Tag: Center for Integrative Medicine at University of Arizona

Effective Path to Natural Healing


Rich Evans, former Committee on Publication for Arizona

Why are so many people reaching out for more natural forms of healing today?

For instance, a young mother recently expressed her delight in having her second child born naturally, instead of by cesarean delivery, experienced in her first childbirth. A close acquaintance is keen on natural oils, herbs, and supplements to augment her family’s health. A naturopath friend diligently seeks to cure his patients by re­balancing the normal physical elements found in the human body, in order to exclude more invasive measures. The Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona strives to discover complementary or alternative means to standard medical approaches, broadening the possibilities for healing.

Perhaps these are all evidences of seekers wanting something better than to be classified as merely a chemical compound, and to work from the premise that each individual is a whole person, and therefore responsible for their own health.

Such an expansive aspiration can attract the criticism of those at ease with the more conventional model of healthcare.

Natural healing, for example, is described, in part, by Wikipedia as pseudoscience. Naturopaths and others in this field, devoting their life to natural healing modalities, understandably don’t take well to the “pseudo” prefix, synonymous with “fake, false, feigned.” Who would? This narrow point of view, perhaps, stems from the habit of considering health as just a limited, matter­based experience without more.

This “more” is not just alternative matter ­ such as oils, herbs, and supplements ­ but a different idea of substance itself. I’ve found that the idea of what’s “natural” is truly expanded when we cease tying it to matter as the “must have” cause and effect. By definition, matter is a limitation because it excludes all that is spiritual. The magnificence and universality of divine Love’s impulse to all mankind is missing — an un-healing limit to place on one’s health.

Ancient and current examples of natural, spiritual healing by divine Love exist. The master Christian, Jesus, healed the servant of a Roman Centurion in response to the soldier’s confidence such healing could transpire without physical intervention and with no diagnosis of matter (Matt. 8:5-­13).

A more recent healing is one of my own. I was freed from a blistered eye, which had become blurry and painful. The situation was alarming. But with persistent prayer to understand the presence of this universal healing Love, and how it is naturally accessible to all ­ as it was to Jesus, to the Centurion, and to many others ­ the condition on my eye cleared. I was healed.

After a decade, there has been no remnant of that experience – no lingering worry of a recurrence. Where did I get my confidence in this divine Science (capitalized to express this God­-based healing system)? It grew from my study of such statements as this: “The physical healing of Christian Science results now, as in Jesus’ time, from the operation of divine Principle [a term for God], before which sin and disease lose their reality in human consciousness and disappear as naturally and as necessarily as darkness gives place to light and sin to reformation. Now, as then, these mighty works are not supernatural, but supremely natural. ” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy, p. xi: 9-­15)

Perhaps it is this spiritual thought, available to all, that is the most effective path to natural healing – healing not dependent on matter, but recognizing that God is indeed forever with us, and, as a result, harmony, health, and healing are present and natural, now as always.

This article was published by The Arizona Silver Belt, July 8, 2015.

Who’s Responsible For My Health?

 

 

Health care solutions multiply as we learn to take responsibility for our own health.

 

This is true even in the face of exigencies such as those reported in the September 11th edition of the Arizona Daily Star entitled, “Aging US faces cancer-care crisis, report finds”, by Lauran Neergaard of the Associated Press.  A panel under the auspices of the Institute of Medicine reported that a crisis looms as a result of the expected increase in cancer related cases.  The demographics regarding aging in the US, the complexity of treatments, and the shortage of specialized medical professionals raise a serious concern.  The forecast is that cancer cases could increase from 1.6 million per year to 2.3 million per year in 2030.

 

The article mentions, “too often, decisions about cancer treatments aren’t based on good evidence, and patients may not understand their choices and what to expect”.  For example, “two-thirds or more of patients with poor prognoses incorrectly believe the treatments they receive could cure them”.  It goes on to advise, “Topping the list of recommendations is finding ways to help patients make more informed decisions, with easy-to-understand information on the pros, cons and costs of different treatments”.

 

Shifting the responsibility to an informed patient is apparently gaining traction.  A book, released in 2011, entitled, The New Health Age, The Future of Health Care in America, by David Houle and Jonathan Fleece, says “…it is time for all American citizens to accept greater responsibility for their own health”.

 

These writings, along with certain aspects of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, indicate a clear trend to engage the individual in health care choices and to make each of us more responsible for our health, both preventative and curative.

 

Underneath all of this is an assumption that individuals know where to obtain the information for making wise decisions about their health.  Both the news article and the book, however, are based on a modern surgery and drug utilization model of health and, by definition, assume that model as the scope of understanding needed to make informed decisions.  But health and how to achieve it begs broader consideration.

