Is It All In Your Head?

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I have a sensitivity to wheat. If I eat something "wheated" then something goes wonky in my body and I suddenly have difficulty responding to negative situations appropriately. But I didn't figure this out until I was in college.

And it took a while for me to believe that wheat did, indeed, throw me off.

In fact, it wasn't until a year of not eating wheat had gone by that I could feel the shift if I had any. And there were enough times when I ate wheat without realizing it--and freaked out; only to discover that, say, Teriyaki sauce contains wheat--that I came to accept the fact that I have a sensitivity.

But before that, I was pretty sure it was just a negative placebo. An excuse. Life was just really horrible when I had an "episode"--the wheat, just a convenient scapegoat.

My distrust of my body's signals was due in large part to the fact that I know placebos work. People really do get better taking sugar tablets they believe are a wonder drug. Which, I guess, further indicates how right my mother-in-law is: We know so little about how our bodies work, there are many things the medical world just doesn't know yet. Like, what's up with wheat sensitivities.

This morning I came across this very short paragraph about educational placebos, and it got me thinking. Give it a read; I'll wait.


Much like my wheat sensitivity, I don't think education is a placebo. But there is something to be said for the mystery of how education works. Everything from radical unschooling to the most strict and mass-produced of public educations have lead to some wild successes as well as dismal failures.

How? Why?


What this does mean is that homeschooling is a fantastic option. Perhaps not a panacea, but also not a placebo. And homeschooling with Sonlight could be just what the doctor ordered...

(figuratively speaking, of course)

 ~Luke Holzmann
A Friend, Not A Doctor

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  1. Mrs. C

    Hey! Just been chatting about sensitivities and allergies with a friend. Is it possible to be "sensitive" to something but not "allergic?" And how did you find this out? Will check out link if you send one. Off to check out "educational placebo" link right now. :]

  2. Kim & Dave

    Hey, Luke! I started reading your entry with great interest, since we have celiac disease in our family. (that=total wheat intolerance-for anyone who doesn't know).

    But, anyway, I'm glad you figured yours out!

  3. Becky

    I have this too. With dairy/gluten/eggs/garlic. I do often feel my allergies are a pleasant excuse for my adverse reactions to negative situations. But I sure am able to respond more appropriately if I'm eating properly. So weird.

  4. Luke

    Mrs. C, I firmly believe that it is possible to be "sensitive" without being "allergic" because I define an allergy as something where you have a physical reaction.

    I went to an allergist who gave me a skin test but had no reaction to wheat. But time has proven that if I eat wheat, it really throws my emotions all out of whack.

    I haven't really written much about how I figured it out. I went off wheat at the suggestion of my mom--because others in my family were allergic--and after about a year I could totally tell the difference.

    Kim, it amazes me how much people have allergies and sensitivities.

    Becky, my dad recently found out that he is allergic too so many things. It's crazy. And, yes, when I'm eating right it really helps me too <smile>.


  5. mom

    Interesting thoughts...

    My oldest is suspected to possibly have celiac disease, but his symptoms are physical reactions. I have another son who seems to have a sensitivity to dairy and LOOK OUT if he gets any because he reacts much like you do.

    Our human bodies are fascinating God created machinery which easily can have their fine tuning thrown off, eh?

    Tammy ~@~

  6. Teaching Four Waitleys

    I think our oldest son would say he has a sensitivity to education! ;-) But, Sonlight has helped him to realize that education doesn't have to cause great pain and reading can actually be enjoyable!

  7. boremetotears

    So, at risk of changing the subject - but in keeping with a theme of the book that online interactions feed our need to order information - have you ever blogged about the placebo effect and the "healing power" of faith in faith? :)

  8. Lynn

    I think there is a big placebo effect seen in many homeschoolers who feel added pressure to fit homeschooler stereotypes and expectations.

    re: "Everything from radical unschooling to the most strict and mass-produced of public educations have lead to some wild successes as well as dismal failures."

    Yikes! You forgot to exclude Sonlight curriculum users from that continuum!! :O

    I know. I'm such a trouble maker :[

  9. Luke

    Tammy, that's interesting that dairy tweaks one of your sons. And, yes, our bodies are incredibly interesting... <smile>

    Judy, I'm glad Sonlight is helping to "cure" your son <smile>.

    Boremetotears, I have not yet blogged about that... but I've thought about it a little here and there. Perhaps the time is coming when I need to write something up <smile>. Because, you're absolutely right: The numbers show--to my understanding--that those with positive outlooks and faith in a higher power get better more frequently and faster...

    Lynn, I don't personally know of any dismal failures from Sonlight, but I do know that Sonlight isn't for everyone <smile>. That's why we have the Reasons Not to Buy article. Hopefully people figure out what works for them before they get to the stage of failing... but I'm not going to rule out the possibility of it happening.

    But that is a good point: Sonlight is awesome <smile>.


  10. Karen Joy

    Ummm.... Luke... I know I have told you this before, but maybe just on my own blog, responding to a comment of yours, and maybe you didn't see my reply (or maybe you did, and politely ignored it), but I think you should be tested for celiac disease. What with your wheat "sensitivity" and your Dad's autoimmune disorders, I would be flabberghasted if you did NOT have celiac disease. That said, you have to be consuming wheat/rye/barley in order to test positive to a blood test, so it may not be worth it to go back on wheat just to get a definitive diagnosis.

  11. Karen Joy

    p.s. Before being diagnosed, I did have two different doctors tell me I was a hypochondriac (one said the actual word, one said "it's all in your head") to symptoms that were definitely tied to then-undiagnosed celiac disease and to symptoms that now appear to be mitral valve prolapse (I just had an echocardiogram yesterday, but that's what I understand it to be).

    Meaning... though the placebo effect is real, there are also definitely real health problems that remain undetected -- or even ridiculed -- by uninquisitive and unkind doctors, but which are, indeed, real.

  12. Meg_L

    shot, I just saw something about the science of placebos and their working, but in the mess of my house right now I don't know where I saw it.

    It might still be buried in the pile of clippings that Hubby set aside for me, or I might have skimmed it and trashed it.

    If I run across it, I'll send you the link.

  13. Heather the Mama Duk

    Very interesting. My daughter goes insane if she has aspartame. My oldest son gets severely depressed and tearful if he has Splenda. Needless to say we avoid fake sugar around here!

  14. Luke

    Karen, I must have missed your comment... or have forgotten (which also happens often <smile>). I'm happy living with the idea that I have a "sensitivity" and to avoid wheat. I will keep it filed away in the back of my mind that I may be celiac. Thanks!

    And, that is a very good point: Those without full information--or who are not willing to look for more information--will often misdiagnose a placebo. Definitely something to keep in mind as we approach highly complex situations (hmm... thinking back a few comments: that could easily be the case with faith and healing as well <smile>).

    Meg, sounds fascinating! I would love to read it if you find it again.

    Heather, that sounds like a very, very good idea. Keep with the real stuff! <smile>