If someone told you that just a few minutes a day of a particular practice could help you reduce your pain and anxiety, improve how you respond to stress, and better your brain, how long would it take you to make this a regular part of your day? Probably not long, right? Well get ready, because meditation has been found to help with all those symptoms and more.
Meditation is just what you think it is: A stress-relieving practice that involves choosing a focal
point, calming the mind, and repeating a mantra. It’s been practiced for thousands of years, and has evolved to include several different types. For example, gong bath meditation relies on the repetitive sound of a gong to guide meditation and help relieve stress. Yoga, on the other hand, gives practitioners aphysical practice to guide the focus of meditation.
The World Health Organization has declared this week to be “World Antibiotic Awareness Week,” which is dedicated to bringing awareness to the global health epidemic of antibiotic resistance. It’s also “Get Smart About Antibiotics Week” here in the United States. According to the CDC 2 million people in the United States become infected with antibiotic resistant bacteria and 23,000 people die from such infections each year. What’s worse is that antibiotic resistance continues to increase.
“To give you an idea of how high the pressure is to prescribe antibiotics, I didn’t get a job once because during the interview I told the lead physician that I only prescribe antibiotic prescriptions when they are warranted.”
Following Darwin’s theory of the survival of the fittest, bacteria normally evolve in such a way that they evade destruction by antibiotics. However, inappropriate antibiotic use in healthcare settings and increasing antibiotic administration to farm animals is creating a rising number of “superbugs” such as MRSA and drug resistant E. coli. Even simple urinary tract infections are becoming difficult to eradicate. The few effective second line treatments that are available are usually expensive and require hospitalization. Antibiotic resistance is only a part of the problem, as antibiotics are also not free of side effects. Certain antibiotics can cause vomiting and diarrhea, tendon rupture and even heart arrhythmias. Since antibiotics also decrease the beneficial bacteria that live within our bodies, yeast and the bacteria Clostridium difficile, which are normally contained by our body’s “good” bacteria, can overgrow and lead to deadly infections.
“It wasn’t the antibiotic that cured your cold; it was likely a tincture of time and possibly even the placebo effect.”
So why is there an inappropriate use of antibiotics? Ask any doctor and you will find that there are high expectations from patients for antibiotic prescriptions, especially for colds. However, many people do not realize that colds are usually caused by viruses and viruses are not treatable with antibiotics. (It wasn’t the antibiotic that cured your cold; it was likely a tincture of time and possibly even the placebo effect.) Healthcare providers are also at fault. Many providers give into pressure from patients, sometimes writing antibiotic prescriptions and advising patients not to fill them just for patient satisfaction. To give you an idea of how high the pressure is to prescribe antibiotics, I didn’t get a job once because during the interview I told the lead physician that I only prescribe antibiotic prescriptions when they are warranted. I was also threatened once by an asymptomatic patient who wanted antibiotics because her son had a cold.
So what can be done to decrease antibiotic resistance? Prevention is always key to avoiding any disease in the first place. Eating a healthy diet, managing stress, getting adequate sleep and staying physically active are all great ways to boost the immune system and promote overall health. Consistent hand washing is also paramount as our hands are a primary means of spreading germs. It’s also important to take antibiotics exactly as prescribed. This means that the leftover antibiotic originally given for a skin infection, which should have been completed in the first place, may not cover that urinary tract infection.
It’s up to physicians to educate patients on the risks and benefits of antibiotics use. I find that most of my patients feel comfortable when I educate them about their symptoms and reassure them that I will be available to prescribe antibiotics if necessary. As for patients, your involvement and accountability for your health could be the reason you and your family members survive an antibiotic resistant infection in the future. As always, make sure to see a healthcare provider if you think you need antibiotics.
Western medicine does wonders when it comes to diagnosing and treating emergent medical issues such as pneumonia or broken bones. There is, however, a much larger epidemic of diseases that our healthcare system has not been able to adequately manage. Greater than 50% of healthcare costs are caused by chronic medical conditions such as hypertension, coronary artery disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; diseases which can be prevented and even effectively reversed with a healthy lifestyle. What’s even more disheartening is that the third leading cause of death in America is thought to be related to medical interventions.
Why then with all of the available advanced medical technology and breakthroughs, do we still have such a broken system? it isn’t so much an issue of a lack of access to healthcare, as it is about the access to actual quality care. A doctor’s job doesn’t only involve treating diseases; it’s also about preventing them from happening in the first place. It is much easier to prevent a disease, than it is to treat it at a critical stage when most healthcare costs are often spent and possibility for recovery is the poorest. Our healthcare system has unfortunately become a “disease care” system.
