Friendship is a wildly underrated medication.
Anna Deavere Smith
If you are ill and go to your doctor, your General Practitioner, your GP, your expectation
often is that he or she will prescribe medication that will relieve or rid you of your symptom;
seldom do we think of going to our GP to find the cause of our symptom and treat that instead.
Seldom, if ever, do we ask to talk about the creation of health. We just want relief from
So we get a prescription; many GPs say on camera that they prescribe medication
because it is what the patient wants; the real prescription they ought to get, the one they
really need, is not discussed. It is the medication elephant in the room. But doctors cannot
blame their patients. Surely the doctor's role is to challenge their patient, and get them
thinking about the real need?
I feel depressed. I have gout. I ask for a pill to relieve my depression, to relieve my gout.
I get it.
But no one seeks to explore with me what is causing the depression or the gout.
When my sister died, I was deemed to be depressed because I was in grief. But no one really
asked what was going on in my mind. Sure I was grieving over my loss. But that loss triggered
many other emotions – my own mortality, my own state of heath, my deep fear that were I to
become ill, the NHS in its present format would just not cope, it cannot cope with someone
with multiple morbidity (and so it has proved to be); it triggered fears over vulnerability of
losing ones independence should I lose mobility - which was increasingly happening, or mental
functioning. But none of this was explored. So none of this could be addressed. Giving me an
anti-depressant simply made my thinking worse, my brain foggy, and me more depressed.
And the pills had side effects. I refused. I sought to help myself through natural medicine, metaphysics and various other modalities.
Just look at the NHS website for the side effects of anti-depressant medication and really ask why anyone would take an anti-depressant?
And as for gout, using it as an example, if you have frequent attacks or tests show you have a high level of uric acid in your blood, your GP might prescribe medicine called allopurinol or febuxostat.
Allopurinol has over 80 not inconsiderable side effects and febuxostat well over a hundred.
Challenge your prescription
With any prescription, ask your doctor some pertinent questions – and also notice their response –
are they pleased you ask?
are they defensive?
do they bluff?
do they give you information?
In this era of patient centredness, you have the right to ask questions about prescribed medication, to be aware, to be informed.
Before letting one pill pass your oral portal, do your research on the prescription you have been given.
What is it?
What is it meant to do?
What can you expect as an outcome from taking it?
How long before you can see a benefit?
What are the side effects?
Are the side effects worth it?
What will happen if you don’t take the medication?
What is its “need to treat” value? Eg There is a way of understanding how much modern medicine has to offer individual patients. It is a simple statistical concept called the “Number-Needed-to-Treat”, or for short the ‘NNT’. The NNT offers a measurement of the impact of a medicine or therapy by estimating the number of patients that need to be treated in order to have an impact on one person. The concept is statistical, but intuitive, for we know that not everyone is helped by a medicine or intervention — some benefit, some are harmed, and some are unaffected. The NNT tells us how many of each. For more, read here.
If necessary, your research in hand, go back to your doctor and have them explain exactly why you should take the prescription?
Consider complimentary approaches.
Could you also write your own prescriptions?
How might complimentary approaches help? Eg to mention but a few ...
Prescriptions for health and well-being
Our lives don’t get busy; we create the busy, through our thoughts and choices, our responses to what happens to us in life. So in our seemingly busy lives, we also seem to have a habit, a compulsion, to always be on the go, to fill every minute, to make every second count, to burn the candle at both ends, too burn the midnight oil, and then crash at the end of the day, complaining it was all down to our life.
Radical healing invites you to notice that it is you who makes the choices to create all that happens in your life so why not carve out a little time each day to sit and experience the very moment you are in, instead of fretting the future and guiltily reliving the past?
In the digital age of speedy media and information overwhelm, we need something to bring us back into our inner world, to our minds, spirits, and bodies and help us see our reality for what it truly is. We need space. And peace.
Start with just ten minutes each day of quieting the mind in a wakeful state, focussing gently your gaze on a lighted candle or beautiful flower, just noticing your thoughts, or even your breathing without having to judge it or change it. Doing some gardening, cooking, swimming.
Find your best way to meditate and commit to its regular practice.
If you keep giving to people and they never say “thank you” do you feel inclined to keep on giving?
The Universe or Life is giving to you all the time, do you ever stop to say thank you to it or do you just take things for granted, even the not so good things of life? We seem to have lost the art of writing thank you notes, of expressing gratitude. Yet gratitude brings so many benefits -
Stronger immune system – we place less stress on our mind body system
More emotionally balanced
We sleep better, completing a gratitude diary at the end of the day is hugely beneficial
We become more relaxed
We have increased energy by expending less on stress
We are more attractive to others – we smile more
We become more connected to others – others are drawn to us
Our creativity increases
Our levels of confidence and contentment increase
We find it easier to bounce back from difficulty
Make it a practice to keep a gratitude dairy. Love yourself, love your day, love your life! Be grateful.
Play catch up
What is the one conversation that you’ve been putting off having with a friend or loved one? Has it been gnawing away at you?
Relationships that are out of balance are often a useful reflection of inner imbalances that we have with ourselves. One of the fastest ways to heal your life is to reach out consciously and resolve any conflict, however subtle or obvious, that you might have with someone dear to you.
Just like a newborn baby cannot survive without the warm touch of another, neither can we. Someone somewhere needs you to reach out and touch them. And the reward will be yours.
Don’t leave it till their funeral to say what they mean to you. It's not the congregation that needs to hear it; it is the person.
When was the last time you put yourself outside your comfort zone?
“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.” ~ Andre Gide
We humans like predictability and pattern, comfort and familiarity, but you would be surprised at how therapeutic a little shakeup can be.
