04 February 2013

Integrative medicine is something I’ve just started to explore. The whole concept of looking at the body holistically makes perfect sense.  Some western doctors tend to look at someone as either well or sick with little concern for the stages in between, whereas integrated medicine looks at the entire spectrum.  Using the best of both Western and Eastern philosophies is what I’m aiming for with my own medical care, so I like the words “integrative” or “complementary” to describe the process instead of “alternative.”

Today I saw the holistic practitioner who has worked miracles with my sister’s health. It was my third visit to see her and I’m slowly turning from a skeptic to a believer. Each trip feels somewhat magical to me. For example, when she listens to my pulse, she’s checking my liver function and my pulse on my right wrist tells totally different stories about my body than the pulse on my left wrist. It reminded me of my favorite doctor of all time. He was a French Romanian doctor who had studied with Albert Schweitzer in the Congo. He was already well into his 80s by the time I started seeing him in the 1980s and I knew he could tell more from shaking my hand than most doctors could tell with a stethoscope and an X-Ray. I bet he would have loved this stuff. 

I went to Peru a few years ago and as we walked through a rain forest, our guide pointed out how the indigenous people living alongside the Amazon used each plant or tree for medicinal purposes. (On a quick literary side note, Ann Patchett’s excellent “State of Wonder” explores the same idea). It was eye-opening to see that they, like the Chinese, have relied on medicines that the earth offers us for hundreds (if not thousands) of years, whereas in the U.S., we seem to put more faith in a bottle of something synthetic created in a lab. Not that I’m not incredibly thankful that we have penicillin and other drugs, we just seem to turn to them a little too quickly at times. 

If anyone has had experiences with integrated medicine —good or bad— I’d love to hear about them below.

Today, my $10 goes to Nourish America. According to its website,  Nourish America provides “essential nutrition that impoverished American children, families, pregnant moms, and seniors and others in need require to live productive, successful lives.” 

What that means is Nourish America works with women’s shelters, programs like Head Start and Healthy Start, and the American Red Cross to provide vitamin supplements and natural and organic food throughout the 50 states. For example, in conjunction with the National Foundation for Women Legislators, it is working with providing food and vitamins to Hurricane Sandy victims. It doesn’t match exactly what I’m talking about today, but researching them did make me remember to take my Vitamin D... 

Feb. 4: Nourish America: http://www.nourishamerica.org/

35 down, 330 to go!

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