Danielle Volker, a working professional from Cape Town, South Africa, emailed me with an early rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis, which is rare. Most people come to me when they have exhausted all options and the pain has seeped into their soul. Danielle’s early decision led to a remarkable recovery that’s inspiring to everyone who gets diagnosed. It could be any disease, if you choose the path of holistic healing early, there’s no other way except the healthy one. And Danielle led the path. A beautifully expressed account of a young woman who is mature beyond her years, and deeply understood the meaning of holistic healing so early in life.
“I received an email from my rheumatologist on my 26th birthday confirming my diagnosis for Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). When I met with her the following day she told me that there was no cure and that treatment would be lifelong and aggressive. She also informed me that my meds would cause nausea, vomiting and fatigue so recommended I take it on Fridays so I have the weekend to deal with the side effects. The next two weeks that followed had me grappling with frightening realizations having spoken to others that suffered or knew someone with RA, so naturally, I took to the internet to do some research. I quickly learned that the meds that I was taking are also used to treat cancer patients. Unbeknownst to me, my rheumatologist had prescribed chemotherapy drugs. This was inconceivable to me; I couldn’t comprehend that I needed to take chemo drugs for the rest of my life for my RA. I needed another option, so I began to research alternative treatment.
Enter, Rachna Chhachhi. She suffered terribly from RA herself and had lost 60% of her hair thanks to the chemo drugs. She eventually decided that she had had enough and went on to research other options. Through incredible courage, a thoroughly researched and carefully devised treatment plan she reversed her own RA, became a qualified nutritional therapist and is now helping individuals around the world with chronic disease reversal. My decision was easy; I’ve always been an advocate of holistic healing over conventional medicine. And so my treatment plan with Rachna began.
Inflammation inside the body is the root of all pain and most illnesses. Western medicine only has one primary treatment for inflammation: anti-inflammatory drugs which have serious, sometimes debilitating side-effects, which many times outstrip the inflammation itself in terms of impact on the body and its organs. Methotrexate (chemo drug) doesn’t treat the root cause of RA, but the symptoms of the disease. An immunosuppressant, it slowly shuts down the immune system, leads to liver and kidney problems and can potentially result in organ failure. My purpose was to root out the inflammation to be disease-free. I planned to tackle what doctors deemed a lifelong disease by introducing healthier alternatives and eradicating stress, thereby reducing inflammation and plugging deficiency gaps. There is only one way to reduce inflammation without taking harmful drugs: to eat anti-inflammatory foods and practice an anti-inflammatory lifestyle. And the rewards are a youthful, disease-free, energetic you. Now which anti-inflammatory drug prescribed by doctors can promise such a reward? None. “1/4 of what you eat keeps you alive. 3/4 of what you eat keeps your doctor alive.” – Dr Andrew Saul.
One of the major underlying causes of RA is an accumulation of nutritional deficiencies. Since RA is primarily an immune system disorder if the immune system is strengthened with the help of nutrition, the symptoms of RA reduce drastically. With this in mind, I introduced nutritional supplements, from vitamins and minerals to probiotics and Ayurvedic plant extracts with known anti-inflammatory effects.
Initially, the major shift in my routine and new habits had me constantly trying to catch up with myself, physically, mentally and emotionally. A few weeks in and I was in my groove. I settled into my new routine and was starting to enjoy the process of being a work in progress. At week five, things began to intensify as I had now completely stopped the chemo meds, something I had been dreading. Though this meant that the side effects would no longer be a part of my future, I was anxious that the pain would return once I stopped the meds. Before my diagnosis, I would wake up in the morning unable to make a fist. I had trouble opening jars, taps, using cutlery, doing up buttons, writing, turning the ignition on in my car, changing gears, the list goes on. As the day went on the pain and stiffness would dissolve and by the evening it had subsided by about 80%. Though I could expect it all to return again when I woke up the next morning. This is typical of RA.
Off the meds, I was now in total control of my healing. It required ALL of my focus and energy. In order for it to work, I had to commit completely and surrender to the process, to change, to transformation. Every day was embraced with intention and full awareness. I had to silence my mind and summon only good things into my life, to focus only on my healing. I didn’t allow any thoughts or emotions rooted in fear or doubt to distract me from my recovery. Cultivating any negativity would ultimately harvest into stress and set me back so I had to consciously abandon and eliminate anything that didn’t help me evolve. Any emotional baggage had to go. The more I practised expending my energy wisely, the more it became a habit. I threw myself into yoga where I learnt to practise non-attachment and grew to fully understand the connection between the mind, body and spirit and that healing (even a disease) is ultimately a journey inwards. I also didn’t stop reading; I needed to educate myself and learn as much as possible to be able to understand and internalize what I was dealing with. “It is paradoxical, yet true, to say, that the more we know, the more ignorant we become in the absolute sense, for it is only through enlightenment that we become conscious of our limitations. Precisely one of the most gratifying results of intellectual evolution is the conscious opening up of new and greater prospects.” – Nikola Tesla
After six weeks of following my treatment plan, I had the same blood tests were done which had confirmed my diagnosis for RA. My vitamin levels had improved drastically, indicative of strengthened immunity, and my inflammation levels were negative which meant I had a good anti-inflammatory environment inside my body. In essence, I was free of RA; I had successfully reversed the disease in six weeks that doctors deem lifelong. But it was far from easy. It involves more than just willpower; it requires hard work and commitment, establishing healthy habits and choosing to devote your time and energy to self-improvement. It’s about outgrowing smaller ways of thinking and living and moving into something that’s bigger and beyond yourself. It’s been a truly humbling and enlightening experience, leaving me with an abundance of gratitude for my health and general wellbeing, and a far greater understanding of self, the body, the mind, and how they operate congruently with one another. I’ve learnt how to consciously disregard anything negative in life, assimilate my thoughts with control and intention, and to practice stillness, mindfulness and gratitude every day.
There are many individuals out there that are experiencing the same or similar pain and/or frustration with their own diseases. A holistic approach doesn’t pertain only to RA. Through disciplined food and lifestyle choices, you have the ability to reverse a platter of diseases and root out the pain. The problem is that many individuals are not aware of the power of holistic healing and just how conducive it is to general wellbeing. Conventional doctors also lead us to believe that diseases are inherited and that there is little that can be done when it comes to the genes that we’re born with. What few understand is that genetic predisposition intersects with experience. Behavioural changes can have a profound effect on your health, and in many cases, override what your genes have predetermined for you. Your inherent capabilities are boundless; there is so much material out there readily available to propel you into your journey of self-evolution.
“Fight, with all the strength at your disposal, against the idea that you are name-able and describable. Refuse to think of yourself in terms of this or that. There is no other way out of misery, which you have created for yourself through blind acceptance without investigation.” – Nisargadatta Maharaj.
If this post does anything I hope it enlightens someone, anyone, out there searching for answers. To bring subjects such as this to light, and to bring awareness to others that western medicine isn’t always the only option we have when it comes to treating diseases. I don’t wish to gain anything from this but to be a catalyst for positive change.”
— Danielle Volker, 26 years, Cape Town, South Africa