The following article was written by Deepak Chopra and published on June 9 in the Huffington Post. I’ve taken excerpts of it here, as I think it is an interesting perspective on the idea of quantum health and mind-body medicine, and points to the fact that we are really beginning to see as a patient-driven paradigm shift in the field of medicine.
Mainstream Medicine and the Oprah Factor
by: Deepak Chopra
The medical profession is burdened with a host of problems that Oprah addresses with more candor and force than the AMA. She promotes wellness and prevention, two areas that drastically need improvement. She brings up creative solutions to problems that medical science is baffled by, such as the healing response itself and the role of subjectivity in patient response. These are issues that few M.D.s are willing to explore, yet she has done so for decades.
Every illness has a subjective component — after all, to be sick is to change your moods and emotions, and severe illness causes one to examine primal issues like life and death and the meaning of existence. Do these subjective changes affect healing? Obviously they do, or we wouldn’t have the placebo effect, which comes into play at least 30% of the time in illness.Scientific medicine by and large ignores wellness, prevention, and alternative medicine in general. On a daily basis doctors don’t deal in these things; few take courses in medical school centered on them. That’s why a massive movement has arisen driven by patients themselves.
In Seattle a recent study of 638 patients with chronic lower back pain were given either some sort of acupuncture or standard treatment with anti-inflammatory drugs and massage. On average, the acupuncture patients received twice as much benefit as those on standard treatment. The kicker is that some of the patients received fake acupuncture — they were pricked superficially with toothpicks — and received the same relief.
The benefit of lifestyle changes has been grossly underestimated and underused. Coronary heart disease, prostate cancer/breast cancer, diabetes, and obesity account for 75% of health care costs, yet the progression of these diseases may often be stopped or even reversed by making intensive lifestyle changes. The most recent findings show that such changes actually cause beneficial alterations at the genetic level, affecting up to 400 genes through such measures as improved diet, exercise, and meditation.
Does the most brilliant researcher in the world know why cancer sometimes spontaneously disappears? Why a patient with obsessive-compulsive disorder or depression can respond equally well to talk therapy and drugs — that is, why talk is as effective as chemicals in altering the brain? Or how the body’s healing system is influenced by outside forces?The answer is no. Which means that mysteries remain to be solved, and creative solutions have every chance of arising from unexpected quarters. Autoimmune diseases are one in which the body’s immune system attacks the body itself. There are few known causes; it is baffling to grasp why the body’s chief defender against illness should turn around and become the cause of illness. This study suggests a human connection rather than a biological one. Or rather, human distress leads to biological distress. Doctors don’t officially believe that; millions of ordinary citizens do. Earlier studies had already correlated adverse childhood conditions with the risk of inflammatory conditions. In the little picture, a new finding has been added to the long list of mind-body links for illness and aging. In the bigger picture, the fact that we don’t fully understand the mind-body connection, much less use it for healing in official medicine, comes into glaring relief.