Lotus Pond in Kerala, India
Sophie Hawkins, 2009
Treat the person, not the disease
A group of persons having been diagnosed with the same illness vary in other ways, and this individuality must not be denied. They vary in the intensity and details of their main symptoms, have a different overall symptom picture, medical history, vitality level, diet, lifestyle, mental-emotional outlook, familial and cultural background, inner strength and spiritual life. A medical diagnosis is not enough information to begin a holistic treatment. The main symptoms are always part of a larger pattern which needs to be discerned. Micro-managing individual symptoms is not as efficient nor as artful as looking after the whole person. Diseases can be seen as the varieties of human suffering and they are part of an individual's overall life experience. As such, they are tied to everything that makes up an individual life.
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My experience shows this approach to be very powerful. In my 17 years of clinical practise I have had experience with the following scenarios and more importantly have been of significant clinical assistance to persons diagnosed with the following conditions:
Arthritis, asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia, allergies, sinusitis, ear infections, acne, eczema, psoriasis, dermatitis, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, attention deficit disorder (ADD), irregular or painful menses, uterine fibroids, endometriosis, enlarged prostate, infertility, impotence, thyroid conditions, angina, high or low blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, elevated lipids, sciatica, low back pain, headaches, cystitis, gallstones, kidney stones, chronic constipation, ulcers, digestive and intestinal conditions, ulcerative colitis, chron's disease, weight gain or weight loss, immune deficiency, multiple sclerosis (MS), acute musculo-skeletal injuries and supportive treatments to chemotherapy and radiation therapy for cancer patients.
In devising a clinical approach, I utilize the following elements:
Diet and Nutrition
My clinical approach encompasses diet, nutrition and cooking from the Ayurvedic, Oriental, European and North American medical traditions. Without a proper diet it is difficult to regain health. Here, the art is to match the diet to the person's digestive ability, constitution and current medical assessment.
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My clinical practise of herbal therapeutics encompasses the Ayurvedic, Chinese, Homeopathic, modern European and North American approaches. The Ayurvedic, Chinese and Homeopathic approaches involve their own unique energetics while the modern European and North American approaches are based upon the modern scientific understanding of the body. It is important that herbal medicines be prescribed differently than are pharmaceutical drugs; that is, they should be matched with the overall symptom picture so as to fit the whole person, rather than be aimed against a single symptom. In doing this artfully, one avoids side-effects and an otherwise wasted effort.
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For me, an important focus is working directly with the body. My approach to the body integrates Eastern methods such as Acupuncture, Ayurvedic bodywork, Shiatsu and Thai Massage with Western approaches such as Massage, Cranio-Sacral therapy and Strain-Counterstain technique. The Eastern approaches seek to modify ‘patterns of imbalance’ in the body/mind and thereby ease muscle tension and improve internal function whereas the western approaches tend to focus directly on posture, holding and muscle tension. My experience shows that the body and mind are so intertwined that in working with the body, one necessarily shifts the mind. Skillful bodywork is an incredibly powerful method whose effects are almost always deep and immediate. I often utilize a series of bodywork treatments as part of my overall clinical approach to help persons shift towards well-being and wholeness.
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Breathwork and Meditation
The approach to the body and mind cannot be complete without working with breath. I have found that many persons breathe incorrectly; that is, shallow, chest breathing which is tied to a state of anxiety. This habitual breathing pattern can be easily corrected when awareness and discipline are brought upon it. My experience shows that clinical improvement is greatly tied to achieving this shift. After all, the body when functioning in a physiologic state of anxiety cannot optimally benefit from otherwise sound dietary recommendations, herbal therapeutics and bodywork. I thus teach many of my patients to breathe properly and often instruct them in Yoga techniques especially suited to their condition.
With meditation it is possible to see more deeply into oneself, gaining insights into one's deeper workings and thus more easily changing for the better. Used artfully, meditation techniques can help the person move towards self-awareness and self-command. As self-awareness grows, the Spirit flowers.
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