Nature Doesn’t Give A Fuck If You Live Or Die.

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By the age of one, how many times had modern medicine saved your ass?

What about by the age twenty? How about now?

How many times has nature tried to kill you? Strep, staph, weather, tsunamis, all the vaccine preventable illnesses, tooth decay, allergies that range from life-threatening to “goddamnit, it’s spring and the trees are fucking,” and whatever the fuck Gwyneth Paltrow is getting stung by bees to cure.

And the goddamn flu.

Without modern medicine, how much worse off would your life be?

If you go back to doing all things naturally, a tiny emergency turns into a big one. A long term chronic illness turns into a quick death sentence.

Say you got appendicitis a thousand years ago. Odds were that you would writhe in pain for a day or two, your appendix would have ruptured and your doctors would have given you a battery of herbs (and maybe opium because obviously). All natural treatment to an all natural problem would have left you dead. Naturally.

Vani Hari transformed into the Food Babe via a case of appendicitis that she erroneously blamed on her diet. She also claims that she healed all her random health issues by “going natural” afterwards, but how well would that have worked for the appendicitis itself? “Can you use a scalpel that’s just splinter of unicorn horn, or maybe a sharp piece of quartz separated from the earth made via grinding a rock slowly against another rock? Or better yet for no human intervention in the scalpel making process, a sharp rock birthed from the planet via the splintering of the Earth from the movement of tectonic plates? And for anesthetic, could you just give me a large-ish chunk of kale to bite down on? Pain is just toxins leaving the body.”

Who are we kidding, we all know she wouldn’t use a those tectonic birthed rocks. Tectonic? That’s clearly a toxin.

Nature would have left Vani- appendix, toxins, great hair and all- behind from the pack to suffer and die.

And that’s just with an acute medical issue. What happens when you have the oft-demonized-by-the-natural-crowd… chronic illness?

If you ask anybody who promotes ‘natural,’ chronic illnesses are a symptom of drug companies trying to make money. They’ll tell you that we didn’t have all these chronic illnesses when your grandmother was a kid and that chronic illnesses mean that we’re sicker than ever now.

I have a chronic illness and, as a nurse told me at a recent check-up when I was going over my medication and symptom list, “you don’t look like you could possibly be that sick.” It’s true, I don’t. When you hear that someone has chronic illnesses, what’s your gut reaction? Sallow complexion, overweight, immobile, sniffly and possibly even bed laden?

I do things like rock climb, weight lift, cook most of my meals from scratch, and I even do yoga. Namaste, motherfuckers.

So if I’m doing all those things, how am I “ill?”

I have Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. If you’ve heard of it, you probably think of it as “the flexibility disorder.” My joints are really flexible, which, admittedly, can be fun for some things.

(You’re welcome or I’m sorry.)

The next obvious question though; how is it a disorder if it just means you can do a split?

I’ve had my share of joint issues (shoulders, hips, lower back, and even my ribs have had dislocation issues). But for me, the worst part has been a permanent headache on the left side of my head. The first eight months of it were hell before we found our how to treat it, and eventually we landed on a seizure med and an anti-inflammatory. It’s really well controlled now.

It all begs the question… What would life had been like if I’d been born fifty years ago? A hundred? Five hundred?

Nature had no intention of letting me live.

The type of headache pain that I experience is similar to trigeminal neuralgia, otherwise known as the suicide disease. Before we had modern medications to manage it, people didn’t stay alive long through the pain. One day of terrible pain is tolerable. Looking forward to a lifetime of pain that severe will make you reconsider if you want to keep breathing.

I absolutely did try every “natural” treatment for this. I went organic. I went vegan. I even- and this is a dark time in my life- tried going paleo. At one point I was so scared that I was sick because of the “unnatural” ingredients in food that I looked at every single label and if I saw soy, canola, wheat, anything that I was convinced touched a GMO or wasn’t organic? I didn’t buy it.

I even tried cutting out Diet Coke. Dark times indeed, kids.

Know what fixed my headaches? Medicine.

