At first glance, Karen Ager appears to be a vivacious Australian, worldly and educated living the life. But nothing is ever what it seems. Her memoir, Enemy Within, examines her journey through the trials and tribulations of Rheumatoid Arthritis, from traveling to relationships, to…
Controlling Crohn’s Disease: The Natural Way
By Virginia Harper
I have a love/hate relationship with this book. I am a believer that food can reduce symptoms of many diseases and that the American diet is the reason for so many of the chronic illnesses that seem to keep springing up. I was excited when I found this book and was hoping that it would have some great insights. However, this book lacked any valid science and was filled with many exaggerations of the truth that made it hard to believe her. (Note: if your non-fiction book contains incorrect scientific explanations in the first chapter, it’s hard to believe anything else the author says).
I found Virginia’s tone hard to tolerate in many parts of the book. She seemed to lack common sense and maturity during most of her reflections. For example, when she started to feel better, she brought stacks of books about her diet to her doctor and couldn’t understand why he wasn’t putting all his patients on this diet. Hmm, I can’t understand why the entire medical field didn’t change their ways based on one person. However, I can’t deny that I have felt the way she felt at many times and her story was similar to mine in many aspects, and had universal themes for everyone suffering from Crohn’s Disease. One such passage when she really accurately described IBD is: “Crohn’s disease is such a lonely illness. It isolates you from other people, because it forces you to become preoccupied with yourself – or more accurately, your intestines – and prevents you from participating in so many social events.”
One of the problems with the diet is that you would have to take supplements or fortified soy products; there are not really any sources of vitamin B12, unless you’re going to eat insane amounts of seaweed. Virginia criticizes supplements and never addresses that you might not be getting everything from this diet. Another problem is that she suggests corn as food for curing Crohn’s. In my opinion, I’m pretty sure that is an oxymoron and a hospitalization waiting to happen. She did write a warning to take it slow, but still, most normal healthy people aren’t that great at digesting corn, so it’s a general consensus (even among doctors who say diet has no effect on IBD) to stay far away from it. She does mention grinding and soaking foods like corn that are hard on the intestines, but honestly, it sounds more appealing to just not eat.
On another note, I looked into her website after reading the book. During the book she spoke of a spiritual journey and how healing it is to help others. I am not sure that paying a couple hundred dollars for a phone call (“consultation”) justifies as helping others.
I can’t say that I didn’t take anything away from this book, it was interesting to read about her diet and I will probably try out some of her recipes and cooking techniques. As someone who already eats a mostly vegetarian and non-processed diet, I didn’t disagree with a lot of the things she said. It just concerns me that she claims it’s an absolute cure. Overall, it was a decent read, but it wasn’t the kind of book you can take too seriously.