Monday, February 26, 2007

Four legs to a chair

Health requires balance. Balance is the product of strength and stability. Strength results from practice and training. Stability comes from appropriately focusing our practice and training efforts. Balance and focus are vital to living a healthy existence.
The seat of a chair rests on four legs of equal length; so too our health depends on the stability of four pillars: physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional well being. Often individuals examine one of these pillars looking to improve health, while overlooking the other three. More often than not this single focus can actually potentiate the imbalance. There is no such thing as a single cause. Health is the sum of the totality of our being.
Becoming aware of the importance of our mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional well being is the first step towards understanding how to strengthen them completely. When we are aware, we can shift our focus appropriately to balance these aspects of ourselves to optimize our state of health. Then we can begin to rest comfortably with our entire being.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Simple in theory

Most Naturopathic recommendations are simple... drink more water, eat more whole foods, exercise daily, get a good nights sleep, manage stress effectively, etc. The reality is that these simple recommendations are not always easy to actualize. This type of change requires discipline, structure, and foresight. It can feel restrictive, and on the surface it initially is. Ultimately the result of the structure and discipline is liberation. No longer a prisoner to ill health; no longer struggling through the day while depleted of nutrients and energy; we are free to reach a state of health where "the vital force reigns supreme and governs the physical body to reach the lofty goal of human existence" (paragraph 9, "The Organon of Medicine" by Samuel Hahnemann). This is a divine state in which to live and grow.
There is an overwhelming reluctance for most to embrace this change and freedom. The reluctance is born of fear. A fear that it is all too difficult, or that I am not worthy of this change. How can we succeed against societal and marketing pressure constantly promoting a lifestyle void of health, balance, and meaning? It is scary! Internal and external, conscious and subconscious, we have much to overcome.
It is vital to remember that while striving to heal and grow there can be no failure. It is a journey with triumphs and setbacks. The cumulative progress is always forward, moving us toward our goals. We need only to take the first step. Embrace the opportunity now, and welcome health into your life.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Docere - Physician as Teacher

The word "Doctor" has its root in the Latin word "Docere"meaning teacher. Historically doctors have embraced this aspect of their profession. Spending time with patients, explaining the diagnosis, discussing treatment options, and just catching up, would all be part of a regular appointment.
Times certainly have changed. Now a visit to a typical doctor's office consists of a wait lasting longer than the actual appointment, face time with the doctor seldom lasting more than 15 minutes, and unfortunately because of the hurried appointment questions are often left unsaid. The result is a patient population feeling isolated, confused, and scared. The doctors, pressured by insurance quotas, are rushed and restricted. Ultimately, both sides are left longing for something more. Just a little more time, a little more listening, a little more understanding, could go a long way towards patients that are happy and hopeful about their health. And as a doctor, sleep comes easier when there is certainty each patient was given all the opportunity needed to ask questions, to have options explained.
Times have changed. But I have hope. I strive to be a different type of healer. Helping patients, empowering patients is not about me. It is not about my time. It is not about what I think is best. Teaching patients is about sharing knowledge and providing options. Then the doctor moves out of the way to let the healing take place. The healing happens on its own, with and through the patient. I am fortunate to be able to sit back and watch.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The Path...

We go hiking, not to reach the end of the trail, but to enjoy the views, the challenge, the fresh air. It is not about the destination. The path is the key. Life and hence health is the same.

Life is a journey. Relationships are journeys.
Health is a journey. Health is a relationship.

Health springs forth from the relationships we nurture within ourselves. We cultivate relationships with our families, our friends, our food, our physique, our emotions, our spiritual practice, our addictions, our dreams, our diagnosis, and so much more. The challenge we will face over and over again is the stagnation that permeates our being when any of these relationships begin to become uncomfortable.
The quick solution is to do nothing. We may deceive ourselves into believing it is an attempt to embrace the stagnation. But this is merely a false acceptance. It is false because true acceptance acknowledges the discomfort for what it is... a hurdle along life's journey. Health is about our relationships, but it must be a continuous journey. If we are stagnant, we are dying. But if we are moving, we are growing. The growth itself so often is uncomfortable and challenging. We must face it all the same. We substantiate ourselves, our lives, our health, our worth through the courage displayed as we embody this challenge. This is inevitable. These events replay in various ways throughout our lives.
We always have the ability to continue to grow, to heal, to remain on the path, even right up to the moment of our last breath on this earth. It is not and should not always be easy, but our ability is always enough. We must remember that we always possess this ability, especially in the moments when it is easiest to forget. Health corresponds not to our life lived symptom free, but to our life experienced as we heal through the moments of dis-ease.
There are boundless directions in which we may pursue health. No one modality monoplizes the ultimate path. Most important is that we choose and perservere on a path that is right for us.

