My journey started with a cigarette. Seventeen, not real sure of myself, but sure I’d never smoke. I was a pretty handy middle distance runner – not a champion but had run at state level over 10klms. Then we all starting sneaking into clubs. I was pretty small and a later developer, so I took up smoking to look cool and older, and to battle my fears. Just on Saturday night. Funny, now at almost forty when I see such “kids” smoking they seem so young.

I never smoked during the week, till I moved into a share house. I was one of 4, was training at the time to compete in triathlons. I was working full time and studying for a law degree. The rest of my housemates were less motivated and their lives were radically simpler. Very quickly my motivation slipped and soon I was on a regular routine of “Its your turn to buy the case”. And booze meant cigarettes.

Over the next 20 years I would give up countless times. Sometimes for 6 months at a time. I’d never been more than a 10 a day man, for years I was a 1 a day man, but for 20 years I’d been a smoker, who took breaks.

Finally, at 38 I’d managed to kick the nasty habit for 12 months and was considering myself a non smoker. Thank god I would think. Maybe I would get away with it scott free. I was fit and healthy again, only time would tell whether their would still be a price to pay some time down the road.

Then, at the end of 2007 I got a cold. Nothing to really worry about, just a bit of a productive cough that went on for a few weeks. Then a few months. Oh god I thought, I didn’t get away scott free, I’ve got a serious problem. Endless tests later it was determined I did not have lung cancer, ashma, allergies(dust, mold or food) emphysema or an enlarged heart. What I had was chronic bronchitis, probably unrelated to smoking, more likely caused by a virus that I my immune system had now conquered, but my body was still feeling the effects from. 6 months of doctoring had got me nowhere.

In desperation I went to a holistic medical centre, where my case was taken over by a physician AND a Naturopath who worked together to get me well. My physician started me on a course of anti-inflammatory steroids, and my naturopath did a series of test and gave me things to boost my immune system and to specifically help my lungs settle.

And settle they did. I have no doubt, that it was the combined efforts of my doctor and my naturopath that finally sorted me out.

A few things here. I am a skeptic. I believe(d) if you are sick, go to a doctor, get a script, get better. I was happy to let the naturopath treat me at the same time as the trained doctor, but was putting all my expectations on the doctor. Some strange things happened.

Firstly, I’ve had pretty ordinary skin, forever. Acne as a teenager never really cleared up. But… It cleared up. Apparently, I had been low in zinc pretty much forever. Zinc plays an important role in our immune system, and also in keeping our skin healthy.  I also just felt…. better. Not just my lungs, but in every way. Stronger, healthier. This was way more than any placebo effect, and in any case, I was an unbeliever. As a write this, there Selenium is the buzz word in preventing cancer, and I’ve been on some supplement containing it for the last 4 months. But wait, there’s more. I’d been having pains in my right side midway between my ribs and groin for 18 months and had put it down to a possible hernia…. and it just went away.

And my lungs got better. My doctor had thought I might need to permanently be on the steroids, but within 3 months the steroids were left on the shelf.

So now, I’m training to compete in that triathlon that I never did do.. I’m almost 40, but I’m hoping for a time pretty close to what I would have done when I was twenty. My naturopath is now working with me on a “keep the aging athletes body going” plan and its really working out.

(Editors Note:- the man on the bike is not the articles author)