Feeling healthy, happy, and terrific

People often assume that the Amish, whom we think of as a people ‘in tune with nature’ and ‘close to the earth’ (which to some degree may be true, whatever those phrases actually mean) are strictly all-natural when it comes to the food they raise. 

In fact, on most Amish farms pesticides are put to use. Organic farming is something that is catching on in certain areas, but it’s definitely a minority share of the Amish-produced milk on the market.  However, those that do take the trouble to go organic are rewarded with higher prices for their milk.  The supposedly healthier-for-you produce finds a slightly different market as well.  This sign is from the Amish community around Geauga County, Ohio.


To say that the Amish are into health supplements and alternative treatments would be something of an understatement.  Last time I was in Ohio, one couple I know fairly well was subtly promoting a new one for me, some sort of a pill which I believe contained an entire dried fruit, or at least all the vitamins and good things you’d find in one. 

I guess it was a time-saver thing, just pop one and avoid all hassle of eating a run-down-your-chin juicy peach or whatever it might be.  Actually these guys are still into eating regular fruits, I think the idea was more about upping the fruit intake without having to go through two bushels a day (which could potentially wreak major havoc on one’s internals, so to speak).

Whenever I’m around, I usually pick up some sort of health supplements from a furniture maker friend in the same community, who sells them on the side.  Last time it was a Chondroitin-Glucosamine concoction that was supposed to fix up my bum knee.  Well, the bum knee went away as I used it over the summer.  Causality or coincidence, I cannot say.

In the Nappanee, Indiana community, as well as the Daviess County, Indiana community, a couple of Amish acquaintances run prospering health-goods and dietary supplements stores.  The new thing I’ve been seeing in Amish areas lately is Xango juice, a special brew made from the mangosteen fruit, and supposed to contain xanthones–‘next-generation phytonutrients’, with all sorts of intestinal, immune, and anti-oxidant benefits.  The stuff is potent, slickly-marketed, and expensive, at close to 40 bucks a bottle.

This photo, of an Amish Xango dealer’s road-side sign, is also from Geauga County.


Why are the Amish so into the so-called alternative health market?  There seems to be some truth to the idea that the Amish go for things that tend towards the natural side.  I have detected a belief among some Amish that a lot of what modern medicine has given us to make us better actually may do the opposite.   Not a backwards-thinking mentality–the  typical Amishman when faced with a serious health issue is going to get in the taxi and get to the doctor–but perhaps more a healthy skepticism.  And I’m not one to knock that idea.

Get the Amish in your inbox

Join 15,000 email subscribers. No spam. 100% free

    Join the Amish America Patreon for bonus videos & more!

    Similar Posts

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


    1. Mike

      It’s unfortunate but the fact is that the Amish are among the most susceptible types for every alternative cure out there both genuine and quack. It is equally hard to sort out the two sorts of cures as it is to answer the question of why they are so gullible. My Amish grandparents visited the equivalent of an Amish witch doctor to try to effect cures for every thing from colon problems to bed-wetting. The Amish have been particularly fond of Mexican clinics which treat diseases in ways that are much cheaper or in some cases illegal in the US. I puzzle over why this is and I don’t really have the answers. As traditional as the Amish are in some ways, they are really progressive and risque when it comes to health; just pick up any issue of the Budget and see the ads for all the latest cure-alls. The money that is expended for herbs and special clinics such things is nearly unbelievable if one considers that it is almost impossible to prove whether many of these remedies actually prevent or cure disease of any kind.

    2. Just wanted to tell you how much I’ve been enjoying your blog. Great information! On our trip to Lancaster last summer, my children each acquired Amish penpals. My 13 year old daughter is penpals with a 13 year old girl (they both turned 13 within a month of each other and exchanged homemade gifts). My 10 yo son is penpals with a now 13 year old boy (he turned 13 this month). They also exchanged gifts on their birthdays, but they were not homemade. It’s been a great experience for my kids, and we hope to actually meet the two children this summer. Both of the Amish children are very friendly and often include an invitation to “come see us anytime!”