Happy Hiking

Saturday, February 10, 2007

To heal or not to heal, that is the option

"The physician's highest calling, his only calling, is to make sick people healthy - to heal, as it is termed." paragraph 1 from The Organon of Medicine by Samuel Hahnemann

What an incredibly brilliant and simple way to begin a book. Samuel Hahnemann in 1810 a.d. eloquently ignores the rhetoric that often surrounds those whom today consider their practice to be one of healing. When in all actuality, the majority of medicine today is palliative.

I am not ascertaining that palliation is negative. It is not necessary to apply a judgement to a word or practice. It is what it is. I personally believe that as a physician, the opportunity to facilitate the movement towards health in a patient is a gift and we have more to offer to the majority of patients than palliation.

Looking only to palliation views the patient's illness and symptoms as some problem beyond control. The way to survive is to exist independent of the problem. And to be independent one must fight, and the fight can be gruesome. It is the battle that is often waged with surgery and conventional pharmaceuticals. The battle proceeds indefinitely, while the patient is locked into a war which creates problems of its own.

A healing mindset embraces the illness and symptoms as they are without judgement. Any desired shift in health is a choice that is within our control. We grow and shift health as diplomats (Getting at the Root, by Andrew Lange N.D. p. 25), bringing balance and peace back to our life, accepting our existence as it is with every step along the way. Just recognizing the significance of the healing process is empowering and simultaneously liberating. Our health is not measured by an absence of symptoms, but by the presence of vitality.

Ultimately, the palliative or healing mindset is the choice of the patient, utilized in conjunction with the treatment options provided by their doctor. Naturopathy does not monopolize the ability to heal a patient any more than does herbal, chiropractic, allopathic medicine, etc. There is no such thing as a singularly healing or palliative treatment modality, just modalities that are used to palliate or to heal. In fact, intention and direction is vastly more important than the treatment method used.

Friday, February 9, 2007

Wet Socks - a must have hydrotherapy treatment

This sounds much more difficult to implement than it actually is. Most people worry about sleep quality, but then report that their sleep actually improves with the wet socks. It is an old folk remedy, tested and true. It is great for colds, sinus infections, sore throats, ear infections, coughs, and much more. I have personally used it to support healing in the legs after a sprained ankle. I know first hand how effective the treatment can be for infections and when sick, I am often discouraged that I did not put the wet socks on a day earlier and potentially avoid the later symptoms of the infection. It is great for kids. Surprisingly, they typically don't complain about having cold wet socks put on their feet.

1 pair white cotton socks
1 pair thick wool socks - as close to 100% wool as you have

1. Wet cotton socks and soak them completely with cold water. Be sure to wring the socks out thoroughly so they do not drip. If you desire, place wet socks in the freezer for 3 to 5 minutes (do not freeze if using this treatment on children).
2. While cotton socks are chilling, warm your feet. This is very important to increase the efficacy of the treatment. Warming can be accomplished by soaking your feet in warm water for at least 5-10 minutes, massaging the feet vigorously, using a heating pad, etc.
3. Dry the feet off completely.
4. Place cold wet socks on feet. Cover with thick wool socks. Go directly to bed. Avoid getting chilled.
5. Keep the socks on overnight. The cotton socks should be dry in the morning.

This treatment works by forcing an increase in circulation down through the legs at night to dry the socks from the inside. The increased circulation supports drainage in the sinuses and throat at night while you sleep. Typically during the night our circulation throughout the body is very stagnant. Wet socks changes that normal dynamic. It works. Try it sooner than later.

Garlic Oxymel for Immune Support - medicine in the kitchen

This is an easy at home recipe for a garlic oxymel. Ox´y`mel. A mixture of honey, water, vinegar, and plant, boiled to a syrup. This is great when used at the first signs of a cold or flu.

At least 1 bulb of garlic
Local honey*
Apple Cider Vinegar

Peel garlic cloves and cut in half.
Boil garlic in 4 cups of water until translucent.
Remove water from stove.
Add 1/4 cup of honey.
Add 1/4 cup of Apple Cider Vinegar.
Mix well.
Drink 1/3 to 1/2 cup of warm liquid, two to three times a day, eating at least 2 cloves of the cooked garlic with each serving.
Oxymel may be kept covered in the refrigerator for 4 weeks.
*do not give honey to children under 1 year old.

Feel free to share this with friends.
Look for more at home immune support in the future.