Category Archives: Member Bulletin

Primary Care

Welcome to my general store.

I provide good old-fashioned grade-A Primary Care.

Primary Care

Primary care is “the initial medical care given by a general health care provider, especially a family physician, internist, or pediatrician, usually as part of regular, nonemergency care.”

Primary Care doctors are the generalists, I’d call them the giants of medicine. Primary care doctors set the tone for healthcare delivery and create a medical home for a patient.

What is a Medical Home?

A medical home is more than the walls of a clinical practice. 

“The medical home, also known as the patient-centered medical home, is a team-based healthcare delivery model led by a healthcare provider to provide medical care to patients to obtain maximal health outcomes.”

“A medical home should be the following:

  • Accessible
  • Family-centered
  • Continuous
  • Comprehensive
  • Coordinated
  • Compassionate
  • Culturally Effective”

The spirit of primary care says, “I am your home base there’s nothing you can’t bring here.”

The spirit of family medicine says, “To everyone, of all ages and stages of life with any ailment, you are welcome.”

Family medical perspective

Family medicine contains the pathway in medicine with limitless possibilities and roots itself in person-to-person contact. I was attracted to focusing on the person first rather than on a particular body system or a disease. I chose to be a family doctor because was interested in, “I know you well, and you know me well, let’s see what healing can come of it.” That perspective lives strongest in primary care and in family medicine. 

The vastness of the generalist’s field cultivates humility. Specialists can develop a sense they know all that is known in their field. This carries the risk of complacency and missing out on the realization that knowing all that is known is far from knowing all. Generalists don’t get lured into such a trap. The limitlessness keeps us humble, which when you think about it, is the absolute right way to be in front of the mysteries of health and illness. Being in awe is being open. Being open is the primary position for learning.

Choosing Family Medicine

Imagine the 19-year-old has made the decision to go to medical school and applies himself to get into a program. Choosing to go to medical school is a big choice for a young person, but it feels like an extension of college for the first two years. Then you enter the hospital in the third year and all of a sudden you face this major decision at the end of that year: what life in medicine do you want? What specialty will you choose? Careers in medicine vary vastly.

I went against the grain at Georgetown University Medical School to choose Family Medicine. It wasn’t a primary care type of medical school. Cardiology, Neurosurgery, and Orthopedics were the common choices and would pay off student loans reliably fast.  

There is nothing wrong with these other specialties, it just wasn’t what I wanted.

“Why would you want to do family medicine? It’s basically glorified nursing,” said a professor at my school, an orthopedic surgeon.

Glorified nursing?… Let me digest that, sir.

“Nurses dispense comfort, compassion, and caring without even a prescription.” 

— Val Saintsbury

“A nurse is one who opens the eyes of a newborn and gently closes the eyes of a dying man. It is indeed a high blessing to be the first and last to witness the beginning and end of life.”

— Unknown

Glorified nursing… count me in!

Partnership

Do you want to know one of my favorite things about being a primary care doctor? We never have to say: “There’s nothing more I can do for you.” We don’t know that phrase…

Upon reflection, I sense it’s short for, “There’s nothing more this paradigm can do for you; no standard pharmaceutical options apply.” The dreadful underlying assumption here is that doctors are pharmaceutical medication experts, not health experts.

Primary care doctors aren’t wedded to the medical paradigm. Our allegiance is to the patient. Period. We have replaced that phrase with:

“There may be no pharmaceutical options in the standard paradigm, but we have lots we can do. Let’s get creative and come up with your path forward.”

On Course

We should remember a couple of things: (1) the patient is the point, and (2) primary care is the difference maker. A medical system with a strong primary care basis will have better health outcomes and will have cost savings. This is a well-documented and accepted fact in healthcare. This is true whether we are talking about a personal health team or the country’s medical system.

The problem is the US has significantly under-invested in primary care. Primary care is not prioritized or incentivized, so a shortage of primary care physicians has developed. A system with weak primary care is like a ship without its captain.

With no captain how can the ship remain on course?

I often wonder if our knowledge of physiology, anatomy, and pathology is serving a mutant clone of medicine created to support industry interests. The mandate is to connect to the essential elements of medicine: the timeless parts of the vocation that nourish both the patient and the doctor.

Conclusion

For a healthcare system to function well, on either the micro or macro level, I see relationship as the key element, a non-negotiable. That’s what allows for clear sailing.

That’s the primary care / family medicine / medical home perspective. That’s my perspective.

Spring, Your Body, and Agriculture

Practice Announcements

1. At the end of this month we have the Carotid Intima-Media Thickness (CIMT) technician from Cardio Risk returning for CV screening at the office. We have a handful of slots open, so call us if you are interested or want more info.

2. We are planning an Open House Work and Play Day at Pleroma Farm to celebrate the St John’s Day Festival (end of June). Details to follow. Mark your calendar. Tentative date Sat 6/22.

Spring, Your Body, and Agriculture

1. Spring & Conquering Death

Do you know what the primary outcome of a dying system is? No, it’s not nothingness or devastation. It’s the birth of a new system.

This is perhaps the most basic rule of life, and we see it play out every spring.

Imagine a purely empirical scientist arriving at a spot on Earth in the late spring and studying the vegetative life through the course of the year until late autumn. The predictions for the days that would follow would be grim. How else could it be seen? The winter and frozen tundra would likely surpass the scientist’s worst imaginations. Shock and awe would be fitting emotions as winter deepened. Projections for the future would be devastating. How could anyone predict a spring season of rebirth rising from the deep winter?

But that’s just what it does. As we know, hidden within the winter are the seeds for the spring, being perfectly prepared for the new season by the coldness and barrenness, ripening conditions for their later growth. What a miracle we live with each spring!

Inside every old system lies the seeds for the future. The new forms and new systems have fresh information. Death is the prerequisite for renewal. Raise your morning shot of fire cider and let’s toast rejuvenation and fresh starts and death’s role in that.

Embracing (1) death as a vital aspect of healthy life and (2) the anticipation of renewal in emptiness have long been components of fully knowing the total experience of life. 

2. The Body

The body, our living temple, provides a nice continuation of this theme. Our body is constantly replacing the old with the new. Every system and every organ has maturation and ultimately death. Emerging behind these is new growth.

It takes an average of SEVEN years for the body’s cells to turn over. This is a fun stat to ponder.

Each organ has a different rate of turnover, but the average time for total organ turnover is 7 years. Some organs are faster — like the gut lining. This turns over every 5 days! On the other hand, the brain’s cellular turnover is very slow — well below 2% of the brain’s cells turnover each year. The brain and the heart both have cells that don’t turn over for our entire life!

