Before I share my thoughts here, please above all know that I am not against natural remedies or attempts to strive and ensure that we are in general eating/using more natural products and medicines. I use natural remedies myself! I use winterbloom (“witch hazel”) as an astringent, I use baking soda if I get heartburn, and I put frankincense in my beard (though only because I like the smell). I generally try to keep my diet fairly natural, and I generally try to stick with foods that have short ingredients lists without confusing words. I’m a big advocate of strenuous living and I oppose sedentary lifestyles. I am, of course, very much opposed to the sin of gluttony — now, if only I could master temperance myself!!
And plenty other things.
I just see too high a degree of focus upon food purity, medicine purity, “natural living,” etc., in some circles who follow prophecy. I do not, however, have any individual in mind as I write this post and I kindly ask that whoever reads it make no assumptions about my motives, as such assumptions would doubtless be mistaken.
I find this excessive focus problematic for several reasons:
Combining medicinal plants along with an apocalyptic prophetic message risks giving the wrong impression. It makes some people terrified that, if they do not have a whole arsenal of these alleged remedies, they are not ready for the times that are coming. What a damaging and false impression that is! Here is what you need — and all you need — to be ready for the times ahead: a soul right with God, filled with trust in Him, doing His Will, and striving to live in His Will. That alone is necessary, and that alone is sufficient.
It is also not true that some remedy being “natural” means that it is necessarily safe. Anyone who thinks otherwise should let me know how they feel a day after walking through a poison ivy patch. People are constantly being injured or sickened by their attempts to self-medicate with “natural remedies,” when they do so on the advice of non-medical professionals. “Natural = safe and good” was only true before the fall.
I also do not agree with the tendency I have observed in some circles to categorically denounce “Big Pharma” and “Big Agra” and anything related to them as practically the devil incarnate and correspondingly categorically reject any claims from any official sources of medical or food information (for example, the FDA). I am well aware of the evil in “Big Pharma” and I am well aware that the FDA has told many lies. But this does not give us warrant to become idealogues about the matter. I am also aware of the evil in Big Auto, Big Oil, Big Housing, Big Airline, Big Tech, and on the list goes; yet I still take advantage of the benefits afforded by these institutions when doing so is called for — testified to by the fact that you are now reading this post.
If “Big Pharma” and all mainstream medical sources really are dead set on attacking “Heaven’s remedies,” and destroying our bodies to “perpetually keep us sick so that they can keep getting rich off of us,” then why are these very sources usually quite fair when dealing with natural remedies? I see no compelling evidence of some deliberate and conspired Big-Pharma-FDA-Big-Agra effort to keep the population perpetually sick or eliminate natural remedies. Quite the contrary, I know people in these institutions — even devout souls — who sincerely are trying to help their fellow man.
Some circles constantly draw attention to the number of people Big Pharma’s products have allegedly killed (and, again, I know that Big Pharma has done horribly evil things that must be denounced!!), but what about the number of people that have been saved by modern advancements in antibiotics, smallpox vaccines, ivermectin, chloroquine, surgeries, certain pesticides that have saved many millions in Africa from starvation, etc.? This is scarcely ever acknowledged by these circles.
And where ought we get reliable medical information from? Very, very few of us have the expertise and training required to analyze these issues on our own; so are we to then blindly put our trust in untrustworthy celebrity osteopaths? Or are we to surgically select only those doctors who confirm our own opinions, and trust only them (which is materially identical to simply only trusting ourselves)? That is clearly not a good option; nor is a non-expert playing the part of an expert. There are so many armchair Google-warriors out there with blogs and YouTube (or Brighteon) channels who suppose that as long as they can find studies discussing the hypothesis they wish to hold as true, they are thereby entitled to claim that the hypothesis is nearly certain. But this approach is deeply misleading. For it is not merely the creation of these studies that takes a true expert, working within the field of his expertise; rather, such expertise is also needed to understand the studies’ implications, compare/contrast them with other studies, and come to actionable conclusions about what the overall body of scholarly literature on the matter advises.
