Integrative Medicine – A talk with Dr. Weil

Integrative Medicine – I have come to respect Dr Andrew Weil. From reading his book Spontaneous Happiness, to seeing him discuss natural remedies for the heart and the lungs on TV with Dr Oz. Thirdly, he has published a pyramid of anti-inflammatory foods that I have just discovered. According to Dr Weil “Following an anti-inflammatory diet can help counteract the chronic inflammation that is a root cause of many serious diseases, including those that become more frequent as people age.” If you right-click on the image, you can then hit print to print it out.

Dr Weil gave a lecture in the Lensic Theater in Santa Fe this week. The architecture is beautiful in this old theater situated not far from the plaza. I must have walked past it 100 times, but had never been inside.

Dr Weil (from his website

Dr Weil (click to enlarge or to source)

The theater was packed. The audience listened intently. Dr Weil, dressed in black, stood in the center of the stage and spoke without notes for an hour. He is articulate and logical and easy to follow. I was book-marked by two ladies who were scribbling notes furiously.

Here is a summary of some of the things Dr Weil spoke about:
• The health system in the USA is about disease management not about health care. The USA needs to restore an emphasis on healing and health in their approach to medicine.
• One needed change is to include prevention, but to get this implemented the USA would have to figure out how to make it pay.
50% of hospitals have fast-food restaurants on the premises. Fast-foods are cheaper than fruits and vegetables because many fast-foods are made using corn syrup, for example, and the government subsidizes corn farmers.

• It’s difficult in the USA to make positive changes to improve nutrition. A couple of examples: boost the price of sodas (we do this for cigarettes); ban advertising.
• In the USA the pool of applicants for the military is becoming smaller because obesity is becoming more common.
• Integrative medicine (IM) is slowly being accepted. It started at the University of Arizona in Tucson, under Dr Weil’s influence, eleven years ago.
• Nutrition is a prominent defect in medical education. Conventional doctors are illiterate on the subject. Doctors have not endeavored to restrict the expansion of fast-food establishments.

Humans are more than physical beings. But conventional medicine ignores the mental and spiritual components. They need to add an emphasis on lifestyle.
• Conventional medicine spends only 15 minutes on a patient. But the practice of IM spends 60-90 minutes on a patient.
• IM is open to using any healing procedure that works, but many such procedures are not even on the radar of conventional doctors.
• Conventional doctors over-prescribe drugs. This is due to (1) massive advertising of drugs, (2) a perception that a patient needs a drug to heal, and cannot heal without a drug.

• Homeostasis is when a body’s organism wants to stay in place or remain stable. Long-term drug usage changes the organism and homeostasis then makes it difficult to get off the drug. Most drugs are NOT meant to be used long-term.
• In contrast, many non-drug methods do work. For example, see the breathing technique below.
• Breathing restrictions may be the cause of many diseases. This deficiency can affect the heart, digestion, and sleep, just to name three.
• Dr Weil concluded his lecture by demonstrating a breathing procedure which is simple to do, and has proven to lower anxiety (often better than current drugs), as well as other benefits.

It’s called the 478 procedure. You breathe in through the nose for 4 seconds, then hold your breath for 7 seconds, then breathe out forcefully for 8 seconds by making a sh – sh – sh noise through the mouth. Repeat this no more than four times in one session. Do two sessions per day. After 6-8 weeks you will begin to notice changes, and you will begin to feel better.
• In some cases it has stopped atrial fibrillation, Dr Weil said.
• I have used the technique to induce sleep.
• To questions asked by the audience, Dr Weil recommended:
o 2000-4000 IU/day of Vitamin D.
o Joint problems: Tumeric + black pepper. Also fish oil. Also maybe Glucosamine.

A man in the audience asked about cannabis, which is marijuana. Dr Weil said cannabis has the potential to fix memory loss and to treat cancer. But proper research needs to be done to study potential benefits of cannabis. One lady stepped to the microphone and told Dr Weil that cannabis had fixed her migraines.

I asked a local doctor what he thought of Dr Weil. He was quite scathing in his opinion. He felt like Weil was overly critical of conventional medicine. And was also an opportunist. However, I have now lived in ABQ for eight years, and have talked with several people whose first preference is to go to wellness practitioners rather than conventional doctors…… my view of integrative medicine has become more positive after hearing anecdotal evidence that cannot easily be dismissed.

Finally, a particularly thorough study of integrative medicine is contained in the new book Radical Remission of Cancer by Dr Kelly Turner.

The Gray Nomad.
Probing the practice of Christian believers……

Fruit trees of all kinds will grow on both banks of the river. Their leaves will not wither, nor will their fruit fail. Every month they will bear fruit, because the water from the sanctuary flows to them. Their fruit will serve for food and their leaves for healing. (Ezekiel chapter 47).

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Barbara Leachman
Barbara Leachman
9 years ago

I’ve enjoyed Dr. Weil for a long time. I agree with a lot of what he says but find it hard to do it all the time. I followed this type of life much better when I worked for Dr. T, and when I didn’t live with a medical physician. 🙂

9 years ago

Hi Barbara. I have started cooking stir-fry vegs, which is a miracle since I hate to cook! Two things have happened. (1) I seem to feel a bit better, (2) my desire for dark-chocolate Dove Bars has weakened. But you are correct….it needs discipline. Folks I know who are disciplined about nutrition are often older, or have had an encounter with cancer or other serious illness. Why is it so hard for other (often younger) people to see the value and get nutrition as preventive medicine?

Dale Bryant
Dale Bryant
9 years ago

Excellent post, Ian. I used to see pictures of Dr Weil around and thought, who is that grinning, bushy-bearded guy. Then I read his book, the same one you read. Awesome information and ideas and very down to earth guy, writing some from his personal experiences. I started taking more vitamin D, fish oil, and B-6 after reading his book and experimenting with Kava. About the bad nutrition of soft drinks, etc… When I was still living in California there was a man in my Christian home group that was a partner in owning the 7-11 corporation. He prided himself in that he was the inventor of the Big Gulp soda that was so popular (maybe still is-no 7-11’s around here). I always thought I wouldn’t want to have started something that has had such a negative effect on American health. There are a lot of health choices now, but back in the 70’s when I was first in the insurance business, running about doing business in the day and wanting something to drink, it was just sugary soda, no juices and the like to be had at fast service stores. I’m going to read Spontaneous Happiness again to pick up more good advice. Thanks.

9 years ago
Reply to  Dale Bryant

Hi Dale, I also found Dr Weil to be humble, down-to-earth, logical, and his conclusions very well thought out. I was totally surprised at the conventional doctor’s skepticism. I enjoyed your anecdote about the inventor of the Big Gulp soda, and the moral dilemma this raised. Thank you.

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