 

The history of health is not tantamount to the history of medicine.  The latter in its modern form has only been around for the last two centuries, according to Houle and Fleece.  Whereas, maintaining one’s health has always been a concern of mankind.  Methods of care and healing have evolved and have been embraced in different ways.  They include physical, mental, and spiritual approaches to health.  For example, those who find that they are faced with a prognosis of incurability in one dimension can appeal to another, which may provide the path of health.  Taking greater responsibility for one’s health may also involve shifting one’s view of what health is, and how to achieve it.

 

An acquaintance of mine had been diagnosed with Meniere’s Syndrome, for which the caring physicians could offer no cure.  So, my friend began to study more earnestly how a mental and spiritually prayerful approach could help.  Her search led her to see herself as more than a physical organism and to recognize the possibilities coming from a spiritual concept of health.  She was healed.

 

While to some this may seem highly unusual, changing one’s basis of thinking about life and health from an entirely physical point of view to a more mentally conscious or metaphysical one, is becoming increasingly common.  The work and writings of physicians like Larry Dossey or institutions like the University of Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, are leading more and more patients and physicians to broader considerations.

 

The idea that health is more than what goes on with the body, and that it is important for each of us to take charge of our health, is not necessarily new.  Certainly, Mary Baker Eddy, a seeker of health and a religious leader of the late 1800’s, experienced this in her recovery from a near fatal accident.  The attending physician had lost hope.  She took responsibility and turned to a spiritual source with which she was familiar, Christian healing in the Bible.  Soon she found herself healed of the injuries from the accident, increasingly able to establish her own wellbeing, to help heal others, and to teach them to replicate this healing approach.

 

Accepting responsibility as individuals expands rather than diminishes our health care solutions.  This is a propitious time.

 

 

 

Grandmothers’ Wisdom and Integrative Medicine

I was listening to a brief video  chat with Dr. Tieraona Low Dog, M.D. who is Director of the Fellowship program at the Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona.  She is also the author of the book,  Life is Your Best Medicine.   While targeted at women’s health, both her video chat and her book have some useful insights for all (http://www.drlowdog.com/omm-medicine-road.html).

The one that caught my attention was the statement made by her grandmother, that when we are born “we’re set upon a path and that path is our medicine, and that everything we do in our life, from the food that we eat to the thoughts that we think, it affects us”.  She calls this our “medicine road”.  Dr. Low Dog goes on to say in part that “so much of the diseases that we see…really have their roots in the way we live our lives.”

That encounter caused me to ask, “What is my medicine road?”  Well, it has been and is a spiritual one.  Why?  Because it is the path exemplified by Christ Jesus, whose “medicine road” many seek to follow and whose “food” was the “bread of heaven” and whose thoughts were always in touch with God, with the divine sense of existence.  The evidence-based outcomes of his medicine were healing, redemption, and unending life.

There are sensible, practical suggestions of care for oneself given by Dr. Low Dog.  These include meditation, conscious breathing, wholesome foods, herbs, etc.  But a path must lead somewhere.  Should it be a path that ends in plants or physique?  Or, might our path be more enlightened if it leads to grace, to love of man and the universe in which we find ourselves?

One of the thoughts that I feed myself fairly regularly in the path of life is this statement from Mary Baker Eddy, a theologian who traveled a unique “medicine road” to found Christian Science.  Her statement in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures is this, “What we most need is the prayer of fervent desire for growth in grace, expressed in patience, meekness, love, and good deeds”.  That is the most practical and healthiest “medicine road” I know…one my grandmothers left to me.

“Whole-body Healing”…Good Step

The Arizona Republic recently ran an article (Friday, January 5, 2013) in its “your health” section entitled, “Whole-body Healing” written by Ken Alltucker.  The article focused on patient centered, integrative medicine.  Good news…the founder of the term “integrative medicine” is in our backyard.  While the field is growing, the term and concept have been developed by Dr. Andrew Weil, who heads the University of Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine (CIM).  As the article indicates, integrative medicine, while viewed in various ways, can be defined as “the practice of combining conventional medicine with complementary and alternative medical techniques that are supported by medical literature or evidence”.  This is a breakthrough article for this column.

The article further described that the CIM has opened an office in Phoenix, the Arizona Integrative Health Center, which approaches health with the patient at the focus of the practice, rather than the disease.  Then, there are several examples given of work being performed at the Mayo Clinic and by an individual psychiatrist in their respective practices using integrative medicine techniques successfully.  I find all of this encouraging, as it begins to recognize healing as involving a more complete understanding of the whole person as patient.  The examples given demonstrate that solutions emerged when either habits of thinking or acting were corrected, demonstrating the importance of thought on the body and its connection to healing.