Back to the matter at hand, I simply do not agree that we have a Heavenly mandate to now devote ourselves to naturopathy and to reject technological advancements in the realm of agriculture. I have read thousands upon thousands of pages of trustworthy modern private revelation, and I do not discern the slightest sense from the prophetic consensus that such a calling exists. In fact, I can only think of one seer whose messages might give this sense, and I have some serious concerns about her messages entirely outside of this issue. What I do generally see — not only in private revelation but also in the teachings of the saints — is that, with the exception of Faith and Morals and anything related to them (e.g. modesty, types of entertainment enjoyed, types of language used), we are generally called to be “ordinary” people in the time/place/nation/culture/context within which God has placed us. As St. Ambrose told St. Augustine, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” Obviously, Catholic Faith and Morals and what is related to them — our striving to become saints — will in many ways look extraordinary in this perverse generation we find ourselves in; that, indeed, remains our calling. Our calling is not, however, to pretend that we are 16th century European farmers whom God mistakenly caused to be born in the wrong century. Please, have nothing to do with the sin, error, and ugliness of this age, no matter how “backwards” your peers may view you for that. On the other hand, you should generally have no qualms in your conscience in eating, purchasing products, seeking medical care, etc., similarly to how your peers do these same things. I can assure you that there is no sin in purchasing food that was heated to 140 degrees (that is, pasteurized) or getting radiation therapy if you have cancer or using cleaning products with bleach in them.
It is, in any event, a non-starter for myself and for the vast majority of people who populate this planet: I, like them, cannot afford to fill my pantry with expensive essential oils and medicinal plants (like it or not, the reality is that these are far more expensive and far less accessible than the mainstream products for the same ailments/issues), nor — with a small salary and 4 children — can I afford to quadruple my grocery bill by buying only food that is organic, probiotic, grass-fed, raw, local-sourced, unpasteurized, etc. etc. etc.
We should also consider the false dichotomy often fabricated between “natural remedies” (often labelled and promoted as “Heaven’s remedies”) and “mainstream medicine,” as if the two have no overlap or are always fundamentally opposed. In fact, much if not most “mainstream medicine” is indeed not far removed from a directly natural remedy, and even all “synthetic” medicines are just rearrangements of something God Himself gave us in creation. Antibiotics came from mold growing on a cantaloupe in Illinois. Traditional vaccines are just injections of attenuated natural virus cells. Aspirin is willow extract. Caffeine (which is in not just coffee but also many mainstream medications) is coffee bean extract. Morphine — an enormous blessing when properly used within health care settings — is poppy seed extract. I am puzzled as to why, when some natural thing is carefully studied, extracted, quantified, and put in a bottle, it suddenly goes from being “Heaven’s remedy” to being “Big Pharma deathstuff.”
Do people who make such claims suppose that God Wills that we refuse to exercise our intellects and employ science and engineering in order to subdue creation — as God Himself called us to do in Genesis — so as to help it serve us even better (which is creation’s purpose)?
Did we begin sinning against “natural food” when, thousands of years ago, we realized that we could use yeast along with a carefully monitored process of heat and pressure to turn grape juice into something much more delicious? Or when, thousands of years ago, we discovered that sulfites were an excellent and safe preservative? Or when, thousands of years ago, we realized that by grafting and otherwise intervening in the reproductive processes of plants could generate more beneficial hybrids?
At this point, in order to help the faithful avoid a certain medicine-purity-obsessed and food-purity-obsessed new Phariseeism and epidemic of orthorexia, it would be wise to recall some Scriptural passages. The Pharisees were utterly obsessed with food purity, but here is what the New Testament says:
“… eat whatever is set before you without raising any question on the ground of conscience.”
—1 Corinthians 10:27
“…there is nothing outside a man which by going into him can defile him; but the things which come out of a man are what defile him.”
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink, nor about your body, what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?”
“Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink…why do you live as if you still belonged to the world? Why do you submit to regulations, “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” (referring to things which all perish as they are used), according to human precepts and doctrines?”
“For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding. Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God.”
Yes, the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. Yes, we should care for the body prudently and generally try to eat and live healthily. I do not dispute that! But how lamentable that this Scriptural teaching, which St. Paul explicitly wrote against sexual immorality, is used more often to advocate for health food! “Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doth, is without the body; but he that committeth fornication, sinneth against his own body. Or know you not, that your members are the temple of the Holy Ghost, who is in you, whom you have from God; and you are not your own?” 1 Corinthians 6:18-19
So, no, we should not be obsessed with the body’s health. Soon it will be a corpse. Leave obsession with bodily health to those who believe this life is all there is. “Let the dead bury the dead,” as Our Lord says, and let us preach the Kingdom. And suffice it to say that the early Christians were not exactly distinguished from their Pagan surroundings by the degree of zeal they had for bodily health; nor should we be.
But I say again what I noted at the onset. Above all: worry not, dear users of medicinal herbs, essential oils, dear lovers of organic food; I am not condemning or even criticizing you!! Nor am I about to engage in any crusade about these things; since, again, I have no problem with them. My concerns are restricted to merely what I describe above — i.e., criticizing what I have seen becoming an excess focus in certain circles –, and what I’ve said there is not indicative of any sort of agenda or more deep seated and unstated opposition.