No matter on what scale or in what form, if there’s life, there’s always a Phoenix rising out of the ashes.

Forces that propagate old systems beyond their allotted span have to reckon with the fact that they are interfering with the natural process.

3. Agriculture (and politics)

This “Pheonix rising” theme carries into the food policies that have started since World War II. That’s when the next level of industrial science met food production and the processed food movement kicked into gear.

One hundred years ago 0% of a child’s diet in America contained processed food. Now some estimates have it that processed food makes up 70% of the typical child’s diet.

A natural food movement gained momentum in the 60s and 70s proving that a movement alone is not enough to change the system. The industry trajectory intensified. Food became more processed by the year despite the establishment of the small oases that are natural food stores.

The discovery of the Microbiome in the 2000s was a huge strike against processed foods, which by then carried the name ultra-processsed foods. Our bodies had never experienced these chemicals. Now we could directly measure how our nutritional resilience and microbiome were thrown off by these foods. This just proved that knowledge is not enough, even when combined with a movement, to derail powerful incentives and special interests.

Now we have a third and more potent situation challenging the status quo in health and food production. Now we have a crisis that should bring the issue of ultra-processed food to a head… maybe.

Metabolic Health

We now have a crisis of metabolic health in the country and on the planet, the likes of which have never been seen before. We are getting more chronically sick, more depressed, and more infertile than ever. The obesity crisis spans the globe (over 1 billion people and over 2 billion overweight); diabetes and heart disease are super prevalent. Ultraprocessd food is not solely to blame but certainly is a major contributor.

Just look at these stats:
 

  • 94% of adults in America are metabolically dysfunctional
  • 80% are overweight or obese
  • 50% of kids in the US are overweight 
  • 20% of kids in US have childhood obesity (compare with 3–4% in Japan) and 33% have prediabetes

There is no sound food policy. Subsidies support ultra-processed junk food creation. School lunches are… you guessed it, ultra-processed. 10% of food stamps go to Coca-Cola. There is inadequate education to train kids how to move well, eat well. We don’t walk to work or school.

The Power Is In You

There are some strong voices in Washington working on policy, but the center (central government) is mostly capable of measuring and responding to what comes from the periphery (the people). The creative power exists in the periphery. Yes, we are the periphery. Industry (and policy alike) are most effectively influenced by a massive informed collective of individuals who disrupt industry profits by being selective. We vote with our dollar bills.

I think we are overdue for an overhaul of our food system. The health crisis might drive new national policy, but there certainly are no guarantees. Many question if it is beyond repair. In the meantime, you can do your part by eating a clean diet. We do a big part of the job by avoiding ultra-processed foods. Ask yourself if you can commit to buying organic. Go all in, if you can. Keep sugar and starch to a minimum and don’t eat out all that often. You’ll make a lot of your investment back in what you save in hospital/ER/prescription fees.

Are you already all in? It’s an investment in all of us.

Medical Influencers

Who are your favorite medical influencers?

There are copious outspoken social-media characters and powerful podcast hosts with sizzling scoops on the latest health hack.

It can be tough to decipher if any of it is applicable let alone universally true, as they seem to claim to be. There certainly a lot of partial truths being spouted. Can a relative truth be helpful? How far can a piece of the puzzle carry us? And what of all this is just plain false?

We don’t want to give audience to just anybody nor do we want information overload. We want the right type of influencer with whom to spend time.

We want someone: 

  • who can grasp the big picture.
  • who has a lifetime of experience.
  • who is in it for the right reasons.
  • who has worked through their biases.
  • who has the track record and long career to back up what they say.

We want someone world-class. We want someone like Gladys.

Let me introduce you to 103-year-old Dr. Gladys McGarey, MD, internationally recognized as the “Mother of Holistic Medicine.”

Last year she came out with her most recent book, “The Well-Lived Life: A 102-Year-Old Doctor’s 6 Secrets to Health and Happiness at Every Age.” 

Her recent interviews reveal her to be sharp, attentive, and astute. She’s an inspiration at 102 to be talking about her 10 year plan. She’s truly a global treasure.

Life Experiences

She was born in India in 1920 to two American physicians trained by Dr. Andrew Taylor Still, physician and surgeon and founder of osteopathic medicine. Gladys’ parents had chosen to live out their vocation in the jungles of Northern India as medical missionaries. Gladys liked to be in the medical tent as a young girl and referred to herself as a doctor starting at the age of 2! Her family met and collaborated with Mahatma Ghandi; she first encountered him at age 10. Her parents worked beside him for years sharing his frankly holistic vision for “easing poverty, expanding women’s rights, building religious and ethnic amity, ending untouchability, and, above all, achieving self-rule.”

“It starts with realizing we are all brothers and sisters.”

Dr. McGarey

She herself would eventually go to medical school in Philadelphia in the early 1940s and would become a family physician. She started a practice in the late 1940s and she hasn’t stopped seeing patients to this day! She became a pioneer in the movement for home childbirth at a time when anesthesia and forceps were the standard.

As antibiotics and enzyme disruption were being touted as the main pathways in medicine, she became fascinated with healing as a result of supporting life.

“Unless our primary focus is toward enhancing life rather than simply killing diseases, we will not really understand where healing comes from.”

Dr. McGarey

Different view

Gladys recalls having a very difficult time when she first started elementary school as a young girl. She struggled and early on had to repeat a grade. She became a scrapper and a fighter.  She felt like she had to battle to keep up. She eventually learned she had dyslexia. She scraped and clawed through school. She remembers a shift at around age 10 when she sat up in bed one day and realized she didn’t have to fight. She could follow the example of her mother who exemplified the power of lightness and laughter. She says that turning point and that example saved her life.

From that point forward everything could be integrated. In dyslexia she discovered a unique orientation. She became grateful for her atypical viewpoint and now sees it as her superpower.

“Life is our healer. We all have to take responsibility for ourselves. Healing comes from within each one of us… the outside modalities can help if they are delivered with love.”

Dr. McGarey

Dr Gladys McGarey talks a lot about interconnectedness and how bodily health is closely related with our soul and spiritual health.

In her career she became known for promoting holistic medicine, conducting humanitarian missions, co-founding and leading medical organizations. She is the co-founder of the American Holistic Medical Association, co-founder of the Academy of Parapsychology and Medicine, and she was the first to utilize acupuncture in the U.S. and trained other physicians how to use it.

