April 5, 2011

Body, mind and nose

Posted in fragrance, health, life tagged , , , , , , , at 9:11 am by Margi Macdonald

Recently I was invited to write a newsletter article about Ayurveda and Aromatherapy for Rose Heart’s Organic Infusions.

I’m sure many readers know something about Aromatherapy, yet I’m guessing fewer have a basic understanding of Ayurveda, the ancient Indian science of life.

Just as Traditional Chinese Medicine has its counterparts in tai chi, acupuncture, herbal medicine, diet and lifestlye therapies, Ayurveda is the yogic way of understanding and moderating life and health.

Go here, and discover for yourselves…and after that, please visit this page here at Some Energy Thing.

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Image: Plant with blue-violet flowers Maker: CE Wheelock c1915. George Eastman House Collection. Source: flickr

February 3, 2010

Complementary medicine and cancer care in Australia – far from best practice

Posted in brisbane, health, life tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 1:18 pm by Margi Macdonald

Recently I’ve reflected upon progress towards a greater integration of complementary therapies with Australian biomedical oncology practices and attitudes.

My reflections arose after a recent enquiry about my work.

Here’s my edited response to that particular heart-felt enquiry.

I can definitely offer appropriate therapies to help your friend through the rigors of  treatment, and the whole ‘thing’ of dealing with cancer.

Mine is a compassionate, gentle, supportive style of practice, which places the client and her/his unique needs at the centre of the process.

I have a brochure which outlines all of this.

This week, I am facilitating an information session with a cancer support group at a regional private hospital. The group is a satellite of a larger support program offered in Brisbane, where in times past, I’ve presented information sessions.

Two medical oncologists – mainstream – sometimes refer people to me, but sadly, they wait until people have very advanced disease.

I am definitely a Complementary practitioner; my work is informed by the work, research and programs offered in the USA for a decade now, at places such as the MD Anderson Cancer Center Houston; Memorial Sloane-Kettering Cancer Center in New York; and other centres such as Dana Farber, and Alta Bates Summit. I just dropped my membership of the US-based Society of Integrative Oncology. I attended the SIO conference in Atlanta in late 2008. Mindblowing.

I rarely prescribe herbal medicines or supplements while folk are receiving chemotherapy, and if I do, it’s in consultation with their medical oncologists.

Best practice oncology in the USA, and some European countries – which very definitely incorporates Complementary therapies – is ten years ahead of the antiquated practices and attitudes in this country.

I consider that given the emerging overseas evidence – clinical, empirical and anecdotal – Australian oncologists are bordering on negligence in their failure to actively seek to understand Complementary therapies, and direct their patients to credible practitioners.

I hope I am able to help your friend.

I wish it was different here, I really do, and I am perplexed and increasingly irritated at the blinkered vision and conservative attitudes which pervade the thinking of too many medical practitioners in this country.

I cannot understand why it is that most oncologists here, seem ignorant of the therapies, programs and facilities offered to cancer patents and their families in some of the world’s most prestigious, highly regarded institutions.

And what stage do we call attitudes and platitudes such as the ones below negligence, and not just plain ignorance, and a distinct lack of compassion and insight into the needs and lives of people living with cancer?

These comments were made to me by Australian oncologists within the last three years.

”I’m just too busy to find out about it”

“My peers would give me a hard time if they knew I was doing this”

“I let the patients figure it out and make the choices themselves”

I know that there remain equally disturbing levels of ignorance, and antiquated and blinkered thinking, in certain sectors of the natural medicine world. There are, sadly, still some absolute quacks out there, whose practices and attitudes are ego-driven, unkind, and negligent.

How do we integrate the best of biomedicine, with powerful and effective healing arts and sciences?

Do leave a comment.

This is important.

To see how the ‘big guns’ in cancer treatment and research are including Complementary therapies in their care of people touched by cancer, follow the links listed below.

If you are living with cancer, or love someone who is, consider asking the oncologists involved, why Australians don’t receive the levels of care available at these centres.

