In the eighties if you were holistic it meant that you did something other than allopathic medicine. This progressed to alternative medicine which basically said the same thing but began to include specific disciplines like massage, hypnosis and herbal medicine. Then came complementary and alternative medicine which recognized disciplines like acupuncture that could work alongside of allopathic medicine. And then finally we arrived at Integrative medicine which does not have allopathic medicine as its main reference point. Therapies are integrated in such a way as to provide the best possible outcomes for a client. This is where this particular essay begins.
So, What Is There to Integrate?
About twenty years ago I was asked to come to my children’s’ school to share what I did as a professional. This gave me cause for pause because I had to stand outside of my work to think of how I could effectively communicate with elementary school aged kids. I realized that their were four pretty distinct areas that I worked with. Out of this parent’s day I developed a four-pole diagnostic and therapeutic health framework to begin to explain my understanding of the work of a doctor or any healer. These four poles are referring to levels of energy matter organization. They include biomechanical, biochemical, bioenergetics, and consciousness, or spirit. The latter may pose some conceptual issues because its referring to energy matter organization that may not be aligned directly with a single individual, and consciousness which is the ever present observer. The biomechanical pole represents the densest form of energy matter making up the human being. The following therapeutic disciplines interface with this energy/matter vibrational level on a regular basis: massage, acupressure, chiropractic, myofascial therapy, craniosacral therapy, osteopathy, and surgery. The biochemical pole includes nutrient based supplementation, food based therapies, pharmaceuticals, and herbal medicine as well as all the diagnostic parameters aimed at understanding human biochemistry. Beyond the biochemical level there is a big divide that is not really appreciated in the classical physics based allopathic medical paradigm. Aspects of the bio field of human beings can be measured in many different ways. Bioenergetic therapies include reiki, magnetic therapy, acupuncture, qi qong, pranic healing, crystal healing, sound therapy, aspects of applied kinesiology and reconnective healing. Therapies that rely on more etheric energy matter vibrations include homeopathy, quantum touch, matrix energetics, ritual work, and therapies more directed at the observer (consciousness) such as counseling, meditation, hypnosis, and prayer. A complete primary care assessment involves checking all four levels. I perform my own “physical” assessments for this reason. For any integrative model of medicine to work the key intake person, who has some clinical knowledge of multiple disciplines, must take the time to hear a person’s story. Generally, every client has something prepared that they want to share with the doctor. The person has to feel comfortable enough with the physician to freely express what is happening in their lives. The simple language of free expression has profound implications for understanding what is at work beyond the biochemical and biomechanical levels. When I really get to the heart of a case the actual pathology will clearly be seen as a metaphor for some larger process. This brings to mind an interesting case of a woman who had syncopal episodes, meaning that she would just suddenly faint. While nothing turned up on her allopathic workup on questioning she shared that in her experience when she would look at a shelf in the grocery store it was like her essence would leave her and “move onto the shelf”. This was a very interesting way of describing these fainting spells. On further questioning I found that she was so abused as a child that she would have out of body experiences during the physical beatings. Her consciousness would perch itself near the ceiling in a corner of the room and watch the abuse. I could not help but make the connection to her present experience. But what was unhinging her now was unclear. It turned out that she was a professional madame, a sadomasochist, who would beat her male subjects into unconsciousness. A little bit of homeopathic opium stop the syncopal episodes but she had some legal entanglements and I never really got to see how far she could be rehabilitated. Having an open ended approach in case taking and doing my best to help the case unfold allows you to set priorities for care that mirror what people are really seeking help for. Sharing what I find as I assess the “field” of individuals creates further exchanges that help to give me more of a picture of the inner life of a person. I will frequently share with a client what I’m finding on pulse diagnosis. In one instance it was clear to me from a middle age man’s pulses that his sexual potency was zero to nil. I shared this finding with him, which helped to create a space for him to begin to speak about this aspect of his life. I remember another client came in complaining of fatigue and in checking her pulses the “lung” pulse was weak and this further showed up on muscle testing with the suggestion that there was an emotional root. When I shared with the client some of the emotions associated with “lung” pathology i.e. grief, loss, disappointment, betrayal, it opened up into a discussion about some losses in her life that preceded the onset of her fatigue. This sharing allowed me to make a more accurate prescription. These bioenergetic assessments assist a practitioner in getting a more complete understanding of the challenges facing their clients. It has to be understood that their inner experiences of their life, no matter how fanciful it sounds, actually play a tremendous role in shaping the