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Whole Human Care

Getting Unstuck, Part 1: How a Homeopathic Remedy Can Help

Been stuck recently?  Seems to be going around.  It’s not necessarily bad as long as it doesn’t become a way of life, though it usually does last longer than we feel comfortable with.  But it has its place.  Take breathing as an example.  There is that place in your breathing, where you have taken in a full breath, but not yet started to release the air.  Do you know that place?  And it feels like nothing is happening, but there is something happening—a change in activity is coming (from in-breathing to out-breathing).  And while the natural world around us these days is bursting into new activity, the human process for change seems to lag behind this time of year.  Why?  Well, when the winter comes and brings cold temperatures and long nights, we all naturally breathe in.  It feels really good to breathe in at that time.  Fall, the winter holidays, and the changing of the year bring an inwardness that feels really good.  It's ...

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Can you have a tumor in your feeling life?

There is a very unusual description of a tumor in anthroposophic medicine.  It comes from some comments made by Rudolf Steiner, who helped to found anthroposophic medicine with a group of physicians about 100 years ago.  It says that a tumor is a “sense organ”—like an eye or an ear—in the “wrong place.”  That sounds very bizarre, until you start to spend some time thinking about the process, the activity of a sense organ, which is create a space where the outside world can penetrate into us, undisturbed.  Our eye, or our ear, should accurately convey our surroundings without altering them.  That is not the only way the outside world comes in: we breathe air, but warm and humidify it, and what we breathe in is different than what we breathe out; we take in food, but it is (necessarily) radically transformed through our digestion.  Our sense impressions, however, really should come in without disruption or distortion.   ...

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Gallstones and Your Mood

When I was doing my medical training, there was a pretty simple rule about the gallbladder: if you find that there are gallstones, and someone is having symptoms (pain on the right side, up under the ribs, especially after eating fatty foods) then the gallbladder needs be taken out! If there are gallstones, but no symptoms, in most cases leave it alone (diabetes was an exception). It was, and is, a very mechanical view of the liver and gallbladder, sort of like swapping out parts on a car engine. If it is causing problems take it out, if it is not, leave it be. And it is true that a primary activity of the gallbladder is to function as a storage sack for the gall and wait until the right kinds of foods are eaten, then send a bunch of gall down into the small intestine. But the gallbladder is more important than that. For the active excretion of the bile through the gallbladder is an essential activ ...

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Why Warmth is so Important

It is really important to nurture and protect your warmth. Warmth deserves more attention than it usually gets. Warmth holds a very special place in the life of both the developing child and the adult, because it works throughout the entire spectrum of human experience. There is physical warmth, emotional warmth—the warmth of love, of generosity, of true morality—and all of these “warmths” pour over and merge with each other. Perhaps most importantly, warmth is the essential ingredient in transformative work. Without warmth we cannot change, and our life is full of processes of growth and adaptation. Warmth helps us be healthy human beings on many different levels. We actually already know warmth very well, but too often we think of it in mundane ways. Consider for a moment your kitchen and how you cook. Warmth allows different objects and ingredients to be blended, to develop whole new flavors, and to become well integrated. While this may seem like a simplistic example, the human ...

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Finding Gratitude

It is a normal part of the passing of the year to look forward to the coming year and what it will bring. That is probably best done, however, by building on the gratitude of what has come before. In looking back we need to realize that we are all gifted, all blessed. Though perhaps this past year helped you experience that our "blessings" are not always the good, easy, and pleasurable experiences. Of course, we all wish for as large a helping of those as we can get, but sometimes the most potent growth comes from wisdom born out of challenge. In the practice of medicine, that truth presents itself over and over again. In fact it is not an uncommon experience (when the moment is right and there is space for thoughtful sharing) that someone will express how he or she has come to a new place of being, a new place of insight, that was really only made possible through an illness, a loss, an unforeseen or unexpected change of events. Times of change are also potent periods of growth. This is more than a Polyanna- ...

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Onions for Earaches

Every so often you encounter something that is so simple and effective, that you wonder why you didn't know about it before, and why doesn't someone put it in a "handbook" for life. One of the things that should most certainly be in that handbook, at least in the category of home treatments for common illness, is the use of an onion compress for an earache. Yes, it will make you or your child smell like onions, and it sounds ridiculously simple, but in the middle of the night it can really be your friend. Why does it work? Well, most of the pain associated with an ear ache is from pressure, as fluid or mucous builds up in the space of the middle ear. And what happens when you cut up an onion? It makes you cry. It has a warming, loosening, irritating effect on your eyes and nose which helps to pull fluid right out. This effect can be put to good use when there is a lot of fluid built up and it needs to be released. It can be done in several simple steps: use a regular cooking onion, then cut it ...

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The Menstrual Cycle as a Breathing Process

Sometimes the most beautiful and important part of our physiology is flexibility.  Can we shift and change ourselves?  We do, of course, carry this out all the time--for when we take in a breath we open ourselves to the world around us (Rudolf Steiner actually pointed out that we are much more intimately related to our environment through respiration than through digestion or touch).  Then when we breathe out, we cut ourselves off from outside world, and release what we do not need any more (carbon dioxide, nitrogen, etc.)  This is a very regular, and familiar cycle, one which we generally carry out 16-24 times a minute.  But there are other ways that we breathe too.  The menstrual cycle can be understood as one such kind of respiration, one that brings aspects not just of inside and outside, but also life and death, generosity and loss.   Now, clearly, not everyone is connected to this breathing rhythm.  A male body is too solid, too connected to the earth to maintai ...

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Where does Anxiety come from?

Anxiety very often arises when our thinking and willing activities become separated.  Working to integrate them back together leaves us more contented, and more connected to what we are doing in life.

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Healing from the Inside, Out

Lasting change comes when a medicine or treatment helps us gain better health through stimulating and supporting the body's own healing processes. This is different than just taking a medicine from the outside. All anthroposophic treatments strive to help us heal from the inside, out, striving a long-term shift—not just controlling symptoms.

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Sigh, From Expansion to Duty--The End of Summer Journey into Fall

At the end of summer we may feel caught between wanting to still do everything and also feeling the pressure to get practical and organized, which together can make us feel overwhelmed.

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