It wasn’t that doctors hundreds of years ago hadn’t discovered the Food Babe’s favorite painkiller, turmeric. It’s not that I’ve been exposed to environmental toxins or that I haven’t taken a glucosamine supplement (which, I assure the well intentioned reader who’s considering emailing me about it, is not going to help this disorder). It was that they didn’t have anti-seizure meds that made the headache disorder truly manageable. It was that we didn’t have equipment to see the joint issues clearly or PCRs to do genetic testing. It was polio, smallpox, earthquakes, exposure, famine, and goddamn bee stings that killed us.

It was a severe lack of ability to fight nature that let us die.

Want to fight cancer with nature? In most cases, nature gave you cancer, either via sun exposure, genetics, or sometimes via a virus. Nature will probably let you die. Hear a blogger say they beat cancer without chemo and did it all naturally? They probably left out that they had surgery. Oh, it’s just the chemo that they think is unnatural? I promise you, being knocked unconscious, having your breathing and heartbeat controlled by an anesthesiologist, having a tumor removed precisely by a surgeon, and being sewn up in a manner that prevents sepsis is not natural. Surgery and chemo is a better bet than “natural.”

Want to fight depression and anxiety? There are going to be people who tell you that natural cures like essential oils have helped to de-stress. Sure, I’ll believe that essential oils have helped. That might be possible. But ask them how pressing twenty pounds of rosemary into three ounces of pungent oil happens in nature. Ask what they thought cures for mental illnesses were like before we had those evil pharmaceuticals. The options included warehousing people and lobotomies. Antidepressants and our other pharmaceuticals are definitely not perfect, but “natural” was not a better option.

Want to lose weight naturally? The people at ItWorks will tell you that they can help. Yes, truly, a bunch of random herb extracts somehow embedded into a flexible plastic wrap strapped onto your stomach is more natural than eating more vegetables and going for a run. And ask the good people at Plexus about their overpriced bullshit natural shakes.

(Okay, maybe natural is better on this one.)

But even then, what does “natural” mean? Does it mean you go out and scrounge for your own food in a field hoping that there’s no shortage of nuts and berries or that you rely on our now much better farming system that’s borderline famine-proof thanks to technological advancements?

Stop thinking about nature as a wonderful source of everything that you need in life. Things like the Paleo diet, the organic movement, and the anti-vaxxers all earn my ire for the same reason: they present themselves as healthy, natural options for people. Unfortunately, they ignore the realities of the natural life. Paleolithic man didn’t have access to a grocery store with refrigerated foods, pasteurized organic yak’s ghee, grass-fed chicken eggs, and he was dying of vaccine preventable diseases. Paleolithic man, if he survived past infancy, might have been thinner than us because he literally was running around all day trying to survive nature.

Paleolithic man, if he could come back from the dead now, would goddamn kill you for your Cocoa Puffs. He would laugh at your stupid fucking kale because he wants calories and your kale does not have it and he needs calories to go run down a bison tomorrow.

Paleo woman thinks your homebirth is idiocy because, while you’re trying to do all things naturally, she’s just thinking “there are ways to live through this- and then vaccines to keep the baby alive- and people are turning it down?”

So think about how many times modern science had saved you by the age of one, or up until this point in your life. Think about how different your life has become because of things that aren’t natural. The advancements in the telephone, medicine, internet porn…

Think about that for a few minutes. And then stop goddamn advocating for nature. Because nature is not advocating for you.

-SciBabe

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47 Comments

  1. In one very real way, nature would “care”.
    All of the life necessary to recycle my body back into fertilizer would happily jump into high gear and decay me into fertilizer for plants to take up.
    Hmm, maybe that would be a worthy end for my remains, rather than turning slowly into soap underground. On the far end of the fertilized patch of earth, a memorial sign could be placed at the far end:
    “You have just passed through the Wzrd1 memorial poison sumac patch, enjoy life as he did”.

  2. Hi,

    Looking at photos and videos of people of today who are as close as possible to “living paleo” is not pleasant. Sometimes there are pics from lost tribes in Africa and Amazon jungle and it’s an eye opener.

    Their teeth are not as healthy as the absence of coca cola would suggest.
    Their saggy boobage wouldn’t look right in yoga/crossfit attire.

    No, thanks.

  3. I posted this article on my Facebook wall with the following statement:

    “I don’t think that there is a better title that expresses a truth as fundamental than this one. I highly recommend reading this article.