Acupuncture works with the strong principle of being in alignment and allowing the energy to flow — opening areas of stagnation and places where we get jammed up.

Five L’s

Dr. McGarry often talks about the five L’s.

Life is the first L. Everything begins with life. Love is supremely important and is what keeps life in motion and in flow. Love is the second L.

Laughter is the third L and also needs love. Laughter without love is cruel and a provocation, Laughter with love is joy.

Labor is the fourth L. It too needs love. Labor without love is toil. Labor with love gives life its profundity.

And listening is the fifth L. Sound without listening is empty resonance. Listening without love is judgment. Listening with love is what makes connection and community.

Parting thought

Dr McGarey has another powerful idea she promotes. She is a proponent of patients partnering with their physicians in their care.It’s a simple idea, but I’m afraid it’s confusing to the many doctors who are stuck in doctor-centered healthcare models. The age of paternalism in medicine is gone whether the world wants to admit it or not. Partnership and a collaborative care model is the approach that elevates the enterprise, and places the patient where they belong, in the center of it all, respected and honored. It’s another example where the holistic expert Dr McGarey, the soft-spoken but powerful medical influencer, approaches what I would call a universal truth.

Pay attention

Beyond the Veil

The old woman had taken to her bed. She was dying in this familiar place where all her children had been born. Now they gathered by her side, quiet and attentive. She was tired; each slow breath was a labor. Soon she would be gone.

Her skin was pale and wrinkled by time, her lips were dry, and her hair was gray and thin, but as she lay with her eyes closed facing her death she radiated a powerful grace and beauty. Somehow in this moment she was surely as beautiful as any day she was all made up, decked in her finest jewels, dressed to the nines for a night on the town.

Her oldest daughter stroked her hair and softly whispered to her that it was ok to go. The old woman’s brow furrowed. Her mouth opened slightly. She wanted to speak.

“What is it, mom? Do you want to say something?” said her daughter.

Her lips slowly puckered and then separated again. These would be the last words she would speak to her family before she died. They sensed it, and all leaned in with open and heavy hearts. “P-p….,” she said before exhaling fully, and breathing hard to catch her breath.

“Yes, mom?”

After a few breaths, she tried again.

“P…Pay.”

“Pay? What is it, mom? Everything is ok. Everything is taken care of. There’s no need to worry.”

“No” she said, breathing heavily, and starting again, giving these last two words, two words offered as a life prescription to her family, advice which would be remembered by them as sage instruction from the matriarch they loved so dearly,

“Pay attention.”

Pay Attention.

I think it’s such foundational advice on which to build your whole life that I make the effort to frame it in the archetypal scene above.

We exist in sea of information. We always have…

Paying attention means letting the world present itself to you. It takes courage sometimes to be open to it. There is layer upon layer of information. A particular orientation is needed to see more than what we expect to see.  It takes trust and humility to truly honor paying attention to “the other” around us.

Basic level — Physical Body

Paying attention to the world keeps you safe. That corner of the table, that little dip in the sidewalk: you have to see them to navigate them safely.

Driving a car shows how important it is to pay attention on the basic level. The average car weighs two tons. It’s lifesaving for the person behind the wheel and everyone in their vicinity to be on point.

Interpersonal Level — Soul experiences

A basic fact about relationships: only those who pay attention, excel.

Paying attention is what makes a good listener and a good colleague. We call it attention to detail in the workplace, and it’s very valuable.

Being a good friend or partner is made possible only by paying attention. How can you be caring and considerate without paying attention to what your partner needs? Love is impossible without attention.

Advanced level — Spiritual Insight

Insight and intuition are critical components of being a whole human. The paying  attention on this level goes beyond the the cues from other people or from the physical position of things in space. This involves orienting artistically with the world. Paying attention is central to the artistic process.

In training intuition we also work with paying attention to the senses, just in a different way. The human body provides an amazing means for transportation and is a miraculous life and energy center, but with intuition we take the body’s ability to be used as a fine antenna to the next level. It’s all about more consciousness and awareness.

Being around a dying loved one can give the impression that the veil to an unseen world is thinned. With more consciousness (paying attention) we replicate this same orientation.

Pheremones

A place to start is to realize a few things about the senses. They are active in hidden ways. Take this from Scientific American a number of years ago:

Hidden in a man’s smell are clues about his major histocompatibility complex (MHC) genes, which play an important role in immune system surveillance. Studies suggest that females prefer the scent of males whose MHC genes differ from their own… children are born with more varied MHC profiles and thus more robust immune systems.

Now we can be warned that the construction of Virtual Reality is only roughly dialed in to this complexity. VR is orienting itself in the grossest of ways as it is making steps to add smell to its offerings, as discussed here in Wired Magazine:

If virtual reality wants to deliver on its potential, it needs to wake up and smell its nauseating scentlessness.

Keeping connected to the vastness of our existence is critical. We need to consider how we choose to spend our time and efforts. What world do we want to live in? In a way, we choose this every day.

Conclusion

I base my philosophy and approach to care on the understanding that the world and human body are profoundly and majestically wise and connected into a cosmic sytem of working. It’s goes a long way to learn to position yourself in your senses in a way that honors the wonderful mandate described above, to pay attention. Here are a some simple suggestions:

  1. Try to let yourself be amazed by what you observe. Awe opens up worlds.
  2. Practice seeing, hearing, and smelling the world with curiosity.
  3. Uncloud your body: learn to live cleanly. Be mindful of  toxins. Remember: you have to go against the grain to be healthy.
  4. Trust that complex answers can come from your observation. Learning to open to the environment is the key.

Caffeine

Rise and shine!

Time to do your part: every day there are over two billion cups of coffee consumed worldwide.

That coffee doesn’t drink itself!

But wait!! Wait until the end of the bulletin to drink your cup this am, you just might have a different approach after reading this through.

Caffeine is a cornerstone of our nutrition, it appears. 1, 3, 7-trimethylxanthine is its official name, and it can be found in about 30 different plants. 90% of people have caffeine at some point in their day. Caffeine is our most common psychoactive drug. It’s a central nervous system stimulant that interferes with multiple receptors to give us those effects that 90% of us know and love.

I have been off caffeine completely for a month (hold your applause ’til the end, please). Mostly, I like knowing it’s me and not the caffeine if I find myself deepening in discourse. Besides, under certain circumstances I get a kick out of not doing what 90% of other people do. I also have a personal belief that the less routine we have with a substance, the better. Plus, I trust the body’s innate capacity to generate energy, wholly and unconditionally.

