Sunday, September 27, 2009


Carolyn Humpreys once sold me a fermented soy liquid that she considered an elixir. She had just received a shipment of this brownish grayish drink and told me I should try it for whatever problem I had at the moment. “It’s so nutritious. It stimulates your body to take care of whatever’s wrong,” she said.

My attitude towards supplements is mixed. On the one hand, the right supplement can work wonders for all sorts of problems, from headaches to insomnia to bad breath. On the other hand, once you’re up to twenty different supplements a day, the cost adds up as does the hassle of remembering to take them all at the right time. So when the prospect of taking a new supplement arises, I think twice.

In this instance, Carolyn’s enthusiasm for the soy elixir was so great that she won me over.

“The people I’ve put on it are doing really well. You might even be able to drop some of your other supplements just from being on this.”

I bought two bottles and put them in the refrigerator when I got home. When I opened one, I found the taste was a mix between old gym socks and cat piss.

Over the next week I tried to remember to take the soy stuff at the right time—or at any time. But since it was out of sight in the refrigerator, and since it tasted so disgusting, it was easy to forget. In the end I decided to accept reality: I wasn’t going to drink this stuff.

Carolyn was completely understanding at my next appointment, and took back the unopened bottle for a refund, but what to do with the opened bottle? I knew she couldn’t give me money for it, but I suggested she might have another patient who would want it—the stuff was expensive and I didn’t want it to go to waste.

“I’m not allowed to do it for health reasons,” she said. “What about the Poet?” The Poet [my boyfriend] was also Carolyn’s patient and just so happened to be out in the waiting room.

“But he doesn’t have Lyme. It can help him with ________?” I asked.

“Oh yeah,” Carolyn said. “It helps with all sorts of problems.”

I was still skeptical. “I don’t know, given the way it tastes it’s going to be hard to get him to take it.”

“You never know. Some people love the taste.”

“You’re kidding,” I said.

“No, if your body needs it, your brain can sometimes help you out. I have people who swear this tastes like chocolate. All kinds of people tell me supplements taste like chocolate.”

Feeling a bit like I was in a Life cereal ad, I followed Carolyn out to the waiting room and offered the soy beverage to the Poet.

“You might really like the way it tastes,” I said helpfully. He looked interested. We poured out a tablespoon and he put it to his lips. He swallowed.

“Well?” I said, eager to see if Carolyn’s theory was true, if this was a real elixir that would solve all the Poet’s problems, make his brain turbo charged and his body full of energy, sleeping soundly at night and waking each day full of happiness, and if that were the case, would his taste buds tell him the drink was like chocolate and cry out for more?

“Well?” I asked again.

“That’s disgusting,” The Poet said.

Carolyn nevertheless told him what a panacea it was, and since the price was right (free) he was enthusiastic about it. He even, if I recall correctly, gave me some money for it. We took it home again and he finished the bottle, and perhaps, among the other supplements he was taking, it contributed to the gain in health he had while he was going to Carolyn. Who knows.

Last night I remembered Carolyn and this incident. Around 10:30, I mixed up a drink of filtered water, powdered algae (cracked-cell-wall chlorella to be specific), a few drops of silica with sunflower oil, and a few drops of electrolytes. I drank it, as I do every night at bedtime.

Throughout my life I’ve had many memorable drinks: a Newcastle Brown Ale after a long rugby game, dark hot chocolate for breakfast at a hotel in Paris, the grapefruit soda sold at street stands in Buenos Aires, and in Mexico I liked to sweeten my cafĂ© con leche with the full-flavored black sugar I found at the market. But last night as I drank the mix of algae and silica, I thought, that tastes really good.

And then I realized that I had just thought that— about algae. It didn’t taste like chocolate, but it was good. I actually enjoyed it. Carolyn’s theory must be true after all.

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