Thursday, September 1, 2011

Moving Meditation and Gene Expression

A few years ago I listened to Herb Benson lecture about how he discovered the Relaxation Response in the 70's-

and Jeff Dusek at Harvard is now finding a coorelation in the DNA of meditators. If I was to develop a pill that promised to turn on genes that fight cancer, heart disease and depression, and then advertise on TV, everyone would be coming into the office asking to try the "new medicine". What if the label said no side effects, and what if insurance paid 100% with no copay. What if the therapeutic effects would extend to all body systems and not just help the heart, or improve mood or give and erection for more than 4 hours. This is what I feel yoga does to people. Its more than just bending over and wrapping your leg around into a pretzel. We sell it to the public as a way to get flexible just because marketing says the majority are hesitant to listen or do things that involve spirituality but they will click and read on things that improve physical fitness. Its ashame but life long practitioners usually are the ones that started with taking a class out of curiosity then became engulfed by the positive effects on every aspect of daily life.....who cares if I can touch my toes when I now feel better and more aware of existence and happiness than any other time in my life!!! Everyone I teach knows my story, I used to add a few poses to my "pre-workout routine" to get warm and wake up muscle. Now my old work out routine is used as a "pre-yoga warm up".

Truth in practice is that yoga, a moving meditation has the ability to lower the blood pressure, improve core strength, take the mind out of the onslaught of ideas and thoughts that bombard it every second, change metabolism, maximize digestion, and enhance killer attack white blood cells that fight cancer. Its like a smart bomb that can be set off in a crowd but only kill select badguys, leaving women and children unharmed. One of the most profound effects I have experienced with this is that if applied at the beginning of the day....after class I feel a great sense of wellbeing (I can get that with a workout-endorphine rush for an hour) but then its effects are pervasive. I think clearer so traffic is not a bother. I am more productive at work so efficiency is maximized and projects are finished in a shorter time span. Lunchtime comes without a rabid hunt for carbs/ meat/ salt/ volume so I dont get saturated in post gastric sleepiness. Since satiety is there without being drowsy, no need for the big starbucks venti. Without caffeine, sex is magnificent and sleep is immediate and continuous. Then the next morning, wake up bright and alive looking for more yoga and meditation. You can see this pervasive improvement from one aspect of life to the next. Its like a logirithmic improvement in feeling and functioning at a true maximum without a drug. Just think of anabolic steroids, ritalin, viagra, prozac, marijuana, HCG, and vicodin without any side effects! ( you understand!!) There was a recent movie "Limitless" that was about a drug that opened mental awareness, but it didnt stop there, every system in the body functioned at a level that was superhuman, all because the mind was unlocked.

So when a yogi exclaims "I feel better at 50 than I did in my twenties" its not just that the mind has been dupped into thinking pleasant thoughts....its because cholesterol is lower than ever, sleep is without a pill or a beer, food is digested without heartburn or bloating, muscle repair is faster than varsity highschool years, the morning is fine without coffee......and oh yeah...... I can also touch my toes.

Monday, August 22, 2011

What is good for the goose is NOT good for the gander.....

The diet and lifestyle for Sean (a 26 year old professional football player) wont work for me (a 49 year old physician/yoga practitioner)------------------------>

"You have to start exercising!" I caught myself saying to a patient. Then I asked, have you ever exercised before? No....well, there was badminton in high school. Now if I didnt ask, I would assume she would just go back to her "Bally's" membership and start her old routine again. I imagine some people leaving with suggestions I made and getting home but not knowing how to begin. Maybe going out and starting to jog with 2 year old pair of tennis shoes with no arch support. (That would eventually lead to shin splints, pain for days with walking down the stairs and having to indulge in a few advils, get reflux symptoms then curse me for having made the darn suggestion to begin with.) Or the 40 year old that buys a treadmill again only to use it for hanging laundry after 3 months because its boring to run in the house. The word "exercise" can actually connotate fear and embarassment in some that didnt like gym class in highschool. In 2005-6, only 53% of students in the US participated in athletics. That can be translated to 47% didnt like gym or have great experience with finding a sport or just arent aware of healthy forms of exercise short of running and calisthenics (-Arnold Schartzneggars attempt at the presidential physical fitness awards). Zooming to the CDC's statistics, if 2/3rds of the population is overweight, then dare I say more than 1/2 of that group may not have any experience/knowledge of activity that could save their lives short of running that will probably hurt their knees. Oh.... "pre-habilitiation exercise education" is not covered by insurance but a below the knee amputation for diabetes pays "good money" to the surgeon and hospital.

I have coined the phrase "Heart Healthy Activity" to be spoken instead of "exercise". It doesnt conger up experiences from highschool for some and it opens ideas up for the ex-athletes that are stuck on one kind of routine. Andy Weil professes in his book "Optimum Health"....act your age. To prevent injury in activity not designed for the decade of life you are in. Heart Healthy Activity for a 20 year old differs from that for a 40 year old. The HHA for an obese 20 year old differs from that for a lean 20 y/o. A 40 year old on high blood pressure medications cant measure heart rate like a diabetic on sugar medicine. A 49 year old ex-bodybuilding, high school sprinter (booya) usually will be against starting yoga with the typical preconceived notion that "I'm not flexible so don't think its right for me". Bottom line is just like some medicines cause back side effects in one person but lifesaving results in another, HHA has to be "tailor-made" to the persons age, loves, goals, economic status, physical disability, sex, family responsibility and free time. I believe if this basic lifestyle change is to be sustainable, then thought, design, and a good intention to make the patient successful in changing has to be invested. This is why I work with chiropractors, a physical therapist, a registered dietician/personal trainer, exercise physiologists and counselors. A well rounded team can provide several different "in-roads" to attempt with each patient in order to design a HHA that they will be able to embrace to initiate a change. The more you change with HHA, the more you improve the chronic medical disease: the more you improve the chronic medical disease, the better you feel: the better you feel, the more empowered you are to make the next change.......

As a patient, you have to be willing to try new things outside normal comfort zone....essentially trust that the person designing the program has the best intentions and desires for your success. As a provider of healthcare (doctor trainer, yoga teacher...), we have to keep in mind, not every prescription for lifestyle change is the same for a given patient.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The New Wellness Culture

Went to the "2011 Veggie Fest" in Naperville because a trip to downtown was cancelled by a "Half-Marathon" occuring at the same time. I remember reading about it and wondering if it would be like a glorified sunday farmers market or smaller. As we approached from the highway, I could see major road barricades and a mass of people being controlled with police direction across a major off ramp. First I thought, must be an accident or concert....then a realized they were all headed to the "Veggie Fest". According to one of the vendors, (a cosmetic dentist and previous patient of mine) 10,000 people were expected for this 4th annual get together. I was amazed to see a cross generations, not just the tail end of the baby boomer generation (booyaaa!!) but young college kids, young families, a few retirement age folks; Indian, Asian, African Americans and "other" all walking around really taking advantage and interest in open tent lectures, vendor stands, food sampling tents, yoga (booyaa again!) Chiropractor tents......there was one MD tent. The Md/doc had a sign over this table reading "Ask the Expert" other pamphlets, give aways, hand outs....pretty drab compared to the flashy and informative tables of alternative medicine counterparts at the next tables. And he wasnt busy...kinda looked bored.

All this is a statement that the call for better health is being asked by the community and answered by the community (at least a small percentage). In my opinion, healthcare reform will not be able to move anything faster than snails pace. I appreciate that "Obama Care" has made some initial steps to change the paradigm. But with the polarity of the government, it will take a heathcare catastrophy to make a significant inroad to change. (Just like the automotive industry bailout!...rescue at the last minute and socialize it). Nothing wrong with socialized medicine: it is working for Europe while our way is failing-along with our health) People have placed too much reliance on govenment to "get them healthy" the guy who comes in after 40 years and says "fix me doc...just dont make me change my hours, diet or free time.....and by the way, I am not a pill taker and dont believe in psychiatry".

What prompted me to discuss?... Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced this morning new plans to "Incentivise" (......actually-Penalize) city workers to lose weight, lower cholesterol and lower blood pressure. An article in the Sun-Times called it -"Carrot and Stick approach".