A simple question for the doctor: is caffeine good for you?

Frank Hu, chair of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, thinks it is.  In an April 5, 2021 article in Discover, he describes that the pros outweigh the cons, in his opinion. “Moderate coffee intake — about 2–5 cups a day — is linked to a lower likelihood of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, liver and endometrial cancers, Parkinson’s disease, and depression. It’s even possible that people who drink coffee can reduce their risk of early death.”

Mixed reviews

But others say the jury is still somewhat out on calling caffeine a key to health. Almost everyone knows from experience that too much caffeine can make one feel anxious or jittery, or cause an upset stomach. The list is quite a bit longer, however:

  • Coffee stays in the body for hours after your last sip and can interfere with sleep
  • Pregnant people with high caffeine intake may be at risk for low birth weight, premature birth, and even pregnancy loss compared to those who consume it in moderation.
  • Excess caffeine has also been found to increase bone fracture risk, especially in women.
  • Coffee consumption may make it harder for older people who have high blood pressure to control their blood pressure.
  • Others may experience an increased risk of atrial fibrillation (irregular heart rhythm) from it.
  • People with certain gastrointestinal conditions, such as gastritis, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and inflammatory bowel disease, may experience a worsening of their condition.

A review article gives a decent take on the mixed conclusion on caffeine as a key component to health:

“The findings of recent studies show mixed results regarding the effects of caffeine on mood, attention, processing speed, and memory. Current research suggests that if caffeine does have an effect on mood, the most significant changes may be anxiety. Studies did not support caffeine as having any significant effect on attention, but that it did play a role in enhancing processing speed. The majority of the studies reviewed suggest caffeine as having a significant positive effect on both short and long-term memory in adults and the elderly. Current findings warrant continued research on the association of caffeine and the resultant effects on cognitive function.”

Like I said: somewhat mixed reviews. It reminds me of how we used to think about alcohol. Moderate drinkers are healthy, right? There are benefits, but not so fast, please. As far as alcohol itself, the healthiest amount of alcohol is zero, experts now say. Alcohol causes neurotoxicity and cardiotoxicity, for example. Caffeine has its toxicity profile as well. These aren’t one-size-fits-all propositions. They are both accompanied by ritual, social engagement, and enjoyment, and those things have a lot of relevance and influence on our health and well-being. It may be it is the context that offers benefits. I believe alcohol as a substance is not a key to health, and I think the same about caffeine.

Caffeine and alcohol are like any drug. You pay a price for what they offer. Ritual, social engagement, and enjoyment don’t need a psychoactive substance. To focus on all the places we get access to healthy intangibles is smart.

Closer Look at Brain Health

I’m not advocating for no caffeine. I am saying don’t confuse it for anything other than the compromise it and other drugs are. You might find it interesting caffeine is not on anybody’s shortlist to benefit the brain, for example.

Here is a good shortlist that demonstrates this:

8 BEHAVIORS THAT CAN BENEFIT THE BRAIN

  1. Stay socially engaged
  2. Quit smoking
  3. Find ways to stimulate your brain
  4. Manage stress
  5. Stay physically active
  6. Get enough sleep (aim for at least seven hours)
  7. Eat a healthy diet
  8. Control blood pressure and blood sugar levels

Source: Global Council on Brain Health/CDC

Most smart approaches to ANYTHING will list natural lifestyle interventions and advocate for taking away drugs (in this case tobacco and sugar). Only after these have failed should adding medicines be seen as an option. Doing something is the best medicine. It’s revealing that with a drug, we are quite passive. So, with that being said, when you drink your coffee do your morning puzzle and plan your daily walk.  Then you’ll be approaching it holistically!

Longevity

Like I said, as far as poisons go, caffeine isn’t that bad. And aren’t we allowed some vices? Can we do some things that contribute suboptimally towards slowing our aging? Absolutely. We aren’t meant to live forever. No, really, we are not.

It’s weird to think that if things progress in certain ways dying will have to be a choice in the future.

Nobel Prize-winning molecular biologist Venki Ramakrishnan in his recent book, Why We Die, postulates that we may not want to lengthen our lives much longer than we have already. His “thought-provoking argument is that a society where people lived for hundreds of years could potentially become stagnant, as it would consist of the same group of people living longer, raising important questions about societal dynamics and progress.” Do you mean the self-centered, ego-oriented thought to live forever might not be good for society as a whole? Got it. Makes sense.

Here’s a centered thought on longevity (and the take-home thought of this bulletin) in three parts:

  1. Concede not a minute from your time on the earth and seek not a minute more than you are naturally allotted. 
  2. Let your habits help you make the most of that time
  3. Take control of your health and life to establish enough predictability to diminish fear.

It is a long-winded way of saying have your coffee even if I convince you it’s not exactly a virtue.

This AM’s Coffee

And, that’s all a prelude to making one suggestion about your morning caffeine drink, as promised in the bulletin’s introduction today.

It’s popular in the health world right now to suggest not to go right for the coffee after waking up. Cortisol levels start to rise naturally right before you wake up and peak generally within 30 minutes of waking. This cortisol peak contributes to our morning alertness. Caffeine raises cortisol, and health pundits say it probably is best to ingest it after your body is done with its natural cortisol rise.

In short, consider trying your caffeine drink between 9:30 and 11:30AM, (or at least one hour after you wake up) and see how you feel. A lot of people say they feel good doing that.

You are what you think

What we think, we become.

— Buddha

When I study a patient’s health, I become a student of their habits because I see how strongly habits determine health.

When I study a patient’s habits, I become a student of their inner life because I see how strongly the inner life determines habits.

All components of our inner life have definite implications for physical health, for better or for worse. To name a few:

  • belief systems
  • what we say 
  • content of our self-talk
  • ability to focus and organize 
  • emotional grounding
  • will power

Our physical organs thrive (or don’t) in connection with the content of our inner life. People like to link health solely to nutrition, but you aren’t at all only what you eat. You’re how you sleep, how you move, and how you think, as well.

Control of thought

You are part of a gigantic thought project. Did you know that? The project is to see to what degree you can control your own thinking process. There is a ton of interest to see how you will do. A lot is riding on it.

You are either present and in control of your thinking or you are handing control over. There is no in-between. Please be aware that there are agents with other agendas who would love to influence your thinking, and all they require is a dip in your attention.

