A Mr. Fix-It aims to repair bodies using naturopathy

Randy Aiken believes his hands are “gifts.” He can turn a wrench with authority. His practical skills are broad.
In winter, he delivers fuel oil. He also installs and repairs heating and air-conditioning systems. He is a plumber and electrician. He removes asbestos and inspects buildings for structural soundness.

He is a chatty, affable man who is known by his trademark cowboy boots. He is 65 years old, but looks younger. His body is solid and muscular, and he exudes health and vigor. He hasn’t been sick in 33 years, he claims. He expects to live to age 100.

For many customers, he is a doctor, in the original sense of the word – a teacher. He fixes more than furnaces; he also tries to repair bodies.

“When I visit people’s houses, and see a kitchen table full of pills, it bothers me,” Aiken says.

He carries a loose-leaf binder in his service truck filled with articles from various sources about different ailments – heartburn, hair loss, high blood pressure, stiff joints – and their supposed remedies. He hands them out freely.

“He fixes my heater or my leaky faucet and then he gives me health advice,” says Alison Shoemaker of Wyndmoor.

In May, Aiken received a doctorate in naturopathy from Clayton College of Natural Health in Birmingham, Ala., after four years of online study. His interest was stirred when he was a teenager at Willow Grove High School. To repel bullies, he began lifting weights and exploring nutritional supplements to add bulk.

Proponents of naturopathy believe proper nutrition can secure and prolong health. For Aiken, the holy trinity of naturopathy is exercise; raw fruits and vegetables; and a daily multivitamin and mineral supplement.

Many in mainstream medicine look askance at naturopathy, dismissing it as folk medicine and quackery, unsupported by hard science and reliable studies.

“Natural healing has been around for thousands of years,” Aiken says. “Before aspirin, people chewed on willow bark to reduce fever, pain, and inflammation.”

Aiken finds it ironic that more progressive elements of the medical establishment have embraced naturopathic precepts under the label “alternative medicine.” There are many paths to well-being; naturopathy is the path that works for him, Aiken says.

“I’m carrying on Grandma’s tradition,” Aiken says. “When she told you to drink a shot of vinegar, to take a spoonful of cod liver oil, and to eat fresh fruits and vegetables, she was right.”

Aiken, a divorced father of five who lives in Plymouth Meeting, practices what he preaches by lifting weights five days a week at the Abington Y. In between sets, he runs in place.

For breakfast, he typically eats cereal with a banana (“the potassium keeps me from cramping up”), sausage (“the body needs fat and the protein keeps my blood sugar from dropping”), and a small glass of hot pepper juice topped off with apple cider vinegar.

For lunch, he eats salad greens, raw vegetables (tomatoes, carrots, radishes, onions), and fruit (grapes, apples, oranges, bananas, plums, pineapple).

Supper may consist of salmon, spare ribs, beans, and more raw vegetables. Every day, he drinks at least two cups of herbal tea and eats half a lemon and four celery stalks. He also takes a multivitamin, fish oil capsules, and a tablespoon of liquefied minerals.

He shuns white sugar, flour, and rice, and processed foods. Instead of table salt, he uses sea salt.

His bete noire is anything pharmaceutical. “Everyone wants a magic pill,” he laments, “so they can continue to do what they want uninterrupted.”

If there is a “magic pill,” it is this: moderation and balance. Too much stress can also derange the body’s chemistry, he says. Exercise is one way he relieves stress. His 34-foot motorboat is another. Recently, he learned to fly and earned a pilot’s license.

“The key is to have a clear mind,” Aiken says, “and to be content in your own skin.”

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