    “Again, I’m NOT against nature. I struggle too for biodiversity, the environment, the birds and the bees. Yet, people forget Darwin, and that what has shaped almost all living species is the very harsh and hostile natural selection process. Hence, everything we eat, admire, love, inspires us about nature also has a dark side that is hostile. Recognizing this FUNDAMENTAL FACT will clarify all other issues we are dealing with today.

    “And if you want to experience nature (for real!), please, don’t tell me you want to visit a botanic garden. That is a human artifice. Don’t go to “national parks”, for they too in many ways are products of humanity (even when they preserve biodiversity). Go instead to the African savannah in the midst of lions and hyenas as you were born on this Earth. Good luck!”

  4. Amazing really, how most people miss the point that evolution requires our deaths. Perhaps the naturalist fools are just accepting their place in the universe and expressing their support for the evolutionary process. Luckily for them, we’ve had enough success in our battle with these “natural forces” to have the slack in our support systems to allow them to flourish in spite of themselves. Tasty bit of irony there.

  5. I have EDS and was once handed a bottle of collagen supplements. If all I needed was a couple of supplements I wouldn’t have been on a two year journey for an EDS typing diagnosis and EDS wouldn’t exist.

  6. THIS IS AWESOME!!! I recently battled cancer that was caused by HPV. As soon as I heard the word fall from my doctor’s lips, I knew that I would DO ANYTHING to live and beat it. My team suggested two different kinds of chemo and radiation every M-F for 6 weeks. Hmmmm, six weeks I thought didn’t sound too bad. Holy hell was I ever wrong. But it didn’t matter, I was DETERMINED to live through it no matter the cost. If they told me that drinking a gallon of rancid donkey piss would have cured me I would have done it!

  7. THANK YOU. I also suffer from a chronic illness, and tried going “natural” to cure it. I’m sure you can figure out how well that worked. But what has helped? A long-term prescription for antibiotics and monthly steroid injections. It’s not a cure, but it has made my life manageable. I’m all for eating more veggies and finding fun, new ways to stay active, but we can’t pretend that it’s a substitute for proven scientific medical advances!

  8. Of course you make great points about modern medicine. Yes it is incredible, yes without it life would be terrible and short for many people. That said, the idea that overly processed food and the sedentary Western lifestyle isn’t worse than the more ‘natural’ way of eating whole foods and leading a non-sedentary life is ludicrous. Rates of diabetes and heart disease have skyrocketed along with the spread calorie dense nutrient empty foods. Even in places that have stayed more true to a ‘traditional’ diet, rates of diabetes and heart disease have climbed with the onset of a more sedentary lifestyle.

    I think anti-vaxxers etc. are crazy and–if it weren’t for herd immunity issues–their children deserve any preventable diseases they get. That said, implying that diabetes and cardiovascular disease as well as other ‘diseases of luxury’ are not also preventable diseases and that a less natural lifestyle is not to blame for the worldwide increase in those aforementioned diseases is irresponsible–particularly since you are submitting your opinion as that of a scientist.

    In sum, yes nature tries to kill us, but nature also gives us life (even pharmaceuticals are often just extracts of fungi or plants that are sometimes further modified). Nature does the same for every organism on this planet and always has.

    • Leading a non-sedentary life is not a “natural way of living”. It is a lifestyle choice anyone can make. Completely irrelevant to the discussion. And “eating natural foods” doesn’t help the average person’s cholesterol and triglycerides levels nearly as much as a statin that costs pennies a day to buy. I know that for a fact because it worked for me.

  9. I like how such people as Food Babe can happily claim it’s unnatural, modern, manufactured toxins caused by our industrial society that lead to illnesses and promote a natural life to be free of them… while living in a box of cement, plastic, and glass, snuggling on their faux-leather sofa stuffed with god-knows-what artificial comfy materials and flicking through channels on their EM-radiation displayer.

    • Inhaling enough smoke from anything, including cannabis, will definitely cause lung cancer in a statistically significant number of users.