No Free Lunch

When I was in medical school our pharmacology department at Georgetown presented us with a course in our final year on the influence of pharmaceutical sales representatives, who offered a free lunch in exchange for a few minutes to present their product. Surveys showed almost all doctors thought it possible that doctors’ prescribing patterns could be influenced by these visits (which also included free pens and sticky notes labeled with their drug’s name) but denied that their own prescribing patterns were influenced by visits. Data showed otherwise.

Prescribing patterns showed that if a sales rep visited, prescribing patterns changed. Period. That’s why they came and kept coming. Free food got them in the door. Doctors were being influenced, their patterns were changing, and they were not aware. Remember these are not “health representatives”, they are “sales representatives.” Their title tells you their bias.

By our pharmacology department, we were presented with a slogan: No Free Lunch. It was stamped on complimentary pens and sticky pads and stuffed in our pockets and off we went, to start the practice of brown bagging it and doing our own research.

The pocket supercomputers we carry with us (smartphones) and the targeted media programming they contain have the power to influence people’s thinking. We can understand the well-documented details of how past elections were influenced by them; it’s easy to see in someone else. Can we see the effects on ourselves? I’ll say it again: You are either present and in control of your thinking or you are handing control over.

Mental Programming

Example: Sweden

If you live in New England and you hear the two words “COVID” and “Sweden” and you pause to let word associations rise… (try it, please)…

COVID and Sweden… What do you think?

… You might think of phrases like “dubious approach,” “questionable choices,” and “bad outcomes.”

If these sorts of associations arise, you’ve come by it because of headlines and articles like this:

Column: Did Sweden beat the pandemic by refusing to lock down? No, its record is disastrous (LA Times 3/31/22)

“Horrifying”, “disastrous”, and “questionable” are words used in the article to describe Sweden’s approach which varied from the rest of the Western world.

“Hard, cold statistics documenting its failure” is the kicker.

Seriously, LA Times, that’s a lot of energy! Methinks thou doth protest too much!

There are numerous 2020 articles and 2021 articles, as well, drawing harsh conclusions on the Swedish approach at every point along the way. How could conclusions be drawn with only portions of data? It seemed very reckless to me at the time.

These articles, I would argue, are what mental programming looks like. You can detect a clear emotion-based appeal, for example.

I recognize the effects on people exposed to it because they aren’t able to provide details on why they have their opinions. They might say something like, “I actually don’t know a whole lot about it, but… (insert opinion here).”  I heard that a lot during the pandemic. Any opinion that starts with that introduction can’t possibly carry water. And there is usually reference expert opinion.

Sweden was the only major Western country to keep schools open for ages 1 to 15 and impose no mandatory lockdown. This was, by the way, their pre-pandemic planned-out approach.  It was everyone’s pre-pandemic pandemic plan. All they did was stay to their plan of focused protection. They endured heavy international pressure. Was it out of care for the Swedes? I think not. I think there was plenty of “do-it-like-we-do-it-to-make-us-feel-better-about-what-we-are-doing” energy.

“If everyone is thinking alike, then no one is thinking.”

— Benjamin Franklin

Following the crowd is not making your most powerful impact. Saddling up to the closest expert and their thinking is not thriving or succeeding in the gigantic thought project. Finding the smartest person in your vicinity and copying them is what children do. It’s OK for a certain stage of development, but I would argue it is time for each of us to think. Our ability to think will be what creates meaningful solutions for the future. Can you believe that “doing your own research” was slang for being foolish during the pandemic? Can humans be trusted to think? It’s a real question. If not, we are a lost cause. If you know me, you know I refuse to believe we are such.

Take-home message

First, let’s describe Sweden’s approach in a nutshell: holistic.

The approach could be summarized as one of targeted protection and one that took a bigger picture view. Swedish leaders stressed “repeatedly that the Swedish strategy takes a holistic view of public health, aiming to balance the risk of the virus with the damage from countermeasures like closed schools. The goal was to protect the elderly and other high-risk groups while slowing viral spread enough to avoid hospitals being overwhelmed.”

Any article harshly knocking Sweden’s approach will be dated before May 2022. Articles after that have had to deal with WHO numbers that were released at that time showing Sweden with some of the lowest excess mortality figures from 2020-2022. This is the measurement that tells the full story of how a country did during COVID. Here’s a headline from May of 2022 in the Telegraph reporting on the numbers:

Sweden’s Covid death rate among lowest in Europe, despite avoiding strict lockdowns

New WHO figures show pandemic wrought ‘staggering toll’ of almost 15m fatalities, but harsh restrictions were not the key to beating virus

— May 5, 2022- Telegraph

No article after May 2022 has the same heavy judgment that was seen before (nor does it have apologies). I see plenty of articles after mid-2022 crunching the numbers this way or that to try to dampen any enthusiasm.

Notably, these articles should also report that Swedish school testing has not taken a dip as it has in places that had school closures. Notably, teachers fared as well as any other profession in Sweden as far as health risks during the pandemic. Also, notably, Sweden’s COVID mortality was better than much of Europe.

My desire is for you to be exposed to the opinion, from an independent and neutral source, that Sweden’s approach and outcomes should be of interest to us.

5 Conclusions

1. Sweden has a unique population. Their favorable all-cause mortality rates during COVID-19 do not predict success everywhere with the same approach or under all circumstances. However, we should consider that during this pandemic, Western world policy might have been too heavily focused on COVID mortality alone. It’s best to have policy that considers holistic viewpoints including the most meaningful measure: all-cause mortality. We should learn from this.

2. Holistic approaches tend to what is immediately evident considerations as well as what is not immediately evident. There’s what is right in front of your face and there’s stuff you can’t see. It all needs and wants your attention. We like holistic approaches.

3. The press, just like social media, just like Hollywood, is interested in the way you think. Be alert. Seek out sources that get high rankings for being neutral. Unplug more than you’re plugged in.

4. For those who think they can listen to what the experts are saying the following must be considered: when the research dollars are centralized, for an expert researcher to be critical of centralized policies, they are likely deciding between their livelihood and their opinion if it deviates from the central agency. Learn to be alert for bias.

5. The lesson is not anti-lockdown. It’s not focused protection. The lesson is to learn to observe and learn. The lesson is to learn to look for bias. The lesson is not to be coerced into being dependent on anybody else’s thinking. The lesson is that there is No Free Lunch.

Thanks for tuning in.

Learning to determine our own truth

There once was a simple woman who lived in a little, lovely village. She didn’t have much of a formal education, but she was curious and she always tried to consider as much as she could.

She had the good fortune to make acquaintance with a colleague who was very learned and well-traveled and knew many things about the world. They became good friends and would enjoy meeting together in the evenings for tea and did so frequently.

