In mid-February, the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences and the Bravewell Collaborative are convening a “Summit on Integrative Medicine and the Health of the Public.” This is a watershed in the evolution of integrative medicine, a holistic approach to health care that uses the best of conventional and alternative therapies such as meditation, yoga, acupuncture and herbal remedies. Many of these therapies are now scientifically documented to be not only medically effective but also cost effective.
President-elect Barack Obama and former Sen. Tom Daschle (the nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services) understand that if we want to make affordable health care available to the 45 million Americans who do not have health insurance, then we need to address the fundamental causes of health and illness, and provide incentives for healthy ways of living rather than reimbursing only drugs and surgery.
Heart disease, diabetes, prostate cancer, breast cancer and obesity account for 75% of health-care costs, and yet these are largely preventable and even reversible by changing diet and lifestyle. As Mr. Obama states in his health plan, unveiled during his campaign: “This nation is facing a true epidemic of chronic disease. An increasing number of Americans are suffering and dying needlessly from diseases such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, asthma and HIV/AIDS, all of which can be delayed in onset if not prevented entirely.”
The latest scientific studies show that our bodies have a remarkable capacity to begin healing, and much more quickly than we had once realized, if we address the lifestyle factors that often cause these chronic diseases. These studies show that integrative medicine can make a powerful difference in our health and well-being, how quickly these changes may occur, and how dynamic these mechanisms can be.
Many people tend to think of breakthroughs in medicine as a new drug, laser or high-tech surgical procedure. They often have a hard time believing that the simple choices that we make in our lifestyle — what we eat, how we respond to stress, whether or not we smoke cigarettes, how much exercise we get, and the quality of our relationships and social support — can be as powerful as drugs and surgery. But they often are. And in many instances, they’re even more powerful.
These studies often used high-tech, state-of-the-art measures to prove the power of simple, low-tech, and low-cost interventions. Integrative medicine approaches such as plant-based diets, yoga, meditation, and psychosocial support may stop or even reverse the progression of coronary heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, prostate cancer, obesity, hypercholesterolemia, and other chronic conditions.
A recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that these approaches may even change gene expression in hundreds of genes in only a few months. Genes associated with cancer, heart disease, and inflammation were down regulated or “turned off” whereas protective genes were up regulated or “turned on.” A study published in The Lancet Oncology reported that these changes increase telomerase, the enzyme that lengthens telomeres, the ends of our chromosomes that control how long we live. Even drugs have not been shown to do this.
Our “health-care system” is primarily a disease-care system. Last year, $2.1 trillion were spent in the U.S. on medical care, or 16.5% of the gross national product. Of these trillions, 95 cents of every dollar was spent to treat disease after it had already occurred. At least 75% of these costs were spent on treating chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes that are preventable or even reversible.
The choices are especially clear in cardiology. In 2006, for example, according to data provided by the American Heart Association, 1.3 million coronary angioplasty procedures were performed at an average cost of $48,399 each, or more than $60 billion; and 448,000 coronary bypass operations were performed at a cost of $99,743 each, or more than $44 billion. In other words, Americans spent more than $100 billion in 2006 for these two procedures alone.
Despite these costs, a randomized controlled trial published in April 2007 in The New England Journal of Medicine found that angioplasties and stints do not prolong life or even prevent heart attacks in stable patients (i.e., 95% of those who receive them). Coronary bypass surgery prolongs life in less than 3% of patients who receive it. So, Medicare and other insurers and individuals pay billions for surgical procedures like angioplasty and bypass surgery that are usually dangerous, invasive, expensive, and largely ineffective. Yet they pay very little — if any money at all — for integrative medicine approaches that have been proven to reverse and prevent most chronic diseases that account for at least 75% of health-care costs. The INTERHEART study, published in September 2004 in The Lancet, followed 30,000 men and women on six continents and found that changing lifestyle could prevent at least 90% of all heart disease.
That bears repeating: The disease that accounts for more premature deaths and costs Americans more than any other illness is almost completely preventable simply by changing diet and lifestyle. And the same lifestyle changes that can prevent or even reverse heart disease also help prevent or reverse many other chronic diseases as well. Chronic pain is one of the major sources of worker’s compensation claims costs, yet studies show that it is often susceptible to acupuncture and Qi Gong. Herbs usually have far fewer side effects than pharmaceuticals.
Joy, pleasure, and freedom are sustainable, deprivation and austerity are not. When you eat a healthier diet, quit smoking, exercise, meditate and have more love in your life, then your brain receives more blood and oxygen, so you think more clearly, have more energy, need less sleep. Your brain may grow so many new neurons that it could get measurably bigger in only a few months. Your face gets more blood flow, so your skin glows more and wrinkles less. Your heart gets more blood flow, so you have more stamina and can even begin to reverse heart disease. Your sexual organs receive more blood flow, so you may become more potent — similar to the way that circulation-increasing drugs like Viagra work. For many people, these are choices worth making — not just to live longer, but also to live better.
It’s time to move past the debate of alternative medicine versus traditional medicine, and to focus on what works, what doesn’t, for whom, and under which circumstances. It will take serious government funding to find out, but these findings may help reduce costs and increase health.