  10. I agree.

    Everything in nature is to do with struggle; finding the best mate, doing “risky” things to prove yourself. Not getting killed crossing the road, picking non-poisonous things to eat, being alert to danger. Nature is quite happy weeding out those who don’t qualify to survive or to bring the next generation into the world.

    And being “Good” does not guarantee survival, due to random events which equally affect the foolhardy and the careful. Take care, but accept the vagaries of life.

  11. I LOVE this article. You know, I have hydrocephalus. I’ve had it since I was born in 1960. Its only sheer luck that I live in a state that was home to one of the most brilliant neurosurgeons of our, or any, age. His name was Reginald Hooper. Without his hands I would not be alive today. Since then I have had five major shunt revisions which, while painful, we’re never life threatening. Natural medicine or witchcraft was never going to cure me. And I feel sick that people around me were praying I would get well. You see im also an atheist although I was brought in the catholic church. For all you natural medicine proponents, you can take your mumbo jumbo voodoo hoodoo nonsense and shove it. Thank you and good day

  12. First I wanna say it is nice to see you posting again. Second, THAT IS ONE SERIOUS VENT. I hope it made you feel better (:

    I have a neighbor who hates anything that is not ‘organic’. But he just went to a tattoo artist.

  13. I’ve battled social anxiety disorder all my life. That’s longer than its been a diagnosis.
    I tried all the natural remedies. None worked.
    With meds I live a happy and productive life, without meds I’m a wreck and suicidal.

    I recently discovered a medication to help with my restless leg syndrome and I am finally, after years of suffering from it, getting by on 7 hours sleep instead of needing 12 hours and a nap during the day.

  14. Everything in the physical world is in a constant state of furious battle for survival which ironically leads to inevitable destruction and decay. Humans have evolved sufficiently to have achieved methods to control the destructive process through science and innovation which leads us right back to the battle for survival. Humans do not have a choice between the “natural” and the “unnatural” for survival. This is a false choice or no choice at all. Nature is inherently the repeated cycle of a slow destructive grind to death and remergence. Science just makes this natural process a bit more tolerable.

  15. I am a farmer, and I use conventional methods. I am not any sort of organics extremist. Here is a simple fact, though – there are deaths attributable to these pesticides. Most of them are farm-workers, most of them are illegal immigrants, and farmers are only 2% of our population, so you don’t hear about it, generally. Old farmers come down with cancer and parkinson’s at rates that are astronomical compared to the rest of the population, and this can be attributed to the long term effects of pesticides like 24D and glyphosate. I know of a farmer one county over who died last month. This happens. When you are engineering a crop to be more resistant to pesticides so that you are able to spray more chemicals without killing your corn/beans/whatever, then you are undeniably increasing the amount of these harmful chemicals in our food supply. As a professional farmer, I do not buy these claims that somehow a corn plant engineered to withstand 20X the amount of pesticide that it could otherwise is somehow statistically ending up with less pesticide on it than corn that has not been modified in such a way. Any claims that GMO’s are reducing pesticide use across the board are absolutely false, and this is not a political opinion – it’s a professional opinion.

  16. I seriously love you right now. I had a brain tumour, which left me with epilepsy. I have chronic nerve pain that has had me on the brink of suicide.
    And the amount of people who have suggested “natural cures” to me make me want to scream. If I didn’t take anti-seizure Meds I would be having grad mal seizures, there are still places in the world where epileptics are considered possessed by the devil.

    My pain is not something the can be control but diet, or vitamins or something like that. No I have an electrical device implanted in me that keeps my nerve pain low enough that I can function. And then at times I still need strong Meds.

    Anti-anxiety Meds and anti-depresseents keep my mind calm so that I can actually think and not kill myself.

    Are there a few “natural” things I use sure, ginger, honey and lemon is great when I have a cold. Which are all things I bought at the grocery store.

  17. …. in a nutshell ( no pun intended) better living through pharmaceuticals!! and cheesecake… for godsake… don’t forget the cheesecake!! (I have MS, so I know lots about this stuff!!
    Thanks for speaking to the hypocrisy!

  18. You are not a real farmer! The gmo crops us real farmers grow anables me to grow them with way less pesticides than conventional crops! They also create a cropping system than enables me to till less thereby saving millions of tons of CO2 into the atmosphere! Greenhouse gasses?? Modern agriculture, if you are willing to educate yourself without preconceived bias is so much more sustainable than it ever was for my father or his father generation. Which I can only assume you advocate!

