Friday, March 12, 2010

Wellness

I was trained in so-called Western medicine. I took hours and hours of anatomy and physiology, infectious disease, pathology, and we had one very short class called preventive medicine. Hardly anyone went to lecture and there were no textbooks, just lame handouts. We really didn't learn anything of value. I think it wasn't considered important because Western medicine focuses more on disease, rather than on health.
There are many other systems of medicine, some ancient and some more recent, which focus more on wellness. I don't know a lot but have found it interesting to learn more about some of them. I have a lot of patients and friends who swear by chiropractic and naturopathy. I have learned a little about what acupuncture and Chinese medicine can do from a friend, and I'm reading about the Indian Ayurvedic system in yoga teacher training. The last 2 rely on physical or energetic systems that you can't see on an x-ray or cadaver dissection. You can't see the qi, and you can't do a blood test to determine your dosha. Does this make these traditions invalid or useless?
I don't think so. Why do we assume the body is only its physical components? Talk of energy healing, chakra cleansing and qi is enough to make most of our parents' generation tune out the "hippy talk." I think the scientific method has great usefulness, but I also think some things are beyond our current abilities to test or prove. This doesn't mean they don't exist.
I have started acupuncture and I've incorporated a few Ayurvedic principles into my routine to see what they can do for me. More studies of acupuncture are finding it useful for pain, depression, and many other conditions. Many people are drawn to the whole-health perspective of Ayurveda through books like Perfect Health by Deepak Chopra. I think we are seeking another system of healthcare. Rather than just treating what is wrong, we're trying to maintain what is right.

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