Just so happens my partners at First Health Associates and I have been working on a sustainable plan for lifestyle change just because of the way our weight loss graduates over the last 3 years are still maintaining a hunger to seek out more change even with the great gains they have made. All have been able to lose weight, most have been able to get off medicines, some have been able to change their family members and friends......every single one has been empowered to understand the concept that the power for successful change was inside all this time, just took education/guidance to plan a way to bring it out. The "incentive" we give people in the current program is/are the graduates from the previous programs. We have a growing "wall" of success stories to our program "The Largest Losers". I believe in what Dean Ornish said at my AZCIM fellowships conference......"Fear based medicine that uses the threat of future heart attack or cancer is not a sustainable motivator for change......its about the Joy of Living"....when our team is able to help in making a single change....our patients feel better, it empowers them to embrace the next opportunity to make another change. Small, high value, "daisy-chained" steps to lifestyle change are more sustainable than the "all in" decision to change everything at once. (although some of my Vata patients need this)....either way, we are ready to support all with conventional, alternative and ancillary healthcare.

A small percentage of Chicago's city employees drive 2/3rds the total healthcare costs around 5 chronic illnesses that could be managed with lifestyle change. The US population is the same way, an average of 6000 dollars spent per citizen per year and we are ranked close to the bottom of the list of world countries for being healthy. The good news is that with what I witnessed at The Naperville Veggie Fest, a small percentage of the population is taking their health into their own hands and showing great success at initiating a lifestyle change that is sustainable. I believe in the next decade, we will incentivize the rest of the community to break free of the status quo and instead of Dying Longer-experience the true Joy of Living. I feel in my heart we can grow this from a club, to a culture to a Wellness Generation....just takes the one step at a time.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Collective Thinking

We have incorporated summer vacation into our family ritual. Its so easy to say, lets just stay in Chicago....theres so much to do here and its a hassle to plan an outing. Many more excuses can be created in the depth of my mind but its so fulfilling when the vacation is over and the memories of time spent away from the normal ritual are permanently burning into the temporal lobe of my brain. I have to praise collective thinking as to how great ideas are creatively morphed and then carried out. If it wasnt for the sharing of the initial intention and desire between me and my beloved, then her and her siblings, I dont think the idea of "where should we take the kids before school starts" would have blossomed just because- I'm to busy with promoting my clinic, giving lectures and growing my practice. I love the way a small spark of an idea can be shared with like-minded people and especially with the speed of communication now-a-days, a well planned concept can be effortlessly developed. People all have dormant talents that sometimes go unrecognized until a spark ignites that center in the heart chakra. Once ignition happens, its like this inborn desire continues to drive the individual to creatively expound on what they feel is the right way to "celebrate" the idea that was initiated. Usually in giving group, this inspires others to contribute to the growing idea in their own way. ( person is great at shouting out the idea to the group, one person is great at searching for flights and houses, one person is great at cooking meals, one person is great for planning events, one person is great at packing the whole kitchen to make sure we dont forget anything.....) When everyone contributes their individual talents, no matter how small, the "universal idea" that was started with a thought...takes off with all details being covered and in the end....almost no effort being recalled as to how did we launch this massive plan into reality.

I feel this speaks to the concept of surrounding yourself with like minded individuals. Equally important is to "shed" the relationships that seem to foster alot of energy just to end up with a feeling of I didnt feel good about spending time with that person. Some people have not matured to the point of realizing the universe isnt here for YOU; you are created to contribute to IT. Those people who pollute, eat without guilt, cheat taxes, cut in line, disturb the peace, spread rumors, insult others....all have an agenda to be self serving. When your intentions and desires are geared to just bring energy to you and not to grow or contribute to the good of all, you become an "enery drain" to your family, your friends, your coworkers, your community, your race.....and yeah, even the planet.

In the end, something that started as an idea and blossomed into an experience that my kids, neices and nephews will remember as "I remember feeling good about myself when we all participated in that trip way back in 2011", makes it worthwhile to share ideas with other likeminded individuals.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

You cant fight and cant fix what you cant face

I had a young guy come in for a rash today and when I asked how often he sees a doctor, his reply was “I don’t really need one-I am healthy”. I would always like to think me and my collegues from around the world are worth visiting if you are interested in saving your life. Unfortunately, statistics in 2000 showed Iatrogenic deaths (caused usually while in a hospital) were number 3 in the US right after heart disease and cerebrovascular death. So…..maybe its good that this young guy stays away? Naaaa, this is why I love Integrative Medicine- the judicious use of scientific western medicine and the intelligent use of natural medicine.

One of the most common issues that accumulate to great degrees are feelings of anxiousness, anger and doubt in my 30+ year olds. One would think “these are psychological symptoms that arent that common or lifethreatening” but we see high blood pressure, or insomnia, or reflux, or impotence in essentially 8 of 10 patients that come in for "routine physicals" -and these are usually based on anxiety and stress. So how does the average American take care of such a problem? Most usually wait until the issue causes physical problems and MD's usually treat only the physical ailements with medicines. Patients and doctors ignore the psychological and spiritual aspect rooted in disease and miss the whole picture.

Taking smaller steps at an earlier time in the evolution of a disease process usually results in postponing when the symptoms show up (and health conscious folks sometimes the disease never shows up) I believe you have to acknowledge your problem before you can start working to solve it. How can someone self-assess when judgement is already impaired? Or perhaps there is no prior knowledge of how normal should feel? Ahaa!! This is where a well trained doctor-team can be useful; to search for and point out an issue that should be adressed. Oh, its not the same when someone says, “I had an aunt with anxiety, I know what the treatment is!” If there was one treatment for everyone then there would be no further outbreak of disease since all would be cured. In fact, people get put on the “standard” treatment and still, dysfunction exists. Truth is that everyones personality is “a little different’; everyones family dynamic is “a little different”; everyones outlook on their neighbors is “a little different”….so treatment has to be personalized every time. Aint just one pigeon hole that works for everyone. Friends, doctors, counselors, psychologists, naturopaths, "intervention groups", dieticians, coaches are all very powerful ways to realize things about yourself that you wouldnt have seen. So it all starts with self revelation and realization.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Unconditional Love

Melissa's mom came into my office wondering if I could provide a different option for her daughter to get healthy. Mellisa has cerebral palsy, psychological imbalance that results in difficulty controlling anger and an intestinal absorption problem (called leaky gut syndrome in alternative and complementary circles). Mom is bringing her daughter (with electronic wheelchair, computer talker/voice, and handicap car) to Rush GI department, Rehab Institute of Chicago and mostly a visiting counselor for Behavioral Health. She has handpicked the best of the best. I liken this to the FBI, CIA, National Guard, TSA; all powerful individually but difficult to get in the same room. Melissa has been maintained on specific protocol medicines well established for each diagnosis. The problem I see is that as she ages, the dynamics of her role as a patient change. Interpersonal self esteem, mom daughterrelationship, handicapped/caregiver status all will change no matter how solid and stable the physical home and care situation is.

Think of the typical guy that comes into my office at 40 years of age; hasnt seen a doc for 20 years aside from coughs and colds, then says "fix me doc". High cholesterol, high blood pressure, overweight, erectile dysfunction.....suddenly the small tolerable problems that were previously stable, all become problematic. I quickly stabilize the problems with prescription meds, highly suggest lifestyle changes and dont hear back until a refill is needed. Few years go by and no lifestyle has been changed, same bad habits fall out of control as more weight is gained, more family dysfunction is accumulated and more bad habits are continued. I give more medicines, stabilize and make more suggestions on seeing specialists. Then the specialists use a host of medicines for severe disease with individual suggestions for lifestyle change and diet modification. [I firmly believe it takes less effort to take a powerful pill than to submit to saying, I will switch to mostly vegitarian food, exercise 3-5 times a week, meditate daily or find another job with less stress.] The problem is that coping skills and pills will make things better until the next crisis occurs (and this is bound to happen because human interaction and interpersonal relationships are dynamic and always changing.)

I will see people after several crisis have been dealt with, and controlled. With each intervention, a bigger more poweful medicine is used or another specialist is called in. When the episodes occur with more frequency or regular medicines dont help and only harm (or make the other problems flare up); then hospitalization is attempted and intense polypharmacy, poly-specialist control, poly-therapy is thrown into the mix to stabilize and discharge. I used to just blame this cresendo-like occurance to total-body-failure on aging but I really believe this is just over medicating and not allowing the body to heal. Of course there are disease states that do not have a way out, when the spirit is really challenged .....but.... there are more disease states that have a way out (better living) but those doors are not opened.

