I went into my local Health Food Shop and asked if they kept a register of alternative practitioners because I wanted to go back to the very basics of natural health. I was looking for a Naturopath. I looked in Yellow Pages and Atul’s name was the first listed. I also knew at that time that I wanted someone to be in partnership with me with my health. Not a dogmatist or a bully or a disinterested detached other human being. Along with a strong desire to be well, I also had this huge demand. However a number of years later, transformed in my health and way of life, others have noticed the change in my health and life style and some now benefit from having made the decision to take charge of their own health.

My lack of health had been obvious since my back pain was so severe that I needed to take an Infirmity Pension from a job I thoroughly enjoyed. Eventually I struggled to free my self from the medical doctors, as I was not improving, except in the very short term. Through a slow process of trying all known alternative approaches I woke up to the fact that I was basically getting something wrong. Not only was back pain becoming a regular occurrence that required me to rest some part of each month and take it easy all the time, but my shoulders were aching, movement was restricted, and the base of my thumbs were hot and tender if knocked.

When a Radiologist in South Africa saw X-rays they had taken of my back, he reported that as well as my Spondylolysthesis I had Osteoarthritis in my lower back, with severe degeneration of my facet joints. My joints were affected from L4 & 5 to about two vertebrae above my waist. The report had my daughter in tears because it sounded so severe and my condition progressive! I certainly believed I was too young (never mind I had two grandchildren) to go with their recommendation to have an Orthopedic Surgeon look at fusing my lower vertebrae. I was devastated. Back surgery was the last thing I had contemplated. Luckily I did not live there and came home to think about my health. At this time I developed a skin condition which the doctor would not treat but asked me to see a specialist. Life intervened because the hospital could not offer me an appointment at that time, not even in six or twelve months, so I woke up to the fact that all I was doing was handing my health over to the doctors again. That was my push to go to Atul. By the time I got an appointment with him, I had decided to stop using any soap and to use a plant extract shampoo. The skin trouble was beginning to subside.

I had already made some other changes, like choosing to give up coffee and most processed foods, because I had learned from having a grandson with lots of behaviour difficulties, that he couldn’t tolerate foods with some additives. So I had worked out that if colours, preservatives and flavours could send his brain wild, it may surely be affecting me in some small measure too. This awareness and slight adjustment was a preparation for the journey I was about to embark upon.

The “Medical” that was part of Atul’s first look at me was impressive. He already had my medical history in the form of knowing any significant illnesses or operations I had experienced, and the history of my parents health. He then left me, and came back with an eating plan. It took into account what I was in the habit of eating and drinking and the changes were not draconian. My greatest change at that time was to cut down drastically on my liquid intake. That was new learning but on listening to Atul and reading a small book, “Dry up not drink up”, I was convinced. I also ate one meal of raw food each day and one meal starting with a “salad” followed by cooked food. The great thing about all the recommendations is that at each stage there is very easy to read, convincing evidence to support the rationale behind the new way of approaching food, what, how and when you eat it. During each appointment Atul talks quietly and in a caring manner about how your body works, what it needs and relates all his knowledge to you and how you are. It is the best treatment I have ever experienced. No waste of time here.

Being a very active person who resented my bad back and all the restrictions of Osteoarthritis, I was not pleased to be encouraged to lay flat each afternoon. Surprisingly when I did, I used to fall asleep for 35 minutes, wake up and feel great. Couldn’t believe it. In fact that is typical of the whole development of treatment, it wakens up your body and mind to be in tune. On a positive and more acceptable note was the recommendation to do a brisk 40-minute walk each day and a big walk once a week. Gradually, as I got used to this new way of being, the improvement was visible to all my friends. I lost weight, not dramatically but in such a way that I moved better and health began to show in my face and posture. I got used to the initial modification to my eating plan, when Atul suggested 3 vegetarian meals a week. I said “You’re not going to turn ME into a vegetarian”. He simply quietly said, “You will not enjoy really good health until you do “.

Being a farmer’s daughter you can imagine my feeling of discomfort when recently I attended a fat stock dinner with my brother as chairman, where I was the only vegetarian in a gathering of well over 130 people. My body had decided the way it wanted me to be. As I cleaned up my act, I became aware that I did not want animal protein any more. Since becoming vegetarian I have not missed the diet of the carnivore and gradually people have accepted my new way. I am the only vegetarian in my family of five but it is now easy to manage.

My aches and pains are almost completely gone. Because I have a Spondylolysthesis, I have an unstable back and if I carry heavy luggage or overdo any strenuous activity I can get out of line. Atul has me realigned very soon. He offers gentle but effective manipulation preceded by deep massage.

I overdid it at the farm recently and boy did I get pain. It was old behaviour, competing with my brother, lifting heavy buckets of water over high sheep pens. Definitely something I did not need to do. After treatment I was only incapacitated for a week. In the past that would have meant a week in hospital, traction, and the horror of a body pot. I heal more quickly, and I do not fight my pain any longer. It is my friend and is there to keep me in touch with what I need to do. I have taken no more than 4 painkillers in the time I have been going to Atul. The alternative treatment of cold compresses, hot and cold treatment, fasting, resting and exercise is so much kinder to my body and has me grateful not to have been given a hospital appointment.

I know that others have noticed this massive improvement in my functioning, as many are now going to Atul for treatment themselves. The whole journey was possible because Atul gave me the information, the recommendations and the rest is up to me. This I am happy to accept. As soon as I am told I “have” to do something, I figuratively stamp my feet and behave like a rebel teenager.

I have tried to convince my brother who is facing two hip replacements to try this way first. He is attached to his way of life and he is choosing. I am pain free; I swim, attend a gym, can walk big walks, travel, look after my grandchildren, and enjoy it all. My shoulders move freely, my thumbs are pain free, and if I stay within certain limits of not carrying heavy luggage or shopping, I can take a rucksack and do almost anything.

I now call any discomfort like a snuffly nose, sore throat, hot head, fever and sickness a healing crisis and relax knowing my body is doing it’s work.

I found the booklets from the Kingston Clinic a bit old-fashioned but as I benefited from what I learned from them I soon lost this criticism. They are not expensive and easy to read. I believe Atul is in the process of updating this resource.

We are further supported by attending a series if Seminars given by Atul. These have been once a month, on topics of interest to improve our understanding around health with the opportunity to ask questions and meet other people sharing our interest. It is a most enjoyable time, as we first eat a lovely vegetarian meal, and afterwards, take home a hand out to remind us of key points.

Everyone I speak to who attends Atul for guidance would like to thank him. Because it is up to all of us to take the responsibility for our own health and the way we are in our world, and because the basic message is simple, he doesn’t need or want the adulation. However, I am grateful that he has the skill, the knowledge and the conviction to keep being there for all of us. There are great pressures to be living by other ways than Naturopathy, but through choosing to live this new way I have experienced freedom from pain and a restricted way of life, and everything is more enjoyable. Wake up world, and at least consider giving it a try.

June W ( N Yorks)