When we’re not feeling well, it’s common to want a “magic pill” to cure all that ails us. But Dr. Josh Axe learned from personal experience that there are far better ways to heal beyond relying on the pill-popping mindset of Western medicine.
In his new book, Ancient Remedies (Little, Brown Spark, 2021), Axe offers readers simple, holistic practices for treating chronic pain and disease, revitalizing their bodies and improving their overall health. We caught up with him to learn more.
What inspired you to write this book?
Growing up, my family was into fitness but not natural health. When I was in seventh grade, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 40. She went through traditional treatments of chemotherapy and a mastectomy. I remember her losing her hair and aging in a matter of weeks, and I thought there must be a better way to get somebody healthy. This was the start of my natural health journey.
I went on to get degrees as a chiropractor, certified nutritionist and doctor of natural medicine. When I was a year from graduating, my mom called and shared she had lung cancer. Her oncologist recommended radiation and surgery.
She and I were both inspired to treat her naturally at first. I started reading research on how to fight cancer with herbs like turmeric, astragalus and reishi mushrooms. She ate a diet of vegetables, plus berries and a bit of wild salmon and chicken broth. She took some natural supplements. She meditated. After four months, her oncologist revealed her tumors had shrunk in half. Nine months later, she was in complete remission. I saw the power firsthand of using ancient remedies to heal.
Do you advise patients to look into natural remedies first before considering pharmaceuticals?
If someone is already under another doctor’s care, I won’t tell them to go against that doctor’s recommendations. But when I’m caring for someone, I’m going to recommend in most cases that they focus on diet and lifestyle before anything else. To me, what we call our primary care system is really emergency care. If a patient is still having a problem even after changing their diet and lifestyle, I will suggest going with mainstream medicine, but knowing that there will be a side effect.
Please share a few reasons why ancient remedies are a better choice than Western-style medical options.
More than 400,000 people die per year from medical mistakes, according to evidence published in The Journal of Patient Safety. Ancient remedies address the root cause of the disease and don’t just cover up the symptom. They are smarter, safer and more effective. They really work with your body.
Ancient remedies like turmeric have been proven to be more effective long-term at treating many illnesses than medications. One particular study showed it to be equally effective at treating arthritis without the side effects, plus it helps improve other areas of health, including the heart, liver and brain. Also, it has been shown to be more effective than Prozac at treating depression.
You write that ancient medicine heals the underlying root cause of illness. Can you explain this a bit?
Let’s use hypothyroidism as an example. If someone goes in for conventional treatment, they will be given a medication called Synthroid. This changes your thyroid hormones, but with major side effects, including depleting your calcium, iron and phosphorus.
In Chinese medicine, the root cause of most diseases is issues with emotions, diet and lifestyle. Thyroid disease is caused by stress and worry. So, you want to treat that. The thyroid needs nutrients like B vitamins and selenium. It also needs phytonutrients found in red, orange and yellow vegetables and dark, leafy greens. Ashwagandha is an herb that has been shown to improve both hypo- and hyperthyroidism by calming your body’s level of stress so that it can get back into balance.