The Last Best Cure

I just finished The Last Best Cure by Donna Jackson Nakazawa, author of The Autoimmune Epidemic.

A sufferer from autoimmune diseases herself, in this book she takes a year long journey into the world of alternative medicine. Her quest is to find joy and see if she can improve her health even more than her drug therapy has accomplished.

I was a little wary of this book because it screamed self-help esoteric hippies, but I was such a fan of her previous book, I thought I’d give it a try.

This book really resonated with me. It isn’t over the top, she’s as skeptical as I was at the start of her journey. And since she’s a science writer, there’s an emphasis on how these alternative therapies may be working. This is a good read for anyone feeling like they’re at the end of their rope with Western medicine, or just curious about how yoga, talk therapy, acupuncture, acupressure and tai chi could help them.

The start of her quest leads her to therapy to discuss childhood trauma (ACEs). She, like me, is pretty skeptical. She’s a grown woman who doesn’t resent her childhood and, though she may have had some trauma (father’s death, distant mother), she knows other kids had it way worse. But there actually is some science behind journeying back into your past. A study showed that every trauma (ACE score) you have before age 18 increases a woman’s likeliness of being ill or hospitalized with an autoimmune disease by 20%. That’s huge. It basically works like this, as a kid, you develop responses to stressful and traumatic situations that serve you in the moment. As you move into adulthood, you carry those learned stress responses with you, but they may not be the healthiest coping mechanisms and may not be serving you anymore. Luckily, according to recent science, the plasticity of our brain allows us to re-train our stress responses.

As Donna sets out to re-train her stress responses and find joy, she tries out various forms of meditation, yoga, acupuncture and moving qi. Each of these were well worth the read. In fact, the book may have finally pushed me to try out meditation. (I’ll let you know how it goes…)

In a nutshell:

But something else happens as we look through that quiet window into our own experience. “When we put down the mantle of stress that we carry every moment, we become keen observers of what those stresses are,” Janet says. “I watch, over time, as the women I treat finally start to see the blocks and behaviors that have been holding them back. The grief they can’t let go of, the patterns they’ve been repeating that are keeping them stuck.” … “Becoming that calmer, wiser observer unleashes something in them – their own healing qi. Their back pain gets better, their fatigue lifts, their hormonal imbalances balance out. Their physical symptoms subside. And at the same time, they feel a new energy – that allows them to become who they are meant to be.”

Check out more here:

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  1. #1 by Jim Brennan on April 15, 2013 - 4:05 pm

    Really interesting post, especially about ACE effects and remedies.

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