Back to Melissa's case, it was mom who, even with every well known specialist in Chicago, listened to her instincts and went outside the box and looked for help. (In Bruce Liptons Biology of Belief-every cell in your body has an energy to it and every cell can create a message, the idea that about having a "gut feeling" takes the power of decision making away from the brain and more into your cellular DNA) I looked at her mom and saw someone that that was reaching out for answers not being given by conventional medicine. Melissa was in the hospital with a decompensating gut that didnt work and caused pain (I had a fear that she wouldnt leave the hospital at that point). The only nutrition was with an IV bag. (called TPN) There was a tube that went from her stomach straight out to her abdominal wall for feeding but her gut was too inflammed to even put water in the g-tube. I listened to moms story and it sounded like all the specialists were circling the wagons for the last fight. I didnt think I could add much more. AAhh!!! Then I turned on the part of my brain Deepak and Herb Benson trained and I thought......lets try to create a relaxing environment for Melissa. Soothing music, aroma therapy, a relaxed mom with hope (suggested she take a short vacation). Then I thought about sending out an SOS to 2 gurus-Dr Dave Rakel a fellow grad from the AZCIM and Jennifer Hoschel my herbalist from Clermont FL. We put together a few suggestions that the specialist were ok with and some the specialist didnt approve for lack of US studies. (these were mostly nutritional implementations) I didnt hear from mom for a while then 2 months is Melissa- out of the hospital, out of her house for the first time in a year, in my office with mom and her caregiver Mindy, smiling dressed up and with more weight than the initial videos mom played for me during our first meet (since back then Mel was too weak to get out of the house). She talked to me via her computer board and I had a great meeting with everyone. After we finished and I said my goodbyes, I stepped out of the room feeling great then suddenly ......this unusual feeling came over if I just watched an episode of Oprah-the tears started flowing- I had to duck into an empty exam room to protect my testosterone. There are more challenges ahead, (and my gut is telling exactly what we have to do next) but Melissa and her mom have captured my heart. To see the dedication and instinctual bond they share even in the face of great challenge, makes me thankful I am able to experience their energy. (check out the smiles in the pic, that is a true dedicated family!)

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Month 1, Training for Everest

Got back into my Deepak Chopra Audiobooks and I forgot the beauty of his wisdom. As I did my first hike for 2011 coming out of Chicago winter hibernation, I noticed during the portions of my hike that were on stone path, I was with some runners, the majority of which seem to have facial grimace. I do remember the feeling while running my marathons, I had to put myself into the "zone" to fight the urge to quit and turn in my electronic chip for a ride back to the finish line. So I tried to support these guys as I passed by but not much eye contact either. I mentioned my hike experience with Cristina and she said maybe they were just trying to push themselves for the health aspects of getting out. Then that got me thinking.....we probably train ourselves routinely with calling out the Hans Selye "stress response" but aside from getting our heart rate to tick at a lower rate than a non-exercising person, does a low heart rate and bp give us peace? I run into this in the office with big, muscular 20-30 year olds that come in for physicals and say "I'm healthy doc, I get enough exercise every day with the work I do", then I look at their blood pressure and find, pre-stroke levels. It's true they could lift more than I for 8 hours at a time but thats not the exercise that results in long living. Then there is the athlete type that comes in and although playing league basket ball or pushing weights and body building, cholesterol is high and liver a little fatty from alcohol use. I remember seeing a group of college guys hanging around the power rack at the gym taking turns in round robin full squats (not recommended for people who like to avoid cortisone shots in the knees) and one of the guys had a bite plate/mouth guard he was gnashing his teeth on when his turn to push the weight.
I only bring up the scenarios of anger associated exercise bursts to call for regular practice of calm and peace as well. I always go back to my first experience of relaxation and yoga with a patient of mine in his 40's with hypertension. I was giving him 2 daily medicines and leaving it at that as long as he was ok with taking the pills. One year he came in and stated he was going to try a new yoga place for exercise. (Back in the mid 90's, not too many yoga studios to choose from) I was skeptical but when I saw him the next season, his blood pressure was lower. Ok, I weaned him off the pills and the next time I saw him, he actually gained weight, not to the point of obese but little handles here and there, and his BP was still low!!! So to summarize, I controlled his BP with 2 different blood pressure pills, he started yoga, got pressure controlled and got heavier with continued control all with yoga and nothing more. No supplements, no surgical procedure, no job change....lin fact he was still running his business 40-50 hours a week. I started watching this "yoga cult" and their ideas of moving meditation and cultivating the "relaxation response".
Western medicine always pushes aerobic activity, cardio, exercise to bring the heart rate to 80% of your age maximum; all in efforts to postpone the onset of diseases of stress. (heart attack, stroke, diabesity) Its all scientific, proven with randomized control trials and pushed as an adjunct to eating healthy and controlling symptoms with prescription meds. But then cultivating the relaxation response, sitting in stillness and quiet, mindful living and spending time in nature; I feel is just as powerful, more rewarding and cost saving. For cultural reasons, the practice of spiritual grounding is looked at like the profession of psychiatry, its there and works but not embraced like the others profesions in healthcare. I thought is was just the baby boomer generation that thought of psychiatric illness as "nuts", but when a young guy came in for a school bus driver physical, the entire office sensed the very "bipolar-like" personality and demeanor so I told him respectfully that I cant approve his department of transportation card until fully evaluated by his primary care doctor for some underlying psychological tendancies I see coming out in the interview. The 30 year old said "so you think I'm crazy?" and started going into uncontrolled manic bursts (reinforcing my diagnosis of bipolar disorder).
I think most people are missing the boat with very beneficial techniques that work to allow the body to think better, heal faster and perform at maximum even without expensive gyms, equipment, or foods. I wouldnt substitute yoga and meditation for the whole exercise healthy living kick, but I would inter-twine the practice of cultivating Herb Bensons "Relaxation Response" amongst all the grunting, grimacing, panting, shouting, power movements everyone seems to try and turn a new leaf with.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The argument for; "Removing yourself from an Argument"

Most people have heard about the food that you crave is probably the food your body finds most harmful. (ie....people with hypertension crave salt, diabetics crave sugar) Not to say this is set in stone, but most comfort foods are the ones that have "turned on us". How dare a food become bad for my body! Lets talk about "the how". Food when it is broken down by the gut goes through some fancy chemical reactions and then introduction into the blood stream is made. Once in the blood stream, the different food types (protein, carb, fat) can induce a hormone wave to be released. The blood stream has delicate sensors that essentially tell the brain/body life is good so rejoice, relax and procreate or life is bad, fight, flee or scavenge. The take home point is that the body/mind can be coersed into creating an altered environment "inside" just by manipulation of hormones.

At a conference we presented saturday on Depression, it was cool to see some dynamics of communications with strangers. Most people have been taught to not open up too much to new aquaintances as part of a ritual in society of "getting to know others". Others will have some idiosyncratic habits of jumping into a conversation with very intense and saddening or argumentative personal revelation. And this would be in a first meeting! Most people would usually start to move away from the conversation, some will stay and engage. Aaahhaaaa! When the boistrous or codependant person gets an audience, the emotional stories begin... (both extrememly saddening or annoyingly involving-like the joke teller who laughs so loud one would be expected to also join in on the laugh for fear that you "don't get it")

Some people feel so comfortable in their diagnosis of depression or bipolar disorder that life seems stable when in tears or in argument with others. There will seem to be comfort in going back an environment that may be bad for health and socializing but it is what they are used to. There will be a talent of creating a tornado of emotion around the individual that you either get pushed away or get sucked into the conversation. The feeling or emotion thats evoked in a listener or innocent bystander to the tornado is called counter-transference. Those folks that can change the emotional feeling of a conversation to "depressing" or "defensive engaging arguments".....are creating a local climate change all around them- the saddened person will have everyon weeping with them or the argumentative person will always through out a new debate to keep one constantly defending another point. Either way, they feel comfortable having that type of "feel" within their mind/body and it is more empowering when others around them are involved with the feeling. It may not be your way of thinking/being but if allowed to engage, the force will be strong not to get involved emotionally. If not well grounded, the chance meeting with someone like this can subconsciously impact your actions the rest of the day.

Although my religious upbringing tells me I have to reach out to these folks, my actions has a healer are to help others first; engaging a tornado of emotion will hinder my ability to do this, so I confidently will respond with a simple answer and move on without guilt. If anything, I would reach out to the person supporting this tornado epicenter because they are exposed to this type of engagement every day.

