What is Mind Body Spirit Medicine?
Have you ever heard the term Mind, Body, Spirit medicine? If you have heard the term before now, what was your first impression? If it’s your first time reading about this term, what do you think it means?
Some people hear the term Mind, Body, Spirit medicine and they think it just means keep your spirits up, exercise, and be sure to do lots of positive affirmations and loads of meditation. On the other hand some people’s first reaction is, "Yuck, I am not interested in being preached to about someone that does not honor my own beliefs."
What if we told you there is a much wider and deeper explanation of what Mind Body Spirit medicine is and how it could affect your health and wellbeing?
Everything is connected ( mental emotional affects the physical and vice versa )
Have you ever wondered where phrases like butterflies in your stomach originated? It describes an emotional feeling related to a physical sensation. Research is now showing that the emotional and physical are interconnected.
Research is starting to look at our interconnectedness at a greater depth. The research findings and patient outcomes are causing a stir in the health community. This way of embodying a holistic model is starting to convince health professionals that would have otherwise dismissed this way of practicing medicine to take a second look. A good example of this is looking at the connection between the gut and the brain. How we feel actually changes how our body physically reacts, and in some cases also dictates what genes are expressed and when.
It’s not a coincidence that when we are stressed and anxious we might experience more physical symptoms such as but definitely not limited to digestive upset, or changes in bowel habits. These are some of the examples of emotional feelings having a relationship with physical symptoms. Sometimes when a condition is not resolving there is an emotional component that can be driving a very real condition to be more symptomatic. In some instances these conditions even do not respond to the treatment of symptoms until you address the emotional component. From my experience in practice when we address the emotional underlying issues with the physical or in conjunction with the physical, we often see better long lasting results.
Spirituality is whatever you define it as
Spirituality is often not discussed in most medical appointments but it is an integral component of health and well being. The challenge lies in normalizing each individual deciding what that means to them in medicine and making sure the healthcare providers are trained to provide this support in an unbiased way regardless of what their own particular beliefs are.
Having curiosity about something greater than ourselves is human nature. Nobody is 100% certain that they have the right answer, but what you believe matters and we should have the freedom to explore spirituality freely and search for what is meaningful to us as individuals and how we might relate to nature, god, spirit, or the universe.
There is some interesting research that looks at the relationship between spirituality and pain. Some studies are showing that spiritual well being is connected to the enjoyment of life even while experiencing pain. Since emotions have an impact on health, supporting the importance of spirituality as a part of treatment could then in turn impact the physical body and conditions as well as improvement in quality of life.
Even though there is evidence of people being able to change their physical condition through practicing spirituality and getting support for emotions through counselling, it is important to avoid deciding for the patient that they need more spirituality or a certain type of spiritual practice etc. Furthermore you can’t force a person into counselling or spirituality, they have to come to that themselves with informed consent and with the absence of pressure from their healthcare team.
In medicine, it is important to consider treating the physical manifestation of the illness in conjunction with the mental/emotional or spiritual. Suggesting something is purely “all in a patient's head” is not only ineffective it can be harmful to the patient. Only considering treating the physical body can be just as detrimental.
Marriage of Naturopathic and counseling helps bring these parts together
The naturopathic principles of treating the whole person and treating the root cause is an exploratory process that is led by curiosity about the experience of the individual person. Walking with that person through their experience is a job that I am passionate about as a healthcare professional.
In the cases of complex chronic illness when there are limited or no treatment options available, there are often a multitude of Naturopathic treatment options that are available.
Conditions that involve stress, anxiety, depression, burnout, digestive issues, hormonal imbalances, chronic disease & more have somatic physical aspects and the mental emotional aspects to them. When we explore our bodies' sensations along with our feelings and our thoughts together.
How to find this type of help
The nature of naturopathic medicine is well suited to the idea of holistic medicine but most naturopathic schools only cover basic training in counselling, building rapport, and active listening with little to no advice on how to include spirituality in practice or support their patient’s spirituality.
When we look at this holistically you would want to work with a practitioner that can focus on the emotional root cause together with the physical symptoms and has specific advanced training to walk you through this process. Depending on where you live in North America, most practitioners you can meet ahead of time to confirm they have this training and to feel out if they are a good fit to work with you.
How to work with me
If you live in B.C. and would like to work with me directly, have a look at how to apply to be a patient at my clinic here. I am a teaching physician and I dedicate a portion of my week to work directly with patients.
You have an option of applying to be a patient through an application form, which is the fastest method. You can alternatively choose to have a Meet and Greet appointment so we can get an idea of what your needs and wants are and if we are a good fit to work together.