If water starts dripping from your ceiling after a rainstorm, you can dry it up…patch the ceiling…and hope it was a onetime event due to the rain. Or you can climb a ladder and cut a hole in the ceiling to find the cause of the leak and fix it properly, since there clearly is an opening somewhere. One is a Band-Aid that will temporarily stop the problem…the other is a forever fix. Band-Aids are fine as long as you don’t mind having the problem come back, but taking the time and effort to properly diagnose the problem and find the solution is far cheaper and less stressful in the long run.
So why do we use so many Band-Aids for our bodies’ ailments?
I was reminded of this all-too-common behavior this week when I recorded several podcasts with one of our great columnists and experts, naturopathic physician Dr. Jamison Starbuck. As we talked about such ailments as anxiety and eczema, the difference between Band-Aids and true healing was made very clear to me once again.
It’s estimated that more than 31 million people—10% of the American population—suffer from unsightly and uncomfortable eczema. These people put ointments, creams, and salves on the outbreaks, which eventually “heal” and the patient feels relief for a while—until it returns red and itchy again…and again…and again. Why? Because those topical products don’t deal with the underlying reason that their skin is erupting.
Skin often is the outward manifestation of inner turmoil. As toxins are released in our bodies, they “ooze” out through the skin in the form of acne, eczema and more. All those rashes are our bodies screaming for help, and instead of listening, we are just squelching the noise with topicals.
What’s really at the root of eczema, and how can you clear it for good? Oftentimes it’s connected to food sensitivities or other allergies. Clear out the disruptive food…heal the gut, where our immune system’s core lives…and—voila!—no more eczema. For Dr. Starbuck, it turned out to be a sensitivity to coffee. When she stopped drinking coffee, the eczema she had suffered with in her teens and 20s disappeared. Dr. Starbuck has seen similar scenarios time and again with her patients. And I have even seen it in my own life. But patients today want quick, easy fixes, and doctors are trained to provide tools that simply suppress symptoms.
Dr. Jamison and I had a similar discussion about anxiety. The stakes are even higher when it comes to the quick fixes offered to patients who suffer from anxiety. Antianxiety medications such as Xanax, Valium and Ativan, for example, can lead to long-term memory damage, emotional changes and even suicidal thoughts! And in the end, these meds don’t fix the anxiety. The real root of anxiety for both men and women often is hormones! Adjust the hormone balance appropriately, and anxiety eases.
Even more frightening: Another root cause of anxiety is low cholesterol. I can attest to this, because when I was having some health issues 20 years ago, I developed anxiety—but my total cholesterol was very low, at 128! Numerous studies have shown a connection between low cholesterol, anxiety, depression and suicide. My cholesterol is now up…and my anxiety is gone.
Doctors and Big Pharma would have you believe that your cholesterol can’t be too low—but that’s not true. These drugs are a Band-Aid that fixes nothing and potentially puts you at risk for significant other problems. And worse, cholesterol-lowering drugs don’t necessarily lower heart attack risk. Oh—and for your information—a far healthier minimum for cholesterol is 160.
Here’s the really sick part of it. This Band-Aid strategy of health care is economically brilliant for health care…and horrible for you. Why? Because you never are actually healed.
In the publishing business, as in most businesses, we try to sell products that people will need to buy again…and again. That makes sense, right? Better to buy a subscription to a newsletter than a single book or article. One sale is good…continuity is better.
Think about those drugs and salves. They’re part of a perfect continuity program. When combined with the pharmaceutical industry’s desire to maximize dollars and our human desire to fix our health problems fast, no one really wants to fix the real problem correctly.
This isn’t the case for all conditions…but it is for many.
Why do we stand for these relapses? Because we want it fast and easy. As long as we don’t see or feel the symptom, it must be fixed, right? And it is far easier to put some cream on your skin than deprive yourself of a favorite food.
We seem to have a great tolerance for do-overs as we lower the bar in all areas of life for excellence in quality and service—retail stores, restaurants, home contractors, you name it. Well, every outbreak of eczema is a do-over.
It is time to save yourself time and money by rethinking those do-overs. Understand when a treatment is a Band-Aid or a cure. Some up-front investment may save you a whole lot more in the long run.