......“If someone comes to give you a gift and you do not receive it,” the master replied, “to whom does the gift belong?”

Thursday, April 28, 2011

I caved in to McDonalds

I found myself saying to Brandon "....dont drink all the sugar soda, finish your processed food first!" I then thought of Alec Guiness in 1957 movie Bridge Over the River Kwai- "...What have I done". I try to eat healthy, I exercise and practice yoga, I meditate and try to find grounding every day (or at least when my schedule is busiest-yes, 30 minutes of mediation is important to the brain, you can think clearer and more creatively without having to rely on instinctual desision making). Recently I have been driven to perform my best with the goal of service to all those around me. My left brain has to shout its way through creative conscious thinking and say, "watch out, people will take advantage of you!" Luckily, with Deepak, David Simon and Davidji's teachings, I have been able to tap into the right brain to realize there is an interconnectedness to nature and others that is self supportive. That enigma referred to as Universal Consciousness supports what contributes to it and ingores what takes away from it. Listening to the conversations those 100 trillion cells of energy in my body have I will pour out to those that seem to need guidance and help and move away from those that selfishly take away without contributing back. In contemplating my journey to where I am now, the movitation for lifestyle change was initiated when the place I was working for changed the rules of how I earned a living. How dare they interfere with my life plan even if they are the organization I work for. Starting on my quest, I got some hints along the way of where to go, to learn, and how I could best offer talents. Initially resisting the calling, it was tough to figure what all these life experiences meant. Why should I have to pay for meeting Deepak Chopra or listening to him lecture about concepts "I could easily read on Wikipedia or Google Scholar." I don't need to take Andrew Weils fellowship, "I practice complimentary medicine already just by exercising and taking vitamins." I don't need to learn acpuncture, "my sports medicine training is proven to fix physical ailments regular doctors dont handle right." But as I surrendered to the messages my right brain was giving me to be humble and learn to heal, I kept on getting answers that were given back like little keys that unlocked doorways to vast places of knowledge and information. It is a beautiful thing to feel connected and involved in the shaping and evolution of people and the world. Naysayers will usually interject, "how will you pay the bills", "thats all good but kids have to be disciplined", "what if someone is drug seeking"? I now choose not to listen to those instinctual call outs from the left brain.....or what Wayne Dyer calls the ego. (that youthful way of thinking "I am number one, everything evolves around me, who I am is what I own or the degree I claim") One of the most common times for getting the ah ha moment of figuring interconnectedness is on the "death bed".....suddenly realization is reached that we all breath as one energy source (light) at which point forgivness is asked. I have a long trek ahead to learn and serve but along the journey......I have to realize "not everyone is ready to accept this form of "start saving the world by being healthy, offering random acts of kindness, trying to exude health and happiness and perhaps push it to everyone". Love, health and happiness is a concept that should emminate and be absorbed readily, it should be anonymously offered. Push is a counter productive word and concept that brings me back to what I noted this morning. I have to remind myself, just maintain my health and live right, those around me will in some way also feel benefit, I cant make everyone see the light like I see it...... letting Brandon eat what I eat is good. Letting him eat what his freinds on ritalin eat is good. The beauty comes when he turns around without any prompting and has to think; " this healthy?" I have just "immunized" him against all the crap the food industry and the pharmaceutical industry are pushing unknowingly on a public that is defenseless.

I like to teach the world to sing......

Saturday, April 23, 2011

My HMO Mechanic

So after some time of not driving my "fancy car", I took it out of storage and decided to get all its problems fixed up so I could sell it. I was content to say goodbye mostly because it wasnt serving me and I just dont feel the need for speed anymore. (I fact just the opposite, I am enjoying all of life as I am not rushed to do things). So I take it back to the best Porsche Mechanic around, these guys have the only paddock for mechanics at the Autobahn-a major high speed raceway in Joliet IL. I had several issues with leaking fluid, a noisy joint to both left and right, and more annoying- a constant SQUEEK from a worn part to my steering. If I still had enough garage space, I would fix them myself, I love taking things apart to see how they truely work inside! So I drop the car off with a list of things but I stress I need the suspension and squeeky noise looked into. I called several times to tell them this while they gave me updates on the gargantuan rebuilding of things I didnt need but they said "if you fix this, it will sell fast". ( I am just a peaceful man and want my squeek taken care of, it already goes fast enough for me.) I approved of a limited portion of the mega rebuild project that mirrors the US deficit and again finished my conversation with...."oh and don't forget that annoying squeek." Pick up day approaches and I am kinda excited to drive my squeekless car with a new rear main seal, two new wheel bearings and so much torque it can be in the next Fast and Furious movie minus the bikini's (although I have been told I am a looker in a speedo). So I see the car in the garage shop driveway....just like visualizing a halo around the shiny little red car just as I purchased it when it was only a little baby german machine and hearing angels sing aaahhhhhh in the background. I get in, open the door sit in and SQUEEEK as I turn the steering wheel.

It reminds me of an HMO surgeon who has no time for small talk. You tell them that the problem is in your knee as you call for an appointment. You tell the nurse the knee has been bothering you and thank god she finally took you into the room. After waiting dressed in a paper robe that sticks to your butt and underarms, you tell the surgeon what the symptoms on the internet said you had and wait for him to say "yes you are right" so you can go on with the treatment as Wikipedia says you need. You finally decide on the procedure for that knee and after waking up in recovery, SQUEEEK.... they do the wrong knee!

Is it just me....when I sat down to eat lunch yesterday, one of the docs in the neigboring offices came by the kitchen and said hello. The problem was the way he said it, most of his sentences were spoken very fast with and added personal note tagged on at the the end as if he was trying to get alot of information out with one breath. Like including and answer to my observation, a reason for the answer and personal tidbit for why the reason is right. And the sentence ended with the initiation of his physical movment out of the room we were speaking in. I felt guilty I was more in observation of his fast speech than the content of his thought. "Do I talk like that?"...I wondered. "Will he let me respond?"....I thought. "Is he really walking away before I can give my opinion?".....I worried. Bottom line, people are pressured to respond without listening to the entire question due to a stress response. When not relaxed, abstract creative thinking parts of the brain are turned off (to survive the human brain doesnt process things in the big frontal brain-it uses instinctual primitive brain stem paths to work) and quick responding, non emotional "anger or sex" ideas take over actions. If speaking to someone about trivial things....let them talk their breath out, dont expect to get a word in, no need to fight or answer sentence for sentence. BUT...if it involves your property, your family or your life, make sure it is clearly stated after their "Word Salad" they vomit up, your expectations and make them respond yes or no. The under paid, over worked person who is used to dealing with hundreds of questions with preprinted responses will probably not be listening to begin with. Point in fact....people that blurt out answers or additional questions as you are speaking, do you really think they are paying attention to what you are saying as they formulate their "Blurt"? Thats ok for trivial things like, "can I have a cookie" or "is Lady Gaga a man"; if a doctor is about to give you a standard answer followed by a standard prescription or surgical proceedure (soundeffect of tires screeching to a halt!!!!) ...MAKE.......THEM.....LISTEN!

Sunday, April 17, 2011


It seems so far off to think by staying healthy and getting off medicine, you can impact the health of the planet. It is true. I watched Dirt The Movie with the kids to support local green movement but was surprised to fall into the emotion of the movie. I am well versed with the ins and outs of human life and traditional and alternative ways to live. I know alot about the pharmaceutical industry, a good amount about organic and local farmers. I had no idea about how we impact the life of the planet (including greenhouse gas and global warming) by choosing to purchase a box of sugar coated cereal instead of organically grown fruits and vegetables. Tearing down centuries old mountains for minerals to serve a small fraction of the humans on the planet, destroying vast praries to plant one form of vegitation (wheat) that the majority of the US is now allergic to or to push on the public that milk a protein from another animal species is ok to drink until we are well into cancer age (although now cancer doesnt attack 60 and above-I am seeing 40 year olds with new diagnosis being placed on chemo therapy and told "diet doesnt matter, its just your genes")

I have to refer back to a common source, Samuel Kaymen CEO of Stonyfield Farm has fought through conventional dairy industry to maintain organic status and put out non pesticide laden food products because he believed in a product concept that would be healthier for people and an agriculture concept that was being battered by big industry and politics at the sacrifice of the taxpayers health. The average tax payer, supports without knowing it, the companies that produce and process wheat. The same companies that process the seed for the single crop, have to battle the insects that eat the vast fields of wheat so what better way to fight a bug than to put the pesticide in the dna of the seed!!!! Yay.....if the wheat seed was "friendly" to the pesticide, a plan could spray the nastiest chemical (think of the rat poisons in your basement and crawlspace) on the field and not have the plant die. The only thing that dies is the insect!!!

