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Whole Human Care

Adam Blanning, MD's Whole Human Care Articles

What is the Best Diet (for cancer)?

Diet can be an important part of working with a cancer.  There are six elements that add important holistic insight to choosing the right diet.

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The Therapeutic Value of "Maintenance" as a Life Process

We all need to devote energy to “maintenance.” No, this does not refer to some kind of human 30,000-mile check, like what you might do for your car (although healthcare would be much simpler if it only required a new water pump or brake pads at certain intervals). No, we are referring to a different kind of maintenance. What is being recommended is more along the lines oftaking the time to really work through what has been taken in, so that it can fully become one’s own. In anthroposophic medicine we work with the recognition of seven archetypal “life processes,” which are part of every process of true change or transformation. The words used to originally identify these stages refer quite closely to the way they work in our physiology: ...

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The Waterfall of Stress and High Blood Pressure

The holidays are behind us and now it is back to work, back to regular life.  And for a lot of people that means diving back into stress (of course the holidays are not necessarily free from busy schedules or lots of unusual demands, either!).  Stress is, however, a natural part of life, and there are aspects of our stress response that are very healthy, even life-saving in an emergency.  At the same time continued chronic stress can make us really sick.  There is a kind of “waterfall” effect that relates acute stress and physical illness.  Here is one perspective that has proven to be helpful in talking to many different people about stress.   Suppose you are driving to work and someone swerves into your lane.  What happens?  You have a stress reaction—you sweat, your heart rate goes up, your blood pressure goes up, adrenaline and cortisol are released.  Your circulation changes, prioritizing blood supply to your brain, hear ...

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External Treatments using Kitching Ingredients

Here are three simple ways to try to keep an illness process moving!  And they only involve ingredients that you probably have in your kitchen cabinets or pantry.   Sometimes our body just needs a little extra help so that a process doesn’t get stuck.   Chamomile steam for a badly congested nose and sinuses, or for an ear that won’t “pop” after air travel:   Boil several cups of water, and then pour them into a broad bowl.   Add several teaspoons of chamomile tea (loose tea works a little better, or break open the tea bags if all you have is packaged tea).  Stir in well and then with a towel or sheet make a little tent over your head and breathe in the chamomile steam.  It can get hot and humid, so be sure to take breathes of cool air so that you don’t become light-headed and fall over!  You can often even find chamomile teabags in a hotel, which is handy if your ear won’t pop after you have traveled far away from hom ...

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Don't Wash your Dishes so Well

What can you do when something bothers your digestion? This is an important question, as there are sure a lot of people with food allergies and sensitivities right now. One logical, initial step is to work to identify what it is that is bothering you (food diaries and allergy elimination diets work well for this). Then, when you have confirmed that something is a problem you should make sure that we are not eating it in excess. Sometimes it is even necessary to eliminate it from your diet completely. This gets to be a little bit of a complicated issue because, more and more, as we eliminate certain foods from the diet (like gluten) other foods tend to take a larger part of what we take in (like corn). Blood testing for antibodies, skin testing for reactions, and muscle testing are all important tools too. But then what do you do with the information? When we take something out of our diet, does that mean we can never eat it again? Or, if we cut it out of our diet for a while so that the gut can heal, what can ...

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Wild Gardening Manifesto

When the sun shines these days it feels glorious. With a lot rain in Colorado in the last month—including torrential downpours, lighting, hail the last nights—the contrast of rain and shine feels particularly strong. The ones who seem to appreciate the dry, bright days the most are the bees. I have a hive in my backyard and went to visit them this morning. There is a very particular smell to a beehive, a little like honey, a little musky, a bit like warmth, hard to describe but very distinctive. The bees are very happy, entering and leaving the hive so quickly that to follow the trail of one single bee is almost impossible. It is almost like trying to watch the drops of water in a waterfall—not easy, and not really the essence of a waterfall. The bees, like the waterfall, seem to live in a process of continual movement; the shifti ...

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Sensing Like the Heart

Feel your heart. Stop, pause for a moment and see if you can sense the rhythmic beating of your heart. It is an amazing organ because it is in constant movement, so flexible and mobile that the moment you say "there, now it is contracting" it has actually already started expanding, and by the time you say it is relaxing it has again started squeezing. The heart creates an tremendous organic activity—it is not so much a pump as a physiologic archetype of balance—faithfully and continuously working through our whole lifetime, steady, steady, steady (can you imagine carrying out the same activity for 70, 80, 90 years?), yet simultaneously so dynamic that it never really rests. Because of these dueling activities it is hard to capture the essence of the heart in a single work or image; there are too many aspects. The description of a "harmonious paradox" might come close. But even that is not quite right. Better, perhaps, would be "the possibility to hold opposite activities (like contraction and e ...

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Working with Fear

There sure are a lot of things to be afraid of in the world right now.  Part of that seems related to these being turbulent times, but part of it is probably because we are connected to so many things and people and places.  How many pieces of news can you really digest in a day, even if it is all good news?  How many pieces of news can you digest if most of them are bad?  Certainly the worrisome and scary events in the world seem to get the most press so that sometimes it can feel like everything is collapsing.  That makes it hard to find places to safely orient ourselves.   Orienting is a really important part of maintaining our own well-being.  Some of our anchors for orientation lie outside ourselves, some are inside, and some anchoring activities are about reinforcing the boundary in between.  As a very young child, inside and outside anchors are hardly distinguishable--when I am around the ones who truly care and tend to my well-being (mother, father, grandparen ...

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Is it ever good to get sick?

This is a very challenging question, because even daring to ask the question can seem immoral, crass, or uncaring, especially when it arises out of medical work.  But at some point it becomes essential to ask this question when we strive to understand illness in the context of broader patterns of human growth and development.   The usual, reflexive answer to asking "is it ever good to get sick?" is "No."  We perceive illness as painful, dysfunctional, and representing a failure, a breaking down of the machine of the body.  Sometimes this failure comes through an invader (like a viral or bacterial infection), sometimes it comes from mistreatment (poor diet, alcohol, drugs), overuse of our body, or overexposure to toxic agents.  Sometimes it comes from an unknown failure in our own cellular or genetic machinery.  When all illness is characterized in this way--as a failure--we make lists of all possible failures and conclude that avoiding any and all such possible "failures" is go ...

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The Integrated Care Package

There are currently places in the world where large hospitals, medical clinics and retreat centers are able to offer multi-disciplinary anthroposophic care (Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden), but the current medical model and insurance programs in the U.S. do not make this possible.  This is a challenging moral quandary, as participation in insurance plans immediately creates oversight and rigid expectations around the kind of medical care that is being provided.  Services must meet the "standard of care," or practitioners face severe scrutiny, as well as potential punitive limits on medical practice and monetary fines.  For these reasons we continue to make the decision that it is better to remain outside of the insurance system, recognizing that it is limiting access but it also allows us to provide a fully individualized, holistic approach to the healing process.   We would like to try to take one step towards healing that conflict. New for this c ...

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