The learned colleague liked to tell stories about beautiful sights and relics they encountered in their life. They also liked to tell tales of the times when they recognized goodness in life. The colleague felt great peace when they were talking about goodness and beauty.

One evening over tea the colleague proposed a toast to truth. “To be led by truth: what an important beacon for a person as they go through life.”

The simple woman smiled, raised her cup, and drank. Always a person feeling most comfortable with balance and harmony, the simple woman then proposed a toast for untruthfulness and heartily raised her cup.

“Why would we celebrate untruthfulness?” asked the perplexed colleague.

“Because no one is perfect. And just as important as striving for honesty, beauty, or goodness is to be kind to yourself when you haven’t done your best, for whatever reason.”

The learned colleague took a small sip of their tea and looked a bit neutral about the turn the conversation had taken.

The simple woman continued. “Yes, I also think we should toast the liars and all people who deceive and cheat,” she suggested.

“Now, hold on a minute. I know you are a fan of integrating everything,” said the learned colleague, “but aren’t you taking this too far? These are agents of chaos who threaten the established and thoughtful consensus. They and their lies are dangerous. We would be better off if these agents were silenced altogether!”

“I disagree,” said the simple woman. “I’m grateful when the truth is hidden in a sea of lies because it trains me to learn how to find truth for myself, wherever it is.”

“But people will get hurt,” protested the colleague.

“Anything worthwhile carries real danger, of course. How else could it be a legitimate lesson?”

The two sat in silence. The simple woman sat calmly with a warm smile on her face, her gaze lifted slightly above the horizontal and focused on nothing in particular, while her colleague’s face was contorted, looking down towards the floor, revealing she was wrestling with her thoughts.

“And besides,” continued the simple woman after the pause, ”if you make space to permit what others consider to be bad, ugly, or untrue to exist, you’ll never suppress an important truth that did not appear to be such at first glance.

The colleague looked up towards her friend, eyes squinting.

“Are you saying the truth is constantly unfolding and needs the free flow of ideas and discussion?… And are you saying encouraging people to think for themselves would eliminate the potential for abuse of power?…”

The colleague finished their tea with one large sip, poured themself some more, and raised their cup triumphantly.

“Here’s to the liars!” the colleague exclaimed. “Forget false protection from lies by being smothered with an imperfect version of things. Forget making someone’s else’s mistakes. Forget the paternalism. Here’s to learning how to determine the truth for ourselves.”

Medical misinformation

Medical misinformation has been defined as “any health-related claim of fact that is false based on current scientific consensus.” Suppose it were only that simple! Misinformation determinations are popular in medical journalism and not my favorite trend. To make it more intense, medical licensing boards are now positioned to be able to take away the license from practicing doctors for taking positions outside of the consensus opinion.

There is a critique: “Physicians who believe that the existing standard of care is misguided would therefore have no way to express their views publicly without exposing themselves to potential disciplinary action. If physicians could not question prevailing standards without risking disciplinary action, the result would be a substantial chilling effect on potentially valuable speech. The history of medicine contains numerous examples of once-accepted medical standards that were ultimately shown to be ineffective or harmful.” It seems a good doctor would have to go along with the consensus even if it was wrong and even if he or she knew it was wrong until the consensus was smart enough to adjust its errors. Make no mistake about it, the consensus has errors.

In misinformation news this past week a self-appointed professional misinformation vigilante who writes pieces for national media markets had to post an apology to a handful of doctors for using misleading and false statements in her published criticisms of them. What do we do when the misinformation police are guilty of using misleading statements?

But that’s private, the government wouldn’t do that.

In other misinformation news, as a result of a lawsuit, the FDA was forced to take down misleading social media posts about the safety of certain re-purposed drug. The drug was in a position to threaten the rollout of a new medication.

Kelly Sutton, MD

Well, imagine the distaste in my mouth when a friend and exemplary colleague from CA who practiced medicine for 50 years had her license revoked for taking a stand against a consensus issue with which she disagreed, choosing to stand for patients’ autonomy. Can you imagine what it was like for her to take on the state of California for several years on appeals, much of that time defending herself? It takes a toll. Last week she suffered a heart attack and is recovering from heart surgery. Efforts are being made to support her recovery. I have included a link here because I think her story is an important one.

It is with concerned hearts that we share news that our dear physician and PPRM co-founder, Dr. Kelly Sutton, suffered a heart attack on Wednesday, March 27, 2024.   She is currently recovering from triple bypass surgery that took place on Monday, April 1st.

Many of you know Dr. Sutton is an extraordinary woman, her nature is calm, peaceful and wise and she is very articulate and dedicated to the principles of Anthroposophic medicine. She had a private medical practice in Fair Oaks, CA until several years ago when she decided to move to the East Coast to be near one of her two sons and her two grandchildren. 

Despite decades of providing exemplary medical care of the highest ethical standards, she underwent a long and arduous investigation by the Medical Board of California and subsequently had her medical license revoked and her 50 year career terminated; the boards of Massachusetts and New York quickly followed California in revoking her licenses there as well.

In response, she co-founded Physicians and Patients Reclaiming Medicine (PPRM) to try to stop the unconstitutional government and medical board overreach into the doctor-patient relationship which has infringed on free choice regarding one’s own health and the health of children, i.e., parental rights.  

Dr. Sutton is grateful for the outpouring of love and support she has already received.  If you would like to support her with a prayer and/or a monetary donation to help with medical expenses, a Give Send Go page has been set up for her.

Food and your health

Let’s take a (mini) deep dive into food and your health.

Today’s starting point:

The standard approach to nutrition by a typical thinker in medicine would sound like this: “Sure, diet is important. I know eating healthy is important for my patients. It’s up to them to do what’s possible as far as they can understand and afford. In the meantime, I know a lot about screening for disease, diagnosis of disease, and the medicines you need when you get sick.” Not a huge emphasis on nutrition there.

Something more, please:

There’s a more developed idea in health about food and the intelligence of spending a significant portion of your budget on high-quality food to avoid spending very much of anything on medicines for chronic illness. “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Organic, biodynamic, and local are the buzzwords here.

This is in the direction of “food is medicine.” It’s also in the direction of “avoiding ingestion of industrial toxins is smart.” In today’s world, we can avoid a lot of modern illnesses by avoiding overt toxins found in processed food, tobacco, and alcohol. This idea rejects the concept of eating industrialized foods and then taking industrialized medicines when your diet leads to problems.

