Dr. Weil hits the nail on the head

Changing Times Call for Smarter Doctors

This post is part of our forum on David H. Freedman's July/August story, "The Triumph of New Age Medicine." Follow the debate here.

The principal problem highlighted in David Freedman's article is not a clash of medical philosophies but confusion over terminology. Arguments that don't begin with precise definitions invariably generate more heat than light, and a debate on the merits of conventional, alternative or integrative medicine is fruitless unless the starting point is some agreement on which therapies fit into each of these categories.

And with an increasing number of conventional medical practitioners recommending treatments previously deemed unconventional, the lines of demarcation are getting blurred. The first step should be to clarify terminology.

Using synthetic drugs and surgery to treat health conditions was known just a few decades ago simply as "medicine." Today, this system is increasingly being termed "conventional medicine," and is the kind of medicine most Americans still encounter in hospitals and clinics. While often expensive and invasive, it is also extremely good for many things, such as medical and surgical emergencies. Some conventional medical approaches are scientifically validated, while others are not.

Any therapy typically excluded by conventional medicine, and that patients use instead of conventional medicine, is known by the catch-all term "alternative medicine." Alternative therapies are generally perceived as being closer to nature, less expensive and less invasive than conventional therapies, although there are exceptions. Some alternative therapies are scientifically validated, some are not.

When an alternative medicine practice is used in conjunction with a conventional one the approach is called "complementary." Together, complementary and alternative medicines are referred to as CAM.
Integrative medicine can be defined as healing-oriented medicine that takes account of the whole person, including all aspects of diet and lifestyle. It emphasizes the therapeutic relationship and makes use of all appropriate therapies to facilitate the body's innate healing response. Practitioners of integrative medicine neither reject conventional medicine nor accept alternative medicine uncritically, but recognize that good medicine is based in good science and must be open to new paradigms.

Use of alternative medicine is but one component of integrative medicine. It attracts the most attention and the harshest criticism. But is nutrition counseling alternative? How about exercise recommendations? What about prescribing botanicals such as saw palmetto for benign prostatic hyperplasia or red rice yeast to lower cholesterol? There is as much or more hard science establishing the efficacy and safety of these therapies as there is behind drug interventions.

The difference is that, because they are not based on patentable molecules, their profit potential is modest. Clearly, many effective therapies in the U.S. remain "alternative" simply because they lack the potential to generate vast wealth for stockholders.

The study of traditional systems such as Chinese medicine and Ayurveda, as well other therapeutic approaches, is important because some have great potential to lower health care costs as well as improve outcomes, and because it is necessary to identify the strengths and weaknesses of these interventions. The variety of alternative medicine treatments available runs the gamut from very intelligent to very foolish, and some are dangerous.
Doctors must be able to discriminate between what is safe and potentially effective for their patients, and what is not. Most users of alternative medicine would welcome the opportunity to meet with a medically trained person, such as an MD, who was intellectually flexible and possessed knowledge of therapeutic approaches beyond conventional medicine and who could objectively advise them.

Integrative medicine has much broader goals than simply bringing appropriate complementary and alternative therapies into mainstream practice. In particular, it aims to:

(1) Restore the focus of medical teaching, research, and practice on health and healing;
(2) Develop "whole person" medicine, in which the mental, emotional and spiritual dimensions of human beings are included in diagnosis and treatment, along with the physical body;
(3) Take all aspects of diet and lifestyle into account in assessing health and the root causes of disease;
(4) Protect and emphasize the practitioner/patient relationship as central to the healing process;
(5) Emphasize disease prevention and health promotion.

I believe that integrative medicine is the future of medicine and healthcare. Integrative medicine doctors, together with like-minded nurses, pharmacists, and others, are best positioned to improve health outcomes for patients and create a functional, cost-effective health care system that serves all of our citizens - one that shifts the focus of medicine from disease and treatment to health and healing.

The debate continues here.



Movie Review

Today, I went to the movie theatre for the first time in a couple years to catch a pretty good flick.

I saw "I AM" which is a documentary that addresses the main problems with humanity in current society, and what we humans can do to shift the course of our existence.  I think most would agree that human beings are getting to be a pretty screwed up race.  As our race has evolved, a huge disparity has been created due to the innate competitive nature of humans which has created a lot of imbalance on earth.  Some people live abundantly with more money and resources than they know what to do with, while the majority of people on earth are struggling to survive.  Humans are just another species inhabiting this planet, yet we are the only species that have created such problems that are ultimately destroying the earth at the expense of pursuing "happiness."  We humans have evolved through corruption to believe that happiness is something acquired through materials, possessions, and wealth... all things that we must procure through competing with others.  Competition leads to violence, stress, and sometimes the desired wealth, however rarely happiness.  The cure to this predicament is simply replacing competition with love... love is all you need.

The message of the film was completely in line with everything I believe.  My beliefs have really only taken true form in the last year or so, but the ideas have come together profoundly.  As I watched this movie, one word came to mind repeatedly - DUH.  For many, the problems are clear.  For most, they will never be understood, and if they are, they will not be of any concern.  We can only hope that these ideas spread like the fires in AZ, and more people can say "DUH" so the world will keep spinning.



Life 101

Lesson 1: Meditate

Its easy.



A big word for such a little world

I am pretty fascinated with the idea of consciousness.  I read a lot about current theories of peoples' perception of the human experience, which often over complicate how we humans perceive reality.  Most theories rely on complex brain functions or quantum physics to attempt to explain the phenomenon.  Other theories attempt to discard the science and place spirituality at the center of the functionality of consciousness.  For me, my theory is much simpler.