dysfunction and pathology that troubles them. This approach to understanding a case is used homeopaths, hypnotists and some therapists but it needs to be used by all primary care specialists, especially in treating clients with chronic and unexplainable conditions. An energetic view of disease shows that where life energy, or Qi, becomes stagnant or crystallizes, pathology usually develops. This stagnant area can be a reservoir of repressed memories and feelings. When working on a particularly tense area of the body, massage therapists often witness the client’s emotional release. Of course poor nutrition and toxicity can contribute to making a person sick. When you add stress to this equation you have the basic formula for disease. It’s very important not just to ask people what they eat in general but what they eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Malnutrition is a frequent diagnosis in my practice. The 90+ macro and micro nutrients that need to be in our diet on a daily basis elude most of us, not just because we don’t eat properly, but also because the food and soil it is grown in has become so depleted. Aside from some mandatory dietary work that most people need, the most neglected medical procedure is detoxification, both emotional and physical. Detoxification involves enhancing phase one and two detox pathways of the body as well as supporting organ processes that have been taxed by poor diet, toxins from the environment, and stress. In my experience colonic therapy is one of the most widely used detoxification services. Surely we will continue to hear about the benefits of detoxification as time goes by, and words like glutathione will carry the same meaning as penicillin did in the 1950s. Stress is really the number one cause of illness, and this is only compounded by the onslaught of toxic chemicals people face every day. The increasing emotional stress that more and more people are facing in this country as services, jobs, and opportunity decrease further exacerbates this problem. The documentation is beginning to pile up about the role that pesticides, plastics, and other chemicals play in unraveling precision biological signaling. Fifty percent of men get cancer in their lifetime and 33 percent of women. In her book The Secret History of the War on Cancer, Dr. Devra Davis of the University of Pittsburgh’s has pointed out the efforts that industry has gone to in covering up the true cause of the cancer epidemic. Cancer represents the loss of control of an individual’s organizing life energy over the activity of a group of cells. Its postulated that people express cancer cells multiple times in their lives but the body is able to counter these changes….to a point. There are many metaphors that can be created that speak to a loss of control in our lives as consumers of the planet’s resources. Suffice it to say that in cancer one of our creations has spun out of control. All the radiation, surgery, and chemo will never address the root causes which is linked to poisoning of the planet and lack of balance and stability in the lives of people. In an integrative medical system the allopathic diagnosis is not necessarily the true diagnosis of the patient. Sometimes a diagnosis is a label that overlooks more primary causes. I have had a number of documented inflammatory bowel patients recover completely by avoiding certain foods. Back when I was a medical student on the wards of Yale New Haven hospital I was struck by the fact that many of the problems that people faced were a reflection of years of self abuse ie. smoking and eating the wrong foods. As time goes on I have had more and more patients come in and share that they use to have irritable bowel syndrome or some form of colitis until they changed their diet. Gluten would be one of the biggest culprits. With most autoimmune diseases adjustment in diet is critical as the gut is the home of a good part of our immune system and lack of gut integrity leads to further immune activation. Many people with autoimmune disease will have a marked improvement in their symptoms from just not eating. Their true diagnosis is food allergy, in addition to other clinical realities that led to the development of food allergies. What I have chosen to do in my career has been driven by my need to fill in the blanks on all the stories I have heard that have marked the suffering in peoples’ lives and for which I could not offered the proper therapy as an allopathic-trained physician. I have found answers in medical disciplines overseas and in the United States, which has a rich medical legacy. Chiropractic and naturopathic medicine, applied kinesiology, and cranial sacral therapy are all an outgrowth of the American experience. There are fascinating stories behind all of these systems and their application can yield invaluable clinical insights and results. They should be cherished and explored fully. Every system of medicine has its limitations, and if we look carefully we can see how different systems can complement and support one another. The more we can tap into the consciousness and life energy of a person the greater the chance for true healing to take place. Patient education needs to be taken to a new level, but in order to accomplish this doctors have to fully explore nutritional models of health, look at the role of the environment, take some time to explore what they did not learn in medical, and most importantly work to create more balance in their own lives. There is hope. More and more organizations are popping up like the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine (A4M) and the American College for Advancement in Medicine (ACAM). While insurance companies continue to place a stranglehold on the ability of doctors to adequately take care of their clients, people around the planet are crying out for relief. When will we develop the collective will to do the right thing?