And more again:

Once you’re eating clean, fresh whole foods, the next level of exploration will be to fine-tune the diet. This step includes the discussion of items like superfoods, brain foods, and other must-haves in your diet. Also, there is an education on all the toxins to consider avoiding: nightshade vegetables, lectins, gluten, sugar, oxalates, and saturated fats to name a few.

Furthermore, it’s of great relevance to know what healthy traditional cultures eat. Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions is a favorite. Also, it’s fruitful to explore what habits are found in people who enjoy longevity. We all know some of what the blue zone professors tell us about food. For example:

  • tofu scramble or rice and beans is better than cereal for breakfast
  • socialize more at meals
  • grow your food

Commentary

Here we are trying harder to find the sweet spot of “food is medicine.” Beyond the basic tenants, we risk losing the forest for the trees here. Smart people have conflicting ideas when it comes to diet. There are lots of fads and lots of theories preaching what to avoid and what to not avoid. It can get more than a little confusing and boring, if not a little toxic. Where to from here? It seems like we’ve gone as far as we can.

I have one more idea I’d like to add to the discussion. Maybe it can open up some possibilities.

Food is not at all what you think. Eating food is a major challenge to our system. We spend a lot of energy processing this regular stream of content from the outside world that we put into our mouths every day and call “food.”. We have to destroy it for it not to destroy us. We have to defend ourselves from it. That’s why there’s so much immune tissue in the digestive tract. There are a lot of vital breakdown processes that take place in the mouth with chewing and salivating and then in the stomach with actual acid. Bile is added from the gallbladder along with enzymes from the pancreas. Then it goes into the tumble cycle (small intestine) and through the dehydrator (large intestine) and is discarded. After food is absorbed into the bloodstream, our liver makes a pass at detoxification of any content in the bloodstream that needs further neutralizing.

Please consider with me the viewpoint that all food is poison, even the superfoods, to a certain extent. It is a huge challenge to us every day that we have to overcome. The activity of overcoming builds strength. “If it doesn’t kill you, it makes you stronger” is a phrase that fits quite well the discussion at hand.

There’s much to glean from our learned rituals about facing this profound challenge. They stand as best practice when we face hardships elsewhere in our lives. 

  • We shine with resilience and we thrive when we deeply appreciate our challenges just as in the same way it is important to like the taste of our food as well as give thanks.
  • We reframe our challenges in such a way as to make them palatable just as the chef transforms the raw material they find in the garden.
  • It’s healthiest to meet our challenges with the support of our friends and community just as a social meal is the real deal.
  • Prayer is probably most utilized in anticipation of facing our challenges and prayers before meals are no exception, in my mind’s eye.

Food is poison, but overcoming poison is strengthening. Food is a mild poison and a mild medicine. Nature’s poisons have been long recognized for medicinal purposes. “Small doses of opium, mandrake, henbane, and hemlock numbed the pain of surgery for more than 1,000 years.” If food is a mild poison, properly breaking down food is the priority, no matter what you are eating.

Takeaways

If you try to avoid natural toxins in foods you might find yourself very limited with your diet. I say eat good quality food and focus mostly on optimizing the breakdown of food than on anything else. Do not scrimp on mastication (chewing 20 x please) and salivation and do not overeat. Your mouth is the chamber where optimal digestion starts. Let the mechanical (chewing) and chemical (salivary) changes which combine with thermal action taking place there (warming) set up the downstream subconscious activity in the gut for success. We can control a lot with our oral activity at mealtime. And the best part is the only way to stick with it is by training to stay focused while eating. Without mindfulness, digestion becomes immediately suboptimal.

The powers generated through overcoming a challenge, whether it be a meal or a hardship in our lives, are foundational to our well-being. Have an appetite for it and remember the best practice items above!

Bon appétit!

Polarities and Harmony

“I will love the light for it shows me the way,
yet I will endure the darkness for it shows me the stars.”

— Og Mandino

One very basic orientation to life on Earth is experiencing the primal polarity of light and dark. It’s the stuff of parables.

“The Spirits of Darkness wished to storm the Kingdom of Light. They came to its borders for the attack. They were, however, able to achieve nothing. Now they were to be punished by the Kingdom of Light. But in the Kingdom of Light there is only good. Thus the Demons of Darkness could only have been punished through good. Therefore the Spirits of the Kingdom of Light took a portion of their own kingdom and mingled it into the Kingdom of Darkness… There then arose from the Kingdom of Light the Archetypal Man, the human race who must mingle with the Kingdom of Darkness and overcome it.

R. Steiner regarding Manichean Creation Myth

The phenomenon of polarities is profound whether you are talking about light and dark, hot and cold, inner and outer, or past and future, etc. The two sides are complete only in a relationship together. The polarities are two sides of one coin. They are the same thing, just the inside-out versions of the other if you will.

The brighter the light, the darker the shadow, for instance.

We have these polarities in us. We all are made of them both. My understanding from the above myth and others is that on Earth the light and dark are all intertwined together. All creation is a mixture. The important thing is what is prioritized and at what time.

Health

Working with polarities is central to health also. Nerve processes move from the outside in, for example, while blood processes move outward from within. Daytime has its one set of processes (nerve heavy) and nighttime another (blood predominant). Waking and sleeping form a polarity in states of consciousness.

In the body we are always moving towards one pole and away from the other or vice versa. This is so because life is in constant motion. Morning is just the beginning of the long march towards night, for example. In the movement something new comes into form: the rhythm of the changes from one side to the other. Rhythmic change between poles is life’s modus operandi. It’s free and separate from the poles and it is a third element in the dynamic (rhythm).

Harmony

My research this week brought me to the polarity of inner life (memory, imagination, feelings, intuition) and outer life (sensory input, intellect) in a course I was taking by intuitive teacher Gigi Young. I’d like to share one aspect of her course with you. A balanced human being will have harmony between the inner and outer worlds. The ideal is a world with intellect and intuition very balanced and able to weave together in many people. Even a casual observer will notice that modern consciousness has a proclivity and preference for the outer world stimuli. We are stuck in a lopsided configuration, as a generalization.

We are more intellectual at the expense of our intuition than is good for us.

I want to present to you a few tips for nurturing the mood that nurtures our inner life and intuition (spiritual connection). Let me start by pointing out that the intellect which draws on outer stimuli has a fairly narrow scope and is pretty important for our immediate survival. The moods and behaviors that support the sensory and intellectual modes are: 

  • planning 
  • analyzing 
  • controlling 
  • judging 
  • expecting.

