Integrative medicine: A radical step or necessary alternative?
If we really want to change our lives for the better and truly start finding our way back to health, I believe we have to support the four pillars of health: Our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing.
Usually we focus on the physical aspect of health. We support or suppress symptoms.
In fact, like Dr. Andrew Weil suggests in a recent article for CNN, “We do not have a health care system… we have a disease-management system -- one that depends on ruinously expensive drugs and surgeries that treat health conditions after they manifest, rather than giving our citizens simple diet, lifestyle and therapeutic tools to keep them healthy.”
However, I appreciate our modern healthcare abilities. I am happy to have access to antibiotics, life saving surgeries, technologies for saving lives. But it seems that to suggest or consider an integrative approach to medicine is still quite radical for some.
I see my patients benefit from brilliant medicine when a truly integrative approach to healthcare is utilized. Their health improves and ultimately, the cost of their care decreases. In essence everyone wins.
However, this still often seems like such a radical thought.
Perhaps we need to take a less radical step and break these ideas down into smaller ones. We need to not only focus on the physical, but also truly nurture the other three pillars. One of the ways to do this is to take care of your emotional and mental health. Graeme Swan, counselor, has years of experience and a beautiful approach to help my patients and his clients integrate the mental and physical pillars into their healing process. I believe it is vital to address all the pillars for true healing to occur.
“Stop, look, and listen,” says Swan. “It’s not just for the kindergarten child learning to cross the road. It is about paying attention to those moments of wonder that we often stumble past without noticing.”
It could be the newly opened buds on the flowering cherry tree, the spontaneous laughter of a child on their way to school or even the evocative sounds of the Irish pipe playing on the radio. As we notice these moments, we find a still place from which we can encounter our frenetic world with a sense of calm.
“I think most of us long for calm because our lives our so busy and filled with responsibilities, demands and obligations,” Swan says. “ So we longingly look forward to our holiday to Cancun thinking that this is where I will find calm.”
But we don’t need to wait for those 10 days that come once a year, we can “Cancunize” our day as we notice the beauty of what lays within our reach moment by moment.
“My guess is that if we pause two or three times during our day to notice, we will feel our heart rate stop its race and our breathing will begin to slow,” says Swan. “This is the pause that enables us to move forward from a place of calm where our very world slows down so that we can see all that lays ahead with a little more clarity and a little more perspective.”
• Dr. Heli McPhie is a naturopathic doctor at The Village Clinic in Tsawwassen. For more information, visit www.thevillageclinic.com, or call 778-434-3072. Counsellor Graeme Swan also sees clients at The Village Clinic.