There are infinity times infinity to the infinitieth power of possibilities for how each microsecond of each human experience unfolds.  Then, as humans with brains, there are infinity or so possible ways that we can choose to react to each of these occurrences.  We choose to react to every detail whether we are aware of our reactions or not, whether we are conscious of the decision being made or not.  About 99.9845311% of these reactions go unnoticed.  We say that these decisions we make don't matter, they don't effect our daily life, and they have little impact on our overall human experience.  Well, I think that each and every decision plays a bigger role in life than we may think.  I think that the more conscious we become of the infinite amount of miniscule choices we make each day compounded overtime can greatly enhance our experience.

How can such nuances effect life as we know it?  Well, to begin, lets think of the infinity times infinity to the infinitieth power of possible outcomes for each microsecond.  Even though such an awesome number of possibilities exist, it is quite an exaggeration.  It is an exaggeration because only the occurrences that we are aware of and place into the realm of being possible are true possibilities.  Furthermore, all of these possibilities are limited by the rest of humans on the planet.  How can something possible for one human occur when it is a complete impossibility to someone else living under the same conditions.  This is where collective consciousness comes into play.  An abstract idea that evolves continuously in some direction or another, and a notion that many believe to be shifting rapidly in our current world.  And, if you are with me, you may have inferred that believing a shift is occurring is all that is necessary for reality to change.

So lets gets get back to the huge amount of minute occurrences that we are continuously encountering - the possibilities that are limited by the collective consciousness.  Simply knowing that you are in control of each move you make, each thought you possess, and each breath you take makes for a richer experience.  Taking yourself off of autopilot is becoming conscious.  But, you can always further remove yourself from autopilot.  You can always be in more control.  Control of your actions and control of your reactions.  Control of your thoughts and control of your beliefs.  You can be in control of your life's possibilities.  And, given the fact that the collective consciousness is growing to make room for even greater possibilities, the limitlessness becomes even more unlimited.

Take charge and start enriching.  Don't place limits on what life may offer.  Don't hold yourself back.  But more importantly, don't hold the world back.



3.785 + change

I am filling out med school applications which is a pretty lengthy, tedious process.  In addition to sending off a super duper highly classified "official" transcript, I have to list every single course that I have taken for college credit.  That includes 43 courses at UofA plus a few through community colleges while in high school.

While typing away and entering all of these courses into my application, I did quite a bit of reminiscing on my college experience.  I couldn't help but think about the hours spent studying for a freakin' "A"... along with the hours spent studying when I came up fractions of a percent away from an "A."  I don't know if my 3.785 GPA portrays the fact that I never scored below an 89% in any class.  I reflected on some of those borderline grades and how I ended up on the wrong side of the fence...

...Like the time where I scored a 96% on my physics final when I needed a 98 to get my A.
...Or the time where I missed 5 questions on my cell physiology final when I could only miss 4 to keep my A.
...Or the time my history teaching assistant didn't like me because I interacted with an obnoxious kid in class every once in a while so she never gave me above a B on any paper I wrote.
...Or the time when I took a history exam honestly and scored a B in a lecture filled with a couple hundred frat guys who had gotten their hands on a copy of the exam to "study."

Maybe I could have gone into professors' offices like some students and weeped my way to an A like a lot of people, but I didn't.

Yes, college is one big joke in many ways, but I am so thankful for being able to partake in such a joke.

I thought about where I have come as a person since starting college.  The relationships that have come and gone, dorm parties, barely being able to wake up for 10AM classes, eating panda express, chick fil-a, and eegees every week.  Its hard to sum up the growth and transformation that I have made in every aspect of my life.  I think my mind has modified more than your typical 23 year olds'.  I know without my college experience, such changes could not have come about so profoundly yet gracefully.

Now I find myself in a world where I'm not sure how well I fit.  I'm in a society where half of the current news stories are about a guy named Wiener and his wiener, American "politicians" don't even know basic history taught in grade school, and people don't even know how to eat to maintain their health.

I can thank my time for growth and development in college for being able to feel gratefully displaced in such an F'd up world.



Well isn't this neat.

This ought to really nip America's obesity epidemic right in the ass - way to go, Obama Mama.

I'm being a little facetious, if you couldn't tell.  But, hey... you've gotta start somewhere.



IIN it to win it.

So my first year of freedom from the educational system came and went.  Even though I did spend a good portion of that year at an educational institution (in Hungary), I have not been a "student" for a year.  I still mark the "student" box in questionnaires that ask for my occupation simply because I am "occupationless" and have been for my entire life.  Sure, we are all students as life is a timeless journey of learning.  However, now I can check that same box without stretching the truth, as I am once again a student.

No, I am not enrolled in medical school... that will be in 2012.  But, I have recently decided to continue learning at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition in pursuit of a nutritional health coach certification.  I am really excited about continuing my education since I will be studying something resonating with my personal interests, as well as my future career.

Believe it or not, nutrition is a topic completely disregarded in current medical school curriculums.  I don't see how such a focus can be neglected, since it is clear to me (and I think clear to most) that the food we choose to bring into our bodies has an overpowering impact on our health and wellness.  I know that I will need to implement nutrition into whatever medical career I choose to pursue, so what better time to start practicing nutritional health then now.

In addition to using the knowledge I gain in my personal life, I figure that as I study medicine I can develop a small nutritional health coaching practice.  Maybe I can make a little money to support myself as I get a head start on my practical career.