SIMPLE Conference Day 3 Part 2
Our Tuesday afternoon sessions included talks on the growth and future of integrative medicine education , the role of herbal medicine, and cultivating well-being in our lives, along with a break out session on integrative nursing, which of course is exactly where I needed to be. With topics like these, you can see why I simply could not put Day 2 in one blog post.
Dr. Andrew Hyman shared with us how the new nomenclature in healthcare would be “-omics”: words like metabalomics, genomics, and bionomics will be making headlines. He even went so far as to call it an “-omics revolution”. Integrative medicine will (and does, I believe) view disease as a pathological imbalance and the keys to successful treatment will be early detection of those imbalances through individual assessment via relationship based medicine. In order for this to become more widely accepted, there will need to be a shift to non-hypothesis driven research.
And then there was Dr. Tieraona Low Dog. Oh my. This woman’s energy and spirit will remain with me for a very long time. I can only hope one of my grandchildren will be named after her. I truly want to sit at her feet and learn. This vibrant, beautiful spirit so full of life and positive “kick-ass” energy spoke about herbs and plants and how incredible they are. She talked about how generations of people have known about their healing properties and they have known how to combine them to maximize their effectiveness. She spoke of how the pine trees communicate with us and with the rest of nature. When attacked by the bark beetles and faced with that distress, they emit such a strong “pining” aroma that the wasps are drawn to them to lay eggs in the larvae of the bark beetle and help defend the trees.
She shared with us some frightening statistics. There has been a 400% increase in anti-depressant prescribing since 1980, and that adaptogenic herbs such as ginseng, holy basil, ashwaganda, and rhodiola (I hope I have those close to correct) each have very specific properties and specific roles that could significantly help our bodies through various types of stressors. Rhodiola may be one of the best herbs for addressing fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. Panax ginseng is good for older men with cold extremities, and erectile dysfunction. For them it can be life changing. For a 25 year old, it’s probably not an ideal choice for improving energy.
Dr. Low Dog joked about the paranoia people have with chamomile and its potential for generating an allergic reaction. She said over one million cups of chamomile are consumed per day and there have been less than one dozen reports of allergic reaction in 100 years. People LIKE to be afraid of plants and herbs. She also mentioned herbs that were studied for generalized anxiety disorders in a dose escalating study that lasted 8 weeks. Bottom line, the depression/anxiety indicators were reduced. She also reported on a study that compared hops, valerian, and passion flower to the effectiveness of Ambien. There was NO difference in performance.
She went on to talk about butterbur extract with magnesium for migraines emphasizing the importance of using the extract with alkaloids removed. She shared how licorice suppresses inflammation, and since most disease begins with an inflammatory response in the gut, this is significant. She continued her talk with information on berberine as an antimicrobial that restores the intestinal barrier, making it beneficial for treating leaky gut and decreasing blood sugar. She shared how it also prevents peanut anaphylaxis in mice, so may have great potential in treating food allergies.
Bitters were mentioned as something that is an antimicrobial pathogen-killer and bronchodilator. Interestingly, sweet taste receptors inhibit the release of the antimicrobial action of bitters. In cases of antibiotic resistance, berberine makes drugs more effective by inhibiting e-flex pumps causing a synergistic effect. Berberine is very effective in cases of bladder infection and diarrhea. Caution should be used, however, in that it has a high interaction risk.
Dr. Low Dog shared that in consideration of the heightened state of concern over ebola, we would be wise to remember that while pharmaceuticals are not great at addressing viruses, plants are. Many plants have excellent anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties. Elderberry syrup at an equivalent of 5000-6000 mg of berries (read the label for crude equivalent to find this info as it is different from milligrams of extract) is recommended for treating influenza.
NF Kappa B inhibitors include turmeric, chamomile, and green tea deserve attention as well. Tumeric has over 6000 articles and 65 trials. It must be combined with piperine (a type of black pepper) to extract it’s properties in the body. As for tea, Dr. Low Dog simply said, “Drink it.” Black tea, green tea, white tea, the type doesn’t matter. It’s all good.
She concluded her talk by stating that when you support diverse farming, you make a statement that you want to support the earth. She offered some suggestions for sources for quality herbs including Gaia Herb Farms (they have webinars available), Natures Way Purple Top Extracts (take according to directions on the bottle), or anything that has USP or NSF on the label indicating 3rd party testing. Her website is drlowdog.com and she offers a course called Foundations of Botanical Medicine.
The remainder of the afternoon was spent listening and conversing with Mary Jo Kreitzer from the University of Minnesota. We heard two excellent presentations on Cultivating Wellbeing in Our Lives and Communities and Integrative Nursing. The reality of our system of “health” care in this country is we spend more than any other country, our outcomes are near the bottom, access to care is still a very real concern, and we have an incredibly high incidence of medical errors and death directly attributable to this system. In areas where health care is working, they take a whole systems approach including healthy lifestyles and healthier environments. She says it is not only the government’s role, but is also society’s commitment to the health and wellbeing of the entire population.
So what is wellbeing? It is a state of being in balance or alignment, happy, healthy and prosperous. It is safe, content, and peaceful, in harmony and connected to purpose. In a single word, it means being WHOLE. A Gallup poll indicated that only 7% of people throughout the world are thriving in all areas, regardless of faiths, cultures, and nationalities. Sense of purpose seems to be significant. A study of 6000 found that people with a greater sense of purpose and direction in life were more likely to outlive their peers and had a 15% lower risk of death than those who said they were aimless. The health risks of being alone are comparable to those of smoking, high blood pressure, and obesity but balance in relationships is also very important.
Community wellbeing is equally important as those people who live in cities with low wellbeing are twice as likely to have a heart attack as those living in communities with high levels of wellbeing. The university of Minnesota has a website called Taking Charge of Your Health & Wellbeing at http://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/. I think the aspect of wellbeing that I found most significant was the importance of nature and nature based therapies along with the concept of evidence based design, which aims to make it easy to do the right thing.
She went on to discuss work place wellbeing and how only 30% of employees feel engaged at work. It has been referred to as White Collar Salt Mines. “For most, work is a depleting, dispiriting experience that is getting worse.” Authentic connections, positive relationships, alignment with purpose, and effective teams, along with a culture of safety are important to having a sense of wellbeing at work. She even proposed a new leadership position called Chief Wellbeing Officer for organizations to embrace. Sometimes the smallest changes can make a significant difference in the overall wellbeing of individuals and organizations.
She concluded her presentation on wellbeing with a quote from His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, “Dedicate yourself to the wellbeing of others and you will find happiness.”
To be continued……