liveonearth (liveonearth) wrote,

Herb Fest Ruminations: on Believing (or NOT)

The Herb Fest was good. I met some really cool people. I found the ND population to be more cliquish than the rest, so I wandered among the botanists and MD's, herbalists and nutritionists, asking everyone their opinions about the lectures. I got a great many opinions and came to a grasp of what people believe in these for example, I would hazard a guess that maybe half of the people at the herb fest believe in past lives. Maybe more. They believe in reincarnation and that your current life is a product of what you did in past lives. Do you? If you do, I'd love to hear the story. I confess: I'm a skeptic. As I've said before I don't "believe" in reincarnation...though it is widely accepted among the alternative healing community.

When I ended up in ND circles I was curious to find out what people really think about homeopathy. It turns out that budding naturopaths do, by and large, "believe". I have only had one naturopathic student talk to me about NOT believing it. Each believer has a story about the moment that they came to believe. It is generally some amazing cure. The crowd told me to use homeopathy on animals, because they don't have expectations, and that would prove homeopathy for me. It was kind of refreshing to hear one practice ND and speaker say that he doesn't "do" homeopathy. I don't think so far that I will do it either. I am open to being convinced but it will take more than all these lovely tales of someone associating a dramatic change with a dose of something. It reminds me of religious people, looking for a sign. Most of the time you don't look for signs, but anything that happens after a dose is a "sign" that makes you think everything is somehow different.

Don't get me wrong, I do believe in "energy" or qi, because I have had ample personal demonstration of it. And I don't doubt that many people have amazing shifts in qi from taking in a few drops of a strange dilute substance. But all these stories don't constitute PROOF of causality in my mind. Association is enough for it to become widely practiced and accepted, which then culturally generates a willingness to believe. I won't believe it is anything but placebo effect until there is some science backing it up. So far those research papers have not been showing up in my life. And so far, I can't tell that all these homeopathics that I am taking are doing anything.

I am the test pony. I am currently taking UNDA numbers 1, 5, 228: 5 drops under the tongue 3 times a day and keep them in order from smallest to largest number. This little ritual has no meaning for me. I need more of a suggestion as to what it might do. If they were to tell me what it would do, and then I would have that happen to me after the fact, that would increase my willingness to believe.

At my school I am required to take 5 quarter-long courses in homeopathy. Being an unbeliever as I am, I will keep my mouth shut. I hope that I am convinced, because if the evidence isn't there, and it is purely a process of indoctrination, I will not just pretend that I believe. I'm resistant to brainwashing. I have to be convinced.

Back to the Herb Fest, there was a range of belief regarding diet. There were the vegetarians, who were still fighting for the rightness of their way. The more they shouted out about the science supporting their claim that a vegetarian diet is right for humans, the less anyone paid attention to them. There was a showdown during a class on insulin resistance, in which the speaker, who was suggesting that a meat-heavy low-carb diet is fine for people who are insulin resistant, was confronted by a few vegetarians who wanted to fight the good fight of proving you can be healthy on vegetables alone. Vegetarians consider BEANS to be a protein, whereas low carb eaters call them a carb. There is a new population of people who used to be avid vegetarians who are now avid meat eaters because they became convinced that it was the healthy thing to do. They can argue "both sides". It was an entertaining spectacle.

The food, unfortunately, was entirely vegetarian and lacking in the proteins that I have been instructed to eat at every single meal. I do not have to eat a LOT of meat, but I do need to eat at least some nuts or cheese with every meal. At this retreat I was taking more than my share of sesame seeds and goat cheese from the salad condiments, trying to get my proteins and fats. They ran out of hardboiled eggs in the morning so I ate a lot of yogurt, because everything else on offer was pure carb. It was good, mind you, with lots of fresh blueberries which everybody loves.

The lectures were all over the place, from hard science (neurotransmitters) to clinical (pain management) to woo woo. There were a lot of references to Chinese herbs and to the system of herbs being warming, cooling, drying, etc. There were also classes on pulse and tongue diagnosis, which I did not attend. I am an unbeliever there too. I am interested in medicines that have been around for thousands of years AND we know something about how they work. It's just my Western mind, being obstinant, I know.
Tags: belief, culture, diet, education, energy, herbs, homeopathy, insulin, medicine, naturopathy, reincarnation, science, vegetarians

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