One has to appreciate the courage, candor, and clarity shared by Drs. Bergstrom (Mayo), Hernandez (independent psychiatrist), and Rula (medical director of the CIM), as they push the frontiers of their professions into a more holistic frame.  In the article, among the varied healing strategies of patient centered, integrative medicine, there was a brief mention of spiritual well-being as part of the “whole”.  Given that among the stated purposes of the CIM are evidence-based and lower cost methods, spiritual well-being may be key to achieving those goals.

The spiritual basis of healing is perhaps the longest running method in the spectrum of integrative healing, actively utilized well before that term existed.  Not only can we find numerous accounts in Biblical history, especially after the establishment of Christianity, but there is ample evidence today of its efficacy.  My own experience includes healing of pain, viruses, malaria, and many other disorders all through spiritual prayer…prayer that is not wishful thinking or a function of the human brain, but a recognition of divine, loving consciousness, divine Mind, if you will, reflected in our individual thought and lives.  More than a remedy, the advantage of spiritual well-being, is that it includes a fulfilling sense of identity and health for all, without economic barriers.

I like the direction of The Arizona Republic article and hope that the “whole-body” concept continues to expand the role of spiritual well-being.  Perhaps we will learn that it is at the center of our health.  It certainly is for me.

Health is More Than You Think

Health is not simply about medications.  For some, it may not be about that at all.  Health is about health.

Modern medicine proffers cures to disease, where health seems absent, deficient, or awry.  It primarily involves physical intervention, either by chemistry (drugs) or surgery.  It implies that without such interventions, health will be lost relative to the pathology in question.  The public expect that the goal of medicine is the regaining of health for the individual affected.  That’s good.  I have certainly known and worked with very well-motivated MD’s.  This is the world of health recovery that is generally accepted and presumed as authority.

But there is so much more to health.  Integrative medicine understands this by organizing healthy outcomes around multiple modes of healing.  The Center for Integrative Medicine (CIM) at the University of Arizona, under the leadership of Dr. Andrew Weil, is at the forefront of this work.  In a conversation I had with the director of research at the CIM, I learned that their courses for MD’s included many modalities, including prayer and metaphysical healing.  Putting into practice their commitment to the integrative approach, they have joined with Maricopa County (Arizona’s most populous county, including Phoenix metro) to provide this broader approach to healthcare in the insurance coverage for its employees. (See Arizona Republic, November 28, 2011, “Study to Use County-Worker Data”, by Michelle Ye Hee Lee.)  It is a study that will be completed June 30, 2015.

In the Friday section of The Arizona Republic, entitled “Healthy Living”, there are articles that deal with more than conventional medical remedies, often pertaining to lifestyle choices and diet.  One column refers to “mind, body and soul”.   The topics are not as far-reaching as CIM’s scope, but it is a beginning.

An Arizona friend, who is a naturopathic physician, in fact he is the current President of the  American Association of Naturopathic Physicians, among other contributions to his field, joined with me in a discussion of the spectrum of approaches to health.  The axis of the spectrum was defined by degree of physical involvement. Traditional modern western medicine, spoken of in the second paragraph of this article, was the mode he placed at the “wholly physical” end of the spectrum and he placed prayer and metaphysical healing at the other, “wholly spiritual”.  Along the spectrum were such modes as osteopathy, chiropractic,  naturopathy, homeopathy, message, yoga, reiki, mental therapies/counseling (of course, psychotropic drugs would push this toward the more physical end of the spectrum), shamanism, prayer, and provable spiritual healing.  There are many, but this is illustrative of the spectrum.  All modes would probably assert that they are both prophylactic and therapeutic.

Why should anyone care about this spectrum of modalities?  Efficacy.  If someone is not finding their health either established or maintained by the mode they have tried, then it is good to know that the possibilities are not limited by the modes that dominate public thought and have the appearance of authority.

I have found my health and its maintenance at the least invasive end of the spectrum, that of prayer and spiritual healing.  It has been effective and the proof has been a life primarily without medical intervention.  More importantly, the spiritual end of the spectrum works with ontology, the metaphysical nature of being, and learning to live with less focus on physique per se.  The physical becomes subordinate and conforming to spiritual insight and a sense of divine reality.  This mode of health is not new.  For several thousand years humanity has recorded events of healing by spiritual means alone; and we still do so today.  These healings lead to a love for God and man and break from the fear-generating limitations of an abject material existence.

Health is what we think it is, and more than that.