Take Two Herbal Tonics And Call Me In The Morning

Holistic treatments are growing as a medical alternative. Here's what you need to know.

As an overweight child, Jeffrey Banks endured years of ridicule and rejection. By the time he reached his senior year of high school, he weighed 400 pounds and was diagnosed with Type II diabetes.

“I remember the morning that it happened. I was rushing to get to school when, all of a sudden, I got a severe pain in my stomach. My mother rushed me to the emergency room, where I was told that my blood sugar was so high, I could have died,” recalls Banks, now 30. “Doctors told me that I could reverse the diabetes by losing weight, but to me that was like a pipe dream because I hadn’t seen anybody lose the amount of weight that I was carrying around. It just didn’t seem possible.”

Encouraged that he could still live a normal life with the right medication, Banks took his daily insulin injections and diabetic pills to stabilize his blood sugar level. He graduated from college, worked as a substitute teacher for several years, and eventually started his own events planning and promotion business. But after gaining nearly another 100 pounds, Banks began to feel as if the medicine was perpetuating his illness, as he would eat to keep his blood sugar up, but then have no practical way of managing his weight.

He briefly considered gastric bypass surgery after trying a number of yo-yo diets, but opted against it after a bariatric surgeon suggested he lose the weight naturally. It was then that Banks partnered with his friend, a personal trainer, to try and shed some pounds from his 6-foot 3-inch frame. But irregularity in his routine thwarted any progress he might have made. By 2004 Banks was 525 pounds, making him a prime candidate for a heart attack.

“I was slowing down so I knew that I had to make a change. I just didn’t know how the change was going to come, so I prayed that God would make the resources available for me to lose the weight successfully and He did,” Banks says.

Through his personal trainer, Banks met Dr. Andrea Pennington, a holistic practitioner and founder of the Pennington Institute for Health & Wellness in Silver Spring, Maryland. The institute blends traditional medicine with holistic therapies such as acupuncture, therapeutic touch, and massage therapy.

Banks enrolled in the Life Transformation Makeover program, where he learned what to eat and how often. He worked with a personal trainer and underwent acupuncture to help suppress his appetite. Banks lost 200 pounds in eight months and reversed his 12-year history of diabetes. He no longer takes insulin or oral medications. “I was 300 pounds by the time I was 13, so I had a lot of rejection growing up. I had dating challenges and dealt with a lot of insecurities, so I ate because it was a way of feeling good. Of course, at the time I didn’t realize that my eating was tied to wanting to be comforted, but the acupuncture allowed me to relax, really focus

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