Beautiful Belle Isle

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This past weekend me and my friend Eden went to Belle Isle. I have been to Belle Isle before but never when I had nothing else planned for the whole day and certainly never with someone who loves to explore just as much as I do. We had the whole day to bask in the sun and climb all over old ruins like little monkeys. I have always loved exploring. From abandoned houses to new cities, being surrounded with unfamiliar makes me feel new. Fresh. Excited. Within our city city, there is a place for every mood. I have enjoyed so much exploring all of these places and experiencing all of the emotions each of them project. Belle Isle is something special within Richmond, though. There are so many winding paths, enclosed with trees and brush. There are rocks to bask on for hours in the soft sunlight. There are even beautiful, mysterious ruins to climb upon. As Eden and I explored, hours passed. We climbed around talking and listening to music. It was so nice to move away from the city and and let my mind slow down, adjusting from a fast paced, very stressful past week.

It was so satisfying to be surrounded with other people who appreciate the outdoors as much as I do. It brought me so much joy to be amongst nature and close to water. It made me miss home. In Lovettsville, where I grew up, I lived about five minutes from the Potomac River and about twenty minutes from Harpers Ferry. Over the summer, we went tubing nearly every week, spending whole days outside sitting on rocks and calmly floating down the river. In the fall, we often hike up Maryland Heights and sit for hours at the top of the overlook and watch life go by. In those moments, life is far enough away that I can comfortably analyze it. I have space to be mindful of the moment I am in and appreciate the people who surround me in that moment. Unfortunately, that doesn’t happen every day.

Little things, such as the feeling of fresh, warm sunlight on my skin as I walk into shade make me feel so happy. The energy I feel as I put my palms on cool rock and plant my feet on solid ground is something that sustains me. I am recharged in these moments- I leave with the power I need to make it through another week. Life is hard. School is stressful. Things that make my heart feel love and my mind feel strength are things I have to continuously commit myself to doing, even when I am too tired. If we don’t do these things, we fall into a predictable and emotionless routine. I suppose I can only speak for myself, but when I don’t feed my creative, emotional side, I start to become very stagnant in my schedule and in my mind.

As this week begins, even with all of the stress that has already piled up on my schedule (enough to give me a neck cramp), I am more present throughout my day. I am ready to take on the things I have to to have a successful week. I’m thankful for Eden’s friendship. Since meeting her, she has brightened my life tremendously. Sharing my day with her Saturday was such a blessing.

 

 

Who Really Defines Your Health?

Subish P., Shankar. “Disease mongering.” Singapore Med J. 48. 4. 2007. 275. Web. 19 Oct. 2014.

All over the world, the pharmaceutical industry is convincing people that they are sick. Whether it be from erectile disfunction or balding, people are being convinced through social media, television and unfortunately their doctors that they aren’t well. With the internet insisting that there is an illness or disease for every symptom that a person feels that might not be “normal”, it is very easy to be persuaded that you are sick. Medicine is constantly being marketed to people around the world. During the year 2000, more than $13.2 billion was spent on pharmaceutical marketing in the US alone. This does not account for the other high marketing countries such as Europe and Japan. Who is at the source of this distinction between natural health and aging and true illness? Who do you ultimately trust with your health concerns when the people who are throwing medication in your face are making money from your purchases? Luckily, many people reading this blog post are intelligent, curious people but sadly many people in the world are uneducated and unaware of the power struggle behind health and wellness. By doctors insisting that their patients are sick, they are greatly expanding the pharmaceutical industry’s market and practically feeding them the millions of dollars that keep them in business.

In this source, disease mongering is thoroughly explained. Disease mongering is when pharmaceutical companies and doctors (practically paid by the pharmaceutical industry) convince people that they are sick in an effort to generate sales in medication. A very accurate example, and one where I have had the personal experience, of disease mongering is young children having trouble focusing in elementary school and it meaning that they have ADHD. Nearly everyone in high school is on ADHD medication, regardless of the adverse side effects. With fear of failing school without the medication and too lazy/or busy to learn how to manage being distracted naturally, they continue to use it throughout the next few years, and some the rest of their lives. Many students and parents overlook this as doctors simply dying to help their patients be successful in life. Rare is it that a person is skeptical of their lack of assessment before prescribing pills to calm them down enough to focus for EIGHT HOUR LONG SCHOOL DAYS. Yes, this is sarcasm. No person, especially not young, bright and curious minds should have to sit down for eight hours a day five days a week with only a 40 minute lunch break. To be eligible for adderall, all I had to do was fill out a one page survey to see how hard it really was for me to focus. It was very easy to exaggerate my symptoms and just like that, I went to the pharmacy and got my first bottle of adderall. It was that easy. As I talked to more people about aderall, I quickly realized that everyone was on it. Some people who weren’t on it were selling it for extra money. Not one person went through high school without questioning their natural ability to learn and this is mostly due to the aggressive marketing of drugs such as adderall. Ultimately though, the money people spend on adderall (whether it is covered by insurance or not) goes directly to the pharmaceutical industry. This only gives them more power in their marketing efforts… and the cycle continues.  According to these powerful companies, there is always a medical concern, even for natural happenings such as sexuality, aging and unhappiness.

