I suppose, once a nurse, always a nurse. Even though I have not practiced nursing in over twenty-five years, I have an innate interest in health issues try to keep up with all the recent advances. In recent years and many illnesses later, I have become more and more interested in the mind-body connection.
This past weekend I attended a lecture given by Dr. Hans Gruenn who runs the Longevity Center in Los Angeles. Now, isn’t this a perfect lecture for a baby boomer wanting to remain forever young? Dr. Gruenn, originally from Germany, spoke on “Advances in Integrative Medicine,” and gave a powerful and poignant two-hour talk.
Integrative medicine is a type of medical practice that incorporates physical western medicine in addition to alternative therapies while taking into consideration psychological, environmental, historical and genetic factors. It relies upon a partnership between the patient and the physician and is considered a way to treat the body, mind and spirit all at once.
The major question Dr. Gruenn posed for us, is to ask ourselves, not why we get sick, but why don’t we heal? He believes that the patient must do their part in maintaining their health. He quoted Voltaire – “The doctor is to entertain the patient while he heals.” He admitted that some people have a tendency to see an array of doctors looking for solutions to their health problems, but that there is a real danger in seeing too many doctors and having too many tests. He agrees that we must pick and choose. He spoke about the difference between medical practice in the United States and in Europe and how the basis of good health gets down to good nutrition and eating fresh organic foods, instead of processed foods. He said that due to poor diets, the life expectancy for our children will be shorter than ours.
In general, he said, “Medicine keeps you honest. It makes you think why you are stuck, whether it is for emotional, physical or genetic reasons.” He believes that the practice of medicine is a searching process and that if a patient comes into his office for a medical problem, he will typically treat that problem, however, if they do not heal by traditional methods, he will examine other reasons which might prevent their healing, including medical history, ancestors’ history and their general state of health.
His recommendation for good health is to examine the following:
1) What is your weak spot? How can you address it?
2) What is your diet? Do you have a metabolic problem? Genetic issue?
3) Do you have food sensitivities or allergies?
4) How acidic are you? (your pH should be over
He suggested the following basic supplements for health (which I was already happily take!)
1) Omega 3’s (anti-inflammatory)
3) Digestive enzymes
4) Vitamin D
If your blood test show deficiencies, you might be instructed to take additional supplements. In the 1970s when I studied nursing, Integrative Medicine was not even in my curriculum. Practitioners in this field were regarded as being on the fringe or practicing quackery. Even acupuncture and chiropractic treatments which are more readily accepted today, were considered questionable treatments.
Today is different, many nursing and medical schools are teaching their students to think in an integrative way with the understanding that the body, mind and spirit all interact and are never independent of one another. Nutrition is part of the curriculum, whereas typically in those days, it was not.
There’s no doubt that some non-traditional treatments might not work or may not have been adequately tested, but with good research and referrals, it is certainly worth a try. Personally, I believe in the mind-body-spirit connection. As someone who meditates and writes in a journal daily, I can honestly say that it makes a huge difference in managing my own stress levels!