We do these a lot. So much that we are lopsided.

Beyond survival mode

In our inner life, on the other hand, we are open and creative. The set of behaviors above must be left aside. They must be replaced by:

  • Letting go
  • Allowing
  • Playing
  • Exploring
  • Present Moment Awareness
  • Appreciation

Summary: This is a gentle reminder we are doing too much planning and controlling. It’s great having practice times where we create mood states that blend us back into balance, where we let go of controlling outcomes and playfully and gratefully explore the present.

Nurturing healthy connections

An informative Swedish proverb goes like this:

Shared joy is a double joy; shared sorrow is half a sorrow.

It goes to show we need each other. From one vantage point, our starting orientation is “Me-in-here” and “the-World-out-there.” We are in constant contact with our boundary to the world. Our relationship with what goes on around us determines so much. A healthy community rides in the balance. The big question is: how do we nurture a healthy connection to our surroundings and community? One telling aspect has to do with how we integrate the feedback we get from our environment.

“What is the shortest word in the English language that contains the letters: abcdef?
Answer:
feedback.

Feedback is one of the essential elements of good communication.”

— Anonymous

Feedback is a building block. It basically represents everything coming into our field from any direction. Feedback is our interface with the world. It is what defines and shapes our life on earth.

“All that is valuable in human society depends upon the opportunity for development accorded the individual.”

— Albert Einstein

We are here to grow and learn. Feedback is how it happens! However, it’s not all positive or constructive. It can be a bitter pill to swallow. Chaos is created by feedback that disrupts our internal status quo. In the face of certain feedback and criticism, we have to reformulate and adjust our understanding of ourselves. After receiving feedback we have to re-establish our inner balance. To keep our bearings, we need a strong self-orientation and inner connection.

“Improvement begins with I.”

— Arnold H. Glasow

Always having our core challenged helps to define it. It helps us learn that it’s not what happens to us, but it’s the way it re-shapes us. Chaos may seem like it should be avoided at all costs, but it’s the only agent for change and growth. It builds muscle, the “me” muscle. I’ve come to understand several aspects of feedback as highly instructive and valuable. Here is a collection of my top thoughts about it.

1. Team Orientation

For anyone building a team, high up on the list of valuable traits is the ability to take feedback. Coaches call it “coachability.” It’s indicative of pliability and ability to fit what’s needed. The team needs you to fill a certain role, can you adjust and take on what is needed? If so you certainly will then play your most valuable role for the team. It’s an important trait and one I appreciate.

2. Warning signs

If the ability to take feedback is a sign of strength, then the flip side is true. The inability to take feedback can be destructive. I’ve come to see it as a real warning sign not just in team building but also for what it signals in interpersonal relations, no matter what the circumstance.

“Constant development is the law of life, and a man who always tries to maintain his dogmas in order to appear consistent drives himself into a false position.”

— Mahatma Gandhi

A total block for criticism usually means there is an inner weak spot or wound that demands to be protected. The sense of self could be so delicate that criticism is too overwhelming. It should raise a big red flag. Compassion in this case is hugely important; but, the outward presentation of severe “allergy” to criticism is lashing out. This could mean that the wound is so deep that the person has constructed complex protective mechanisms. It’s important to know that this often points to a maladaptive configuration that could interfere with sound communication.

3. Bubbles

Feedback loops shape the individual out of the wisdom of the community, and subsequently stamp the community with the character of unique individuals. Bubbles are dangerous because they deter good team formation as well as self-development. Having a lot of power, money, or resources serves as a big risk for disrupting healthy feedback loops. Power and money diminish obstacles and natural re-set points, for example. Bubble city. Flattery and servitude from the community offer less opportunity for higher levels of re-organization. Just think of Michael Jackson creating Never-Never Land. I don’t know a lot of the details, but it seems like things were getting a little misguided. Community and individual development suffer in the bubble. Pretty soon we’re in danger of seeing an emperor and some “new” outfits.

We used to see bubbles only with narcissists isolated by their allergy to feedback, amongst other things. As mentioned, bubbles have been seen with the mega-wealthy if they don’t have trusted advisors to tell them what their power-paralyzed circle of sycophants wouldn’t. It’s unfortunate that the folks who are isolated, unshaped, and uninformed by the community at large, are often the ones in the position to shape society because their power affords them that opportunity, even though it’s the very thing that diminishes interactive development. As long as money continues to dictate elections, we will have poorly guided impulses aplenty in politics, because of the bubble phenomenon. Furthermore, and somewhat shockingly, the general public is now getting more isolated from normal feedback (eg, from alternative belief systems) by social media algorithms. We all get bubble-wrapped in self-validating content to keep our attention. Time spent on the app is money in someone’s pocket. Feedback deficiency is not just for the wealthy anymore!

Remember, feedback (and at times it needs to be uncomfortable) is how we interact and interface with the world, build a healthy society, and find our path to self-development.

4. Illness

We need all of what comes to us from our surroundings. Our community, our friends our family are great teachers just as are our critics. We can cherish all forms of feedback; even our illnesses have value in this regard.

“Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfils the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.”

— Winston Churchill

As a young doctor I encountered a philosophy on health and disease that became formative for me in the book titled Blessed By Illness by a doctor named LFC Mees.

“The prevailing attitude in modern medicine is that illness should not exist. Consequently, millions of research dollars pour each year into medical science and technology in the hope of eradicating various sicknesses and diseases. Patients and doctors alike suffer the terrible consequences of this impossible quest for material perfection. Yet, there is an alternate view — that human beings and human evolution are great enough to include “illness” as an essential part of existence. In the first part of the book, the author traces the history of our changing concept of healing, from the so-called temple sleep of ancient Egypt–when spiritual science tells us that human beings still had a living connection with the spiritual hierarchies — through the herbal lore of ancient Greece and the healings of Christ, to the rise of modern medicine, based primarily on treating symptoms. The practice of modern medicine focuses merely on removing discernable symptoms and ailments. The author, however, asserts that this does not really heal at all. Rather, true healing considers the whole human being. And, to do this, doctors must learn the language of our natural, healing life forces, which affect not only the body, but also nature and the greater cosmos. From this perspective, illness is actually a gift, a blessing that urges both patient and doctor to work together with our illnesses for the sake of something infinitely greater — true healing. Blessed by Illness offers a powerful introduction to “alternative” methods of healing.”

— LFC Mees

All that is to say, it all can be integrated if the scope is broadened enough. Our struggles just like our illnesses are no match to our unwavering striving.