“Who has woe? Who has sorrow?  Who has strife? Who has complaints? Who has needless bruises?” You may not recognize it, but this is a Bible verse, Proverbs 23:29. This verse sums up the aging process for many, so this column is for some of you older folks, but it is a smart person who seeks wisdom at a young age. Read on, because it may save you some sorrow and strife, for at any age, you can complain about your health. 

C.A.M. is Complementary Alternative Medicine and it is getting more attention as we accept the limitations of western medicine. For the most part, U.S. health care focuses on surgery and the writing of prescriptions, but healing can come from many alternative interventions. I knew little of health alternatives until I was in college getting my master’s degree at Fresno State University. I hurt my back changing a tire and I had bad lower back pain for a couple of months. A trained masseur friend of mine gave me a book on “Reflexology” which I read and followed its directions. Reflexology is massaging the hands and feet in specific locations which then leads to pain reduction and a better functioning body. I experienced 90% pain relief in 24 hours. That was back in 1980. I have been rubbing my hands and feet ever since.

One problem that arose from the back injury was my first migraine headache in 1982. It was a couple of years later when I met a lady chiropractor in North San Diego County. I had just had my third migraine in two years. She said to come to the office and offered me free spinal adjustment. I have had no migraines for the 35 years since. These alternatives were both free and freed me of my pain. I have been getting my spine realigned since the '80s. I still will have occasional back problems, but never as severe, and my recovery time is quicker. Also, in the pain reduction search, I have pursued acupuncture. There is a very good acupuncturist in the shopping center at 4th and Ross in El Centro, in the same building as Sobe’s Mexican Restaurant. Again, a no-med alternative to pain and physical stress problems. 

A couple of reasons for this article on alternative health care: I have known of the benefits of medical marijuana since the '70s, for both glaucoma and the side effects of chemotherapy. We are going through a cultural revolution related to weed and our well-being. Today, our insurance companies are getting on board and covering chiropractics and acupuncture, but medical marijuana benefits may be left on the drawing board. Insurance companies are covering more CAM and investing more in preventive and curative care alternatives.  

Recently, I was introduced to another alternative health methodology, “cryotherapy.” We know the benefits of cold on injury and trauma, and I went to “Desert Freeze” a new outpatient therapy center. For some reason, a couple of tendons in my right foot decided to get inflamed. I did my due diligence, went to the doc, got x-rays, ibuprofen, cold packs and RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevatation) but after 8 weeks, progress was slow. The wife bugged me to check out cryotherapy, and to get her to shut the pie hole, I went for one treatment. She was probably tired of me limping around and the mood swings that go with chronic panic, so she was pressing me to get on the "bio freeze" bandwagon. A high school friend of hers owns the mini-mall on Aten road, next to Brickhouse Deli, where my cool care center is located. Again, pain has diminished a lot after one treatment and I was back to shooting hoops again at the ripe old age of 66. Painless exercise is better than the painful alternative. 

My message to you, my ailing friend, is your health is your responsibility. It is also the responsibility of your health insurance carrier. See if you are covered for alternatives. Go check out some of the therapies which in the past were referred to a “kookie,” “wacho” or the domain of “quacks.”  Health is your only wealth but it is your responsibility to protect and increase it. You may need help, and heaven does help those who help themselves, especially with the CAM plan in your community.

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