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.