Place…of Wellness MDAnderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas

Integrative Medicine Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York

Complementary Therapy Programs & Support Groups Alta Bates Summit Medical Center, California

Zakim Center for Integrative Therapies, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston

Cautions and care

These pages are for information purposes only, and are not a substitute for the correct care and attention of appropriately qualified and experienced health care professionals. If you have a concern about your emotional or physical health, seek the advice of your preferred health practitioner.

© Unless stated otherwise, all images and content here are the property of Margi Macdonald.

November 21, 2009

Grappling with the night – insomnia and related torments

Posted in brisbane, health, life tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 10:48 pm by Margi Macdonald

There really is nothing worse than spending wretched nights tangled in the bedclothes, thrashing, watching time tick slowly by, while all around one’s family and neighbours lie sweetly sleeping.

Similarly, nights spent interrupted by graphic, unsettling, incessant or just plain terrifying dreams are no recipe for a refreshed and quietly enlivened mind and body.

Detail from the right ("Hell") panel of Hieronymous Bosch's "The Garden of Earthly Delights" c. 1500

Afterall, such nocturnal torments will have us falling asleep at the wheel, frustratingly unproductive, snippy and snappy, fraught and frazzled.

So what’s going on here?

Quite a bit! If we consider all the information we receive in a day, the thousands of visual and auditory stimuli – many of them pernicious – the way we use our minds, life events and our reactions to them, and what we eat and drink, you can see why difficulty falling and staying asleep can become a problem.

There is an art and science to welcoming sleep into our busy lives, called sleep hygeine by those in the western medical sciences. So as well as counting sheep, you might like to see what works for you here:  Reach Out

Some things to remember:

Daytime – Yang time – is the time for most of our mental and physical activity, including eating and digesting.

Nighttime – Yin time – is for restoration and relaxation of mind, spirit and body.

Our bedrooms are for sleep and sex. They are not information super-highways, so keep your electronic geewhizzery such as TVs, computers and telephones out of them! Why anyone would want these intrusive information-overloaders interfering with two of life’s simple pleasures is a modern-day puzzle!

If alcohol is needed to help us nod off, then we’re headed for trouble, and must seek the help of an empathetic, appropriately qualified health professional.

There is an emerging body of evidence which links high blood pressure and stubborn weight gain with poor sleep. There are also some significant medical and psychological  problems associated with insomnia.

The good news is that most of us will experience transient periods of insomnia which resolve spontaneously. For those who grapple with a chronic inability to sleep well, help is available.

Fortunately Traditional Chinese Medicine provides us with a supreme framework in which to understand the relationships between consciousness – our Shen or Spirit – organ function and dysfunction, the Will and Intellect, the body’s natural rhythms and cycles, our Blood, Essence and Fluids, and our ability to sleep restoratively. Acupuncture, professionally prescribed herbal medicines and essential oils, Reiki and massage can all help us to re-establish restful, refreshing sleep.

But for now, turn on your sound, and enjoy the poetry below, accompanied by this famous old lullaby.

Serenade

by Mary Weston Fordham

Sleep, love sleep,
The night winds sigh,
In soft lullaby.
The Lark is at rest
With the dew on her breast.
So close those dear eyes,
That borrowed their hue
From the heavens so blue,
Sleep, love sleep.
Sleep, love sleep,
The pale moon looks down
On the valleys around,
The Glow Moth is flying,
The South wind is sighing,
And I am low lying,
With lute deftly strung,
To pour out my song,
Sleep, love sleep.
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Staying safe
These pages and the information here are not a substitute for safe and correct health care. If you have a concern about your own physical, mental or emotional health – or that of another – you must seek the guidance of an appropriately qualified and experienced health care professional.
Acknowledgements
Insomnia graphic by ArtbyAllyson; Counting Sheep by matt_collingwood. Both available at BigStockPhoto{dot}com
Artworks available everywhere:
Hieronymous Bosch Garden of Earthly Delights detail from the panel Hell 1504
Gustave Courbet The Sleeping Spinner 1853
Serenade sourced at Poetry Foundation
Blog post content © Margi Macdonald.

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