Useful in conditions that involve itching and burning.
The Shoemaker's Child
“The shoemaker’s children go barefoot.” The saying implies that one’s profession goes unpracticed in his own personal life. Here’s a story of my re-discovery of one of the most fundamental of naturopathic nutritional practices, and its effect on my own daughter.
I have a fourteen year-old daughter named Ellen who has worn many of her father’s naturopathic “shoes” in her lifetime to deal with a variety of health challenges. When she was a toddler, homeopathic medicine and a very strict therapeutic diet (the specific carbohydrate diet) cured Ellen’s failure to thrive. In preschool, homeopathy helped her get over a paralyzing social phobia. As a school child she suffered from periodic migraines, which became less and less frequent with homeopathy, good nutrition and a good sleep schedule.
When she was eight, Ellen ate a dairy-free diet for a week and had one of the best soccer games of her young career. She had begun playing at the age of seven. She loved the game from the start, and she had good skills, but she was so timid that she was ineffective on the field. Her last game of the season followed her dairy-free week. Suffice it to say that her coach gave her the “most improved player” award at the end of that season. She was an entirely different player when she didn’t eat dairy products!
As is often the case, we drift away from that which is best for us. How meaningful would life be if the things that mattered were easy? At the age of fourteen, my daughter continues to play soccer, now at a much more competitive level than when she was eight. She still eats dairy products, and she still struggles with timidity on the field that prevents her from bringing her technical skills and athleticism to bear.
After a weekend tournament in the middle of August in which she struggled to contribute, she asked me if she could try that diet again. I was eating gluten- and dairy-free myself at the time and encouraged her to do the same. We agreed on a meal plan. The next weekend, she played the best soccer of her life. Parents of the other girls on her team confirmed what my wife and I believed we were seeing on the field. Her game had moved to a whole new level. She even scored the first goal of her career at the more competitive “classic” level!
Clearly this experiment does not yet constitute tight adherence to the scientific method. However, it remains quite clear that gluten (a protein found in wheat, oats, rye and barley) and milk products, affect Ellen’s play. It doesn’t change her physical ability, but she plays with more confidence and drive. There’s something in her brain that works better when she is avoiding certain foods.
The implications of this fact range far beyond the soccer field. If she can approach soccer with more confidence and capability, think of what the effects are on the rest of her life – her schoolwork, relationships, career aspirations, and perhaps her physical health as well. If you have a child with a learning disability, ADD/ADHD, or any other mental or emotional issue, consider trying this diet. It might make a profound difference. If you need help, get it from the internet, or a bookstore, or at a health food store, or from a qualified health care practitioner.
We’re eating healthier as a family these days than when Ellen was eight, and we are all committed to continuing our gluten- and dairy-free diet. Only time will tell what its effects will be on all of our health. Many of Americans’ favorite foods are rich in gluten and dairy products. Consider that we have to give up typical treats like pizza, macaroni and cheese, bagels, cereal, cookies, pastas, cheeses, and ice cream. Yes – even ice cream! (Fortunately, you can find many gluten- and dairy-free versions of these foods.)
I’m also recommending gluten-free diets to my patients with autoimmune and other immune system dysfunction. Gluten often stimulates an over exuberant immune system reaction, leading to a number of diseases. Gluten can also stimulate receptors in the brain that are also stimulated by opiate drugs. This is probably why behavior can change when gluten is removed from your diet.
I encourage you to see how a gluten- and dairy free diet affects your life and your health. This shoemaker will do his best to keep his family in the best possible “shoes.” And hopefully those shoes will continue to play some mean soccer!