    3. Teresa that is great to hear. I think that can be a very enriching experience for all the kids involved. Hope you maintain contact and get a chance to go back for a visit! And thanks for visiting the blog!


    4. Emma


      I’ve got a Conservative Menno. friend who is quite in the dietary supplements stuff herself (she sell them). What’s interesting is that she’s from an Amish background, so I suppose it’s a cultural thing she kept.
      I’m quite skeptical myself about those supplements (my opinion is if your living an healthy life you should not need them) But then why not, it might help.
      I was flabbergasted tho when she presented me a device which was sending low electrical pulses supposed to cure everything depending how stong the pulse was… No comment…(I think I spend my stay rolling my eyes, tho it was quite funny seeing them sitting still and sometimes jerking when the pulse was too strong!!!)

      Fortunately, they never hesitate to go and see the doctor when something imprtant happens!

    5. Unconventional Amish health care in Mexico

      Mike I think you make some interesting points–does the propensity toward the ‘all-natural’ mainly result from inherent suspicion of artificial remedies? With Mexico I always marked that down to pure economics. You do see a number of ads for Tijuana-based dentists and the like in Budget, I have run across the other sometimes wild-sounding remedies as well. And I always seem to be meeting Amish who have been down to Mexico or have family down there being treated. I do wonder how the quality of service compares. Seems as if they were getting burned on that end then Mexico trips would end, but they appear to continue.

      It is interesting to consider your last point, that much of this stuff has not been proven. It is quite a progressive approach in a way. However, if Uncle Eli tried it and it works, that may be all that it takes to get me to give it a go–and I can’t blame anyone for that, as I base a lot of my consumption decisions on recommendations of trusted friends and family, as I suspect many of us do.

      Just curious, as I’ve heard of healers being present among the Amish in some instances–was the person your grandparents visited of the Amish, or someone from outside?

    6. Did you use the word progressive to describe Amish views on dietary supplements? Come on, isn’t there somthing missing for their views to truely be progressive? Is rejecting conventional thought enough?
      Or can’t you help yourself when it comes to painting a prettier picture than what really exists?

    7. Ah, easy, hi again. Yes, looks like I used that word. Wait, but looks like ‘progressive’ can have more than one meaning–does it necessarily mean new and improved? No, it can also mean employing experimental methods. ‘Progressive in a way’ I believe is what I wrote. Different, a change from the norm, but not necessarily better. If you read my original post you might gather from it, as I write about some of these methods and cures, a tone of healthy skepticism, or at least neutrality.

      Easy, no offense friend but when I get your posts, I usually know what to expect. It seems to me that when you write here you are generally looking for the bad and negative in things. Are things really that bad man? And is there such a thing as perhaps painting a more negative picture than what really exists?

      Basically I would quite like to hear your commentary as someone that is formerly Amish but I feel that when you leave comments, you do so with an underlying agenda against me as the writer of this blog.

      I may generally lean ‘pro-Amish’, but mean no harm by it, and feel that I am fairly even-handed, as I try to consistently point out their flaws as well–such as the biggie, that is, being human. Not to toot my own horn but you could probably do a lot worse than this blog if you are someone wishing to learn more about the Amish.

      If you wish to offer an opinion or correct something you feel is wrong on this blog, I welcome it, but you may find it more effective to be less personal in how you go about it. You might even consider that it could be possible that people who were not raised Amish may have a bit of insight to offer as well.

    8. I looked up the word progressive in the dictionary before I wrote my comment. I think any fair assesment would conclude that this “it can also mean employing experimental methods. ‘Progressive in a way’ I believe is what I wrote. Different, a change from the norm, but not necessarily better.” is taking liberty with it’s definition. More importantly, the Amish people’s relationship with science leaves them vulnerable, specifically on the subject of your post. The Medical and scientific communitties may have their problems and flaws but questioning the conventional wisdom of those communities from the Amish perspective which has almost no developed critical thought and zero respect for science is dangerous and stupid.
      Your post papers over this harsh reality. I can’t concieve that your use of “progressive in a way” is anything other than deceptive language. I feel my comment was restrained in relation to the offense.

