What seems like a long time ago, I was teaching in a medical school course that introduced medical students to different philosophies of healing. A person I later got to know and become friends with, a medicine man in the Cherokee tradition named Hawk Littlejohn, gave a lecture on how he understood his approach to compare with conventional allopathic medicine. He talked about understanding illness as a loss of balance between primary forces. I’m not sure how much I remember from his talk and how much I later learned – having been stimulated to read and study Native […]
As I work with adults who experienced childhood trauma, I’ve increasingly become aware of a child’s belief, deep down inside many of these folks, that they are the cause of their own unhappiness. The chronic symptoms that have brought them to see me reflect how this core belief has lingered into adulthood in crippling ways.
Most children in unhappy settings experience not only physical discomfort but too frequently adults who are inclined to blame and be critical (the lingering residue of their early trauma). Well into adulthood, individuals who […]
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And no, it is not snake oil.
I’m old and pretty active. I play racquetball several times a week, I garden and haul big, 50 pound bags of “stuff” around and dig and bend over and weed and Kathleen makes sure my vegetable intake is pretty good. I also spend a lot of time sitting in a chair talking to people.
I do have some cardiac risk factors and my family history in that regard is not so good. One of the clinical tools we use in our medical […]
I was a first-year medical student and like my classmates, vulnerable to developing whatever disease we were studying. Or at least compulsively worrying that I was in the early stages of its development. This week we had learned about anterior compartment syndrome. This is a condition where trauma to the muscle just on the outside of the shin-bone causes bleeding and swelling. That muscle happens to be contained in compartment composed of the tough fibrous sheet – called the fascia – that surrounds the muscle.
Because that sheath is so tough, the […]
Functional Medicine: thinking of your body as a factory
In our holistic medical practice we are increasingly looking into metabolic disturbances that often have far reaching and unpredictable consequences on health and wellbeing. Given increasingly sophisticated technology, we can pull away the curtain that then reveals blockages in normal body functions.
One analogy I use is to imagine a manufacturing facility that makes a lot of different products of amazing abilities. One of the surprising features of this facility is the relatively simple supply chain. It can make widgets that are used in lots of different products […]
I find myself exploring people’s minds for what’s going on in their body. And this is what I’ve found: The mind, particularly the part of the mind that holds our secrets, can torture us, body and soul.
I see a lot of people who have chronic back pain, fatigue, diarrhea, migraines, arthritis, and insomnia. They’ve been to their primary care physician, a specialist, a chiropractor, a psychiatrist and a physical therapist. They’ve had x-rays, scans, blood and urine tests. They’ve been on medication or supplements and may have been in therapy. They’ve changed their diets and taken meditation classes. And still […]
40 years ago last month, I started my internship in Pediatrics. Since then I’ve had a convoluted professional (and personal) path, but I observe a theme in that path – my attraction to families dealing with chronic illness and disabilities. My father was a physician who taught me that medicine is more art than science and the core of the art is respectful, caring talk. An observer of my career trajectory might see it as a search for the meaning and effective manifestations of his belief. I’d like to think they wouldn’t be mistaken.
One of my best childhood friends had […]
I have been studying trauma and its effects on our health. There is troubling and compelling evidence that adverse experiences—especially in childhood—hurt us in the long run in every way imaginable.
I see more women in my practice than men by about a ratio of about 2 to 1. I see illnesses that are complex and multi-system in nature. For example, many of my patients have both headaches and digestive problems that don’t get better with medication. I see patients who don’t sleep well and have disabling fatigue. I see people who gain weight and can’t get it off. […]
I’ve been writing in this column about trapped fight-or- flight responses as the origin of post-traumatic stress disorder. The theory is that the primitive part of the brain that controls our nervous system’s response to threat needs to come to completion any time it is startled into action. The body wants to fight or flee and if it cannot, the energy of those powerful impulses are stuck. Imagine your accelerator and brake […]