Wait.....the seed the blossoms into a wheat plant has DNA spliced into its gene that tells it "pesticide is ok". The plant that is sprayed with pesticide recognizes the chemical and is not affected by the poison. The insect and rodent that eat the plant laced with poison die since their DNA dont recognize the poison. But then the human will eat the same plant as the insect and rodent? Oh....the pesticide is safe for human consumption since humans are complex and have smart livers that break down anything. Oh ....wait, those are the same livers already breaking down tobacco, alcohol, prescription drugs, tylenol and dealing with high processed sugars. Oh wait....those livers belong to a society of humans working 50-60 hours a week, sedentary, obese and dealing with stressed lives by drinking, smoking, not exercising for lack of time and hunting for processed food high in fructose and wheat. Oh wait....isnt that eating more of the wheat that is Genetically Modified with foreign DNA and laced with pesticide?

Kathy told me of her mother in law who didnt like to visit doctors but was taken to the ER for hip pain. The xrays, MRI and physical exam all were normal. Because she was screaming the Ortho gave a pain shot and great results!!! She felt great, finally no suffering from what the doc said was not a fracture. She is a complex lady, 70 years old with other medical and mental stressors that had pain. Doc listened to the screaming, looked at her hip and gave a powerful medicine for the screaming. No more screaming is a good thing....until the medicine wears off. Screaming again, hip is the same, give the same medicine. By the time she was hooked on the pain medicine, still with screaming as it wore off, the nurses had to transfer her to a single "quiet" room then off to a rehab center since they couldnt handle her. And the nursing home will take her since she has medicare/ the chronic pain center or the drug withdrawal treatment center dont take government insurance. No one checked into other medical problems or mental stressors....they just focused on her hip being normal.

It seems like a strong chemical took care of an annoying problem that continued to surface itself but no one looked at the long term effects of how that chemical impacted the person eating it, the people caring to the person eating it, the healthcare insurance (our taxed paychecks) that pays for the place that will care for her and the medicines we will pay for to feed the addiction she has developed. If we dont pay attention to health (Grow organic/Stay healthy), If we only take shortcuts (Pesticides/Treating the Pain not the Person), If we dont look for other natural solutions (continue spraying more bulletproof fields instead of growing organic farms/continue giving medicine to quiet down screaming not treat the addiction and true source of the suffering) We will only add to the problem of pesticides in our food, deforestation, global warming, nuclear energy dependance/rising healthcare costs, pharmaceutical dependance, and the highest rate of obesity and cancer in the history of mankind.

I cannot speak for the global impact to the planet but I am confident that since I have made the decision to eat healthy, exercise, care for others and help my environment, I will probably outlive some of my childrens friends who are not doing the same. Watch these films:

Dirt The Movie

Food Inc

The Future of Food

Food Matters

Supersize Me

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Estrogen in Me

I was about 2 inches away from my wife this morning, face to face and I was just drawn back to the first time we met. (It reminded me of a scene from the Disney movie Ratatouille when the hard nosed food critic got ready to sample food and just as he took his first spoonful, the magic of CGI zoomed in on his eyes with amazement and took us through a journey of life flashes bringing him back to a childhood outside his house being comforted by mom and then offered moms same version of the dish up to his first bite as a kid)

Ratatouille Clip

Anyway, usually we just kiss each other goodbye and travel onto our separate lives at work. This time I slowed things things down and it brought me back to 1988 when we first kissed outside a jazz nightclub in the Philippines (Birds of a Feather). I wont bore anyone with details (and those are just for me and Cristina anyway), but when young love is new, look at the physiology of what happens. You get an endorphine rush but it is not truely a fight or flight reponse, it is the same biologic response to get ready for action but in humans it is also "laced" by the hormones of love (the parasympathetic system); oxytocin (the same hormone mom secretes when a baby is born) and serotonin (the one that is often synthetically increased by Zoloft, Prozac, Paxil....) This great internal environment/feeling created by the body is in Darwinian terms-essential for survival of the species. In Einsteinean energy theories, the feeling created within two humans by opening to each others "grace", is something we all have within us but are told by societies rules, don't let anyone see it (especially as a man growing up in the US) for fear that someone or something will take it away.

Truth is that 70% of the visits to a physicians office or ER now are based on uncontrolled pure stress response and not enough relaxation response. They need to both exist in use but not to the point of all stress and little to no relaxation. I give pills to give some chemical relief or the hormone imbalance but they are meant to be temporary. Usually what happens is you walk out of the doctors office feeling good that there is a plan to fell better (placebo response!) then start the pills. one said what to do next. The thinking is usually, I don't want to see a psychologist "cause I'm not crazy". But how are we supposed to heal up when as adults we have painted ourselves into a corner of take on stress everyday but dont allow the relaxation hormones out. Alcohol, high glycemic food, TV, more adrenaline with "taking it out on someone weaker" or just going to sleep? Yeah, that is a great way to neutralize adrenaline, epinephrine, cortisol and dopamine. I will tell you that more than half of the hypertensives I see can get off their medicines with daily practice of the relaxation response.

Andy Weil and the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine teach their fellows to take a more extended history from patients and mine is always asking about the practice of spirituality. This would be meditation, mindful eating, nature walks, listening to your inner voice of peace. The usual answer 9 of 10 times is, "oh, I am catholic" or "I don't practice" spirituality. This too is an exercise that has to be cultivated and developed. The Dahli Lama (who I will be seeing in July!) has had to practice this for a lifetime can get distracted. I hold introduction lectures to meditation and usually with first timers, a lot of emotion is released just because they experience a feeling that essentially has been tucked away since childhood. (show me a child that is playful and hypertensive and I will give you free personal healthcare for life!)

Anyway, here is an easy opportunity to create an "internal mileau" or environment conducive to staying healthy and getting off blood pressure medicine: Go home, don't vent about the stress of the day....just quietly, slowly and intentionally hold hands with a loved one, let the feeling circulate, look into the eyes of the loved one, let the feeling build up and when ready slowly hold them and take a slow deep breath together and close the eyes. Pay attention to the feelings that come up from the heart, the ideas and pictures that come to you and then let the breath out. You have just secreted enough serotonin and oxytocin to equal the power of any depression drug I can ever prescribe and yet with no side effects. You have just showered all the cells of the body with a hormone they usually dont get. Cells desire this to work at their maximum potential. Your cells were made to fight disease, toxins, cholesterol and even cancer! They will work better when given the right conditions, you just have to intentionally create the environment inside.

(The Love Response was writen by a friend of mine at Harvard, Eva's work is a great read!)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Why Organic?">Deepak Chopra's interview on Organic and GMO food

A co-teacher trainee from the Chopra Center was kind enough to show this to me. Many have taken the time to watch the documentary Food Inc and be amazed at the backroom politics of the food industry. Bottom line for my patients (and my family including my mother who died of pancreatic cancer) we all have to understand what we are eating. Labeling the foods we buy at the grocery in a carefree manor thinking the grocery has our best interests in mind. Well, just like the pharmaceutical industry, at one point they may have had idea to save lives, now its just to make a big drug that will sell(doesnt have to cure, just sell). Drug companies spend more on marketing than research and development. The government spends more on taking care of sickness than preventing it. This is why the US spends the most on earth on public healthcare (about $5000.00 a person a year) than any other nation but we are ranked 72 in overall health (of 191 countries studied in 2000).
Now people have to be aware, when I encourage them to exercise and diet, the very foods they may be indulging more of (to get off the medicines) can cause another form of illness-toxin induced body aches, autoimmune disease, cancer. You cant just walk into a food store and shop along the periphery. Used to be if you stayed out of the isles of processed foods, you would be eating healthy (this was a 90's concept). Now while in the periphery, you have to read labels, and most of the pesticide/chemical industry that owns the patent on farm seed also has influence on labeling standard for our food products. Organic companies in order to call themselves organic have to pay to get certification on their cows not using hormones, not eating genetically modified feed, not using pesticides in the soil. These small companies have to pay more to the governement to label that they are safer and wont inject your bodies with carcinogens.">Dr Saguil's previous Organic Blog">Dr Saguil's blog on Genetically Modified Salmon

It is so hard to shop and be healthy and figure how where to put the paycheck, bills or food? I feel in denial when I pick bills. My mind says I made the right choice because the fruit looks ok, nice and shiny. The veggies appear plump and full with no brown spots. The chicken and fish look like they are clean without cancer spots. The Environmental Working Group has put out a list of the clean 15 and dirty dozen-this is a great starting guide to get you used to making a decision on what to spend the extra money on. If you buy all organic, bless you and most likely you wont be needing to see me in the office or in surgery or in the oncologists office.