    9. Mike

      “does the propensity toward the ‘all-natural’ mainly result from inherent suspicion of artificial remedies?”

      I don’t think so because I have never heard of the Amish rejecting traditional or mainstream medicine altogether. They have little in common with the faith-healing groups that shun all medicine. They usually resort to alternatives in addition to regular treatment.

      I think in addition to economics it has a lot to do with a lack of education in basic science. This could stir up a hornet’s nest and of course some of today’s mainstream treatments and cures were at one time unexplainable alternatives. But there are many quack cures and claims out there made by people who profit from the sale of things like herbs and chiropractic treatments that are unsubstantiated and at times contradictory to known scientific facts. The Amish are very trusting in some respects and their general lack of higher education makes them a bit vulnerable to high-sounding and exotic claims in the medical field.

      “…if Uncle Eli tried it and it works, that may be all that it takes to get me to give it a go–and I can’t blame anyone for that, as I base a lot of my consumption decisions on recommendations of trusted friends and family, as I suspect many of us do.”

      Right – probably the most common defense of alternative cures that I hear is “it worked for me” or “it really helped so-and-so.” The problem is that these claims are quite subjective and cannot be used alone as real evidence that a product does what it claims to do. My wife takes an herbal supplement recommended by her Amish midwife called Gentle Birth formula. Here’s the webiste:


      It’s just hard to know whether this actually “prepares your body to give birth” as claimed, or makes the birth experience any easier or “gentler.” Birth is still a painful experience but if you wouldn’t take it would it have been worse? How can you know? It doesn’t hurt to try though, does it? Meanwhile the purveyors of this remedy make a nice profit and assure their customers that it really does work.

      “Just curious, as I’ve heard of healers being present among the Amish in some instances–was the person your grandparents visited of the Amish, or someone from outside?”

      I asked my dad again about this and he said he remembers being taken to an Amish folk-healer of some kind. This man would apparently touch the affected area making mumbling, chanting, belching, and similarly weird noises. Supposedly many Amish visited this character and some seemed to be cured of their ailments. I have personally heard my parents and grandparents talk about this fellow and my grandparents are convinced he helps people.

    10. RAE

      Mexican clinics…. a very controversal thing…. until you have been there… My husband and I spent almost 9 months doing cancer treatments in Mexico. I dont beleive that all Mexican clinics are safe, actually alot of them arent safe, and I wouldnt go to one without doing a lot of research. But the first hospital we went to was cleaner, safer and the staff was much better then any American hospital we had been to, and beleive me we had been to more then our share. I do have to say that they seem to become more money hungry as time went on…. but it was a Christian based hospital and there were patients from all over the world,celebrities etc.. I was advised by our local Drs that I am completely insane to take my husband to Mexico, 3 months later… they informed me that the changes they were seeing were amazing, and unbelievable!!!!! The only problem we had was that we waited to long… he had tried all the traditonal chemos etc.. and they failed to work, and by the time we did switch to natural medicine, it was to late…. he ended up dying in Mexcio almost 9 months after the American Drs told us there is no more they could do for him! But our local Dr told me after his death that the only reason he survived those last 9 months (and he was very active for 7 of those 9 mo.) was because he did the natural treatment.
      I used to laughat all this natual quakery… I have seen first hand this difference herbal and natural medicnes can make. Yet I do not underestimate the value of traditional medicine. Everything in moderation….

    11. plain daddy

      yeah the joke goes if you want to get an amish person to the moon just te him there is a natural doctor up there

    12. Christy Bartels

      I am a 37 year old woman, have been married for 15 years and have 4 boys. I live in Oklahoma and am a member of a Baptist Church here. I have always been interested in the plain people and would love to have a woman pen pal of any age. Thank You !