New Approaches in Health Care

New Approaches in Health Care

© GLOW IMAGES

by Don Ingwerson

In a professional meeting a while ago, I listened to a consultant talk about the effects of fear on the body. He asked each of us to hold a thermometer between the thumb and forefinger for a few minutes and then read their thermometer’s indicated temperature. After this initial reading, he guided us to think about something very stressful and fearful while holding the thermometer as before. After a few moments, he asked us to read the thermometer again. I found that my temperature reading had dropped 4 degrees!

The consultant explained that the body responds to situations where fear or tension is created by blood gathering around the heart in order to have the strength and energy to “push back” against the object creating that fear or stress. That leaves less blood circulating through the extremities of the body – so those areas become colder. It was a great exercise to see how one’s mind affects the functions of the body.

This demonstration would be referred to today as an example of mind-body connection. The mind-body connection has led to developing alternative therapies, which are rapidly being considered by the public as effective ways to maintain or improve health. Researchers studying these trends in health care are using terms such as alternative, integrative, or CAM (complementary and alternative medicine). Whatever the name, there is a growing interest on the part of the public to find effective ways to maintain their health.

Spirituality and prayer are also included among alternative approaches.

Professor David G. Myers shared data of just how important this topic has become to the public in “Spirituality and Faith”:

Of America’s 135 medical schools, 101 offered spirituality and health courses in 2005, up from 5 in 1992.

Since 1995, Harvard Medical School has annually attracted 1000 to 2000 health professionals to its Spirituality and Healing in Medicine conferences.

The National Prayer in Medicine Survey reports that:

Across multiple studies and polls, most Americans report that they believe in a higher power (90% – 96%). Therefore it is not surprising that the rates of prayer are also high among Americans. The World Values Survey data from 2006 report that 84% of Americans pray and other surveys report that out of those who pray, up to 81% pray a few times a month or more frequently. Among those who pray, the belief that prayers are answered is also high. The 2007 Pew Forum study reported that 80% of respondents reported that they had received answers to prayer and a second study by Magaletta reported that 44% of subjects described personal healing through prayer at least once. Clearly, spiritual beliefs and prayer are important among Americans.

For me personally, I have found turning to prayer a great help in resolving family, health, and professional needs for the past couple of decades.

These trends in health care are truly fascinating and the researchers who are reporting this expanding field are providing the public and professionals alike interesting information from which the public can make informed choices.

Article previously published December 11, 2011.

Are Attitudes and Health Linked?

Are Attitudes and Health Linked?

© GLOW IMAGES
Models used for illustrative purposes

by Don Ingwerson

Recently my wife and I ended a Disneyland visit without our usual family around us – and I can’t remember that ever happening before. Because we weren’t preoccupied with entertaining the kids, we could relax and observe everyone. Even though there were crushing shoulder-to-shoulder crowds, I noticed something interesting. There was no foul language, and no real pushing or shoving. When bumping did occur, there was an immediate apology. Although there was excitement in the air, people treated each other with respect.

Later that evening, I turned on the TV and heard lots of conflict, hate, and violence. It got me thinking about attitudes and behavior. What made the difference between my time at Disneyland and what was being shown on TV? This leads me to ask: Where are our present attitudes taking us socially, physically, and mentally? This dichotomy of behavior encouraged me to look at a few studies. I was impressed by how happy and joyous I felt at Disneyland, and thought about how attitude and environment affect us.

In a recent lecture, noted expert in integrative medicine, Dr. Andrew Weil, described the term “infectious happiness” as an emotion that can spread from person to person. Weil said, “that there is no question that who you choose to associate with can raise or lower your spirits, make you happy or sad, calm or anxious, comfortable or uncomfortable.” These transferable qualities can be quantified. A study published in the British Medical Journal, found that a person who lives less than ½ mile from a happy friend has a 42% greater chance of being happy. This same infectious happiness can ripple through groups and organizations, having a profound effect.

So even in a theme park where people are shoulder to shoulder and baby strollers are skinning ankles, people exemplify a happiness and tolerance not exhibited by individuals on TV. As someone who practices prayer-based healing, I’ve found the qualities expressed by the people at Disneyland to be the same qualities which allow me to feel happy and healthy; while I’ve found the negative qualities like those I saw on TV to be toxic, creating feelings of frustration, anger, and tension.

How can these types of conflicting, angry thoughts affect people physically and mentally? According to Monitor on Psychology staff writer Deborah Smith in “Angry thoughts, at-risk hearts,” “Research findings indicate a clear pattern — being an angry or hostile person is bad for your heart.” Ms. Smith goes on to cite several studies that prove the point.

What is the antidote for this poisonous toxin that not only affects attitudes but health? Certainly any antidote needs to affect the inner self. For me, it would be prayer, and the premise that health is enhanced through prayer is supported by many studies. The comprehensive National Prayer in Medicine Survey found that across multiple studies and polls most Americans report a belief in a higher power (90-96%). The 2006 World Values Survey also showed the importance of prayer with a report that 84% of Americans pray. Among those who pray, the belief that prayers are answered is also high.

According to the many research studies, there appears to be little doubt that attitudes and behavior affect health, and many individuals have found prayer to be a means of improving both of them. Future studies will help us determine the real value of this knowledge.

Article previously published April 2, 2012 and first published in Blogcritics

Are Attitudes and Health Linked?

Are Attitudes and Health Linked?

photo by Brian Hammond

by Don Ingwerson

Article first published in Blogcritics

Recently my wife and I ended a Disneyland visit without our usual family around us – and I can’t remember that ever happening before. Because we weren’t preoccupied with entertaining the kids, we could relax and observe everyone. Even though there were crushing shoulder-to-shoulder crowds, I noticed something interesting. There was no foul language, and no real pushing or shoving. When bumping did occur, there was an immediate apology. Although there was excitement in the air, people treated each other with respect.

Later that evening, I turned on the TV and heard lots of conflict, hate, and violence. It got me thinking about attitudes and behavior. What made the difference between my time at Disneyland and what was being shown on TV? This leads me to ask: Where are our present attitudes taking us socially, physically, and mentally? This dichotomy of behavior encouraged me to look at a few studies. I was impressed by how happy and joyous I felt at Disneyland, and thought about how attitude and environment affect us.Continue Reading

New Approaches in Health Care

New Approaches in Health Care

Photo illustrated by Karl-Ludwig Poggemann

by Don Ingwerson, originally posted in the Laguna Beach Patch

In a professional meeting a while ago, I listened to a consultant talk about the effects of fear on the body. He asked each of us to hold a thermometer between the thumb and forefinger for a few minutes and then read their thermometer’s indicated temperature. After this initial reading, he guided us to think about something very stressful and fearful while holding the thermometer as before. After a few moments, he asked us to read the thermometer again. I found that my temperature reading had dropped 4 degrees!

The consultant explained that the body responds to situations where fear or tension is created by blood gathering around the heart in order to have the strength and energy to “push back” against the object creating that fear or stress. That leaves less blood circulating through the extremities of the body – so those areas become colder. It was a great exercise to see how one’s mind affects the functions of the body.Continue Reading