I think when people/parents first set the intention to give it a try for a few weeks and live through the change of "stuff" on the kitchen table then it will become do-able for a few more weeks. Off milk onto soy or almond, push away from beef every night and mix it up with poultry fish and legumes. Soon, the belly wont be as fat, the mind will think a little faster and clearer, the body will tolerate more activity or at least recover faster, sleep will come faster and morning will be more rested. Then the exercise becomes something you desire to do (the brain goes from hunting for food to hunting for exercise). Then when exercising more, the body demands or inspires you to shop for better food again the next time you shop. Positive feedback loop. A parent really has to protect the family from the invisible threat. The EWG sponsored a testing of 10 baby cord blood samples (blood from the placenta right after birth) and found an average of 200 chemicals that can cause cancer. These are babies born to moms who follow standard practice of taking prenatal vitamins, avoiding smoke and alcohol and caffeine and only taking tylenol.

Think of how many chemicals are in those adults who don't care about their health. They go onto develop disease, get sick, lose jobs, become financially dependant on the government and there goes our per capita spending again. But having no money is not an excuse, as stated in Deepaks interview, Walmart has even picked up on organic products. Target has also implemented selling organic products. (Although I love Whole Foods Market, you don't have to just shop at WFM to get organic!)

I became health conscious after a series of personal life threats and what unfortunately was the last straw-mom's short battle with cancer. I am down to college weight, have run 2 marathons and plan on climbing Yosemite or Everest Basecamp by my 50th (2012) It is so unfortunate that I just found this feeling inside me now but why worry about the past.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The other side of the fence.

I work as a "fill in doctor" with Alexian Brothers to supplement paying the bills but more importantly to still stay connected to the mood of a traditional medicine practice. I dont want it to sound like I am out of touch from my "perch" of healing with integrative medicine but sometimes I find myself surroundied by healers with positive energy, ideas, and a common intent to serve others. I learned from The Chopra Center that service to others is everyones true dharma or purpose in life. It is a difficult concept to swallow at first but when you step away from childhood mentality of; everything that you do in life is for your benefit, you work hard to buy yourself things, you pay people to service your needs, you get the picture at some point that it is more rewarding to see someone else benefit. You work hard to shelter your kids, you produce a product for the benefit of others, you spend the extra time to educate to empower others, you visit grandma so she smiles. So it is hard to break away from the "me attitude" but when in the company of the like minded, it is easy to continue on and blossom new and better ideas to serve for the benefit of the whole group. Having a constant bombardment of random acts of kindness, I will sometimes forget how the dynamic of suffering feels. I dont mean how people suffer with disease; I am seeing more cancer, chronic pain, obesity, and autoimmune disease than ever before in my office. I mean I sometimes will forget how people are so frustrated with not being able to get a response from their doctor, not being able to ask questions about how they are supposed to heal, not being able to spend time with patients, not being able to get tests scheduled for weeks, not being able to get therapy because it was denied.....

I worked a 13 hour shift yesterday at a busy immediate care center, the first thing I heard when I got in was "yesterday was terrible, we worked 15 hours!!!" It's ok to vent but as my friend John says "I dont like to lament on things that have past" -I didnt let yesterdays news effect my attitude today. Obviously people suffered with a long shift but cant let that change my excitement to change some lives for the better. So I felt it was my duty to help the staff get through the day effortlessly, I used aromatherapy (frankinsense) in all the rooms, I helped call back patients, I opened the blinds and let the sun in to flood the Immediate Care with natural light, at lunchtime, I reminded them that 4 hours just went by and now we are working a regular 9-5 shift "piece of cake!". Then the first challenging patient came in, a dad who was waiting in the room for 30 minutes and counting the minutes. He burst out of the room and said "we have been waiting for 45 minutes and those other patients (whom I was caring for before he even registered) werent here when I came in, how come you are seeing them first?!". Of course I didnt accept his gift of anger and told him I am almost finished with the chart I was writing on and will be there asap. As he reentered his room where his daughter was waiting, he said outloud to her, "if we have to wait anylonger, we'll just leave!" Addressing the staff I immediately said "take a deeep breath" and gave a smile and walked into the next room in line. What kind of leader would I be if I let "a few fight or flight words" control my destiny to heal others. By the time I got into his room, I politely revealed to him the time stamps of arrival for all patients and reassured him I care and want to make his daughter healthy. He actually left happy and appologized to me several times. It seems has has had bad experiences with "the system" in the past and is very frustrated. I gave him some "Dr Saguil Approaches" of how a well informed dad can manuver within the health insurance industry and comeout healthy with little effort and frustratio. I forgot how complicated it is for a dad/parent/patient to get someone to be an advocate for their health and wellness. I forgot how unpleasant a feeling it is to get little time with a doctor, little help from the medical community, and little information to empower oneself to make an informed decision on the wellbeing of themselves or loved ones. I remember escorting a patient to a well known cancer doctor and waiting about 2-3 hours and we didnt even get to see him....saw all his support staff and got good knowledge but didnt get to meet the star doc. Little frustrating "and they know I was the refering doctor!" but in the end, my patient received great hope on her disease. I cant imagine how she would have done if by herself and without hope of life just because she didnt know where to go or what information to trust. Then I receive a text from my beloved sister that a doctor said Ryan (my nephew) has a short achilles tendon and needs some stretching exercises. I am thinking, who in the world would tell my sister/a mom of 2 that her son has a physical abnormality and just end it with "have him do some stretching exercises" as if the average mom knows the ins and outs of pediatric physical therapy. (Even regular physical therapist don't know the dynamics of therapy applied to a pediatric athlete) I gave her some good inforamtion and guidance on how to look for the right avenues of rehab.

The whole day at the Immediate Care was filled with challenging attitudes the "poorly informed mom" or like the "angry dad" but I didn't let the pervasive attitudes of helplessness with our "disease-care system" effect the way I provided healing. People are hurting with their labels of disease and the difficulty with caring for the disease alone, I don't take this personally. I am thankful for the experience since it allows me to know first hand, how people are not only suffering with symptoms of illness but stress from utilizing the system that is supposed to make them healthy but in the end is making people more diseased! I still rather live on my side of the fence but cant stop caring for my neighbors.

Help a neighbor today!!!!

Monday, April 11, 2011


This last two years has been a fantastic exercise in letting go for me. Let me explain. Rewind back to 2005, the hospital establishment says you are not making money compared to other docs around the US so we have to change something (paycheck of course). I don't blame them, hospitals are a business and they have to produce revenue. I decided after 10 years, this is not the way I wanted to care for people. Stepped away for 18 months (shhh.....restrictive covenant!) Moved the FL closer to Cristina's (the love of my life) mom and decided to try life in a different region and temperature. Two of the best things that came out of the Florida experience was, winter time and being on the roof to hang xmas lights is awesome! ...and due to lack of many doctors, alternative medicine practitioners are flourishing. I learned herbal medicine working with 2 herbalists. Coming back to IL, I was ready to take on hospital medicine but whoops....I didnt have the deep pockets they have and it was painful to save the money to buy the malpractice, office space, even costs money to be able to have a charge account to bill patients. Slowly my wife and I got off the ground.

