Modern medical science now recognizes that conventional allopathic medicine cannot treat everything, especially chronic illnesses. It is a well-known fact that most allopathic treatments have undesirable side effects; some are even health and/or life-threatening. For this reason the National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) has been studying alternative systems of medicine. Research has revealed that traditional, non-allopathic systems and practices have much to offer to achieve holistic health care.
While the allopathic approach mainly tries to treat the disease, traditional systems work towards improving a person’s overall wellbeing. The medical establishment has been slow to acknowledge this advantage, but now there is a movement to promote traditional health care systems. This concept is very important, especially for family physicians as they are the first contact for patients. A pilot program has been launched at ten Family Medicine Residency Programs in the United States, to teach future Family Physicians about Complimentary and Alternative systems of Medicine. I am one of the fortunate people to be part of a program that prepares doctors to provide better services to patients by instructing them about these traditional systems of Medicine.
Yoga is an example of a holistic medical system that was developed in India. Yoga is considered a “mind-body medicine” in that it employs a variety of techniques designed to enhance the mind’s capacity to affect bodily function and symptoms. As a regular practitioner of Isha Yoga, I often recommend that my patients take a yoga course when they are looking for simple preventative health and wellness programs. If properly taught and practiced, yoga can be a modern antidote that addresses the most common health concerns in today’s society, everything from stress and anxiety to chronic ailments such as diabetes, heart disease and allergies.
Although it has not been determined by modern science what changes occur in the body during yoga, the founder of Isha Yoga, Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev has explained that “Yoga is the science of activating your inner energies in such a way that your body, mind and emotions function at their highest peak. When your body and mind function in a completely different state of relaxation and a certain level of blissfulness, you can be released from so many things that most people are suffering from.”
After attending a yoga program, many participants come out of chronic ailments they had struggled with for years. A research team recently conducted a survey of people who have completed Isha’s Inner Engineering program in the last six years. Over 500 respondents self-reported on physical, mental and emotional well-being as well as medication usage for some of the most common health concerns. The report illustrates the benefits of Inner Engineering, for example:
- 95% of those suffering from depression reported improvement of symptoms after beginning the practice
- 75% reported an improvement of back pain symptoms
- 49% of those taking thyroid medication noted a reduction in dosage or discontinuation of medication
One respondent, Michael Gremly, the CEO of Voice Prism, related that, “The results I have been achieving from the Isha practice have been nothing less than phenomenal. Incredibly severe allergies and acid reflux I suffered since childhood completely vanished, my cholesterol dropped 35 points, and my blood pressure significantly reduced. From August 2009 to March 2010, I lost 45 pounds, stopped using caffeine, artificial sweetener, and alcohol. I wasn’t necessarily trying to do any of these things, Inner Engineering has had such a positive impact on my entire system that I no longer need external substances to feel great.”
As a support and alternative to your allopathic medicine treatment plan, ask your doctor to recommend a meditation or yoga practice. It’s just what this doctor orders.
Suhas Pinnaka, M.D.
Resident in Family and Integrative Medicine
Family Medicine Institute
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