It is exciting to see the medical community steadily moving towards a well-rounded, holistic approach to health care.
Dr. Herbert Benson is a great example. He heads the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital. Benson and his institute are working to integrate mind/body medicine into all areas of health care.
Benson sees health care as a “three-legged stool”: one leg is drugs, another being surgical procedures, and the third as self-care or mind/body medicine which he classifies as the following:
The relaxation response (ways to de-stress, such as meditation)
Positive coping (cognitive behavioral therapy)
What’s great about the Benson Institute is not only are they promoting stress management for patients, but are educating doctors and health care professionals on how to integrate mind/body medicine into their practices, rather than just offering the text-book drugs and surgical procedures.
A quote from their own site states:
Primary care physicians often are taxed by patient complaints that do not seem to have a clear etiology, nor do the patients improve despite good medications and expensive procedures. Current studies show that stress or distress may have a significant effect on the onset, the course, and the management of many, if not all, diseases. Understanding a patient’s underlying stress physiology and coping mechanisms may enable physicians to better understand various clinical disorders and treat their manifested symptoms. -Benson-Henry Institute
Dr. Benson’s most recent book: Relaxation Revolution: Enhancing Your Personal Health Through the Science and Genetics of Mind Body Healing is now available.
You can hear an interview with Dr. Benson on the Diane Rhames Show, broadcast earlier today.
I believe the better we can integrate the mind body connection, the greater the effect of such activities like meditation, laughter, yoga, pilates, t’ai chi, enjoyment, etc can help heal the body. Of course many of the same activities help increase the mind/body integration so a self fulfilling circle is created.