Q&A: Why don’t some people heal?

Why don't some people heal, even though they do all the "right" things? Sometimes the right thing for one person isn't the right thing for another - so part of the problem is the "one-size-fits-all" approach that modern marketing uses to sell their products and services. In traditional systems of medicine such as Ayurveda, everyone is seen as an individual, and so when someone is unwell, a specific plan must be created to address their specific health issues. In a related fashion, sometimes the problem is that what is being recommend as the "right" thing isn't right at all. This is more a problem of ignorance or not knowing. For example, some people are sold a product or a service that claims to be helpful when it is not. Likewise, sometimes people continue to engage in behaviors or activities that are counter-productive to good health, but aren't aware of this. Another issue relates to the staging of the disease, and depending on how far the condition has progressed, different … [Read more...]

Q&A: How to change health care?

How would you change health care? This is a big question, and could easily form the subject of several books. But since I don't have the time to do this, I am only going to highlight a couple points and keep the discussion brief, and welcome input from others. The first issue when it comes to health is one of personal responsibility. None of us are born with an instruction manual, and so it is very important to provide people with a model of health and personal health care that is easy to understand and practice, including both diet and lifestyle. I believe that medical science is too complex a model - too liable to shift and change opinions - to be a sustainable model for health care. You should not need to go to school and become a doctor to understand how your body works. Thus, the first task I believe is to provide people with a simple model that accurately represents effective health practices that work. Fortunately we have many examples of traditional health care models … [Read more...]

Food As Medicine

Food As Medicine

This year (2011) marks 15 years in clinical practice since I graduated from college, and over this time I have worked with hundreds of patients, in both Canada and the United States, as well as India and the Caribbean. During this time, as I have worked to help my patients discover and resolve their health problems, one of the issues I most frequently encounter is just how confused people are on the subject of diet. After acquiring a chronic GI infection while traveling in India in 1990, I left behind a promising career as a film and television actor and immersed myself in the field of Ayurveda and natural medicine, devoting the last 22 years of my life to studying, practicing and teaching the knowledge of food. I have spent thousands of hours coaching my patients and students, striving to give them effective tools they can easily use to optimize their diet, only wishing I could reach more people with this knowledge. In 2000 I started writing a booklet for my patients called "How To … [Read more...]

Is raw cacao a superfood?

Is raw cacao a superfood?

I recently answered this question on the Food As Medicine website: One of the subjects folks seem to be interested in these days is raw cacao nibs. They can be found in health food stores often sold for very high prices, the packaging and marketing exuding with confident exclamations that raw cacao nibs are indeed theobroma - the 'food of the gods'. And it is true: the name Theobroma is a Latin, scientific epithet meant to capture the traditional importance of cacao in Meso-American culture. Cacao was essentially a kind of currency for the Aztecs, Mayans and other Meso-American groups, as well as a sacred beverage and general health tonic. Like tea and coffee, the popularity of chocolate quickly spread throughout the West after the Spanish, Swiss and especially the Dutch got hold of it, mixing it with varying amounts of sugar and condensed milk that forms the more familiar form of chocolate we all know. One of the key elements of today's cacao marketing push is this idea that "raw" … [Read more...]

Radiation concerns from Japan

Radiation concerns from Japan

There is mounting concern that radiation leaking from the Japanese Fukushima nuclear power plants could affect human health. It is very difficult to get solid information, but reports I have seen indicate that the radioactive isotopes of concern are iodine 131, strontium 90,cesium 137 and plutonium 239. Iodine 131 is the most immediate concern because iodine forms the structural basis of thyroxine, a hormone synthesized by the thyroid gland. Free iodine is taken up by the thyroid and stored until it is utilized or otherwise eliminated from the body. Given the thyroid's affinity for iodine, radioactive iodine is rapidly taken up by the thyroid, where it emits radiation (beta/gamma particles) that promotes local cell mutations that can lead to thyroid cancer. In acute exposure to iodine 131 people are counselled to take potassium iodide to fill up the thyroid with iodine so that the radioactive iodine is not absorbed instead.¬†While this does protect against specific damage to the … [Read more...]