It was during this time I started to listen to my heart. I started with a trip to Harvard to learn from Herb Benson about the "Relaxation Respone". Taught me not to fight the circumstances that present themselves to me...just make a choice and let the results occur. Being in medicine, we are told the being obsessive compulsive gets things done in an organized fashion. (It also gives ulcers, acne, hemarrhoids, sleepless nights and the need to indulge in one of the drugs in the valium family). Then I get wind of Deepak Chopra coming to Chicago for the first time ever to teach coincidental!!!!! I take the course and more of this universe of "alternative thinking" is revealed. No where in the DSM books of psychiatry or text books of neurology does it state there is a "universe" out there. Everything is a series of electrical impulses and chemical secreations. I this thing called mindful medtation and low and behold!!!!......, my sleep is better, my blood pressure is going down and sex....(well my daughter may read this to nevermind)..I was able to hug mommy without a blue pill without a prescription medicine. In my meditations, it felt good to get up early, change my diet, run daily. I went on to sign up for my first Chicago Marathon, started practicing yoga and eating less processed food. As I let go of my old ways of thinking powerlifting and martial arts are the way to go for "tough guys", I found myself wanting to go daily to yoga. I began thinking about different poses in my sleep. (BTW....just to defend my testosterone...we are talking poses that my old friends at Cirque Du Soleil and some olympian gymnasts would crank out, not just down dog for you naysayers) As I let go of all I thought was "guy stuff", these opportunities began to present themselves without effort.

I have always postponed joining Andrew Weil at the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine for a whole bunch of reasons.....they actually sent me an application at the time I was asking myself "how else can I increase my footprint to this community and let them know I am not a regular doctor". Of course I got in the fellowship. Then trajedy struck and mom came down with pancreatic cancer.........

But I thought this was perfect, although her docs gave her only weeks to live, I had been introduced to a network of doctors that were world famous for healing patients other doctors give no hope to. Again I saw this as my "dharma" or purpose in life. Perfect timing, in the back of my mind I thought, when I save mom, this will be the ultimate statement that when you listen to the universe, answers come. Unfortunately, my training wasn't in time to reverse her cancer. But it was perfect timeing to help me heal my dad, my daughter my wife and myself from the repercussions of the disease. And those who know me personally can attest to the vigor which I give hope to anyone I meet that has the word cancer in their family. I realize this is what I have to do to serve my community. A question came up with my wife, how can we afford the tuition. I said,"I don't know" and left it at that. Deep inside I thought of of a Jedi movie where Qui Gon Jinn was asked the same question of how will they get off the planet with no money. His reply: "a solution will present itself". How deep that George Lucas thinks in creating Star Wars movies!!!!! So I had to sign up or lose my spot in the fellowship. I took the chance after several weeks of self debate (didnt want to worry my wife) and the day I signed up and filled out the fellowship bio, I clicked over to the career tab at the university website just to see what great minds were starting other fellowships....UCLA,- cool, New York -cool, Arizona -cool....and then at the bottom of the page right as I was to click off- there it was; an advertisement for Arlington Heights Illinois. I looked around the room to see if anyone was close by to tell me I may be dreaming! Long story short, I called them up and although First Health Associates was looking for a graduate of the program, my time with the director from handshake on has been something I feel that was planned for a long time.
Its almost like the first time I saw my wife. She was in the dental school, I was in the medical school. The two places were separated by a common area and I would see her walking with her friends all the time. It sounds romantic but the first time I saw her, I felt, this woman is going to be the one I have kids with and grow old. Even though I was in my testosterone driven hunting age to see as many women as possible, she still banished any thought of seeing anyone else again. I kinda questioned myself then thinking why am I feeling like this but in the end, I am glad I followed my heart and listened to the universe.
Serendipity, The Law of Attraction, Postive Thinking, Fate, Gods Way.....what ever you call it, answers are always provided even to the most difficult questions. Just have to turn off the crap around and quiet the mind you to hear them.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

How taking care of yourself leads to less illness.

As spring rolls around, another season change with its associated coughs and colds has started. I am getting alot of requests for antibiotics to "get rid of this infection fast". The concept of infection has to be explained. The majority of infections are the bodies usual defensed getting over worked and consquently allowing the build up of bad bacteria in our gut, respiratory tract, throats or sinuses. Soon with summer we will see invasion into our skin of bacteria, allergic rash, sun damage and the dreaded staph (MRSA). Its all around us and hard to avoid but the human genome has been battered by small pox, rubella, HIV, bird flu, swine flu and still surviving. We have a very intelligent built in mechanism that defeats and keeps at bay many diseases....that is unless we mistreat our bodies.

Here is the rub. Most of us can "push the envelope" with little sleep, limited attention for nutrition, limited group interaction and essentially the absence of spirituality. Since the 70's, the American culture has improved exercise with the intro of running, then in the 80's cardio, in the 90's more running (triathalons and marathons), in the millenium yoga. The idea of nutrition is also blossoming into an exact science of knowing details of carbohydrate breakdown, hormone influence and food properties with Pritikin, Atkin, Southbeach, Weight watcher, Jenny Craig, Paleolithic, Glycemic Index, Ph, Blood type.......just look at the diet book section of your local book store! But guess what, the obesity rate in the US is at its highest with many states reporting 1 in 3 adults. Its not just funny to look at big guts....these people develop diabetes and heart disease to be treated by medicine and doctor visits that are paid for you your taxes. Yes, the taxes that come out of your paycheck, that you will probably be paying for in the next week.

So the next time you see someone with a weight problem indulging in bad behavior by eating without regret, think, you are paying for that. This is not to point the finger but it is to bring to the forefront, wellness is all of our responsibilities.

How does this relate to a common cold? I believe if we are eating healthy and hydrated, taking our multivitamin supplements, getting good sleep, all of us should be able to "shake" the symtoms of a cold with time. Most of us dont want to wait and demand a short cut, like antibiotics to prevent the spread to the little ones or with the kids already symptomatic to get them back in shool fast so as to not have to stay home from work and babysit, or for the big kids (men) to not have to miss work by just "resting at home and wasting time". Problem is the antibiotics just kill off an amount of bacteria, good and bad. You may decrease the amount of colonies of strept or staph or ecoli but if the immune system, the respiratory system, the neurologic system and digestive system (that happens to depend on having a large amount of good bacteria) are not pampered and nourished and rested, you will only feel better temporarily and another problem will surface in about 2-4 weeks. Body aches, poor sleep, achey joints and muscles, allergies, rash, heartburn, loose or constipated stools........and then another trip to docs office for more meds (with more side effects). I will use meds if I have to but my patients get a burst information on what to eat for the next 10 days, increase fluids, cut down exercise, take herbal supplements, stay home from work or just avoid contact with the baby. I highly suggest this even before using antibiotics and usually it works, just have to have knowledge of how long to wait.

My kids are now getting better with their symptoms and I had to tie my prescribing hands together to not write an antibiotic for them. Some collegues would say "you just waited long enough and they would have been better anyway". And naysayers can think that, I try to remove myself from the judgement of others and know in my heart this is the right way so I practice what I feel is true. In the end, I dont get into the cycle of treating everything with a prescription and listen to what the body is saying it needs. Andy Weil's words always reverberate with me in making decisions for others......."how would nature do it?" I dont think unhealthy, stressed obese animals survive in the wild too long.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Storm Warning

One of my yoga guru's taught me a great lesson today. She explained that while on vacation in Orlando, a few storms passed through. The usual warnings are to watch for the calm before the storm so you know when to seek shelter. It does help prepare but it also insights fear of what is coming even without actually experiencing the event. In the last decade or two, the calm before the storm is a standard sign meant to save lives but it usually does more damage than good. It was only one year that was the biggest year in a long time that several hurricanes came through and caused damage and loss of life. The loss of life was mostly with people that were indoors anyway (mobile homes) so even without warning, damage would have occurred.

The question is, if we are constantly kept in a state of panic and fear, does holding this primitive, reactive sense of fight or flight benefit us? It's great for protection from danger. How many truely dangerous situations do we encounter daily? perhaps a highschool kid getting bullied daily, a wife being beaten daily, a soldier going to the frontline daily, a police officer on beat. This isnt the norm for the majority. Most people have issues like, that car didn't let me switch lanes, that lady at check out just butt infront of me, I can't eat my lunch in peace, I dont get reception in this building! So, secretion of epinephrine adrenaline and cortisol will get us fired up for battle so we can ride the bumper of that car or yell at the lady in front of you at check out, or toss your food out thinking the whole lunch is wasted or throw the phone at the ground (so you can teach that phone to get better reception next time!).

