People Want to Know
The Full Story
Frequently Asked Questions
How did you choose medicine?
Early in life, I saw some consequences of inadequate medical care in people close to me. I wanted a chance to learn about and provide good medical care. I liked biology class in high school and subsequent science classes. And, I wanted to work with people... So, it went from there.
Why after years of practicing conventional medicine did you become interested in Integrative Therapies?
From personal experience and from seeing many patients through the years, I learned that, while its possible for conventional medicine to do a lot toward relieving stress, anxiety, depression, and grief, many times there is a need for more. I wanted to learn more about holistic therapies that empower the patient and give them the opportunity to help themselves. These methods are often very simple and effective. I wanted to use all the tools in the tool box to take care of the whole person--body, mind, spirit.
Did your personal experiences motivate you to self-care?
Yes. I had always been interested in the use of natural products. Through the use of natural home cleaning products, I learned about essential oils and how to use them. These were especially helpful to me in relieving grief after the loss of our son Will. As my grief journey continued, they were still helpful for acute waves of grief. Essential oils and products also helped me with allergies, indigestion, nausea, headache, and more. I had already known that vigorous exercise was helpful in lifting my mood. I found it was also helpful in relieving grief rumination.
As I learned more about integrative medicine in the fellowship, I began to use meditation and botanicals and also found these helpful.
What of these self-care therapies do you regularly practice?
Meditation, use of essential oils, exercise, eating more plants, devotional reading and spiritual contemplation
Why do you think more people do not practice self-care?
I think many people are not aware of the benefits and are not educated on how to do it. That was a major reason Phyllis Nichols and I wanted to write Breath for the Soul. We all get busy and don't have time to care for ourselves unless we specifically make time for it. Also, in our fast-paced world, it is hard to slow down and focus on thinking about what we are thinking, as in meditation and reflection.
When should one begin these practices? Is it ever too late?
It is never too late. Anyone can benefit when the start these practices.
Are these practices evidence-based, and does medical science substantiate these practices?
Yes, there is a lot of evidence for these practices. We learned about this evidence in our two year long integrative medicine fellowship, and continue to study the literature on these things. These is increased interested in these modalities and research is increasing.
There seems to be a heightened interest in integrative medicine and alternative therapies in the United States. Why?
I think people are interested in holistic practices and want to avoid side effects from pharmaceuticals when possible. And, the thing about INTEGRATIVE medicine, is that the holistic therapies are integrated with conventional medicine; they are not alternatives to be used instead of conventional medicine.
Are medical schools including integrative therapies in their curriculum?
Some medical schools are. An example is University of Arizona School of Medicine, where the Andrew Weil Center for Integrative Medicine is located. There are other examples, including but not limited to Stanford, Duke, Georgetown, University of Maryland.
Do hospitals use any of these practices? Are you called in when regular therapies are not successful?
Yes. We have a program in our hospital, as do others. Patients are typically very grateful to have interventions such as aromatherapy, breathing exercises, and guided meditations. Patients tell us they really appreciate and benefit from these modalities.