Welcome to my blog!
I'm an acupuncturist, teacher, fertility specialist, patient centered advocate, mom, activist and more! This blog is a place for me to write down the things on my mind, the things I discuss over and over, and the things I find helpful, interesting, and inspiring all in the hope that someone else out there, maybe YOU, will find some of these things to be helpful, interesting and inspiring too. I love learning, I love sharing, and I am passionate about helping others lead more balanced, fertile, and healthy lives - while trying to do the same myself. So here goes... The Blogging Life...
I had the opportunity to sit in on a mind/body stress reduction class last week which was wonderful, and inspired me to take a little time to write on the subject.
One of the aspects of Chinese medicine I like best is the inseparable connection between the mind and body. It wasn't until I began to study TCM that I realized that the mind and body were viewed as connected in medical history for much longer than not. It was only when dissection became a more common practice in the Renaissance that the mind was removed from "medicine" and put into the separate field of psychology. Thankfully, it is slowly working its way back in, thanks in great part to the demands of patients who are sick of being treated in fragmented parts instead of as whole human beings!
In Chinese medicine, and indeed in other more ancient healing paradigms, the mind body connection has never been dismissed. Chinese medicine believes that the whole body is involved in emotions and thought. Each organ has physical responsibilities, as well as emotional ones. A great example of this are the digestive organs. Not only does Chinese medicine see them as the organs responsible for food being processed and transformed, it views them as being the organs that are primarily affected when there is too much thinking and worry. It gives the sayings "food for thought" and "worried sick" a very literal meaning.
In Chinese medicine, the heart is the most involved organ when it comes to emotions. It is responsible for generating all emotions, perceptions and sensations. Because of this and other factors, the heart is thought of as the emperor or king, and rules over all other organs. I love this concept, because it shows how important emotions, perception and sensations are and implies that unhealthy emotions are extremely powerful in the body. Western research is "proving" this too. Recent studies have shown that as much as 80% of illness has a link to stress.
A study by Blue Shield of California showed that patients who listened to a stress reduction guided imagery cd before undergoing back surgery needed shorter hospital stays, fewer pain medications and cost on average $2,000 less than patients who did no relaxation techniques...what a win win situation. Faster healing, less pain and less cost for everyone! Another study by Kiecolt-Glaser & Glaser at the University of Ohio showed that identical wounds healed significantly slower in people who were acting as caretakers for loved ones with dementia than in those who were not under significant stress, but were otherwise similar in age, sex and economic factors. What's even more interesting, a follow up study by the same researchers showed that less extreme but stressful situations such as a simple disagreement with a spouse could also produce less extreme, but statistically significant delays in healing. (see http://pni.psychiatry.ohio-state.edu/jkg/ad.html for the article on dementia caregivers).
If you find these studies interesting and are interested in the mind/body connection, I would highly recommend a documentary called The New Medicine. It was made for PBS and has many many examples of the mind/body connection including information on the studies I referenced above. You can find it on netflix or learn more and purchase the dvd at: http://thenewmedicine.org/ If you go to the website you can also watch some clips and track your own health using a nifty health planner tool.
If you are interested in understanding your own health from a mind/body connection perspective I would highly recommend:
Full Catastrophe Living by Jon Kabat-Zinn
Conquering Infertility by Alice D. Domar (if you are trying to conceive)
Checking out a class on Mind/Body, Stress reduction, meditation, relaxation response, yoga, qi gong, etc. (ask me for suggestions!)
And of course...trying Chinese medicine :)