Epilogue: A Tale of a Rejected Godsend
(I write this epilogue with much passion, and considering the nature of the example I am describing, I hope you can sympathize with this passion and the strong language I will here use, even if you are not exactly on the same page with me on all of these matters.)
Let me give just one example of the rotten fruit of this obsession with food/medicine purity — an example that modern developed world liberal environmentalists will have to answer for on Judgment Day — the ban on DDT (Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane), a cheap, safe, easy, and effective pesticide.
Mosquito-borne malaria infects half a billion people every year and kills over a million every year — mostly children. Every 30 seconds, a child dies of this easily preventable disease.
Use of DDT is a very easy way to deal with, and even practically eliminate, malaria. DDT is a miracle weapon against mosquitoes, and it could save hundreds of thousands of lives, if not more, each year.
In the 1950s and 60s, back when more Christians realized that synthetic chemicals are not intrinsic evils, DDT was used widely and saw incredible success. In Sri Lanka in the 1960s, DDT use decreased Malaria infection rates from a consistent million per year to … wait for it.. 18. Yes, eighteen. Even more recently, whenever a country decides to buck political correctedness and go back to DDT usage (e.g. South Africa in the 1990s), malaria decreases dramatically.
In 2007, one scientist presented a solid argument that the ban on DDT is precisely what we have to thank for the deaths of 20 million children. (A number far higher today, after 14 more years of needless, easily preventable deaths)
But pleasing and appeasing developed world rich liberal environmentalists means much more to those wielding power than does saving millions of children’s lives. The chemical-opposition-obsessed developed world rich liberals with their virtue signaling hatred of pesticides always manage to put a stop to it.
It is well known that DDT is not even toxic at all in humans from indirect exposure. After decades of relentless study, all scientists have been able to conclude is that it “might” be weakly carcinogenic in a few circumstances. Virtually everything, by the way, is at least weakly carcinogenic. We live in a fallen world and pretending we can make it 100% safe by our own efforts aimed at food and medicine purity is a delusion. Have we forgotten that the sun is carcinogenic, electricity is carcinogenic , red meat is carcinogenic, sugar (including “whole organic raw etc. etc.” sugar) is carcinogenic, coffee is carcinogenic , pickles are carcinogenic, shoe repair is carcinogenic, chimney sweeping is carcinogenic, sawdust is carcinogenic, alcohol is carcinogenic (but remember what substance Christ Himself chose as the host for his Precious Blood?), salted fish is carcinogenic, and on this list goes.
Oh, how easy it is for us developed world couch potatoes — always inundated by infinite and infallible environmentalist wisdom like “what is known to cause cancer by the State of California” — to throw a fit every time there is some alleged ever-so-slight carcinogenic potential in a chemical that itself could save millions from disease or prevent millions from starving. Oh, how easy we have it! We are not at risk from starving — quite the contrary, we are obese and are eating ourselves to death (though we always manage to find a way to blame it on chemicals or modern food-related technology instead of our own sloth and gluttony). We are not at risk from these diseases that spread in densely populated tropical or desert areas with inadequate sanitation infrastructure.
While armchair Google warriors pour themselves out researching every little potential problem with every chemical and agricultural process they can discover the name of — blasting all over the internet every picture of a lab mouse with a tumor they can find because this mouse was given some chemical in a dosage thousands of times more concentrated than any human would ever be exposed to in real life — millions of children are dying for lack of any food and any medicine. What a tragic dichotomy!
Oh, how these poor people long for the scraps from our tables — how they long for the food we snub our noses at because it isn’t “whole enough” or “raw enough” or “natural enough.” How like the rich man we are in Our Lord’s parable with Lazarus languishing at his very doorstep.
Developed world rich liberals, who are above all else obsessed with increasing their life expectancy, would much rather rid the earth of one additional chemical that might possibly have an infinitesimally small chance of increasing their risk of cancer than they would like to permit the use of a chemical that will definitely save tens of millions of children’s lives. Developed world rich liberals, after all, are not at risk from Malaria; and neither are their children.
But DDT is just one of so many examples like this.
Dear developed world rich liberals, truly genocidal effects are being reaped by your obsession with infinitesimal increases to your life expectancy by your hyper zealous sprinting after every potential infinitesimal decrease of alleged weak carcinogens in the world. Why don’t you take a moment and step out of your own little world of petty concerns, foodie blogs, natural toilet bowl cleaners, avocado toast and organic Starbucks lattes, and instead take a peek at Lazarus outside your door? Why don’t you recognize that the universe does not revolve around your desire to add a few moments of duration to your earthly life?
I, for one, do not want to go to my Judgment Day having poured myself out in pursuit of bodily health and relentless opposition to the very chemicals, agricultural technologies, etc., that may have actually been Godsends in order to save millions of lives.