Integrative medicine approaches bring together those in red states and blue states, liberals and conservatives, Democrats and Republicans, because these are human issues. They are both medically effective and, important in our current economic climate, cost effective. These approaches emphasize both personal responsibility and the opportunity to make affordable, quality health care available to those who most need it. Mr. Obama should make them an integral part of his health plan as soon as possible.
Dr. Chopra, the author of more than 50 books on the mind, body and spirit, is guest faculty at Beth Israel Hospital/Harvard Medical School. Dean Ornish, M.D., is Clinical Professor of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. His most recent book is The Spectrum (Random House, 2007). Mr. Roy is a professor at PennState and ArizonaStateUniversity. Dr. Weil is director of the University of Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine.
One Response to “Wall Street Journal: ‘Alternative’ Medicine Is Mainstream”
Isn’t it wonderful that we are having these conversations at the highest level of our government. In 1997, I had the honor of receiving an invitation to participate in the NIH Consensus Statement on Acupuncture, in Bethesda, MD. During those late Autumn days, we read research studies from some of the best acupuncturist in the world, not just the USA.
That has been nearly 12 years ago, and we are just beginning to move acupuncture and nutritional counseling into the treatment models to address specific disease diagnosis. Yet our acupuncturist communities are under paid and poorly respected.
When life gets truly difficult, regardless if it is due to famine, war, disease, or disaster, human are pushed to make dramatic changes, using creativity and negotiations. I continue to be an active member of the health care profession, providing a nutritonal education model that doctors, nurses, as well as acupunctuists and chiropactors have received their required continuing education credits through attendance. Let’s keep up the Good Work, Waging Peace, and a Healthy Population! Be In Good Health.
Using EFT for Premature Ejaculation
Rebecca Marina uses EFT successfully for a 71 year old gentleman with a "male romantic concern." She gives many details here, including how she discovered a core issue.
By Rebecca Marina
Here is an unusual case dealing with male sexuality -pre-mature ejaculation. This article is a bit long but you just can't cure a 71 year problem of this nature in three minutes.
I have worked with many women's sexual problems however, I was not really eager to work with male sexual problems. However, when Don contacted me, he was so sincere and gentlemanly, I agreed to work with him. Don had heard of the work I had done in women's sexuality and wondered if EFT might work for his problem. The thing that really sparked my interest in helping Don, was his age.
At 71, he had met a beautiful, kind lady on the Internet and had been speaking with her and developed a relationship by telephone. Don, understandably did not want the premature ejaculation problem to ruin the relationship before it got off the ground. Well, Gary, my hat was off to this gentleman for caring enough and wanting to solve this problem and be a good lover to his lady-love. I agreed to work with Don and asked if he would let me use his story if we were successful. I did warn Don that his problem likely had many aspects and would probably not be a "one shot wonder" He agreed to stick with the treatment until the problem was solved. Here are the high points of how the session went and below is Don's exhilarating testimony.
I asked Don to tune in to how he felt about having intimate relations with his new love. He said he felt "pressure to perform" and a sense of "she will be disappointed in me." He was was about an 8 in intensity on both feelings.
We tapped using the set up phrase, "Even though I feel such pressure to perform and worry she will be disappointed in me, I deeply and completely accept myself" After, a couple of rounds, Don was down to about a 4 and I asked if he felt ready to put in a positive "Choice" (using Dr. Carrington's choices method). I asked Don what a positive choice for him might be. He had just a little trouble thinking of a realistic positive choice because he had experienced the problem for so long. I helped him out a little by asking, "Don would you feel comfortable in 'tapping' in the choice of, Even though I have felt pressure to perform and fear of disappointment a very long time, I choose to allow myself to take baby steps toward releasing this problem?"
He agreed that those words felt comfortable and we tapped like this, "Even though I have felt pressure to perform and have some fear of disappointing my lady, I choose to allow myself to take baby steps towards solving this problem"
Now, Don was down to a 1 on the fear scale. I felt it was time to move onto the 'root cause' that may have set up an "expected performance energy pattern". I guided Don in a relaxed meditation (EFT works beautifully with hypnosis and mediation) to allow his consciousness to drift back to the root cause.
He saw himself at 16 year of age, passionately kissing a girl goodnight- he became so excited he ejaculated into his trousers. Worse, the girl laughed at him! He felt shame and embarrassment still after all these years at an intensity level of 9. We tapped for, "Even though I feel such shame I could just die of embarrassment, I deeply and completely accept myself." The intensity came down to about a 6 and now I asked Don. "What other thoughts and feeling were coming up for you as we tapped"?" Well," Don replied, "I felt some anger at the girl and anger at myself." We then tapped for, "Even though I feel angry at the girl and at myself for losing control, I deeply and completely accept myself."
I felt we had really taken the edge off and it was time to bring in a positive choice of forgiveness and acceptance that this is a natural occurrence at 16 years old.
"Even though I shamed myself at 16, I forgive myself completely for that, I had raging hormones and it was a natural thing to happen, I forgive myself for getting stuck in this pattern, I forgive anyone else I may have blamed for this pattern and I am ready to let it go."
