The purpose of our “Nature’s Pharmacy” section is to educate you on the power of food as medicine, and subsequently empower and encourage you to make food your friend as opposed to a feared foe!! After 30 years of conventional treatment for Anorexia and bulimia, learning to view food in this light and re-nourishing my body with the specific micro-nutrients that it was lacking (i.e. using food as medicine) is what has helped me more than anything on my road to recovery. While I know that everyone is different and one size does not fit all, I hope that you might be inspired and motivated to try this kind of revitalizing approach to recovery. Read my article on Hippocrates' Influence - Food and Nature vs. Pharmacology below.
The Greatest Medicine of all is teaching people how not to need it" (Hippocrates)
It is common practice for hospital to prescribe high calorie liquid supplements - administered either orally or through nasogastric feeding - as a part of the re-feeding process for those with anorexia. While nasogastric feeding may be necessary in life-threatening cases, RED HOUSE challenges the use of these pharmaceutical supplements for those who do not display risk factor for re-feeding syndrome. RED HOUSE promotes and encourages the use of whole-food smoothies in preference to artificial pharmaceutical oral supplementation. If you or your child requires re-feeding for anorexia, READ MORE...
(See also: Your Treatment Rights)
Hippocrates' Influence - Food and nature vs. pharmacology
The pervasiveness and convenience of prescription drugs in our modern day society has led to neglect for what we know is a better and more effective option – that is: Food as Medicine. The advancements in modern medicine are a wonderful blessing and there are indisputably many situations where pharmaceuticals are appropriate, irreplaceable, and life-saving. However, equally indisputable is the over-prescription, over use and dependence on many pharmaceuticals which could be replaced by a change in diet and lifestyle. This is particularly evident in mental health care. Can we find a way to reduce the reliance on, or even the dosage of pharmaceutical drugs within a better health care system.
The profusion and readiness with which psychiatrists (and other medical practitioners) prescribe pharmaceutical drugs would be questioned when considering Hippocrates principles on ethical medicine. Unfortunately in-depth nutrition and lifestyle education does not occur during westernised medical training programs, and we do not have a healthcare system that supports the time and investment required to help people make diet and lifestyle changes that are necessary for better health. Nor do we have the public policies in place to create a society that supports affordable and convenient healthy foods. Sadly, it has become more affordable and convenient to simply “pop a pill” to mask the symptoms of modern ailments than to actually address the problem holistically using nutrition and lifestyle.
While many medical professional will warn against the potential side effects and dangers associated with natural supplements, the potential harm caused by excessive use of pharmaceutical drugs is severely downplayed. Official UK and EU data reveals that “adverse reactions to pharmaceutical drugs are 62,000 times more likely to kill you than food supplements, and 7,750 times more likely to kill you than herbal remedies”. Further, while death from food poisoning is relatively rare, “you are 900 times more likely to die from food poisoning than nutritional supplements”. Deaths caused by prescription drugs now exceed those caused by illicit drugs, and antidepressants are amongst the top 5 categories of drugs responsible for death.
"The best doctor gives the least medicine." (Benjamin Franklin)
As a public health professional I urge governments to ensure medical practitioners are trained to utilize nutrition in preference to pharmaceuticals where appropriate, and support a system which enables them to devote the time and resources necessary to work with patients to implement healthy nutrition and lifestyle habits. Technology and the fast-paced modern day lifestyle has created a shift from valuing traditional methods of farming and whole-food preparation, to valuing convenience, despite the dramatic costs to health. We must take Okinawans, the world’s longest-lived people, refer to the food that they eat as “nuchi gusui” which roughly translates as “medicine for life.” While it certainly feels like an uphill battle it is my impassioned hope that one day our doctors and healthcare system will fully acknowledge and utilise the power of nutrition and lifestyle, not only in the prevention of disease, but also in healing. I dedicate myself to this specifically in relation to eating disorders and other mental illness.
Due to the nature of the illness, nutrient deficiencies are extremely prevalent amongst people with all types eating disorders. Thus, there is (arguably) no other illness to which the adage "Food as Medicine" could be more relevant and applicable! At RED HOUSE we do not promote supplements in preference to food, however, for those who are really struggling to consume and maintain enough nutrients through food there are some great supplements you can take to ensure you are getting enough vitamins, minerals, important digestive enzymes, essential fatty acids, and amino acids. While we do not encourage you to stop taking pharmaceutical medications without the support and supervision of a medical practitioner, we do encourage you to question whether they are truly the best thing for you, or whether they can be effectively replaced by food and/or a natural product. Anorexia (and other eating disorders) cause malnutrition in the body and the brain, and this cannot be corrected with drugs. Antidepressants and other psychotropic medications are commonly prescribed, but have been proven ineffective, especially in treating anorexia. We strongly recommend you read Dr Greenblatts books, 'Answers to Anorexia,' and 'Answers to Binge Eating' to understand the evidence-based research behind treating eating disorders with the "Food as Medicine" approach that we use at RED HOUSE. (Also, view Article: Why Plants Are (Usually) Better Than Drugs by Dr. Andrew Weil).