Quality healthcare involves time, patient education and addressing the whole individual, not just the disease. The word doctor means teacher in Latin, and it’s up to medical professionals to educate their patients. Many people do not know that most health issues have roots that can be traced back to an unhealthy diet, lack of exercise, tobacco and alcohol use and inadequate stress management. Yet, many doctors are forced to see more patients in a short amount of time to make ends meet, leading to fragmented care and the inability to get to the root cause of issues. When you have twenty-five, 15-minute slots to meet with people, it’s difficult to address everything and often a prescription for a pill is the quickest solution. Pills however are superficial bandages to a deeper multifaceted issue, and often come with unpleasant side effects. It’s no wonder people have become frustrated with the healthcare system and are looking for alternatives.
Integrative medicine provides many solutions to the chronic disease epidemic. It is a patient centered, wellness-oriented approach to healthcare that embraces both conventional and alternative modalities. Just like in many Eastern healing traditions such as Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine, the focus is directed on addressing all aspects of an individual’s existence- mind, body and spirit. Western medicine is beginning to appreciate the benefits of alternative modalities such as acupuncture, yoga and meditation, which come with fewer side effects than pills. In fact, integrative medicine relies on a multidisciplinary team approach to care that involves the expertise of acupuncturists, psychologists, nutritionists and more. The team approach extends to the patient-healer relationship as well, as the patient is considered to play an integral role in healing.
People are complex and have many layers that contribute to what is seen on the surface of their issues. It takes time, effort and teamwork to stay healthy. Health comes from addressing diet, lifestyle, emotions and psychosocial factors, and not from a pill. The future of medicine will still include emergency rooms, surgery, medications and the scientific breakthroughs Western medicine has to offer. Everything has its place. However true wellness lies in embracing all safe and effective healing modalities that empower an individual to uncover and utilize his or her own inherent healing potential, a source that exists within us all.
If you live in the Los Angeles area, be sure to check out Lotus East-West Medical Center. Here you can find experts in integrative medicine, Ayurveda, acupuncture, psychology, thermography, homeopathy, meditation, reiki, naturopathy & more all under one roof!
Have you had any experiences with integrative medicine? If so, share your comments below!
With more and more people trying to improve their health these days, it can become confusing as to which diet or exercise regimen to follow. Many of us also miss the big picture when it comes to health maintenance. Health is about balance, and it involves addressing more than just the body. Read more about this in an article I contributed to with The Active Times at 7 Surprising Habits Your Health Routine Might be Missing.
With the cold and flu season upon us, everyone is trying to figure out how to avoid getting sick. I often educate patients about why antibiotics aren’t warranted for the common cold, and here are 3 main reasons why:
Colds are caused by viruses
The common cold is usually caused by the rhinovirus. Unfortunately there are no approved pharmaceutical agents that combat this particular virus, mostly because the virus is constantly changing. Strep throat, many cases of sinusitis, and ear infections often have similar symptoms to the common cold, but are caused by bacteria, which can be treated with antibiotics. A thorough assessment by a healthcare provider can help determine the cause and appropriate treatment of your symptoms.
“…simple measures such as rest and fluids give the body the ammunition it needs to combat the cold virus.”
Antibiotics have side effects
Antibiotics are not harmless. Each antibiotic, like most drugs, has a multitude of side effects. Antibiotics destroy the good bacteria in our guts, which we need for balanced gastrointestinal health. These drugs have even been linked to allergies, eczema and even deadly diarrheal illnesses. Many healthcare providers reflexively prescribe antibiotics incorrectly, which adds to the problem. The increased use of antibiotics has bred resistant strains of bacteria leading to an epidemic of bacterial infections which can no longer be treated by current antibiotics.
The best cold remedy is…
In general, the best cure for any disease is prevention. In addition to practicing good hygiene, a healthy immune system is necessary to fight off a viral infection. Adequate sleep, a balanced diet, exercise and routine stress management boost the immune system, as well as overall well-being. Over the counter remedies target cold symptoms such as cough and congestion. However, simple measures such as rest and fluids give the body the ammunition it needs to combat the cold virus.
“Illness is one of the body’s way of letting us know that we would benefit from taking better care of ourselves.”
So you may be thinking, “Dr. Aunna, I always feel better when I take antibiotics.” If you truly have the cold virus, chances are you are starting to feel better from the natural course of the illness rather than the antibiotics. It’s also possible that you believe you are going to feel better, and thus you do. The placebo effect is extremely powerful. On the other hand, it’s possible to have a viral infection that can eventually progress to a bacterial illness. Over time a healthcare provider will be able to determine whether or not this is this case.
Regardless of the cause, illness is one of the body’s way of letting us know that we would benefit from taking better care of ourselves. Instead of stressing out about being sick and thinking you need antibiotics, take the time to rest and treat your body with the respect it deserves. Make your health a priority.
Read more about 10 Natural Ways to Prevent Colds and the Flu.
Thinking of your New Year’s Resolutions? Get started with some ideas from Dr. Aunna’s advice for All Year’s Resolutions.