Are you too comfortable in the life and role you've created for yourself? Is that comfort serving your highest ideals, your highest purpose?
It’s one thing to say “I am taking a risk, stepping out my comfort zone” but to understand it fully you must be willing to experience it, to actually go outside your comfort zone. Be bold and try something different like a temaszal – a kind of sweat lodge, go on a vision quest, or any ceremony aimed at bringing an individual to their limit. For what reason? To remind them they are limitless.
Let go of the familiar. Be bold enough to lose sight of the shore.
Change your mind
To improve anything - from your health to your well-being, your lifestyle to your way of being, you must begin in your mind, your thoughts, and in your heart, your emotions, in both.
This should be prescription #1 but somehow, for some, it is too challenging. By going through the previous prescriptions, you are, in a sense, preparing the ground.
You probably know the saying that if you keep on doing what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always had. You know it. But do you do anything about it?
Back to gout. If you know that your alcohol consumptions it not helping and that your sedentary lifestyle, creating overweight, is also not helping, why keep on doing it and moaning about the pain?
Think of each of the key areas of life and write down your beliefs that are driving you in each. Then ask are they working? And if not, you need a change of mind. Need some help?
For some, prayer will mean specific sacred words; for others, it may be a more informal talking or listening to a higher power. Some call that power God. There are many names for such power.
Surveys indicate that nearly 90% of patients, whether religious or not, with serious illness will engage in prayer for the alleviation of their suffering or disease. Among all forms of complementary medicine, prayer is the single most widely-practiced healing modality.
The following explanations have been offered as to how prayer helps improve health:
•The relaxation response - prayer elicits the relaxation response, which lowers blood pressure and other factors heightened by stress.
•The antidote to stress, the Mind-body-spirit connection - when prayer uplifts or calms, it inhibits the release of cortisol and other hormones, thus reducing the negative impact of stress on the immune system and therefore promoting healing.
•Relinquishing control - prayer releases control to a power greater than oneself, which can reduce the stress of needing to be in charge.
•Healing presence - prayer can bring a sense of a spiritual or loving presence and alignment with God or an immersion into a universal unconsciousness.
•The placebo response - prayer can enhance a person's hopes and expectations, and that in turn can positively impact health. In our prayer we believe, and have hope, and trust.
•Positive feelings - prayer can elicit feelings of gratitude, compassion, forgiveness, and hope, all of which are associated with healing and wellness.
Prayer comes in many forms eg :
•Centring prayer - focussing on a word or phrase for a minimum of 20 minutes in silence, usually in order to open to the sacred, your higher power
•Contemplative prayer - opening to union with God or the sacred, talking with God or your higher power
•Distant healing prayer - praying for the healing of someone or something who is not physically with you
•Intercessory prayer - praying for someone else
•Petition prayer - asking God or a higher power for something eg to Love oneself, to love other, to have the wherewithall to solve a problem
•Meditation - differs somewhat by religion. In Christianity, the goal of meditation is often union with God. In Buddhism, the goal is to expand awareness and gain insight into the nature of passing phenomenon.
Love heals. Love engenders positive emotions. Love is known to be healing to the soul and good for your mental well-being. As they say, “laughter is the best medicine” it all stems from love.
To receive love you have to give love, and loving has to begin with loving the self. If you are unskilled in loving the self, how can you hope to love another?
Research shows that loving acts neutralise the kind of negative emotions that adversely affect immune, endocrine and cardiovascular function. Love helps you live longer and fights disease.
The love and support from close family and friends is powerfully healing. People in a loving, long-term relationship have longer average life spans than those that are not in a partnership.
Make sure that you love yourself, get your daily dose of hugs, affection, smiles and physical sexual activity whenever you can!
Responsibility, Reverence, Respect, Relationship, Resilience, is a Navajo way of dealing with life when in conflict or we have fallen out of love.
Eat wisely. Avoid processed foods. Eat fresh foods, freshly prepared. Avoid sugars and carbohydrates such as breads, rice, cookies, cakes, biscuits, sweets, pasta. Keep rehydrated – drink water.
Move wisely. Walk. Dance. Ski. Swim. Do housework. Garden. Skip. Try some Qi Gong, Yoga. Got the message? Moving your body regularly is key.
Be. Pay attention to your beingness, not just to what you do. You are a human being, not just a human doing. Take time to pray, meditate, reflect, contemplate, attend to your breathing. Honour your spiritual side. Ask each day how you can best serve the world.
But gout is a complex disease and numerous factors play a role in causing it. So should it be so easily treated with a pill? Sure, for immediate pain relief, as it is excruciatingly painful, but other factors could also be considered.
Gout is caused, among other things, by:-
Alcohol - consuming too much, too often
Blood and metabolism disorders
Eating certain foods such as
Kidney or thyroid problems
Medications (eg diuretics and immunosuppressive fungal medications) can also make it hard for your body to eliminate uric acid.
Metaphysically, gout is about the need to dominate, impatience, and anger, someone with a criticising mind, who rushes and makes decisions without having fully considered the consequences.
Might it not be good if the life prescription included the patient’s responsibility for eg cutting out alcohol, cutting out certain foods, ensuring they were drinking enough water and generally eating well? And having medical conditions checked? Might that approach not be better for patient outcomes (it may not be better for those patients that do not want to put any effort into their health) less damaging in terms of side-effects, and cheaper for the NHS? And drawing on metaphysics, add to the life prescription, that the patient consider dominating less, feeling less of a sense of self-importance, finding ways through anger issues, and just slowing down, maybe even speaking slower.