At this point, Don's energy really felt a lot lighter and we moved into treating the more present circumstance and the more pressing problem of "What's going to happen when I want to be intimate with my lady-love."
Once again, I used the power of meditation to move us along.
I asked Don to imagine that he was having dinner with his Lady in a hotel restaurant and that he had reserved a room upstairs for a romantic interlude. I asked him to report any anxiety he was feeling just in his imagination. Don said he felt anxiety at about a six, so we stopped and tapped until it was down to a zero.
Now, I guided Don in a further scenario where they had finished dinner and were opening the door to the hotel room and he held her in his arms. He reported no anxiety at all, he just felt very loving and that everything would be OK.
I gave Don some homework to do to increase his awareness of his body. Part of the problem was that Don was disconnected from the feelings that preceded ejaculation. Once he became aware of the sensations that were a natural part of sexual function his control became much easier. I expected Don to call and say he needed another appointment but I did not hear from him for awhile. When I did hear from him, it was the following letter.
I didn't contact you recently because of family commitments, it has not been easy to find the time and space I need for myself.
All I can tell you is that the work we did together made my first face to face visit with my partner-to-be a fantastic success. Our meeting was wonderful and sex was just marvelous….even at my age. The problems we dealt with turned out not to be a problem at all.
There was the occasional slip-up, but it was very occasional compared with the number of times we made love. I felt relaxed and completely comfortable….THANKS.
Of course you can use our work together, in any way you want to. I love what you do and the humor and fun you bring to it. Even the most delicate and private things are easy to deal with.
The difficulty with quirks in a partner is that, by definition, they are peculiar and idiosyncratic and not commonly shared. This means you are dealing with a behavior, belief, or other trait you may not understand or relate to in any way, which tends to make acceptance of your partner all the more challenging. Shared values, ideas, and behaviors are easy to accept because they don't require anything from you. Accepting something seemingly foreign requires more effort and greater openness. Many people make the mistake of thinking they need to understand in order to accept. In fact, it is not necessary to understand something to welcome it. Receiving favorably what one does not understand is, in fact, a generous, love-affirming act.
Perhaps toilet paper can help clarify this concept. Andrew (the co-author's husband) made a point of telling Darrah (the co-author) he preferred the toilet paper roll be placed so the paper rolled away from the wall, over the top of the roll. Darrah didn't share this particular concern, which made it easier to forget to place the roll according to his preference. If truth be told, sometimes she remembered, but because she didn't really see what difference it made, she put the roll in (according to Andrew) upside down. Very little came of this: no fight, no requests for explanations, and so on. But Darrah eventually realized that even though Andrew's toilet paper quirk didn't make much sense to her, it was just as easy to put the roll in with the paper coming over the top. So that is what she did. In this case, she accepted his toilet paper preference without having to comprehend it.
However, Andrew had another toilet paper quirk that drew a different response. He had an apparent antipathy to replacing the toilet paper roll altogether. That is, he would get another roll and put it beside the toilet, but would never place it in the holder. Darrah discovered that if she didn't put the roll in, it would sit there indefinitely -- on the floor, on the bathtub, on the back of the toilet, anywhere but in the holder. This didn't make sense to her, and in light of her generous decision to honor Andrew's roll placement preference, it seemed particularly unfair. She then faced a choice: she could continue to feel she was right about this, or she could decide to place the roll in the holder and think about something else. Which choice do you think she should make? And why?
PRACTICE ACCEPTING QUIRKS
Count your own quirks. Make a list of everything you do that others have told you are a bit odd or unusual. What quirks do you have that others don't know about?
List a few of your partner's quirks. For each quirk, come up with at least three benefits. Have fun with this. If you are going to come up with at least three benefits, you may need to get creative. For example, here are some of the benefits that come from Andrew not putting the toilet paper in the holder:
* Andrew thereby provides Darrah with the opportunity to contribute to their relationship by putting the toilet paper in the holder, and she gets to feel self-righteous while doing so.
* The fact that the toilet paper roll is free from its holder means Darrah can unroll it from the bottom whenever she wants to.
* With the time he saves not messing with the toilet paper roll and holder, Andrew can do other important things.
* Bonus: free from its holder, the roll can be more easily grabbed in the event of an earthquake.
~ Excerpt from "The Mindful Couple: How Acceptance and Mindfulness Can Lead You to the Love You Want"
About the Authors:
Robyn D. Walser, Ph.D., is a psychologist with the NationalCenter for PTSD at the Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System. She also works as a consultant, workshop presenter, and therapist in her private business, TLConsultation Services. During her graduate studies at University of Nevada, Reno, she developed expertise in traumatic stress, substance abuse, and acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT).
Darrah Westrup, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist with the NationalCenter for PTSD at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System. She serves as attending psychologist at the Women's Trauma Recovery Program, a ten-bed, sixty-day residential treatment program for women veterans with military-related PTSD. She is also program director of the Outpatient Women's MentalHealthCenter. She has clinical and research expertise in the areas of PTSD, substance abuse, stalking behavior, and experiential avoidance as it relates to psychological dysfunction.
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