Dr. Aunna’s first episode of #HealthVibes airs next week. What will it be about? Sign up for email updates if you haven’t already. Tune in for more…
This post is the last in a 3 part series about why we face challenges in achieving our New Years Resolutions and how to be successful in accomplishing our goals. (See All Years Resolutions- Part 1 and All Years Resolutions- Part 2). I am a firm believer that we create our own obstacles to growth but that that we can overcome them and live an amazing life! Often the difficulty is created by our mind, rather than the task itself.
During any time of reflection we tend to look at all the “mistakes” we made. This brings up many different emotions such as not feeling capable of improving our lives or regrets as to why we let some things get to the point that they have. This is natural. If we did not have these feelings, we would not think about making any changes. It’s very important to allow ourselves to feel the emotions, but to not get stuck dwelling in regret and become angry or depressed. We tend to avoid uncomfortable feelings and repress them only for them to come up again. These negative emotions lead to us avoiding making positive changes or having the clarity to find solutions.
“Embrace that your perfection lies in the fact that you are imperfect.”
Another way we become stuck in our bad habits is by focusing on an issue and making it an even bigger issue. If you feel pressure from yourself, monitor your self- talk. Anytime you feel you have to/need to/should do something, you will likely feel resistance to it. Often wanting to change something prevents us from taking steps to change. Let go of wanting to change and start changing, NOW. Here are a few other ways we may subconsciously be sabotaging our path to success:
Self-Pity: It’s important to accept that we are responsible for our lives, so this means accepting our part in whatever we have gotten ourselves into (nobody forces us to eat unhealthy food or smoke) and to stop blaming others. So if you feel stuck in regret, it’s ok. After letting yourself feel the sadness or regret for a limited period of time, tell yourself, “I made some mistakes, I am human. I accept and forgive myself for what I did in the past. The past is in the past and I am going to pick myself back up and make positive changes.” Remember, life is filled with negatives and positives and without mistakes and failures we would not learn for the better. If we can accept that fact, life will be a lot easier.
Not wanting to change: Many people want different things but feel resistance to changes. We like easy and comfortable, but remember, insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different outcome. Change takes effort. It means stepping out of our comfort zone. Changes are only difficult if we think they will be. In order to make room for the new in our lives, we need to let go of the old. This may mean letting go of old household items, old habits, old ways of thinking, or even relationships with certain people; things we hold on to even though they are the very things that create the unhappiness we feel.
Fear of failure: Fears are self-fulfilling prophecies. If you never try, how will you know? And what happens if you do not achieve your goals? Life will go on. Learn from the experience and try again with a different approach. Remember we all make mistakes. Look at “mistakes” as learning experiences, not failures.
If you get off track, don’t be hard on yourself. Chances are you have given up and look at where it has gotten you. Pick yourself back up and try again. Never give up on yourself. You are worthy of living a happy and healthy life.
Avoid thinking that you can’t either. How will you know if you don’t try? If you have tried and could not, try changing your approach. It took Thomas Edison several times before he invented the light bulb, but imagine if he stopped trying because he didn’t think he could?
The time to start making changes to benefit your life is NOW. More posts to come on how to lose weight successfully but until then…..
ALWAYS REMEMBER THE FOLLOWING:
1. You are human
2. You (and all human beings) make mistakes and are not perfect
3. Embrace that your perfection lies in the fact that you are imperfect
4. You are worthy of a happy and healthy life
5. Make positive changes while realizing all of the above and you will start seeing some beautiful things in your life!
How often do we all face “obstacles” in our lives that we would like to overcome, but feel some resistance to them? For example, if we are dealing with being overweight, we likely know that we would benefit from a healthy diet and exercise. It’s obvious that taking care of ourselves would eliminate many of our health issues. So then why do we sometimes find ourselves not doing just this? I’ve heard many excuses from people, such as “I’m too tired after work to exercise,” or “I just can’t.”
Why is it that we are so much more willing to take care of others? I personally think it is because of the deep love we have for the ones we care about. Well, what about the love for ourselves? I am not talking about a vain, egotistical type of love, but a true appreciation for ourselves and our well-being.
What is holding us back from taking care of ourselves? When I ask this question to people, the response is often, “I don’t know.” If you are facing health challenges, consider reflecting upon that question. Could it be that you have a deep- seated subconscious belief that you are not worthy of good things in your life, such as optimal health and wellness? I think if you truly appreciated yourself, you would make time for a 15 minute walk even when you are a little tired. Just like you would make the time to take your child to a sports practice or to meet up with a friend.
I also encourage you to take the time to change your perspective. Think of all the time you have spent thinking, “I can’t,” and look at what has happened: you couldn’t… because you didn’t. Have you ever thought, “I can!” or “I’m worthy of being healthy and feeling good about myself.” Have you ever thought that the “obstacles” may actually be opportunities to grow?
Just as you are so willing to be selfless for others, doing things that benefit your life will keep you around longer to enjoy time with the ones you love. Give it a try, you are worthy.