By Anjali Shah
Stress can affect people in many ways. Some experience painful muscle tension, while others may be constantly distracted by negative thoughts or suffer from loss of sleep. These days, with the hectic nature of our personal and professional lives, doing anything to help offset stress is important. While a certain amount of stress can be healthy, ongoing emotional stress like anxiety, anger or fear can contribute to a cascade of reactions in the body that, over time, can lead to high blood pressure, tense muscles and inflammation.
To help prevent or reduce the extent to which your body responds to stressful events, you may want to consider yoga. Studies suggest that the practice of yoga can calm the nervous system, cause a decrease in cortisol levels (a stress hormone), and elevate mood.
For those who may be unfamiliar with it, yoga is a practice centered on physical postures, which are used in conjunction with regulated breath, and the practice of “mindfulness.” It is a discipline that allows us to bring our bodies and minds into balance. Many of my patients describe feeling calm and relaxed after their session.
Others have described feeling a sense of “lightness.” This feeling may be related to the release of the hormone oxytocin (“ox-see-toe-sin”), which is associated with feeling relaxed and connected with others. The practice of yoga is thought to boost levels of oxytocin. Continue reading
Saturday, January 23, is International Integrative Medicine Day.
By Angela M. Johnson
Did you know that as many as 50 percent of Americans, of all ages, use some form of integrative medicine (IM) to help enhance health or well-being? For those who suffer from chronic illness, as many as 80 percent incorporate IM in their care. Examples of IM include acupuncture, biofeedback, nutritional/herbal supplements, relaxation, meditation, massage, yoga.
Do you use IM? During your last doctor’s visit, did you have a conversation about it? If you haven’t talked with your doctor, you’re not alone. Surveys show that as many as 50 to 70 percent of patients do not talk with their doctors about IM use because (1) their physician never asked; (2) the patient didn’t feel like the MD needed to know; (3) there wasn’t enough time during the office visit.
The term “integrative medicine” includes healing-oriented medicine that takes the whole person (e.g., mind, body, spirit) into account. It emphasizes:
- a respect of the body’s own ability to help enhance the healing process
- the importance of the relationship between health care practitioner and patient
- a consideration of all factors in life that may influence health, wellness, and disease
- inter-professional collaboration between IM practitioners and conventional health care professionals (MDs, RNs, etc)
- use of integrative medicine modalities that, in scientific studies, have been found both safe and effective.
While it can be helpful and empowering to use IM, it is extremely important to talk with your health care providers about it. If you’ve never done so before, make a commitment to yourself to do so at your next visit. Why? Well, even though some IM modalities, such as herbs or supplements, are marketed as “natural,” there is a possibility that they could cause drug-herb interactions. Continue reading