Alyse from Raw Alignment (her website and YouTube channel have the same name) is one of the most friendly and positive people I’ve seen within the vegan community. I’m not into raw food, but she certainly makes it sound amazing!
But Alyse recently released a video on her channel about how she cured her UTI (urinary tract infection) with a water fast. Most women know remaining well hydrated is an important aspect of UTI prevention. It can sometimes even help your body to fight a lower UTI in its earlier stages. And by the way, a water fast isn’t necessary – unless you dig that sort of thing).
But if you haven’t seen improvement within 2-3 days, you need to see your doctor and have your urine tested to see if you need antibiotics.
The problem is, Alyse doesn’t ever mention this in her video. She advises her Raw Alignment audience to “do their research” (whatever that means), but never gives the very basic advice that they should see a doctor if it has been more than a few days with no improvement.
My concern here is not over the water fast – like I said, there’s no scientific evidence to suggest that fasting is any more effective than remaining well-hydrated. But if you are into fasting, I suppose it’s fine. I have never seen any evidence on her channel that Alyse is advocating disordered eating. Raw food is not my cup of tea, but a properly planned raw diet seems adequate for health.
So it’s not the water fast, or even the raw foodism that really bothers me. It’s the fact that she never once mentions that you need to see a doctor if things are getting worse.
Sadly, I don’t think that’s an oversight on her part. She mentions seeing a doctor if you have a broken bone – but she believes infections don’t require medical intervention.
There’s a place for antibiotics
Many infections don’t require medical intervention. Viral infections don’t require antibiotics, and taking antibiotics when you don’t need them contributes to the rise of antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria. Plus, it’s totally useless.
But serious bacterial infections demand antibiotics.
Antibiotics have saved millions – if not billions – of lives since penicillin was first introduced. Because infections can – and do – kill.
What happened before antibiotics?
Penicillin was first mass-produced in the early 1940s. Unfortunately, this was too late for many.
My grandfather has a heart-breaking story of how two of his cousins died from complications of what was likely acute glomerulonephritis.
The two boys had blood in their urine following a strep infection and they eventually couldn’t urinate. The local witch doctor/medicine woman told their mother not to allow the boys to drink water. They eventually managed to escape the house and retrieve water from the well. Both boys died within a couple of days.
The mother was heartbroken. She was convinced the boys died because they drank water! In reality, in the absence of antibiotics their kidneys had been totally destroyed by the infection. They would have died no matter what.
This story had a tremendous impact on me as a child. The idea of two 12-year-old boys dying because they didn’t have access to antibiotics was incredibly tragic. What contributions might they have made? We’ll never know, because their lives were needlessly cut short.
Antibiotics: the miracle of modern medicine
Alyse mentions at the beginning of her video that she had a UTI that led to a kidney infection in the past – landing her in the hospital on IV antibiotics.
She seems to think that a water fast could have prevented that from happening, but she’s wrong.
She likely would have died, like millions of women did before the advent antibiotics.
The two most important contributions in the history of medicine are likely antibiotics and vaccines.
It’s ironic that these two lifesaving discoveries are among the most demonized by advocates of “natural” living.
How many of us would be alive today without these things? We are unbelievably lucky to have been born in an era where we don’t live in fear of the annual summer plague of polio. Can you even imagine taking your kids to the playground and wondering if they’d be exposed to an illness that could paralyze them for life?
In the same vein, I’m grateful that if my children contract strep throat, I don’t need to fear they’ll die of sepsis or glomerul nephritis as a complication of scarlet fever.
My message for Raw Alignment: Share your experiences responsibly
I don’t want Alyse to stop making videos. I don’t even want her to stop sharing helpful home remedies.
What I do want is for her (and other natural health advocates) to recognize we can’t cure all illnesses at home. A water fast likely couldn’t have prevented her kidney infection any more than my grandfather’s cousins would have lived if they hadn’t drunk the well water!
Antibiotics are an incredible (if overused) resource that saves lives. If you have tried self-care and it isn’t working, you need to get yourself to a doctor, STAT. Raw Alignment can share natural health tips without pretending they are a substitute for medical care.
At a time when vegan diets are under intense scrutiny (there’s even a proposal before the Italian Parliament that would make feeding your children a vegan diet illegal), it is completely irresponsible for Raw Alignment to encourage pseudoscience as a legitimate alternative to evidence-based medicine.
The bottom line
Alyse is far from alone in advocating questionable medical advice. So many natural health gurus reject evidence-based medicine. They’re lucky – most have access to hospitals in case their self-cures go horribly wrong.
But what happens when a rural family takes their advice and refuses to take their child to the hospital? It happens, ever day. Most of the time the child survives. But sometimes they don’t. I know Alyse doesn’t want that on her conscience.
If you are in a position where you are providing advice, please consider the potential consequences. And if you’re a parent, know some illnesses will not resolve on their own. The average lifespan has doubled since 1900 because of antibiotics. They aren’t the answer to everything. But if it’s been a few days and you or your child are not getting better – go to the hospital. You can thank me later.