  19. I’m with Dave.
    What a weird, unfocused rant. Fine, we all know not everything can be cured, or even helped, with natural remedies and anyone who doesnt realise that should be ignored, but, as I say, this isn’t news to anyone.

    As to points made by a couple of previous comments…what kind of moron suggested hydrocephalus (had it my whole life) has a natural cure?! I’m guessing nobody did…

    Seizures? Well, there are dietary things that work for some but I guess not for you.

    Im sorry to be so slapdash and to omit names.

  20. Every time someone starts going off on modern medicine, I whip my shirt up and show them two surgeries worth of belly scars from when nature was trying to kill me and tell them to shove it. I even had a coworker equate pharmacology to sorcery (apparently there’s an etymological link in ancient Greek). He wondered out loud “what do you think people did before modern medicine?” They died in droves is what they did. Parents buried children. See “Wisconsin Death Trip” and be damn glad you live in a time and place where the only reason you’ve even heard of mumps is because you were vaccinated against it.

  21. Still am waiting for you to be called in for a reading to play a recurring character on “The Walking Dead”. You would fit right in with the synopsis.

  22. Screw natural.

    My prosthetic leg is titanium and kevlar engineered into a mechanical device that allows me to run, mountain bike, backpack, and rock climb. It is about as unnatural and evil-man-made as you can get.

    If I was truly natural I would have an organically grown willow stick down there, harvested by virgin unicorns under a full moon. And spend my life as an obese couch potato because natural does not work.

  23. Natural ? Like beaver damns ? Like bee hives ? Like bird’s nests ? Like the Space shuttle ? All things that occur, occur in nature. Period. Hydrogen is just a chemical element that eventually organizes itself into humans. In nature.

  24. Dude. DUDE. I just discovered your blog (via that of Dr. Freedhoff’s Weighty Matters site), and…I think I love you. This piece in particular is AMAZING. I’m on social media, so I’m inundated daily by people swearing that wraps, shakes, vitamins, skincare products, etc., will change lives! I don’t buy into any of it (but sometimes the train wreck is fun to watch). My 70 year old mother, who spent her life doing ALL the ‘right things’ to take care of herself, was recently diagnosed with colon cancer. I’m beyond grateful that she has access to excellent healthcare, and that she’s currently strong enough to handle the chemo, and also handle the well-meaning friends who are trying to convince her to try X, Y, or Z (X, Y, and Z are never mainstream medicine).
    Also, I lost a decent chunk of weight over the last year through – groundbreaking – watching my food intake and moving my body a little more. Nobody wants to hear that. Everyone who noticed the weight loss was really bummed out when they learned I did it the boring way. Even when I yell at them that Oprah still struggles with her weight (so there’s no “magic pill” – cause she’d have it. With her squillions of dollars, and years of weight issues, the woman has said as much. She would HAVE IT. So it doesn’t exist.)

    Anyway. Too many tangents. Sorry. And thank you! You now have a new fan 🙂

  25. A voice of reason in a wilderness of pseudoscientific insanity. I recently endured the most severe pain I’ve ever known: a dental abscess in a lower molar tooth. Sure, perhaps my diet caused it or even the asthma puffers that have saved my airways but without a course of antibiotics and a root canal treatment I’d likely be dead. My heart goes out to the hordes of good people who have suffered horrific deaths from dental infections over the millenia. Also the ultimate agony for me is that I have three good friends are rabid anti-vaxxers. Not surprisingly they all have very low scientific literacy & are also rabid conpiracy theorists, “big pharma” etc. So sad…. I thank modern medicine for savjng my life on several occasions from nasty chest infections. Nature was hell bent on knocking me off….

  26. Hi, I only peripherally follow this hoopla but I stumbled on this site somehow.

    As best I figure, for some people, mistrust of ‘science’ may be connected to a general distrust of all authoritarian sources – Governments and corporations. There’s scandal after scandal reported constantly: financial, sex, or made up.