There are ways to change the direction of this cycle and combat disease mongering. Firstly, it is absolutely adamant that the healthcare professionals and the pharmaceutical industry become separate of each other. They cannot work together. When these companies work together, they promote instant gratification for health rather than well thought-out, educated and independent decisions regarding medical decisions. As I have seen and experienced many times in my life, there is no quick and easy way to absolute health. It is something that comes with a complete lifestyle change. Without this change, no long term health goals can be reached. Prescriptions for most things, excluding serious illness, will only manage the symptoms but not solve the source of the problem.

Healthy Body = Healthy Mind

Astin PhD, John A. “Why Patients Use Alternative Medicine.” The Journal of the American Medical Association. 279. 1998. n. 19. Web. 9 Oct. 2014.

 

There are countless reasons why people are adverse to alternative medicine, but what factors lead people to try alternative medicine and do they really see results?

One huge reason people throughout the world turn to alternative medicine is due to the connect between the approach of holistic medicine and the persons philosophical outlook on life. Because holistic health means finding health in all aspects, body, mind and spirit, these approaches tend to attract these types of people. These people are often described as “cultural creatives”. Described by Ray (24), these people are commonly always striving for personal growth through self-actualization and self-expression. They tend to believe in the body’s naturally given power to be healthy. While it may seem as if our society has been completely sucked into the lazy Western way of healing, Ray’s studies have shown that these “cultural creatives” and modern thinkers have grown quite a bit since the late 1960s, now being 23.6% of the adult population (44 million Americans). There is hope for an independent American society as the mindset changes from “I won’t ask questions, just fix me.,” when going to physicians to questioning WHY they are sick and thinking, “The health of my body, mind, and spirit are related, and whoever cares for my health should take that into account.”

The next most prevalent reason for people turning away from Western medicine is because they are simply unsatisfied with the results they have gotten. Usually patients must test out many different forms of medication for illness such as anxiety, depression and chronic pain before they find one that ‘solves the problem’ and does not create too many adverse side effects. This process is known to take a long, long time and when the patient has finally found the product that works for them, their body will adapt to it over time making it less and less effective… and the cycle begins again. Patients become frustrated as their bodies are not truly healing, only being masked by temporary relief. Not only have people reported conventional medicine not producing the intended results, they have also reported getting more side effects from the medication then they have healing. Western medicine tends to be for “general symptoms” while an alternative medicine treatment plan can be formulated specifically for a single patient. While Western medication is generally somewhat covered by insurance, the dependency created with using these products takes a financial toll as time passes. Many forms of alternative medicine can be learned and performed by patient on themselves or by a loved one, making it a life-long skill of self treatment.

Here are examples of most frequently used alternative therapies for common health problems Americans face today (From table 3):

ANXIETY- relaxation, herbs, exercise, art therapy.

CHRONIC PAIN- exercise, chiropractic, massage.

CHRONIC FATIGUE- exercise, self-help groups, megavitamins.

DIABETES- exercise, lifestyle diet.

DEPRESSION- relaxation, exercise, herbs.

DIGESTIVE PROBLEMS- lifestyle diet, other, chiropractic, relaxation, herbs.

As you can see, many people successfully heal their emotional and physical health problems through alternative medicine while maintaining their philosophical beliefs and reducing negative experiences impersonal Western medicine doctors and adverse effects of frequently distributed pills and other medications.

 

http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=187543#REF-JOC71141-29

Where Is The Money At?

National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM). Paying for Complementary Health Approaches. “Cam Basics”. 2013. Web. 7 Oct. 2014.

Rust, Suzanne. John Fauber. “Drug firms’ cash skews doctor classes.” Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel. 2009. Web. 7 Oct. 2014.

 

Could it be possible that health isn’t the ultimate goal of the pharmaceutical industry or the insurance companies? It seems that the United States is growing sicker and sicker. Every day I walk around around amongst other people, I am constantly hearing complaints of fatigue, stress and lack of general well-being. I have been in their shoes and know how frustrating it is to continuously feel sick. Something isn’t right and that’s more than obvious to anyone who is paying attention. We all know how easy it is to overlook and not inquire about things when we aren’t feeling mentally or physically healthy. It is scary and sad that most of our country not questioning the important thing- Why? Why is it that as a nation we are growing more sick and less educated as time passes? It is our job to take control of our health and to stay educated on who has power over the things that we need to sustain positive, healthy lives.

Rising doctors, the pharmaceutical industry and insurance companies all get paid when their services are used. In order to stay in business, they need people to need them. Without people looking to heal themselves with drugs, the pharmaceutical industries have no way to make a profit. Without people needing help pay for these services, the insurance companies have no purpose. Doctors merely point people in the direction of the pharmaceuticals and then naturally towards reliance on these medications.  These industries have put a huge emphasis on treating illness with pills and not giving people the information necessary to make their own choices in how they want to address their physical/ mental problems- between Western medicine or holistic/ CAM medicine. This keeps people uneducated to greater opportunities and allows the pharmaceutical and insurance industries in business where they are now thriving more than ever.

