Ideas to Improve Your Health
The title of this book is 101 Great Ways to Improve Your Health, which has 101 chapters each written by a different author.
First I’ll let you know a little about my chapter, number 62. It’s called “Naturopathic Physicians: Doctors who understand health as much as disease.” Then I’ll talk a little about the book as a whole.
I wrote my section from the perspective of being a naturopathic physician myself here in Tempe.
My degree is Naturopathic Medical Doctor, which is a different degree from different medical schools than the standard medical doctors. Like medical doctors, we have four years of medical school after the bachelor’s degree, but in contrast, we are licensed to practice both conventional and natural medicine. Of course, we naturopaths emphasize the latter, the natural medicine, but we make use of conventional medicine when necessary or warranted.
Our Medical School Training
Physical exams, laboratory diagnostic procedures, pharmaceuticals, even minor surgery are part of our training in medical school, and the State of Arizona licenses naturopathic physicians to do those things.
But we naturopaths are required to take more than twice as many classroom hours as medical doctors, with more than twice as many courses, because our scope of practice is twice as broad as other doctors. That is, we are also trained, exhaustively examined and licensed in nutrition – that is, food counseling, dietary supplements and intravenous nutrients, as well as herbal or botanical medicine, acupuncture, homeopathy and physical medicine – so that the patients’ needs and preferences are met with the widest possible range of healing possibilities.
Most people aren’t aware of the difference with medical doctors, and assume that their medical doctors know something about nutrition. However, as Andrew Weil has pointed out, nutrition education in the standard medical schools is substandard to non-existent. So when you go to your medical doctor and ask, “Do you think I should be taking B vitamins or selenium?” the doctor is googling the same websites that you are to try and find the answer.
I know. I started off in a standard medical curriculum, and there was almost nothing about nutrition taught there. Probably any of us in this room could have taught that course and done a better job. We were told to take 80 mg of Vitamin C a day to prevent scurvy, and that you could get beriberi from being an alcoholic or never getting Vitamin B1. But of course, nutrition for the rest of us goes way beyond that. Scurvy and alcoholism fortunately do not affect all of us or even most of us.
I certainly learned about drugs in the standard medical program, but I had to transfer to naturopathic medical school in order to learn how to help people get well and stay well.
When It Comes To Nutrition
When it comes to nutrition, or even advanced biochemistry, which is what nutrition is, most doctors do not have a clue. For decades the medical profession declared that it does not matter what you eat. And they are still telling that to diabetics, believe it or not. Diabetes used to be called sugar diabetes, and from the beginning the connection between diabetes and food has been abundantly clear to those who were willing to look.
Please look at two people to the left of you, and then look at two people to the right of you. Including yourself, that’s two plus two plus one is five people. Now statistically two out of every five Americans gets cancer at some point in their lives. Of you five people sitting there that you just counted, is that statistic going to slam any of you? I certainly hope not. Chances are, you are here at this talk and you are going to be able to beat those odds. But there are few among us who do not have a family member with cancer.
Surviving cancer does not mean getting in with the most well known oncologists around. It means eating right and exercising right now in order to prevent that outcome, and if it does happen, if cancer does occur, there are natural ways of fighting cancer that I do right in my office that eliminate tumors to achieve a cancer-free body.
Patients of Naturopaths
Patients of naturopaths, in contrast with those who go to regular doctors, have somebody knowledgeable to discuss their food choices with. Almost all of my patients are improving nicely. Most of them get to a point where they don’t need me too much anymore as they improve, using almost entirely natural treatments, and all but one of my former cancer patients are now in remission. Others who I am now treating for cancer are all improving. Many naturopaths have similar successes.
My previous book, which was published earlier this year, was Choose Your Foods Like Your Life Depends On Them. And in that book I discuss the many reasons why the food you eat either has to create good health for you or to destroy whatever well being you have, and I discuss how this happens in a straightforward, plainspoken way. It also discusses ways to bring healthy foods into your life, without spending a lot of time and money. That book is here at Changing Hands also.
But anyway, back to this book: As I say 101 authors, from many different areas of health care, from medical doctors to shamans, from chiropractors to acupuncturists and naturopaths, each contributed a chapter, and there is some fascinating work here.
For example, chapter one discusses forgiveness, about which you might think: what does that have to do with my health? Well it turns out that old resentments and grudges hurt you way more than they hurt the person who offended you. Blood pressure, heart rate and muscle tension are all better in forgivers than in non-forgivers, as measured while they are telling a story about a past betrayal. Well, we knew all that about heart disease. But what really fascinated me about that chapter is that even some cases of low back pain cleared up after forgiving exercises.
I won’t take time to go into detail about how to forgive the seemingly unforgivable, but I do work on that with individual patients for whom that has been an obstacle.
So that kind of chapter, and others like it, regarding the mental and emotional aspect of health is the first section.
The second section is about nutrition, and there is a lot of good writing here about choosing high quality fats, such as the omega-3 fats, the value of incorporating raw foods into the diet, the value of antioxidants, and a discussion of why some people simply seem to be unable to lose weight.
In another chapter an oriental medical doctor talks about how you can diminish the appearance of aging with either acupuncture or the simple acupressure techniques that he describes, which you can do for yourself in just two minutes on a regular basis, no special equipment needed.
Another chapter discusses what kind of exercise is appropriate for you. Not all exercises work for all type of people, and in this chapter the author breaks down types of exercise for different body types and personality types.
Of course, here in the Valley we live in an overly polluted corner of an increasingly polluted world. Without giving up on the one hand, or becoming overly anxious about every little pollutant on the other hand, there are measures that we can take – again without spending lots of time, money and energy – to clear some of the most offending toxins out of our environment.
In this section on environmental toxins, there is a chapter on the problems caused by heavy metals, such as the mercury that comes into your body from the amalgam tooth fillings. There is another chapter on the huge problems caused by most pharmaceuticals, how so many pharmaceuticals you take create further health problems, often more damaging than the symptom you started with.
There is a chapter (71) on clearing up arthritis with a combination of nutrition, homeopathy, exercise and Reiki. People have trouble believing that their arthritis is affected by what they eat – yet it really is the strongest influence.
In short, this book is a compendium of very useful health information that you can start using right away. Or perhaps it is the little fire to light underneath someone you know who is not doing the best job of taking care of themselves.
And in conclusion I would like to read the first two paragraphs from page one, by the editors, David Riklan and Dr. Joseph Cilea, because that kind of succinctly establishes this book’s significance for the lives we live now.
“We live in an age of contradiction. Never has such a wonderfully diverse wealth of information about health been so easily accessible. Never have we known more of the secrets of the human body. And yet, never have so many Americans been making so many bad decisions about their health.
“Today, according to the National Center for Health Statistics, about two-thirds of U.S. adults are overweight or obese – 133.6 million people in all. A new study completed by the National Cancer Institute indicates that 40.93% of men and women born today will be diagnosed with cancer at some time during their lifetime. Someone dies of heart disease every 34 seconds. One in six Americans is either pre-diabetic or diabetic. Over ten million Americans are taking anti-depressants. One in six Americans suffers from an anxiety disorder. And incidence rates of conditions like childhood diabetes, sleep disorders, Alzheimer’s, anxiety and depression are spiraling upward with shocking speed.
“Why are so many of us so unhealthy? . . . Health awareness is the first step in the path.”