    For these people, I guess a folksy character is appealing. I’m just like one of you, this is what really works, I’m not trying to sell you anything (except, they are…)

  27. If nature had its way, I would have died at age 12 weeks due to double pneumonia secondary to my asthma. Or if I survived that I would have died of an allergic reaction but luckily received allergy shots to lessen my allergic reaction, or I would be walking with a significant limp when I broke my foot that had to be reset and put in a cast, or I would be severely debilitated when I detached my ACL, tore my meniscus, dislocated by knee and would not be able to walk, let alone walk with a limp without ACL reconstructive surgery, or I would have jumped off a cliff secondary to my migraines (since age 12), and definitely would have been told to stay in a wheelchair because of my bilateral severe Osgood-Schlatter. All of these illnesses/disorders/injuries without medical intervention, I would not be writing on this device which was created through modern science.

  28. Hi there ,
    What you won’t know is the effect on your life had you cut out Coca-Cola, the chemical pesticides and artificials general rubbish from your diet, please stop short of passing on bad and damaging advice to others, Organic food is so much better for you and the environment, I think it selfish and irresponsible to suggest not buying it!! May be nothing you eat can save you or change the situation, for most it makes every difference in the world ! !!!
    biGLOve.. BeanbaG
    ..xX😃Xx..

  29. “My joints are really flexible, which, admittedly, can be fun for some things.” Hee hee. The violin virtuoso Paganini was believed to have this. He had a rather, shall we say, active love life.
    I’ve been getting into similar discussions on a pet forum about not feeding my cats a grain free raw meat diet.
    Their argument:
    Cats in the wild don’t eat tinned cat food!
    They don’t eat grain!
    My argument:
    Cats in the wild don’t live to nearly 19.
    When my cat catches a mouse and eats it, she doesn’t leave out the stomach contents, which are full of grain.

  30. Plexus deserves a whole giant article of its own. I love my online weight support group, however there are many brainwashed Plexus minions in there.
    One Plexus rep posted that if Plexus didn’t work when you tried it, then you probably weren’t drinking enough water, eating enough vegetables etc, basically Plexus only works for weight loss if you do everything a dietician would tell you to… However, people think the “pink drink” is magic.
    As a chronic fatigue sufferer, why yes, I am tired all the time. However, nothing natural is going to fix that, save short-term effects from a double shot of espresso.

  31. Seems to further polarize a completely unnecessary dichotomy.

    A nature vs. medicine cage match? Really? I’m not even sure Fox News would run with that one.

  32. There really needs to be a balance. i can see by this site you are profiting from this game we call life as much as the others who are promoting organics and such. Having been a farmer and now sick from the use of the chemicals, there does need to be some education that organic means that other things worse than approved non organics may be used. So organic? Eh, whatever.

    Also I have been helped by modern medicine but I have also been made ill by it too and almost died by taking one prescription remedy. So yes, balance.

    I work with medical software and I see the number of drugs prescribed to seniors and the progressive level of being a zombie. Also I saw what prescription drugs did to my dad and mom. You are young, just wait.

    Also I had been put on many drugs when I got very ill. None worked. 3 years later a psychiatrist put me on a gluten free diet. (Celiac). 3 months later an 80% improvement in health. Diet CAN make a difference.

    Balance. Intelligent informed decisions. Tell us what works science babe. Make a difference.

  33. I don’t think that a blatant disregard for “nature” was necessarily your intended implication with this article (as I agree with virtually all of your points), but I do feel compelled to point this out: health-foody BS aside…we kinda need Nature. And moreover, I think most of us actually WANT most of it to stick around (I say that of course excepting mosquitoes, ticks, fleas, and the ilk). By that I mean to say that I hope you’re not implying that “not sticking up for nature” means not protecting our natural ecosystems and species. If that IS what you mean, I can’t really agree with you there. In fact, I would consider such a sentiment wildly unscientifically informed, and potentially insane. In fact nature has been the source of the VAST majority (if not arguably all) of our life-saving medical breakthroughs. If, however, your meaning was to suggest that health food nuts, and the gurus of the sort you so decry in the “Food…b*tch,” or whatever her moniker…then I’m overwhelmingly compelled to agree. Damn idiots like that. And their toxins. Damn them straight to their imaginary hell.

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