Addressing the Current State of Healthcare
Like the earth’s atmosphere our protective shields, our immune systems have been weakened. It’s the enemy within—the trans fats, sugars, and toxic chemicals that break down the lining of our blood vessels and organs. When it comes to providing this enemy with ammunition, we are the primary culprits. We have glorified a way of life that is destroying the planet and our lives, particularly the youngest and most vulnerable. We inject our own children with toxic substances that increase rates of autism, and even doctors are in denial about the role vaccinations play in the level of poison our children are exposed to. While the media has participated in creating a frenzy about the need for vaccinations we see that the Italian government successfully ruled in favor of the plaintiff that their vaccination indeed caused autism. Moreover in the proceedings, the defendant, GlaxoSmithKline, released a 1271 page document that revealed that even during its clinical trials there were five cases of autism that were documented. This is the backdrop for the delivery of healthcare in the United States. An overhaul is needed. Healthcare cannot be based on pathology or disease—its impossible to financially underwrite such a system. A culture of wellness must be developed. At the grocery store, many of us reach for noni juice, acai berries, ginseng, and wheat grass, and other miracle foods that have hit the market. Many of us get better. But we must go beyond this. We exist in a world filled with parasites—corrupt bankers, compromised politicians, broken people and broken healthcare practitioners. This is a system that is destined to fail. There is a light side. And there is enough love in the world to keep us hopeful, to keep us from descending into cynicism and gross materialism, and the kind of barbarism where we prey on each other. How we treat one another from day to day can change the world. In many indigenous cultures every profession has a story that links individual work back to the universal consciousness: The stream of light that underlies everything in this universe. Work is a metaphor for a divine principle or universal creative process. The findings in quantum physics have been interpreted by some to mean that there is a unified energy field, or Consciousness, that is undifferentiated and connects all that is. At the level of the quantum field, the observer creates the sub molecular reality. Just by observing, energy matter is transformed. A wave only becomes a particle when it is observed. This is the level at which creation takes place. Manifestation: It’s the playground of the Gods. We all tap into this during moments of intuition, spontaneous healing, prophetic dreams, healing through touch or the power of words, communication with the deceased or with non-material, inter-dimensional beings, whether we call them aliens, angels, or orisha. Distractions in our culture often prevent us from embracing the consciousness that is capable of taking us in a direction that will truly liberate us. We are like Neo in the Matrix trying to be of no mind in order to experience the truth of existence. In allopathic medicine we are limited to an individuated, mechanistic understanding of health and disease. When you operate in this system there is always a mass that needs to be removed, a blockage in the arteries that needs intervention, a bacteria in the bladder that needs antibiotics. You become limited to prescribed rules, and through repetition your consciousness becomes locked into a set of expectations as to what is and is not possible in a situation. So what would arthritis look like at the quantum level? What would colitis look like? Can we imagine altering our mindset so that we can operate on a level where these can easily be manipulated? Just look at how acupuncture is changing our understanding of health and health care. At the quantum level we are working with the will, intention and energy matter in an undifferentiated state. And here is where it gets interesting. Just getting into an altered state of consciousness can be sufficient to bring about changes in your mind/body matrix such that you affect the object or person of your intention. Think about what can occur at this level of undifferentiated energy matter or light. Most of us are stuck in an everyday state of consciousness held back by the reality encoded in our DNA by belief systems that keep us locked in a prism of five senses. We can’t journey down to that zero point energy field. Here is where practice makes perfect. There are healers and practitioners who can go into altered states of consciousness in a second and transform the health of others instantaneously. More of us will need to move in this direction. If its radical change that we seek then we need to make radical changes in ourselves. This present round of humanity seems to be running out of time. A simple exercise is to start recording all of the examples in your life that defied everyday logic. The next step is to recall what you were experiencing when something out of the ordinary occurred for you. What were your bodily sensations? For instance, I once won a raffle prize in college. I knew I had won because of the wave of energy that I felt when I selected the raffle ticket from the bag. Once I tried to reproduce that with a lottery ticket and got four numbers out of six. Think of the times when you have been struck by intuition or have experienced something paranormal. Here you can be aided by the elements. For instance, I do my deepest thinking in water. Many problems have been solved in a hot shower. For you it might be a walk in the park or perhaps even staring into a flame. Try to recreate the feeling in your body of when you have been in an altered state. I have sent many patients home with the instruction that they can recreate what they felt in my office when I was working on them. A sound or odor can take us back to a distant time like it was yesterday. They can also be used to create realities that we want to see in our lives. We collapse time and space everyday in our lives and with training and practice we can shape our own destinies much more than we think and without losing our health, and abusing other people. Ultimately its the healer’s duty to assist people in navigating through their lives in the best possible health and further helping them to understand how they can take care of themselves so that they can attend to the work that they are here to do. Integrative approaches to healing acknowledge the multiple dimensions that make up a human being and help to facilitate this expression.