Sunday, November 23, 2008

Some thoughts on staying well

The poet Longfellow writes:
Joy, temperance, and repose, slam the door on the doctor's nose.
And ‘slamming the door on the doctor’s nose’ can simply be translated into practising effective personal preventative medicine. Personally, I’d add exercise to the list but that would spoil the metre – so let’s look at the 3 qualities espoused by Longfellow.

JOY: No doubt about it: Love, happiness and laughter are good for your physical health. A pity doctors don’t try to prescribe these much – even though pioneers like Patch Adams, MD have been promoting this sort of ‘medicine’ for some time now.

TEMPERANCE: Doctors have no problem in prescribing this. The problem is more about how to get patients to ‘take the medicine.’ Personally I feel that patients don’t often appreciate direct and unoriginal advice which they can experience as patronising and condescending. Thus they need another way of being persuaded to live healthier lives. More about this in a future post…

REPOSE: Ah, this is the one. How do we rest? How do we release stress? How do we stop being stressed in the first place? All doctors, especially GPs, know that a huge amount of the patients seeing them are suffering from problems either caused or at least exacerbated by stress. But what can they do about it? Tell patients to take it easy? Think that will work?

Fortunately there is something doctors can do about this. Autogenic Therapy is a marvellously effective method of reducing stress. It takes a bit of dedication by the patient but is easy to learn. Just look at what Prof. Edzard Ernst (a man with whom I totally disagree with on so many things, not least homeopathy being available on the NHS) has to say about it in this article written some years ago. I totally agree with every word he writes here. It is a huge pity that he has become well known for trying to ‘debunk’ various forms of holistic medicine and being part of the movement to thwart Britain's GPs from being able to send patients to NHS homeopathic clinics than for his open endorsement of Autogenic Therapy.

Anyway you can get an excellent eight session course in Autogenic Therapy on the NHS at the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital (See Prof. Ernst, where else would you get Autogenic Therapy on the NHS if it were not for the RLHH? Can this possibly be a hospital you would like to have removed from the NHS?). To get Autogenic Therapy on the NHS you will need a referral from your GP, but even without that, you can still attend a course there privately at a hugely discounted rate compared to private practice.

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