Sandra said instead of calling it the calm before the storm, how bout thinking of it as the calm within the storm. That does change the dynamic of it completely. Every storm has its calm center, a respite, harbor, window of peace to regather. Also once you reach center, you are half way done! Sometimes just changing the concept of how you see an event, changes how you react to it. Reacting in fear or fight mode will make you react with the brainstem which is reactive, instinctual, rapid.....but not usually thought out. Reacting with a calmness will be mostly forebrain, where thoughts can be conceptualized, reflected upon and articulated better usually resulting in a much better outcome. Imagine a doctor performing major surgery on your brain, runs into a bleeding vessel and starts to panic then cuts something bigger! A general who hears of a country enmassing forces at a boarder, declares war immediately. A police officer checks for speeding and hears a loud noise so pulls his gun out and shoots the driver.

There will always be storms, people who cut in line, drivers in a hurry, people who see things a different way than you do. You can't control them or the event or what has already transpired but you can control your reaction to it. Deepak says: this is truely the only thing in life you have control over. You can either react; 1- peacefully or 2-angrily to all events in life, in most cases, both ways will result in the same outcome for the individual. The only difference is choose to be insulted, deprived of choice or be the victim while making a decision and you will insight a whole storm of angry reactive energy around you that may erupt in another stressor. If you choose a calm, nurturing, mutually beneficial attitude, the emotion of peace and empowerment will be felt by all to not only decide on a path to take for the individual but also for the others involved in the storm

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The "L" word

It is so amazing to finish a spiritual retreat and feel so uplifted. I think it is how some people feel when they increase their dose of prozac, zoloft or paxil. Those meds are used for depression and work by stopping the body from digesting/breaking down serotonin. This hormone is usually lacking in many of us and when levels are low, the body reacts with giving feelings of sorrow, gut doesnt work, love is not in your vocabulary and stress is poorly tolerated. My family sees me as happy and I eagerly get to my meditation pillow as often as possible to maintain the feeling. Imagine, the only thing that starts this amazing cascade of hormones in me is listening to a week of lectures by very inspiring and charismatic healer/ teachers and eating healthy.

In contrast, not practicing meditation, lacking time in the day to exercise, surrendering to the call of processed food, can make one feel short tempered with an altered interpretation of surroundings. Events in life are "to offend me", theres "not enough time" in 24 hours for me, slow traffic is getting in "my way", "my internet" has crashed. Ego based living is kind of what we reinforce from childhood. It is ok to teach a child about him/her being individual and separate from everyone else. The concept of social boundaries is good in younger years so development of other more complex social skills like love and devotion can happen. I believe the problem is when an individual stays in the concept of social separation and the idea that this world is put in place to serve me even into college and married life. I see this with alot of men, we don't allow ourselves to emotionally express joy and love. It is taught in tough guy (high) school, using phrases like "I love you" or "you inspire me" or "I feel great joy and bliss" are things you dont say for fear of being labelled as "gay" or "fag". Even now, many of the guys I know will use those phrases but have to "soften" them by adding "brother" or "dude" or "man".....(ie "love you man" or "love you brother") And that is ok. I love the way women are so connected and share feelings with words of expression without worrying about misinterpretation (amongst themselves)....say these words to a guy and and suddenly you are a stalker or "she wants me" comes up. My daughter has a gift of this, she will end conversations with "love you". These two words punctuated at the end of a telephone call will change the way another person feels. A simple discussion with friends ends with the friend being surprised and sometimes politely encouraged to answer the same. Even if the "L" word is gently forced out of someone to respond to your "L" word, the dynamic of that person is changed even for a millisecond by saying it. (Then one goes back into stress living after they hang up)

Interesting study Wayne Dyer talks of when scientists wanted to find out how much giving an act of kindness affected someone. They measured serotonin levels of the person getting the kindness and levels were elevated as hypothesized. Then they measured the levels in the blood of the person giving the kindness and they were elevated! Then they measured the persons blood levels that were just witnessing the act being performed....they were elevated!!! It is too bad that being comfortable with one's self and not being afraid to share or express emotion usually comes with the price of taking expensive courses or just getting into retirement age and finding all those boundaries earlier in life didn't make a difference in the end. More importantly, dropping the word "love and caring" shouldnt just be shared behind closed doors or in the bedroom or on Christmas Eve. Imagine how your world would be if there were just free expression with no remorse of misinterpretation!!!! (It seems to be just the opposite now, free expression of violence/hatred with no remorse or thought to consequence)......Don't be afraid to tell someone you love them today!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

It ain't my job to heal the world anymore!

I feel there is truely Joy in Service to others. My motto of empowering others to heal themselves willl resonate from deep inside me until I am old and gray. As some naysayers state; "living in the real world" will place countless obstacles in your path. I think whether you think in spiritual or concrete terms, events will happen on the way to finding a purpose in life. One can think of the experience as a trauma that we should be offended by and why did that trauma happen to me, what will other people think of me....or...that event happened and is over, I am thankful it has passed. I tend to choose the latter but with people who are greatly suffering, an infectious mood can be very tempting to react to with anger for anger. I witnessed great poise yesterday, a new mom who was being pushed to the limit with stressful reactions was very unhappy with service she was getting. It was interesting to note a spreading "defensive guard" attitude to all those she was encountering. I used to see this in the ER when those folks typicallly labelled "drug seekers" start to throw emotional reaction to all those they come in contact with. Before they have finished registering with the greeter at the ER entrance, word has already spread like fire on gasoline about the offensive attitude (this is called countertransferance). People know they elicit this response but even if wrong to society standards of courtesy, respect and boundaries....these tactics usually get them what they are demanding so streetwise attitude says continue with what works.

The problem is during the majority of fantastic encounters with appreciative people, one or two folks will elicit a wave of offensiveness that can make the healer with good intention to also become spiteful to the universe and bring up the attitiude of "living in the real world". I was taught by one of my healer friends from the Chopra Center, when doing my life's work, be careful to always wash off (physically and spiritually) the encounters from the day that are draining. If we take these energy zapping events home or even let them linger in our minds, we too have become infected with the disease of hatred and ego based reaction. If everyone lives this way, the Mayan calendar is going to come to fruition. Service to a greater good, saving the planet, doing things for others, creating a legacy for your family all are things that will keep humanity going. Sometimes, as strong as the ego is to make you think and ruminate on an encounter, letting go of it is the better thing to do. I remember a story about the Buddha saying;

If someone offers you a gift, and you do not accept the gift, to whom does the gift belong? If someone were to have swine flu, why in the world would you want to take any of it for yourself? We wash it away before we procede on to caring for the next person or going home to our loved ones because this is what we were born to do. (Then meditate like Deepak Chopra the next few days!)

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Are we dying from our food?

While at the "meca" of indoor water parks in the midwest (Wisconsin Dells), I noticed in all the pictures we took that the background images showed alot of overweight and obese people. When in line to get a salad (which was packaged in the smallest plastic container in the lunch place) there were some very large people loading up on french fries, pizza, icecream and hamburgers. As I stood in line, I noticed that most were kids! ( It brought back an image from childhood of the movie Yellow Submarine by The Beetle, those characters called the Snapping Turks.) I was standing next to kids that were about 2-3 times my size! My analytical brain kicked in and thought, my weight loss clinic is going to be very busy in the next 20 years, I better hire more healthcare providers. Then I thought, it's not just the engorgement of food volume that will make these young adults add to the growing number of "adult onset diabetes", it is also the poisonous reactions that are happening to kids. Wheat, gluten and dairy allergies are just growing every year in the US. As my god-daughter was running around our room, mom was always close by to make sure she wasnt getting into anything with milk or peanuts. She had a good question as to why do kids develop allergies to foods that are supposed to be harmless. Foods that humans cultivate are supposed to serve humanity and sustain life. How to the foods we grow turn around and kill us. I remember there was a "classroom lock down/hazmat situation" when a peanut was found in an elementary classroom. Because of one childs peanut allergy, the whole room of children could never eat anything with peanuts in it for lunch (from kinder to 8th grade). Anaphylatic shock has been reported more frequently to these little vegetables in the last two decades. If terrorist wanted to really scare the US, just drop peanuts, dairy, gluten into our water supply and you can wipe out a significant portion of the US population. In an attempt to explain to my sister in law about food allergies, I contemplated how I can get this information to my patients. Of course the universe answered and an herbalist that taught me the ropes on natural healing sent me this presentation. I reviewed it and her work.....very solid studies and in a format easy to understand. Enjoy and learn.... Robyn Obrien and The Unhealthy Truth.