Why Self Experiment?

Yes, I know, I'm not living the normal life, but who is?  I hope as you read my blog you will find me toeing that fine line between the scientific norm and the fringe community.  I started out in life with plenty of faith in the medical system.  My mother was a nurse, and I got all the standard conventional health care growing up.  In my teen years I started to have more and more health problems, and got dragged around to more and more doctors, and never really got satisfactory answers, although I had a symptom suppression plan for fibromyalgia.

I went to college, and decided to make a preemptive visit to the wellness center, to inform them of my health history in case I ever got dragged in while not really in a condition to discuss it.  I luckily happened across the first interesting doctor in my search for health.  The first thing he asked me was "have you tried eating more salt?"  Well no, I hadn't.  I grew up in a heart-health conscious household, and everyone knows salt is bad for you.  So I conducted my first health experiment, and found I could treat acute symptoms of dizziness by eating salt.  On a later visit, he offered to try acupressure on me.  He was an experienced acupressurist, but had not tried it with my particular condition before.  That experiment didn't produce usable results, but it set me well on my way to trying self-experimentation.

In the mid-aughts my nurse practitioner recommended a new treatment for Fibromyalgia, of which I was already aware had severe side effects.  I said no and started making my own medical decisions.

I do realize in shaking off the constraints of doctors' advice, I am toeing a dangerous line.  I should think for myself.  I should be my own health advocate.  I should work towards wellness.  But what I should not do is be easily swayed by every little quackery I find and try potentially dangerous experiments.  Everything I try is either within normal living parameters, or has been tried by someone else before me.  Everything I try has a reasonable scientific basis, but may not agree with the majority or specialist opinion.  (Yes, science and medicine is still often ruled by opinion, as much as they try to avoid that appearance..)  I do respect ancient cultures and their views of herbs and nutrition.  I do not assume that the herbal drug is automatically better than the refined drug of the same type.  I do believe food is better than any vitamin pill, as the food has the vitamins in the ratios we were designed to eat.  I do not subscribe to any new-age or semi-spiritual techniques.

I believe that God gave me this body to do his work, and that it is my responsibility to care and improve this body for that work.  I believe that the body has a great ability to heal itself if we can provide it with what it really needs, and get rid of the stuff in its way.  I believe that modern conventional medicine does know some of the answers, just not all of them, and I will continue to make a living supporting it.

What makes an experiment?
It is impossible to do rigorous self-experimentation.  You can't do a double-blind study on yourself, or rule out the placebo effect.  You can though identify specific problems and specific solutions and try applying one solution at a time.  When the solution is applied, is the problem mediated?  When the solution is removed, does the problem return?  To be really sure about something you should be able to add and remove the solution with reliable results.  Maybe sometimes it is still the placebo effect, but if I can get the problem solved with the placebo effect, I will probably be happy with the solution anyway.

The second thing about experiments is to set easily measurable goals and markers.  How long can I play this game without getting dizzy?  Does this effect continue beyond the 6 month mark?  Does my cholesterol go up or down on this diet?  Without measurable goals and markers, the results of your experiment are wide open to interpretation.  Goals and markers should be set at the beginning of the experiment, not stumbled on as you go.

Do please do keep me accountable to God and science.  We can discuss alternative theories in the comments, but we shouldn't jump to conclusions about things that we just assume is better or the right way to do things.  Let's not assume that either the common nor uncommon wisdom has all the answers.  Keep your mind open, but not so open that your brains fall out.