Beware the N Word!
Did you just use the N word? Oh oh.
Your Goal: Vital Animals!
You’ve got animals. You want them to be vital animals. So that they enjoy a long, healthy life with you, free of the burdens of disease, but so much more than that. You want them to be full of balanced energy, bright eyed, responsive, and have that remarkable “glow” that really healthy, vital animals have.
Those are the animals that smell fresh all the time without bathing, those who are a pleasure to pet and even massage, they feel so good to your touch. There’s a special vibrancy and attractiveness in a vital animal. Everyone wants to stop and say hi and pet these guys.
Your vital animals respond appropriately to things like wounds: they just heal up, without you having to do much to help. They respond appropriately to the stressors of life: your absence, a sudden change in diet (when you ran out of chicken and suddenly offered beef), a raging storm, a cold snap, an aggressive dog who runs up, a bike that sails down the trail past them, or a visitor with a booming voice.
Vital animals are adaptable, in other words. What an amazing thing to behold.
A Cool Guy Example
One of my favorite patients who I got to work on intermittently throughout his long life was Nick, an Akita/Husky mix who first came to me as a pup 17 years ago with “puppy strangles.” He was feverish, had a swollen face, multiple abscesses, diarrhea and a lot of pain. And guess what? It all started 36 hours after he was vaccinated!
As a budding homeopath, I was able to get him off the steroids he was on (at ten weeks old!) and restore health to his little being. As he matured, so did my homeopathic chops.
Fairly early on, his owner noticed that Nick just had this uncanny ability to diffuse dog fights. It didn’t matter if some dog was rushing him with aggression or if he was viewing two other dogs mixing it up, Nick could just walk up, “be present” in the melee, and it would dissolve. He didn’t even need to bark or growl, just stand there in his integrity and the fight would sputter to a halt.
That’s Vital. Adaptable, even in chaos and high emotions.
The N Word: Might be Good
We just need to be careful about it. Using Natural may not get you to Vital.
As I’m sure you’ve noticed as you peruse the interwebs, there are all sorts of things out there that are offered to you in the name of “natural health.” That’s the N word I’m talking about.
What the heck is natural, anyway?
Examples of natural substances: strychnine (which comes from a plant), ricin (from another common plant source), hemlock, crude oil, fish oil, arsenic, lead, mercury, chlorella, and transfer factors.
How do you think about offers made to you using the N word? I’m usually quite skeptical at first, until I dig a bit deeper to see if it’s desirable and has some proven record.
N for NOT!
Here’s one of my favorites that I think tries to take advantage of popular perception: Chem-Free. You’ve seen their trucks on the road, maybe even hired them to do some “natural” pest control in your house or on your premises.
Here’s their online headline for my area:
“Chem-free is Austin’s Leader in Organic Pest and Lawn Services”
I’ve seen them in action and smelled what they were applying. It was oddly “natural” smelling, lavender or something similar. When I asked, “what’s the active ingredient you’re using?” the answer was, “Permethrin, it comes from chrysanthemums.”
So, if you care to look up permethrins, you’ll find that they don’t come from chrysanthemums, they come from a laboratory, and are classified as pesticides. They are neurotoxic, contribute to resistant populations of pests, and while not highly toxic to some mammals, are very toxic to fish and extremely toxic to bees. Oh, and cats can die from their application.
The O Word (No, NOT Oprah!)
Another popular and thereby dangerous word is “organic.” You see it popping up in ever greater numbers of products. It has two distinct meanings, and probably a lot of misuse, intentional and otherwise:
- A product that was farmed with organic methods, free of synthetic pesticides, using natural source fertilizers, on soil that hasn’t had pesticides for a certain number of years, etc. Think organically grown oranges or broccoli.
- A compound composed of carbon and hydrogen molecules, a chemistry term. Think benzene. Gasoline. Lysol (all quite toxic, by the way!).
As products with organic status often fetch higher prices, lots of marketers will misuse this term. While organic produce can be regulated to use this term, “organic” cosmetics are not at all.
You might imagine pest control companies using this term freely, as permethrins and even DDT would, chemically at least, fall into this category. To whit, Chem-free’s headline above.
Even Better: the H Word (Or: Does N = H?)
I see the word “holistic” often misused as well, but when used properly, in the right context, it will get your animals much healthier and more quickly vital than either the N word or the O word.
Holistic medicine is much more than substituting something natural or organic for a drug. The basis for my drug free heartworm program, successful for over 20 years in hundreds of my patients, is based on the holistic approach.
Holistic assumes one is looking at a bigger picture than just a quick substitution of natural for artificial products. Will giving the herb black walnut, a known killer of worms, prevent heartworm? I have no idea. Might it have undesirable side effects? I’d have to see a lot of real life patients demonstrating both effective heartworm prevention and safety from its use before making up my mind on this.
What makes a vet holistic? Does a holistic vet use acupuncture on those animals she vaccinates? Or use strong herbs to repel fleas instead of pesticides? Or sell “natural” pet food that avoids grains but is full of other starches, like tapioca or potato? I knew a veterinarian years ago who climbed the leadership ranks of the AHVMA, yet failed to stop repeatedly vaccinating his patients. He may still be clinging to this wrong idea.
— Carna4 Pet Food (@Carna4natural) June 11, 2013
The most holistic approach to medicine I’ve found is homeopathy. It will flat out fail the idle practitioner who’s had a bit of training in it but fails to look at the big picture of the patient. Same thing for the vet who offers it along with suppressive allopathic drugs. A “foot in two canoes” makes for an unsteady practice. “Do I suppress this guy’s symptoms or work with them to heal him?”
Even Samuel Hahnemann, homeopathy’s brilliant founder, recognized that the whole patient, and all of his symptoms had to be matched with the remedy chosen if that whole patient was to get well.
Further, he recognized “impediments to cure,” a prescient departure from the doctors of his day. If someone was living in a damp basement, eating poor quality food, those things needed to change, or even the best remedy would not be able to help.
Words. Be Careful Out There!
So, you need to be discerning as a consumer, all the more so as these terms gain popularity. Natural, organic, holistic; they can be and regularly are misapplied, and putting full trust into something so labeled without doing your homework could have unintended negative results.
What are your favorite uses of these words that make you shake your head?