Tip of the Week #2: The Rain Barrel Analogy

All of our patients have heard this at some point to answer the question of: if I just have (fill in the blank) disease, why are we talking about every other thing going on with me too?

The answer is described by the rain barrel analogy (commonly used in naturopathic offices—we can't take credit):

Imagine that you have a rain barrel, and that what fills the rain barrel is anything that is a stress to your system. A person can be more or less cruising along without significant symptoms, so long as the water level is below the rim of the barrel. As life happens and there are unaddressed or inadequately addressed mold exposures, tick bites, harmful relationships, financial stress, vaccination, viral exposure, habitually bad posture, overworking, etc., the water level rises to the point where the barrel starts to overflow.

This is where the patient starts noticing real symptoms, or in some cases, breakdown occurs. It's rational, cause-and-effect thinking that leads to the idea that the cause of an illness is the one last thing that happened (moving to the new house with the mold, the divorce, etc.), but in reality, it may or may not be the case. If you have a long term poor relationship with your family, starting in childhood and accompanied by feelings of isolation and depression; a life filled with nutrient-poor processed foods packaged and heated in plastic and plastic bottled or tap water; heavy physical and emotional scar tissue from that car accident when you were a teenager; etc. that is filling up the majority of your barrel, any treatment (focused mold treatment, antimicrobials, etc.) addressing the maybe very thin layer on top that represents the recent inciting event, out of the context of treatment for what else is in the barrel, is only going to have a middling or temporary effect.

There are a couple of ways to approach emptying the rain barrel. At our office, we use ART (autonomic response testing) and other techniques to determine clearly what is in the rain barrel, without having to guess. If someone does not have access to tools like this, it is a good practice to be very proactive about looking for and resolving all the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual stressors in your life that you can, the juicier and more transformational the better, since those tend to hold higher percents of the barrel.

One of several goals of this Tip of the Week series is to point out ways that people can take control of their own health with at home thoughts and treatments ideas that can reduce the water level in the barrel with less financial expenditure than it takes to see a physician. This, of course, is not an alternative to seeing a health professional, but can sometimes make resolution of an illness easier when you do.

Photo credit to Yulia Sobol at Unsplash.