While the use of CAM has gone up in the past decade, there is still a very large portion of our country that has never heard of these alternatives and if they have heard about them, cannot afford them due to the services not being covered by insurance and therefore needing to be paid out of pocket.  According to NCCAM (National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine), the use of complementary medicine is higher in adults (women specifically) and also those with higher levels of education and income.

It seems to me that these coincidences are more than just ironic. There is a method to why our health care industry is the way it is today. We have grown into a medicated country. The power struggle between the pharmaceutical and insurance industries and the people of our country is only making us weaker. Who is going to win, anyways? No one. Without a strong, intelligent body of citizens, our country is weak and vulnerable to most everything- from illness to attack. Though in today’s society we are lacking general knowledge on health and wellness, together we can combine knowledge and passion to raise awareness within our country.

Health From the Inside Out

Kemper, Kathi J. Sunita Vonra. Richard Walls. “The Use of Complementary and Alternative Medicine in Pediatrics.” American Academy of Pediatrics. 122. (2008). 1374-1386. Web. 1 Oct. 2014

 

While modern medicine has successfully healed many people over the past hundred years, there has been a new wave of medicine is spreading across the United States. Usually referred to as holistic or integrative medicine, this new way of healing is called Complementary and Alternative Medicine or “CAM” in short. A concise way of defining CAM is as a group of diverse medical and health practices, and products that are not presently considered to be part of conventional western medicine.  This practice focuses on patient-centered care that considers biological psychological, spiritual, social and environmental aspects of health. While many reasons for use of alternative medicine exist, the most reported reason for choosing use of CAM is “not so much as a result of being dissatisfied with conventional medicine, but largely because they found these health care alternatives to be more congruent with their own values, beliefs and philosophical orientations towards health and life.” While the use of these alternative medicines has grown dramatically in Western medicine, there are still influential groups of doctors that disagree with this movement. In addition, there is a serious lack of organization and no systematic approach in terms of teaching young, interested doctors what they need to know to carry out these alternative therapies. This lack of expertise in standard, traditional institutions makes it hard to keep up to date on frequently used CAM therapies and also to send new experts into the work force.

The World Health Organization estimates that most of the worlds population regularly uses “traditional” medicine. This includes Chinese medicine (TCM), Ayurvedic medicine and Native American healing practices. What most people don’t realize is that most people in fact do use a form of CAM every day in their lives. Whether it be deep breathing/short meditation, use of essential oils, or paying a massage therapist to work out the kinks in a persons neck, these are all examples of alternative medicine. In a 1998 survey, the most common treatment covered by insurance plans was chiropractic care, with coverage ranging from 41 to 65 percent. Like I previously stated, there are many variations in credentialing which makes it very hard for health insurers to cover. Even with the lack of coverage, the public’s use of CAM therapies is steadily increasing and with that there is also an even greater willingness to pay out of pocket for such therapies.

There are many variations of CAM medicine. The most common being biologically based practices (vitamins, herbs, dietary supplements, diets and foods), manipulative and body based practices (chiropractics, massage therapy and reflexology), mind-body medicine (yoga, meditation and cognitive behavioral therapies), acupuncture and homeopathy. Many adults and children with chronic or incurable illness turn to CAM as a last result. Some examples of diseases associated with CAM medicine are people with asthma, ADHD, autism, cancer, cerebral palsy, cystic fibrosis and inflammatory bowel disease.

 

This source opened my eyes to the fact that there isn’t as many people following a holistic lifestyle as it had seemed to me. It’s easy to think that there are many followers of a modern idea when you are in the folds of it yourself, but when I started to research CAM alternatives I started to see that there are still many people wrapped up in the conventional ways of medicine. This source opened my eyes to a larger picture.. A huge problem in using holistic alternatives verses Western medicine is that it is not supported by the government. Insurance coverage is so rare within the realms of holistic medicine. This is one huge reason why ratios of people using CAM are so small- it requires a lot of money to commit to that alternative lifestyle.

This source has me considering changing my research question from “What are the effects of pharmaceutical drugs in comparison to holistic medicine in the United States?” to “Is conventional Western medicine ignoring the other aspects of health (biological, psychological, spiritual, social and environmental) to further their own profits?”

It has me wondering, has the world invested so much in Western medicine because it’s such a romantic thought- the thought that we can fix our physical and emotional issues with a simple pill and glass of water? Somehow that will make everything better, right? Wrong.

These forms of medicine merely fix the symptom. Once the medicine has worn off, the symptoms return along with all of the emotional baggage connected with the physical illness.

 

http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/122/6/1374.full/The-Use-of-Complementary-and-Alternative-Medicine-in-Pediatrics