my family and I leave home to eat out or travel. Lora had some great tips. First of all, Amy’s Organic Macaroni and Cheeses comes in a box of 5 microwave packets that you simply add water to (this for the picky two-year old). Then, just remember to start your day off eating light with real fruit (easy enough) and vegetable juice, and then moving towards the heavier foods for lunch and dinner like pasta or meat. Something as simple and easy as starting each lunch and dinner with a green salad could make a huge difference to my digestion and how good I could feel. We talked baby steps. Someday, I might graduate to bringing my own juicer on the road. But for now, a bottle of V8 is good enough.

I have asked Beth and Catherine if I can continue a series about various health practices and they have agreed. So IF readers, I will pop in from time to time to talk about Yoga, meditation, and even colonics. Till then, believe in your own voice that lives inside of your unique and wonderful body.
Talk to you soon, Liz

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